Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Anyway, it was nice to see things redirected without any further drama and liveable solutions found.
In other news, I canned 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce, sent out some work, ran a bunch of errands, grocery shopped, and um, packed.
I am terribly anxious and really upset about leaving the twins. I know they'll be safe with Chris but there it is. Separation anxiety.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Instead they muttered something about a fifth quarter and let the A team finish the game.
THEN they invented a fifth quarter and sent the "B" team out to play against all the kids on the other team with spotlessly clean jerseys.
Now, I sound bitter but I'm actually very satisfied by the solution. My kid is perfectly happy to play only one quarter. He'd rather play it in the real game, but a "fifth quarter" works, too. The simple fact is that you can't learn the game during practice -- you can learn some skills, but the game has to be played on a field, against other kids who want to beat you. Period.
What I'm not thrilled about is the pathetically uncoordinated, and frankly, thoughtless way in which is was handled. I was told later that the idea of the fifth quarter was concocted on the way to the game and agreed to by the other coach prior to the start of the game. But none of the parents were told until 44 seconds before the end of the game. By this time, there was a group of about six to eight parents and their spouses (and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins) who were too mad to be "okay" with the solution. There were also some kids hurt and in tears. They also didn't know they wouldn't be playing until the fourth quarter.
If a coach had come jogging down the side lines in a get 'em excited kind of way and said, "Hey, great news! The other team has agreed to a fifth quarter! So if your kid doesn't get in during the game, don't worry! They'll get to play in the fifth quarter!" It would have been a disappointment, but that's it. The kind of thing you grumble out -- like someone bringing 11 items into the express lane when you're in an all-fire hurry -- and then get over. Your kid jogs off the field after the fifth quarter and you meet him with grins and attaboys.
Most of these kids got, I dunno, really unhappy parents.
Me? I'm disappointed in the way it was handled and I even spent some time talking to the wife of one of the coaches trying to help her see it from the other viewpoint -- she was feeling pretty defensive -- but after the last few years -- well it's just not something I can get hugely caught up in. It just kind of made me draw back a bit and keep my expectations of the season low. We'll keep the twins home and I'll find a quiet place to watch from the side and keep to myself. Max and I talked about it on the way home and we decided we'd do all we could to make Football work, but maybe we'd bump it down a notch in terms of priorities. We'd put it ahead of swimming and even, :gasp: group piano lessons. But I think now we've bumped it to third place. If swimming turns out to be more fun than it was in the spring (our expectations there are guarded, too -- it could be fun at times, not fun at other times) then we'll do three nights of swimming and two of football. We'll do the Thursday evening piano class and miss the first 15 minutes of football practice on those nights (we were going to have to do that anyway -- the other two classes are right smack in the middle of practice and that's going too far).
I suspect that for the first few months anyway, very little will change. We'll do football three nights and swimming two nights and try to focus on the good for football. But like I said, we definitely took it down a notch in our expectations tonight. It wasn't that much fun tonight having higher expectations. So we'll adjust the expectations and carry on meeting our obligations to the sport as much as we're permitted to.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Well, today at the football game there's this guy and he's talking to my kids about butterflies and smiling at me like we know each other and I have no clue who he is, but it's clear he's not on the dark side and I have to admit the face looks familiar. I'm MUCH better with faces than with names.
But you know, it could be someone from church since none of the men ever look anything like themselves once they're not in a suit. I don't say anything because I hate for people to know just how phenomenally pathetic I am at remembering names, and in this case, it's even worse because I just can't quite place . . .
So the afternoon continues. Max weighs in and I sit a few feet from the scale and breath a sigh of relief when I hear his (fully clothed and in-cleats) weight. That was the end of the issue for me, but just the beginning for Max. Apparently the kids all took great interest in each other's weight and Max was the biggest Pee-Wee. I think some of the kids had been hoping he'd weigh-out of the group and go up to Midgets to sit on a kid his own size. The kid next closest in size to him was 6 lbs less, and that put him below the 100 lb mark. So Max finds himself in the position of minor celebrity as "the biggest Pee-Wee." He doesn't quite know what to make of this at first, but soon grocks that it seems to come with some status -- so he flows with it. I watch with some amusement from the side lines. He still needs to lose ten pounds, but I'm glad he's not being teased for being big. He's at least a half inch taller than everyone else. I heard about it a lot.
PA Stranger: Which number is yours?
Me: Max is 60. :::point:::
PA Stranger: Oooh . . . he's big!
There was a variation that went like this:
PA Stranger: Which number is yours?
Me: Max is 60. :::point:::
PA Stranger: Oooh . . . he's big!
PA Stranger: :::eyeballs now half-naked twins::: How old are they?
Me: Three. They'll be four in November.
PA Stranger: All your kids are big!
What can I say? Making monsters is a gift.
But back to my main monster, Max. (The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind or another . . .) He goes off to join his team and it's sweltering now. HUMID and too hot. Wah. So I take the twins back to the car for the chairs we forgot and it takes us FOREVER because both boys are playing a rolicking game of too-independent-for-my-own-good. We get the chairs and go back to the field in time to see the kickoff.
It was an exciting game but I wasn't getting to watch much of it. Too-independent-for-our-own -good was continuing and they were increasing the stakes with Milo finally upping the anty with a sassy, "MOM, I'm FINE!" and turning and marching back in the direction from which I had just brought him, AGAIN. He got a swat and then he had to sit with Mom for awhile. This displeased him. In the meantime, the butterfly guy had started playing catch with Ben. I wasn't going to interfere because I avoid doing that when I see one of my kids glowing and so happy he's floating inches off the grass. Then suddenly I placed butterfly man -- he's the maytag man!
Well, that was just fine because really, he'd been super understanding about the whole check thing, and I guessed that he'd placed me by then but was too kind to say so -- "Hey! You're the woman who bounced that check!" That's an akward start to a conversation. In the meantime his mom came over and we talked about the twins and the knitting I was doing and to make a long story short, two more quarters sped by. Both twins peed behind a tree. Max sat on the bench with the other bench sitters. I worried. The Maytag man and his sweet mom and his sweet kid -- boy they were a nice family -- continued to play with my kids while we all kept an eye on the field.
Finally the fourth quarter arrived and by this time we were good and slaughtered by the panthers in spite of some heroic efforts on the part of our (first-year) team. (We're new to the league.) So whether by advance arrangement or not, the coaches send in the "B" team. So Max gets to go in.
Now truthfully, at this point, if it hadn't been for the continued efforts of the Rodabaugh (Maytag man's) family we might have lost the twins for good because now I really *am* hyperfocused on Son #1. But somehow we managed to keep them in sight. Max plays better than I've seen him in practice, but still, he looks unsure and seems to hesitate to overpower the opponent. I know him -- he's not afraid -- he's too nice. After about five minutes, half the group runs off the field to be replaced by other kids. Max is with them.
But when I look back a few minutes later, Max is back on the field! There was some confusion and he wasn't supposed to come in. He's back in front of #85 and the ball leaves the ground and Max goes for his guy -- and shakes him like a wet puppy and tosses him to the ground before charging after the ball.
What happened? I immediately infer that (as much as I would like to believe that the coach said something and Max responded to direction) #85 brought that on himself.
Well, Max caught on. 9 year old boys are, apparently, harder to break than they look -- that his position is supposed to do that for every play and then he's supposed to run after the ball.
Max played hard for the rest of the game and stayed in for the entire fourth quarter. A very satisfying game to watch.
I tell Mr. Rodabaugh's mom my life story while we're chatting. I don't know. My kid gets all footballish and suddenly I'm out of my shell. It was a wild moment.
The game ends. I round up my half-naked wild men and my chairs (the cover of one has completely disappeared -- a bummer because the other one didn't have a cover either and now I have way too much to carry), we say goodbye to the Rodabaughs (and I hope secretly that we end up near them again for the next game--only this time with Chris so that one of us can watch the twinkies and one can watch Max) and we go find Max.
Max informs me with quiet indignation that he's never been so insulted in all his life! It turns out he means that quite literally. He's rarely been insulted and never to the extent that #85 was laying it out there. Apparently he called Max a loser, a chicken, and other synonyms for those two. Max, who has never, ever been in a fight in his life, was suddenly inspired to take three weeks of coaching and put it to use. This was the moment I observed. After that he'd caught on to how the position was meant to be played and it didn't matter what the guy did or didn't do after that. He came at him. Max was pleased with himself for "giving him a good smack down at LEAST once, Mom."
It is further proof that God knew what he was doing when he didn't assign me any girls to raise that I nodded and replied, "Now, even if the guy in the game on Tuesday is the sweetest kid and clearly your next best friend -- you still have to knock him down like that. Okay?" Okay he says.
It was a blast. I don't know the final score -- it's a sign of our newness to State College that it doesn't matter to me (for the record, Max and I never bothered to find out who won the swim meets either. We were just there for the fun of it.) The next game is Tuesday night. Tomorrow it's back to work and school and all I have to show for my five days off is 6 pints of applesauce, 3 pints of pear butter, and a whole bunch of pints and cups and half-cups of plum-orange jam. They all turned out well, but there are air bubbles in my applesauce, so I may have to reprocess those. I still have a huge bag of apples to turn into applesauce and I still have a huge collection of tomatoes to process. Maybe tomorrow after piano. I only just got the kitchen clean again. Tomorrow night is a sleepover here at our house. Yay for Max! I love this town.
Friday, August 26, 2005
And sometimes you just need two whole days in a row where you don't have to type for more than twenty minutes at a sitting.
Sometimes you think, "That's it! I'm taking two days off!" and it turns into five :) Okay, well, technically, I should look quickly through a folder today and get rid of it. And technically yesterday and today I spent 20 minutes doing some very minor revisions to a few files and then sending them back to the person who sent them to me. But it's not work in the usual deadline racing sense. Nope.
I am still SO tired. It's funny how once you finally start to get caught up on missing sleep that you find out just exactly how over drawn you were. And then on night three the weird dreams kick in because apparently your brain had a backlog of weird dreams to watch.
So what have I accomplished so far during my wild ride away from reality? Well, really, not very much. I did some knitting:
Isn't that a pretty colorway?
Main Entry: col - or - way
: a color or arrangement of colors
Yep, I was four inches into it when I figured out that I'd somehow lost my mind and completely miscalculated the number of stitches required. It would fit the baby perfectly when he's about, oh, four.
I had to rip it all out. Let's look at the colors again.
So I knit half a dishcloth for a swap I'm in instead.
I'll start the soaker again today.
Today is the day I finally do the canning I've been trying to do since Wednesday. Off to do that. I leave you with one more reason you should move to State College, too: walking your dog at dusk.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Dy, I sat by the side of the football field tonight, madly typing away on material due to someone in the morning, and FROZE as a steady breeze blew and the sun sloooooooowly set. It was a big bummer and just WONDERFUL all at the same time. It feels so great to feel COLD.
Made me wish I had brought my knitting, but it was just as well. I got enough done that I actually ran out of things I could do (with the books I’d brought with me). I eyeballed the clock on the computer and tried to decide if I had enough time to go get a hot chocolate. I decided I did not.
My goal tonight is to stay UP until all my work is done. Then I am taking two days off. That looks like this.
ONE WHOLE DAY I am not working.
ANOTHER WHOLE DAY I am not working.
I can only do this because I am not behind on the one project and because as of tomorrow morning, the other will be done. I need to find another project, but I am feeling a wee bit burnt out and truly in God’s hands here, really never more so. So I assume that when I am reenergized here in a bit that more work will come.
Honest to goodness ways God got all up in my business this week:
1. Sunday night I spilled water on my one-and-only-laptop. It went silverscreen and then black. It sat there corpse like. I ran and got a hair dryer and talked to my brother-the-computer-guy and let him say reassuring words like data recovery. I felt TOTALLY bummed about not being able to finish my work, but the massive anxiety attack I would normally have completely failed to show up. I finished taking the laptop as far apart as I dared (mostly just freed the keyboard and took out the widget slot to get more air circulating) set it up in front of a fan, and then I prayed. I started by apologizing for praying about computer equipment but explained that, as he knew, I do not have the means to get a new computer this, um, year. Then I asked for comfort, and a working computer in the morning, and the ability to fall asleep instead of sitting there chewing my nails to nubs and getting more and more anxious. And I felt, about as much as a person can get a memo from God, that I was to set the alarm for 5pm, knit a few rows to chill out, and go to bed and it would work just fine at 5am. So I did. And I felt fine. And I got up at 5am when the alarm went off and put all the screws back in the computer and pushed the power button. And it worked fine. I finished the last few bits of the first unit due that morning and made the deadline for it. I finished the rest of it yesterday. So God answers prayers about computers, too.
2. Well, the second is too much information for the blog, but lets just say that I love my church, I love this particular ward, I love the Mormon Mafia and the individuals who make it up, not because they have to but because they sincerely believe It is the right thing to do and they take good feelings and feel paid. I love the Sister who will talk to my husband at the playground like a real human being and say with enthusiasm when she sees me at church on Sunday that she wants to have us soon for dinner. I love the soft little hiss of stress relief that I can hear when the house gets quiet. It is there on my twins face who are coming to think of a weekday as a day that they go to the playground with Daddy (and words as things to be sounded out, but That is a blog for another day). It is there in Max’s laugh and the way he is feeling free to test some boundaries. We were led to these changes and HE WILL SEE US THROUGH THEM as long as we let Him. Even a wretch like me.
3. Every time I start worrying about money and work this week, I just feel a strong message that I am NOT to worry about this. Only good things are in store. Be patient. Things will be more comfortable by Christmas. I am tired. I am feeling the side effects of that, but things are looking up. A day with my brother and SIL, a weekend with the Aunts and Grandma, absolutely no reason I should be up past ten pm for the next few weeks. That is GOD at work in my life, I tell you what J
Sunday, August 21, 2005
There was church. We were late but I gather Penn State must be getting ready to start soon because everybody including the Bishop was on vacation. I only had three kids in Max's Sunday school class (I'm subbing for the whole month) which is good because it's really all I can handle. I cheated today. I brought M&Ms. But by golly, we got through the lesson with model behavior.
I gave a little presentation at the start of Relief Society and handed out a food storage questionaire to help me set some goals for this group.
:::pauses as she spies a ball of wool sitting nearby on the bookshelf and the Advisary whispers in her ear to toss her responsibilities aside and go knit:::
Where was I?
Oh yeah, so then it was back to Primary to watch over my class and before I knew it, Church was over. We headed home. I got Max started on lunch and then before I could chicken out, I put on my ugliest shorts, an old t-shirt, and my lawn-mowing sneakers. We haven't mowed the lawn in :cough:amonth:cough: Actually, I think it was five weeks. The first two and a half weeks we didn't have to. High heat and no rain = no grass growth. Yeah, that! In the meantime, a wasp nest was establishing itself in an old ground squirrel hole in the yard. They were well-behaved wasps and I really thought nothing of it. Chris apparently was imagining all the ways they were going to kill him the next time he mowed the lawn. I thought this was very funny but once I understood what was keeping him from mowing the lawn I knew I'd lose this particular wait-it-out battle. I would have mowed two weeks ago but I'd always remember at 2:00 in the afternoon and frankly, it's been too blasted hot.
So I mowed. It *was* hot and the wasps *were* irritated at me. I waited until the very end to mow as close as I dared to their hole and in the end my solution was to put a big rock over their hole and then mow quickly. The rock didn't keep them from coming out, but it bought me a little time while they figured it out. The grass is still long for about 8 inches around that hole. I still think it's funny. The rest of the yard looks just fine. I filled the compost bin and mowed about a third of the back yard -- the other two-thirds hadn't grown enough in its constant shade to bother.
Then it was back inside to shower, have lunch, and blog. I'd better get to work. If I make my deadline in the morning I'm rewarding myself with a Monday off to knit and focus on the kids.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
And my first thought was, "um, okay, which is which again?" And then I thought, "Well, it's not Bacchus's because if you drink too much while knitting you're bound to drop a stitch somewhere and then in the morning when you have rip it all out you're also nursing a headache."
But thankfully, I married a guy who Knows These Things, so he gave me the bad news that it's just not that simple and also, that I'm comparing apples to oranges on account of Bacchus being Dionysus in Roman clothing. Oh.
Now, I didn't *want* it to be Apollo's playground because Chris is forever giving me a hard time about how unsexy knitting is (which he is wrong about) and I don't know that Apollo, being all into order and everything, is all that sexy.
But in googling around Dionysus, I don't think he's really the knitting type. While it's true that some knitting patterns do seem shrouded in darkness and mystery and might drive a woman to wander around the wild woods shouting, "evoi, evoi" -- they're only tearing out stitches--not the living flesh of animals.
Apollo? Well, he's the god of music and it can be nice to listen to music while knitting -- but I admit I really, really like listening to a child's football practice while knitting. Is Apollo there? I don't know. There's certainly testosterone to spare. Apollo is associated with law, philosophy, and the arts. It helps to be philisophical when the item you just spent a month knitting turns out to have some fatal flaw (like one sleeve is longer than the other). I won't go into whether knitting is an art or not -- of course it is. And law? Well it's not against the law to take your knitting needles on an airplane, so it has that in its favor.
I guess I'll have to vote in favor of Apollo. He seems a little sexier to me after reading more about him. Actually, he sounds a little like Chris. Only Chris is probably funnier and looks better in elf shorts.
(Admit it, how many of his regular readers were petrified of posting at his blog this past week for fear of accidentally saying something that earned you those shorts? Jeez Louise. And you all thought he was kidding when he said that at least twice a year I have to tell him -- quite seriously -- if you get arrested I'm not bailing you out until the morning, so bring your own cash.)
The important thing is that I made progress on my soakers today and I did a really nice three-needle bind off for the shoulders of that child's sweater. Now if I can only remember whether I used size nine or ten needles for the ribbing. I have to start the sleeves soon and I just *can't* recall.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
::::goes and kicks the wall::::
On the upside I do have one work project that is doing just fine and most of the time I get to work on that. A shame they won't pay me for another 45 days.
1 day. 2 days. 3 days. 4 days. . . .
:::presses reset button:::
Let me hunt around here a bit. There must be something worth blogging about. School is going well. We've worked from home the last two days just because it seemed a good idea at the time. He definitely pokes along more slowly at home. On the other hand, we've kicked booty at the piano. And it's been great for me not to have to schlep the 50 lbs of materials that the "45 day" job requires in and out of the truck to the library. The only content area still to be "worked in" to the schedule is writing. I've got grammar, two latin programs, two math programs, phonics/spelling, reading, handwriting, and music theory all going great guns. But we haven't started writing yet. I'm giving myself till September 1st. Things can fall apart when you try to assimilate them all at once. For now, I get to work more effectively and do a lot of the schooling and that's yummy.
Chris is doing well with the twins. The house is cleaner. Football is going well. If only it weren't so blasted hot and muggy. If only I could . . . bleah.
And I know, I know. I have to let God take care of the details. It's only my job to work very hard at the opportunities provided me and to not fret about about the stuff out of my control.
Monday, August 15, 2005
The Aunts are (in order of appearance) Caroline, Constance, and Charlotte. My Dad is Richard and he comes after Caroline and before Constance. I don't know why he didn't get a C name, but he didn't. When I was growing up and in trouble, I was always CarolineConstanceCharlotteYOU!!!knockthatoff. Other people got their first, middle, and last name, but my Dad seemed to only remember his sisters names when infuriated with his eldest daughter. Unresolved issues? Hmmm. (KIDDING Dad) What's interesting is that Constance is usually Connie. But if I were in trouble at least I got HER full name.
Since I've totally slacked on canning this summer, I'm counting on us to actually get some canning done. At the same time, I'm looking forward to a nice long drive there and a nice long drive back, and a fair bit of knitting in between.
Max wants to come. I wasn't sure what to think of that at first. I'm still not sure. On the one hand I know I'm supposed to want a weekend as a grown-up with no kids. On the other hand, being a grown up with one kid -- the one who happens to be really great to travel with -- doesn't sound bad at all. And since my Grandma be there, too. Well, I just think every opportunity to get a boy and his great-grandmother together should be taken. He wants to bring Emily so she can run around, but Connie's dog would eat my dog, so I'm guessing Emily should stay home.
Today was work and school and piano lessons and then I worked at cleaning and straightening up the house. The house looks a lot better. I still have a few things I want to accomplish downstairs. I found some floor lamps for $8.50 at Target and got some of those to add light to the downstairs. I also got a cheap bookshelf that I plan to organize all the math manipulatives in. But I can't help but feel like we're making some progress here. I'm tired. I'm still moody. But things are looking up. It's a little like buds on a tree that has otherwise looked dead. You don't have to go deep to find the green anymore. It's right there full of promises of new growth.
Along those lines, the cherry trees I planted and that had seemed to be doing well -- but not growing as much as I thought they should -- have recently exploded in growth. They've shot up more than a foot and put out lots of new branches. I'm very pleased. If they survive the winter, I think they'll go on to produce copious amounts of cherries in a few years. Yum :) I think that will be us, too. We've been doing reasonably well, but I think great happiness could burst forth sometime in the next few years. We could be sitting around just minding our own business and suddenly realize how wonderful this all is.
You know, it's so incredibly freeing -- the idea that I'll never move again. Since it's not a joke, but rather something I mean quite fervently -- it has given me permission to put down roots, to not worry about the future so much, to plain old not worry so much. I don't have to worry. I know where I'll be in ten years -- and who I'll be with. Poor Chris. He's got so many cherries in his future.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
And indeed that is ALL we had planned. We didn't even really linger that long over the waffles! We came, we ate, we gossipped, we tipped, we left. But on the way out we took the other exit out and spied a whole gaggle of people across the way under a tent and suddenly remembered that there was a big estate auction there that day. Well, heck! Lets go peek! We've never been to an estate auction before.
Jill wanted an edger for her hubby. I wanted chairs. Real chairs. The kind you can sit in and read and knit or just knit if you want.
Well they had some really nice furniture, including a few chairs that would work, and then a whole lot of JUNK. We went and got numbers and then wandered over to the shed where they were selling the garden stuff. I tried to get a shovel for the snow, but you know, I wouldn't go over $4 so . . . but that was good because I quickly caught on to how the whole bidding thing works. It's you and one other guy until one of you shakes your head no and then someone else might get into it with whoever is left until finally there's just one person left who wants the widget. I bid on a rake -- here I'm thinking "what do I know we got rid of that I'm gonna have to go to Lowe's for come the fall?" But the rakes went higher than $2 and I wouldn't. I know, but my husband didn't know I was there and I wasn't going to go home and tell him I got a deal on a $5 rake. $2 is obvious. You don't have to explain that. So then there was a battery chargeable weedwacker and nooone really wanted that, me included, but then I remembered Chris complaining how heavy the gas-powered one is. So okay, I bid the $2 and that was that. I got a $2 weekwacker. If it never starts I won't cry.
We walked back to the cashier table and I tried to pay, but you have to wait until they get this form that tracks everything and we'd beat it to the table. They told us to go look at the stuff in the garage and come back in a little bit. Well we walked into the garage and the next thing I know Jill, who likes old stuff, is drooling over some sleigh bells and some big metal pails. I eyeball a dremel for Chris, but decide he already has one. Then I saw the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots *in the original box*. Well, okay. I want to try for that and sell it on eBay.
I won't bore you with the blow by blow, but the short version is that we didn't leave for another 4.5 hours. Yep. We Thelma and Louised it right there in auction yard. It was FUN and the mennonite family that ran the auction were witty and young so there were cute kids to watch and the auctioneer's side commentary left us all in stitches. He's the mennonite stand-up commedian of auctioneers. In the end I discovered that Jill has terrible taste in Owls (kididing! Okay, no, I'm not, but we all have our issues), that we're so similar that a) the auctioneers thought we were sisters and b) we bid simultaneously three times.
I came home with two really nice living room chairs for $25 and $40 (I was willing to go to $50 for the matching chair, dangit. Nothing in our house matches. Let my two estate-sale chairs match!) I got over 100 canning jars for $15. $3 for 40 quart jars. How cool is that? Some of the pint jars are a pretty blue. Only one of the jars is chipped. Since I really did get the jars for canning, I'll probably toss that one into the recycling.
What else? Hmm. I got a good quality food processor. I'd really wanted one for Christmas and now I can cross that off my list ($4). And I got a few things I thought I might sell on eBay. One is a juice jar and glass. I found them on eBay, but they're not selling for more than $5 and since I only paid $1 for both, I think I'll just keep them and use them. The only other thing I bought was two sturdy plastic chairs for 50 cents each. After being there two hours we were ready to SIT. It was insanely hot. I spent $10 on two cheeseburgers, two sodas, and two fresh-squeezed lemonades. They were REALLY good.
So at the end we packed up everything and came on home. Chris helped us unload and then we helped him with the elf shorts (I took the photos. Jill entertained the kids.) From there we let the boys (Dads) have some time to themselves and took the kids to the pool for the evening.
It was a great day, Dy. Just for you I'll recap that. A great and ordinary Saturday in which chairs were bought, waffles were eaten at a local restaurant, splashes were made in the local pool, and in the end we returned to our very own home sweet homes. Now. In which freezer did I put that football ice cream?
Friday, August 12, 2005
But I'm starting to catch on to State College's Dark Side. They may be a little twisted in one small regard. I present to you EXHIBIT A:
Now, the Minnesotans were a bit off about their football. The people we bought the house from called us two days after we moved in because they were homesick for their violent "Vikings" purple shag carpet. I had to break the news to them that since I knew we were replacing it, I hadn't bothered to put down a drop cloth while I painted (two days into a new house is too late for me and my paint brush, kwim?)
And for all I know, this year they convinced Edy's to make a Vikings ice cream flavor, but they were, obviously AN ENTIRE STATE.
I'm beginning to wonder if maybe we shouldn't buy more bicycles. Just how passable will the roads be around here on game days?
"Eat to the bottom of this carton to see if you're a winner!" Oh yeah, somewhere out there is a very, very sick rabid football fan.
Of course I bought it! It's got caramel filled chocolate footballs in it. How cool is THAT?!?
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Put out the word. Do NOT call me on my cell phone. It's just not ringing right . . .
Yeah, I know, she's prettier than the shawl, but they go well together, don't you think? (Thanks Jess :)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
It wasn't a good year for me.
But it had its moments and one of them was a kid named Daniel. Daniel had Tourette's. I didn't know anything about Tourette's. I looked up some information on the internet (this might have been pre-google, LOL, I really don't know) but I didn't recognize my student in any of those descriptions. I know he was taking a (some?) medication so I guess that must have helped some, but I don't really know. I don't know which of those symptoms he was supposed to have and which he didn't. I didn't ask. Whatever it was that he was being treated for hadn't manifested itself in my classroom. What I saw was a sometimes shy, often witty kid with a really solid foundation. Some kids have a lot going for them, but their core being is shakey. Maybe it's how they came into the world and with love and a good home they outgrow it. Maybe they came into the world just fine but they got snubbed on the love and good home part. Whether he had it when he arrived, I don't know, but I do know that his mother loved him "like the rock of ages" as the song goes. She was a favored school volunteer.
I liked her, trusted her, and gave her pretty much free access to the room. She'd come and go as she pleased and even when the class was acting up and I was having a bad day, I never really gave her a second thought. There was another parent who was there a lot and I remember regretting giving her so much freedom. She openly disliked a few of the more challenging students telling me once that she didn't know how I could stand it -- these kids were just so horrid. I remember just staring at her, speechless. There were 34 kids in that class and six of them were on ADHD medications. I had a full-inclusion aide for one of my kids who had congenital brain damage. One very bright child had some pretty severe emotional issues. Another was dealing with one of the most bitter divorces I'd ever seen. None of the kids ever acted maliciously. They were just a poor mix, in a class that was too big, and nine. Nine year olds are wonderful people but their ability to control their own impulses is often over rated. They're younger, in some ways, than they look. It's an easy mistake to make.
But this mother I'm remembering did not make that mistake. She knew. Daniel wasn't her first. He was her third or fourth or fifth. I'm not sure. But he wasn't her first or second, I know that much. I would see them sometimes hanging out in the office. After school, usually. She'd be chatting with someone and he'd be there and he was inevitably touching her. He'd be in her lap, or hanging over her shoulder, or playing with her hair. There was nothing weird about it. It was just that there wasn't any of the distance that the other nine-year-olds in my class were already starting to show. Oh, they'd be affectionate with their parents, but not where someone else could see.
Max was one that year and I remember walking into the office once and she was talking and he was perched on her knee and just listening to the conversation. He was relaxed and leaning against her and completely unself-conscious. I thought, "Please, please let me be deserving of that."
So you know, today, as I read through the introduction of Max's math lesson, sitting next to him at a table in the public library, he leaned against me, tucking himself into my arm and making silly jokes about the lesson and I had the sense to take no credit and just be grateful. Thank you, God. Thank you for Pennsylvania and Chris and the public library and this forgiving kid. Thank you for seventh chances and one more day that he'll be affectionate with me in public.
And thank you Daniel and his mom, for giving me something worth working towards. I hope, 8 years later, that you had a wonderful high school graduation last spring and that you are both looking forward, in your own way, to a terrific freshman year. I'm sure, wherever you are Daniel, that you'll do great with that solid core you have. And I'm sure, wherever you are Daniel's mom, that you're proud of him.
So the new routinish schedule is going well. We're only three days into things but I like it a lot so far. I haven't quite nailed the sleep aspect of things which means we can't quite seem to get out the door when we mean to, but each morning we've done better. There is one perk -- my laptop battery is only good for three hours anyway and I can't find a plug at the library, so thus far, 3.5 hours has worked out fine. The last half hour I'm just hanging out with Max in the library and reading him spelling words or whatever.
It's been surprisingly productive. I even made it to the post office today which I'd been putting off for at least a week. I have a photograph I need to mail. Maybe I'll get that out tomorrow.
Anything could happen.
I focused on a different client this week and that's made for a very pleasant week. I've been able to get more done at the library, even with Max there to prod along, than I was in the same amount of time at home. AND they have free wireless. How cool is that?
Other little bits and pieces of life continue to unfold. Football practice is going well this week. He's no prodigy, but he's enthusiastic and really trying hard to learn the game. We're proud of him (and frankly, I think he's only showing off his great brain power when he demonstrates he's still a little afraid of the ball. It's a big, hard ball covered in leather.) I finally got some answers about how the YMCA team is structured, when the true swim meet season is, and other KEY bits of information about that program. Apparently I should have bypassed the coach eons ago and contacted a parent on the board. Who knew? So much to my surprise I've learned that the season won't even start until fully a month after I was originally told it would (by YMCA staff), that the meets won't start until mid-October, and that the season goes through February. This is good as football will be good and over by half-way through the season and so it's okay to pass up some meets to go to football games because there will be meets to go to once football is over.
Alright. As good as things are, I still do have some work to do tonight. I'd rather knit, but, oh well. I'm nearly halfway done with that colorful sweater and I'm on the second skein of yarn on the blue sweater for myself :) I'm definitely getting some knitting done.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Shortly before the year began though, one of my favorite homeschool bad influences introduced me to The Cambridge Latin Course. Now, I think, I'm not sure, but I think CLC is really for kids at the first year of Hogwarts. 11-ish is what I'm saying. Nevertheless, it is so insanely well organized and written that as long as you *aren't* overly competitive and concerned with looking all advanced and what not -- or in other words -- are willing to dilly dally a bit, there's no reason to hold off. Well, I say that but Max is, after all, a fourth grader. If you're reading this and putting together your first grader's curriculum then I say NO. You don't need Latin. Come back in a few years. TRUST me that what you have is enough. But say your kid is nine or ten or eleven and Latina Christiana is not doing it for you, then I have to admit that the program is really nice. We are, three-ish weeks into the school year, still on the first lesson. But oh how we giggled our way through it at the library today. The "main character" of the first lesson -- because CLC is built around immersion stories with black and white drawings (like a comic book) -- is a dog. Somehow running through the vocabulary today (and there's plenty of it) we got to a discussion of the word "is sitting" and that led to deciding that maybe we should train Emily to follow her commands in LATIN. And that led to lots of gesturing and giggling. Anyway, there's tons of Roman history and culture built into the lessons complete with full-color photographs of ruins from Pompei. We're enjoying it very much. It's a little hard to get HOLD of if you order it on your own -- they'll basically run a security check to make sure you're not really a high-school student trying to get hold of the answer key. But everything but the teacher's manual is available easily through eBay. I've heard that the related activities on the website are pretty good, too: http://www.cambridgescp.com/latin/clc/clc_home.html
Oh, we're still doing Latina Christiana I. I guess just because it's not rocket science andwe seem to be fine doing both. But then, we're doing both Saxon 5/4 and Right Start Level E, just because they seem to solve each other's issues, and THAT is some honest-to-goodness work. So two Latin programs is cake.
This time along we were aiming to incorporate some sports changes (out: early AM swim team practice. in: late evening football practice) and to try to figure out a way that I could get some work done and the twins could get some attention.
Of all things, we decided we'd try sending Max and I to the library where I could oversee hs-lessons and work and Chris would stay home and tidy and play with the twins. On Mondays, we detour on the way home for lunch and have the piano lesson. Every other day, we come home for a late lunch and then Chris takes Max for afternoon hsing and I keep the twins alive (this involves less interaction than the AM with Chris) while doing the second half of my work day.
Today we got off to a late start because we're still playing catch up from getting sick and for the life of me I can't get out of bed at my goal hour. So we were about 40 minutes late getting out the door and then the first thing we did was go to The Waffle House for a cheap breakfast. Two blueberry pancakes and an egg for $4. Max did his reading and I started sketching out the next five lessons that I need to turn in this week. We were there about an hour, talking in between reading and writing, enjoying this nice breakfast, and it was one of those sunshine moments you don't forget later. What a handsome, funny, brilliant kid.
From there we headed over to the library where I worked and he did math, latin, and some piano (written piano book stuff). Tomorrow I'm hoping we'll get off to the library earlier (we'll eat breakfast at home) and be able to get grammar, spelling, and composition in there like I had planned. It will work or it won't. I was pleasantly surprised by what I got done and feel like it did work for me. I didn't have the productive afternoon I wanted, but that's what I get for not getting my bread-making done this weekend. I did get some of my food storage reorganized and I cooked a bunch of oatmeal and nine-grain cereal and bagged it into 1-cup servings so I can just thaw it and add it to my regular whole-wheat bread next time. Adding the extra step of cooking the grain and letting it cool was more time consuming than I thought and I burned the first batch of oatmeal when the phone rang.
So we'll see. It might work to do it this way, it might not. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. But having me work all day at home wasn't working either. There were just too many interuptions.
Friday, August 05, 2005
I finally finished my Step-mom's 60th birthday present. (Her birthday was in January. Oops.) I actually finished it a week ago but it took me another week to get around to sitting down with needle and thread and tacking the ends of the ribbon in place just to be safe. I didn't trust the ends to come unwoven the first time it was drycleaned.
The pictures don't quite do it justice but you get the idea -- it's finished :)
This is one of the new projects (color is called "Way Cool"). This is the back of a simple hoodie that I'm making for Milo. Jill says it's too girly. I'll wait until it's done, but if she's right, the yarn (Hip Hop by Berroco) comes in plenty of more boyish shades and my local yarn shop has a bunch of them. The pattern is ultra simple, but I wanted something that I could maybe finish in a week or two this time. Some immediate gratification.
That said, I never KNEW it was morally okay to have more than one project on the needle until I started reading knitting blogs. That this WAS okay was a complete revelation -- and that it could be considered GOOD (because it dramatically drives up the employment rate of your stash, which permits some inflationary tactics at the yarn store since, after all, you're "using up" some of your stash) was life changing. Life can get kind of stressful with all this life happening and being able to pick the project that best fits a given need or mood is really wonderful. Need to feel like you're capable of making great strides in a small amount of time? Pick up big, bulky hoodie project. Want to feel clever and advanced? Pick up complicated 16-row sweater project. Creative, albeit past the point of practicality? Pick up that seeded stitch preschooler pants project. Giving and aunt-ish? Pick up those soaker pants. And of course, today I wound up a ball of mohair so I could start a pair of socks and feel an affinity to the Yarn Harlot.
So yeah the internet! My yarn stash thanks you, my local yarn store thanks you, and my happy hands thank you.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Cranked up on adrenaline, I drifted in and out of sleep from 2:00 to 3:00 and then got up shortly before 7:00. I had an interview for a little administrative assistant position that wouldn't have brought in more than a couple hundred dollars a month, but was related to Max's piano and it seemed like it would work with everything else I was doing. I'm glad I left early as I was pretty hopelessly lost and used every minute of the thirty minutes I'd left early to get there just right on time.
It was a nice interview but I left feeling no more sure that I really wanted the job. When they called later in the afternoon and said they'd decided to give the position to a long-time parent (it's a parent-run organization) but they really hoped I'd join the board as the piano parent representative, etc, etc, I agreed to think about it and sighed happily. I guess I really *didn't* want the position. I have so much to do already and lately carving out minutes to knit or just spend time with the kids and hubby have started to bring little bits of normalcy to our lives that we haven't experienced in what seems forever.
I have these moments where I'm watching the kids and they're so dang HAPPY and I'm thinking, "Look at that! They're having a childhood." I could kiss Max's friend from down the block every time he comes over because it's just so great. I was swinging in the backyard the other night waiting for Thor to finish marking the 700 little bushes and trees in the backyard (but a man-dog's gotta do, what a man-dog's gotta do) and looking up at the tops of the trees that are awfully far away. How did this happen? How did we end up a few hours from the place I lived the longest as a child? How did we end up back with the birds I heard outside my windows as a child? I look around and all these people could have attended the Methodist church we went to in Georgetown.
I think I mentioned that when I got off the plane the weekend I came out to look at houses here I picked up the car and headed out into a snow storm. Once I found the right freeway I settled back and peered out the window, chugging slowly along at 35 mph because anything faster was impossible. And I saw a Giant food store. That was my grocery store as a child. And I saw a CVS and a Victorian house with an old, old metal swingset in the backyard. And it hit me like a hammer on the head that I had inadvertantly brought my family back to My Home. I didn't think much beyond that. Just that, how about that? The going got tough so I boxed up the family and took them to the place I Knew Best.
But lately I'm realizing that there are implications far beyond just "Wow, how subconscious was that?" It means they'll have, by and large, an East Coast childhood. This is the first time my son has chased and caught lightning bugs. And it means, well, I don't know. I don't feel as homeless as I usually feel. I don't have that "not from around here" feeling.
Sometimes you put a knitting project down and you don't pick it up for EONS. And then you do. And when you finish it there is a feeling that goes WAY beyond the usual, "I'm done with this" feeling. Well this is kind of like that. Like I've picked up an unfinished project and started knitting on it again. Only this time around I'm a *much* better knitter. I know a lot more about that yarn and am not nearly so akward with the needles. I know I can really makes something with that yarn.
I hope that makes a bit of sense.
Anyway, back to Milo. I got him to the doctor's after my psuedo-interview and we ruled out pertusis and he prescribed some albuterol in liquid form and some kind of steroid. I didn't *want* them because we're switching insurances this week to get everyone on one plan and save a ton of money and the last thing I need is anyone thinking the boy has asthma, which he doesn't. So I took the prescriptions to the little corner pharmacy which does not accept Milo's existing insurance. I asked for the cash price and braced myself.
$22 and some change for both. Total. YEAH!! I paid. We left. And not only that but apparently this stuff has been around so long that they figured out how to make it taste GREAT because Milo begs for it. "PWEEEEEEZE, Mommy!"
Now, little by little, everyone else is getting it, too. Oh well. It'll be nice to have a quiet weekend.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
But tonight I will blog about my 9-year-old. We confirmed tonight that life and Chris had taught Max little about football. He didn't know much out there. But I saw it all from a less biased position -- it hadn't been *my* job to teach him any football. And I had married Chris thinking that his lack of football mania was a nice perk. So I have to say that while there were many, many boys out there and many, many of them knew more about football than Max, he did *not* stick out like a sore thumb. He lacks stamina -- but he made it through the entire two-and-a-half-hour practice still giving it his best at the end. I. was. so. proud. I was! I was this 37-year-old mother of a football playing fourth grader and he was listening and doing what he was supposed to be doing and even, dare I say it, sometimes better than the other kids at paying attention.
The twins and I had gone off to run errands and we joined the football practice at the point where it was already an hour and fifteen minutes into things. I'd worried that there would be nothing for the twins to do but run onto the practice field, so I'd stopped at the store and picked up two nerf footballs (that say, I think, Penn State on them) so they'd have their own game if they wanted. I shouldn't have worried. There were other little boys to play with, a big piece of playground equipment, and some dogs. Maybe I'll bring Emily tomorrow. Chris and I sat and watched them all -- then after 45 minutes Chris got antsy about projects in his workshop, so he took the twins home and tucked them in and I sat and knitted two rows, listened to a brief talk from the head coach, and got to welcome the victorious little dude when practice finally ended right on time. He was tired. REALLY REALLY tired. And really happy. He knew he'd pulled it off. It was fun. He knew he was going to be okay. He had that look that a kid gets on their face when they are genuinely proud of themselves. They don't say anything. They don't need you to affirm it. It's enough all by itself. These moments have been few and far between the past few years. He can be so hard on himself. It was good to see him give himself credit for a job well done.
So we walked to the truck, climbed in, shut the doors . . .
And I decided maybe we should drive to the grocery store and buy the boy his first stick of deodorant. That was a hoot! Standing there in the grocery aisle pulling the lids off of all the manly deodorants and sniffing. He found one he liked. Not floral. Not strong. Hope it works and I also hope it doesn't poison his brain.
We talked and he laughed and he laughed that old Max laugh. That full deep laugh. And I was just blown away by how much I love this kid, by how fast he's growing, and how wonderfully young he still is. He was silly and yet appropriate. He grabbed a package of straws at the store saying, "Ben and Milo go nuts for these things." While I was working the self-checkout thing, he loaded the groceries into bags. I started picking up all the bags and he said, in a "don't be silly" tone, "I've got this Mom. Your hands are already full." And indeed they were, but that would never have occured to him before. We walked out to the truck and he climbed in and I got a look at the bottom of his new football shoes and his feet are so BIG!
You know, earlier in the evening after Chris finished musing over why he'd had so little football exposure as a kid Milo had come around looking for his football (which I'd retrieved after it was abandoned earlier in play). So Chris got up and began tossing the ball back and forth with his youngest child. He was patient, had realistic expectations, and knew how to coach a 3.5 year old to do things well. Milo had a wonderful time. It's no picnic being the firstborn. We're so well intentioned and so clueless.
I'm off to try to make gauge again on those soaker pants.
Monday, August 01, 2005
From At Knits End (still making me pee my pants in PA) by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Some knitters purchase yarn with a pattern and a plan. They buy with a specific goal, and most of it is used more or less immediately and as planned. Others talk about the yarn "telling them what it wants to be." They buy and hoard yarns, seemingly at random, until a yarn speaks to them about its destiny. There is sometimes a lag of 20 years or more between a yarn purchase and its realization as a knitted item, although there may be several periods of swatching and "false starts." This process cannot be rushed or failure is certain.
I'm definitely in the latter camp. But since I've decided to make more time for activities that make me feel less like a worker bee and more like The Queen, I've noticed my yarn is VERY, VERY talkative. Do you think it has been yelling at me all along? Oh wait and see what that blue cotton yarn that my grandmother bought for me 7 years ago wants to be. It wants to be VERY VERY cute and matching in a little boy's size 6, is what it wants to be.
A few days ago I splurged and bought a new knitting book. I wanted seven of them, but the twins had already Barnes and Nobled me into temporary bankruptcy with a run on board books, flap books, and an interesting hologram book with a focus on shapes, so I let myself pick just one while they charmed an elderly man who'd fathered seven children. I'd seen this one around, of course:
(that's clickable by the way)
and always brushed it off as too detail oriented. After all, as I believe I've confessed in the past, I've knitted a million items on DPNs but remained terrified of a simple garter stitch sweater. Now that I've overcome my phobia and produced a rather sweet baby outfit, (immediately returning to shawl and poncho making during the move), I'm very interested in trying all sorts of new things, but frilly edges still seemed a ways away. THEN I OPENED THE BOOK.
It's not a book about knitting on the edge! It's a book of pattern samples! I mean, it looks and acts like a book about edges, but many scream to be converted into an entire garment. I was hooked. I don't know what I'm going to DO with the book, but it clearly wanted to come home with me. I haven't used it AT ALL yet and still I am convinced that it belongs in your knitting book stash, too.
Have you become friends with anyone you met (first) on the internet?
Twice. The first time I met a gal in the twin cities from whom I'd bought diapers. She was just so darn nice and she had twins only a smidge older than my twins. I still think she's just one of the nicest people on the planet and it's a shame I didn't make more of an effort to stay in touch after we left MN.
The second was Joyce who is also just top quality human being and who makes me laugh a lot. She's smart and honest and doesn't put up with a lot of crud. Just don't change plans on either of us at the last minute ;)
Now her Friday questions
Name 3 people whom you admire for their intelligence.
Well, Einstein, my brother, and Jill's husband Doug. But I know a LOT of really smart people so those are just the first three who popped into my head. I've also known a lot of really smart people I don't admire at all and over time when it comes to hero worship I tend to look for people who have their ethics straight or who worked their whole lives at knocking off vice after vice and they are the ones I hang around and kind of try to figure out how to be like them.
What's the last food you tried that you really didn't care for.
I tried some new dish a week or so ago that we all kind of gagged on. I don't remember what it was though. We decided it was a texture thing I think.
If you could rename the street that you live on, what would you want it to be called?
Does Too Exist Court
When was the last time you were genuinely surprised?
Monday night. My friend threw a Pampered Chef party. I went to support her and because my pancake pan was completely trashed. I make pancakes a few times a week. Regular frying pans make that chore take forever. But when I got there she gave me a card from my aunt gifting me with the pan and, like, a million other items that I just can't wait to use. I love my kitchen. I got all sniffly. Never saw it coming. Outrageously generous. Incredibly thoughtful.
Share a household tip.
Real cherry cobbler beats "bisquick" cobbler any day and it's just as easy to make.
I love to knit. I hate to weave in the ends and I'm afraid to wash and block this shawl. But by golly it'll be in the mail on Friday or you can all toss cyber tomotoes at me.
And back to work :)