June 29, 2011

What's been going on...

You would never know that it is summer and that it is supposed to be relaxing around here.  We have had one event after another.  After Wicked we took our two teen-aged boys to U2 in Baltimore.  They were the cheapest last minute tickets I could find and they were at the very tippy top row of the football stadium.  I felt like I'd had a week's work-out by the time we reached the top.  The one nice thing about being there was the breeze and the view.  We could see a beautiful sunset over the Baltimore skyline.  Bono, however looked like an ant.  Thank goodness for the large screen under the alien spider apparatus.  That thing was a show in an of itself!  I repeated something I used to say to my oldest boy when he was 9 and we were going through the tunnels of the ride 'it's a small world' "It's a feast for the eyes!" I shouted over the music. I think I saw a smirk of remembrance come over him.  I am sure glad we had the chance to do this with our boys.  Even if they don't appreciate U2 the way a 1987 graduate would, they still had fun.

Moving on with our events, next came youth conference with our church.  My oldest two boys spent two days (and 12 hrs of driving?!) in Kirtland Ohio.  Even though it was a long long way to go for just a short period of time they had a great time and especially loved the bus ride.  I think it must have been a tour bus because it had a rest room and TV where they watched several movies.  They were not allowed any cell phones or Ipods or anything like that.  My Middle Boy didn't like that idea too much.  But somehow he survived.  Upon returning from the conference Middle Boy did an uncharacteristic thing and stayed up talking to his parents about his experiences for like 2 hours.  It could have been all the candy they gave out on the bus giving him a sugar buzz, but I think it was just that he had some really great experiences that he wanted to talk about.  I was tired but there was no way I was going to bed until he was good and ready.  Those teenaged moments are few and far between.  I was only slightly surprised that I got the exact opposite reaction from his older brother the next day.  One word answers, didn't want to talk.  Typical for a teen I guess.

After youth conference, we had one day of rest on Sunday and the following Monday we had to have them ready for a 6:00 am departure for scout camp.  Scout camp times 3 boys this year.  That's 3 times as many pre-requisites to get done.  That's 3 times as many batteries and flashlights that need to be rummaged around to find. 3 times the pain, but 3 times the silence while they are away my friends.  I am 3 times as worried about them too though.  There was a news story on the radio about a scout who was lost from his troop last week who ended up drowned.  Not the kind of thing a mother wants to hear just before sending off her brood.  I will keep praying for them and hoping they will have good sense and good watchful leaders, cuz I am kinda attached to these kiddos.

The busy continued will a vacation bible school the girls both did last week.... that is a post for another day in and of itself.  Let's just say I was new to the VBS experience and I am still wondering what just happened.  Now we have pre-team swim for Big Girl and Little Girl will probably start swimming lessons of her own next week.  She also wants to continue taking dance classes.  We'll see if I can push myself to drive one more place during the week.  It will be so nice when Big Boy gets his driver's license.  We just got home from the library and I am ready for a break.

So......  How is your summer so far?

PS In other great news I ate the first tomato from our garden!!!!  Yeah summer!

June 24, 2011

Wicked

We took Big Girl to the Kennedy Center to see Wicked Saturday afternoon.  It was amazing!  Please see it if you ever have the chance.  Elphaba's character was played by the same actress who we saw in NY a couple years back.  She has not lost her ability to give you goosebumps.  The memory of her high notes are still fresh enough in my brain now that I can get chills just thinking about her singing.  She (Dee Roscioli) is that good.  I was so thrilled to be able to share this with my daughter.  We had been listening at home and talking about the story.  Seeing it the second time for me was just as great as the first.  I noticed more political undertones than before.  It's a really interesting story on many levels actually.

We made the horrific mistake of taking the Metro.  I had taken the subway when Little Boy and I scored free orchestra tickets last month and it couldn't have gone more smoothly.  That had been on a week day. On a Saturday afternoon we expected no problems.  However that was not the case.  As soon as we hit the first platform we were in a crowd who had been waiting for 30 minutes for a train to arrive.  We heard that there is a new budget cutting policy about running fewer trains on weekends. So that combined with a Nationals baseball game was a wicked combination!  We were packed in there like crowded sardines.  We also almost didn't make it on time to the show, which made the friend who we were meeting up with rather nervous since we had her tickets.  She smartly drove from Virgina and was there an hour early.

Things really got worse though on the ride home.  I thought our train was crowded before but the one on the way home was even more crowded.  And we had the misfortune to be squished in next to a most unpleasant passenger.  He was a rather large man who was seated.  When I got within a couple feet of his air space he told me I was "close enough!"  I shifted my body so as not to be giving him a view of my backside and asked him if that was any better.  He rudely told me "no!"  I guess he didn't like my hip either.  I didn't know why he was complaining, at least he had a seat.  I told him that was the best I could do.  My neighbor was a friendly type who made a comment about not everyone being as patient as they should be on the subway that day.  This probably had him fuming because a few stops later when my husband accidentally stepped on his outstretched foot he loudly expressed himself with a "You stepped on my F____ing foot!"  Troy politely replied "sorry buddy"  but I was not letting him off that easily.  I called him out on his foul mouth and pointed out that I had my 8 yr old with me.  He told me he didn't care and said it was my husband's fault for stepping on his foot.  I should have thought of the obvious here and said that one thing was not intentional while the other was but instead I said "well I am sorry that happened now was he going to say sorry for his mouth?"  Guess what?  He wasn't.  So I just said we were going to try and get as far away from him as possible, he said "GOOD!"  At this point some nice teenagers gave up their seats for us (right behind him).  There was lots of "sheesh" ing from me on the way to our newly scored seats at which point my husband mentioned that I simmer down.  Big Girl was a bit shaken.  She had dreams that night of the man coming to find us in our beds and harm us.  Perhaps that was because he issued a threat to me "keep it up lady and I will come back there and cause a scene!"  "Oh I am just shaking in my black sandals here!"  I replied not wanting to be bullied.  More 'simmer downs' from T.  I don't know why he got me so riled.  I just really really hate it when people are foul-mouthed in front of my kids.  There is just no reason for being that stupid in my opinion.

So for the next 10 stops or so behind this large foul man I wondered as did the munchkins,"are people naturally wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?" I whispered in Big Girl's ear that I felt sorry for that man because surely he can't be very happy.  She may have gotten my message but instead she shushed me for fear that he would hear and become an insane angry man again.  That is when I began to regret ever saying anything at all to him.  Surely I didn't change his behavior and possibly only made it worse.  I guess it's as they say in the musical 'no good deed goes unpunished.'

June 13, 2011

Mercy vs Justice

This morning I was going to allow myself to sleep in.  Big Girl was sick yesterday so I am keeping her home from school just to be sure she is okay.  I am in a pretty happy stage with the boys who get themselves up and off to school without needing anything from me.  Sometimes I wonder if I should be up with them baking muffins and squeezing them good-bye after gently applying sunscreen.  Then after wondering that, I go back to sleep.

Sleep did not come easy last night due to an intense movie I watched that I probably shouldn't have.  So my overactive imagination kicked in and I dreamt about cutting off my arm to save my life while stuck in a canyon all night long.  I really needed to sleep in.  Instead I got a phone call on my cell phone at 6:25 am.  I jumped out of bed and ran to the spot where it is usually kept.  The ringing was coming from the right place but it wasn't there!  BTW I am the kind of person who is always calling her cell to find it's location.  Last time it was the pool bag.  This time I was in too much of a sleepy daze to notice it had been placed in the cubby hole below it's usual spot.  Whoever put it there must have been drunk.  Or overwhelmed with making meatball sandwiches for dinner on a fast Sunday or something.

The caller tried a second time on our land line.  This could only mean one thing -he/she was someone who knows me and my cell phone habits.  Someone like Middle Boy with a request at this early hour.  I turned to answer the land line and found the phone had not been hung up.  ARGH thought I!  Why is it so impossible for people to put things where they go around here?!  It was too early for this (as seen by my hypocritical thoughts).  I found another extension and answered the call from my son who was about to get on his bus.  He needed me to find a review sheet worth a lot of points that was due at 10:30 am.  For some strange reason he placed it on his desk and then emptied all the contents of a semester's worth of paperwork from all of his classes from his back pack burying the review sheet where it could barely be remembered, let alone found by a mother who still had sleep in her eyes and a sore right arm caused by weird sleeping positions.  Still I will be getting it there before his 10:30 am class.

Whenever this kind of thing happens (and it isn't often -so that is key I think), I am reminded of a friend I knew once who was so strict with her kids about being forgetful.  She had a 3 yr old son who forgot his pizza party money for a pre-school party and when the teacher paid for his portion that was NOT okay with my friend.  She had her son doing hard labor at home to earn the money to repay the teacher.  She read some book by the Eyres about teaching responsibility to young children.  My friend insisted that kids will rise to whatever level we expect of them.  She felt she was teaching her young son to rise up and be responsible but to me it looked like she was showing him how merciless his mother could be. If your pre-schooler forgets something I'm thinking that one should be on you.

It was just last fall when Middle boy (who forgot his Spanish review sheet), left his lacrosse gear unattended and it got moved to a secure location by another coach.  For a weekend we thought it had been stolen.  I was so mad at him for not heeding my last words while dropping him off at school to "not leave that equipment in an unlocked location." I could see that he felt pretty bad about it.  I was trying to decide how to handle this.  If he needed new gear who would be paying?  I consulted my magic 8 ball: Facebook.  After much back and forth with people suggesting hard labor at home for 4 months I got this response from the one guy that kept saying I should show mercy..."Here's the deal: We all learn justice by receiving it.  We only learn mercy by extending it (we kind of learn by seeing others extend or having it extended to us).  In this instance you're kinda forced to choose between your son learning justice, or you learning mercy.  As a general rule, simple existence in the world will teach justice; but the chances to extend mercy can become scarce.  As a parent, I'm not worried about how well I teach justice; that will get taught on multiple fronts.  But if I fail to teach mercy (by demonstrating it); well I don't even want to contemplate that."  While I can see the logic on both sides, this argument stuck me as more true.  IF my son did this kind of thing all the time it would be different.  But for now I am leaning towards mercy.  Because like my friend also said earlier "we are all beggars."  I lose my cell phone regularly.  He can misplace a Spanish review sheet now and then.



June 11, 2011

Stay Cool

We are in the middle of a long heat wave.  To be honest heat like this that lasts more than one afternoon is too long for me.  It's true what they say you know.  It's not just the heat it's the humidity.  You would be wise to look not only at the temperature but the humidity index before leaving your house.  I am concerned about what July will bring if this is what June has to offer.

Today as I rushed my cold milk and hamburger meat to the car from the grocery store a nice teen-aged bag boy said to me "be sure and stay cool!"  I told him to do the same and on my drive home I thought about that saying 'stay cool.'  Remember in high school when kids would sprawl that everywhere in your yearbook at the end of the year.  "Stay cool, and have a good summer" or the other good one was "stay cute and cool"  Like we were planning over the next 3 months to get ugly and lame.  As if someone who is truly cool can just turn their coolness off like that.  Are there nerd classes over the summer that I was unaware of?  And who in their right mind would enroll?

When I was a teenager I was convinced that my parents could teach that class.  They were so not cool.  They were old.  Super old!  My mother had no fashion sense and my Dad was loud and overly confident.  Now when I see old photos of them during that time period I think my Mom had the good sense to dress more classically (she ignored the fads thankfully), and my Dad's confidence was the essence of cool actually.  However at the time I vowed that when I had kids that I would strive to be a cool parent.  I would be Samantha from Bewitched.  I would be the Kool Aide mom that everyone wanted hosting the back yard sprinkler party.  I'd keep up with the styles and take my girls for pedicures.

Now that I have 5 kids and I am in my forties I have to say that being cool is totally overrated.  My 17yr old tells me how uncool I am all the time.  He berated me the other day for parting his hair on the side all through elementary school.  He claims he was too nice to let me know what I nerdy move that was.  Now he is not holding back and he lets me know how un-cool a side part is.  He refers to it as "church style" Who knew I could have such bad taste because of parting hair!?  I try telling my son that his baggy bottomed pants that hang too low are not cool but he has no confidence in my opinions.  He's no gangsta, but if he weren't wearing a shirt we'd all be seeing more that we care to.  Lets just put it that way.  I would love to find a way to restore his confidence in my sense of fashion, but I am afraid that time has passed.  Or perhaps parted, if you will.  Maybe I should have listened to all those classmates who wrote in my yearbook telling me to stay cool.  Between you and me, I've also struggled with staying cute.  In my defense the humidity really messes with my hair.

*update... Big Boy combed his hair this morning Julius Ceasar style.  All combed forward.  It's  especially ironic since my mother used to do this to me when I was 4,  and as a teen I looked at those photos and hated that style!  Very peculiar. indeed.

June 08, 2011

Sick Ramble

Starting this post with nowhere in mind to go.  Yesterday was hard.  I had a sick child and that is always hard.  Then I started to worry about her because she threw up so many times and had not peed all day.  She had been acting lethargic.  Thankfully she turned a corner around 4:00.  I had been running the boys to their music lessons and had left Middle Boy in charge of the sickling.  I also went to the grocery store thinking about how this could turn bad in a hurry and I loaded up on gatorade and sugar cookies to coax eating out of her.  When I arrived at home and found her on the toilet peeing I couldn't have been more pleased.  Then a fever started a couple hours later and my worry returned.  This morning she has eaten half a bowl of cereal so I am happy again.

Parenthood is so hard sometimes.  Worry, relief, anger, stress, guilt.  They are all a part of this job on a daily basis for me.  Then by the end of the day I am spent and so is my patience.  That's when things really get hard.  But I wake up the next day and the birds are singing and there's a gentle spring breeze coming through the window.  The checkbook just balanced and my boy who was so upset with me last night is out the door with smilles and 'I love yous' and I think I just might be able to go on.  Perhaps the library today.  Perhaps more strawberry picking before the heat gets too high.  Maybe the pool after school.  The possibilities of being a good Mom are endless.  And so (sigh) are the possibilities that I will mess up again and again.  Maybe I need to sit down and make a list of my blessings.  That always helps...

1-I am healthy
2-My husband loves me
3-God loves me
4-I have great kids
5-We have enough money
6-I can sing
7-I love where we live
8-Summer vacation is almost here
9-We will go to the beach
10-We can afford to have the area rug cleaned where Little Girl barfed up red strawberries


That's all for now.... I need to get someone up for school.

Hope your day is a good one!
Kelly

June 07, 2011

A Pet Peeve of Mine.....Don't Hand Me Your Stuff

Some of you may know that I come from a family of Dentists.  A long line of them actually.  As a Dentist's child we got zero candy in my house.  Captain Crunch never graced our breakfast table, and our Halloween stash was sold to our Dad for a nickel a piece.  We also had the unique opportunity to work in his office starting at a very tender age.  We would start at around 12 yrs or so emptying trash or filing charts.  We'd move up to answering the phones and confirming appointments.  Sometimes we just got paid to sit around and read People Magazine.  The salary wasn't much so I didn't feel too bad.

By the time I was old enough to assist my Father in dental procedures I was about 17 yrs old.  It was then that his impatient nature really stood out.  If you didn't have the right instrument waiting for him on time, his hand would make a grabbing motion as if to say "why isn't my hand full right now?!"  He didn't like waiting even half a second to have that explorer or plugger or drill placed in his anxious hands.  Efficiency was key with him.  Every thing is a race to my Dad.  Driving home for lunch was no different.  Choose the fastest lane and 'get ahead at every chance' was his motto.  Snap your fingers 3 times at the red light to make it turn green.  He was a terrible tail-gate driver.  We once got in an accident (surprise!) on the way home and then every day following that fender bender, when we would pass that same spot, my Dad would say "I remember when" referring to our accident.  My teenage self would roll my eyes but my 43 yr old self now smiles at the memory.

So you may think that I am going to say that his chair-side impatience drove me crazy, but that is not what I started to write about.  Although, yes that was bothersome at times, I understood that need for speed.  I actually love to be efficient if possible just like my Father.  Something that is part of my make up perhaps inherited from dear old Dad.  The thing that irritates me to all ends of the earth is people handing me stuff. This always reminds me of those assisting days.  When someone comes up to me and hands me something I get irritable.  Like, what am I?  Their own personal assistant?  My Dad used to do this with his wife a lot (it bugged her too) and I assumed he did it because he was accustomed to having an assistant in the dental office taking things out of his hands.  I notice this habit crosses over to children and their mothers as well.  Something as easily taken care of by the children will often end up in Mom's hands simply because she is there.  Because she is the lady of perpetual servitude.  Because when you shove something in someone's mid-section the instinct is to grab whatever is there kicks in, and kids will take advantage of that.

Most recently I was annoyed at this by my son at church.  It was at the end of stake conference and Big Boy had played his violin with the youth choir. He had disappeared to go and get his violin case and music binder that had been put in classroom somewhere.  When he came back we were sitting on a nearly empty bench waiting.  Instead of placing his binder on the bench (we were still in waiting mode for my husband...), he handed it to me.  I looked at him in a way that stated "are you serious?" as I placed it on the bench for him... one inch away from our transfer spot.  My look went right over his head as he then plopped the case in my lap.  I know, Moms are here to take care of things for their children but whatever happened to every kettle resting on it's own bottom?!  And how, HOW for heaven's sake can I teach this to my children?  Do I schedule an alone round-trip overseas flight for them somewhere?  Do I empty a box of cereal in the center of the floor and leave for a week myself?  Those seem like extreme ideas but these are extreme conditions right?

Or perhaps a better solution would be to decide to write about this pet peeve in the morning while my 2nd grade daughter completely gets herself ready for school.  I was, just now, so engrossed in writing this post that she picked out her own clothes, poured her own cereal, and made a lunch of "snacks" for herself.  Yes... I think blogging may just be the answer.  However this situation has led to another pet peeve of mine (maybe I have too many) and it is this...

See the ripped Life Cereal box?  It means a child opened it.... and it drives me nuts.
At least she attempted a tape repair to sooth her mother.

June 03, 2011

PE

When I was a PE student, back in the dinosaur age, the grading system must have been different than it is today.  You showed up, dressed for PE, participated (even participated poorly at times in my case), finished by pretending to shower with your towel wrapped around you at all times sticking your big toe in the water, rushing back out, and dressing as discretely as possible in a corner.  An easy A would be granted.  It's not that way any more.  At least it would seem that way for my son Little Boy.

This kid of mine is a straight A student.  I have never seen a kid (at least in my home) with such self motivation in school.  I think it has come from a lifetime of trying to keep up with his older brothers.  I have visions of him as a small boy chasing them down in the yard with his funny run.  We called it the 'chicken arm' run, and he was not the first in my family to have this left-side, bent arm-popping-out, phenomenon happen to him inexplicably with random timing while running.  And no, he no longer does the chicken arm run (which breaks his mother's heart), and which could possibly account for the struggle for an A in PE.  I just like to recall the run for old times sake.  The important part is the run to keep up with his brothers who usually left him in the dust back then.

He's just always had a drive to be like the big boys.  Which actually helped him with endurance and speed.  Today he can play lacrosse with Middle Boy and hang in there like a champ.  He can out run both of his brothers now because he just. doesn't. quit.  He's like the energizer bunny of the family.  He used to play amazing T-ball and coach pitch baseball.  He was the kid everyone would back up for when he would come to bat.  Then he decided he hated baseball when the kids started pitching instead of the coaches. More often the kids would be hitting the batter instead of properly pitching.  We endured that last season with him back in 4th grade and he never wanted to go back.  Even though his team made it to the finals (and won), he decided baseball was not for him.  We moved on to running which he enjoys and he doesn't have to doge baseballs.

So you can see why I would be confused by this PE teacher who is so tough on him.  Last semester it was the only B he got and it irked me that his perfect GPA should be marred by a B in PE.  Now I am not usually one of those parents who has to hover over a kid making sure that no imperfect grade comes home.  I am usually pleased with a B.  But not in PE!  I started thinking "what does this guy have against my kid?"  I let it go.  Time passed and we ended up in the same boat this past quarter (all A's and one B in PE).  This time we actually got a note from his teacher on the report card stating that Little Boy is too social in class.  So it's not related to his ability in PE but that he has been getting under the coaches skin by not giving him the attention he feels he deserves.  Maybe that is okay to knock down grades for talking, maybe the coach is being a jerk.  I don't really know, but it seems to be coming more into focus.  So I had a chat with Little Boy and told him to keep his mouth on pause during PE.  He assures me he has been doing this.  His grade has stayed the same, a high B.

Today I emailed the teacher... tell me what you think.

Hello
My son has a high B in your gym class.   He is a straight A student and seems to only get B's in gym.  He has tried to stop being social in gym since we saw your note.  Is there anything he can do to tip his grade up during the final exams?  

He is not usually athletically challenged.  He is my 3rd boy and usually keeps up with his brothers just fine.  I am a bit confused by his grades in gym.  

Thanks
Kelly T


I have no idea if I will be ruffling feathers here but I figure, it's the end of the year, he will hopefully get another coach next year for PE, and even if he now grades more harshly during Little Boy's final we will still most likely have the B we started with.  I just wanted to let the coach know I have my eye on him and his unfair non-A giving tendency here.  I have no idea how these PE teacher's minds work.  But I can make a guess.... Here's my guess, he's thinking "those Math teachers think they are so great with their interactive promethean boards after school tutorials and their make up exams.  My subject is just as important for creating all around good citizens of this nation.  I'll show them a thing or two about PE.  This class will be so hard to get an A in.  I'll show them all!  I will finally get the respect I deserve around here, my new whistle I put in for hasn't even come yet.  This old rusty thing I've been using could give me tetanus!"


After I sent this email this morning I asked Little Boy to ask around in class and see who is getting A's in the class.  I asked him again if he had been giving the coach his attention like he should.  I wanted to make sure before going to bat for him like this.  Now I just have to wait to see if the ball will be aimed at me next and be ready to dodge.

June 02, 2011

What Once Was Mine

video

An appropriate thing for her to be singing on a Sunday morning 
considering this is what she did to herself about a month ago....

Oh if we could only make the clock reverse...