Friday, March 16, 2018

That girl.

Some mornings are harder than others, especially the first day back to school after spring break. Even more so when it's the first school day after springing the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Nonsense. 

Liam had to sprint to the bus, not that he got up late; he just needed to spend an entire half hour of the hour he has from alarm to bus to kvetch about the fact that it was A) morning, B) not a two hour delay (after a week off), C) dark, D) cold, E) all of the above and then some.

Carrie was already standing out there with Bosley on his leash, in the dark, and the bus rolls up. I was behind Liam to ensure he made it out of the house, so Carrie began to run away from the ever closer bus towards me while I'm calling cheerily to Bos. She drops the leash, dashes up the bus steps, Liam on her heels. Unbeknownst to her, I did indeed corral the squirrely, joyful, leaping Bos before Carrie was the whole way seated, but as the bus was already in motion again and we were in the dark, she couldn't tell. So I receive the above text from her friend Isaac's device.

Notice she can now "sleep easy" in math, not just "sleep"! Does anyone want a teenager?!

A Normal Person post

I'm channeling my mother today. I'm at our local Panera, watching the guy across the street at Ace Hardware wiping down his windows, Panera customers coming in and out, an occasional (crazy- my car said it's 24 degrees out) jogger, just eating my fresh orange scone and having hot (amazing) coffee. My mother calls this Something Normal People Do. 

Yes, I have coffee at home, and I am capable of making scones, though mine would be chocolate themed as I have lemons but no oranges or blueberries at home. However, I had have a million errands to run since I've been home with a sick-ish kid for the past two days. I've already dropped off a scrip but need to claim two prescriptions at pick up, hit Walmart and perhaps Aldi, and even though I went back into the house twice before I left for good, I still don't have the mail I intended to send from town. Grrrr. 

But there is laundry which has made its way into the dryer already, all the kids made it onto the bus at their appointed times, the dog has been fed and run and played with, Liam's six month med check has been scheduled, and I am actually wearing makeup and earrings. I call it a win. 

Hence the coffee and scone out while I blog because our home wifi "is being a big poopyhead" to quote our longtime friend Todd. I have next to no technical knowhow so it's beyond me as to how to fix it. The guy standing next to my tech guy in my brain muttered, "Panera has wifi" and the tech guy perked up to add, "and coffee!" Someone smarter than both of them slyly added, "and yummy baked goods, and never mind that you already ate three cookies after breakfast. Get one anyway. How often to you go into Panera?" Sneaky little devil. So here I am. I just made a tactical error. I closed my eyes to absorb some of the steam from my coffee (who knew coffee could steam? Doesn't everyone heat theirs 4 times in the microwave and still forget to finish it?) and realized, I could nap here... 

What a difference 24 hours makes

Yes, that would be Damon in the kennel with Bosley. Some of you are having flashbacks to when Carrie and Liam would do that with Triskal (Carrie did it once with scissors) but Bos has a significantly smaller crate. 

Twenty-four hours later, after hearing a dreaded sound that no parent wants to hear, especially early in the morning, led to a much different picture:

Poor kiddo. Who knows which particular germ he picked up, but we're thankful it was short-lived. After his initial bout of hurkage, he had no reoccurrences and only a slight fever. The next day he still didn't look himself upon waking, so he stayed home again to make sure he'd licked it. Halfway through the afternoon I realized he was completely his 100% ornery self again. His bum went on the bus this morning posthaste. He's probably glad to be back among friends instead of with his boring old mum anyway.

God bless teachers, every one. 

Black belt test, part 1

This is the kid who passed his first of three tests to become a black belt in karate. He showed off his basic skills set and performed four katas over three and a half hours. He performed Six Qualities of a Champion, Universal 3, Advanced Kicking Kata, kicking kata and single stick form. Some of you are scratching your heads because I said four katas and that's five items; the point system is where some of them count as a whole point and some are only half a point. In his case, kicking kata and single stick form are each half of a point so together they made up his fourth kata. You'd think I'd know all this stuff by now, seeing as his siblings are already certified, but I have to write it all down as I go...

Anyway, after some tweaking and repeating certain aspects throughout the test, his whole class passed the first test. Way to go, guys! It was a long afternoon and they worked really hard. It felt fantastic to cheer and clap for them at the end. 

Next up will be the self-defense test and two weeks after that is the sparring and grappling element. That's the really fun one to watch as the instructors and some of the krav maga crew get to hop in to be "sharks" and the kids get to show what they know against adults whom they're not necessarily accustomed to dealing with. Not sure who gets more of a kick out of it- the kiddos or the sharks! That will be late April, so let me know if you'd like to stop by to see some of it. Nina and Jonathan are testing for their second degree black belt, so their test includes two attackers and really is something to see. They've already been practicing on Saturday mornings and the sessions I saw both went very well. 

Carrie is mulling over the idea of working as a student instructor. She is aware that several of the current ones will be heading out to college this summer and there will be vacancies. Since she will be 15 (!) in May, it warrants looking into, especially as we are there all the time anyway. 

And so our life continues to be school, homework, church, and karate, karate, karate...

Graduation will be May 12 at noon at the usual venue. If you'd like to come, know that it's free, wear black to cheer Damon on, and be sure to buy some popcorn!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Seuss Day 2018

Today is Dr. Seuss day at school, and thanks to Grandmama, this kid has something perfect to wear. (Pay no attention to the photobombing Bosley.) What a perfect event for a Friday. I bet there are all kinds of giggles at school today.

The second graders have been learning about money, the coin denominations, how to add and subtract it, that sort of thing. Last night as I tucked that tuckered out kid into bed, I told him to uncover his head so he could breathe. He pipes up from where he was burrowed, "y'know how coins have heads? I'm a Damon cent!"

This morning, while attempting to snuggle the little stinkwad, he informed me, "I already said 'I love you.' Now please shoo." 

He's Thing 3, all right... and a happy heavenly birthday to my Gramps, whom I'm convinced is the guardian angel for this crew...

In Mawch...

See those two frizzering kids on the extreme left? They actually have daylight at the bus stop now!

I liked how the trees looked outlined on one side. 

The wind is still blowing pretty good and Damon found a spot of black ice on the driveway en route to the bus stop. It kinda went like this: 

Normally we wait until we can see the bus head down the street for our intersection. That way we are out of the elements. Today, however, perhaps because it was sunny, Damon insists on waiting outside. Damon, Bosley and I all headed out of the garage. Damon lags behind, grinning wickedly as he begins to argue that we should wait in the garage. I stare at him, then turn my back and continue out. He eventually catches up, after commenting on the trees, the snow, the ice, every little thing, and then scurries to where I am where he proceeds to wipe right out and lands on his bum. He looks up at me with a twinkle in his eye and announces delightedly, "black ice!"

Whose kid IS this!? He then proceeds to dance his way down the rest of the driveway, shuffling, sliding, doing his very best with every move to make me crazier. I'm happy to report that he didn't wipe out again as he crossed the street, which has happened before, or at the turn where he boards the steps of the bus, which has also happened previously. 

Bos and I made it back down the driveway in our respective pieces, and he couldn't wait to go play out back. Enjoy the sunshine and happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The unfairness of it all

I got a text from my mother stating, "70F whole area here and your area @40F seems unfair 😜💙😜💙"

I've been thinking about Triskal and how she hated the rain, which was hilarious as she was a webbed-footed, double-coated, water-rescue-bred Newfoundland. Even the kids laughed at her every time we sent her out in the rain because she made this mournful face like, "I can't pee in these conditions. I might get wet." We miss her. Man, she'd have hated today, though:

I love leaf-filled puddles. And I love that you don't have to shovel rain. And if it's warm enough to rain, then that means I might not be freezing to death, though let's face it, I am happiest at 80F and sunny. 

And our Leak is back.

And I'd been outside four times between about 7 AM and 10:30 AM. Twice with the kids to the bus stop and twice to pick up and reposition the dratted trash and recycling tanks. God in his mercy had allowed the recycling to be picked up early, so that one was empty- hallelujah and amen, because let me tell you how much fun it is NOT to be out there in the Leak playing 52 pick up with recyclables.

I have hopefully wedged the trash tank well enough this time that it will stay put until it's emptied. Then it'll probably fall into the Leak itself. 

The ditch creek out back isn't overflowing yet. The ones along the roads looked pretty darn full on Monday when we did our karate run, so I can't even imagine how they're faring today. Perhaps we should invest in a canoe...

Damon and I did hear our first killdeer of 2018 this morning while waiting under our umbrella for his bus. That along with the Facebook posts of tulips and crocuses from friends in Oregon tell me that spring is on its way. 

God save us, we still have to get through March...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


We have a small "pond" out front, one that really is supposed to be there. It was added to the landscaping on purpose before we bought the house. It has hosted fish and frogs but every autumn it begins to host leaves. Lots and lots of leaves.

Last fall, we thought, "we are intelligent people. Let's drain the pond and cover it lest it fill up with leaves. And more water. And ice."


Carrie and her friend Isaac, whom she didn't know spectacularly well yet but who was a great sport anyway filled bucket after bucket and figured out a way to use the hose to drain the pond into the creek ditch out back. Dada used our two exercise balls (the kind you sit on for balancing or ab work- heck, we weren't using them) to toss into the pond and then found plastic sheeting to cover everything up. The idea was that the balls were taller than the pond was deep and the rain and leaves would then fall onto the plastic and cascade off.

Yay for gravity, right?

Except physics works in strange ways sometimes. The balls decided it'd be less work to just float over to the edge and hide out among the rocks rather than stay in the middle and hold up the plastic. The pond is now a plastic covered, water filled, leaf filled, leaf and water covered mess.

So Liam, who went out to feed the birds, decided he'd liberate the ball which, turns out, he had been using as a seat at the poker table where he keeps his Legos. 

"Can I bring this back down to where I play Legos?"

"Tell me you did to bring that disgusting ball from the pond into the house."

"It wasn't IN the pond. It was OUTSIDE the pond, on the edge."

"And tell me you wiped it off with something to clean it off."

"I did. I wiped it off with..."

Dada and I trade glances and mouth, "hands."

" pants."

Dada makes a valiant attempt, but still erupts into chuckles and remarks, "you better hope you can run faster than Mama, Liam..."

Eh. I wrote this episode. Which is why it's here. Happy Springish Slop, everyone!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Draft of a draft of a draft... a stew of thoughts

No, I haven't given up blogging for Lent. 

Yes, I'm sick of winter. Yes, I'm staying up too late watching the Olympics. No, I'm not exercising enough at all. Yes, the puppy is still chewing things apart. No, the kids haven't magically grown out of arguing and complaining about doing the routine Stuff of Life that we do. 

I'm just heavy hearted.

No, not just because of, dare I say it, the latest school shooting, though I find myself morbidly addicted to returning to the timeline here on CNN. Like everyone and their mothers, I'm praying for peace and healing to the families of those with injured or lost family members, for wisdom and sense for our lawmakers who have been and will be meeting to discuss what needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again in our great nation, but I'm seeing clips like this, also from CNN,  and am just as discouraged as the next person about the likelihood that it will be on the news again far sooner than I'd like. In fact, that is discussed here by someone with far more expertise than myself.

Parenting is far more complicated than I ever imagined. I don't know if previous generations feared or doubted or second guessed the wisdom in sending their children to school, but I'm supposing not. I also tend to doubt that they would ever think that their child athlete would be molested while they were in the same room as their family members, but we've seen in the Larry Nassar case that that is not out of the realm of possibility. To those amazing girls, you are survivors. I'm not as worried about you as I am for your parents, who will hold themselves to a standard of guilt that you are free from. To have a supposedly trusted doctor affect so many children in such a despicable manner just takes my words away. My condolences for what you've gone through, which I can't imagine, and my awe and amazement that you continued on to become stars in your sport and for the rest of us on behalf of the USA. Incredible. 

Through an email, I found this link which made me furious. The previous evening I had attended a PTO meeting in which some of the primary teachers were talking about mini grants and if the roughly $730 left in the literacy line of the budget could be used for them to buy books for their classroom through a separate book supplier than the one which was used previously. I heard numbers like $350 to $750 thrown around in that video clip and thought, "how are some males spending that much in one meeting when there are teachers who could put that money to use immediately and for years to come?" And then I thought about churches. And shelters for humans or for animals. What must $350 look like to them? How many dogs can you feed with that and for how long? How many books could a library purchase? How many school lunches could you buy? How many meals for the homeless could you serve? What about with the $750? And 
that money was spent on one... here words fail me. Encounter? Those women spoke of repeat customers. Imagine having that money to spend, repeatedly. You could start a scholarship for a kid at a school. You could send kids to camp who couldn't otherwise afford to go. You could pay a single parent's car payment for a month or two. There's truly no end to the possibilities of what one could do with the money that one is instead spending on oneself while contributing to the enslavement/humiliation/repression of another human being.

"But some women spend that much on handbags. Or makeup. Or shoes."

Okay, that's valid and yes, there are very likely underpaid women and children and maybe men who are working in conditions we would call inhumane and backward and unfair and whatever else. True. I agree. We should all be more conscious of where and how our belongings are made, yes. Made for Freedom is one such corporation dedicated to fairness and freedom which I would urge you to look into. I own a pair of their most excellent charcoal pants which I would recommend every day of the week. 

I guess the difference is, even though all sin is equal in God's sight (1 John 5:17 All wrongdoing is sin...), being awful to a woman who is right in front of you versus one who is in a factory or sweatshop or in some other conditions which we don't ever see... here's where I get stuck, so bear with me. You may not be able to fix the part about the sewing woman, because she is so far away, other than with your purchasing power. However, the act which you're purchasing in the here and now, with against a woman who perhaps has tried to run away, is an immediate act which you are in charge of and can see immediate results. Obviously I'm still working through all of this in my head, hence the title of this post. 

I have a beautiful teenage daughter. She also happens to be a certified Black Belt in karate, not only for the self defense aspect of the martial art, but for the additional benefits of regular exercise, pursuit of knowledge through training and everyday school studies, self discipline, respect, and others. Last year I read this post on a friend's wall on Facebook. Karate is just one tool in her tool belt, and we have a long way to go in filling the other slots with tools like situation awareness, using the buddy system, determinedly avoiding alcohol and other drugs especially before being allowed to legally, and so on. 

I keep thinking about how God rested after he finished creating. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." My study note for that verse reads, "God made both man and woman in his image. Neither one is made more in the image of God than the other. From the beginning the Bible places both man and woman at the pinnacle of God's creation. Neither gender is exalted over the other nor depreciated." 

To me that says that the genders are complementary, not in competition with each other. To poke fun at "Jerry McGuire", we complete each other. So why do people throw the word "feminist" around as though it's an insult? The dictionary on my phone tells me that "feminism is a belief in or advocacy of women's social, political, and economic rights, especially with regard to equality of the sexes." I found this video particularly fascinating. How can we better teach that every child, every little girl and boy and homeless person and veteran and grandparent and waitress and server that they matter? How are we to internalize that essential belief that others are every bit as important as ourselves so the degree that there would never be another massive shooting or gang rape or bullying trend? 

"We don't have a gun problem." You're only partially right. We have a sin problem. We have a we-can't-fix-this-ourselves problem. We are not and will not be perfect regardless of that law is or is not finally passed. 

I haven't said much lately because I'm too angry to be coherent. I didn't want my yelling to be added to the mass media noise. As "Game of Thrones" fans know, "words are wind."

So I'll close with this. Be kind. Hold a door open for someone else. Pick up what someone dropped. Pay for the coffee for the person behind you. Pick up the tab for some elderly couple's dinner out. Bring your neighbor's trash can back from the curb when you fetch yours. Mail a care package. Kiss your spouse when they make it home. Thank a vet. Talk to strangers. Wink at small children. Hug your kid.