Friday, May 30, 2014

A Gift From The Universe

It's been that kind of a week.  Busy, lots of evening events, lots of stuff going on during the day too.  This weekend's agenda is horrific: nine soccer games between the three kids (each boy has two each weekend day as part of a tournament and Petunia has one) plus a baby shower an hour away, a soccer practice for Petunia and an end-of-season soccer party for Thing One on Saturday night.

To put it mildly, we've been scrambling the last couple of days trying to get logistics sorted out for tomorrow and Sunday.  So, I was considering it a blessing that all we had after school today was Thing Two's regular speech therapy appointment.  I was looking forward to a peaceful evening before the insanity begins.  However, when I walked in to pick him up from school, my eyes happened to light on another mother in the pickup line, and I remembered with a start that Thing Two was supposed to be attending her son's birthday party starting at 5:30!!

Thankfully, I had bought the kid a gift and card ahead of time and we still had time to get there even with speech.  But I had really, truly forgotten all about the party, and it would have been really embarrassing to have to call and apologize for missing it after the fact.  Had I not seen the mother this afternoon, there's absolutely no way I would have remembered.  Thank you, universe...I needed that little extra poke today!!  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's Official

Per a conversation with the instructor this week, I will be testing for one of these sometime this summer, probably at the end of June or in July.

I have six of the necessary nine stripes on my current belt as of today.  Boy, am I glad I started with the increase in cardio and weightlifting right after the last test, since I was not expecting this to come so early...I'd be a basket case if I was starting the necessary preparation for the craziness of the red belt test now.  This will be a whole different animal from all the tests up to this point--much longer and more strenuous.

In our system, red is the lowest of the high belts, if that makes sense; the 8th belt where a black belt is the 12th.  I'm a long way from a ninja yet, but movin' on up.

In other taekwondo-related news, both of my sons earned new belts this week, and for the first time I was asked to serve as an assistant to the instructors for the test (essentially an extra set of hands to attack the test candidates for their self-defenses and hold targets while they are kicking or striking--not glamorous although you do get to sit up front with all the black belts.)  I was given the honor of partnering with Thing One during his test, which made this mama very proud even though he got entirely too much joy out of folding, spindling and mutilating me with official sanction!  Love that kid.  :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Pox Upon The Clueless (beware, profanity ahead)

Almighty pet peeve of long standing relating to the Memorial Day weekend, and news flash to apparently quite a lot of people: this is not a HOLIDAY.  This is a MEMORIAL day.  For people who have DIED serving our country.

It makes me almost physically ill to hear radio ads or see print ads for this Memorial Day sale or that Memorial Day sale.  To hear people talk about the weekend solely in the context of beach and beer and party.  As a nation, how did we become so detached and oblivious??

I happened to be in my car a fair bit on Monday.  I was surprised and proud to observe that Sirius satellite radio shut down all of their channels at noon and played Taps.  I was also glad to be on a quiet road at the time, so I could easily pull over while it played.

My husband's best friend is a Lt. Colonel in the Marines.  Three of his cousins are or were active duty Army, and one was a Marine.  Two uncles and an aunt of his were in the Army, and both my in-laws worked for the Army as civilians for most of their careers.  Two of my uncles, one aunt and a cousin proudly served our country as well (two Air Force, two Army.)

This is not what your fucking long weekend is about, assholes.

Neither is this.

THIS is.  Get it straight, for fuck's sake.  Save your commercial shit and drunken partying for a different weekend and show some fucking respect.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Sure I Deserve This

Himself arrived home with the kids about 1:30 this afternoon after three days away.  I hadn't expected them so early, so I was still out caching when they got home.  By the time I pulled into the driveway shortly afterward, the car was unloaded and two of the three kids had already been fed their lunch.  Then Himself went back out to buy charcoal for the grill (dinner, you know--I hadn't realized we were out) and then dug out two dead bushes and sprayed the weeds in the garden.  As icing on the cake, he then planted a new bush in the spot formerly occupied by one of the dead bushes.  As husbands go, he's a keeper for sure.

A quiet Memorial Day dinner here--just the five of us.  Chicken, potatoes, cucumber salad, fresh bread, and ice cream with berries for dessert.  A lovely way to end the long weekend.  

Final cache tally for the weekend: 93.  Not too shabby.  Probably ten or so miles hiked as well: a good couple of endurance workouts before my next belt test.  And the refilling of my bucket?  Priceless.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections On My Alone Time

The family comes back tomorrow.  Himself keeps asking if I miss them, or if I am lonely.  Truthfully, I haven't had much time to think about it...I've been out caching or with the dog, or outside in the garden, almost the whole time they've been gone.  I've not been doing a whole lot of sitting at all, which is a good thing since the things I am doing are things of my choice and I've been able to indulge in the luxury--generally speaking--of doing whatever the hell I want to do, whenever I want to do it.  (The generally speaking part refers to the dog, who would like my company occasionally.)

I don't think much about being here alone at all except at night.  I take care with securing the house and turning on the alarm, and I've been sleeping with these right next to me, to hand on Himself's side of the bed.

Some people use a baseball bat or, I have my trusty nunchuks.  Can't you just see me going after a house-invading marauder in my PJs with those in my hand?? go with the weapon you're familiar with, and I love my chuks.

It will almost be strange to have the noise and confusion and mess back tomorrow.  I guess this is how the other side's been so long since I lived alone that it is alien to me now!

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Still a bit stuffy, but I refuse to sit home and mope during my solo weekend!  I found 35 caches previous daily record was 20, so this is a big deal for me.  It is a caching 'thing' to get 100 caches in a day, but I have no idea how people do took me the better part of today to find my 35 and I'm wiped out.  There was a lot of hiking involved.  I got home in time to plant my new perennials and repot a small maple tree that Thing One grew from a seed and now I am DONE for the day.

In other news, I saw this on Facebook just now.  Can you pronounce all of these words correctly?  I have no idea if this is true, but the poem caption states that anyone who can pronounce the entire poem correctly is speaking better English than 90% on the native English speakers in the world.  I can manage most of it, but Terpsichore and Melpomene, sward and brougham and feoffer??

I would say that this poem is definitive proof that English must be *the* single most frustrating language in the universe to learn as a second language.  :)

The Chaos
by G. Nolst Trenite' a.k.a. "Charivarius" 1870 - 1946

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.
From "desire": desirable--admirable from "admire."
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.
Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with "darky."
Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,
Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.
Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, want, grand, and grant.
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.
Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,
Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,
Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation--think of psyche--!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying "grits"?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

It's So...QUIET Around Here

Unnaturally so.  Even the dog feels it, I think.  She appears very unsettled, although she was visibly relieved to see that I was still here after everyone else left this afternoon.

Himself and the rugrats are now safely ensconced at his friend's house and I have a weekend of caching, gardening and gym time (more belt test prep) planned.  Nothing exciting, but it will hopefully be soul-feeding.  Best belated Mother's Day present ever!!

Turned on the TV briefly while eating dinner tonight and every news channel (and I use the term "news" here loosely) seems to have something to say about Kim and Kanye's wedding.  I don't have the words to say how little I care about either them or their wedding.  Wonder why anyone else cares...sad commentary on our celebrity-mad nation.  I'll stick with the BBC for my news from now on, thanks.

Yes, I'm tired and a bit grouchy from this cold.  Why do you ask?  :)  Off to bed: hoping for a slightly less congested first full day of freedom tomorrow!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Crocodile Injured by Falling Accountant

Is that not the best title for a news article EVER?  I absolutely had to share it.

In other news, my head is absolutely full of gunk and I am drowning in it.  Beyond foul.  I am doped up on cold meds and trying fruitlessly to breathe through my nose.  If this bug does not get shaken before the weekend I will be most unhappy.  Universe, listen up: sick at home is NOT how I want to spend my few days of peace and quiet!

And it's supposed to rain all weekend, too.  Murphy's Law, you're a real piece of work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hellfire And Damnation

A mere 48 hours from my blessed weekend of freedom and I have just realized that I'm coming down with something.  Chugging tea with lemon and honey and swearing in every language I know!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Am SO Looking Forward To This

Every year, Himself asks me what I want for Mother's Day.  I tell him (only half-jokingly) that I want a day away from the kids.  Then he gets me something else.

But this year, THIS year, he's actually taking me up on it!  Not on Mother's Day, clearly--that would be unkind to the kids and also impossible due to soccer--but belatedly.  He is taking all three of them to his best friend's house several states away for the holiday weekend and I am staying HOME.

Two-plus days in my house by myself!!  Cooking only for myself.  Cleaning only what I mess up.  No kid activities, errands, school or playdates.  My sole responsibilities will be myself, the dog and the fish.  I may go so far as to do some planting in the garden, but that is it...I have no intention of wasting my first 'free' weekend in ten years on household chores.  I'm almost giddy just thinking about it!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Three Cheers For Thing Two!

Got the email first thing this morning: Thing Two also made a travel soccer team for next year.  Not sure which one yet; at his level they make the final determination after the two weeks of preseason soccer camp in August.  Most likely the B team again, though, and that's just fine.  Preferable, actually.

We knew Thing One would make a team--for him the only question was which one, and the drama surrounding the rosters for those teams is STILL going on.  For Thing Two, we weren't sure how it was going to go.  He's good, no doubt, but we weren't sure if that was going to show up in the unfamiliarity of the tryout format, especially since he's still new at the travel thing.  And even more especially because he's had a tough time this spring between the adjustment and the fact that his team keeps getting killed in games.  Not that he doesn't like soccer, but no kid likes to be crushed every game!  I can only surmise that there was a problem with the way this team was flighted.

He's doing well as an individual, though: he's finding his footing and playing well now both at goalie and upfront at midfield or forward.  The coach told Himself today that Thing Two is the team's best goalie, but that they don't want to use him there because he's more valuable in other positions.  As long as he's adding value to the team overall and having fun, we're happy!

And Petunia will not be trying out for travel soccer for at least another year yet, thank the good Lord for small mercies.  :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Scientist, an Engineer And An English Prof Walk Into A Zumba Class...

Sounds like the setup for a joke, doesn't it?

It's funny how different people process information in different ways as a function of how their brains are wired.  This is brought home to me regularly in taekwondo class.  Some people can see an instructor do something and successfully imitate it without having to consciously break down each action involved: I am not one of those people.  The instructors have been giving me grief for years (gently and with good humor) because I will say things to them like "in that move, you turned counterclockwise 270 degrees, correct?"  The analytical, scientific mind at work.  The funny thing is that there happen to be four scientists who come to the morning classes and we ALL conceptualize moves in terms of angles and degrees, much to the amusement and confusion of the rest of the class.

One of the taekwondo instructors has been doing Zumba for fun for a while now, and she finally convinced me to try it with her a couple of months ago.  I'm pretty good at laughing at myself by this point, and I needed the extra cardio as part of my prep for the upcoming red belt test anyway, so I figured what the heck.  This particular instructor is an English professor in her other life and is also a trained bellydancer, so the Zumba moves come more easily to her than most.  Thursday night, we convinced another friend to join us for the class: this friend is a civil engineer.

Zumba, like many fitness classes, is repetitive to some degree.  Those of us in analytical sorts of fields are generally good at pattern recognition and processing, so the engineer and I were getting along ok right up until the teacher stopped following the pattern she'd set, at which point we'd look indignantly at each other because were were both completely thrown off by it every time.  All the while, the English prof was laughing her fool tail off at us both because she knew full well why we were having problems and she thought it was hilarious!  Payback time's a beast.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Because *This* Is What I Really Needed This Week

Guess what I found on the dashboard of my car two days ago??

Lucky, lucky me.  (Murphy's Law, you SUCK.)

Swept and cleaned the garage, washed the car, vacuumed the hell out of the car.  Set some nasty-looking snap traps (have had luck with these in the past) with peanut butter in the garage last night.  No occupants this morning, fortunately or unfortunately.  No more poop that I could find in the car, definitely a good thing.

New rule for the kids: no more eating in the car for a while.  Damn and blast.  %&#$% vermin!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Day Of Rapid Hat Changes

One of the highlights of first grade at my kids' school is the end-of-year trip to the nearest big-city zoo.  I've gone on each of the three trips as a chaperone, and today (the day of Petunia's class trip) marked the end of an era for me!  I am very happy to report that it was neither stiflingly hot nor 50 degrees and raining sideways this year, but rather overcast and cool--perfect weather for a long day outside.  I am also very happy to report that, as predicted, it was much easier to wrangle two girls than the two boys for whom I was responsible on each of the other trips...a good way to end my zoo run!  

We left for the field trip about 9AM and returned about 4PM, at which point I doffed my chaperone hat, donned the more usual household-supervisor hat (a tiara, possibly??), and raced around for 90 minutes finding piano books and CCD folders, packing lunches for tomorrow and cooking dinner.  That accomplished, I ran upstairs, changed from the field-trip clothes into a business casual outfit and dashed back out the door to a county School Boards Association meeting relating to Special Education law, a topic near and dear to my heart.  Our county SBA rep encountered me there early on, as I was staring blankly at the buffet table and mumbling to myself.  I joked that she had caught me in the midst of the process of switching mental gears and that I would be with her as soon as I got my school board hat on straight!

Home again, into a quick shower, then to the computer to organize the volunteer schedules for a school event this Friday, a thankless task if ever there was one!  My head is spinning: today the hats are just that bit too tight.      


Monday, May 12, 2014

It All Went Downhill From Here

In the picture below, you see the highlight of the last three weeks of soccer.

Thing One's team had a game on Mother's Day, and his trainer/coach is a smart guy: he brought a bouquet of red roses to the field and gave each player one to give to his (the player's) mother at the end of the game!

Thing One had three tryout sessions over the past couple of weeks for next year's team: the two regular ones plus a callback for a third tryout for the highest team at his level.  There was a whopping amount of drama relating to who got called for the third tryout and who didn't, and then again for who heard back about the top team and who didn't.  We finally got word today that Thing One made the second team for next year, still highly respectable and nothing to sneeze at but a bit of a bummer given that he had a legitimate shot at the top team this time around.

Email, Facebook and texting have been positively abuzz all day with news of who made which of the three teams.  Some of the balls appear to be still in the air, but it is clear already that next year's teams will look very different.  For those who are moving down a team or losing their slot entirely for next year, the last few games and practices of the current season are going to be tough, no two ways about it... these kids are the proverbial dead men walking.  This year is when things got real.

Yes, all of this is ridiculously small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and I do recognize this, for any who may be reading and thinking that my sense of perspective is skewed. Two or five or ten years from now, who will care which boy made what soccer team at age 11?  Looked at through that lens, today's storm in a teacup is almost laughably insignificant.  What it does represent, though, is in many cases the first time these kids have tried their hardest and *not* gotten what they tried for.  The competition was fierce, and lessons are being learned about grace and dignity and consideration of others' feelings and the proper handling of both elation and disappointment.  Unlike the actual tryout results, those lessons are important, if sometimes of the painfully learned variety.

That said, I can't begin to tell you how much I don't want to hear the word "soccer" again anytime soon.  Pity that we haven't even begun to hear the tryout results for Thing Two's age group yet!  Thank the good Lord that Petunia still plays at the Rec level because this nonsense times three would absolutely drive me to drink.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Contemplation After The Rush

I cried again this morning, this time while watching my younger son take Communion at Mass.  Happy tears, at least.  I was completely fine for his official making of the sacrament yesterday, oddly, but today my eyes stung and the drops fell while watching him standing at the altar during the regular service, looking so big and so capable and so confident up there all of a sudden (for how many years did I wonder if he'd ever be able to understand what was going on enough to participate in this or so many other things??  I dare to dream, but know better than to take for granted.)

For yesterday's big event, we had most of the driving-range family in town: my in-laws and sister-in-law (the godmother) and nephews.  A houseful of people, good things to eat and gifts and celebration.  The sister-in-law and nephews stayed the night--there were nighttime giggles and thumps from the "boy room" and pancakes early this morning.  We had two soccer matches as well, both Thing One's, one yesterday and one today; the one yesterday tied up emphatically in the last minute with a booming goal scored from midfield by my big-footed son.

Mother's Day was almost an afterthought this year, and that's okay.  This weekend was mostly about my sons (the one's First Communion, the other's soccer) but I can't find it in my heart to have an issue with that.  I'm not super crazy about this holiday anyway because it seems socially mandated and Hallmark-y to me, but I know that my children love me and I sure as heck love my own mother and I guess having a day set aside for remembering and celebrating all that isn't a bad thing, even if the marketers get annoyingly overboard.  I got hugs and kisses and homemade presents from the kids and had a lovely cross-country chat with Mom and her sister, my godmother-aunt (and second mother figure) and that sounds like a good way to celebrate to me (or at least as good as not being with Mom today is going to be.)  I would have been happy to have a takeout pizza for dinner, but Himself is grilling instead and has promised to clean up afterward as well (!) and as long as there are no more dishes for me to do this weekend I will be happy either way.

It doesn't seem possible that tomorrow could be Monday already...wish me luck.  Seems like a weekend like this one should be followed with a day of rest that I'm just not seeing in the calendar!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Don't Worry, This Does NOT Represent The Start Of A New Hobby

Nor the start of a new series of blog posts either, for the record.  However, I saw one of these for the first time ever (and I live in an area with a lot of birds) while walking the dog this afternoon and I thought it was pretty darned cool.

I texted a friend who is a self-described 'bird nerd' then and there from the side of the road, noting that I'd just seen what appeared to be an otherwise-entirely-black bird wearing orange and red shoulderpads and asking her what the hell it was!  She identified it immediately...a cookie and good karma for the day to anyone here who also recognizes it.  She also asked if I was going to get into birding she knows as well as anyone (she was one of my early caching mentors), the last thing on God's green earth I need right now is another new time-consuming hobby.  Especially another one that puts me out in the woods with ticks and snakes etc any more than I am already!

In other news for the day, my weight-lifting regimen appears to be indeed increasing my upper body strength as promised: I was able to easily pick up and toss (the technical term is 'hip throw') a 195-lb male taekwondo classmate of mine this morning whole practicing my self-defenses!  Hot damn and hallelujah.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cook Or Baker?

Most people (at least those who are reasonably handy in a kitchen) are predominantly one or the other, I find.

My mother and brother are cooks.  They both have the gift of being able to survey a fridge and pantry and throw together something delicious from whatever is on hand, without reference to a cookbook.  Creativity and inspiration are their hallmarks.

I, on the other hand, am a cook only by necessity (my family has to eat, after all) but a baker by disposition.  You give me a recipe, I can follow it.  I like order and structure and known proportions.  Given a choice, I'll always bring a dessert to a potluck-style function.  I don't do much baking at home at the request of my husband, whose willpower has been known to desert him when he's faced with treats, but when I get a chance I go all-out!

 Each year our PTA organizes a thank-you luncheon during Teacher Appreciation Week, one part of which is the presentation to each teacher of a home-baked dessert donated by a parent.  This morning, I dropped two of these off at the kids' school.

Coconut-lime cake...yum.

Last year's effort...I can't remember the actual name but it was something like Chocolate Mocha Cake or Death By Chocolate Cake or some such.  I rarely make the same cakes twice...there are so many good ones to choose from!

After all, this kind of thing is a LOT more fun than figuring out something else to do with chicken that my kids will actually eat...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I'm one of those women who carries Purell wherever she goes.  Car?  Check.  Purse?  Check.  Diaper bag (back when I had one?)  Check, and how.  Even my geocaching bag contains a travel-size dispenser.  Yes, I know that germs build up healthy immune systems and all, and I don't go too horrendously overboard, but sometimes hands must be cleaned when there's no soap and water available.  (And I have a theory that the alcohol in Purell denatures the essential oils in poison ivy, so I use the HELL out of that stuff when I'm caching in the woods.)  Poison ivy-related use notwithstanding, you could be forgiven for assuming that I am quite the germaphobe.

And yet (I muse as I finish my breakfast) I just ate a large bowl of bacteria on purpose.  12 different kinds, even, 7-10 billion per serving, or at least that's what it says on the side of the kefir bottle.  Yum, yum.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

That Kind Of A Weekend, I Guess

How could I *not* become emotional all over again as I watched Thing Two standing tall at Mass this morning and looking all of a sudden in his First Communion suit?  Where did my baby boy go??

The sacrament itself isn't until this coming Saturday, but in our parish the tradition is that one of the First Communicants crowns the statue of Mary outside the church on the first Sunday of May.  A girl generally does the honors, but since Thing Two happens to be the only current second grader who regularly attends our tiny ancillary church, he got the nod (and a dry run for his suit and tie as well.)

As an added bonus, he's tall enough to reach Mary's head from the rickety stepstool needed this year!

This morning, I am counting my blessings and being profoundly grateful for progress made.  Happy Sunday, everybody.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Holy CRAP, Y'all

I have observed over the past three years of travel soccer-parenting that if the other team's coach does his coaching exclusively in Spanish, there's a tough game ahead for us far more often than not.  This statement is not intended to be discriminatory or racist in any way: the general difference in skill level between the players on my sons' teams and their age-matched peers on these mostly-Hispanic teams is clear, objective and speaks for itself.

At any rate, with this in mind, you will understand my level of concern when I arrived with Thing Two at the field where his scheduled game was being played today (Himself and I were in our usual divide-and-conquer mode for the day's obligations) and noted both that we were one man short for the game and that their coach was speaking Spanish.  Especially since Thing Two's team has not been doing well this season anyway, and the last thing they needed before next week's tryouts was another crushing defeat.  We ended up forfeiting the game for lack of a full team, but since we did have a partial team at the field (and had driven an hour to get there!) we played a 7 v 7 game anyway, one man down from the normal 8 v 8 format but with no subs on our side.

To add icing to the cake, Thing Two came running up to me right before the game asking for his other jersey, since his coaches were putting him in goal to start the game.  Note that this kid hasn't been a keeper since his last Rec game in the fall (two of his absent teammates share the travel job), and never saw this level of competition in a Rec game anyway, but he was the best shot they had today.  By coincidence, the mother of a kid who plays on Thing One's team commented to me only a day or two ago that the most stressful position on a soccer field is the mother of the goalie, and I smiled wryly to myself in recognition and settled down to endure a painful game.

Let me just tell you that my kid kicked some *serious* freaking ass today.  They shot on him and shot on him and shot on him, and he grabbed pretty much everything that came toward the goal--only a few got by him and there was virtually nothing he could have done about those.  I was so proud I was jumping up and down and hollering like a fool on the sideline, and everyone else was pretty much stunned.

You see, he's one of the new kids.  He hasn't done badly in travel by any means, but hasn't been a standout either.  They've been playing him mostly on defense, which historically has not been his strongest suit...he's mostly alternated between keeper and striker in the past.  So, today he had a chance to shine in a position with which he's actually familiar (pace of play notwithstanding), and damned if the kid didn't grab that chance with both hands and run with it.  He may have himself a new position come next week, who knows.  But the absolute best part??  The reaction of his teammates.  To a man, they came up and congratulated him after the game.  For the kid who sometimes has trouble fitting in, absolutely priceless...I came undone behind my sunglasses.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Little Miss

I was driving in the car with Petunia the other day.  Out of the clear blue sky, she told me, "I wish I had a magic lamp like Aladdin."  Curious, I asked what she would wish for.  Without hesitation, she answered that she would wish not to be the little one in the family anymore.  Whatever I thought she was going to say, that wasn't it!

Having been the older of two myself, I was never in her shoes, but I can easily imagine why she'd be frustrated.  Thing Two is only one year ahead of her in school, but he's two full years older and big for his age.  Thing One is four years older and also big for his age.  Petunia is no peewee herself, and she is tough as nails, but next to them she has virtually zero chance in any physical competition or game...she weighs quite literally half of what Thing One weighs.  Every time the three of them get into anything rough, I warn her that the little one always gets hurt!  And then she does...clearly there is no learning curve here.

And it's not even pure size that's the issue.  They also get to do things before she does by virtue of their greater age, because they hit the cutoffs first: go to Take Your Child To Work Day, make their sacraments at church (this year Thing Two will make his First Communion, leaving her the only one in the family who still has to cross her arms in line), play travel sports.  At least she's the only girl, which differentiates her...if she had been a third boy there would be hell to pay right about now.

The interesting twist is that she is the most responsible and 'together' of the three at this stage of the game.  I joke that if I were ever to leave the three of them home alone, I would put her in charge!  I just wish she wasn't in such a hurry to grow up, since she has her whole life to be big and so little time to be little.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

This Mama Is Tired Of The Drama

It's that time of year again, sadly: 'tis the season for travel soccer team tryouts.  Today is Thing One's second day of tryouts, and Thing Two has his next week.

Honestly, the kids aren't the issue.  There are a few odd birds and jerks, but the vast majority are very nice boys.  The issue is the parents.  Even the ones I ordinarily like are mostly insane during tryout'd really think that these boys were going to live or die by which team they make for next year.

At Thing One's level, there are three teams: A, B and C in order of performance.  He's been one of the top B players this past year.  Unlike previous years, there is actually likely to be some significant rearranging of the teams post-tryouts this year, since the A and possibly also the B team may be picking up some extra players.  Accordingly, the backbiting and drama and gossip on the sidelines have been intense.  At Monday's tryout, I made a point of hiding off at one corner of the field with another like-minded mother because I couldn't take it anymore.  Bear in mind that

a) We are talking about kids who are 10 or at most, 11
b) Most of them won't make the local high school's team, let alone college or the pros, and
c) College soccer scholarships are some of the hardest to obtain

and the whole thing just seems silly and a bit pathetic.    

Especially since many of the dads (and it's usually the dads) are living out their own childhoods and/or failed dreams through their sons.  The pressure on some of these poor kids is just ridiculous.  May I reiterate that they are only ten or eleven years old???  Some of these dads just seem to have a grip on reality that is tenuous at best...their expectations are so out of line that their boys are being set up to fail, and it just isn't fair.  It's actually hard to watch.  And all the extracurricular competition: which boys did this clinic, which boys did that clinic, which mom found out about a good camp and deliberately didn't tell which other moms about it because she wanted her son to have an edge (I wish I was making this up)...nuts, I tell you.  Just nuts.

I know I've posted before about the difference in crazy-parent levels between the A and B teams and why I've been VERY happy that Thing One has played B for three years.  This is the first year that he's had a real, serious shot at A, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Neither is he, actually...he legitimately can't decide which team he wants to make.  I told him to go out there, do his best and have some fun and let the chips fall where they may, since we don't particularly want him to play soccer in college anyway (at least not at a competitive level.)


School Logic

Yes, I’m still alive. All is pretty well,’s just been crazy, and now it’s been so long since I posted that it seems like whatever ...