Fall woods

Fall woods

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pretty Damned Cool

I gave blood last week on the spur of the moment because a donation bus happened to be parked outside the dojo when I went to taekwondo class on Tuesday morning.  Amazingly, my blood iron was high enough on the fingerprick test for them to let me donate--usually it is borderline to too low since I don't eat much red meat, so I take iron pills for a week or so in advance if I have a donation scheduled.  Since I am a universal donor (type O negative) I at least try to donate every chance I get, and this time it all worked out.

Anyway, I gave the blood without incident, walked away, and didn't think any more of it till just now.

Five minutes ago, I got a text from the blood bank, telling me that my unit of blood had just been used and at which hospital!  That's a new thing...I've never seen it before.  Hope it made a difference for whomever received it.

Monday, December 26, 2016

By Request of NOLA...

...some recent pictures of The Hound.  :)






My sweet girl.  How I love her.  :)

Friday, December 23, 2016

*Thing One Update*

No more brace!!!  The visit with the orthopedic surgeon today went great.  Apparently he took a quick look at the new X-rays, watched Thing One raise his arm over his head painlessly and then said, "Whoa, that thing is healing like gangbusters!"  It's always good when the rate at which your son's fractured collarbone is reconstituting itself startles even a seasoned orthopedic surgeon who consults for several high school football teams.  :)

Skiing over break is definitely out for him, unfortunately.  But the no-brace thing is great news, and he's been cleared to run and to return to both basketball and soccer practices after winter break.  He can't play in games for a few more weeks, including scrimmages in practice...the idea is that opportunities for him to collide with someone and fall should be kept to a minimum through mid-January while the bone continues to solidify.  Makes sense and is actually perfect timing, as one of his soccer coaches pointed out in reply to my update email to him...travel soccer ramps up again at the end of January.  Somebody told me on Thanksgiving that eventually this injury would just be a good story for him to tell, and (knocking on wood) so far, so good!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Taking This As A Good Sign

I walked through the kitchen just now, and this is still in the middle of the table, right where its owner chucked it when he walked in the door from school today.  It's been there for almost two and a half hours.

Thing One's brace for his broken collarbone 

For the record, this is perfectly kosher.  It actually makes me very happy to see it since it means he is increasingly confident without the brace on.  The doctor says he has to wear it at school, mostly as a visual reminder to the other boys that his broken collarbone is still healing and to please.for.the.love.of.god NOT run into him, wrestle with him, etc.  He is allowed to take it off at home for light activity, except when he is within 15 feet of his brother (my rule, not the doctor's) since something about the two boys being together takes away whatever puny and pathetic amount of common sense either one of them ever had to begin with.

Thing One says he has no pain in his shoulder and he certainly seems to have a pretty good range of motion back.  Next visit with the orthopedic surgeon is tomorrow afternoon, so we'll get the professional opinion then.  I'm pretty sure that skiing over Christmas will be out, but maybe he'll be allowed to start some limited physical activity soon?  Here's hoping since the poor kid is absolutely climbing the walls after having to sit still for a solid month.  Cross your fingers!!



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best Dog Ever

Had to take The Hound to the vet the other day for her annual checkup.  Taking a dog to the vet is a lot like taking a toddler to the pediatrician...generally they don't understand (or like) what's happening to them there and it's not possible to explain to them why all of it is actually for their own good.

This particular vet visit turned out to be worse than usual, too.  She needed three shots, plus the vet wanted to do the every-other-year blood test to make sure she doesn't have heartworm.  I am religious about giving her the heartworm tablet every month, but having read about what NOLA is going through with Ziggy (even medicated dogs can still have it, and the treatment is intense) there was no way I was blowing off the test.

The Hound weighs a little over 50lbs.  Not trivial to hold down on an exam table, but as it turned out, there was no need at all.  I held her collar and petted her head while the vet did his thing and she didn't even move.  Her facial expression was much the same as the one I get when I give her a bath: resignation is probably the best word for it.  "OK Mom, I'm not enthusiastic about this, but I'll humor you because I love you."  Talk about trust.  It's humbling.

And the test was negative.  Whew!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It's Not Just Me!

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music.  Yeah yeah yeah, call me the Grinch.  I can only take so much of it because most of it is either the same ten or fifteen songs remade over and over by different artists or holiday abominations like Dominick The Donkey and Meli Kalikimaka that make me want to gouge out my ears.  Anyhow, we were listing to one of the aforementioned remakes in the car the other day, this one of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and it struck me exactly how creepy and date-rapey the male half of the lyrics in that duet are.  Ugh.  That dude just does NOT take "no" for an answer.

I really can't stay (but baby, it's cold outside)
I've got to go away (but baby, it's cold outside)
This evening has been (been hoping that you'd drop in)
So very nice (I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (beautiful what's your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I'd better scurry (beautiful please don't hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (baby, it's bad out there)
Say what's in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (i'll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
At least I'm gonna say that I tried (what's the sense in hurtin' my pride?)
I really can't stay (oh baby don't hold out)
But baby, it's cold outside
I simply must go (but baby, it's cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it's cold outside)
Your welcome has been (how lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (look out the window at this dawn)
My sister will be suspicious (gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (waves upon the tropical shore)
My maiden aunts mind is vicious (gosh your lips are delicious)
But maybe just a cigarette more (never such a blizzard before)
I've gotta get home(but baby, you'd freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat(it's up to your knees out there)
You've really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
But don't you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)
There's bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pnuemonia and died)
I really can't stay (get over that old out)
Baby, it's cold
Baby, it's cold outside

So it made me feel vindicated when I saw this article yesterday!  Apparently I am not the only one who is totally skeeved out by the original version of the song.  There's a new version now, one that I'd much rather my daughter be singing (and internalizing) than the original.  Even the Grinch here will sing to that.  


Sunday, December 11, 2016

*This* Is Why It's Hard To Find Volunteer Coaches

All three of my kids play Rec basketball in the winter.  I like for there to be at least one season in which their primary sport is not soccer just from a muscle development standpoint, and this way they get to play a sport with their friends from school as well.  Their travel soccer club is based in a town about 30 minutes from home, so they don't go to school with any of those kids.

Anyway, both Thing Two and Petunia had their first basketball games of the season yesterday.  Thing One is on hiatus from his team until the orthopedic surgeon gives him the all-clear to go back, so I volunteered him to run the clock/scoreboard for Thing Two's game, something he's done many times before.  The scorer's table is located between the two benches, so the coaches of the two teams are effectively sitting only a few feet to his left and to his right respectively when he does this.  

I had to drop Thing Two off half an hour early for warmups, so I just sat and watched the two teams getting ready for the game rather than trying to go home and come back.  Now, I played basketball in junior high and high school.  I was never all that great at it, but I'm a decent judge of what I'm seeing on a basketball court and I was pretty sure from just watching the warmups that Thing Two's team was going to come out ahead in the game. They had ten players compared to the opponents' seven, their team was physically bigger on average, and a couple of the boys Thing Two plays with have some serious skills.  From talking to the parents on the other team that were sitting near me in the bleachers, it also turns out that their team had had a couple fewer practices under their belts going into the first game as well, so most rational people would predict a loss for them, and that did in fact turn out to be what happened.  I think the final score was something like 33-12.  

What was *not* rational, however, was the reaction to the loss by one of the dads on the other team.  In case you were wondering, this is where Thing One's location on the court becomes relevant.  Please also bear in mind that Thing One is 13 and the boys who were actually playing in this game are fifth and sixth graders, so most of them are only ten or eleven.

As reported to me by a wide-eyed Thing One after the fact, this total flaming jackass of a dad (my words, not his) storms up to the other coach after the game and starts ripping him a new one right in front of the ref, Thing One, AND the boys on his own son's team.  (At least our team was in a huddle on the other end of the court and missed it.)  "These boys played like fucking shit today!  You actually have to fucking *coach* them!"

This dad is not being paid to coach; this is a recreational league and he's a volunteer who signed up to help out.  He's only got seven boys, and they actually played pretty well, too--there's no shame in losing to a bigger, better team and they did their best.

One of the many things I like about travel soccer is that the ref has the power to immediately eject an obnoxious parent from the sideline.  If he or she is not gone within two minutes, the ref can call the game in favor of the other team.  I have no idea what power a rec basketball official has (especially after a game is over) but I would have loved to see that asshole tossed out into the street.  What a horrible example for his son and every other boy there, and (speaking as a rec basketball coach, which I was for five years straight) that would be more than enough to get me to say "Fuck this," and quit.  




Friday, December 9, 2016

Oh, To Be 13 Again

Apparently, if you *have* to break a bone, it is a good thing if you can also manage to be a healthy, athletic teenaged boy at the time. 

I took Thing One in for his two-week checkup with the orthopedic surgeon today and the X-ray and physical exam showed that his broken collarbone is healing beautifully.  It's back to behaving like one bone instead of two. (As a reminder, he did a real number on it; it broke completely through in the middle and the fractured ends displaced a little.)  He'll still be in the brace at school for a couple of weeks, but at home he can take it off for light activity, which absolutely boggles my mind.  Two weeks ago that bone was in two pieces (plus a tiny extra fragment or two) and it's already knitting back together!  The doctor commented that you just don't see that kind of healing in anyone other than kids.  

Now, to keep him still for another two weeks until the new bone has a chance to solidify.  I may have to sit on him to get that to happen!  He was trying to dribble a basketball the other day...guess that arm is feeling pretty good.  



Monday, December 5, 2016

Adventure

Yeah, it's been a long and eventful week...I still haven't gotten around to posting about last Saturday's exercise in insanity!  Time to fix that.

I've been working on a particular geocaching challenge sporadically for about three years now.  There are 81 caches in this particular series, one each of all the difficulty and terrain combinations.  I only have a few of them left to do, and the ones I haven't done yet are all evil beasts for one reason or another.  Hence the not-done-yet part.

The night before Thanksgiving, I was texting a friend about his plans to meet up with some other cachers who are experienced climbers--he was hoping to finally be able to get a cache on his bucket list that is about 50 feet up a tree.  I jokingly asked him if his friends were willing to travel one state over, since two of the caches in the series I'm working on are totally unreachable without climbing gear.  (One is high in a tree, the other is at the top of a sheer cliff face.)  To my surprise, I got a note back within hours saying "Absolutely; what about Saturday??"  Gulp.  Troops were assembled, logistical arrangements made, and five of us met up Saturday morning near the cliff cache.

Up by the cache container

The experts had decided in advance that we were starting at the top of the cliff and rappelling down rather than trying to climb up from the bottom.  Now, I haven't rappelled since a summer camp in high school, so I was basically starting at square one.  "This is the harness, this is a carabiner, this mechanism is how you lower yourself," etc.  The experts were lovely people, had top-notch equipment, and were as patient and thorough as you could possibly want people who are the only thing standing between you and death to be.  It was still quite nerve-wracking to climb down over the top edge of the cliff though...the best advice I got at that point was, "Don't look down!"

Rappelling down

Three of the five of us rappelled down, and the female half of the climber pair actually made the find while doing so.  The other newbie and I were just happy to get down safely...hanging in midair while searching was not in the cards for us and that hide was really evil anyway.  One down, one to go!  On to the tree.


Catapult in action

The second hide was about 35 feet up a tree.  Not too bad except that there are no branches below the level of the cache container...if you have no ropes, forget it.  The guy half of the expert team broke out a giant slingshot and easily catapulted a weight at the end of a long line over a fork high in the tree.  Then they attached a heavier rope to the end of the lightweight line, used the line to pull the rope over the fork in the tree, anchored the rope to the harness, and all of a sudden everyone was looking at me.  Double gulp.  I get to be the guinea pig on this one.  Attach the harness, put my foot in the stirrup, get a quick lesson in how to climb ropes (much more complicated than rappelling down, probably why we did the other one first!) and up the tree I go.  Very slowly, but surely.


Almost there!

All the way up!

Luckily, the coming-down process is a lot like rappelling and took way less time.

Two for two and such an awesome day.  Talk about an adrenaline rush.  (Technically two of them.)  And no injuries at all.  The most amazing part??  The guy climber is so phobic of heights that he can't look down while he climbs, but he does it anyway...talk about a serious badass!  Two caches I never thought we'd get, two new friends and so much fun...that was a day for the plus column in a big way.  YEAH!!!






Thursday, December 1, 2016

...But On The Bright Side For The Walking Wounded

Because of the broken collarbone, Thing One can't get shirts without buttons over his head, which knocks out his usual wardrobe of athletic performance t-shirts.  To keep the kid in clothing for the next month or so, we went out Sunday and bought him a bunch of soft flannel button-down shirts.  Which don't go at all with his usual soccer sweatpants, so we also picked him up a few pairs of comfortable khaki pants, since he has categorically refused to wear jeans since second grade or so. Instead of his usual rumpled-jock-who-just-got-out-of-bed look, he is now rocking this total-prep look.  Purely by circumstance, of course, but apparently the girls approve.

Yesterday, one of the "cool" girls told him that she's sorry he's hurt, but that his injury has done wonders for his fashion sense!  I laughed out loud when he passed that along to me.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Not Dead Yet

Seems that I blinked and it's been over a week since I posted here.  Ugh. All is well, unless you are Thing One's left collarbone, anyway.

My boys were playing pickup soccer with their cousins Thursday afternoon in my in-laws' yard.  My boys are the biggest and oldest of the cousins.  Somehow they managed to get their feet tangled together (an accident from the perspective of all who saw it) and when they fell Thing Two landed on Thing One, breaking his collarbone.  Luckily there was an open Urgent Care with an X-ray machine in the vicinity, so there was a brief detour for scan and sling before we all sat down to turkey.  We were able to get him in to see an orthopedic surgeon Friday and no surgery is required at least, but he will be in a brace for weeks.  He's in no pain but is absolutely bored out of his mind!  No physical activity probably through December...torture for an active 13 year-old boy.  

Not a pic of him but this is the brace type.

Ironic since he had a personal best in the 5K Turkey Trot he ran that morning!!  All three kids did, actually: Thing One ran 7-minute miles, Thing Two 8-minute miles, and Petunia 9-minute miles.  Himself ran with Petunia since she's too little to run a road race alone.  Me?  Hey, I ran my first race in at least ten years, didn't have to stop, didn't hurt my bum knee, and had fun, so I'm calling it a win even if my nine year-old did finish a few minutes before me.  :)

More to come later...a few other adventures over the holiday weekend involving cliffs, trees and climbing gear!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sweetness

Thing Two's soccer team had their end-of-year party tonight, immediately following the last tournament game of the fall season. (They came in second in their age group!!)  It was held at a pub that has a large glass-walled interior room full of those loud, colorful, token-operated, ticket-dispensing games beloved by children everywhere, which I suspect had something to do with the choice of venue.

Fueled by pizza, the kids ran into the game room with their cups of tokens and emerged an hour or so later with fistfuls of tickets. Literally thousands of them, all told.  Which, one fistful after another, and unprompted by any adult, they all proceeded to hand to their trainer for his two little kids.  The big kids left the pub empty-handed, but the two tiny ones took home two or three big prizes each.

This trainer has a full time day job and trains them two nights a week on top of that.  I'm sure his wife is tired with the two little ones and would much prefer that he be home more often than he is! But when he showed her the tickets and explained what happened, she told him that she understands why he coaches this group of boys.  And then every adult in the room suddenly developed a case of the sniffles.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

You Know What? I'm Still Mad.

I live in a very white, very conservative area.  I'm not surprised that Trump took more votes here than Clinton, and I'm also not surprised that a number of people I know voted for him.  What I am finding interesting is the defensive tone that many of them are taking about their vote on Facebook.

I get that many of them are voting their wallets and their hatred of all things Clinton.  I get that many of them are what I would generally consider good folks who carefully considered their options and then came down on the other side of the political line from me.  That's their prerogative in this fine country.  

I also think that deep down in some small corner of the psyches of some of these people, they are ashamed of their association with Trump.  Or worse, that they know they *should* be, but they aren't.  Because deep down, they care less about people who aren't able and straight and Christian and white and male (don't even get me started on white women here) than they should, and they know it.  So when they get called out for voting Trump, they get disproportionately offended.  

Here's how I see it: you may not have voted Trump because you agree with all of his loathsome personal beliefs.  You may have supported him because of his economic policy or smaller-government leanings or outsider status or whatever.  But YOU SUPPORTED HIM.  That's the bottom line. You helped put that man in office.  So, now, here's what you need to do.  Assuming that you actually care about people who aren't ablebodied Christian white males, anyway.  

You need to actively, vocally stand up for the immigrants, the people of color, the women, the LGBTQ, the nonChristian, all those whose enemies have just been validated and invigorated by these election results.  Otherwise, no matter why you voted Trump, the generalizations apply to you too.  









Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Touch Of Post-Election Levity

Yesterday was parent conference day at school for our younger two kids.  Believe me when I tell you that I was not in the mood for that AT ALL, but I put on my big-girl pants and went anyway.  (Fortunately, all is well with both kids.)  While I was waiting in the hallway outside Petunia's classroom pre-conference, I started reading the bulletin boards to entertain myself and came across this poem she had written.  I am sharing it with her permission.

IF I WERE PRESIDENT

If I were president of the United States,
I'd cancel Sesame Street, Elmo and Barney,
Pokémon GO,
Gray, and also
Math on Tuesday morning.

If I were president of the United States,
There'd be pizza for lunch every day,
Three days of weekend, and
A jungle gym at everyone's house.

If I were president of the United States,
You wouldn't have six hours of school.
You wouldn't have parents that yell.
You wouldn't have embarrassing nicknames.
Or cursive.
Or mean people.

If I were president of the United States,
All women and men would have the same rights,
All siblings would be nice,
And a person who sometimes forgot their homework,
And sometimes forgot to study,
Would still be allowed to be
President of the United States.


I like her platform. Petunia for President in 2020!!





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Devastated

I am ashamed.

Of my political system.  Of my nation.  In some cases, of my family.

We have elected a bigoted, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist ignoramus.  We should all be ashamed.  And yet I see celebrating on Facebook.

The 1950s called.  It wants us back.  And we listened.

I'd say God help us all, but God had nothing to do with this.



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Real Talk, Hitting Home

Somehow got on the subject of the presidential election with my sons on the way home from church this morning.  (Petunia and Himself were at soccer.)  I explained to them that they are unbelievably lucky to have been born white, male, and Christian in this country because it starts them out at the top of the pile as far as some people are concerned.

This led to a discussion of who those "some people" consider less worthy of respect and dignity than the aforementioned white, Christian males.  Which group, as Thing One noted with no prompting from me whatsoever, would include his Jewish best friend, the Colombian and African-American boys in his posse of buddies (which is surprisingly diverse for such a white-bread school), and his classified brother (whom the evil orange one would doubtless call a "retard.")  Oh, and his little sister, too, since she's a beautiful girl.

I'm glad he sees it.  Maybe there's hope after all.




Friday, November 4, 2016

What's Your Superpower?

This article from the Reflections of a Grady Doctor blog on my sidebar today reminded me of a conversation I recently had with a friend.  We were joking about the craziness of the standard 'mom schedule' and what superpowers would make it all easier (how much would I love having the ability to teleport my children to all the places they need to be??)  This woman happens to have four very active children of her own ranging in age from four to thirteen, plus a thriving home-based business, a husband who travels a great deal, and the responsibility for running our collective kids' school's Girls On The Run afterschool program, in which Petunia is currently participating.  To say that she is busy is a massive understatement.  She would make the average four-star general look unprepared, undisciplined and disorganized!  Her superpower is time management, no doubt about it.

I'm not bad at that either, and I have some other strengths as well, but after thinking about it for a while, I've come to the conclusion that my real superpower is persistence: I am one stubborn, bullheaded SOB.  (Wonder where Thing Two got that from??  Ha.)  I had to have been one of the most uncoordinated white belts in the history of taekwondo, but I kept showing up for class anyway.  Five years later, what do you know?  I'm a lot better at it now.  My next test will be for my black belt.    When Thing Two got his diagnosis, I went home and had an ugly cry.  Then I wiped my eyes and started calling doctors and therapists.  I dragged that boy all over hell getting him help, but he's a different kid now, happy, social and actually capable of having a conversation and functioning normally in school.  Giving up on him was just never an option even on the really dark days.  I bet my geocaching friends would agree too...they send me the tough puzzles to work on because they know I won't be able to let them go until they are solved.

So, what do you think is your greatest strength??  I'm curious to see what responses I get.



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Disgusted

I've already mentioned my antipathy toward the orange abomination that is Drumpf, the Republican Party that could actually run him for President with a straight face (albeit with a held nose) and most pointedly, the people who are actually enthusiastic about his candidacy.  This latter phenomenon I just cannot understand at all.  Do these people not read?  Or think?  In what possible way could this man even begin to function as the President?

A chimpanzee would be leading him in the polls by 50 percentage points, had the Democrats nominated one.  A tulip.  A boulder. A fish.  My beloved dog.  Anything, not even necessarily something animate.  So why, why, WHY, FFS, have the Democrats chosen as their candidate a person who is apparently the only living breathing being in the United States against whom Drumpf actually has a fighting chance in this godforsaken election??

The mind boggles.

Monday, October 24, 2016

On Feeding Growing Boys

Just returned home from my second shopping trip in three days.  My sons (currently aged 13 and 11, may all the angels help me when they get older) both eat like they are perpetually one step from starvation.

As an example, let's talk about the amount of milk I go through.  Then: "Oh, a couple of half gallon containers a week is enough.  Any bigger a container and the milk will go bad before it's drunk."
Now: I buy three to four gallons at a time, and we probably go through five gallons a week total!  Thing One can drink most of a gallon a day by himself.  At least he has good strong bones.  (He would have to, wouldn't he???)

Or eggs.  Geez, the eggs. Used to be that a dozen would sit in my fridge for a week or two and I mostly used them for baking.  The boys have now discovered egg sandwiches and scrambled eggs for breakfast, which I encourage because both are athletes and protein in the morning is good.  (Sure beats the crappy over-processed, high-sugar cereals they like.)  In the past six months I've gone from buying them by the dozen to buying them 18 at a time, and today I broke down and bought a 30-pack.  It's that or go to the store every couple of days!

Bread: three or four loaves a week.  Orange juice: four half-gallons a week.  (Calcium-fortified, since Petunia categorically refuses to drink milk or eat most dairy products.)  Yogurt: two or three 8-packs at a time.

And then there's fruit.  Oh good grief.  Thing Two canNOT be trusted when there's fruit in the fridge.  He'd eat four apples a day if he could get away with it.  I buy several five-pound bags at a time for him!  (Better than chips or cookies, right??)  We probably go through 20 pounds of fruit a week.

Thing One already eats as much as most grown men.  He's almost the height of the average grown man and not even in high school yet: about 5'8" right now.  Thing Two eats more than I do, but has a way to go to catch up with his brother.  Both are tall and slender and fit.  Thing Two could easily have another foot or so to grow yet, and Thing One probably has at least another six inches coming.  The mind absolutely boggles!!  I might as well live at the grocery store...at least a Costco will be opening nearby this fall.






Thursday, October 20, 2016

All Choked Up

Today, I got the email below from Thing Two's case manager, who is the school social worker.

I just wanted to let you know J and I met with the 5th grade boys today to do a bullying/cyberbullying presentation. [Thing Two] got a bit choked up over one of the videos we showed and discussed.  We were able to get him right back on track by talking about how it all ended well and why.  He participated from beginning to end and had great things to add throughout our class period together.

As the boys were leaving I pulled him aside to make sure he was ok and he said he was fine. I just wanted you to be aware. He’s such a sweet and caring child!

Love that kid.  There is a whole lot of bullheaded stubborn in him but zero meanness and he just will not tolerate weaker kids being picked on.  Good thing he's on the big side, since he's got a protective streak a mile wide.  

On a related note, my best girlfriend's fifth grade daughter has been having some trouble in school this week.  Leaving out the details to protect the guilty, there was (by all accounts, in consensus) an altercation in which the other girl hit first and my friend's daughter hit second.  Both were disciplined appropriately by the school.  As part of that process, my friend was offered the opportunity to have her daughter switched from one fifth grade student group to another so that this other girl would no longer be in her classes.  My friend's daughter refused to switch, because (as she told her mother) if she changed groups then she wouldn't be with Thing Two anymore to make sure nobody picks on him.  Apparently he doesn't always get things the first time they are said and she worries about him. Those two have been in school together since they were four and she watches over him like a hawk.  

Of course, I told my friend to do what is best for her daughter and not to worry about Thing Two, but I am touched to the core that this little girl would deliberately choose to remain in classes with a kid who has bullied her off and on for years rather than abandon (as she perceives it) my son.  

Clearly Thing Two isn't the only sweet kid in this fifth grade class.  And he's got himself one fierce guardian angel who isn't afraid to throw a punch!

  



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tired

I am a master of multitasking and efficiency but this week has me beat.  Last weekend's soccer games (two of which were way, WAY away games) banged up the schedule big-time and we are still recovering.  Everything will get done, but at a cost.  Isn't that always the way?  Opportunity costs for doing or not doing the activities, both; finding the balance is the eternal struggle.

Hiding in the home office right now since I can't face the presidential debate.  Thing One is watching it as a school assignment and I would rather jam bamboo stakes under every fingernail than go near that TV.  Seriously contemplating drinking the last hard cider, putting on my PJs and going to bed!  It's been a long day and enough already.

Is it too much to hope that His Orangeness says something of such all-encompassing Trumpness tonight that the delusional will finally have their eyes opened about him??




Monday, October 17, 2016

Sick To My Stomach

Yes, Donald Trump is an utterly vile, pathetically insecure, totally contemptible excuse for a human being.  He's the living embodiment of the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic underbelly of our country and apparently a bad businessman to boot.  I totally understand why every newspaper in the country is currently denouncing his candidacy and endorsing his opponent.

But guess what?  All you newspapers?  And TV stations?  And online news outlets??  You had your chance to take this stand way back when.  Way back when there were actually legitimate, non-batshit-crazy, in-bed-with-Putin, women-hating candidates for the GOP nomination in the running.  And did you do it then?  Oh no.  The circus he created was WAY too good for your ratings to chance upsetting that applecart.  Now it's too late to do the right thing.  And furthermore, I'd argue that your doing the right thing too late is actually *counterproductive*, because all the nutjobs who are actually enthusiastic about his candidacy are now seeing this last minute frantic media disavowal as evidence of a left wing media conspiracy and it is actually increasing his fan base as a counterreaction, if my Facebook feed is anything to go by.  (I've never been so tempted to unfriend people I used to like as I am now, by the way.)

Way to go, guys.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's The Little Things

It being a holiday weekend, there will be soccer tournaments.  I believe it is a law of nature up there with gravitation and classical mechanics.  The boys are playing in tournaments in two different states (the girl is blessedly off this weekend) so it is going to be a 'divide and conquer' couple of days for Himself and me.  We had a rough idea of how we were going to handle the logistics until all the emails from Thing Two's team manager started coming in yesterday afternoon.

Seems that the fields where his tourney is being played have limited parking and each team has been issued only six parking passes for 12-14 players plus a coach.  (Since I was in the car with Petunia helping her with her homework during Thing Two's practice on Wednesday, I missed this.)  There is a park and ride shuttle to the fields from a central collecting area, but with an unknown schedule for that and a very set schedule for soccer games, that's a big wild card.  By far and away the wisest thing to do is to tag up with somebody who got one of the parking passes, but I have to admit that my first thought about that was something along the lines of "Aw, crap."

I've mentioned before that all three of my kids are new to their teams this year.  That left us with something on the order of 45 new kids to identify plus all their families to keep straight between the three teams, kind of a tall order especially at the beginning of the season.  I figured everyone who was lucky enough to get a parking pass would have already filled their car with people they've known for years, leaving me and Thing Two to figure out the shuttle schedule.  Since we live a good half an hour from the town this new club is based in, when we decided to switch the kids over we did it knowing that we'd likely be the odd ones out socially just for geographic reasons.  

Then I got home and found the message on my phone from another family asking if we wanted to ride with them.  Made me feel really good as the new kid on the block, I won't lie.  Then, we decided to switch and have me drive instead of them because I have a bigger-capacity soccer mom mobile, and I was able to offer another mom and boy a ride too.  Building a community one carpool at a time.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

An Introduction To International Travel

Not for me or Himself: both of us spent a significant chunk of our childhoods living overseas and Himself has managed to accrue more than a million (literally) miles flown on one airline alone since he started working after law school.  The kids, however, had only flown to see grandparents and friends within the continental US until last week.  Thing One the geography buff has been begging us for years to take him somewhere, ANYWHERE, abroad.  This spring, we started planning a trip to London (piggybacking on a business trip for Himself) and arranged to get all three of them passports.

Because the kids had to miss school, we could only manage three full days in London.  Nevertheless, since Himself spends a lot of time there and is very familiar with the city, we made the most of the experience.  We found an apartment near Trafalgar Square on airbnb; much more convenient than a hotel since it had more space plus a tiny kitchenette and even tinier washer/dryer.  In our three days, we saw the Tower of London, St Paul's, the Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, a small chunk of the British Museum (you could spend days there, but Thing One had to see the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles...) and walked about 28 miles according to Himself's Garmin watch.  Seriously.  An absolutely fabulous time was had by all and we have now recovered from the jet lag, more or less.  Only took a couple of days.

Now planning the next trip.  Think it will be Munich this time.  Bring on the world.  :)





Sunday, October 2, 2016

All Becomes Clear

So, I understand now how special needs kids fall through the cracks.

When Thing One was in fifth grade, I was only peripherally aware of what he was doing at school.  He kept track of his homework assignments.  He did them and turned them in without prompting.  God knows I never saw the child crack a book, but apparently he knew his stuff because he did (and does) well on tests.

Thing Two, on the other hand, cannot find his (school-related) ass with both hands and a flashlight.  Getting him to understand the assignment and bring home the correct materials is only half the battle; then (depending on the subject and assignment) I either need to guide him as he does it or check his work afterward.  I don't mind, really.  I love the kid and his teachers are really trying hard to get him organized from the school end too.

BUT.

I am also a highly educated stay-home parent with the time and patience (usually, anyway...) to get the kid through his homework or studying or whatever.  Plus I have the resources at my disposal to hire professionals to help him where he needs help (currently, pragmatic speech and reading comprehension.)  And it's STILL an uphill battle right now.  Kids with working parents or ESL parents etc etc etc...I don't get how all of this happens at their houses.  If it does, my hat is off to them because this shit ain't easy under even good circumstances.

If I back off, at least now, he won't get through.  There is no freaking way.  I'll have to figure out how to taper my involvement over time.  But in the meantime, looks like I'm doing fifth grade again myself.  Complete with relearning how to multiply and divide decimals.  Ugh.  


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ouch

Last Saturday, Thing One was tripped while making a full-speed run at goal during a soccer game.  Both boys went down, Thing One landing heavily on his left wrist.  He nodded when the ref asked if he was ok.  But he wasn't.  I could tell by the way he was holding his arm for the remainder of the game.  Thank all the saints his wrist wasn't broken, most likely just (ha!) sprained.  After a week or so he had most of the full range of motion back in the joint and had stopped wearing his protective wrist brace, although he did say that when he raised his hand in class yesterday the entire class cringed at the bruising that still stretches halfway down to his elbow.

Then, two days ago, he was in another on-field collision.  Legitimate, nothing dirty, just an opposing striker trying to score and Thing One the centerback hell-bent on stopping him.  The other boy got up, but Thing One did not.  He was down on the field, curled on his side.  Since the ref can't stop play for an injury (soccer having a horrible track record of flopping) the boys on his team were screaming at the kid with the ball to kick it out of bounds.  The second it cleared the sideline, the boys were kneeling by Thing One and two of them put their arms around his shoulders and helped him limp off the field while we watched in horror, having no idea what was hurt or how badly but guessing it was his ankle.

For injuries not requiring an ambulance, it's not cricket for parents to approach the bench during a game.  We sent Petunia over to scout out the situation, and he told her that he'd been kicked in the ankle and was doing okay but wouldn't be playing anymore that game.  The best of a bunch of bad alternatives, to be sure, but his ankle was still swollen and black and blue when we got home and got a look at it.

At this level, the kids aren't man-sized, but they are big enough.  Thing One is about 5'8" and 130 pounds and a good number of the kids out there are bigger than he is.  When two of them crash, or when even one of them hits the ground, there's a lot of force involved and somebody is going to get hurt.  Force equals mass times acceleration and all that.  Physics is a bitch.  And I am going to be spending a lot of time over the next few years watching my babies get hurt and hating every goddamned minute of it.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Perspective

For those who care about soccer, it was a big deal that Wayne Rooney was dropped to the bench for Man U yesterday.  (If you've never heard of him, don't worry about it.)  My eldest was all agog with the news.  Then he said to me, 'Well, you know, he IS getting old."

The man is 30.

Brat.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Possibly The Strangest Question I Have Ever Asked A Grown Man

"How far do you have to walk until your egg hatches?"

Two take-home messages from this:

1) Context in conversation is everything
2) I don't even have to make fun of Pokemon playing.  All I have to do is ask a legitimate question (see above) and it is done for me.  Especially when I am addressing a man who is well on the far side of the AARP cutoff and there are no children in sight!  






Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mostly Good News

Well, we're now up to our *eighth* offer of help to get Thing One to his game on Saturday now.  Pretty damned amazing.  Love this team.  Apparently he had a good practice tonight but I didn't see any of it because I was in the car in the parking lot with Thing Two (parked under a streetlight with the roof shade open so we could see) helping him with his math homework.  Oh, the joy of 6th grade math.  Ugh.  He's a fifth grader but in high math, which is 6th grade math.  We spent a good hour multiplying decimals, him doing the problems and me checking them.  I miss the days when checking the kids' math homework did not require half an hour and a calculator!

Thing Two had his second session with his former preschool teacher this afternoon.  She's trained to teach pretty much everything from K-8, both general ed and special ed.  She's the one who finally managed to reach him in preschool, and I was overjoyed that she was able to add him to her tutoring schedule this year.  They are focusing on reading comprehension but also adding in the social and behavioral piece.  The only downside is that this looks like it is going to be just like obedience training for the dog, in the sense that you have an hour or so a week with a professional trainer but that this hour is spent teaching *you* how to train your dog.  The actual training of the dog takes place outside of class.  I mean no disrespect to my son whatsoever in comparing him to the dog, hopefully it goes without saying...I only bring this up because he seems to be getting a ton of homework every week from her and we have to juggle this into the schedule with everything else.  Oh well.  She worked one near-miracle with him already, and if she can get him better-positioned for middle school than he is now by the end of the year, all will be worth it in the end.

In other news, Himself is still in Amsterdam for work, I managed to get myself stung by yellow jackets four or five times in rapid succession while geocaching yesterday (ouch!) and both of the younger kids did very well on the standardized tests they took last spring.  Hallelujah.  No surprise for Petunia, but Thing Two was actually within spitting distance of "normal' (whatever that is) in Language Arts for the second year in a row--utterly amazing given his language deficits.  He scored solidly in the normal range in math and actually blew the doors off the science test...a score of 250 put you in the highest category for results and he got a *271.*  There's a fine brain under those crossed language wires, yessiree.

Off to bed.  Very glad it's Thursday.  See you on the flip side.





    

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

As I've mentioned a time or two, our schedule is pretty crazy. I spent part of last Sunday hyperventilating while I wrote it all out on the whiteboard I keep in the kitchen, since both Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning were physically impossible to accomplish with one parent and one car (Himself is out of town on business through Saturday afternoon.)  I *hate* asking for help, but I had no choice.  

One text, and Petunia had a ride home from Girls on the Run on Thursday afternoon.  One email to the other parents on Thing One's soccer team, and I had five, count 'em, FIVE separate offers to bring him to their Saturday game, which conflicts with Thing Two's Saturday game.  Including two offers from women I can't 100% guarantee that I would recognize if they were standing next to me on the sideline, given that I am still trying to figure out who all the kids are and which parents go with which kid.  (That says a lot about how unbelievably nice the parents on this new team of Thing One's are, by the way.  Man, did he-- and we-- fall into a pile of roses with the recent club switch.)

So, for the time being at least, all is resolved.  And I continue to be grateful to the universe for surrounding me with good people.  Not something I take for granted.  


Friday, September 16, 2016

Breathe

The craziness, it is here.

Soccer practice four evenings a week: three days a week for Thing Two including keeper training, two each for Thing One and Petunia.  Soccer games: between the kids, three on Saturdays, two on Sundays.  Thing Two has tutoring two days a week right after school; one session of speech, one of reading comprehension.  Add in taekwondo when we can get there and a few other things and it is a recipe for insanity.  For all of us.

Livin' the American Dream of overscheduling.  Ugh.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kevin

I am just fascinated by people.  What they look like, how they choose to present themselves.  What they choose to share about themselves.  Especially when what they share about themselves blows my preconceived notions about them all to hell on a fast train.

Take a guy I've known casually for three or four years now.  Looks and dresses like your standard East Coast preppy WASP.  He's a successful broker, drives a BMW.  His wife drives a Porsche and spends all her free time at the tennis club.  They have two boys who always wear collared shirts and like to play golf.  Despite the obnoxious picture I'm sure that my words are drawing of this couple, they are lovely people.  I just hadn't spent much time talking to either of them beyond the superficial and would have bet dollars to doughnuts that both of them were raised in privilege.

Then, one recent hot sunny afternoon, I found myself sitting next to the guy for a couple of hours.  Turns out he's 110% self-made.  Child of divorce, dad is a plumber, stepdad is an electrician, mother is a real piece of work.  All kinds of tension with siblings and mother to this day.  He grew up in a ritzy area but on the wrong side of the tracks.  Nobody in his family had been to college, nobody cared about his grades, sure as hell nobody was expecting him to go to college or would have had the first clue how to help him get in even if they'd cared.  He worked afternoons as a landscaper in high school, nights cleaning up at a club.  Worked his way up to the DJ booth and helping to manage the club because he always showed up for work.  Took some classes at the local community college (paid for this himself, of course) and did well after a rough start.  Prof told him he was in way over his head, though.  Didn't sit well with him; he put a chip on his shoulder and that was it.

After two years, he transferred to a four-year school.  He watched all the kids whose parents were driving them to school and helping them move in and swore that if he ever had kids, he'd be that kind of parent.  He'd driven himself to school alone.  Somewhere along the line, he met another student who was a business major.  Asked what kind of jobs that would get you.  Liked the answer, asked the kid what classes he needed to take and then took them.

Graduated from college, started out on the bottom rung.  100% commission sales job.  He was married by then, wife (from not too different a background) was working retail.  They scrimped and save to buy their first house.  When they finally did, and he proudly told his parents, his mom asked him who the hell he thought he was.

Both of my parents are college graduates.  They put themselves through school, and wanted my brother and me to have it easier than they did.  There was never any question of whether we were going to college, and they paid for it.  They deal was that we had to take it seriously and work hard.  That was it.

I did work hard, and I did succeed. But success was mine to lose from the start.  Life set him up to fail, and the fact that he ended up succeeding anyway makes for one hell of a story.  And this, my friends, is why I like it when people talk to me.  You never know what you'll learn.






Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

We're in that in-between age on babysitters. Thing Two and Petunia aren't ready to be left alone for more than a short while in daylight.  Thing One can be left at home for more extended periods, with and without his siblings, but he really doesn't like being home at night sans adults. I get "Where are you?" texts from him every five minutes after dark. The problem is trying to find a sitter who can watch a large thirteen year-old boy in addition to his younger siblings!  Most high schoolers are too close to him in age and size to be legitimate authority figures, and adult sitters are hard to come by.  Who guards the not-quite-fully-fledged guardian?


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden

The only good thing about the amount of driving kids around I do is that sometimes I have a meaningful conversation with one of the kids in the car.  Today, it was Thing One.  I had to drive him to and from a friend's bar mitzvah, so he had lots of questions about the Jewish faith.  Not that I'm any kind of expert on that, but I tried to explain at least on a general level.  That led to him asking how interfaith marriages work for reasons I don't remember offhand.  Told him that there are probably as many answers to that question as there are interfaith couples.  

I know of one in which the mother never converted but her kids took her husband's religion and they all attend his church now.  In another, the older daughter took the father's faith and the younger the mother's, so they split down the middle every Sunday.  In one of the sadder stories I've ever heard, one man I know who was raised Orthodox Jewish married a Catholic woman against the wishes of his parents and they actually sat shiva for him.  He was dead to them until they died decades later.  He and his wife had one child and raised her as an atheist.  Can't say as I blame them.  Thing One couldn't begin to wrap his head around the concept of being so upset with your adult child's choices that you'd rather pretend that he is dead for the rest of your life than accept them, and I have to say I'm glad about that.  There's enough misery in the world already. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Perspective

Before taekwondo class yesterday, I was standing in the hall talking with a friend of mine.  I can't remember how it came up, but for some reason I was telling him how crazy our weekends are going to be this fall, given that the three kids will likely have either four or five soccer games a weekend between them.  Then I looked up and noticed another classmate, whom I hadn't realized was sitting there within earshot, and all of a sudden I felt like the biggest horse's ass in existence.

Ed's a big guy, taller than me and strong as an ox.  In his early fifties, he's as nice a man as they come, always supportive of others and cheerfully good-natured.  He's got two daughters.  One is a rising senior in college, the other a rising freshman.  The downcast expression on his face suggested the answer to the question before I asked it, but I asked him anyway: "When did you and your wife take the girls to college?"  "Yesterday," he replied.

The first day of his empty nest, something I knew he's been absolutely dreading based on past conversations, and I'm (inadvertently, at least) bellyaching right in front of him about how busy our kids are keeping us.  *headslapheadslapheadslap*


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Letting Go

See that roller coaster car?  The one completely upside down on the ride at the fair in the picture below??  Thing One is on that somewhere with his buddy.  Actually, several of his buddies.


We go the the fair on the Friday night of its run here every year.  The kids get wristbands so they can ride all the rides over and over until they are exhausted, and then we watch the fireworks, get stuck in traffic for an hour trying to get out of the parking lot, and go home.  Good times in a small town.

Last year, shortly after we arrived, Thing One ran into some of his friends and took off with them.  To be expected at that age.  This year we were even proactive about it...we brought one of his friends with us, made sure Thing One was wearing cargo shorts so he could button his phone safely into a pocket while flying through the air, and then sent the two of them off with their crew with orders to meet us at a set place before the fireworks.  They are rising eighth graders: they want to be with their friends and that's ok.  I counted six boys and eight girls in the pack that were together for most of the evening.  Thing Two and Petunia stayed with us, although both saw some of their own friends there as well.  I can envision a scenario soon enough in which we just drop the kids off, or at the very least are just spending time with the other parents while all three of the kids hang out with their friends.  In packs, I'm not worried about them getting out on their own a little (at least in a couple of years, in the case of the younger two.)

Some of the older kids we know (high schoolers) were at the fair with significant others.  I know that's the next step for Thing One, although that's going to be harder to deal with.  Only five more years and he's gone.  I can understand the transition to young adulthood, and even encourage the spreading of the wings, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  Having one of those moments where I look at the fine young man we're raising and wonder where my baby went.  :(




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Again

He lost his left leg well above the knee six or seven years ago in a motorcycle accident.  As he put it, the bumper of the car that hit him (and the jeans he was wearing at the time) went through his femur.  Younger than me, maybe in his mid-thirties, he's very fit-looking, his muscled arms bearing the kind of tattoos that made me wonder if perhaps he'd lost his leg while in the military when I first noticed him standing near me in the hallway.

He spent six months in a wheelchair after the accident.  During this time, his ex-wife left him.  He now has his kids only eight days a month and desperately wishes it were more.  Remarried to a psychiatric nurse, he hopes for more children someday and has taken up meditation and tai chi to help him deal with the physical pain that is a permanent legacy of the accident, since he does not want to go the pharmaceutical route.

I'd never laid eyes on the man before that conversation, and I didn't start it.  I certainly didn't ask any personal questions.  I may not ever even see him again, who knows.  But I am convinced that the universe intends for me to listen to people who need to talk and I've come to consider that an honor.



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Craziness

Petunia had her regular well visit on Tuesday morning. She was measured at 4'6", which makes her all of two inches shorter than Simone Biles!  I can't even begin to process the fact that this astonishing gymnast is for all practical purposes the same size as my rising fourth grader.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Words To Live By

Stolen shamelessly from the Love What Matters Facebook page because it spoke to me.
"I work in a decent sized, local, indie bookstore. It’s a great job 99% of the time and a lot of our customers are pretty neat people. Any who, middle of the day this little old lady comes up. She’s lovably kooky. She effuses how much she loves the store and how she wishes she could spend more time in it but her husband is waiting in the car 'OH! I BETTER BUY HIM SOME CHOCOLATE!' She piles a bunch of art supplies on the counter and then stops and tells me how my bangs are beautiful and remind her of the ocean ('Wooooosh' she says, making a wave gesture with her hand.
Ok. I think to myself. Awesomely happy, weird little old ladies are my favorite kind of customer. They’re thrilled about everything and they’re comfortably bananas. I can have a good time with this one. So we chat and it’s nice.
Then this kid, who’s been up my counter a few times to gather his school textbooks, comes up in line behind her (we’re connected to a major university in the city so we have a lot of harried students pass through). She turns around to him and, out of nowhere, demands that he put his textbooks on the counter. He’s confused but she explains that she’s going to buy his textbooks.
He goes sheetrock white. He refuses and adamantly insists that she can’t do that. It’s like, $400 worth of textbooks. She, this tiny old woman, boldly takes them out of his hands, throws them on the counter and turns to me with an intense stare and tells me to put them on her bill. The kid at this point is practically in tears. He’s confused and shocked and grateful. Then she turns to him and says 'you need chocolate.' She starts grabbing handfuls of chocolates and putting them in her pile.
He keeps asking her 'why are you doing this?' She responds 'Do you like Harry Potter?' and throws a copy of the new Cursed Child on the pile too.
Finally she’s done and I ring her up for a crazy amount of money. She pays and asks me to please give the kid a few bags for his stuff. While I’m bagging up her merchandise the kid hugs her. We’re both telling her how amazing she is and what an awesome thing she’s done. She turns to both of us and says probably one of the most profound, unscripted things I’ve ever had someone say:
'It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind.'
The kid thanks her again and leaves. I tell her again how awesome she is. She’s staring out the door after him and says to me: 'My son is a homeless meth addict. I don’t know what I did. I see that boy and I see the man my son could have been if someone had chosen to be kind to him at just the right time.'
I’ve bagged up all her stuff and at this point am super awkward and feel like I should say something but I don’t know what. Then she turns to me and says: 'I wish I could have bangs like that but my darn hair is just too curly.' And leaves. And that is the story of the best customer I’ve ever had. Be kind to somebody today."
Credit: Christine Turel

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eleven.

So I blinked and another one of my kids had a birthday.  This time, Thing Two.  (I don't feel any different...wonder how they are getting older while I manage to stay the same age??) 

He will have a birthday party in September when all his friends are back from vacation, but yesterday we went out for lunch and frozen yogurt and then picked up a buddy of his and went bowling.  Hard to believe he'll be in middle school next year.  Technically, he could be going into sixth grade this year, but between his late birthday and his language difficulties, we held him back a year before starting kindergarten so he's going into fifth grade now instead.  He's still old enough to play some 'middle school' sports and to possibly need the 'middle school' shots at his well doctor's visit today, though, so he still has a toe in both worlds.  

He has his annual appointment with the neurodevelopmental pediatrician next week, so we've been putting all the paperwork together for that and it's been on my mind a lot lately.  He was four or five when he started seeing her and things were not going well at the time.  I never would have dreamed that by now he'd have a solid group of friends and be functioning pretty much normally in an on-level classroom!  He's worked so hard to overcome the challenges life tossed at him.

Happy eleventh birthday, buddy.  Mama is so proud of the fine young man you're becoming.






Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Weird

So, I had a dream last night about a long-ago ex.  Haven't seen him in well over 15 years, and the dream took place at my old college campus, a place he's never been.  Wonder what dark corner of my subconscious THAT came from??


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Compromise

Every other year, my immediate family joins my in-laws, sister-in-law and nephews for a week at the beach.  We've been doing this since 2004, I think...going to the beach was always an important tradition in my husband's family.  This is that week.

Now, I famously don't do sun.  In the dead of summer, I'm the one out caching or soccer games in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and a big-brimmed hat.  This isn't any Dita von Teese-like desire to be ghostly pale, just a nod to the reality that my skin is Irish but spent its youth in the sun in the Middle and Far East in the years before effective sunblock was invented.  As my dermatologist once put it, I've had my lifetime's sun exposure already.  Since I don't intend to spend the rest of my life indoors, I own a full wardrobe of all varieties of SPF50 clothing and I try to keep covered when reasonably possible.  This not being compatible with a week on the beach in summer, my husband and I made a deal years ago.

Unlike my brother-in-law, who has his own reasons for staying home, I continue to join the family for beach week.  However, back when the kids were younger, I was the one who stayed home with whichever kids needed naps etc.  I read books, did puzzles, and generally amused myself at the house.  When everyone outgrew nap time, I became free to roam during the day while they were at the beach.  I went to museums and lighthouses, went shopping, and explored, returning in the afternoons to help with baths and dinner.  Now, with the youngest child aged seven and *my* youngest almost nine, and having discovered caching in the meantime, the days are all mine for real!  I help with breakfast and dinner, organizing and still with getting Petunia's hair washed at the end of the day.  I run the errands that need to be run outside the house: groceries and drugstore runs and such.  But between breakfast and dinner, otherwise my time is my own and I LOVE it.

I spend the mornings and evenings with the family, so it's not like I spend the whole week alone.  I just don't have to sit on a beach in the sun for days on end in the interest of family togetherness.  I wouldn't want to sit still that long even if my skin allowed it.  (And you'd better believe my kids are lathered in sunblock and wearing SPF50 swim clothing whole they are at the beach.)  As an arrangement, it works for us!





Saturday, July 30, 2016

Multicultural Moment

I'm in a chair outside a hotel laundry room waiting for Thing One's nice clean soccer uniforms to come out of the dryer.  He played two games in them in the rain and mud today at an away tournament; luckily, this hotel is accommodating to those who need to do laundry on the fly while staying here.
In the chair on the other side of the doorway is sitting a man whom I would have sworn was Indian (subcontinental) from looking at him.  Except that his phone just rang, and I swear to you, his ringtone was Irish pub music.  Oh, and then he answered it in fluid Spanish!





Friday, July 29, 2016

Well, I Blinked And Almost Two Weeks Passed

Pretty sad but also par for the course in the summer.  It's actually crazier around here in summer than during the school year, since the kids are around for all or most of the days and going in every direction at once.  Add to that the bathroom renovation that we just completed (construction guys arriving at 8AM every day!) and it's a good thing I don't drink much, that's all I'll say.

I still have to paint the bathroom, so I'll post pics when I'm done.  Hopefully soon!  There's still a Dumpster in my driveway...the plan is to get rid of an old sofa plus all kinds of junk that has accumulated in the basement and sheds.  Oh, and we have yet another soccer tournament this weekend, so who knows when all of this stuff is going to get done!  Never a dull moment around here, that's for sure.  I turned 43 on Monday the 18th and we had so much going on that week that we weren't able to celebrate the occasion until the 23rd!  (Not that I'm all that excited about birthdays these days, but my husband insists.)

On the bright side, I got to spend the day with my college roommate and another college friend on Sunday, which was great.  The roommate actually lives in Germany now, but she had an extended layover while flying home and the other girl and I (we only live an hour apart, we need to get together more often) were able to meet up and then go see her.  Good times.  Nothing like old friends...even when you can only see them infrequently, it doesn't matter since some bonds distance and years just don't break.

Oh, and last but definitely not least, happy 71st birthday to my beautiful mother!




Saturday, July 16, 2016

All Choked Up

No Pokemon today, I promise.  At least in this post.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Thing Two's preschool teacher at the gym.  This woman, more than any other professional the one who pulled him kicking and screaming from behind the 8-ball of his severe language deficits, hasn't seen him since he was in kindergarten (he's going into fifth grade next year) although she asks about him whenever our paths happen to cross.  His two years in her class were huge for his development; she's one of those rare birds who manages to give every kid in her class what they need to flourish even when the needs are very disparate.  She is the undisputed queen of differentiation.  Anyway, as we were discussing his academic progress she mentioned that she's been doing some tutoring while her son naps (when she left teaching it was to be home with him.)  As it happens, I've been looking for somebody to work with Thing Two on his reading comprehension, so we are going to try to get him into her schedule in the fall and I am ecstatic.  Would absolutely love to have this woman back in his life!!

Back when she taught him, he had VERY limited language skills.  Neither his receptive or expressive language were anywhere close to functional, which basically means that he didn't understand most of what people said to him and couldn't put together a proper sentence of his own either.  As you can imagine, in that situation it's tough to have any kind of meaningful social interaction, so he was usually the kid off in the corner playing by himself.  Not that the other kids were mean to him, they just couldn't communicate with him and everyone ended up frustrated.  His primary deficit is language-based, but the secondary social deficit has been almost as much of a concern to me over the years.

Fortunately, as his language skills have improved, the social skills have improved along with them.  He still comes across as slightly immature and has some personal space issues, but the kids at his school are used to his idiosyncrasies and will gently correct him if he needs it.  More to the point, they seem to legitimately like and accept him idiosyncrasies and all, and as his mother, this fills my heart with joy.

I was thinking about this yesterday because he was invited to a sleepover at a friend's house last night.  When I dropped him off, I saw that three other boys had been invited as well.  There was a tent set up in the backyard of the house for their overnight adventure and when we arrived, Thing Two dropped his bags in the front hall and took off running to join the other four in the yard!  It struck me at that moment that Thing Two has a 'posse,' just like Thing One does.  The really amazing thing about it is that Thing Two's group of friends is actually the popular boys of the grade!  It helps that he is an outstanding athlete, but still.  Luckily they are also a very nice group of boys...one happens to be the younger brother of Thing One's best friend.

It occurred to me that the next time I see the preschool teacher, I need to fill her in on his social progress too.  I think that might even make her happier than hearing about the improvements in his language skills!  For so many years I just wanted that child to have even one real friend, and the fact that he is now an apparently welcome and valued part of a social group makes me want to happy-cry.





Friday, July 15, 2016

#TeamClefairy

For someone who could care less about Pokemon Go, it's funny that I'm writing about it twice within 24 hours.  Saw this article just now and absolutely had to share because it's priceless.  Apparently there is a virtual battle between the forces of good and evil going on at the headquarters of the Westboro Baptist Church!!




Thursday, July 14, 2016

Awesomeness

In the last two days, I've found two really good geocaches of two completely different varieties.

Cache 1: easy to get to, only one stage, right off a major public street at the back of a tiny park in a nearby town.  Also easy to find: a largish container simply attached with a magnet to the back of a metal gate.  What made this one so cool is that the 'gate' in question happened to be the original (rusted, scary-looking, dungeonlike) 200+ year-old doors to the town jail!  I've driven by that park literally hundreds of times and hadn't the slightest idea that gate was there until yesterday.

Cache 2: the omega to cache 1's alpha.  This one had three stages (it's a so-called 'multi' cache.)  At each of the first two stages you had to find a puzzle and solve it in order to proceed.  Getting to stage 1 required a bushwhack of about 100 feet through summer overgrowth in a park.  At the coordinates was a camouflaged plastic container, which when opened revealed a small plain silver metal box with a large red button on it.  Pressing the button caused the box to play a message in Morse code aloud.  In order to get the coordinates for stage 2, you had to first translate the Morse, and then further decrypt the code message the translation yielded.

The coordinates for stage 2 brought us to an abandoned section of railroad track a few miles from the first stage, only a couple of hundred feet from a busy road.  The puzzle message there was much harder to find.  The owner (I asked him how he managed it afterward) used a paper stencil, a hammer and a center punch to enscribe a Braille message directly onto one of the rails of the train track!  As with stage 1, the Braille translated to a code that then had to be solved to get the coordinates for stage 3.

Getting to stage 3 required another bushwhack, but mercifully no more puzzle solving.  In keeping with the overall theme of the cache, the final container was probably three feet long and built in the shape of a rocket!  Unscrewing the tail part allowed us to access and sign the logbook inside.

Caches like these two are what keep me playing this game.  Some take me to spots I might otherwise never find, like that gate, or a beautiful view, or a historic cemetery, or a gigantic ancient tree.  Others challenge me to find something that is well-hidden and/or to figure out what to do with it once I've found it.  (Another recent multi presented me with coordinates written on a long pole at stage 1: the coordinates took me to stage 2 and the hook on the other end of the pole was required to get the final container down out of a tree.)

Everywhere I look online right now, people are talking about Pokemon Go.  I'd rather find a real geocache than an imaginary Pokemon any day...more brainpower required and less chance of data breaches, traffic accidents or accidentally ending up in someone's yard!