Monday, September 29, 2014

It's A Miracle

Petunia received her red stripe tonight, meaning that she is now eligible to test for her next taekwondo belt, which is Green.  This month's ceremony happens to be tomorrow evening (along with two soccer practices) so we'll have a bit of a last-minute logistical scramble, but it's well worth it. Why?

Kids who have achieved the rank of Green or higher all take class together.  My boys are both already in this class: Thing Two's belt is Senior Green and Thing One's is Blue.  Once Petunia gets her Green belt, she will move up from her current class to their class, and all three of them will be done with class in 45 minutes instead of 90 (her current class meets right before theirs.)  This transition will mark the first time in the history of our family that the after-school schedule actually got LESS complicated and time-consuming!!  Hallelujah.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

NOT A Labor Of Love

Call it a labor of avoiding embarrassment, if anything.

My mother-in-law is coming this afternoon and staying the night so that Himself and I can take Thing One to his first college football game...she'll be watching the younger two.  Spent the morning cleaning my house, since as much as I love my MIL and as easygoing as she is, I refuse to have my house be filthy when she visits!  Or when anyone visits, for that matter. It's a pride thing. 

Problem is that I am the only member of my family who gives the tiniest flying crap if anything is clean or tidy.  I am surrounded by slobs, and it gets OLD.  I am the only one in the house who cares if there are clothes on the floor or gobs of toothpaste in the sink or (my personal favorite) pee all around the toilet.  Why should I waste my time worrying about it if they don't??

Of course, things don't get left that way for too long.  Basic health and hygiene (not to mention the ghosts of my neat-freak Italian foremothers) dictate that things get cleaned, and they do. But talk about a Sisyphean waste of time, since they just get dirty again almost immediately.  It's hard not to be resentful, frankly. 

I used to have cleaning ladies back when I worked, and they came with their own set of frustrations, but I'm wondering if I need to look at that again.  Maybe my kids' bathroom floor will piss me off less if somebody else is cleaning it!!  I love my kids dearly, but love is not what I'm feeling while I clean, '50s tropes be damned. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Don't Blame Her One Bit

Ran into a friend at Thing One's school last night.  In the course of conversation (don't remember how this came up) she told me about a recent day in which her daughter had forgotten a field hockey stick at home and called the mom to bring it to school.  Mom duly brings the stick in, happening to catch girl at lunch.  Girl, apparently embarrassed by mom's appearance in the cafeteria (heaven forbid), gives mom quite a bit of attitude.  Mom, not being the sort who takes nonsense, and who thought a thank-you might have been nice, calls daughter on said attitude right in front of her friends.

This mom has four of the smartest, kindest, best-behaved and most polite kids I know.  (Apparently girl was having a bad day that day, since her behavior was highly uncharacteristic--probably the only reason mom didn't take the stick right back home with her!)  People often tell her how lucky she is to have four great kids, which pisses her off mightily.  As she puts it, she's lucky that they are healthy, but the fact that they are all well-behaved, decent human beings is the result of years of hard work in parenting and she and her husband want the credit they've earned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Total Waste (Of Money, And Perhaps Also Air)

As I've mentioned, Thing One is now a middle schooler, which means that he is eligible to play on his middle school's sports teams.  For what I can only assume are liability reasons, students must be examined by their own physician and cleared to play before they can try out for these teams, which seems sensible enough.  You bring a form to the exam, the doctor fills it out, you return it to the school, and Bob's your uncle.

Except he isn't.  Not quite yet, anyway.

Those forms from the kids' doctors?  Those have to go to the school's doctor (not on site; he's retained on contract for this sort of stuff and comes in periodically), and he has to look them over and rubber-stamp them before the kids can play.  Never mind that he has never laid eyes on any one of these kids in his life and wouldn't know them from Adam, and never mind that their OWN doctors cleared them to play...doesn't matter.  The school doc has to approve them too.  And since he was two days late getting back from a business trip and had no covering doc, a third of the kids who wanted to try out for soccer had to sit on the sideline for the first two days of tryouts.  Charming.  Apparently state law requires this nonsense.  (Is it only my state???)

On the third day of tryouts, I called the assistant principal (who is also in charge of middle school sports) and told him very nicely that if Thing One was going to be sitting on the sideline for the third day straight, I would be collecting him right after school and taking him to his piano lesson instead.  Fortunately, that day the doc had finally gotten his ass to school and signed all the forms, so the kid was able to participate for the rest of the week and it wasn't an issue.

So, you may well be asking yourself, why is she bellyaching about this now, when previous posts have already indicated that the kid did make the team (despite missing two of the five tryout days) and is doing well on it?  Good question.

This morning, Thing One dug into his backpack and handed me a pile of sadly crumpled papers, one of which was a form letter from the school doctor confirming that my son is eligible to participate in middle school sports through the 14/15 school year.   This is the second sentence, bold text and all:

"Please be advised that this letter reflects the recommendation of the examining physician, who completed and signed the blahblahblahblah forms submitted to the school on behalf of your son."  So...what this dude is saying is that, although he HAD to review the form before my kid could play, and got paid for it, he's going to pawn the blame for any problems off on the doc who actually examined my kid, since he knows nothing about my kid.  Can somebody please tell me what value this jackass added to the process?

My tax dollars at work.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Picture Of Determination

The big (big!) round bed came with our dog from the rescue organization.  She loves it dearly and it will be a sad day at our house when it finally needs to be replaced.

Had to vacuum the family room rug yesterday.  As is my habit, I picked her bed up off the floor and balanced it on top of the upholstered tea box that sits next to our entertainment center to get it out of the way of the vacuum cleaner.  However, I forgot to put it back after I was done cleaning, and THIS is what I saw the next time I walked into the family room!

Cracked me up.  "Okay, Mom...if that's where you're going to put my bed now, I can roll with it."  Funny dog!

Friday, September 19, 2014


Watching a show about Spain on the Travel Channel and feeling an almost uncontrollable urge to crawl into my TV, away from the world of backpacks and soccer and domestic drudgery and into an infinitely more appealing one of siestas and tapas and exotic accents.

Then, of course, my husband burst my bubble by pointing out the 24% unemployment rate and ongoing economic protests.  Guess a girl can't even dream anymore!  Time to renew my passport,'s been way too long since I used it and there's a lot of the globe yet to see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Counting My Blessings

The man's comment stopped me in my tracks.  He'd been unlocking his office door as I passed it; he paused to tell me that my smile was beautiful and that it made his day to see a happy woman walking out of the building holding carnations.

One of the bigger breast imaging facilities in town is one floor up from his office.  I was there this morning for my annual mammogram, just a routine checkup.  I hate them with a blinding passion, as do most right-thinking people who dislike pain, but that doesn't mean my butt isn't in there like clockwork once a year anyway.  Every September...a back-to-school gift to myself and my family.  This place does a good job of making an unpleasant experience about as pleasant as it's going to get: among other things, lovely employees, nice warm robes to put over the thin and ugly hospital-gowny shirts, a coffee and tea machine in the lobby, and a bucket of flower bouquets in the changing area.  When your appointment is done, they ask if you'd like to choose a bouquet to take home, a very nice touch.  Anyway, since I had the telltale evidence in my hands, the man knew exactly where I'd been.

He added that he sees a lot of women with flowers passing his office door, many of whom are sobbing, or who break down as soon as they reach their cars or the curb outside.  I was happy to have the whole experience over with and be leaving, but I hadn't taken time to be grateful for my good fortune.

The next time I leave that building, if I am smiling I will NOT take it for granted, I promise you that. Reality check received, loud and clear.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Good Day For Thing One

So, today he won the election for Homeroom Rep, and also found out that he made his middle school's soccer team as a 6th grader.  Pretty cool.  Of course this means that he will have either a practice or a game right after school every weekday between now and Halloween, followed on Tuesdays and Fridays by his travel team's regular practice.  Good thing he likes soccer: he's going to get a lot of it this fall!

Middle school has a reputation for being tough on a lot of levels.  This kid is starting out with both social and athletic affirmations, though...eases some of the worries in this mother's heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sweet Flavor Of Victory

It tastes like vanilla soft-serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

Thing Two's soccer team won a game today for the first time since he started playing travel last December!  His team was egregiously misflighted last spring, so they got killed every game.  No fun for anybody and seriously the end of the season the only thing getting him into his uniform for games was the promise of going out for lunch or dinner on the way home.  We had to promise to let him play spring rec league baseball too (yes, both sports at once) to even get him to try out for this year's soccer team.  He's a decent player, and we really didn't want that bad experience to be all he got.

Today was the first game of the new season.  Thing Two, God help me, was the goalie for the first three quarters.  He hasn't had much training at the position, but he's the best they've got: he's big and quick and he has absolutely no fear.  (A a side note, from a spectator standpoint I am firmly convinced that the only thing worse than being the mother of the goalie is being the mother of the quarterback, and only because the opposing players in soccer aren't generally trying to kill the goalie on each play.)  Anyway, the kid flat-out rocked it.  Two tough goals got by him but he kept a lot more out.  He had a couple of booming corner kicks in the fourth quarter, too, one of which was tapped in by a teammate for an assist.  When final whistle blew, our boys were up 4-3, and they were absolutely beside themselves with joy.

Of course we stopped for ice cream on the way home...some milestones are meant to be savored!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It Really Does Take A Village

Our kids' birthdays are in July, August and September respectively. This means that we have to choose between holding their parties over the summer when people are on vacation or at the beginning of the school year when weekends are crazy with fall sports.  It also means that, whatever we choose, we have three birthday parties to organize very close together.  (Bad planning.  Bad, BAD planning.)

We held Petunia's party today.  Unfortunately, since many other parents had the same idea, it was only one of THREE birthday parties on the calendar today: a friend of Petunia's at 11, a friend of Thing Two's at 1, and Petunia's at 2:30.  Thing Two had to ride with a friend to get to his party and even with that, the logistics were crazy.  Once again, so grateful to be part of a community where I feel comfortable asking for help...having one more kid than we do drivers and cars occasionally makes things a real challenge!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Need To Stay Away From The TV

Went to the gym this morning to get some cardio in before taekwondo class.  Spent half an hour on the elliptical in the weight room facing the bank of televisions, all but one of which were tuned to programs relating to 9/11: the memorial service, footage from that day as it unfolded, commentary on how 9/11 changed our foreign policy; you name it.  I was 20 miles from Ground Zero on that awful morning and I don't need to rehash that day every year to remember it, thank you VERY much, but I guess some people must derive a benefit from it.  Anyway, when one of the girls reading the victims' names aloud started to cry, I looked away in sympathy and my eye happened to fall on the only TV in the room displaying alternative programming--ESPN on some sort of news segment.  The words below were front and center on the screen at that moment, and of course relate to the ongoing domestic abuse nightmare that is the Ray Rice situation.

"Roger [Goodell] is not a liar," said the owner, who asked not to be identified. "He's a good man who always wants to protect the NFL. He's respected and liked by every owner I know. I believe Roger and the league. I trust them."

The words "wants to protect the NFL" leaped off the screen at me as if they'd been highlighted.  Of course he wants to protect the NFL.  It's his job.  Never mind that Ray Rice knocked his then-fiancee unconscious in a public elevator...let's just play it down for the benefit of the NFL.  Two-game suspension, then business as usual.  All of a sudden, months later, the video becomes public (did the NFL have it at the time or not?  If not, why not??  Let's say it all together now: Legal tactics!) and then, strangely, he's suspended indefinitely FOR THE SAME ASSAULT.  The only difference is that now people can actually WATCH him dropping this woman with one vicious punch.  What did they think it looked like??  Jesus.

Two things I don't understand:

1) Why the HELL this woman married him after he beat her unconscious??  I'm guessing $$.
2) Since WHEN is our employers' job to investigate and punish us for criminal acts??

Oh well.  It's clearly going to be one of those days...It's never good when I find myself thinking in all-caps.  I'm just going to put my head down and keep going till it's over.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Well, Well, Well

Thing One told me this evening that he is running for Homeroom Rep, which is apparently something Student Council related.  (Now that he's in middle school there are a whole slew of new things I have to figure out.)  I have nothing against Student Council, but I would have thought hell itself would freeze over before he got involved with this point, he has always been friends with pretty much everybody but not a leader or even a joiner for the most part.  I gather that his friends were encouraging him to run and nominated him, which again is not in keeping with what I would have said was the group dynamic, but what do I know.  He has all the raw material he needs to lead...will be interesting to see if this motivates him to start tapping into it.  My little boy is growing up.  *sniff*


Monday, September 8, 2014


Met up with three of my caching friends this morning and we hiked around a beautiful park for the better part of five hours straight.  One of my companions was a truly lovely woman who is rapidly approaching 70 and has two artificial knees, but she hung right in there with the rest of us for the full expedition.  Yeah, she moves a little slower than I do, but I'm still impressed...I want to be like her when I grow up.  Did a six-mile hike last week with a group that included a man of about 70 with an artificial hip, too...these ol' birds are tough.  :)  At 41, I'm the young'un in this crew by a lot, and bad knee or no bad knee, right now I'm grateful that all my parts are still original!


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Success Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Last night I was up until 2AM working on a mystery cache.  This particular one was rated 4.5 for difficulty out of a possible 5, and to complete it, I had to solve nine, count 'em, NINE miserable beastly puzzles in a row.  Got the first six last night and wrapped up the final three this afternoon.  The sad thing is that I really didn't need to do any of that work, since a friend of mine already knows where the cache is and he's going to be with me tomorrow when I look for it (his wife hasn't found it yet, and I'm tagging along.)  Sometimes it really sucks to be constitutionally unable to take the easy way out, but at least I got to enjoy the moment of elation when I finally finished the damned thing.

A big of a deal as that was for me (yes, go ahead and laugh, I know I'm a dork) the bigger one by far is that all three of my children survived the weekend.  My husband left Thursday at the crack of dawn for one of his crazy relay race weekends five states away and was back in town this afternoon just long enough to switch bags at the airport (literally: he had two suitcases in the car; one for running stuff and one with business attire) and hop a plane to England.  He won't actually get *home* till Thursday, I think.  In his absence, the weekend was a staggering exercise in logistics, since Thing One had a faraway soccer tournament both days (four games total, with three hours of downtime between the two games each day) and we have two other children and a dog that must be fed, entertained and juggled in the meantime.  Not fun with only one adult, and I ran out of patience sometime yesterday: nevertheless, all four small dependent creatures are still alive and well and there wasn't even any wine or chocolate involved (although a smart man might bring some good chocolate home with him from his business trip, just sayin'.)

Tell me: what do you consider YOUR successes of the weekend??

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Joint Effort for Great Reward

The boy approaching the soccer goal took a hard shot to the far upper corner from close range.  Our goalie launched himself horizontally into midair to block it and just managed to graze it with his fingertips.  The contact was enough to stop the forward progress of the ball, but left it perched dangerously right in front of the goal, just waiting for a tap-in from another opponent in a game that was already tight.  Thing One, who is a defender to his core, came out of nowhere with some kind of crazy spinning move that dropped him to the ground between the ball and the attacking forwards while launching the ball safely toward the sideline.  You'd better believe that I was the proud mom jumping up and down and hollering on the sideline, but honestly?  The best part was watching the joyful high fives between my son and the goalie afterward...between them, they got the job done when it absolutely needed to get done, and they knew it.  

The team they played in today's tournament game absolutely creamed them in a 'friendly' scrimmage last week.  It was ugly.  They weren't playing positions well, they weren't passing, and it was really easy to see that only about half the boys on the team are used to playing together (courtesy of all the roster shakeups over the summer.)  I don't have a clue what the coach said afterward, but today, it was like different boys showed up to that tournament game.  They played heads-up, team ball, they left their hearts--and in a few cases, a little blood--out on that field, and they WON.  

As did my beloved Irish, incidentally: 31-0 over Michigan.  Definitely a day for celebration in this house!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Weird Breakfast Table Conversations, Part Who Knows What

A good friend of mine attracts drama like honey attracts flies...there is always some sort of emotional uproar swirling around her.  As a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to this reality, I've assigned her texts the Suspense ringtone on my cell phone.

She texted me this morning while the kids were eating breakfast.  As I picked up my phone to check the message, the boys (both of whom have perfect pitch) began to discuss exactly which notes are in that ringtone, which they ultimately confirmed with a quick trip to the piano, bagels still in hand.  Only at my house!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday, But Not The Good Kind

I heard the song today for the first time in close to fifteen years, the one that made him punch a coffee table in sheer frustration.  He called me hours later for help getting to the emergency room, where a friend of his who happened to be on call read the X-ray of his hand.  No break, just bruises, but ugly ones.  I'd forgotten all about that until the first few notes reminded me...not the best way to start a morning.  I should stick to old photos for trips down memory lane.

On a much brighter note, the school year seems to have started well for all three kids.  Thing One has managed to figure out his schedule and remember the combination to his locker, Thing Two LOVES his teacher, and Petunia has charmed her way into the hearts of her classmates with cupcakes (today is her 7th birthday.)  We shall see how they feel later in the school year when they actually have homework and tests and mandatory reading and such, but for now they (and I) are enjoying the honeymoon period at the beginning of the year!

There are definite benefits to having slightly older children, none of whom are new to the school.  A friend's daughter (a new first grader) got onto the wrong bus today at dismissal time, which nobody noticed until she did not get off the bus with her siblings at home.  As she explained to her mother, "Mama, I was never lost, and I liked the view from that bus better!"  This is why mothers drink and have gray hair.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It Begins Again

The kids start school tomorrow: 2nd, 3rd and 6th grades respectively.

Lunches are packed (oh, the joy...), backpacks are ready, first-day outfits have been chosen.  Petunia, my style maven, will of course be wearing one of her pretty dresses.  

All in all, I think it will be a good year.   Petunia is of the sort that will thrive wherever planted, and she loves school.  Thing Two is always the challenge, but as I told my parents on the phone this evening, had I waved a magic wand to make my preferred set of third grade circumstances for him materialize, I couldn't have done better.  He's been set up to succeed this year and that is a big deal.  Then there's Thing One, my trial balloon through the school system and fortunately another of the thrives-wherever-planted sort for the most part (always handy in an oldest child.)  He's starting middle school, which will be a whole new ball of wax--he now has a locker and a schedule where he changes classes each period and the organizational stresses on him will definitely be jacked up a couple of notches, so I'll be keeping an eye on his homework planner until he shows me that it isn't necessary.

A perennial struggle for me, that: the balance between age-appropriate supervision and helicoptering. I'm getting better at taking conscious steps back: I keep reminding myself that the goal is independence and that nothing good comes of me being indispensable!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Took a while to get going this morning courtesy of a late night out with friends last night, but once the caffeine finally hit I was unstoppable with my laboring.  Laundry, vacuuming, bathrooms, dishes, floors, all capped off with three-plus hours of weeding and wheelbarrowing in the garden in 90 degree heat.   Mind you, this is all because I am insane.

With my children older now, I somehow feel like I have to justify my stay-at-homeness even though my husband has not ONCE made me feel like he wants me back at work.  Quite the opposite, in fact. He's legitimately happy that I'm home to get the kids off to school and take them to their afternoon activities and available for their field trips and class parties and such.  And the summer, with them home much more than during the the school year, is absolutely my craziest time of the year bar the run-up to Christmas, so part of me views the arrival of September as sort of a mini-vacation, at least during the day!  With the kids going back to school on Wednesday, I have all sorts of fun plans with friends in the works and I think all the housework now is a sort of compensation in my own head for the 'time off' I will be taking later in the week, even though nobody is keeping score.  Sometimes my brain is a crazy, crazy place, but on the bright side, the house and yard look pretty good.  I'll take it.

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...