Fall woods

Fall woods

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I Just Don't Get It. Any Of It.

Doom and gloom alert.  Be warned.

I should further preface this by reminding y'all that I mostly didn't grow up in the US.  I'm an American citizen, was born here, spent summers here, but lived in varying places overseas from the ages of 2-18 the rest of the time because of Dad's job.  This had a lot of long term effects on my life, some good and some bad, but one consequence is that I usually wasn't anywhere in the vicinity when any close family or friends died.  Mom and Dad generally went back to the States for whatever (rare) funeral services needed attending and left my brother and I behind wherever we were living so that we wouldn't miss school. I attended the funerals of both my grandmothers in my early twenties, but that was about it.

Fast forward to my life here, and my introduction to the concept of the viewing.  It may well be a normal American thing, and I'm sure if you grow up with it, it is normal, but to me it seems so barbaric and cruel for the bereaved to have to stand in front of their deceased loved one's body (for the love of God) and make small talk for hours on end, I can't even process it.  That actually gets to me me more than the custom of kneeling in front of the coffined deceased to pray, which threw me for a loop the first time I came across it as well.  I'm sure my lack of exposure to death is the root of my issues on both counts.

Having all these thoughts because I went to the wake for my friend's husband on Friday.  Not the first time I've been to a viewing for someone who died by their own hand, sadly, but the first for someone I knew well personally, and the first goddamned one with an open goddamned casket so I am looking at him at the same time I am looking at his bleak-eyed wife and kids and siblings and then kneeling mere inches from him saying the Hail Mary over his coffin because it's the only prayer coming to mind in the shock of the moment and he was a Notre Dame alum like me anyway, so it's appropriate in a weird sort of way and all I want to do is scream, "WHY????"  I probably won't ever know and that's ok.  It's none of my business.   But Jesus.  How does a family even begin to pick up the pieces and move on after something like that?

The line of mourners extended out the funeral home door and down the block, anyway.  I hope that brought the family some comfort.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

May His Soul Rest In Peace

The husband of a dear college friend was hit and killed by a train this week.  Most likely suicide.  They have three children who are relatively close in ages to mine.  To say that I am in shock would be the understatement of the century and I cannot even begin to process how my friend is functioning right now.  Sweet Jesus, what horrible news.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Proud Of My Boy

Thing One started his first job this week, the one I helped him to apply for.  He's a junior counselor at our town's Summer Recreation camp.  It's an unpaid position (the policy for younger teens--he's barely 14--is that the first year is volunteer, they are paid after that) and he's been assigned to help out with the kindergarten/first grade group.  He is having the time of his life!!  Yesterday, the kids spent their entire recess chasing him around the playground...apparently they were the humans and he was the evil monster they were trying to catch.  When he got into the car, he commented that he couldn't believe that next year he'll actually be paid to have that much fun!  The other counselors in his group are a college-aged girl and an adult woman, so I have a feeling that the kids (especially the boys) in his group are loving having a young male counselor.  

The camp director texted me last night. "I can't say enough good things about (Thing One.)  He is so amazing with the kids and they all look up to him!"  When I went in to pick up my other two today, the art teacher came over and told me how conscientious he is with the kids and that he's really good about seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being told.  Made my day, I don't mind admitting it.   

He's not getting paid, so money isn't the motivation.  He just loves little kids and is great with them.  Always has been.  His favorite cousin is the youngest...those two have been inseparable for years.  The director said that she initially wasn't sure about putting a teenaged boy with the youngest group of kids and I told her she couldn't have placed him better if she'd tried!

When he was a little kid, his favorite counselor was an older boy named Rob, who set a great example for him.  I emailed Rob's dad last night and asked him to please let Rob know that Thing One is paying it forward.  :)

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Milestone, But Not A Happy One

Tomorrow, my sweet Thing One turns 14, a thought that pierces my heart.  I have no idea when he got so old or grew so tall...a young man now, no longer a boy.  And tomorrow, I will not see him at all.  This is the first birthday any one of my children will be spending entirely away from me.

It's a matter of logistics, unfortunately.  Thing One and Petunia are both playing in one soccer tournament two hours east of us, a distance that effectively requires two overnight stays given a very early Saturday morning game and ugly traffic in between.  Thing Two has a soccer tournament about 90 minutes northwest of us, commuting distance but still a long haul.  Because Himself and I have to divide and conquer, one or the other of us will be away from Thing One on his birthday, and it is what it is.  Just one of those things.

When I was growing up, my dad traveled a lot for work.  I mean a LOT.  It was not at all unusual for him to be out of town for birthdays, anniversaries, etc; again, just one of those things.  Whatever the occasion was, we'd celebrate it when he got home...we called those occasions "moveable feasts" in my family since we'd move the celebration to whenever we could all be together.

For the first time ever, the birthday of one of my children has become a moveable feast.  We will sing just as loudly and hug just as tightly and eat just as much cake on the 9th as we would have on the 8th, and life as we know it will go on.  And on the 8th, I will hug Thing Two just a little more often than usual because he will be the only kid I can reach!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Understandable Assumption, But No

Petunia and I were talking in the car tonight in the way to her soccer practice. The subject of Egypt came up because there is a character named Yusuf in a video game she likes, and I reminded her that he shares his name with the older son of my awesome Egyptian taekwondo instructor (and also, in the English translation, her grandfather, which blew her mind.)

She had a whole unit on ancient Egyptian history in school this year--the reason why there is currently a canopic jar made from an old French's mustard bottle encapsulated in a great deal of Model Magic on the shelf in her bedroom, for those keeping score at home--but apparently this did not extend to any discussion about how things are different in modern-day Egypt.  Which is why I laughed out loud when Petunia commented that she felt sorry for our Yusuf and his family since she couldn't imagine having to write letters to her family back home in hieroglyphics!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

You Plant Peppers, You Get Peppers

One of my aunts taught eighth grade in Ohio for thirty some-odd years.  The title phrase of this post came to our family vernacular from the mother of one of her students during a parent-teacher conference.

Just for something different, we were in a bit of a rush this morning.  A friend of Petunia's was supposed to pick her up at 9 for a playdate, and then the rest of us needed to leave at 9:30 to get Thing One to soccer practice by 10.  OK as far as that went.  Except that the friend's mom was running late.  First she said 9:15.  Then 9:25.  I finally called her and said I'd drop Petunia off at her house on my way to the high school.  Again, OK.  Her house isn't too far from my house but I'd forgotten exactly where her road is.  So I say to my beloved eldest as I am driving along, "[Thing One], please look at the map on your phone and tell me if I have to turn right or left at the end of [XX] road."  He does so, and tells me that I need to turn left and then take my first right.

Mom and Dad, I bet you can predict what's coming next.

I turn left, as instructed.  A short ways down the road, I get to an intersection where the road "T"s.  There has been no right turn in the meantime.  Thing One starts yelling at me that I've missed the (like I said, nonexistent) right turn.  With a sweet smile for the aforementioned beloved eldest, I turn around at the T junction and drive back the way we came.  Very shortly after passing the intersection at which we turned left, we come upon the road we are seeking.  On the left.  That is to say, anyone other than my directionally challenged son would have initially told me to turn RIGHT and then take my first LEFT instead of the exact opposite.  (!!)

To this day, I have to stop and think about my rights and lefts, which is why I suspect my parents are laughing as they read this.  You plant peppers, you get peppers!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Filling The Bottomless Pit

My dearly beloved Thing One is rapidly approaching his fourteenth birthday.  As a fairly standard active teenaged boy, he can already be relied upon to approach food like a starving hyena.  Since this summer he will be playing on two soccer teams (limited schedules at least) while also engaging in a massive summer regimen preparatory to trying out for a third team, his high school's freshman team, I don't know how the hell I'm going to keep him sufficiently fueled.  For the high school team alone, he has three lifting workouts, two conditioning workouts, and two captain's practices a week from now through the second week of August.  His protein requirements are positively mind-boggling!

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I loaded up on eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, lean ground beef and chicken breasts.  Oh, and whole-grain buns and breads.  My plan is to keep grilled chicken, turkey and ham lunchmeats, and sloppy joe filling in the fridge at all times for easy sandwiches.  He already eats a lot of eggs for breakfast and cheese hunks for snacks, and luckily we are entering fresh fruit and veggie season in my part of the world as well (I love being surrounded by farm stands!)  I don't keep a ton of junk food in the house anyway, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to cut back on it.  Bottom line, there will be lots of good food in the house.  The flip side of the deal is that he has to eat it without me nagging him!  The reality is that if he wants to make this team, he has to pay attention to his nutrition, and that entire box of mac and cheese that he loves to eat for an after-school snack just isn't going to make the grade.  I spend enough time chasing Petunia around with protein-rich foods, little bird that she is...I absolutely refuse to do the same for Thing One.  If I have to drive his sorry behind to the high school and back seven times a week for the next six weeks, he can darned well show me that I'm not wasting my time by making good food choices!
As you might surmise from the description of the summer training, his high school is a big one with a very successful athletic program.  (Also an outstanding academic reputation, I should say.)  It has a full-time strength and conditioning coach who supervises the lifting and conditioning workouts.  Apparently he also has some sort of app that emails all the boys on the soccer team a series of questions each morning: how much sleep they got the night before, how stressed they are, how much water they drank the day before, that kind of thing.  I think it's great that they are encouraging the boys to get into healthy habits.  I also think it's great that Costco recently opened a store nearby, since clearly I am going to be grocery shopping in bulk for the foreseeable future!