Sunday, August 28, 2016


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


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


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


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


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


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!


I had a lengthy conversation with a man from Zambia this evening.  From his accent when we exchanged greetings, I could tell that he was Afr...