Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Did It!

30 days of NaBloPoMo, 30 posts.  Very few of them actually involved the official prompts, but never mind: zero days missed.

The funny thing is that I post pretty much every day anyway, but something about having to post every day felt a lot like pressure.  And we all know how much I like doing things that I feel like I'm being told to do or that I have to do (wonder where Thing Two gets that from??  Hmm...) which is completely and totally irrational given that this was a 100% voluntary activity.  Welcome to my's a scary place sometimes.  I probably need professional help.


After the activity of the past few days, today was very quiet.  My menfolk collectively went out and sawed down a Christmas tree of quite impressive girth (we are calling it "portly.")  I sorted two kids' worth of closets and drawers, did about four loads of laundry, ran some errands, and cleaned the house a bit.  As a reward for all my labors, I am currently perched on the edge of the hearth and savoring the feel of a lovely warm fire on my back.  Ahhh...peace at last.

Friday, November 29, 2013

More Than Just Shopping

The lady behind me in line at Sephora this morning told me that the mall was an absolute zoo at 2AM.  That's just freaking ridiculous.

Left to my own devices, there is no way in hell that I would go out shopping on Black Friday.  Short of somebody handing out free diamonds (and maybe not even then) there is nothing on earth that would make the crowds and craziness worth it.  However, I go every year anyway.

It's part of the tradition.  I stay over Thursday night when the rest of my family goes home, and at some early but at least reasonably civilized hour (usually 7AM or so) my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and I head out into the fray.  We have our route established: Macy's, then other stores in the mall, followed by a kitchen store, lunch, Costco, DSW and Target.  We roll back in exhausted and with a full trunk of Christmas shopping around 3:30PM, eat leftovers for dinner (with my husband and kids, who have come back to my in-laws' that morning to hang out with my nephews and father-in-law) and then head home for good in the evening.  It's just what happens on Black kids have never known anything different.

When I first met my in-laws, my husband and I had not yet officially started dating.  They had come to town to visit him and were taking him out to a barbecue joint for dinner.  I don't remember how it was that I ended up going too, but they could not have been kinder or more welcoming.  I felt comfortable with them immediately.

When Himself bought my engagement ring, they helped him keep it a secret.  After we got engaged, my MIL took me to look for my wedding dress, since my own beloved mother was far away on the other side of the country.  She hosted one of our engagement parties and then also the baby shower when I was expecting Thing One.  There has never been a single doubt in my mind that my in-laws love me and are very happy that I am married to their only son.

So...if the family ritual dictates that the females will bond over shopping on the craziest day of the year, I will go along with it cheerfully, for being part of this family is worth it, even if the shopping isn't.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This made me laugh.  Glad I'm not cooking the turkey this year!

Our collective assignments this year were to bring wine (Himself) and make a kid-friendly dessert (me.)  With the able assistance of Petunia, I made a big tray of these yesterday.

Happy Thanksgiving from my house full of turkeys!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks A Day Early

Half day of school for the kids today because of the holiday.  It was pouring rain and cold outside all day, so I met the school bus at the end of the driveway with the car after school so the kids wouldn't get soaked on the walk to the house, which is 100 yards or so.  Petunia hopped off the bus and dashed to the car, with Thing Two close on her heels.  I waited a few seconds for Thing One to follow, but he wasn't coming.  He wasn't on the bus at all.

The driver said that she hadn't seen him after school and radioed back to school to see if anyone knew where he was.  The transportation coordinator and parent pickup monitor hadn't seen him either, and I was really starting to worry at that point.  Then she started trying to reach the receptionist in the main office, which took an additional few minutes--of course, during this whole time traffic was building up to a crazy level on the main road by our house in both directions, since the bus was still stopped with its flashing lights on.  The driver finally got hold of the receptionist, who said that he was indeed in the office, and the bus drove on.

I was livid.  The office couldn't call me?  The KID couldn't call me??  This being the same kid who calls my cell phone about once every two weeks from the phone in his classroom when he forgets something at home or has a question during the day?

Turned out that he hadn't heard the bus announcements over the ruckus of the end of the holiday party in his classroom, and the bus was long gone by the time he got to the office after going out to look for it.  He said that he had the phone in his hand to call home when the bus driver's call came into the office.  After I got done yelling at him, I told him that it was only because he scared me to death and that I wouldn't have been so upset if I didn't love him so much.  There's nothing like being told that nobody knows where your ten year-old is (on a day when any number of visitors were at school for class parties, with who knows what other intentions in mind) to put the fear of God into a parent, after all.

He now knows to call home immediately if he ever misses the bus again, and everything turned out fine.  But I am not taking that for granted, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Reward Of Sorts For Thoroughly Antisocial Behavior

I spent the last three hours on the computer taking an online certification course.  Between that and having to take Thing One to his basketball practice beforehand, I had virtually no conversation or contact with my husband whatsoever this evening; not an ideal state of affairs, to be sure.  He spent the evening in the family room without me, watching TV and hanging out with the dog.

However, on the plus side:

1) I am now a fully certified youth basketball coach, as is required of all coaches by the league that my kids play in, and

2) I don't have to deal with anything certification-related again for a full year.


Monday, November 25, 2013

"That's All I Can Stands..."

My legs are so tired that they are actually shaking!  Just got home from an evening taekwondo class, which would have been difficult anyway, but I made a geocaching run with my friend B this morning as well to pick up a couple of high-terrain caches in the area before winter hits and that trip was killer...all up and down steep slopes.

Suffice it to say that deciding to tackle the second of the two caches was NOT the most intelligent thing that B and I (two otherwise fairly intelligent women) have done recently.  Specifically, the return-route-to-my-car part of the second cache. The traverse over to the site from the first cache wasn't too bad except for the very end bit, but then we looked down (and further down) and realized that we had two choices: to go back the way we'd come or to tough out the crazy downward slope to the highway below.  Being the brave and slightly foolhardy adventurers that we are, we decided to take our time but go the direct route down.  HA. 

Thus began a highly entertaining (for any spectators, at least) series of lost footings and butt-crawls and skidding down hillsides and grabs for handy trees and generally non-graceful, zig-zaggy descents that ended with an unceremonious slide through piles of leaves down the last fifteen feet or so to flat highway and safety. Then we looked back up the way we'd come, were absolutely horrified by its almost vertical appearance from ground level, and counted our lucky stars that both of us survived the experience with only a bump and bruise or two and worn-out legs! Not sure how we were actually supposed to get down from there, but the route we ended up taking was nuts.  

Think I'll stick to terra firma for a while after that experience, but at least I earned my Thanksgiving pie today!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Progress Has Been Made

Sunday evening.  I'm wiped out, but I'm pleased to report a few things:

1) After a full weekend of painting, the dining room is done and the furniture is finally back where it belongs!  My OCD-like tendencies are much better for the improvement in the general order around here.

2) The nest is done, and I was in no way responsible for its construction (although the engineer father of its builder had to be chased away from the construction site a couple of times.)

3) The Mayflower is done, and I was in no way responsible for its construction (Himself got that detail this year.)

Doesn't it look like something a first grader could make alone??  Hopefully it will carry the required 102 pennies (representing the Pilgrims) although probably not in comfort, much like its namesake.

So tired I'm slaphappy.  Going to bed!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Project: Make Parents Crazy

I like my kids' teachers--really, I do--but their habit of assigning projects to be done at home is driving me absolutely nuts.

Now, it's at least borderline reasonable for Thing One.  He's more or less old enough and responsible enough to tackle projects at home on his own.  But the other two??  Fuhgeddaboutit.  There's no way. I'm not even talking about the obtaining materials part--the ability to sit down and independently work through an assignment generally just isn't there for younger kids.  In which case, what you are actually assessing, as a teacher, is how involved and educated your students' parents are, how well they speak English and how much free time they have.  An undertaking of questionable value, hmm??

Petunia (who, it will be remembered, is a first grader) came home Thursday with a sheet indicating that she had to bring in a homemade Mayflower--as in the boat--for seaworthiness testing on Monday.  You tell me what six year-old can do that alone!  Thing One's current project requires him to go for a walk in the woods, collect natural materials, build a bird's nest out of them and fill in a sheet about the nest.  (Thing Two was blessedly project-free this weekend.)

In an effort to be efficient, tomorrow being a busy day, Himself and I developed the following plan for today:

1) I take Thing Two and Petunia to basketball practice (they play, I coach.)  He stays home with Thing One, who works on homework and piano.

2) He takes Thing Two and Petunia to soccer practice.  I go home and put the second coat of paint on the dining room walls. 

3) He comes home, drops off the younger two, grabs Thing One and drops him off at basketball practice, then comes home to work on the Mayflower project with Petunia.

4) Painting done, I collect Thing One from basketball and take him directly to walk in the woods to collect his raw materials.  (Of course, it being us, we do this while picking up a series of nine geocaches in a nearby park...can you say multitasking?? )

5) We get home at 5PM and shower off the poison ivy oils.  I make dinner, clean up, and collapse in front of the TV with the (DVRed) Notre Dame football game from the afternoon.  

The actual building of the nest will have to wait until tomorrow...we'll see if he can do it without help.  If he can't, maybe it shouldn't have been an assignment for home.  I'm sure I could make a kick-ass nest, but then, I'm not the one being graded on it, so I shouldn't be doing the work!

Friday, November 22, 2013


Finally picked a color (a lovely warm caramel) and began to tackle my dining room.  It was either that or lose my fricking gourd once and for all at the disastrous state of my house...there is only so much of that I can take, and this is at least a start on my menacing, imposing to-do list.  Did all the prep work this afternoon and put on the first coat of paint just now.  (Hoping to have my dining room put back together once and for all post-construction by Monday.)

And let me tell you, I really enjoyed showing my girl how to use a caulk gun!  She's learning from her mama, just like I learned from mine.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


It would be a simple enough change to orchestrate.  God knows I rival an Army general in planning and organizing skill by this point in my life, and this particular issue is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

But I'm tired and I don't have the energy to even think about the necessary logistics right now.  And I really don't give the tiniest fuck which kid plays soccer on which days during the winter offseason anyway.  Even on a good day.

Maybe I should just go to bed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Odd. Really Odd.

Thing One has taken piano lessons for four years now.  He started at age 6, when I realized that he could pick out tunes readily by ear.  His first piano teacher quickly determined that he has absolute pitch (also known as perfect pitch), meaning that he can identify any note correctly as soon as he hears it, without needing to first hear a reference note. He can also tell me what pitches he hears in elevator dings, train whistles, car horns, etc.  It's pretty cool.  I started music lessons as a small child as well, and I have pretty decent relative pitch, but nothing like his ability.

Thing Two started learning to play the piano this past summer.  He wanted to try it: we had no idea how he'd do with it given the abstract nature of music theory and his language comprehension issues, but we didn't want to deprive him of the chance to try. A good call, as it turned out.  He loves it, he practices like a fiend all on his own, and he's moving through the books at a rate that is startling the teacher.

Both boys are performing in a holiday piano recital at the beginning of December.  Thing Two has two easier pieces and Thing One a single difficult piece.  The other day, I walked into the living room and realized that Thing Two was playing a simplified (but still involving chords) version of Thing One's recital piece entirely by ear.  There was no music in front of him, and he can't read Thing One-level music yet anyway.

Today, for kicks, I had him play that piece for the piano teacher.  She looked at him strangely, then asked him to turn around on the piano bench so he couldn't see the keys she was pressing. Sure enough, he has absolute pitch too.

Speaking as a scientist. it's known that there is a genetic element to absolute pitch.  Given that fact, you'd expect the siblings of people with absolute pitch to be more likely to have it themselves.  Not so much of a shock from that standpoint.


In this case, we're talking about a kid with a severe auditory processing problem (in the words of his neurodevelopmental pediatrician.)  A kid whose neurological circuits between his ears and brain are indisputably, deeply scrambled, with respect to both incoming and outgoing language.  And a kid who is completely tone-deaf while singing, to boot.  So to hear that his auditory perception with regard to incoming musical notes is perfect was a surprise, to say the least.  

The brain: a wild and wonderful place.  Wish we actually understood more than the tiniest fraction of how it works.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slippery Slope

Hello.  My name is Mama D, and I'm an addict.

Until three years ago, my phone was just a phone.  No internet or email capability whatsoever (I didn't even text!)  But then Thing One started playing baseball, and my entire life began to slide downhill, one byte at a time.

The baseball coach was one of those guys who would schedule additional practices or cancel or change existing ones with very little notice, and always by email.  In order to keep up, I needed to be able to check my email on the go, not just while sitting in front of my computer at home.  So I asked Himself, who had purchased an iPhone a few months before and loved it, to please get one for me as well.  Famous last words.

I now get upset when I forget it at home.  I check it obsessively from parking lots and doctors' offices and the pickup line at school.  I have no set daily computer time, but since I am virtually never without a computer courtesy of that phone, the greater powers of the Internet threaten to take over my life on a daily basis.  We do have a no-devices-at-meals rule, and I do my best to stay off all devices entirely when my kids get home from school, since that's when they most want to talk to me.  But a never-ending battle, to be sure.  Curious to hear if any of you limit your own screen time too!

Tuesday, Nov 19: How much of the day are you plugged in? Do you consciously set aside offline time, or does it happen whenever it happens?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Taking The High Road

I know a guy who is married to a woman who regularly pokes fun at him and shares TMI-type info about him.  Publicly, too: both in person and in Facebook posts. Tell me why the whole world needs to know that you think your Valentine's Day gift from him wasn't good enough, for example?

Her Facebook posts in particular often make me feel sorry for him and embarrassed for her: there's something to be said for keeping private things private.  When I started this blog, there weren't many rules I set for myself, but one was that I was never deliberately going to use it as a public platform from which to bash my husband.  Especially since he doesn't read it, so he'd have no idea when self-defense was necessary.

It's been really hard sometimes.  When we have an argument or difference of opinion, I'm sorely tempted to vent here.  When he does something silly or embarrassing, it would be only too easy to share the story and get cheap laughs at his expense.  I try to remember that he trusts me to have his back, not stab it: he loves me, and we're supposed to be a team here.

Long story short: on the very rare occasions where I don't have anything nice to say about him, I'll be quiet.  It won't be aired here for everyone to read, by my conscious choice.

Monday, November 18: Tell us about a blog post that you didn't publish.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Letter

Between the morning and afternoon rounds of soccer and basketball yesterday, I stopped at the end of the driveway to grab the mail. On the top of the stack was an envelope bearing the school's letterhead, addressed to me in Thing One's scruffy handwriting.  Intrigued, I opened it immediately.

Six weeks or so ago, I received a frantic phone call from a friend whose daughter is in Thing One's class.  This particular friend tends to get herself more worked up about things than most people might, so I spend a great deal of time talking her off ledges.  On this particular occasion, she was upset about a book the homeroom teacher had assigned in the kids' Language Arts class, Sharon Creech's "Walk Two Moons," which she felt contained inappropriate themes for a fifth-grade class based on her daughter's comments.  Never having read that book, I asked Thing One to bring his copy home for me to look at, found it to be an outstanding and age-appropriate work (even though it did address difficult 'real-life' situations, particularly pertaining to mothers) and told my friend as much.  I didn't have occasion to think about the book again until yesterday.

Inside that envelope from the mail was a letter handwritten to me by my son in his best little-boy cursive, with a cover note from the teacher mentioning that this book had provoked a lot of class discussion about friends, families and mothers.  She asked the children to write letters expressing why they appreciate their own mothers.  It would have been deeply meaningful anyway, but having read the book myself and felt the emotions along with the kids, I understood just that bit more where the class was coming from with the assignment, and my son's letter hit me like a brick.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for all of the things you do for me.  I really appreciate it.  Things like laundry and the food you make and the dishes you do and the people I can have over.  I take you for granted, and I shouldn't.  

I'm sorry for aggravating you.  I don't know what I would do without you.  Thank you for making me happy and making me who I am and accepting me for who I am.  There isn't any other mom out there like you.  One last thank you to the greatest mom in the world.

(Thing One)

When he got home I gave him the biggest hug in the world and told him that I would be keeping his letter forever.  He smiled and said that his teacher told them that all their mothers would say that.

She's a mother too, after all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I woke up this morning wondering why my quads felt like they'd been hit by a train, then I remembered the two and a half hours yesterday spent climbing up and down the steep and rocky walls of a nearby creek bed with my friend B, looking for a cache and ultimately not finding it.  We're nuts, I know.  At least we have our particular form of insanity in common.

Saturdays are rough this time of year, it being a transitional sort of timeframe in the sports calendar.  Fall soccer isn't quite over, but basketball has started: today alone, we had two basketball practices and two soccer practices.  Thing Two and Petunia are on the same basketball team this year, and I, God help me, am one of their coaches again; a head coach this time around.  And the only female coach, too... my third straight year representing for the double-Xs in the testosterone zone.  

Date night tonight, a good end to a long day.  Sitter, dinner out, wine, peaceful uninterrupted conversation.  Batteries recharged.

Good night...

Friday, November 15, 2013


It takes a whole lot of nerve to send someone with whom you have essentially no personal relationship and about whom you know little to nothing a letter requesting a donation in the "$20,000 to $40,000 range."  Helpfully couched in all-bold letters, of course, to make sure that paragraph in the letter couldn't be overlooked.

No offense, but that is a boatload of money, and the cause in question ain't how I would choose to spend it if I HAD that kind of change just lying around, which I don't.  But I had thought that the man who sent me the letter was clueless before I received it, and the letter simply removed all doubt.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hoot Hoot

I'd say that the true measure of a person's preferred sleep schedule can be assessed by looking at their preferred hours of repose while they are in college.  (Be warned, I am speaking in generalities here...please accept that before reading further.)

No early-morning high school classes...most of the time you can set your own schedule, at least to a point.  No 9-5 job requiring report to duty early in the AM or at any specified hour.  No babies or small children to keep you up all night or to wake you up early.  At least for me, my years of college and grad school were more free and flexible than any I had before or have had since by a long shot.

As a college student, I went to bed around 2AM and woke up about 7AM most of the time.  That was all the sleep I needed (yes, it amazes me to this day, as I stumble about groggily and demand coffee when I get anything less than seven hours' sleep.)  Back then, the late hours of the evening and early morning were my preferred stomping ground: I would often study until midnight and then go out!

Then, because the universe has a sense of humor, I married another night owl and had children.  (Cue the laughing.)

My sons are the earliest of early birds.  My daughter is a night owl like her parents, but the boys are so loud that it is very difficult to sleep much later than they do.  The rest of us have started going to bed early as well purely in self-defense.  If I ever catch the proverbial early bird, I'm going to whomp it with a stick!

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tricky One

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt: What is your favorite hour of the day?  

Hmmm.  It would be a lot easier to identify my least favorite hour of the day, which is without question 3:30-4:30PM.  The kids have just gotten off the school bus and are tired, crabby and hungry.  They have homework to do, usually in a rush before we have to leave for some activity or other.  And tempers are short, so there's a lot of bickering going on!  I spend that hour playing a combination of drill sergeant and referee, most days.

However, that wasn't the prompt.  All in all, I think I'd call the hour between 10 and 11PM my favorite.  Himself gets up at 5 on workdays, so he goes to bed early.  I generally turn in at the same time he does, even though I stay up later.  (When it's cold out and he goes to bed before me, the man insists on going to sleep on my side of the bed to keep it warm for me even though I then have to wake him to get him to move over, kind and loving soul that he is.)

After he falls asleep, I spend an hour or so on the iPad, just relaxing in the quiet.  It's "my" time.  Yes,  there are other times of the day when I have no official scheduled responsibilities and the house is quiet (i.e., school hours) but during the day, there is always something that I should be doing.  Some errand(s), some cleaning or housework or garden work, some phone call or important email or something for one of the kids or Himself.  At night, when stores are closed and the people that I would be otherwise calling or emailing--and my family--are asleep, there is no such (mostly self-inflicted) pressure to be productive, nobody interrupting to ask me to do anything or get anything or help with anything.  It's very therapeutic to just be.

“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.” Khaled Hosseini, from The Kite Runner

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Insight From The Fridge

Now, here's an interesting NaBloPoMo prompt:

Monday, Nov 12: Name five things inside your refrigerator right now and how you feel about them.

Without further ado:

1) A jar of home-canned pickles.  A friend of mine won the bread-and-butter pickle contest at the local 4H Fair over the summer, and was kind enough to give me the recipe he won with, a hand-me-down from his mother.  Except that he forgot the sugar when he was writing the list of ingredients...good thing I like sour pickles!  I laugh every time I see the jar.  He was horrified when he figured out what had happened.  

2) The entire door shelf of Asian condiments.  Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, nam pla, sambal oelek, etc, etc.  These make me nostalgic: I went to junior high and high school in Hong Kong and have traveled extensively in Asia.  Those were happy years and the flavors take me back.

3) Calcium-fortified orange juice.  The word for this is resigned: I battled Petunia for years on the subject of dairy consumption.  She's not lactose intolerant; she eats ice cream cheerfully and cheese on occasion, but will NOT drink milk or eat yogurt under any circumstances.  After consulting her pediatrician, I finally gave up, started buying this form of orange juice and Viactiv chews for her, and decided that life was too short to spend it fighting with one of my children three meals a day.  

4) Organic milk.  I try not to go too crazy about what I feed my kids, but I do draw the line at their dairy products: no hormones, no antibiotics.  The two who actually drink milk go through a ton of it.  Mom-guilt, perhaps?  Seeing these cartons reminds me that I should probably be feeding them all kale smoothies and wheat germ and tofu instead of the occasional chicken nugget or hot dog that they get now.  

5) Half a loaf of homemade pumpkin-raisin bread.  It's Himself's favorite kind, and Petunia loves to bake with me.  Making memories with my girl and something good for my family to eat at the same's love wrapped into one bread pan.  

I don't usually pass along the prompts, but if any of you feel like telling me how you feel about something (or five things) in your refrigerator, I'd really love to read it.  I didn't realize how much insight the contents of a refrigerator lend into their owners until today!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Day For Veterans, Milestones, Movies and Plumbers

Quite a day, this November 11th.

Veteran's Day here in the US, for starters.  As I mentioned last year (click on the link for some of my favorite words and images), between Himself and me, we have a goodly number of veterans and active duty service members among our family and close friends.  I also have the privilege of personally knowing a WWII veteran who helped to liberate several concentration camps and then attended the Nuremberg Trials....a wonderful man.  He speaks to the eighth graders at our school on Veteran's Day every year.

Petunia is just starting to get the idea of what it means to be in the military.  Himself's best friend is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines, and our children know him and his family well.  Petunia came home from school today and made several drawings for him that I will mail tomorrow.  This was one of them:

She actually did a remarkable job with the camo for a 6 year-old.  Not sure how much fighting with old-style cannons he does (he's a helicopter pilot), but the thought counts for a lot.  And in case you might be wondering why the cannonball in the cannon has a face on it--I felt compelled to ask--our young artist doesn't yet know the difference between a cannonball and a bowling ball!

This date also marks the start of our eleventh year in this house--we moved in exactly ten years ago today.  Himself and I closed on the house on the eighth, and then he promptly left on a business trip to sainted in-laws helped me pack up the apartment and then supervise the movers at the new house over the next few days.  Considering that Thing One was an infant at the time, there's no way I could ever have managed it without them, so I always give thanks for them on Veteran's Day as well.  Both had the long weekend off that year since they were civilians who worked for the Army at the time, as it happens.

Finally, today begins our third year with our beloved rescue dog, who came to us on 11/11/11.  In honor of the occasion, I stopped up the corner at the feed store (really...) on my way home today and bought her the biggest peanut butter-filled bone I could find.

This is her trademark "OK, just take the picture already and quit hovering..." face.

On a completely different subject, today's NaBloPoMo prompt was another one that didn't really speak to me: "If you had to be trapped inside a movie for 5 days, which movie would you pick?"  I can hear my husband and mother (and probably some friends) laughing when they see that, since I really don't like movies in general and they know it.  I don't understand why anyone would want to watch violence or cruelty on purpose, and awkward situations (the hallmark of EVERY rom-com etc) make me want to run out of the room...perhaps an overdeveloped sense of empathy??  At any rate, I initially dismissed the question out of hand, but in considering it later, I decided that my answer would probably be The Quiet Man, purely for the location and scenery!

Spent most of the day today at home waiting for the plumber to arrive.  We've been having problems with the water pressure and something was clearly very wrong with some element of the well apparatus (oh, the joys of living in the boonies!)  I was not at all happy by the time he finally arrived, and even less happy about the amount of money necessary to set the problem to rights, but it is in fact set to rights, at least.  

Oh well.  Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, especially on Veteran's Day.  But nevertheless, a favorite poem popped into my head sometime this afternoon, and apropos of nothing other than the fact that it made me laugh, I share it here.


If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.

But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell. 

--Dorothy Parker

On to the 12th...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas Is Coming

And I'm already stressed about it.

It used to be my favorite holiday, before I became the one responsible for making it happen: the cooking, the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the decorating.  Etc etc etc.  I don't even want to think about getting all of that done along with all my regular stuff (plus trying to put my dining room back together.)  And since both of my sons are taking piano lessons and playing in a holiday recital the first week of December, I've been hearing Christmas music nonstop from one or the other since mid-October.  In general, I think those songs should be banned until December 1st: there are only a limited number of holiday songs, and no matter how many arrangements of each there may be, I can only hear them so many times before going batcrap crazy and threatening to move to the Middle East.

I know: bah, humbug and all that.  Bad attitude, not grateful for all my blessings, yadda yadda yadda. I just feel like it's more a season of pressure and to-do lists than a season of joy, and isn't that just sad??

Saturday, November 9, 2013

To Each His Own Form Of Insanity

One o'clock this afternoon found me belly-flat on the very end of a short, rickety dock, the rough edges of the boards biting into my waist, my left arm clinging to a metal pipe running parallel to the end of the dock to keep my upper body out of the water while my right fished at full extension for a cache suspended in a tube below.  I knew going in that the terrain rating for this cache was a 5 (the highest), but I did not expect to be suspended over water while hunting it!  Fortunately, had I lost my grip and fallen into the shallow pond below, most likely the only thing injured would have been my ego, but those wounds cut deep.  As it was, I managed to both retrieve and return the cache without incident, giving thanks for my height and wingspan all the while.  I sincerely wish that I'd had the presence of mind to take a picture of the site, but my adrenaline was running high and I forgot.  When I get over that way again, I will remedy that omission.

At any rate, I related the scene to my husband when I got home, which was a mistake on several levels.  He doesn't much like the idea of me risking my fool neck in general, and he doesn't understand why anyone would choose to spend their free time geocaching, either.  He thinks I'm nuts.

Bear in mind that this is a man who runs marathons and 200-mile relay races for fun.  This very morning, as it happens, he 1) got up at 5:30AM on purpose and 2) ran 23.5 consecutive sub-8 minute miles of hills as part of his training for his next marathon in December.  Then he coached a soccer practice for the two younger ones followed by a game of Thing One's, creaking around like an old man all the while.  I may be nuts, but I'm not the only one!  Pot, meet kettle.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Juice On The Loose

There was a NaBloPoMo prompt for today, but it didn't inspire me in the slightest.  So, in its place, I tell the story of something that happened this morning that might be funny at some point.

One of the major rules in our house is that if any member of the family tells another one to stop doing something annoying, that person has to stop.  Period.  Another major rule of the house is that Thing One is not allowed to deliberately goad his (socially-challenged) little brother into fits of frustration and/or rage, despite the fact that this sort of thing is a favorite pastime of big brothers everywhere.  Thing One had broken that latter rule twice yesterday evening alone, so my patience was a bit low going into this morning.  And we all know that patience isn't my strong suit to begin with.

The kids were all eating breakfast in the kitchen.  I was upstairs getting dressed and trying to get everything together for all the various activities of the day (running late, as usual) when Thing Two's yelling started, clearly audible through the floor from the kitchen below.

"Stop it!"
"Stop making faces at me right NOW!!"

There was a brief pause, much like the one that occurs when a child has really hurt themselves, the second of silence while they are drawing breath in that is generally followed by bloodcurdling screams.  A significant sort of silence well known to all parents.

But this particular silence was followed by the voices of both boys urgently calling my name and no screams.

I ran downstairs two steps at a time and encountered Thing Two in my front hall.  He was dripping orange juice from the neck of his shirt all the way down to his socks.  A trail of wet footprints extended behind him all the way back to the kitchen table.  (Apparently he'd inadvertently spilled his juice glass all over himself in his agitation.)

I threw him immediately into the shower, clothes and all, and scrambled to find him another set of soccer clothes for the camp this morning.  Then I raced back down to the kitchen to discover juice splashed from here to China and Thing One trying (ineffectually) to clean it up, spreading the mess further in the process.  I admit to growling GO. AWAY. at him through tightly gritted teeth, and I'm proud that I didn't say anything worse.  He wisely fled to the safety of the basement playroom while I dug out paper towels, mop and bucket and cleaned up spill, table, chair, wet footprints and all at warp speed (did I mention that I'd already been running late before this happened??)

We squeaked into soccer camp on time (barely) but the car ride there was very, VERY quiet.  Fortunately for my blood pressure and sanity, I had a taekwondo class immediately afterward.  I walked into the dojo and asked the teacher if I could kick one of the big standing targets for a while!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What's In A Name?

When I was born, there was no such thing as the gender-determining ultrasound and IVF was still a dream (the first 'test-tube' baby was born almost exactly five years after me.)  Back in those dark days, if you were having trouble conceiving naturally, adoption and waiting it out were pretty much your only choices.  And when you were pregnant, you found out if the baby was a boy or a girl on the delivery date, no earlier.  Simpler times.

I'm the older of my parents' two kids, and for whatever reason, I was a long time in coming.  It was a cause for great celebration when my parents found out that I was on the way.  Since there'd been a lot of prayer involved, in gratitude, they decided to name me for Christ.  I would have been Christopher if I'd been a boy; my name isn't Christina, but it's along those general lines.

Given whom I'm named for, it seems a bit sacrilegious to even contemplate changing it!  Nevertheless, as anyone with a female name of this derivation (Christina/Christine/Kristine/Kristina/Krista/Kristin/Kristen/Kirsten/Kirstin/Kerstin etc etc etc) can attest, NOBODY ever gets the spelling of your name right on the first try, and most somehow manage to bang up the pronunciation as well.  It's very frustrating.  (Although it is also a very handy tool for the weeding-out of telemarketers.)

If push came to shove and I were ever to decide to change my name, the new one would have to meet two major criteria:

1) It would have to be beautiful, classic and simple
2) Fewer people would be able to screw up the new name than the current one.
I strongly suspect that I would end up as an Amy or an Anne, probably an Amy because it means "beloved" and I've always liked it.  And the day someone screws that one up, I will despair for humanity!

Monday, November 7: if you had to switch your first name, what name would you choose and why?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Be the Change

There's a lot to be said for benign dictatorship as a form of government.  While I believe in democracy in principle, in practice it often leaves a lot to be desired.  In the elections last night, I was sadly disappointed in the political defeats of two friends whom I deeply respect for their knowledge and ability in what ended up being popularity contests.  That stuff, to the extent that it belongs anywhere, belongs in middle school, not municipal government.  Then, while on a caching run, came across a deer stand with a spill of deer corn only a few feet away.  Just shoot the fish in the barrel and be done with it--where's the sport in that?  Not impressed with some of the other residents of this area right now.

On the brighter side, Thing Two had a great day.  That kid has a head like a rock and the determination of an entire herd of bulls: the only hope is to channel his powers for good, not evil.  This takes the form of directing his determination and undisputed physical gifts (speed, coordination, strength) into acceptable channels like soccer and taekwondo.  The kids had a half day of school and met up with a bunch of other kids at the park after lunch.  Most of them were boys Thing One's age, but they allowed Thing Two to join in their pickup football and baseball games and he managed to behave appropriately, not lose his cool, and even contribute to the games--one of the older boys actually sought him out for a high-five after a particularly good at-bat.  Being accepted by a crew of fifth-graders when you are a second-grade little brother with space and language issues takes some doing, so I was beyond proud.  Then he had a piano lesson and absolutely blew the socks off his teacher.  He practices like a fiend, so it wasn't a shock, but I did enjoy the look on her face when she realized how much progress he's made since last week.          

I continually underestimate that kid.  God knows, he still has issues, but considering where he started, he's a different kid now.  My expectations for him seem to be about six months to a year delayed, so he routinely surprises me when he handles challenges that I am expecting will cause him problems.  For some reason, in my eyes, every problem, every setback, that he has is magnified and becomes something that will cause him lifelong problems and result in him never being able to be independent.  I want to get back to the place in my head where I was before we found out about his severe learning disability...I was much more of an optimist then, not so much a mother in constant fear for her child.

And THAT, my friends, is what I'd change about myself if I had a magic wand.  I want to be the cheerful, innocent parent I once was, before I found myself in the world of special needs parenting: IEPs, annual assessments, and speech therapy, oh my.

Wednesday, November 6: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Location, Location, Location

Our house has an office, but right now it looks like a bomb hit it: the entire contents of my dining room (bar the actual furniture) are still piled and stacked in there pending decisions re: rugs and paint, and to tell the truth, it was a disaster even before the pre-construction rearrangements.  We never quite seem to get around to taking the time to clear out papers and old textbooks and other sorts of extraneous crap.  Because I don't have an "official" writing space, my blog posts are usually written on my iPad from my corner of the sofa in the family room while watching TV in the evenings, although a few have been composed on my iPhone in the hallway outside the dojo while waiting for my kids to be done with a class.  

I feel like a bit of a dilettante in this blogging crew, actually.  When I have something to say, I write about it whenever and wherever I get the chance, but not because I feel like there's a novel lurking inside me, or even a frustrated writer.  Maybe that's why I don't feel a pressing need to have a dedicated space for writing?  Or maybe it's just that I have more hobbies/obsessions going already that I really have time for, and don't want to commit to yet another serious one??

Monday, November 5: Tell us about your writing space. Where do you write your blog posts?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Squeaking In Under The Wire

Some candidates off the top of my head, in no particular order:

Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory)
Nancy Drew
Velma (Scooby Doo)
Elizabeth Bennet
Jo March
Jane Marple
Sherlock Holmes
The mother in the Baby Blues comic strip
Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)
Bill Lumbergh (Office Space)
John Bender (The Breakfast Club)
'Verbal' Kint (The Usual Suspects)
Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption)
The Great Brain
Juror #8 (12 Angry Men)
Nero Wolfe

20 of my all-time favorites from TV, books and movies, no question.  But the best answer to today's question??

My grandmother.

Monday, November 4, 2013
Who is your favourite character of all time?

Sunday, November 3, 2013


It's been that kind of day.

I'm done with fall soccer: the obligation to spend my Saturday mornings and most of my Sunday afternoons at a field somewhere.  Today, the younger ones' game was at the same time as Thing One's (but in different places, of course) and it was played in 50-degree temps and howling wind.  Was very glad to have a heavy fleece blanket that Mom made for my kids in the trunk of my car...all the subs on the bench ended up huddled under it for the entire second half to keep from freezing!  Our team lost 6-4: the only good thing about the afternoon was that Thing Two scored all four of his team's goals.  He was on a roll.  If he ever figures out how to aim a shot and then follow it, he'll be a really dangerous player...right now he takes more of a firing-a-shotgun sort of approach.  

I'm done with the garden: spent a couple of hours after soccer clearing out the sad remains of my frost-damaged and weed-infested backyard plot.  As a kid, I spent most weekends in the yard with Mom being attacked by tropical thorns, heat and bugs, and I swore I'd concrete over my yard when I grew up and paint it green!  It's been a shock to all who knew me back then to hear that I have a big garden now, but I've lost interest in the project: too much time needed for maintenance that I could be spending doing other things.  Next year, I scale back big-time...the last thing I need is to have to worry that my yard looks like crap because I didn't get out there to weed.  Perennials are going to become my new best friends.

And most of all, I'm done with one of my committees, the one responsible for Town Day along with a host of other events.  Had an epiphany of sorts; decided that I've put in my time (three years as Chair, nine years total) and that it's someone else's turn to run this particular show!  I'll be making the announcement at tomorrow night's meeting and bowing out effective January 1.  It's not at all in my nature to walk away from anything or to say "no," even when it's demonstrably in my best interest to do so, so y'all should be very proud of me.

Can't do much about the soccer thing, but in the immortal words of Meatloaf, two out of three ain't bad!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

What A Great Day

A question for the good souls of BlogHer...if NaBloPoMo is supposed to be a post-every-day thing by definition, why are there only post prompts listed for weekdays??  There being no topic prompt listed for today, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

A few weeks ago, I was out on a caching run with my more experienced local friend, who mentioned to me that there was to be a geocaching event today.  These are official meetups for geocachers, often held at state parks: the organizer hides new caches to be found, people bring food to share at potluck meals, new friends are made and old friends are joyfully greeted.  I'd never been to one before, but signed myself and Thing One up for the event today and prepared with a bit of trepidation for an adventure.

This particular event was held at a state park about 75 miles north of our house, well outside my normal caching radius--I'd actually never been to that part of the state before.  With the exception of a quick rain shower in the afternoon, it was a lovely day, positively balmy for early November.  We found 14 caches with friends old and new and generally had an absolutely fabulous time.  We will definitely be doing this sort of thing again!

The only downside: I forgot to bring a 'real' camera, and my iPhone did not do this view (from the top of a nearby mountain) justice in any respect.  It was stunning.

And the absolute best thing?  I got to spend an entire day with my son.  He's only ten, but the years are flying: he will be eighteen and gone in the blink of an eye, and it's possible that between now and then he will become too cool to hang out with his mother.  It was a joy to have him all to myself for the day.  Even though we almost had a catastrophe: it was a good thing that, while crossing the dam on the bridge, he dropped the toy he was holding in his right hand into the water and not my iPhone from his left hand!  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving It A Shot

Most of you have probably heard of NaBloPoMo: it stands for National Blog Posting Month.  It's a simple concept: post on your own blog every day for a month.

I pretty much do that anyway, but part of the challenge here is that they provide prompts.  Sometimes I feel like I'm writing about the same things over and over--this will make me get outside my own brain for a while, or at least that's the hope! Life as I know it will not come to a screeching halt if I don't manage to post here every day during the month of November, but I'll see if I can make it happen.


I'm a saver, not a spender.  If I were to receive a windfall, my first thoughts would be practical: what could we pay off, which retirement or college account we should deposit it in, what investment could we make.  I wouldn't be the one rushing out to buy Birkin bags or Louboutin shoes or diamonds whatever the hot must-have items of the moment might be.

Which is all to say that giving me a large amount of money and telling me that I had to spend it all in short order (as opposed to keeping it, in the form of any of those practical options above) would make me very uncomfortable indeed.  Especially since I really don't need anything big.  If push came to shove, I'm pretty sure I'd end up donating a lot of the money.  Cancer research, the animal rescue our dog came from, the resources available to the kids at our public school...all of those are dear to my heart.

And I'll tell you one thing: I'd do every bit of it anonymously.  I think I'd rather not have the money than have to deal with everyone in the world suddenly being my new best friend!  Things like lottery winnings never seem to have positive endings.

Friday, November 1, 2013
If you found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would you do with the money?

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...