Sunday, January 27, 2008

Making Plans

I really like New Year's Resolutions. I admit this year I didn't really get around to making them in time to start anything on January 1st, I'm glad it just didn't work out that way. As shiny new as the first day of the year always feels to me (which for me carries the accompanying motivation to take a stab at change), this year I just felt like I . . . didn't have enough information.

So here we are three-ish weeks later and one of my work projects has ended so I have a lighter week ahead of me. I'm looking forward to finally putting away my Christmas tree. (What?) And getting caught up on the dishes.

Anyway, here are the things I'd like to do this year:

*get better at reading the scriptures regularly
*hold Family Home Evening regularly. Heck, I'd be happy with once a month as improvement over last year, but I'm in the middle of taking a stab at reworking our family schedule and I'm open to whatever will work.
*lose weight. again. I'm growing more convinced this will require a medication change. again. Scheduled to discuss the issue with my doc on Valentine's Day. (I didn't get to pick the day.)

On a more minor level:
*Decrease the number of WIPs I have going. This feels kind of hopeless. But sometimes I think

I gave up my community garden plot after Gaye said I could have space in her backyard. This is a big relief as I really love my vegetable gardening, but I really need to pay attention this summer to the lawns and flower beds of her house and mine and the chances of my getting across town to the community gardens as well . . . even I had to admit that the odds were not good.

Giving up gardening altogether though--forget it. Max and I have already received two seed catalogs in the mail. He's picking out melons and strawberries. In fact, I keep meaning to get the catalogs over to Gaye's house so she can dream about her flower beds, too. She already has one bed that will look positively lovely once it gets properly watered and has a new layer of mulch. It's crying out for others to go with it. She's very interested in a tall, decorative grass for the front yard, so that will have to fit into the equation somewhere, too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tonight Was Kind of Fun

Our house was invaded this evening by a bunch of excited boy scouts and their webelos entourage. They have a Klondike event this coming weekend. I'm not clear on what exactly this is, but I think it's an event where they pull a sled full of supplies from station to station and use boyscout skills at each station. They'll be shooting a gun, tossing a tomahawk, cooking out in the open, and if I recall from last year, getting covered in mud. Maybe this year it will be less mud, more snow. (I'm a little bummed that it means Max is missing the Saturday skiing class, but we'll try to be very careful to make sure he makes the remaining classes. They made such a huge difference to his level of confidence and skill this week.)

I taught Max how to use my sewing machine and he sewed velcro strips on the back of brown furry fabric. They used this to decorate the sled to look like a Platypus. Their team is named the Aztec Platypi. They have a flag and a big sled bolted on to skis and a big cardboard platypus tail.

Today was piano lessons and an impromptu shopping trip to Jo-Ann's for Gaye and I. We were in charge of finding platypus fur and velcro. Did that. Had so much fun looking at all the dollar stuff at Jo-Ann's that we were 10 minutes late to pick up the kids. Oops. Bad mommy.

Alright. I have gobs of work left to do, so I'd better get to it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

AIM Loitering

::::taps foot::::

:::whistles a piece of musak heard earlier in the day::::

:::looks around the Internet a bit:::

Chris is out of town on business tonight and I'm just waiting for him to log on so I can tell him all about our afternoon at the ski lodge. But I think he might be having a bunch of fun with my cousins tonight, so I reckon I'll just write it all down here.

Ben and Milo spent an hour learning about skiing this afternoon. I was a chaperone, for which I earned one lift ticket and one rental. I had intended to sort of keep an eye on their lesson and then ski around Little Bear learning slope with them. However, Max saw me skiing around and even though he was skiing with one of his best friends, he wanted to ski with me, too. Since I don't know how much longer the boy might pick sitting with me on the ski lift over sitting with his friends, I didn't say no. After we went down Little Bear twice, he was ready for Deer Run.

Now, technically, Deer Run is just my speed. BUT. The weather has been all over the map lately and what we had on the hill today was a thin layer of snow topped with a thin layer of ice. In a few places it was bare hill and in a few other places it was plain ice. AND I'm totally out of shape. Totally. I haven't been on a treadmill in a year. I sit at my computer all day and I type. So I didn't really have the thighs a girl needs to keep up the kind of control you want to have when you're skiing on a steep icy hill.

I just plain couldn't keep up!

Max was soooo sweet. Trying to be so encouraging and saying "You can do it!" and "It gets better here soon!" As much as my legs were SCREAMING and I honestly wondered if I was going to lose all control in a few spots (and I was a good 20 minutes longer than Max and Brian getting down that hill. I really had to stop here and there and just stand there until my legs stopped screaming.) I still had my sense of humor about the situation--and the understanding that this was a wake-up call for me. At the bottom of the hill Max asked if I would go up again with him and I declined, knowing full well my only hope to get down that hill one more time would be scooching the whole way on my tush. I said honestly that I just was too out of shape and I'd need to get a little exercise before I could try that again and Max said honestly that he hoped I would because he really wanted to go down Deer Run with me again before the end of the season.

Hmmm . . . get back on treadmill or poke out eye with hot iron poker? Sheesh. Tough call. I came home and had a slice of pumpkin pie to think about it. (What?) Of course I'll get on the treadmill. I don't know if I can make enough progress to ski down Deer Run with Max before the end of the ski season here (it's not like we're in the Sierras . . .), but it gives me something to shoot for.


Eeeenyway. I limped over to the area where Ben and Milo were still having their lesson, and they were just starting to do the thing where the little guy skis like ten feet and tries to snow plow and instead plows into the instructor (which Ben and Milo thought was great fun, but nearly knocked over the tiny petite ski instructor--we need one of the big guys for Ben and Milo. Their instructor should at least be twice the weight/height of the 6-yr-olds). So they didn't even make it down the hill yet.

Here's the thing. I totally can't take them down that hill by myself. a) there are two of them and they can't stop yet except by falling down and in general, I think falling down ALL the freakin' time when you're trying to learn to ski is maybe more discouraging than most of us remember. b) I can't ski backwards, much less snow plow backwards, and even if I could, I sure couldn't after shredding my thigh muscles on that glacial excuse for an easy ski slope.

I was a little bummed because it was clear to me that Ben and especially Milo both wanted to do more skiing and had more get-up-and-go left and I just DIDN'T. So hopefully next week the instructor will actually get them down the hill and I can maybe ski a little with them after the lesson.

One good thing--I managed to get Milo's socks fixed ten minutes before we left the house, so both boys had warm wool handknit knee-high socks to wear with their boots and even though MY feet were totally numb and frozen (I was wearing double layers of cotton socks, because I haven't finished a pair of wool socks for me yet), they were just hunky dory. Which is good, because numb, frozen feet (or really any other body part) will also make you hate skiing. And I want my kids to like skiing.

Which, bottom line, is what all my kids were feeling by the end of the day. Max actually RUSHED through his dinner to get out in time to get two more runs down the hill before we had to leave (it was dark, the full moon high in the ski, but skiing under the lights is pretty cool).

One of the other Moms who is always there through the whole thing is also the mom to one of Ben and Milo's kindergarten classmates. So for the last hour while we waited for the Max to finish skiing, the twinks ran around with T and her little sister, M. They made noise and were a disturbance, so I was glad when 7pm arrived and so did my son and one of his classmates. (We were giving him a ride home.)

So here we are back home. I have to find a way to stay awake because I really need to get some serious workwork done tonight. But I'm going to toss the littles into a hot bathtub and put them to bed early so they can dream big dreams of shushing down gentle slopes.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Evening Thoughts

KIDS: Chris and I have been talking about our parenting situation lately and while we haven't ruled out a time when we might get out those adoption papers and start filling them out in ink, at this point we've pretty much decided that now is not the time. We say this with some feeling of a heavy heart, because we both realize that the older the boys get, the less likely it is to be "the time." And a part of both of us WOULD very much like to have another child, in particular, we'd like to have the "parent a girl" experience. We suspect it's an entirely different road than the "parent a boy" experience, and we'd like to go down that road.

One of the wisest parents I know is a Catholic, homeschooling, single-Mom who gave me the advice that "the needs of the most vulnerable person in the house come first." Right up to the start of this year, I would have said that was Ben and Milo. Recently, however, we've come to realize that Ben and Milo have reached a nice coasting speed. They have a great teacher, they have us, and they have each other. They like their Primary teacher, they like their piano teacher, they like their school, they each have good friends in class, are ahead in both reading and math, and have cheerful, friendly dispositions.

So we turn our attention back to our eldest and check on him. How's he doing? Is he at coasting speed, too? And if we could honestly say yes, I think that would have resulted in a very different adoption decision, but neither of us could say yes. We both feel that our oldest is a little more anxious than he needs to be. He needs help staying on top of his schedule, guidance making the right decisions with his behavior, his homework, and his friends. Don't get me wrong--he's a great kid, has a good teacher, is doing well in many regards. There's just this very clear feeling between his father and I that he's more vulnerable than he needs to be. We feel he's doing well BECAUSE his father is his scout master and is at his school two afternoons a week, because his mother is at his school all the freakin' time, because we put so much time into what he's doing, where he is, and how he is doing. And there is definitely a feeling that this is NOT the time to let up . . . and won't be any time soon. I don't know if this is typical of parenting a middle schooler, or if it's just our kid. But we feel that if we were to adopt--in which case the new baby or child would be the neediest--that Max would be at risk in some way. I'm not saying that we're sure he would be, and I'm DEFINITELY not saying that there's ANYTHING wrong with the kid. There really isn't. It's just a gut feeling among Chris and I; if we need to "adopt" a kid right now, it's the kid we already have: the preteen. I know there are gobs of families that do adopt when there are teens and preteens in the house and it probably is exactly the right decision for their family. This year it's not right for us.

KNITTING: I have a lot on the needles right now and feel perennially behind. I spent half of this afternoon trying to fix the mittens I made for my nephew. They were fine in every regard but one--too tight at the wrist. I cut the mittens at the wrist and reknit the area in question, then grafted the top of the mitten to the bottom. Sounds easy in theory, but when you consider that I often make adjustments to a pattern as I go and almost NEVER write down what those adjustments were, I'm discovering this can be a nightmare. I honestly wonder if it wouldn't have been easier to just knit a new pair of mittens. I have one mitten fixed. I'm in the processes of undoing a million little kitchener stitches after discovering a major error--for the second time.

Tomorrow the twinks start skiing for the first time. I haven't finished fixing their knee socks so they don't fall down. I'm close though. I've got Ben's done and one of Milo's. I might get them done by 4 pm tomorrow. I've told myself I can't finish Milo's sock before O-bear's mitten though. That's a lot of knitting to get done AND still get enough Workwork done. Is the post office open tomorrow? I know it's MLK Jr. day. I just can't remember if that's a federal holiday or not.

I'm visiting a friend on Friday who could be in the antepartum ward for another 5 weeks. I'd really like to bring her a little something for her little one. I'm going to blink and it'll be Friday though, so I'm trying to keep an open mind about that.

My eye is starting to twitch. I should go finish my workwork and then do some meditation or something. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

That's One for Our Side

There's no way around it--it's a struggle to keep Max active. He's not a particularly competitive kid. He's not a particularly coordinated kid either. He is cursed with a not-really athletically inclined father who married a (let's-be-honest)-athletically-incompetent mother. Chris eventually found some activities he liked, and I eventually found some activities I like, but Max has struggled with this. He likes swimming, but the year-round program here is not a good match for him, and the summer-only program isn't enough. Football is soooooooo time consuming and sooooooo competitive, and so this winter I decided to go ahead and try to get Max on the slopes as much as possible during the short three months we call a ski season here in PA. He's doing the school program on Monday afternoons and another program for 4.5 hours on Saturdays. THe last two weeks were too warm to ski, but this weekend we were good to go, so we headed over there for the first lesson.

Max was nervous. He was pretty sure he was going to die, or at least look like he was dying, on the hill. He was worried about being the youngest and least experienced, or the oldest and least experienced, or just in some vague way, in a really bad position.

I gave him a pep talk. I talked about how between this class and the one on Mondays, he'd soon be able to go down with his two good friends who do the ski programs through other schools, but come on the same day our school does. This was encouraging to him. I walked him through understanding that this was a 4.5 hour CLASS, so it was fine to not know anything and to go ahead and hog the teacher's attention and just learn, learn, learn. Max perked up a smidge.

We arrived at the lodge and went on in. He was, indeed, the oldest kid there, but there were two other girls and at least one other boy who were close to him in age. We almost had a case of equipment failure when, for the life of us, we could NOT get one of his boots on. Abby, the youngest of the instructors, agreed to give it a shot and we were relieved to see that it wasn't just us. She finally pulled it off his foot, put her back into it, and popped some part of it back into its proper place. Max was soon buckled into his boots and he trotted awkwardly off after the others to go ski.

I ran to Target and the bank and then came back to the lodge to try to get some work done on my computer while he skiied. In between IM's to Chris I fretted. The last time I sent him down that hill he scared himself silly. It ended in tears and panic and I felt like Bad Mom.

I really wanted this to work. I wanted him to not just get better at going down the Big Scary Hill, but ENJOY it. I wanted him to think, "Wheee!" not "AAAAAAHHHH!" I wanted him to burn a few calories and make a few muscle cells and do it smiling.

Finally, lunch break arrived and he walked in the door, sat down, and said something along the lines of, "I've already been down [the Big Scary Hill] 5 times and I've only fallen down once. I'm learning tons and it's a lot of fun."

And I breathed a sigh of relief. He scarfed down lunch (the lodge has the most disgusting food known to mankind. We bought lunch today and vowed together to bring a bag lunch next week) and then ran back out the door. His instructor today is a father whose name I didn't catch, so I've been calling him Dad Instructor. He seemed genuinely to enjoy Max and Max trusted him. Which is the only way I can explain the FACT that by the end of the day Max had TWICE gone down the center hill (whose name I don't even know because it's the one covered in mogels and we don't go down those hills) and apparently on his second run down that hill he did a bit of it on his head, but STILL came back in the lodge glowing, happy, saying how great it was over and over.

And so, I am hoping it is a LONG and SNOWY winter.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Saving Me the Trouble

of having to articulate the complex feelings I've had on watching the political process lately . . .

Women's Support for Clinton Rises in Wake of Perceived Sexism

I'd been holding off on putting my Hillary bumper sticker on my car because our primary here is still four months away, but I reckon I might put it up sooner now.

FWIW, I'd be fine with Edwards or Obama--although I probably have the most concerns about his experience. But I keep coming back to Hillary.

And that's about as political as I want to get today.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I am completely and unexpectedly slammed by work this week and my lack of recent blogging has me feeling guilty--so I'll officially blog that I won't be blogging until maybe this weekend, when hopefully I'll have some time to catch up. In the meantime, "Don't cry for me, Argentina," too much work means, well, it means I'll get paid sometime in February, and that's not bad.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

We took this picture this morning (Yes! Yes, take down the tree is on my to-do list for this week!) Mostly we're hoping to send the picture to my grandmother, who sent a generous Christmas gift for all of us, and new church clothes is part of what we bought with it (Ben and Milo's pants in the photo were their birthday present from Gramma Gaye). Ben and Milo have matching red ties and Chris and Max have matching orange ties. They look spiffy and somehow manage not to clash.

We're still adjusting to the new winter schedule. Chris leaving every morning at 6:15 am and me getting up 45 minutes later to wake the kids and get us all out the door. It's still more rushed than I'd like and I'm contemplating just getting up at 6:15 when he gets up. Skiing should start tomorrow but we have a freakish warm spell taking us to 60 degrees both tomorrow and Tuesday and the mountain will be a mudslide, not a ski lodge. Maybe it's just as well since piano lessons start up again this week and it's going to be a full week.

More updates later in the week. I need to chase the kids off to bed before it gets any later.