Fall woods

Fall woods

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A New Level Of Crazy. Even For Me.

My mother regularly tells me that she needs a nap after just listening to my daily schedule.  I find it overwhelming sometimes too and I'm actually used to the juggling involved.

This weekend was a new low, however.  Because it was the only way to get it done and both were well overdue, we held both Petunia's and Thing Two's birthday parties on Saturday: ten girls at a pottery-painting place in the morning and fifteen boys at a giant-inflatable-jumpy-gym place in the late afternoon.  25 goody bags.  Two cakes.  A soccer practice, too.  Oh, and doing all the prep work for tonight's crockpot dinner, because this was today's schedule:

Put dinner in the crockpot
Go to Mass
Donate blood (the vampires called again)
Make lunch for the kids
Meet my in-laws at Thing Two and Petunia's soccer game
Go home, put out hors d'oeuvres, prep bread and salad for dinner
Go with my in-laws to Thing One's soccer game
Get home at 6PM, put dinner on the table
Say goodbye to in-laws at 7:30
Put kids to bed at 8
CRASH.  Hard.

Then get up tomorrow morning, send kids to school, and start over with a fresh to-do list, this one including a visit from a roofer, calling the heating oil company, and figuring out when the contractor is actually going to start taking my living room and dining room apart and putting them back together.

I really need some down time.  And I see none whatsoever on the horizon!


    


  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Moment Of Sheer, Unadulterated Panic

I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream that I was pregnant again.  Where the hell that came from, I have no idea.  Unless it (possibly??) resulted from being happy for my taekwondo friend who's been TTC for years and finally succeeded.

And it isn't anything against babies per se.  I love babies. I just want to be able to cuddle the heck out of them and then send them home to their own houses with their own mothers.  After approximately eight straight years of having somebody (or multiple somebodies) in diapers and/or needing nursing or sippy cups or special food or extra clothes or naps and not being able to explain to me WHY THEY WERE CRYING, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I'm done with all that.  Especially given the uphill battles we had with our special-needs son when he went through that infant-to-preschool age range with siblings two years older and two years younger to add to the confusion.  I'm honestly not sure I could go back through those years again without very strong medication.  Some mothers are great at juggling a houseful of kids of widely varying ages (a good friend has 6, ranging from college-age down to first grade!) but that isn't me.  To paraphrase the immortal words of Bill Cosby, we have three kids because we did not want four.

So, like I said, I had that crazy moment of disorientation when I first woke up, then reality set in and I remembered that any children I might be gestating would definitely be the result of a no-kidding Act Of God, at which point I calmed down.  And then went downstairs and drank two cups of coffee in rapid succession.

The ironic thing is that I have also been thinking a lot recently (and while awake!) about how hard it is to watch the kids I do have growing up.  For whatever reason, it doesn't hit me so much with the boys, although I think Thing One's first middle school dance next year is going to reduce me to a quivering puddle of tears, judging from my response to the pictures of friends' boys on Facebook from last night's dance.  I guess with the boys I always had in the back of my mind that Petunia was still little, even if they weren't.

Except that she isn't little anymore either.  She's 6, and a thriving, bouncing first-grader.  Something about her getting on the bus with the boys this year is really getting to me.  And she went to full-day kindergarten last year, too...guess something about the fact that I still had to drive her there and pick her up made it more like preschool in my head.  The bus is so...final.  She talks like a big kid, reads at about fifth-grade level, and has no more baby roundness (not that she really ever had much of that once she started walking)...she's a no joke LITTLE GIRL now who picks out her own clothes and has very definite opinions.  Thank God for the fact that she still loves hugs from Mom, or I would be undone.

So...apparently I don't want any more babies, but I don't want the kids I do have to grow up any more, either.  Except when they do some little-kid thing that makes me insane and I want them to act more like big kids.  I think I need my head examined.  Really.

Happy Saturday...



        




Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guanxi

The Chinese term guanxi (gwan-shee) literally translates as "connections," but that's somewhat of an oversimplification.  In China, getting things accomplished is all about who is in your network and what kind of relationship you have with those individuals.

The husband of a woman I know reasonably well from taekwondo lost his job yesterday.  He does IT-related stuff in the healthcare field.  By the end of the day, one of the instructors had asked me and another woman from the class if we would ask our husbands to put his resume in at their respective healthcare firms.  Unfortunately, Himself has no contacts in the right area.

There's a large extended family in our town: grandparents, two daughters, a son and a passel of grandkids.  Thing One is a classmate of two of the grandsons'.  I am on the school board with one of the sons-in-law and the grandmother.  I've worked extensively on PTA stuff with one of the daughters.  The son plows our driveway in the winter and does our tree work. And the son's oldest daughter is the same age as Petunia and has been in her class for two years now.  In the course of carpooling and playdates, I've gotten to know the daughter-in-law pretty well too.

As it happens, the daughter-in-law works at the same company as my husband. In IT.  I forwarded the résumé to her. Her response?  "Not our group, but I know the guy who needs to see that. I'll send it over this week."

Guanxi in action, baby. Guanxi in action.





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Out Of Left Field

Not sure what it is with Thing One, but the second his butt hits a chair for a meal, the questions start.  His brain doesn't seem to be able to stop moving...he replaces whatever stimulation it was getting pre-eating with deep thoughts, fifth-grade style.

For example, at dinner tonight; both within a 60-second period and completely unrelated to any other conversation going on at the table:

"Is it possible to create water?"

"Are cactuses flammable?"

Never a dull moment at our dinner table!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Hope Disney Can Figure Out A Good Alternative

Y'all have heard the uproar about Disney apparently discontinuing their Guest Assistance Card program--the program that made their parks accessible to autistic kids and kids with other handicaps--because the program was being widely abused by wealthy conscienceless scumballs?
A quotation from the post above: "You want to know who I am angry at? I'm angry -- no, I'm seething -- at the pathetic mother%!@&ers who would sell this "service" to the even more pathetic mother%!@&ers who somehow still managed to sleep at night after taking their kids to the Magic Kingdom with a "Black Market Handicapped Guide."  For the love of God, what did they tell their kids they were doing? Appalled doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this. Apoplectic comes close."
Amen, sister.  
How low can you stoop?  How entitled and oblivious can you be?  How sure can you be that the rules don't apply to you because you're above all the little people who actually have to follow them?
My family went to an amusement park this past summer.   Although we do have a special needs son, he doesn't require special services at a park.  He waited patiently in lines, even the long ones.  And when we finally got to the front of one of those lines and a family cut directly in front of us, coming from the "special" line?  We explained to our kids why they got to cut in and we all said a quiet prayer together for the pale, frail-looking little boy with the bald head.           
The thought that the sorts of accommodations that made it easier for kids like him to go on rides at an amusement park could be taken away or changed to something even a fraction more inconvenient because of people like those "Manhattan Moms" makes me physically sick to my stomach.  Hoping that Disney can find a good way to separate the legitimately deserving from the charlatans.   



Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Things That Made Me Laugh Today

Funniest ESPN headline of the day:

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed a TMZ report that wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who is rehabbing from a knee injury, was involved in a brawl on a party bus early Monday morning and was hurt when he was hit over the head by a stripper wielding a champagne bottle.


*****************

December, 1974 - A Letter to Carl Sagan from Isaac Asimov

Dear Carl,

I have just finished
The Cosmic Connection and loved every word of it. You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.

One thing about the book made me nervous. It was entirely too obvious that you are smarter than I am. I hate that.

Yours,
Isaac Asimov


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Highs And Lows

As is generally the case on Sunday afternoons, Thing One had a soccer game in one place and the other two a soccer game somewhere else entirely (at least they are on the same team!) at overlapping times.  When this happens, Himself generally goes with Thing One and I with the other two.  

Thing Two was absolutely dominant in his game today.  After several years of watching his focus waver in and out and occasional silly or oblivious or "different" behavior from him on the field, he's finally got this whole soccer thing.  He can track an opponent down on defense at speed and stuff them.  He can hold his own if they need him to play goalie.  On offense, he charges and charges and charges, with some pretty decent ball handling skills, too, until something goes in.  He scored the only two goals his team had today.  A friend commented that I need to make sure that I come to all of his games, since after every single scoring attempt, successful or unsuccessful, every defensive play or stopped ball in the goal, he looked over to me on the sideline for affirmation with a huge, sweet, joyful grin.  I was jumping around and hollering like a fool, I was so happy for him.  Their team ultimately lost 3-2, but I could care less about that.

Then, after the game, he was such a flaming nightmare that he lost both cookie privileges at the grocery store and game privileges at home in separate incidents.  Hard to believe that was the same kid: the arguing and rudeness were just far beyond any possible reasonable limit.  No idea whatsoever why Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde.

Then there was Thing One, whose game Himself was reporting to me via text.  The first two quarters weren't so hot: he missed a defensive assignment and let one goal in, then the opponent scored on a PK that resulted from a foul of his.  He apparently came off the field at halftime nearly in tears.  Then, the second half, he scored on a booming PK of his own and had an assist as well.  His team also lost 3-2, but he felt a lot better about himself after his second-half performance, and the texts I was getting became much more cheerful as well!    

The story of parenting: Up one minute, down the next.  Want to kiss a kid one second and put a muzzle on him the next.  Laugh one minute, then cry.  Emotional whiplash!  Stop the roller coaster...I need some motion sickness meds.  

    

Friday, September 20, 2013

Guilt

The beginning of this school year has been difficult in a way that I really never expected.

This year, and for the three years after this one, my three kids will get on the school bus together and off the school bus together, every day of the week.  No more ferrying kids to and from preschools for partial days or driving Petunia back and forth to the other school at which she attended kindergarten last year or trying to keep track of whose school has which days off.  My daytime hours are finally (officially!) my own, except inasmuch as the dog would still like some attention between 8:30 and 3:30.    

It's not all roses, of course: our afternoons and evenings are so insane that there will be no errand-running or other mother-productiveness going on after the kids get off the bus.  It's homework and practices and lessons and classes from that moment on.  If I need to go to the grocery store or dry cleaner or buy a birthday present or find a kid a fall coat or have a repairman come to the house or get a head start on dinner, it has to be done during the "me" time.  But I'm no longer juggling kids to get to my taekwondo classes, I can make a spontaneous cache run if I feel like it, and I don't have to plan for days ahead of time and get a sitter if I need a pedicure.  It's an odd feeling.  After years of moment-to-moment, hands-on SAHMing, my role is clearly changing.

Himself and I jointly made the decision that I was going to stay home with whatever kids we had long before Thing One was born.  At this point, I could easily go back to work, although the kids like having me home and any job I did get would have to be kid-friendly, since Himself's work schedule doesn't allow much flexibility.  I used to work 12-hour days at my pre-kid job, which would just not fly anymore...at that point, why even have kids if you'll never see them and just be paying someone else to raise them?

So, for the immediately foreseeable future, I am the mistress of a domain that is suddenly a lot quieter than it used to be.  I'm finding myself feeling guilty if the house isn't spotless or the laundry done or a nice dinner cooked: it's almost like I'm feeling a need to justify my existence now that the kids are older and gone more.  The unfortunate part of this is that there is NO more frustrating thing in the world than cleaning a house, only to have it immediately trashed again by the other residents of the house, none of whom care about having things clean and neat.          

This speaks to me.

So does this.

Himself, to his credit, isn't asking me what I'm doing all day.  And God knows that my patience and energy are taxed in a big way before school and when the kids get home, so it really isn't that I'm not doing an important job around here.  It's just not the same important job that I've been doing for all these years.  Eventually I will wrap my head around the change and stop feeling like I'm not pulling my weight!


  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Whatever Works For Motivation

It seemed like every blasted cache we tried to find today required a hike up a steep hill!  Some of those slopes were so vertical that both hands had to be free for balance and grabbing hold of convenient trees, roots, rocks, etc...good thing both of us had backpacks on.

My friend emailed me yesterday to see if I wanted to join her on a morning cache run today.  Normally I'd have gone to taekwondo, but it's a sparring week and there's only so much of that my knees can handle, so I figured I'd take a day off.  As it happened, I think my knees got more of a workout than if I'd just gone to class.

The series of caches my friend had in mind are all just off a beautiful hiking trail half an hour or so north of home.  By the third or fourth, we were laughing like fools about all the climbing we were doing and how crazy people have to be to do this for fun.  By the ninth and last, though, we were pretty much out of gas.  And this one (of course) was the hardest--the longest climb and the straightest up.  We stood at the bottom for a while, eyeing the terrain dubiously and debating whether it was worth looking for a more gradual way up further along the trail.  Then my friend looked at some of the previous logs online, noticed a familiar name in a log from a month or two back, and read his entry to me.

The guy who wrote that entry is in his 80s.  He's legendary in this part of the world--he leaves his retirement-community home and goes caching every day, rain or shine or snow.  He's found close to 50,000 of them, which is insane...pretty much anytime you find a cache around here, you'll find his signature in the log.  This one was no exception, and the accompanying comment noted that he'd gone straight up the same route we were so hesitant to try.

That was it.  My friend and I, not about to be bested by no stinkin' octogenarian, promptly scrabbled and clawed and bear-crawled our way up the slope and found what we were looking for at the top.  As motivation, it worked.  (I hope he takes it as a compliment if he ever sees our log entries for that cache.)  And I definitely want to be like him when I'm 80!  Another personal hero for my series.

    

      

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ridiculously Happy Given That None Of The Good News Is Mine

A friend who has been trying to conceive her second child unsuccessfully for at least five years announced her pregnancy today!  She is 17 weeks along and looks great.

Also, the sweet, beautiful teenager from my taekwondo class, the one who was being bullied and cutting herself, is doing really well in her new school and had no bandages on her arms at class tonight.  And she now has a boyfriend, one who makes her giggly-happy like teenage girls should be.  A friend of hers from class called me over afterward to see a picture of the two of them: I wanted to do a happy dance right there in the hallway, but refrained.  My reaction to her is entirely maternal...she could be my daughter, and seeing things finally going well for her really made my evening.

Good news, indeed.




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Insane In The Membrane

Himself's team of runners for this weekend's relay race covered 205 miles in a bit less than 26 1/2 hours.  That's a average of 7:41-minute miles for 26-plus hours between the bunch of them.  He ran three of the legs: one in 6:15-minute miles, one in 6:30s, and one (nine miles, starting at three-something AM, with two huge hills--nicknamed the 'Dolly Parton' leg) in 7:00s.  Pretty darned impressive!  I still think he's nuts, but clearly he's one hell of a runner too.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Social Progress

I was expecting things to go to hell in a handbasket in a big hurry when Thing Two's friend said that he didn't like playing video games anymore.

My kids rarely have time for playdates, which is pretty sad.  Not so much that any one of them has *that* much going on relative to what passes for normal around here, but a "normal" load of activities times three kids means that we just aren't home after school very often.  Saturday mornings are usually basketball or soccer practice, Saturday afternoons are the only unscheduled time for the kids to spend with Himself, and Sundays are church and eternal, everlasting soccer games.  So, on this beautiful Saturday afternoon with Himself away, I took the opportunity to set up playdates for all three of my kids.

Petunia had a "drop-off" playdate, which she loves.  She got to spend the afternoon at a friend's house.  Both Thing One and Thing Two had friends over here, which meant that I had four boys between the ages of 8 and 11 at my house for an extended period.  The boy playdates started with a friendly melee involving soccer balls, basketballs, and frisbees in the front yard.  But when the two older boys decided to go inside to play Wii, it almost got ugly.

The only thing that Thing Two loves more than watching other people play electronic games is playing them himself.  The older boys asked the younger ones to join them, but Thing Two's friend really didn't want to.  You could see the struggle on Thing Two's face: do what I want to do or what my friend wants to do???

To the kid's credit, he remembered the (many, MANY) conversations we've had over the years about how to be a good friend and playdate host and agreed to go back outside with his friend.   They threw a baseball around and played hide-and-seek until the friend's mother came to pick him up.  The playdate was an unalloyed success, still amazing from my perspective.  He's come SO far in learning how to interact socially with his peers, and he has some honest-to-God friends now who are patient with his idiosyncrasies.  Maybe a day will come when I don't feel like I have to stress so much about every playdate the kid has, because he'll finally have gotten the social thing down.

In the meantime, he's making progress, no doubt.  But it does still come with a cost, sometimes a big one.  A friend hosted a lovely cocktail party at her home this evening.  I got myself all gussied up, left the kids with a beloved and trusted sitter, and went to the land of adults for a while.  When I got home, every light in the house was on and Thing Two was sobbing hysterically in his bed, with the sitter trying to calm him.  He hadn't been to sleep yet and it was after ten PM.  My first thought was that the kid was sick: maybe feverish. I called him into the hall and sat on the top step with him cradled against my chest.  A quick lips-on-forehead test indicated that there was no fever, but he was absolutely beside himself, probably with sheer exhaustion.  My guess is that the physical activity plus the social strain of trying to act appropriately today tuckered him out--he just lost it and then couldn't calm himself back down.  Having learned a few things about how to effectively break that cycle over the years (gentle pressure and a loud SHHH noise), it didn't take me long to settle him down, and he crashed into a dead sleep almost immediately.  Poor little thing.

Two steps forward, one step back.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

And I Really Don't Care WHAT Anyone Thinks About It

I really love my taekwondo class.  Where else could I possibly go to get a great workout and see my friends and come out with this as an unexpected bonus??


The Indian instructor brought her tubes of henna paste today and asked if anyone would like a tattoo after class. The picture came out upside down here, but the drawing is a stylized bird.  Just beautiful.

Funny thing was that a close friend of mine who is also in the class declined a tattoo of her own because her kids' school also has Back To School Night tonight and she didn't want to stand out.  She's relatively new in town and her kids have had some trouble assimilating into their school...guess she just doesn't want to make any waves.  As it happened, my thought process was entirely, completely opposite..."Guess who's going to be the coolest first grade homeroom mom in the school tonight??  Bring it on."  I'm sure it does make a difference that she's new and I'm not.  That I know a lot of people at our school and am comfortable there and am probably not going to be judged (much, anyway) on the basis of one hand decoration that stands out a bit, to put it mildly.

BUT.

I've also gotten to the point in my life where I really just don't give a rat's ass what some people think of me.   I'm okay with being a little bit different on occasion.  That was not always the case, believe me, but the older I get, the more I realize that most people aren't thinking about me (in a judging sense) nearly as much as I thought they were back in the day.  And I like myself a lot more than I did back then, too, bumps and all.  So if I want to walk into a school occasion in a very conservative town decorated with henna, I will.  Even though I'm on the school board.  And if anyone cares, it's all on them, not me.  A very liberating series of thoughts!  


Dividing Into Thirds

My blog-friend Elizabeth posted something the other day that made me laugh the kind of empathetic laugh that comes from suffering through a shared experience!  Her post is called Air Traffic Control and relates to the sometimes-insane logistics of getting multiple kids where they need to be when they need to be there.

Thinking about that today in connection with the logistics of my own family for this evening--it's Back To School Night at my kids' elementary school.  There are two parent information sessions, but I have three kids in this school.  Himself and I could easily cover it between us, but he's leaving town this afternoon to run a 200-mile relay race with my brother and some of my brother's friends.  The first member of their team will start running at 2PM tomorrow afternoon and they'll keep trading off until they finish the 200 miles, probably sometime late Saturday.  I think they are all cuckoo for cocoa puffs, but then, I spent half an hour yesterday morning tromping through what was probably poison ivy in the mud (grateful for my bottle of tecnu right now) unsuccessfully trying to find a geocache under a low bridge in a state park, so I'm not sure I have standing to call anyone else nuts.  To each his own.  Anyway, the upshot of this is that I have to find a way of hitting all three class presentations by myself tonight, since parents are supposed to write notes to their kids during these visits and they'll know tomorrow if I didn't get to their classes.

And it's actually even a bit more complicated than that, sadly.  Left to my own devices, I'd swing quickly by Petunia's classroom before it starts, write in her notebook and then attend the other two presentations, since (for two different sets of reasons) I'm a lot more worried about my sons.  But of course, courtesy of Murphy's Law, I am Petunia's homeroom mom for the year (I told the woman coordinating the program that she could put me in any of the three classes if she needed me and this is where I ended up) so I have to be in that classroom for at least part of the time while other parents are there.  New plan: attend the boys' class presentations, ducking out of each with five minutes to go to run to Petunia's classroom and get parents to sign up for things, while also hitting the G&T presentation for Thing One during the half hour between parent session 1 and parent session 2.


Hopefully Himself will have the sense not to call this evening: I will probably bite his head off!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I May Not Survive Until All Of My Children Are Confirmed

I think part of the problem is that I really, sincerely HATE being told that I have to do something.  It makes me not want to do the thing out of pure, unadulterated spite, even if I would cheerfully have done it otherwise.

For the uninitiated, CCD is what Roman Catholics call Sunday school (even though it is often not held on Sundays.)  It stands for Confraternal Christian Doctrine, which factoid probably 99% of good RC folks don't know.  Anyway, the CCD program at our church is going to drive me to either homicide or high alcohol-content drink; not sure which.  If it ends up being homicide, my eternal soul will really be in trouble, since the two people who will get it in the neck are the Monsignor of our parish and the former-nun CCD director.

The Monsignor is relatively young, not much older than me, which is amazing in this day of generally-ancient priests.  He's also profoundly old-school and from Poland.  He is very much a throwback to the days when the priest's word was law and not to be questioned.  The CCD director, while apparently married, has no kids, and has not the faintest glimmer of a clue how to deal with kids.  She's also a socially awkward, sanctimonious PITA.

When these two make plans together, no good comes of it.  For example, tonight: the first CCD class of the year.  The Wednesday classes run from 6:45-8: tough for the younger kids anyway.  These brainiacs decided that they were going to open the CCD year with Mass.  STARTING AT 7PM.  ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.  You don't DO that with little kids.  But even if you must, you can make it a short Mass.  A kid-friendly Mass.  But nooooo.  A full 55 minutes, all the bells and whistles.  Morons.  And they wonder why some of the kids act up.  And of course, we had to accompany the kids and police them (this is where me being required to do something comes in.)  Growl.

And this was still better than last year: last year they started CCD on the first day of school.  At least they had the sense to start a week later this year.  Can you tell that neither of these people has ever dealt with a child who is overstimulated and overwhelmed (and tired!!) at the beginning of a school year??

Thing Two will make two Sacraments this year.  There are several mandatory three-hour Saturday morning workshops.  A long list of things to buy and make.  And it isn't even that these things are so unreasonable of themselves, but when somebody stands up and says "You WILL do X, Y and Z" it puts my back up beyond all reckoning.  And don't even get me started with all the fiats related to Confirmation...we may have to switch CCD programs before Thing One gets there.

I'm probably going to hell for just typing this post, but some people skills and a clue or two would go a long way here.  In the meantime, at least there is a large quantity of the non-holy kind of wine in my house!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Getting Old Is Pigeon Poop

The immortal words of my aunt.

Exchanged a series of texts with a close girlfriend this morning.  She just turned 40 a few weeks ago...she's about a month younger than I am.  Unfortunately, she's already starting to exhibit some signs of premenopause, and is in the middle of having some tests run to clarify whether this is in fact what's going on.  We traded first-mammogram stories and agreed that 40 may not necessarily provoke a mindset difference (both of us went through it with no midlife-related emotional trauma) but that physically, it really is the beginning of some years of major change.  100 years ago we'd be at the end of our lifespans, so I'm glad for the wonders of modern medicine, but this has been kind of a reminder that the human body didn't last all that long until relatively recently in the grand scheme of things.

After I put my phone down, I started to think about the value of girlfriends.  No offense to all the beloved men in our lives, but there are some conversations I don't want to have in detail with my husband, let alone any other guy.  He just can't relate, and he (like many guys, I'd guess) feels at a loss with problems that he can't fix.  There's a lot to be said for being able to laugh and commiserate with people who really understand how you're feeling: after all, if you can't find the humor in tough situations, you're just screwed.  The older I get, the more I value my girlfriends for this.

It's been an interesting shift, actually.  For most of my life, the majority of my best friends were guys.  I couldn't handle large numbers of women together--the high pitched shrieks and giggles and cattiness.  My college dorm (all female) made me absolutely bat-shit nuts and I avoided it assiduously.  Somewhere along the line, though--probably right around the time I had kids--I began to understand the value that the camaraderie of women could add to my life, and that has only deepened in the years since.  

The women in your life are the ones who exult with you in your good news.  The ones who organize your sister's funeral reception for you when you are paralyzed with grief and can't make a decision to save your life.  The ones who come to the doctor with you when you are terrified or talk you off a ledge when you've gotten scary test results.  The ones who listen to you when you need to talk about your children or are upset about something at home and need to vent.  The ones who will come over and feed your dog or check on the crockpot that you can't remember turning off or look to see if your house lights are back on after a power outage.  And the ones who can make you smile when you really want to cry, or just give you a hug when there are no words.

Giving a shout-out to the girls tonight.  However old they might be!!    


Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I Don't Feel At All Bad About Missing These The First Two Times


Did YOU notice the tiny numbers etched into the tops of the two bolts on the left??


The bolts in question hold up one side of a gate and were halfway up a post, slightly below my waist level.  Oh, and they are smaller in real life than in this picture.  Cripes.  The numbers on them form part of the latitude and longitude coordinates of a geocache I'm trying to find.  Took me three trips back to the site to finally locate those numbers, which were the clue I needed to move on to the next step.

In other news, it was a pretty day here.  Thing One had two soccer games, today being the second day of a weekend tournament, and he played some pretty darned good defense.  We were so proud.  His team won their first three tournament games and tied the last one; not at all bad for the first games of the season!  Hopefully this will bode well for their team.

First full week of school starts tomorrow!  And unlike last week, which was so filled with errands and medical craziness that I had very little time to enjoy what otherwise could have been peace and quiet during the day, this week appears much less crazy so far.  Actually looking forward to this one.  Just have to do some paperwork tonight (agenda and minutes) for a meeting I'm chairing tomorrow night, then I'll be set!





Saturday, September 7, 2013

You Know You Live In The Sticks When: Part 972

A friend posted on Facebook tonight that her favorite cow had just died.  And posted a picture of herself hugging that cow in happier times.  Not making this up!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Happy Freaking Birthday

Turned 40 in July.  Of course, as a female in the US, that means the advent of the dreaded annual mammogram.  Had mine Wednesday, the first day of my kids' school, because there are some things I am just not willing to do with kids in tow and enough with the finding of babysitters, already.  Can I just say "OW!"??  Not much of a birthday gift for me...going to think of it as one for my family.

Anyway, got a call in the middle of yesterday's taekwondo class.  They were concerned about one set of images and needed me to come in for more tests.  Cue panic mode.  Unfortunately, courtesy of my Ph.D. research, which related directly to breast cancer, I know more than enough about the subject to be dangerous but not nearly enough to be fully educated.  Fortunately for my mental well-being, I was able to get back in again this morning.  And after the additional tests were done, everything was fine.  But a hell of an introduction to the world of mammograms, thank you very much.  Cripes.

But at least I do have access to them, along with other routine screenings.  And everything did turn out ok.  Thinking back to a woman I saw when I was a graduate student and spending a few days following an oncologist.  This woman, who had immigrated from somewhere in Central America, had never had access to basic healthcare, and presented with a massive tumor, clearly visible externally.  It had grown into the skin.  I don't think she ever had a chance.  So I will be thankful for my blessings today, even if some of them do hurt more than others.






Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just Call Me MacGyver

Found cache #96 this morning: pretty good for two months.  They are all over the place, in every kind of hiding spot and container.  Had a fun conversation recently with a friend and fellow geocacher about some of the odd ones each of us has found, which reminded me that there are some things that I need to put in my car, stat.  

Things I've Wished I Had With Me (But Didn't) On Various Occasions While Geocaching

1) Long pants
2) Hip waders
3) Flip flops
4) A bobby pin
5) Tweezers
6) A flashlight
7) Duct tape
8) A large container suitable for holding water
9) A long stick
10) Wasp and hornet spray
11) Regular mosquito spray
12) Gloves
13) Mace
14) Purell
15) An extra pair of hands
16) Bubble gum
17) A magnet
18) A step stool
19) A calculator
20) A towel

Definitely an interesting hobby, I'll say that much for it...





Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Six

This time around, I didn't even bother to schedule a C-section.

Both Thing One and Thing Two had been in breech position until mere days before they were born, and Petunia was following suit.  Like her brothers before her, she spent months mercilessly pummeling the inside of my ribcage on the right-hand side with her head.  I had a feeling that she would flip into the head-down position at the absolute last possible second just as both of them had, and I was right.

The ultrasound that confirmed her gender months before had really been a formality.  With the boys, I had no morning--or any other time of day--sickness at all.  Zero.  During my pregnancy with Thing One, I actually asked my obstetrician about it: I was afraid that something was very wrong since I wasn't ill.  I'd hoped for a girl the third time around, and when the nausea hit early on, I was pretty sure I'd gotten my wish.  I still wasn't puking, but with her I could only eat between about 10AM and 4PM...anytime before or after that the thought of food made me gag.  Himself, who would have been perfectly happy with three boys (the whole uber-protective dad-of-girl thing kicking in preemptively) got very nervous every time I mentioned feeling sick.  When the ultrasound confirmed that I was carrying a girl, he literally turned a little bit green.  Both grandmothers immediately did dances of pink-ruffled joy, though: Petunia is the only granddaughter on one side and the eldest granddaughter on the other.        

Despite the fact that the boys were only 3 and 1 at the time and running me ragged with their energy and demands, that pregnancy was fairly uneventful once the nausea subsided.  Thing Two's issues hadn't really manifested yet, blessedly.  Besides the fact that an early-September baby meant that I was yet again very pregnant during the worst of the summer (you would think I would have learned something from my July and August babies, but no...) things were moving along quite well.  But then, around 36 weeks, the final routine ultrasound suggested that our daughter had a cardiac arrhythmia.

For the next four weeks, I had a stress test every week.  Things seemed to be okay, but we were waiting on tenterhooks for the other shoe to drop after the roller-coaster experience with Thing Two's birth.  And when they told us that Petunia was measuring very large, probably too big for me to deliver if we waited much longer, we agreed to schedule an induction.  We asked about the obstetrician schedule for the following week and picked the day that our favorite OB was on call.

September 4, 2007 was a Tuesday.  My in-laws had come in the night before, and we left for the hospital bright and early that morning.  As with the previous induction, it was difficult and painful, and this one took forever to progress.  Petunia was born at 8:27PM, long after our OB of choice had finished her shift at the hospital and gone home!

As she was being born, I looked at Himself and said, "Forget about me; follow the doctor to the warmer and make sure that the baby is okay."  During the whole delivery, all I'd been able to think about was our discovery immediately post-birth of the spot on Thing Two's head and the horrible five days of hospitalization that followed for him, and since I couldn't go and inspect her at that moment, I really needed him to do it for my peace of mind.  Thanks be to God, she was normal and perfect.  And ironically, although she was indeed the largest of my babies, she only weighed 7 lb 8 oz...a mere 5 oz more than Thing One, who'd been the smallest.  Clearly I am consistent in my baby-growing (Thing Two weighed 7 lb, 5 oz), but I was also really annoyed that I'd gone through an induction for no reason: guess baby measurement is not a science.

I had my beautiful baby girl, anyway.  And unlike the last time I was in the hospital, at least that time nobody asked me when I was going to try for my next baby!!  That has to be THE dumbest damned question you can possibly ask somebody who's just given birth, but somebody posed it to me right after Thing Two was born.

The wording of the birth-announcement e-mail was classic Himself: "Mother and daughter are both doing very well.  The boys and I are bracing for the inevitable shift in the intra-family power structure!"


Love you so much, my precious girl.  You may not be a baby anymore, but you'll always be my baby.  Happy 6th birthday!




 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pondering


Kids are sleeping. Lunches are packed. Backpacks are ready to go.  The first day of school is tomorrow! Wonder how long it will be before I stop being glad that the summer is over and start grumbling about the insane after-school schedule?? 

Holy Crap, This Kid Is Smart. Now What??

Took Thing One to the neurodevelopmental pediatrician this morning.

He'd been having difficulty staying focused in class last year.  Difficulty keeping himself organized and remembering to bring the correct stuff home in his backpack.  Difficulty remembering to take the time to check his work and go through tests slowly and carefully.  Several of his fourth-grade teachers independently raised the red flag with me: not that he was having any trouble academically, but it looked to them like he was coasting on raw brainpower.  They wanted us to see if he had any ADD-like issues going on so we could do something about it proactively, without his grades having to crash first: the concern being that his disorganization and lack of focus would eventually--as his coursework gets harder--put him in situations that brainpower alone wouldn't get him out of (assignments left at school, forgetting to check his work, etc.)

Called his regular pediatrician first, the one who's known him since he was an infant.  That doctor told us that the kid might well have ADD, but could also just be bored.  Rather than simply throwing meds at Thing One, he suggested that we take him to the same neurodevelopmental pediatrician that Thing Two sees to get her opinion.  

She talked to us, then talked to Thing One alone, then had him complete a battery of tests.  The results were illuminating.  She does see some ADD-like behavior.  She also sees some performance-related anxiety, which was mostly news to us.  Apparently he is more driven than we thought he was.  What was really surprising, though, were his test scores.  She assessed his language arts skills two different ways and also evaluated his spelling and math abilities.  The lowest of those results (math, the most dependent on what kids have actually been taught) came in at close to tenth-grade level.  The two language arts and the spelling scores were tenth-grade, eleventh-grade, and twelfth-grade level respectively.  This for a rising fifth-grader who just turned 10.  We knew he was bright, but those numbers were a lot higher than we expected.

So what do we do now??  Socially, he's right where he belongs.  There's no way in hell he's moving up any grades.  I can go in and ask that the school make a point of challenging him, but I'm not sure what they can or will do.  I have no idea what to do about the focusing issue, since the doctor didn't think that the ADD symptoms were near the level that requires medication.  I can help him to get himself organized, and I can talk to his homeroom teacher about that too.  But I am at a dead loss for how to intellectually challenge a 10 year-old who is operating at the high-school level.  We did find the Khan Academy website and are going to sign him up so that he can watch their class videos online.  Any other suggestions??

Nice problem to have, I guess, but we've been thrown for a loop.

  

         

Monday, September 2, 2013

Frustrated And REFUSE To Clean; Therefore I Cook

Last day of the holiday weekend.  Had plans to geocache in peace for an hour or two (trying to get to my first 100, have 94 so far) but woke up to a swollen red mask of a face on Thing One and a morning spent at the pediatrician's and two pharmacies instead.

Poison ivy.  Nasty case, but seems a little better post- two doses of Benadryl and two of prednisone.  I'd be less annoyed if we hadn't told the kid approximately a hundred times to stay out of the damned bushes at my in-laws,' but the kid is too miserable for any maternal I-told-you-sos.  I guess some people just have to learn lessons the hard way.  And I've had this song in my head all day:




When we got home with the meds, Himself went to the gym.  Then the skies opened and it poured for about three hours, so no trips out for me.  I live with slobs who could care less about tidiness, and I flat-out refuse to clean anything else today.  So I cooked instead: a huge pot of tomato sauce from my own tomatoes, a loaf of bread, a pot of soup, and a batch of bread-and-butter pickles from my own cukes and a 4H Fair-winning recipe given to me by a friend.  Feeling slightly better, and the house smells great.

Tired of being the maid and housekeeper and having messes made as fast as I try to clean.  Definitely ready for school to start!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

I've Been Dreading This Day, And It Finally Came

I've mentioned that Petunia's birthday is coming up.  There was a big annual get-together for extended family and friends at my in-laws' house yesterday, and this party traditionally includes a celebration of her birthday since it is always held within a few days of her actual birthdate.  (The Princess Tiana cake was ordered for this event.)

Petunia's godparents (a cousin of Himself's and the cousin's wife) were able to attend the party this year for the first time in a while.  They have two boys, both older than Thing One--one teen, one tween.  Because she never had any daughters, and consequently has largely been deprived of the opportunity to purchase 'girl stuff,' the godmother tends to go a bit overboard with presents for Petunia.  Her birthday present this year was an American Girl doll!

For any who may be blessedly uninitiated into this crazy world, I envy you.  These dolls do have a legitimate educational element, but they are also very expensive (north of $100!) and totally commercialized--books, clothes, toys, furniture, accessories and all sorts of other related paraphernalia are available.  There are 15 stores in major cities entirely devoted to these infernal products.  Friends who have gone to the Manhattan store tell me that it includes a cafe (for mother-daughter-doll teas), a photo studio, and a hair salon--for the dolls.  Individual 'official' outfits for these dolls start at $30 and rise exponentially from there.  In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making any of this up.  For obvious reasons, I've been throwing away the catalogs the second they arrive at our house in an attempt to keep Petunia from ever finding out that these pernicious exercises in marketing exist!

Sadly, Petunia's godmother has now opened her eyes.  Her first words to me after opening the gift: "Mom, can we go buy my doll my more clothes?"  GROWL.

Fortunately, several of the other mothers of girls at the party told me that Michael's sells a line of clothes that fit these dolls and are more reasonably priced.  Hopefully that is in fact the case.  Not that we can't afford some doll clothes, but this company just annoys the hell out of me and I just don't want to buy any of their overpriced, overmarketed stuff on principle!