Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kayaks, parties and swimming oh my!

It was the weekend of extreme socializing!  Friday night we went to my work's company outing. It was at my new boss's home and we had a wonderful time. The kids got to use kayaks, cannonball off their dock into the water (or in Rob's case, do flips) and play a couple of games whose names escape me.  K and I enjoyed socializing with my co-workers and their spouses, and meeting my boss's family.  By 7:30 we were headed home and 8:00 p.m. found us setting up in the dark for KC and Lissa's party which was Saturday.

KC spends the year planning, deciding on a theme and then scouring craft mags and catalogs for ideas of things we can make/play/do/eat that all sort of tie to the theme.  Last year one of his friends helped him choose the theme which was sports, to which we added magic when we scored a free magic show.

It was a lot of work but it was an immense amount of fun. The kids played in the bounce house for hours. The magic show was extremely cool and they learned how to do 3 tricks as well.We had games, football and baseball themed toss games, a hockey game, ,a home made golf challenge and food up the wazoo.

The party was from 1 to 3 p.m.  I wound up with our next door neighbor's 5 year old (a party invitee) all day as his mom had to take younger son to the doctors and later to be admitted.  The majority of the party goers stayed till 5 p.m. so clearly we throw a good party.  I spent about an hour cleaning up and by 6:15ish things looked pretty much back to normal.  Amazing!

Today I went to church for 8:30 to participate in a meeting till 10:30.  Then we scooted home and I took KC and Lissa to meet friends at an indoor water park.  Rob had the day off with his girlfriend.  The water park was SO cool.  I had a coupon that got all 3 of us in for a very modest sum. If I was to pay full price I could not afford for two of us to go.  The prices are truly high.  However, I have to say they had the best and most vigilent lifeguards that I have seen anywhere in the past 5 years.  There were lots of them, they were constantly moving and circulating the various interest areas and they were strict.  I loved it!  We were there till after 4 because we were just having way too much fun.  Water obstacle course, pool basketball, kiddie area, indoor slides, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, just so unbelievably neat!

After supper we worked on our birthday gift for Chet who will celebrate his 27th birthday this coming weekend.  We always celebrate it while we are having our family campout in Maine.  We got a big pack of white crew sox and we tie dyed them.  There is an ongoing issue because Chet does not match his sox.  This way, if they are tie dyed, which is a "fashion" he likes, they don't need to be "matching."  So I thought it would be fun and a cool solution to something that drives my wife nuts.

My work week is a bit shorter this week as I start our camping trip on Thursday.  I love this trip though it is also somewhat bittersweet.  It means the real end of summer to me. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.  But it has been a wonderful summer and we have made some great memories to see us through the cold times ahead.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I need to clone myself!

So this week we started homeschooling, which has been a blast.  But it makes mornings have a different dynamic as I am teaching before I leave for work. (K takes over at that point).  Then tonight my boss is having a staff BBQ at her lake front home.  It is casual and families--spouses and kids are invited.  It is potluck.  I have made nothing. Why?  Because tomorrow is the big summer shindig that KC and Lissa have been planning all year. The Magical Sports Extravaganza! (laughing)  We will have sack races, footballs to toss through hula hoop targets.ring toss, a mini golf challenge, a bounce house, crafts (3) a magician and food.  I will have somewhere between 12 and 20 kids here.  People don't RSVP so well these days but that is the typical attendance.  Usually the parents hang around so I need to also craft an area where adults are comfortable schmoozing.  I have games to make, decorations to hang, 100 baseball decorated sugar cookies to make--sometime between leaving my boss's party and 1 p.m. tomorrow! (laughing) Oh yeah and one of the guests is gluten free, allergic to soy and dairy so I make a special trip to a store that has things A. can eat.

Sunday I have a meeting at church from 8:30 to 10:30  The kids are coming with me and Rob is going from church to his girlfriend's house for a while. I am taking the rest of the crew to an indoor water park before our coupon runs out.  Then I will collapse in a heap.LOL

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

School Days!

Yesterday we started homeschooling for this year.  KC woke up extra early and came bombing down the stairs while I was on the computer. YAY!  I start grade 3 today, he said proudly.  He is an avid learner and a kid who can unschool very successfully.  For instance, this summer he decided he felt like doing a report on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  He had me help him find his resources and went to town.  He has also worked on teaching himself some of cursive writing so when K went to start that class withhim he was ahead of the game there as well.

Rob is easing into homeschooling, doing 3 of his classes and not adding the rest till we return from our Labor Day weekend camping trip.  He is not loving the start of school--at least allegedly, but most of that I think is teen posturing as he did the work well and without complaint.

Lissa technically does not need to officially school yet as she is kindergarten aged.  However she has time to practice writing her letters, some math with me and some reading with me.  I have been worried about teaching her to read.  KC essentially taught himself.  At about 4.  Lissa has more issues understanding letter sounds and with retention of sight words.  I have been stressing a bit over the fact that she seemed to have that challenge and also zero interest in the written word.  She loves being read to, but has never been one to  "read" a story to her toys for instance.  KC did that all.the.time.  However, I found that the old chestnut of Dick and Jane appeal to her. They are "chapter" books which has a certain cachet to her.  They are repetitive so that she is memorizing the sight words.  She has improved markedly and so school is going very well here so far!

Monday, August 20, 2012

When Technology goes haywire!

You know those movies where the machines take over the earth?  Sometimes my life is a pre-curser to that! LOL  The other day I was reading blogs and having the hardest time getting my computer to let me reply.  I have no idea why.  I would close out and go back in--clearly you can see that I feel my pearls of wisdom and support really needed to be shared.  One blog was on wordpress and I thought maybe that was why it wasn't flyiing for me even though it usually does.  But eventually my friend Todd's blog seemed to take my comment.  Even though I didn't get the weird hieroglyphics things that you usually have to type in to prove you are not an evil robot trying to take over the earth, it said it was published.  I clicked off and went about my non computer oriented day.  .   .  and clicked on this morning to discover I somehow put his whole blog post on my blog. With my comment.  I had no idea you could even do that!  This is a very surreal start to the day, but my apologies to Todd for swiping his post!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Itchy Tale

So earlier this week KC went to he doctors again because he was itchy.  There were hives all over his body.  At the time, I thought it was a reaction to doing lots of somersaults at the park the night before.  I thought he had a grass sensitivity or allergy.  The Dr said it was a topical allergy and to keep using the OTC stuff we have been using.  And ka-ching, $35.00 co-pay please.

Except that was three days ago and he broke out in welty hives again this morning when we got back from grocery shopping.  I gave the OTC stuff to him and he seems okay. He is actually pathetically enough, sort of getting used to this.  It is weird though. And I am not liking it.  He has not eaten anything unusual or different. We have nothing new in our home or in our cleaning products.  Sigh.  Weird.  Mysterious.  Worrying.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fiona Called!

I am happy beyond words!  Fiona CALLED tonight. This is the first, very very first time that she has ever called the Tuesday after a family visit.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A penny saved. . .

KC is 8 and in his eyes, nearly a "tween."  He is actually a very odd juxtaposition between a young child and sort of a tween mentality.  For instance, he still believes in Santa but rocks out to Linkin Park.  Go figure.

Apparently when one is nearly a tween one needs a CD player/radio combo to play your own tunes.   He mentioned this to me about 4 weeks ago.  I think he maybe had a moment of delusion that I would run out and buy him  a CD player.  LOL  I said that sounded like something to ask for for Yule or his birthday. Or, if those were too far away, he could do extra chores and save the money up and buy it for himself. Now in all reality, he has more than enough money in his savings account, but I don't want any of my kids to be in the habit of just dipping into their savings. Savings are sort of sacrosanct.

He announced that he was going to earn the money and began being very helpful.  My deck has been swept regularly.  He put away his sister's scooter with out asking.  He has helped fold laundry, put away dishes, all manner of little jobs over the past month or so.  A quarter here, fifty cents there, and he has been tucking the money away.  He counted it up this weekend and since he began his efforts, he has amassed $10.00

Very excited, he immediately had me check W*lmart on line to see how close he was to his goal.  We checked and he could get a very inexpensive model for just under $20.00  I pointed out that if it was a really low end model, he might not be able to pull in the classical music station he likes to fall asleep to. It has a weak signal and it is hard to get in sometimes.  Yes, the same child who sings (scream?) to Linkin Park falls asleep to Chopin.

Kids are really savvy.  He noticed someone had reviewed that particular model and had me click on the review so he could read it.  Allegedly, it is great.  He also made me check to see if there was a "money back guarantee." (exact quote)   There was a solid return policy.  Therefore, he is 1/2 way to his goal.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Power of a Picture

OK so I couldn't make Fiona's prom pic go vertical and posted it sideways both here and on FB!  Thankfully my friend Todd sent me it adjusted. :-)  Sometimes technology baffles me. I suspect if I could slow down myself and my life a bit it might sometimes make more sense to me. But then I wouldn't be me and it would for sure not be my life. So I figure, if the moment is good, the picture can look kind of wonky. It will still always bring back that shining memory in our minds.

And in this case, it did more than that.  It inspired Rob's bio bro D to reach out to me.  D is a great kid but disappears from FB which is my only way of contacting him, for vast periods of time.  I always check the chat section when I log on to see if he is there, but he rarely is. Given the times that the computer is mine to use, this is not surprising. Not too many teens on line at 5:30 in the morning!  LOL

Anyway, he logged on late this afternoon, saw Fiona's picture and commented.  I immediately wrote back and just did the friendly, hey, how's your summer kind of thing.  He answered right away and said he wants to come out to see us.  We had a relatively long conversation about the train schedules and he is tentatively planning on coming out Saturday September 8th.  I am so looking forward to this and really hope it comes off.  I want the brothers to have chances for connections to deepen and understanding to grow between them of the young men they are now as well as times to share the memories of where they have been.  I feel like there is good karma for this potential visit.  The following day is the day that I celebrate my birthday and we are scheduled to train into the Big City to spend the day with Fiona at an event at her school. These events would be enough of a birthday celebration for me, but I know there is a cool gift in my future too--my wife had to ask me if I want a Kindle.  The answer would be yes!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Family Day!

 I sincerely wish I knew how to turn my daughter right side up!  Fiona was out to visit today and it was great.  She brought her prom dress to show us how she looked.  She is stunning and it catches my breath and my heart sometimes seeing before me a young woman where once there was a young girl.  One of the things Fi asked to do was work together on a family scrapbook with some new pictures.  The 3 younger kids wanted a page showing their musical leanings, so this is KC rocking it out on the drum set in our living room.

 And Rob, chilllin' by his keyboard. . .
 And the amazing Miss Lissa on the recorder.  LOL
There was a break in the weather and we adjourned to the back yard for a whiffle ball game.  Fiona had brought KC a ball and bat as a belated birthday gift.  He was so happy.   Lunch was quesedillas made by Rob and salad made by Fiona and I.  It was easy and fun and over too soon.  Fiona just called and she is safely back at school but I could hear the tension in her voice.  I hope things will be okay.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My company has a mandatory fair housing training yearly. My previous company did too.  The trainers look different but the subject matter is always pretty much the same.  One of the things that is almost *always* said is "everyone stereotypes; it is human nature."

I see a lot of stereotyping in my life and I have always felt that I don't fall into that messy tar pit.  I really try to see people for who they are, not for where they come from or what they drive, where they worship or the color of their skin etc.  Which is probably why I went a bit mental when my well meaning neighbor told me he called the cops a few nights back.  He was sitting on his deck and three kids in hoodies were sitting on his stone wall. There have allegedly been a few breakins in our area.  I have not personally heard of it but Mr. Neighbor allegedly had.  Break ins plus teens in hoodies equal a call to the P.D.  Really?  He also thought I would be happy he did this because supposedly at least one of them ran through my yard to evade the law.Well that happens all.the.time.  The cutting through my yard thing I mean.  I don't think it is usually specifically to avoid the law and is more about the fact that cutting cross lots can get someone 1/2 a block into their travel in a shorter and easier amount of time.

My handsome, smart and gentle teen aged son wears a hoodie. So did a young black man in Florida and he wound up dead.  It is a preconception that a young male wearing a hoodie is planning something nefarious, and while I want to be safe, I want to be open to life. To live it bravely and well and by doing so to see the good that is out there and in most of the people I meet.  And there really is a lot of good.  The bad just gets the press.

And yet, the trainers are probably right. To some extent, we probably all are influenced by stereotypes and preconceptions.  When I was watching beach volleyball last night I was stunned when I saw the US women playing China. The Chinese women were 6 foot and 6 foot 2 respectively.  I stared because I had this mental image of diminutive Chinese women.  In other words, a stereotype.  It brought me up short and reminds me that self checking is a very good thing!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fiona's going to visit!

The weekend is shaping up to be a busy one.  Fiona is coming out for a 1/2 day unsupervised visit. She sounded great on the phone tonight. She is still having trouble staying safe and meeting the 30 day requirement for an overnight is not something she has worked out yet.  We both love watching the Olympics and I told her this was her personal Olympics.  The amazing gymnasts we watch probably don't want to train every day that they have to.  They want to sleep in, eat junk food, or chill with friends.  But they have their eyes on something big and keep working toward the goal bit by bit.  So this is her Olympics. Except I wasn't tired and distracted and said it I think a lot better than I am writing it.  And it seemed to resonate with her.  We are planning on hanging out and playing games, working on a family scrapbook and doing a bit of shopping when she comes out Saturday.

Sunday, the youth group is doing the service at church and there is a picnic afterwards.  After that, Rob has invited his girlfriend back to the house for awhile.I will need to think of something to do so the littles don't follow the 2 of them around constantly! LOL

KC is finally coming out the other side of the strep infection I think.  He ate a bit better today and though he is not talking much, his eyes look better.  A bit of the wee elf's sparkle was back in those big brown eyes tonight when I tucked him in.  And he had enough voice to talk to Fiona on the phone tonight.  Progress!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strange Symptoms

Thursday night KC began to complain about a belly ache.  He can occasionally be prone to constipation so we kind of thought that it was something along those lines. Then came Friday.  He still had the tummy ache and now had a temp.  I leaned toward a virus of some sort; K worried that he might have early appendicitis signs.  The fever lasted through Friday night, which he spent bunking in my bed so I could more easily keep tabs on when he needed fever meds and to make sure he didn't sleep walk. (something he is known to do when he has a temp or is very very tired).

Saturday a.m. he woke fever free and hungry.   No stomach ache.   He  ate breakfast, and he promptly lay down on my bed again.  Where he subsequently lost his breakfast.  He also began to complain about his throat being sore.  So we again went back to the virus hypothesis and he spent a quiet weekend drinking gingerale, eating popsicles and napping.

This morning the throat was much more sore and the doctors office was now open so we called for an appointment.  The doc did a rapid strep test which was negative.  However she looked into his throat and said she could see the pustules and that she knew the long version of the test would confirm that he has strep.  We were given an script for an antibiotic and sent on our way.

I know that by tomorrow he will start to feel much better and I am grateful for that.  However, the doctor mentioned to us that abdominal pain and nausea are common symptoms of strep in young children.  I had no idea.  I had strep a zillion times when I was in third grade, but it was always presaged by a bout of tonsilitis and high fever that did not leave.  I was surprised at the sneakiness of strep and it made me think of my blog friend Kari.  Her blog is private now, but she has two children whose FASD issues are exacerbated by strep and they often have an attack with virtually no physical symptoms.

Meanwhile I go back to reading aloud to my slightly weepy little guy and have my fingers crossed that none of the other kids get this.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Speaking Up

Rob needed to bring a dessert to his girlfriends tomorrow. She is having a "social gathering" and so he decided to make some sugar cookies which will be drizzled with chocolate sauce.  I got the dough together for him, mostly as I was cleaning up from supper and wanted to clean up everything at once. LOL  His job was rolling cutting and cooling the cookies and he did very well.  His girlfriend will be proud of him.. :-)

His girlfriend had a long facebook message session with me last night. She had been out to dinner with her parents.  The young man who was in charge of filling their water glasses was refusing to serve a lesbian couple that came into the restaurant about the same time T and her family did.  T is passionate about justice and changing the world for better. She did not sit by. She loudly decried what he was doing. Apparently the manager got involved, the guy admitted he would not serve them because they were gay, and subsequently our state unemployment numbers were raised by one. Despite her passion, T was unnerved by all of it, realizing afterwards the center of the firestorm that she put herself in and how awkward it felt. But also how good it felt to her when the two young women thanked her and said people rarely stand up for them. Seriously?  In 2012?  In a state where gay marriage is legal?

Our world will be better and brighter though with passionate young people who are not afraid to step up when they see something that needs changing.  I like that.  A lot.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Romantic Teens

Since both these young people have posted this picture on their Facebooks which means hundreds of people have seen it, I am assuming it is okay to plop it on my blog.  This is my handsome Rob with his lovely girlfriend T.  They took this when they were on their Big City journey this past Sunday.  I teased them and asked if they chose their outfits together to wear in that day.  They didn't, but somehow the two of them, both being fashion directed, always manage to look really cute together.

This is Rob's first relationship and it is growing deeper--kids write on their walls on Facebook to one another these days.  Love, anger whatever, there is less guessing in some ways.  It is right out there.  T is a really sweet young lady with a good head on her shoulders. Open and outgoing, she hugs me whenever she sees me, and introduced me to her family early on in the relationship.  She is energetic, motivated and frankly a great person to have in Rob's life.  Rob has always been more tentative and he benefits from her positive let's do it attitude. They have been officially a couple for nearly a year now--a life time in 'teen time.'

While this is Rob's first romance, it is a first for K and I as well as parents. Chet has never had a romantic relationship of any kind, and Fiona has not really had anything like that either. So I feel my way along, and find myself alternately enjoying the ride, worrying for the two of them, and wondering where things will end up.  Which is all totally normal I guess!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Rain

In all reality I should have posted a picture of Lissa blowing a bubble with her gum today. She practiced for hours and finally achieved her goal.  My youngest daughter is nothing if not tenacious, a personality trait that will ultimately serve her well in life I am sure.

But I personally love this particular shot.  We have been parched here in the northeast.  Our city has a water ban so finding ways to cool off the kids has required some creativity.  Today, the Goddess gifted us with a downpour and Lissa was playing in the the rain flow after the storm. There is just something about this picture that grabs me.

Speaking of pictures, I ordered some posters and prints for my office at work and they arrived today.  I went to allposters dot com and found some art with an ocian theme--one of a lighthouse we visit often, one of surf, one of a pebble strewn beach, and one of a shimmering shell.  They are all different sizes so that I can hopefully generate some thing artistic and visually stimulating in my space.  K is going to look for frames this weekend as on Saturday she will be staying in the city after work for a few hours.  Rob is going to his girlfriends house for a 'social gathering' (Kids are so high class these days--my crowd went to "hang out") on Saturday. I am dropping him off, K agreed to pick him up at 8 and bring him home.  Thus she may opt to do some frame shopping.

August 1st!  I can't really believe that the month of July is over.  Though signs of the wheel turning are evident.  I have seen some premigratory flights and yesterday heard geese honking early in the a.m.  The crickets are making a veritable symphony at night.  I try to soak all the sounds of summer up because I need to remember them in the still of winter.

Mom's Surgery

My mom emailed me last night.  It was a scary email as it said "I know you talk with Fiona tonight but when you are free we must talk."  Doesn't that just give you chllls?  So I sat there waiting for Fi to call and of course this turned out to be the night she did not call!  LOL So I finally called my mom.

She had been to her artery specialist yesterday. She has had a partially blocked artery that they have been watching. The dr hoped that it would not worsen or even improve with the diet and med regime that she has. However it had blocked more since the last check up.  So she now faces surgery to correct this.   If she was much older, he would recommend just letting things take their course but she is only 79 and the end result of this situation would be a stroke.

It is a pretty scary surgery but she likes the physician and he explained every little detail to her. Told her more than she wanted to hear, but the up side of it was we could have a very informed talk about it when she was explaining last night.  She is very worried about being a burden as she lives nearly 3 hours away from us.  I assured her we could make this work and not to worry and that we would plan further once she has her surgery date.

My mom has been lucky and thus far her medical issues have been comparatively minor.  She broke her ankle about 7 years ago and she had her gall bladder out about 5 years ago but other than that, nothing of great consequence.  I  am hoping that her overall good health sees her through this.