Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Must Be Out Of My Cotton-Picking Mind

Planning a caching trip with three friends.  The Saturday before Thanksgiving.  In a swamp.  Requiring the solving of 12 miserable nasty puzzles beforehand to get the necessary coordinates (done over the summer) and high boots or hip waders to attempt. We are going to freeze solid. I can't believe there are three other people (otherwise sensible, rational, highly-educated adults) who are actually excited about doing this and I CAN'T WAIT.  To each his own form of insanity!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One Way Or Another

Friends of ours had a big Halloween party at their house this afternoon, complete with a giant inflatable slide for the kids, a crazy haunted house in the basement (the husband is a movie cameraman--the behind-the-scenes tour was scary enough for me!), a costume contest, and a cake walk.  Guests were asked to bring a treat for the cake walk and I baked a caramel apple cake.  Thing One saw it cooling on the counter last night when he came home from the dance and was *very* annoyed that it was for the party and not our family.

Not to be deterred, he entered the cake walk at the party, and when he won the chance to choose from a table that was absolutely groaning with treats of every sort, he picked my cake and proudly carried it back to our car!  One determined boy right there...cracked me up.


Friday, October 24, 2014


He is home.  He survived.  He felt way out of his comfort zone (and said as much) but he's proud of himself for going even when his best friend bailed and I told him that I was proud of him for that too.  He found a group of his other friends and had fun with them, steering clear of the girls all night but that's ok.  No surprise there.  He saw a lot of drama and gave it a wide berth.

When he started talking about what he'd wear to the next dance (a collared shirt! ye gods!), I knew he'd turned the corner.  Hopefully he can talk his friend into coming then as well.  And my little boy gets just a bit bigger before my eyes.

Hell Freezes Over

(An outstanding Eagles album, by the way.)

I was going to title this post "You Couldn't Pay Me Enough Money To Go Back To Middle School" but it seemed a bit too unwieldy.

Our middle school is grades 6-8, and since the school is small all three grades have their dances together.  The sixth grade boys in particular are having a difficult time with the idea of dances...the girls by and large are fine with it.  Just about every sixth grade girl attended the first one, but I think maybe 8 or 10 of the boys, if that many.   Thing One categorically refused to even think about it and I didn't push him.

Then, a week or so ago, he came home and informed me that he had to stay after school today to help decorate for the second dance because he is his homeroom's class rep, which is a student council position.  I gather that the student council puts on the dances.  He then hastened to add that he wasn't GOING to the dance, he was just DECORATING for it.  Ok, whatever.  There was another activity tonight he wanted to do with some of his buddies and that was the plan until Thursday morning, when I got a text from a friend informing me that her son (one of Thing One's best friends, and another of the anti-dance holdouts) was actually considering attending.  Seems critical mass of friends from the group had been attained, and the tide had shifted.  Thing One suddenly did a 180 on the idea, and I was scrambling at the last minute trying to find the permission slip on the school website, print it and get it signed so he could bring it in.  Again, whatever.  My friend offered to pick Thing One up from school, take him to her house to play and then bring both boys to the dance together, so I planned to take my younger two out to dinner and then to a family taekwondo class.  (And oh, the drama of the discussions as the older boys tried to figure out what to wear!)

Thing One was pacing around like a caged lion this morning...sheer nerves.  I told him that he didn't have to get near a girl if he didn't want to and that seemed to help a little.  Texted my friend after school and the boys seemed ok...they were playing football in her yard.  Got my younger two fed, walked into the dojo, and I get another text: my son's buddy is so nervous that he's refusing to leave the house!  I'm with the other two kids half an hour away, so my friend now has to take my son to a dance that her son is no longer attending.  Fortunately, she lives close to school, but I wasn't taking any bets on what Thing One would do without his wingman.  Texted her again after class...Thing One did actually still want to go, and she dropped him off without incident.  Go figure.  He's not home better believe I'll be interested to hear how it went.

It's not that he thinks girls have cooties or anything...he never did.  He's just not emotionally ready to deal with any sort of relationship drama.  I wasn't at his age either, so I totally get it.  He sees some of that going on around him with a few of his older friends and wants absolutely no part of it!  I think he'll have fun with his buds if he goes, so I was happy that he decided to give it a shot, but believe me...he's growing up fast enough for me already without throwing girls into the mix.  I'm not dealing with him getting older much better than he is!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Update from The Trenches

Thirteen of the sixteen days of my husband's business trip have now passed and all three kids are still alive and in good shape.  This is a major achievement since it is a challenge to keep up with them and maintain patience even when both of us are in town and the extended single-parent thing is NOT my preferred state of being.

It's been a crazy week, and unfortunately, rainy for the last couple of days.  Fall is here--morning chill, the occasional frost on the grass and bright leaves on the deciduous trees with it.  Soon enough those trees will be brown and bare, but these few colorful weeks are my favorite of the year.  I've been trying to get out as much as I can when the weather cooperates.  Monday I went for a nine-mile hike with the dog and tomorrow I will probably be out most of the day as well.

There's a tradition in geocaching that when you are approaching a 'milestone' number of caches, you try to find a difficult or interesting cache to grab to get you to that number, not just a run-of-the-mill light post or guardrail cache.  As it happens, I am only a few shy of 1500 finds now and my most frequent caching partner is rapidly approaching 1000, so we put our heads together and decided on a miserable nasty group of puzzle caches about 30 miles away for a joint milestone run.  I've been locked in the office for the last three evenings banging my head against the wall accordingly, but between us we figured out two more puzzles than we need and hopefully tomorrow's hunting will be successful.  This my major brain exercise...for example, in the course of just a few of these puzzles I figured out how to translate Navajo code-talking, the Monk's Cipher and Braille; deciphered a difficult cryptogram comprised entirely of symbols, and found coordinates buried in the source code of one image and hidden on the backs of rapidly moving insects in another image.  Never a dull moment, intellectually speaking.

Also this week: received the first stripe on my Red belt.  Here we go again...the progression to Senior Red officially begins!  I probably have at least six months to go before the next test, anyway.  

I have to share one of the better laughs I've had this week.  If you are a fan of the old Abbott and Costello "Who's On First" routine and are even vaguely familiar with classic rock, you should like this! 

For your amusement, here's the Abbott and Costello routine, too.

Peace out.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday and Sunday By The Numbers

Husbands out of town: 1
Soccer practices: 1
Birthday parties: 1
Soccer games: 6 (!!!!!)
Away soccer games: 4
Games actually played by my children: 6
Number of games I was able to attend: 4
Games played by my children only through the kind graces of friends who helped with logistics: 2
Sleepovers: 1 (see note above regarding logistics)
Goals scored by Petunia: 2
Goals scored by Thing One: 1
Goals saved by Thing Two: lost count (he had three games and he was on a ROLL)
Football games narrowly lost by my beloved team: 1
Number of peaceful hours at home: 0
Hours of sleep: not enough
Reserves of patience: utterly depleted
Exhausted moms: 1

Good night...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mama's Still Got It

The bookends of my day: sunrise over my front yard and sunset over the parking lot of the park where Thing Two's soccer tournament was held today.

I've been trying to practice mindfulness and decided to stop to enjoy the beauty instead of rushing through it.

Thing Two's team played two games this afternoon, narrowly losing the first and winning the second 4-2.  Thing Two had (no exaggeration) the game of his life at goalie in that second game...he played the whole game and he was making saves like I've never seen him do before.  In keeping with the Halloween theme, the whole team played almost as if possessed...every single kid left his heart out there on that field and the game was just a joy to watch, even though it was bloody cold out there by 6PM when it ended!  Brrr.

Got Thing One's ice cube costume mostly done, too, speaking of cold: envision two large clear plastic storage boxes with holes drilled into them and rope strung through so that they can be hung over the shoulders in front and back and tied at the sides to keep them in place.  I did take a picture but the getup looked so ridiculous over his travel soccer uniform (he had a game today as well) that I refuse to post it here!  I will post a picture when I can get him in all-white clothes underneath the boxes, as is the plan for Halloween.

Why the title?  After soccer and dinner, Thing Two and Petunia challenged me to a round of Just Dance 4 on the Wii, and I actually got the high score on most of the songs even though they play this game all the time and it was new to me.  Of course, this is a triumph born far more of my superior pattern recognition abilities (one benefit of age!) than actual dance skill, but I'm not telling THEM that.  :)

Oh, and I haven't lost my mind yet, either...had my doubts looking at the schedule for today.  I'll celebrate that too.

Day is done, peace out.

Mama D


Thursday, October 16, 2014

She's Crafty

Each year, the third grade teachers give each kid a mini-pumpkin and an assignment to decorate it any way they see fit (a creative writing project centering on their decorated pumpkin follows.)  When Thing One was in third grade, he decorated his to look like his then-current pair of soccer cleats.  Thing Two, being quite the little gamer, decided that he wanted to make his into an Angry Birds bomb bird.

There is no way in the world that I am handing any nine year-old a can of black spray paint for any reason, so I took care of creating the blank canvas while he was at school today.  After soccer practice, we took out the glue gun, a pair of googly eyes, a red pipe cleaner, and two yellow puffballs and he got to work.  What do you think: a pretty good resemblance??

Next up: Thing One's Halloween costume.  He wants to be an ice cube, of all things.  I have all the materials and will post a picture when I get his outfit put together.  This child is a fan of the unconventional where Halloween is concerned: last year he dressed up as Albert Einstein; wig, lab coat and all.  If I don't remember in my next post, remind me to tell you about the year he wanted a Saturn (as in the planet) costume!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

This made me laugh today.

Two days down of my fortnight of single parenting (with the hellacious weekend in the middle still to come*) and I'm already starting to twitch a little.  I can deal with the after-school craziness alone since I do that every day anyway--bedtime is what's getting to me.  By the end of the day I've generally had it, so Himself handles the bulk of the bedtime seems like a cruel joke that after all the usual craziness I'm now also dealing with pajamas and toothbrushing and bedtime meds and dirty clothes all over the floor etcetcetc.  Yes, he is gone for work, and legitimately, but GROWL.  I have NO idea how single parents do this day in and day out without completely losing their gourds...full props from me!

*Only Murphy's Law could be responsible for there being SIX soccer games scheduled for those two days, including two games on Saturday at 5PM in different counties and two games on Sunday at 1PM in different counties.  Bloody hell.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

... by 8AM, apparently.

I've often wondered just how far I walk in a day, especially those days when I'm out hiking for hours on end in the woods looking for caches.  GPS-based apps like MapMyRun work well, but they burn a lot of phone battery life, and if I'm away from a power source for hours on end I need to conserve my phone battery.  It turned out that Himself had a pedometer at work that he wasn't using--a freebie from the company health services or some such--and he brought it home for me.  Of course, it just measures number of steps taken, not distance, and there is a bit of wiggle room in its accuracy, but as a rough indicator it works fine and gives me some idea of where I am relative to the 10,000-step days that are apparently a standard goal.

I've messed around with it a little and it seems to be reasonably accurate, but I'd never managed to remember to wear it for a full day before.  I grabbed it from my nightstand around 6:30 this morning when I got up and clipped it to the waistband of my PJ pants.  By the time the kids got on the bus at 8:10, the device was registering more than 1000 steps!  

Later in the day, I took the dog for a walk, a lap of the walking trail at a nearby park that happens to measure just about exactly one mile. For giggles, I looked at the pedometer as I started and stopped the lap and noticed that this lap took me a little over 1000 steps as well.  Hard to believe that I could be walking the better part of a mile inside my house while cooking breakfast and getting the kids ready for school, but such appears to be the case...crazy.  And the daily total: north of 16,000 steps and still climbing since I haven't gone to bed yet.  Sedentary, I am not!

Friday, October 10, 2014

On The Other Hand...

I've written a lot lately about how well Thing Two is doing academically.  It's fabulous...he's finally making up some ground.  That said, he's also going through a rough patch right now behaviorally.  Mostly with me, thank God (in the sense that I'd rather him be a raging asshole to me than his teacher, for example) but it gets really old.  Yeah, I understand that I'm a safe place for him to vent and all that shit because he knows that I will love him no matter what, but FUCK it all, I'm done dealing with it.  Kid is giving me whiplash lately with the mood swings and he hasn't even hit puberty yet.  And clearly he does have some control with it, because he only pulls this stuff at home.

He actually took off his backpack and threw it on the way up to the house from the bus today because he was pissed off about having to go to the library before picking Thing One up at soccer.  Fortunately, he tossed it onto the lawn and not at somebody, I will give him that much credit.  And he was immediately penitent, so much so that I was sad to have to follow through with my decision not to take the kids out to dinner as a result of this tantrum...not sure what else to call it.  We'll try again tomorrow. I will say in my own defense that I did not raise my voice at any point and that this may have been one of my crowning achievements as a mother to date, since I REALLY wanted to lose my shit.

Himself is out of town now, and will be gone more or less straight for about two weeks between the trip he's on now and an upcoming business trip.  We'll see how this stretch of single parenthood goes. If any of you are so inclined, I'd greatly appreciate some prayers for patience!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Thing Two really got screwed by the genepool.  He's just as smart as his sister and brother, but his language processing whammy means that he has to work much harder than they do for the same results in school.  It's both exhausting and demoralizing for the poor kid.  It's taken some doing to convince him that he isn't stupid--I don't think we've entirely succeeded, either--and it doesn't help that both of his siblings merrily traipse off to G&T at school while his pullouts are for speech and social therapy.

So, it was a very pleasant surprise when I received the email from his homeroom teacher on Tuesday afternoon.  "The class is due to take the Chapter 2 math test on Friday, but he's clearly very comfortable with the concepts and I'd like to give him the test tomorrow and then extension work for the rest of the week if that's OK with you."  Um, let me think about that for a second...YES PLEASE.  (And while I'm at it, thank you for noticing that he's really good at math so quickly.  And for being so proactive about it.  Clearly you're seeing more than a very wiggly kid with an IEP when you look at my son, and bless you for it.)

He duly took the test on Wednesday, and it hasn't come home yet so I have no idea how he did.  However, the math homework that he brought home today was a whole different animal from what I've been seeing to date: reasoning-based and multi-step.  (Any educators reading this will recognize the influence of the PARCC standards, I suspect.)  I had to walk through the first problem with him, but after that he was gone...he grabbed that ball and ran with it.  And he was proud of himself for earning the "hard" homework, too.  It sure as hell wasn't from their regular textbook, wherever it came from.

A few years ago, Thing Two had an incredible preschool teacher who almost single-handedly dragged him out from behind the eight-ball: she spent hours and hours of her own time coming up with activities and resources targeted specifically to his needs and the progress he made in her care was nothing short of remarkable.   Maybe third grade will be another of those years for him...dare I believe that he's been gifted with the same sort of teacher again?


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Want Better For You Than That

We drove past some boys practicing football after school today.  Petunia associates football with cheerleaders (cute uniforms and sparkly pompoms going over well with the little-girl set, as they do) and predictably, asked whether she could be a cheerleader yet.

I have nothing against cheerleading per se, and would even go so far as to call it a sport.  Those girls work hard, they take a lot of physical risks, and it legitimately takes serious skills to execute some of those maneuvers.  No doubt.


I want my girl to be on the field playing, not on the sidelines cheering for a bunch of boys while their activity is the main attraction.  That just sends the wrong message to girls in my opinion: "You guys can be decorative and entertaining on the sidelines during lulls in our manly action."

Which is why my answer to her question is always, "No."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

My Boy, My Boy

As if it weren't obvious from my last few posts, I'm having a very hard time with the fact that my eldest is in middle school already.  He's only eleven, but I can see so clearly that he is only a few years from gone, and it is just killing me.  It isn't that I love him more than my other two children, really: I just love him a little differently because he was my first baby.  My husband doesn't understand that, but perhaps somebody else reading this will.

At any rate, the universe is clearly trying to tell me something, since reminders that he is growing up are hitting me in the face left and right this week.  Today, it was the friend who saw him for the first time in several months and commented to me that he is turning into a fine young man.  He is, it's true, and it beats all the alternatives I can think of, but I (perhaps selfishly) have a hard time hearing it.

My gut said to grab him and run away, and kindly, Himself let me.  We had a few free hours this afternoon, and since I so rarely have one-on-one time with him, we picked up a few caches together and then grabbed frozen yogurt on the way home.  Nothing special, not even that many caches, just a quiet afternoon together.  Me and my boy.

Friday, October 3, 2014

If THAT Isn't A Scary Thought, I Don't Know What Is

I mentioned a few days ago that Petunia was testing for her green belt in taekwondo, which she did, successfully and with fierceness.  For someone so young and cute, she is quite the little ninja; determined, focused and diligent in her training.

Besides the fact that this promotion makes our after-school schedule simpler, earning a green belt is a big deal in our system.  This is the level at which you are considered advanced enough to require sparring gear, and it also brings with it the right to wear the coveted black uniform pants of the higher-ranked (all ranks below green belt wear the white pants of the beginner.)

All of this goes some way toward explaining why I spent the better part of my Friday evening hemming black gi pants.  There was no way I was buying her a teeny new pair of black pants that would be quickly outgrown: what made far more sense given that all three of my children study taekwondo and grow like weeds was buying a new pair of black pants for my biggest sprout and passing each of the two current pairs down one child.  And this (to finally bring me to the point here!) is how my eldest ended up standing on one of my kitchen chairs just now while I pinned a hem into his new pants.

From his position six or eight inches over my head, he joked that I needed to get used to the height difference since he'd probably be that much taller than me when he's done growing!  It flashed into my mind that I'll probably be looking up at him in exactly the same way during the mother-son dance at his wedding, and as a shot to the gut, that one was tough to take.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


The crazy logistics of my afternoon (with which I will not bore you) dictated that I would arrive at Thing One's school soccer practice about 15 minutes before he was due to be picked up.  As I idly watched the drill they were running--something involving keeping track of which small teams made more of their shots on goal than the rest--it became clear that he was doing pretty well on his turns, burying the ball in a corner of the net more often than not.  It happened that he was the last man standing on his team and made his final shot for a team win, after which he was mobbed by the others in his group, every one a seventh or eighth grader to his sixth and two of them captains.  His grin lit up the field and my heart melted.

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...