Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Go on. Pass the cookies.

Well, nothing says CHRISTMAS like a hole in your face.  So, I've heard.  It turns out that the boy needed a minor surgical procedure in his mouth region, which has subsequently resulted in scads of "cool, soft foods," which is just 'bout the antithesis of Christmas-Christmas-joy-joy foods.  Case in point: HOT chocolate...not COOL chocolate. Marshmallows bobbing in chocolate milk just doesn't have that warm and fuzzy vibe.  But he's all fixed and recovering, so let's cookie on, shall we?

Actually, he ditched us (ibuprofen and ice pack in hand) to watch the Star Wars movie with his dad this morning while the girls and I whipped up (another) 4 kinds of cookies.  This brings our freezer total to 10 different kinds of cookies.  A veritable feast of riches for what will be 11 people.  One of whom is 9 months old.  I'm still working on that 11th kind cause who wants to share when we can each have our own two dozen cookies?

(My lightbulb is popping at me.  Is the electricity on the fritz now?  Can we just continue the general falling-apart-y-ness that this house has been falling into lately?)

(I'm not that much of a dolt that I believe a burned out lightbulb indicates bad electrical work.  But it does feel like it's falling apart.)

(I'm looking sidey-eyed at you, toilet.)

It hasn't been ALL doom and gloom over here, folks.  I mean, I got to rip apart our bed like a savage to try to grab a snarly, snappy cat who DOES NOT TRUST THE TREATS OFFERED AT 8 AM. 

This actually was a bit more gloom.  I was being facetious.

After wrestling the cat not only out of my bedroom but also out of the door, he wailed to his little heart's malcontent all the way to the vet for his yearly physical (you should see the little kitty treadmill he has to run on to check out his feline heart!).  The following are all things that he did not "care" for:
1.  the vet- who is a super nice guy...our kitty boy isn't the best judge of character
2.  the vet's assistant
3.  the waiting room (sans any other pets, nonetheless!)
4.  the cold, aluminum examination table
5.  the smells
6.  the scale (though to be fair, who does?)
7.  the process of having his ears cleaned out
8.  the vet's hand.

The following is what he did not mind, whatsoever: his rabies shot.  That's right.  Did not mind.  (Cats were created differently than we were, actually.  Their skin/nerve situation is a bit different, which allows for no pain come shot time.)

This is our diabetic fuzzball, so having regular vet checks is pretty important with him.  But he transforms to something of a snarly coot when stressed to the max.  Case in point - when he was first diagnosed with diabetes about 20 months ago, he stayed at the vet's kitty spa facility overnight to be regulated and have some sort of blood performed.  However.  He was such a holy terror that the vet called me the next morning to say "Your cat is a hot mess and I feared for my life when in his presence."  (Or something like that.)

BUT!  He's more manageable when he hides his fuzzy little head in my armpit, thus delivering all sorts of rump space to the vet for his shot and some exam work.  AND!  This works well until the vet pricks him for a quick blood sugar and it turns out he's a gusher.  This turns me into a r-u-s-h-e-r to the nearest chair. 

For those of you keeping score at home, this was the SECOND time that I felt all fainty and such at the vet's office. 

Seriously.  Who does that? 

It turns out that our boy's diabetic woes seem to be returning, which means that we're probably going to have to deal with one of those emotional decisions sooner rather than later.  So that's really the gloom about this whole trip.  He was all perfecto on our last trip, so this is just a big 'ol bummer to have in the back of my mind. 

It helps a tiny touch to have you know, TEN VARIETIES of cookies lurking in my freezer right now.  I'm an emotional eater, and I'll be the first to admit it.  Rarely will I turn to a cookie for caloric nurturance, but when it's beginning to look like Christmas...EVERYWHERE I GO, then slap on a Kris Kringle cap and call me Santa. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's continuing to be too much Christmas...everywhere I look

I know that when I post bi-monthly, it doesn't seem as if I'm all in on this blogging thing.  Yet, for what it's worth, it's on my mind at least once a day. 

So is scavenging for chocolate.

I'm LOL-ing too at the notion that I only think of chocolate once a day.  It gives the boy a definite run for its money on which is truly first in my heart. 

(See, now I've thought about chocolate again.  And I thought of the boy because he walked by me as I was searching for a devotion of similar proportion.  I think I've actually proven something here.)

Here's the true story of the day: I wrote this blog two days after the last one.  It's not this.  I've written this again.  Imagine that.  (Maybe if I stuck it in an oak barrel, it would age better.  Maybe my fruit is too far gone.  Maybe I'm just muttering to myself over here.)

I want to take a few-teen moments to drone one wax poetic about how I'm over Christmas.  Permanently.  The end.

Not the end.  This crochety old lady just wants to make a joke.  Of course I have to ramble for a while.

But...I really am over Christmas.  I could miss every single part of the Christmas season and not care a biggity bit.  I'm a fan of a candlelight Christmas Eve service and 1 day of lux foodstuffs.  THE END.

Friends, I'd much rather pack up the girl-childs and the boy-man and disappear for say four days/three nights at a scenic and posh B&B, maximizing the all-the-coffee-and-hot-chocolate-you-can-drink options as well as linen-napkin-breakfasts and a bit-o-different-scenery.

To clarify: My first choice is always to fall off the grid but in a refined and pampered sort of way.

To clarify again:  We never have.

But here we are, over half-way through Advent, which means daily Advent-y activities, craftily hidden each night for the minis to find in the morning.  Admittedly, while I don't think that I would miss this tradition if we didn't do it again, I don't mind it either.  BUT THAT'S IT, CHRISTMAS!  I REALLY AM DONE WITH EVERYTHING ELSE.

Except the chocolate that's in my stocking (which I did not hang as I purposefully was not in the house when that mind-boggling abomination of a process went down).  I'm not done with that.  And the Elder has loose lips when it comes to things that she's really excited to give me for Christmas.

The end. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

It's not easy being grey

Shout out moment #1: Props to my hairdresser, Ashley, who I ran into for a quick second today on an unexpected errand.  I've no doubt that she was thinking "Well, she's just throwing money down the drain, I guess..." when she did a quick glance at my short, unwashed hair scraped back into a 3-inch ponytail.  She, however, looked gorgeous as usual.  Some of us just don't have those skills. 

Shout out moment #2:  Here's looking at you, mini maple cinnamon rolls that just came out of my oven.  They are pillowy, not too sweet, warm and utterly divine.  And I've eaten three in less than 5 minutes. 

So back in the day, when I was working full-time and was maintaining some semblance of a "work" wardrobe and an "everything else" wardrobe (i.e. yoga pants and free t-shirts from college), I spent a few moments here and there making sure that I had some variety in what I had at my disposal to wear.  But I also gloried in the school's colors, which allowed me to wear red and BLACK every Wednesday and sometimes in between.  Just as often as possible, actually.  I do know that I would sometimes get to Thursday on any given week and make myself wear some brown pants and something not black so as no to go monochromatic for the week.  Obviously, my work color of choice is black, black and bring on more black.

Well, now.  I'm still coasting on that established work wardrobe, a few years later.  (And I still make myself suffer through something that's not black on an occasional class so as to give some false allusion of cheer and goodwill.  Or something.)  But now, well good gravy, who gives a rip what I wear toodling around town in chauffeur mode or mid-week grocery trip mode or (my favorite) working at my favorite coffee spot mode? 


It turns out that I've essentially eliminated color from my clothing diet.  In my regular rotation, I have seventeen GREY t-shirts/sweaters/sweatshirts, five BLACK shirts/sweaters, and six ANY OTHER COLOR.  (And that's not counting those three, free grey t-shirts from college.  I still wear those, too.)  (Or the two grey sweatshirts that I wear to sleep in.  SWEATSHIRTS TO SLEEP IN, people.  There's just about nothing that makes me crankier than being cold.)

That's a tick under 79% of my clothes are either grey or black.

And now, when I fold laundry, rare is the time when my pile of shirts are not all grey.

Who loves g-r-e-y that much?  The Elder either doesn't believe me or scoffs at me when she asks me what my favorite color is and I promptly reply "grey."  A college friend who is now a general practitioner for indigenous workers immediately snorted and then said made an "Oh, you're serious..." sound when I pointed at what I was wearing and said "Grey is my favorite color."  What college has GREY as one of its school colors?  NO ONE.  Very few.  Schools would rather be putrid combinations of yellow, orange and green before allowing the fighting GREYmen to take the field.

But now that I think of it, the "fighting GREYmen" is reminiscent of the Civil War.  (Perhaps there's some logic there.)

Color me what you will, I am embracing my love of all things grey.  Except the interminable grey skies in winter.  Those bite big time.  But that's about it, 'cause I love grey and grey goes with everything.  Cheers to that.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A few quick thoughts about a few happy things

So Thanksgiving happened this week.  You may have been aware of that already, but I like to put this in context.

(I had a blog ready to go that was chock-full-o-hilarity, but now it's the witching hour of the evening, and I'm no longer in that mood.  Apparently, I'm sentimental and smarmy at this time of night.  But the hilariously written post will come some time.  I'll let you decide which one it is in the future, just in case our ideas of "hilarity" don't overlap.  That's feasible.)

My children.  Bless their hearts.  I'll laugh heartily if you suggest that I surely want another baby around the house.  'Cause I don't.  My two snuggle bugs are enough for me yesterday, today and tomorrow.  And they definitely put the THANKS in my seasons.

I'm loving the way the Elder helps the Younger keep track of her score during family games.

I had to swallow the belly laughs when one of my children (identity protection) walked into the glass door of the milk case when she was in hot pursuit of some chocolate milk at the grocery store this morning.  

I watched in awe at the amount of food one child can eat: fifteen slices (give or take two) of cucumber along with a cookie for an afternoon snack (healthy balance? holiday indulgence? natural flavor combination?) a mere two hours after eating a large lunch.  She paused as she was finishing the last slice of cucumber, looked at me and said "I think I'm full." 

(Lest you mothers-o-boys think you have full authority over children who eat like ravenous beasts, this daughter of mine...she has her moments.)

I smiled to myself hearing the Younger admit that "I have sleepy eyes" after we left my grandmother's house on the way home after a day of family and food.  Sure, every kid probably says this.  But they only say it for a while.

The boy has been transferring documents and cleaning up his side of our mess of an organizational method for all things technology as we've been getting my new tech digs up and running.  (stroke of luck - frying old laptop just prior to big sales on all things technology)  There's a folder on my desktop right now that I spent about 30 minutes reveling in just this afternoon of videos that he uncovered from his side of our virtual closet.  The Elder and I cuddled our way through various dance moves, calls for "Smile!" and renditions of "Baa, baa, black sheep."  We marveled out how round and bald the Younger's face/head was.  We laughed at the little shimmies and jives.  We chuckled heartily at one particular video of happy the Younger instantly turning into irate the Younger when the boy took her from sitting to "standing," presumably to show of a newly acquired skill.  We lost about 3 months of pictures of the girls that were not backed up on the old laptop in the Great Coffee on Laptop Debacle 2015, so to have these handful of videos surface soothed this mama's heart.

And then, there was Thanksgiving Play 2015.  Our two nieces (11 and 10) are fast buddies and started something of a tradition a few years ago of sequestering themselves in the basement of my parents' home and throwing together a hodge-podge play that typically has negligible plot and copious amounts of giggling.  They obviously love doing it as we've been treated to these performances at every major holiday for a couple of years now.  And this year it expanded for the first time to include our nephew (7) and the Elder (6).  (The Younger (3) made a cameo at the beginning, but this was getting close to her normal downtime, and then she found my lap more enticing than her stage role.)  Friends, we were treated to an entire re-enactment of the story of the Pilgrims from the time they were in England to the first Thanksgiving, including some traditional pioneer garb that my mom happens to have, which functioned as Pilgrim-esque in a pinch for the oldest two.  Even better, my two peanuts were decked out in a couple of my old dresses from when I was roughly 5 and 8, which obviously suffice as appropriate garb from ye olden times.  There was laughter (lots of it), there were mock tears (pre-teens know a thing or two about histrionics), and there was that glorious first Thanksgiving feast.  Unfortunately, we were informed after the conclusion of Act XIII (the finale, of sorts) that this was in fact not a comedy but rather a drama.  There will likely be a Christmas 2015 play coming soon to a basement theater near you me when I will have another chance to practice my straight face.   

But, until that time comes, I should probably practice my exercising face or at the very minimum my I-do-have-some-will-power-over-food face. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Talking dollars, the American kind

Someday, we'll look back at this and laugh.  Someday...

No, we won't.

This kinda bites in the "Honey, I got in a fender bender and the other person doesn't have insurance" sort of way.

Fifteen pounds of rice and 48 hours later, the computer is D-E-A-D.  My paid-for-with-grant-money, 1 terabyte of memory, touch screen, 17-inch, 1-year old, doodled-on-with-a-marker laptop is no longer with us.  I'll let you all know about the specifics of the memorial service soon.  (Or not.)

Actually, I don't think that it would want me to attend, since I was the one who committed computeracide and all.  But don't worry.  "Dell's" mom wrote an emotional letter and tearfully read it to me in open court, forgiving me of my wrongdoings and negligence.  It chokes me up just thinking about it.

(This is taking me a long to type 'cause the boy is yapping at me about a groupon deal for a hotel and dining credits for $79/night at Niagara, Ontario.  But the dining credits are in Canadian dollas.  So we have to factor in that exchange rate.)

Well, the month that will not end continues to become uglier.  I added a couple of doctor's appointments and a swing-by trip to the mechanic for a "quick" oil change during my few unimpeded grading hours.  Which means that I plan out my grading times by the minute.  Which means that I can't afford to give up any more time.  Which means that I can't go freaking spilling my beautiful cup of my favorite coffee ON MY COMPUTER.

There's annoyances, and then there's don't-mind-me-I'm-just-going-to-go-binge-eat annoyances.  This was the latter.

And as I've been working through the YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME moments, I keep thinking off all of those real dollars (American, not Canadian ones) that I'm taking out of our real checking account that is actually dependent on those real dollars (also American, not Canadian) being there in order to be real-ly not overdrawn.

1.  I may have gotten a ticket for passing another car within 100 feet of an intersection around 9:30 on a weeknight after working all day and attending class that night because I just wanted to be home and not behind this inane driver and we were out in the middle of no-man's-Midwesternville and who knew that was a law?  I didn't.
2.  I also didn't know that I could defer that for a lesser fee.
3.  That might all have been hypothetical if you're reading this, Mom.
4.  I may have hit some black ice and driven through a fence also in the middle of no-man's-Midwesternville and "totaled" our car.
5.  I summarily drove the "totaled" car to my friend's house, stayed there for a few hours, and then drove it 2 hours home.  Insurance has a different understanding of "totaled" than I do.
6.  That wasn't hypothetical.  Mom already knows about it.
7.  And now I chucked a perfectly good computer figuratively out the window as if dollars don't matter.

Well, they do, my friends.  They do.

And they also matter when you've recently replaced a faucet (again) and a garbage disposal (again) and want to replace flooring (not again) and want to pony up for someone else to do it this time cause your marriage may need counseling if you do it on your own (again).

There's only so many dollars to throw around willy-nilly on gee-gaws.  And tomorrow or maybe the next day, I'll find a fresh pair of big-girl-pants and put 'em on.  Until then, I need to get off the boy's work computer so that he can whip out ye-olde-credit card and purchase one of them there computer thingies.  But, they're priced in American dollars.  So that's a plus.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Move over Sunday drivers; I just want soup!

I've been thinking about what to write next for a few days now.  I had this entire blog post laid out in my mind as I was grocery shopping a few days ago.  So apparently, it's come to that.

I was going to write about how I had to have been the only 30-40-something female in that entire store with no children.  I was going to write about how there were easily more men there of the same approximate age than women.  I was going to write about how the "Sunday driver" concept extends to the cereal isle.  But, good gracious, I'm not going to write about that.  Or something.

Suffice it to say that I can mentally multi-task while pondering pineapples and kiwis.  But it's not always (ever?) fabulous. 

But here is something that is fabulous: that warm pan of apple crisp sitting on my stove right now.  And today will forever more be known as the-day-I-ate-too-much-warm-apple-crisp-and-then-realized-that-there's-at-least-1/3-of-the-pan-gone.  Of course that has often happened with a pan of warm brownies but never with apple crisp before.  I'd say that the Younger helped, but really, she mostly picked off the crispiness and ate a token chunk of apple here and there to satisfy my watchful eye. 

It's a task sometime to hold one's food neuroses in check when watching one's child eat.  If my daughters grow up to resemble anything close to "normal" eaters, it won't be for lack of my own nail biting and teeth grinding.

Both girls have a stuffed up nose right now, and there has been some amount of groaning about woe and the unfairness of it all.  Trying to create a bit of a teachable moment in our conversation, I replied to the Elder that "Chicken soup has been proven to be as effective for colds than actual medicine.  So it's pretty crazy that chicken soup is like medicine!"  Not to be hoodwinked, the Elder promptly replied "Yeah, that's like medicine I don't like." 

Neither of my daughters have the soup gene.  I weep salty tears for them and all that they don't understand.

And then I make soup whenever I want.  They grumble and moan even though they actually do enjoy a soup here and there.  I ignore them because SOUP IS IN MY BOWL.  They survive on crusty bread.  And then I finish their bowls.  Repeat.

I have enchiladas on the docket for tonight, but now I want soup.

Thanks, blog.

(No, enchilada soup would not fly with these two sprouts.)

I've been grading too much lately, obviously, if all I can blather on about is soup.  And olders taking up the whole dadgum aisle while moving as fast as my children do when I tell them that "Dinner's ready...we're having soup!" 

I think that the entire point of opening up a fresh post today was to tell everyone maybe someone who reads this that the Younger prays for her bellybutton EVERY NIGHT when I put her to bed.  She doesn't do this with the boy, though, because some things are better left between just the girls and God.

Me:  What do you want to pray for tonight?
Younger:  Beds.  Fans.  Windows.  Hugs and kisses.  And my bellybutton.  Dear God, thank you for beds, fans, windows, hugs and kisses, and my bellybutton.  Because I love them.  A-men."

Let's add soup to that list and AMEN, indeed.

Monday, November 2, 2015

I'll smile about that

First things first:  I am nothing short of thrilled that Halloween is over.  My favorite part was definitely right here -
...I mean, those faces.  I can't get enough of Cleopatra's toothless wonder grin, and our resident veterinarian always smiles like this when you get a camera and pose her.  Fab.

And now, the weather is all "Let's not get to hasty about winter coming."  To which, I say, alright, I'll give you one more wintery season if you let me have just these few weeks of pseudo-September weather.  But in actuality, it's too little too late.  I'm done with you winter and northern states.  D-O-N-E.  I could use my degrees here, OR I could turn barista somewhere (anywhere, please) else and call it a better day.

Plus, if I get stuck in one more snow drift at the end of my driveway/on my street/in my subdivision, I will quite literally prove that humans can likewise hibernate all winter long.

Oy vey.  I'm staring at a truly weather-perfect day outside, and I'm grumbling about winter.  (Feel free to not read this again until about April, when I may snap out of my misery.)

I've gotten off topic here a bit; I'm pretty sure that I really want to grumble grumble grumble about the curse that is DST.  Blergh.  As I typed that last sentence, I realized that well whaddya know, I'm sure that I've already growled about this before.  So I shall leave it at this:

Give me more sun in the afternoon, and my diabetic cat doesn't like the change in his feeding schedule.

And with that, I shall harrumph no more about this on here.  Instead, let's talk about an obviously related topic - beachfront bargain hunting.

It turns out that more of HGTV is infiltrating Netflix.  Ergo, it is there, and I shall watch it.  Blimey, but I could live in a condo on the beach.  Why, yes, indeedy I could. 

Sure now, just you wait until there are children living with us no mas.

Stay tuned for more news on that happening.  I'll be back to update you on this development in about 19 years.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Wikipedia diagnosis


They're so often great.  And then they diagnosis your mental health using Wikipedia.

Good news:
There very well may be a reason why I'm so mental about noisy things.

Bad news:
The prognosis seems to be classical conditioning, which seems to be what I've been doing for 10 years now with this social experiment called "marriage."

The boy heard about this issue called misophonia on the radio the other day and promptly found out more about it on this snazzy little site (you may have heard of it?) called Wikipedia.  In my line of work, this is something we call "not a valid source."  However, we're functioning outside of the boundaries of my classroom here, so I guess all is fair in love and mental health. 

Proof for diagnosis:
*I hate the sound of chewing and drinking, especially when I'm sitting there minding my own business and someone dares to join me at the kitchen table and chews
*I hate the sound of breathing.  This doesn't work well when you're married and have to endure sleeping in one bed.  I cannot stress this enough.  Sometimes, the is too much.  And then you feel like quite the horrible person asking the other person to stop breathing, thank you very much because good grief, you just want to go to sleep.
*Ticking clocks are horrid.  If you put me in a strange room with a ticking clock and ask me to sleep, you are asking to see what insanity looks like up close.
*Twitching is enough to send me over the edge.  The boy has this particular downfall when he is in a car.  I'll take my car and you can twitch in yours.  Please and thank you.
*Sniffing makes me want my own house, permanently.  Colds are wretched, wretched, wretched.  I'd rather be the only one who is sick rather than endure all of the sniffing, throat clearing and general hackiness of those who live with me.  It's hard to muster up any sympathy when all you feel is loathing.
*Whistling and tapping drive me batty.  And the boy is a whistler.  He's so patient when I maybe snap at him to STOP THAT INFERNAL WHISTLING/TAPPING BEFORE I TEAR MY HAIR OUT AND I MEAN IT, and I realize now that he's far to generous with putting up with me.

So.  Wikipedia - you may have something here.  Noises are right at the top of my I-can't-stand-it list.  As perfectly odd as this may sound, it's actually kinda nice to at least tangentially know that there's a reason why I feel downright nutso about inconsequential things.  However, there's doesn't really seem to be a cure.  Curses.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I need more Mondays

Well I've been stuck in something of a perfect storm with lousy timing on assignments due and new classes starting.  It's gotten to the point that once I can turn the computer off, I don't even want to doodle around.  It's hard to blog when the computer is off, it seems.

It also turns out that it's downright difficult to turn in assignments for some people.  The adult kind of people, that is.

(Yes, I know that my students have things like jobs and kids to distract them from school.)

(Yes, I wished my class took precedence over everything.)

(Yes, I'll give the extension.  I'm not totally inhuman.  I just think grumpy thoughts as I cheerfully smile when you tell me that you couldn't find even one minute in your week to turn in one assignment.)

So it turns out that my 30s have been quite the enlightening decade for me thus far.  I've had some AHA moments.

1.  It was just within the past couple of years as I was waxing poetic (ba-dum-ching) about Sylvia Plath that I realized that "Sticking your head in the oven" is not a gruesome burn-your-face-off kind of suicide as I guess I always thought but a turn-on-the-gas-and-go-to-sleep kind of suicide.  I grew up with an electric oven in the house.  This never occurred to me before.

2.  I don't like weekends all that much.

3.  I don't like Halloween at all.

4.  I'm not even a fan of Christmas.

5.  I'm obviously a cyborg.

That's right, folks.  I'm not normal.

We were over at ye-olde-in-laws' house to celebrate my father-in-law's 60th birthday when my mother-in-law kind of sighed and said something to the effect of "I wish the weekend would just last longer."  Being the dutiful little conversationalist, I quickly agreed before realizing I'm a downright LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE (gas stove, style, naturally).

I've known for a couple of years now that there's a reason the words "Saturday," "Sunday" and "weekend" don't do a single thing for me.  But I've never up and admitted my apparent flaw to anyone else (except the boy, and he's, you know...the he knows everything already).  It's hard to make such scandalous claims aloud in public for one and all to hear and react to.

It's those darn reactions that I just don't want to have to deal with.

MIL:  I wish the weekend would just last longer.
ME:  Oh, goodness, I don't.  Bring on Monday!
MIL:  [crickets]  I don't understand you, but you're obviously wrong.  Or a cyborg.
ME:  Well, the truth had to come out some time, didn't it?

It's just like when I have the audacity to make such shocking claims as "I don't want any more children" while holding a snuggly little drooler.  Do you know what the reaction is to that little stink-like-a-dirty-diaper bomb?  "Oh, yes you do."

Really.  Do tell.

Every time, folks.

So you just learn to keep little bits to yourself.  But this here blog thing is mostly a one-sided conversation between me and my one and only reader the Internet.  So I'll state it here once more, loud and clear: I don't really like weekends.  I despise Halloween.  I don't really get all that excited about any holiday.  And, I dread Christmas.

This is my truth, such as it is.  Welcome back, Monday (I missed you).


Friday, October 9, 2015

The one with the dreams

This is when I'm finally going to admit that when I have a hard time falling asleep at night (which for me is about 5 minutes after turning the light out...if it's not instantaneous, then I get all irritated and irrational), I do this thing where I start writing a blog post in my head.  Sometimes that helps me fall asleep.  Let's all just chew on that for a hot minute.  My "writing" puts me to sleep.  Well.

This is also when I'm going to talk about a couple of dreams that I keep coming back to this week.


I went through all of this with the boy the other night, and he then paused and said "You're really bothered by this."  I am.

You see, school shootings (yes, friends, there was another one after the one in Oregon already) bother me quite a bit.  The boy is in a school.  My daughters are in school settings.  I work in a couple of schools.  And, while this frequently occurring spate of school violence is not relative to just this very moment, I've also never dreamed about it before.  I personally feel as if the pendulum of extreme violence in schools shifting to the collegiate landscape. The random classroom where the Oregon violence began was a college writing class.  The first person shot was a college instructor.  It was at a community college.  Check...check...check. 

In my dream, I was back in a high school setting, but not in any school that I have taught in before, nor with anyone whom I knew.  The vivid aspect of the dream comes from the face-to-face encounter between those of us inside the school and the shooter, separated by a wall of glass.  I don't know why he didn't try to come inside.  I don't know why we were at that location in the school (and entrance/exit point).
I have never felt fearful that this situation would actually happen in any of our schools, but oh, my heart is increasingly heavy that this happens and often.  In any context.


The other night, the boy and I were chatting about a colleague/former colleague whose wife quit her job due to mounting frustration.  The colleague then found himself awake somewhere in the realm of 4 a.m. and happened upon a temporary position, which he then applied for on behalf of his wife.  She was hired within a day or two and is much happier for her new situation.

My stars.  Sometimes, you have faith that is seemingly validated immediately.  Sometimes, your faith seems to be nothing more than spitting in the wind.

That night, I dreamed that my spitting turned into validation.  And it felt SO good in that fuzzy half-dream/half-wakefulness. 

And then it was nothing, no more concrete than finding myself caged with a dozen students.  There has been some melancholy hangover associated with both of these dreamscapes, but that (mercifully) is all.      

I don't know how to finish this thought process, really.  It's not a finished and done kind of a thing, no more than a scab indicates that a cut is fully healed.  So, I'll just end with this: I so very much hope that you feel your purpose and are living it out, come what may.  And if you need to act on faith, I hope that you have a hand to hold, too.  That helps immensely, it turns out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A little bit goes a long way, so I've been told

I'm just about ready to chuck my laptop out of the house and defy any more efforts of grading.  I'm so very, very over it.  And do you know what I least want to do after hours of grading?  Blogging.  I've been a drag anyway, so there hasn't been much to share.

But today, I'm celebrating something in my month, here on the last day of September: I've caught up with it all.  The sun did come out today (I'm part cat, you know...the sun is very important to me), I'm luxuriating in a second cup of chocolate velvet for no other reason than it's delicious, I figured out a good amount of a crossword puzzle, and I have a purring furball keeping me company.  I need these kinds of days to happen upon occasion.  I'm also foreshadowing what I'll be writing about when I'm old and stodgy, I'm sure.

So it turns out that turning 32 has also given me an idea of what middle age is all about for me.  This includes sore calves after bouncing my nephew to sleep and whacky hormones.  It turns out that I'm out of putting-a-baby-to-sleep shape.  Or else I need to give up chatting while bouncing cause I was downright winded for a few minutes.

Don't be suggesting any silly ideas like "Oh, you obviously need another one."  I will hand you a bar of soap to go wash that mouth out.

Maybe you just need to produce something for me to rock.  And then I'll hand it back to you.  That's what I call a symbiotic relationship, baby nurturing style.

I could be this woman.

I could not happily be this woman.

(Why yes, I did Google that.  And why don't we talk more about the proliferation of nouns-turned-verbs in our common parlance today?)

My two are quite enough.  And I have it on record that the Younger will never stop hugging and kissing me.  She's promised me.  Under duress.  But still...a promise is a promise.  (I haven't forced this admission out of the Elder yet, but I'm still working on her.)

So it turns out that life doesn't work out well for every kid.  Sometimes little munchkins are stuck in unfortunate or problematic situations.  And it also just so happens that I'm fully capable of helping some kid somewhere, somehow, some way.  So I'm going through the process of becoming a court appointed advocate for children who have been abused and/or neglected in order to be a voice on their behalf.  I know that I'm coming into this with some serious self-imposed blinders on.  But I've been struggling with the need for change in my life for quite a while now.  I feel as if I've been trying to do so, but I've not found my for this moment calling yet.  I'm thinking pretty hard that this is it.

I don't think that I'll have the chance to rock anyone to sleep (it's one of my best auntie skills), but I'm downright positive that there's many a way we can provide comfort and security for a child who needs it.  And need is so prevalent around us.  I have some time and the desire to help; I need to use that energy on someone other than myself.  So I figure, it's just like what the Younger told me this morning as we were crafting at story time: "A yittle bit goes a yong way."  


Friday, September 18, 2015

Nothing "new" around here


I feel like the stars are aligning and singing some melodic version of Kumbaya to me about this topic I'm going to continue harping on.  Following my "wildly successful" post a few days ago, I just came across this write-up and new blog.  Even if I stay home all the live long day, I do not escape consumerism, what with the prevalence of online shopping (of which I am quite the fan when those magical words "free shipping" are whispered in my ear).  I think that I have somewhere around 4 or 5 shops, whether brick and mortar or online exclusively, that bombard my inbox with "15% off everything that is gray, a size small or will be out of date in two months!" and "You don't want to miss this because you always need more jeans!" sales.  You know how it goes: Buy one thing one time from a company and you immediately get put on their email onslaught list. 

I stay on a handful of these email lists just because every now and again, I need to slap a new size of clothes on my kids.  So most days (let's say 98% of the time, which both sounds about right and sounds pretty good), I delete these before opening.  However, since 7: An experimental mutiny against excess has entered my mind, I can't shake it.  Just in these few weeks, I've been trying to be even more conscious of not just how I'm spending my dollars but more importantly WHY I'm spending them. 

Experience trumps stuff for me, always (other than a good bar of chocolate, which is always some stuff that I can demonstrate some genuine joy to receive).  And when my daughter was lamenting the choices in her dresser drawer just the other day and said "There just needs to be more options!" we had what you might call a teachable moment right there (which we all know is called a lecture again in 6-year old parlance). 

Right now, I don't really know how to wrap this up, and I have a sweet little something all warm and snuggly from her afternoon nap asking me to watch some Jake and the Neverland Pirates with her (which BEST THEME MUSIC OF ANY KID'S SHOW THAT WE WATCH), so I'm just going to drop this bunch of possibility in your lap and leave it there to chew on.  Wrestle with it, perhaps.  Think about how this may be not only a possibility but even more importantly a necessity in your life.  Two hundred days is a big old length of time, but who's to say that 2 weeks isn't feasible?  We never know until we try, right?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thoughts on 7

Before I get all soap-boxy (hopefully not too much) and introspective with some thoughts about Jen Hatmaker's 7: An experimental mutiny against excess, here are a few things that I do know.

1.  The weather is getting cooler.  In the drop-off line this morning, I watched two elementary aged kids hop out of their mom's car wearing jeans, regular shoes, long sleeved shirts (maybe jackets), and gloves.  The temperature gauge on my car said that we were enjoying some crisp, almost fall, and delightfully sunny 56-degree weather.  I looked at those (obviously) smart girls and then watched my own knuckle-head skip around the front of my car wearing her standard fare: flip-flops and a skirt.  The only concession to the cooler morning was a long-sleeved t-shirt.  We need to move to a warmer climate, and it needs to happen NOW, if only so that I don't have to wrestle a reluctant 6-year old into clothing that touches her skin for the next 9 months. 

2.  That same 6-year old has been creating page after page of gems with a new set of metallic markers over this past weekend.  She's branched out beyond her standard fare of suns, flowers, stick figures, and buildings.  Friends, she has started to write poetry.  This stuff is SO GOOD that I have share one with you (reproduced verbatim, though I can't figure out how to emulate the fancy squiggles & stars decorating the page).

I Like
to LISN!
Lisn to me
Lisn to me
sis and [scribble scribble scribble]
and mom and
Dad I am a

That's some solid work for a kid who knows that she's the oldest.  The good news: We still have a few years to work on that understanding of "self" versus "others."  The better news:  She's just the spittin' image of her father, from what I hear and witness myself; he's a pretty solid individual now, so we have high hopes that she's going to figure it out eventually. 

3.  The BMV isn't open on Mondays.  That's another reason to loathe you, BMV.

And, now - 7: An experimental mutiny against excess.  I came across this at the recommendation of one of my favorite bloggers (and since I read everything she writes, we're basically best buds), and oh, but I was not disappointed.  So much of this idea mirrors that which I admire but don't often have the guts to go through with myself.  'Cause here's the thing, folks:  Jen Hatmaker's premise of giving up things in our lives is the SUB-PLOT, the minor point throughout the narrative.  What's really going on is her experiment with chucking all of that materialism and inward focus, which is what society (largely driven by advertising, naturally) tells us we SHOULD do.  When's the last time we've questioned why we're buying from a certain store or what it means to feed ourselves (to excess) first before we moan and moan about feeding our neighbors?  There's some amount of strength right there to challenge just about all of our daily habits in order to figure out the why of it all in order to understand the reality of consuming as we do.

The premise of Jen's book is that she challenged herself primarily, though her family did participate quite a bit, to fast from seven different areas of consumption in their "normal," middle-class, suburban lifestyle.  She fasted in regards to each category for one month at a time.  Some of these areas really caused me to question my/our own levels of consumption, namely that which pertains to clothing, food, and spending habits. 

Clothing: Jen chose just 7 articles of clothing out of the 300+ that she had in her closet to wear for one month.  Would it shock us into truly considering our needs if we each counted every article of clothing (socks & underwear notwithstanding)?  Would that cause us to adjust our consumption of clothes for the sake of having more/cuter/better clothes?

Food: Jen chose just 7 foods to eat for one month.  Who among us would be able to withstand this choice for more than two or three days?  Consider how variety has become such a necessity in our lives. 

Spending habits: Jen's family chose just 7 places to spend money (with an emphasis on local) for one month.  Honestly, I think that this would be the easiest of the three to contend with for an entire month.  And, for that matter, I could spend at just five places for an entire month pretty happily.  But if I were to adjust my spending to shop more locally, eschewing the box store in favor of spending power, then a pinch that would be.

The 7 fast corresponded with the timeline that Jen's family was living as they began an adoption process for two children from Ethiopia, so quite a bit of what Jen was learning about her family was contrasted against the changes that were coming for them, a diet of sorts before they were face-to-face with some of the physical reason for why Jen was feeling the disgust of the circumstances of her family's living. 

Her work also has begun a thought process for me (and us as I've shared a lot of what was impressed upon me with the boy) about how do we give until it pinches?  Should we do so?  How can we do so?  And, most importantly, why should we do so?

I feel the intense pressure to conform when sitting through a kid's birthday party, walking into the local Target for "one or two things" and even flipping through the newspaper.  Consumerism drives our lives in sometimes unexpected ways.  It is a jealous mistress and a controlling one.  We don't have this all reckoned with yet for how we want our family to actually engage with consumerism, for how we should be consumers, but I think that we're working on it.  We don't have to wholly fast (though I can truly believe that there's a whole lot of power in this act) in order to still understand ways that we an and should be more responsible and in control of our own consumption. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crawling out from under my rock

Well the last couple of weeks have not been my favorite ones ever.  My ear finally decided to cooperate and return to normal, thankyouverymuchfornothingear.  My boys of summer finally pulled out of a 12-game losing streak, whichbitthebigoneeverynight.  And, I've been fighting the "we're heading toward fall and therefore toward winter and we're still here here here here and we're never going to leave woe is me" pity party, andthatmakesmelessthanhappytobearoundoflate. 

So I've decided that you can be perfectly content with life in general while also feeling wretched wretched wretched about a specific part of your life.  And that's confusing for me.  It's not hard to put on a smile and talk with friends and generally enjoy moments out of my day, but then I can fall into an abyss quicker than I've ever thought possible just by thinking about what I'm most dreadfully failing at (and we're going on a few years worth of gets old). 

One minute I'm diving into somthing gooey and chocolatey, all warm and fuzzy inside.  And the next minute, I remember "Hold on there, girl.  No one wants you."  And just like that, I'm snivveling into Les Miserables, which, yes, irony (if only in title). 

By the way, I'm reading Les Miserables for the first time ever, and it's as if A Tale of Two Cities turned French and about three times longer.  I'm also readily admitting that I just glossed over about 8 chapters detailing the battle of Waterloo last night.  At this point, that information was expendable.  But otherwise, it's a worthwhile read.

Also by the way, do do do do read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  I forsee throwing down some thoughts about this soon.  This is a book that should leave a lasting impression, unless you're bound and determined to live under your little consumerism-driven rock.  And if so, then carry on.  (But please reconsider.  Thankyousomuch.)

And as a period on this rambling blabbing, I'm packing up two 3-year olds for our weekly gymanstics/tumbling trip.  I go with crossword puzzle in hand; it is very much one of my favorite times of the whole widey week.  I get a front-row view of 3-year olds tumbling around the gym like little nutballs, and I work to counteract the early-onset Alzheimer's that I feel plagues me at times. 

I may have left my purse, keys and iPad at my parents' over the weekend.  I was a solid hour down the road before I thought of them.  That spells winner.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

An adult sized ear infection

I have an ear infection.

I'm well into my 30s, and this is the second ear infection of my adult life.

This is the antithesis of good luck.  This bites BIG TIME.

So I used to have this misconception that ear infections were a childhood malady.  Now, I'm all grown up and I know better.  And here's where I add my public service announcement: Ear infections HURT and it's no wonder that children are grumpy.  Bless their little hearts, all of them.  Those kids can still play.  My kids often don't even tell me that anything is amiss, and then you feel like the ever living parent of the year when you take them in cause their sniffles or cough just won't go away and the doctor looks at you sideways and says "Well, both ears are bright red."  I don't know how they do it.

I'm not kidding here, but I was fighting big fat tears in the pharmacy parking lot yesterday and have been on the verge of calling my mother multiple times if for no other reason than it huuurrrrttttsss

I'm wandering into whiney-ville, so I'm going to reign that in a little and talk about "the trip to the walk-in clinic" that happened. 

After waiting an interminable amount of time, somewhere around the time it takes me to read a thick magazine (long enough for the Ibuprofen to wear off...color me a grumpy bear), I finally got my 3 minute check-in so I could get me some MEDS PLEASE!

Me:  I have an ear infection in my left ear.  I've had one before.  I know what it is.
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
Me:  No.  I don't like swimming.
Dr:  Do you have a sore throat?
Me:  No.  I don't have a cold.  I have an ear infection.
Dr:  Do you have a cough?
Me:  No...
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
Dr:  Does your chest hurt?
Me:  !!!  n-o...
Dr:  Which ear?
Me:  left
Dr:  Have you been swimming?
 Me:  Are you sure that you're not taking some meds?
Dr:  Oh!  Your ear is swollen!  [pulling on my left ear]  Oh, did that hurt?
Me:  Hand over the meds, lady!!!

That's about how the conversation went. 

But I'm not joking about getting asked if I've been swimming three times. 

And here are a few things I've discovered can actually be quite excruciating:
*saying "ahhhhhh"
*basically just opening your mouth at all
*turning your head
*holding your child, who inevitably bumps you in some terrible way
*washing your hair
*waiting another hour until you can take more Tylanol
*head banging (I jest)

I'm home alone today cause the family decided to ditch me/leave me to whiny misery and go visit with family members who are infinitely more amusing and amiable than I am.  Last night I told the boy that ear infections are hands-down worse than any labor I have ever experienced (of which neither were more than moderately painful), to which he responded "I understand."  Oh really, boy.  I appreciate the sentiment coming from the person who's not experienced either.  That was an admirable effort to say something where there was nothing really to say. 

I caught up on some work, and now I've got my non-chewable pudding and a crossword puzzle.  All things considered, that's a pretty good way to fight off an ear infection.     

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A day and a week, it has been

I just got an email from one of my daily deal companies with the subject "Romantic Getaway in Ohio Country."  Surely, OH SURELY, I'm not the only one who thinks "Well, nothing says 'romantic' like 'Amish Country'."  AmIright? 

Yes, but those Amish have big families.  Maybe there really is something in that idea...

I've got not much of anything to report, talk about, or generally mush about other than I'm full into three classes, and life is still life-ing along.  That's a pretty vague statement.  It can refer to finding a disgustingly bloody Kleenex in my bathroom's trash can first thing in the morning (and there's nothing better than "Wake up and start your day!" than blood in any variation).  It can mean that my child has obliterated three pairs of sunglasses in less than a month (and we're ever so serious about our eye protection around this house).  It can even mean how I'm up to my gills in spreadsheets and searches and blobbity blob blobbiness (blergh). 

I snuck outside pre-dinner when the girls were happy and healthy inside by themselves.  Mind you, "snuck outside" literally means walking about 6 feet outside the door with all of the windows and the screen door open.  I found those creepy little grey oblong bugs that frequent my zucchini (and apparently gourd) plants scurrying about with their creepy little progeny and was instantly inspired to rip the whole lot of vines up and out cause OH, the CREEPINESS. 

When I walked outside, the Elder was decked out in a Cleopatra Halloween costume with the wristlets from the One-Eyed-One-Horned-Flying-Purple-People-Eater costume for good measure.  The Younger was wearing just her undies as she was doodling away with markers.

I absolutely wasn't outside more than 10-15 minutes.  (Foreshadowing, people.)

When I came back inside, the Elder was "reading" The Three Billy Goats Gruff to the Younger using her copy of the New Testament.  She had stripped down, taken off her regular clothes, and re-dressed in the Cleopatra garb.  The Younger was snuggled down under my covers and schmoozing on my pillow with the Elder sitting on top of the bed beside her.  There was blue and green marker evidence on the Younger's tongue and lips.  And, we spent a frantic couple of minute trying to find a plastic cap from one of those little bubble containers that you bring home from a wedding that had been put up on a high shelf as I was pretty well convinced that the Younger had swallowed it given the cumulative inability to really tell me where it was.  The bubbles were absolutely dumped somewhere, and for right now, the girls have gotten away with that given the scare about the cap.  Update:  I found the cap; the kid's innards weren't compromised by that, though the "non-toxic" marker is a different issue.

Why does my 3-year old persist in putting all sorts of random bits in her mouth?

And so, it's been a day and another week is almost in the books.  I, for one, need a snack.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I organize because I anxietize

It's been whirlwind-ish around here, people.  This is and has always been my preferred level of energy.  There's no time to dwell in a funky state of being, and a perfect cup of coffee feels like a zen-like moment of Ahhh, which is how it should be. 

The full-on semester is sneaking up on me, which it always seem to do.  I teach two different lengths of courses, and one of them follows no traditional schedule, so I nearly always have a class going or on the horizon.  This also means that while I'm working my way through the requisite coursework with one group of students, I need to prep for another variety and group of students, and I rather enjoy the variability of that.  Yesterday was my HOLY GUACAMOLE, I NEED TO GET A MOVE ON! moment for the new courses beginning next week.  And, it turns out that the gods of academia have a lovely sense of humor because they blessed me with t-h-i-r-t-y students in one course that I have never ever ever ever taught before.  I counted last night, and supposing that every student turns in every assignment (which, obviously, won't happen...but let's pretend), there is around 500 individual assignments to be graded.  That's a bunch, friends.  That's a bunch.

So I have all of my natural anxieties of course preparation ramping up at the same time that I've been spiraling back down into my we-have-no-money-and-pretty-soon-we're-going-to-just-have-to-sell-everything-and-begin-again moments.  These finances, I tell ya - they have their ups and downs.  I'm fully entrenched in one of those downs that smells suspiciously of new car and a re-financed mortgage. 

But, good news good news good news, the author of one of my very most favoritest books of recent memory (the last several years at least) recently released a new book, We Never Asked for Wings, and oh but my I am looking forward to reading this one.  However, I'm about 200 pages into the 1,200 or so of Les Miserables, which I have never read though I have owned a copy for several years (about 10-15) now.  It's always been one of those that I've wanted to read but have never carved out the time for.  After the mad crush of summer reading ended a few weeks ago, I decided to dedicate roughly the next 6 months to this one given how slowly I'm working through it.

I'm pretty sure that this is how long it will take me at about 15 pages a night before I feel the whooziness of sleep a'comin'.

There's nothing like a good bit of misery to both take your mind off of the craziness of new courses as well as lull you to sleep.

Meantime, back in the daytime world, I made a simple change to our meal planning this month and craziness but it's made such a big change.  (This might or might not be all that fascinating.  I understand.  Read at your own peril.)  I have been and always will be the meal planner and preparer.  It is definitely more my skill than that of anyone else in this house.  Typically, I have spent a laborious hour or two on a Thursday thinking ahead to the next week, putting together a list, and all that jazz.  For some reason that was just a much a surprise to me as it might be to anyone else, I printed off a standard blank calendar page for August at the end of July and filled in an entire month of meals in one sitting.  And glory be but this has made a world of difference.  It's been much easier putting together a shopping list; I've thought about what we already have in the freezer and whatnot so much better; and I have yet (20 days into the month) gotten stuck in that 4:30 p.m., good-gravy-what-am-I-making-for-dinner-tonight?, funk.  And this has also helped tremendously on those nights when dinner is a wonky or rushed affair, like when I'm teaching.  You know what makes facing a class full of new faces armed with a whole slew of first-day-of-the-new-semester instructions feel relaxing?  Leaving the house right after dealing with picking up one child, unloading end-of-the-day things, refereeing/overseeing/playing with two rowdies, reviewing your own class notes, making dinner, eating dinner, and getting ready for class all before dropping that hot mess in the lap of the boy who just walked in the door before scooting out of it yourself.     

I do enjoy me some good organization in my life.

I also love me some days that are gorgeously sunny with relatively low humidity.  Like today.  Let's enjoy this one, mates.       

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Have kids, will buy car...just not today.

Here's the loosely translated exchange that happened yesterday or so in our house.

Us:  [with false enthusiasm] Hey, kids!  Let's go drive an hour to go look at a car that we might want to buy, but which we're not actually going to buy tomorrow!  Then, we'll have to probably load you back up and do it once more if we actually decide that we should buy it!  Doesn't that sound like f-u-n?!?

Kids:  [groan] Uggggghhhhh!!!

Us:  [with more false enthusiasm]  Yeah, will be F-U-N!!!

Kids:  [groan] What color is it?

Us:  White.  Or maybe dark blue.  Possibly even black.

Kids:  [groan] We want lavender!!!

Us:  [dropping all pretense of enthusiasm]  Well, no.

Kids:  [hitting on a brilliant idea]  Hey, Daddy could paint his car lavender then!!!

Us:  [feigning caring]  Well, no again.

Kids:  [starting to get testy]  WHY??!????!???!

Us:  [with the utmost patience and logic]  Because.

Kids:  [again, logically]  Well...then...when we grow up, we're going to paint our car RAINBOW COLORS!!!

Us:  [relieved]  Absolutely.  Alright...let's go get in the car. 

Well, in a decision that can best be described in the terms of "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!" and "I'D NEVER DO THAT IN A MILLION YEARS!" and "WE WERE BACKED INTO A CORNER!" we loaded up those two little suckers ("Hey kids...don't drive us absolutely crazy and we'll totally bribe you with lunch at Fazolis!") and headed out to go dance the dance of wheelin' and dealin' at a used car lot. 

We're searching for our 7th car since we've been married (10 years now...on paper, this is not a good ratio), and only one of these has come from a car lot.  We've done well at finding what we need otherwise from individual sellers, and neither of us really feels comfortable trying to fight the good fight with someone who does this for a living.  Are we really getting a good deal?  How do we know that we're getting a good deal?  Maybe if we just say that we're getting a good deal, then it will be so.  Maybe not.  WHO KNOWS?!?

But I think we have finally/laboriously/hair wrenchingly/snail pacedly decided on the kind of car that we should pursue.  We're talking a long haul vehicle, not just a 4-6 years vehicle.  We're thinking a drive-it-for-10-years-and-then-pass-it-on-to-the-Elder-with-a-cool-200,000-miles-car.  So based on the average number of miles I put on my vehicles for the past few years, we need something pretty new.

Friends.  "Pretty new" also means "pretty pricey."  Oh, yes, it does.

But, the boy being who he is, he set up a spreadsheet which factors all sorts of glob together to come up with gook that tells us how much any particular car costs over a set amount of time.  Which has led us down this worm hole, for which there seems to be no end.  To get what we both want and think will work best for our needs over the next decade+, we're probably going to need to practice a used car lot tango.  And then we brought kids along just to make it that much more fun

Of all the many car lots within a reasonable distance of us, there's really only 1 (o-n-e) that has a few cars for us to chose from based on what we need.  And here's where we have to swallow a bitter pill: It's the most-annoying-tv-ads-for-at-least-3-decades-now auto group.  That's right, kids.  We're probably going to help fund those ads that much longer.  As if it could not get better...

...But it actually can.  And it did.  This car lot's showroom had a multi-story play space for kids right there beside those shiny new wheels.  (It also had funky, modern bathrooms, a beverage counter, and a sleek recycling center.  Posh Hotel?  Used car lot showroom?  Six of one...half dozen of another.)  And this meant that the hour and a half we basically lounged about this place was a calm and comfortable experience.  The enjoyment factor was right there beside the massive cinnamon rolls I picked up at a little bakery this morning.

Oh, happy day.  Maybe we'll even take the kids back some day to play again.  Or, to actually buy a car.  Or both...? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Start of the day shenanigans

It's the wee hour of 6:10 a.m., and we've already had one kid screaming in outrage (at 5:30 a.m.), both girls jogging out to kitchen (at 5:50 a.m.) and a mini meltdown over being asked to not play with a bowl at the table (just now).  And now it sounds like there is a rejection over the asked-for oatmeal.  Hello, Wednesday.  You're being pretty snarky this morning.

Normally, I'm not a 6:15 a.m. blogger, but this morning why the why not.  I'm awake, unfortunately, and sometimes my children just act like children, so why not talk about that with some writing therapy?

(Now there's some turmoil over the last egg in the house.  Sometimes life just punches below the belt when you're 3 and 6.)

(By the way, I had an extended conversation with a student this week who was both incredulous and disgruntled about the acceptability of a 2-word sentence, to which I think "I see."  The things that get debated are often varied and unpredictable.  I'm sensing there are some similar feelings of angst with the girls this morning.  Well, now.)

Let's talk about 3-year olds and their bedtime shenanigans.  The Younger has a habit of throwing her door open loudly whenever she wakes up.  This is pretty handy to wake me up at 2 a.m. if need be as I finally cut the cords and pulled the monitor from her room.  In fact, I did so because she's far less than subtle when she wanders in the dark of the night.  She's far enough away that I don't always trust myself to hear a child in distress when I'm fully asleep, hence the extended use of the monitor.  But if she's going to bounce that door off of the door stop a few times, I'll hear her every time.

However.  (That right there is called a transitional word, which I strongly encourage my students to use.  I don't support a one-word sentence in their formal writing, though.)  I figured out this morning that the Younger bounded out of her bed and the into the Elder's bed at 5:30 a.m.  The boy didn't have any idea what was happening, which isn't even slightly surprising as he has the same awareness as carpet when he's asleep.  Mothers just know.

So the Younger decides that 5:30 a.m. is the ideal time to get up this morning, and that her sister's bed is the ideal place to go chill for a while.  And if you've ever shared bed space with either of my daughters, you will quickly understand how there is very little that is soothing or calm about this experience.  "Flailing about" is a pretty accurate description of how well they lie still.

Now, I had a situation.  Not only was the Younger awake and raring to go well before anyone else was, but she was involving her sister, who, frankly, didn't want to be involved in those hijinks.  This resulted in me dragging the slippery-pajama clad 3-year old out of one bed and forcing her back into her own room "until there's a 6 on the left."  (Bless you, digital clock.)  The Younger knows this general household rule, but it seems that she conveniently forgot this morning.  And there's nothing better about having everyone awake and talking at 5:30 a.m. then throwing a wailing child in the mix.
Oh, but they are loud at 5:30 in the morning.

I feel like maybe she ambushed us this morning.

Oh, my.

Thanks be to children who express their anger, get over it quickly, and then are ready to throw out some pudgy-pie kisses and hugs the next time they see you.  My 3-year old doesn't understand the concept of a grudge. 

At least this is the boy's time with the girls pre-work/school, and he gets to corral and control for a while.  It's looking like a completely normal kind of day around here.      

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oh well, eat some French toast

Like magic, all is well in my blog world again. 

I do not know what happened with the formatting on that last post.  I figured something wonky happened when my live-in techie updated my laptop.  But then I slogged through another round with that formatting and it zippity-doo-dah-ed into the nether regions of the interweb, and I quite literally threw my hands up and walked away.  For a few days. 

Color me both shocked and pleased to find us all back to normal around here.  I will express my rejoice-y-ness with an excessively long post tonight.

(I jest.)

(Or do I?)

Here's tonight's current conundrum: We bite the big one when making significant decisions, especially those tied to money.  We are wishy.  We are washy.  We talk until we're blue in the face and all out of words.  Then, we sleep on it and come at it again in the morning with "I had a thought..."

Friends, there are few decisions in my life that I can pinpoint as "easy" or "without questioning the many and varied consequences ad naseum and ad infinitum."  In fact, I can think of two times when this happened (in my entire life).  T-W-O times and T-W-O times only when I acted with that effervescent, "trust fall' quality.  I'm here to say that those both worked out quite well for me.

I'm also here to say that I didn't learn how to act like that more often.

Oh, no.  I've realized that I need to stop chatting so glibly with area realtors, volunteering how we've been looking for a new house off & on for five years now.  (They don't take you all that seriously, see?)  I also need to stop torturing myself by looking at properties for sale.  There's no point!  It's all futile!  You'll rot/be here forever!

After the girls were tucked away tonight, and the boy started asking questions like "What do you see as the purpose here?" and "How much do you foresee needing to keep in reserve?"  I added the italics because what I'm really hearing through all of this is "What do you see as the VAGUE, COMPLETELY NEBULOUS ANSWER here?" and "How much do you THROW A DART needing to MANIPULATE OUR PENNIES FIFTY DIFFERENT WAYS AND THEN COMPARE THE RESULTS." And at this point, when there are no right answers and not a single bit of this ongoing conversation ends in anything other than spending fistfuls of cash, I think the answer is surprisingly easy.

Eat carbs.  Avoid making a decision.  All will be right in the world.

That French toast was both delicious and a sitting duck for my angst.

As I was both starting to fixate on syrup-y bread and hearing my voice become whinier, I remarked how lousy we are as an bonded adult unit when making decisions.  The boy suggested that some people just need more practice.  Suffice it to say, we are those people, and (dare I say) we are very possibly regressing.       

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: Go Set a Watchman

Alrighty, folks. Here we go. (It actually won't be that long, I don't think. But I'll meet you at the end, and we'll compare notes.) I got my hands on a copy of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee surprisingly quickly considering I'm not a buyer of books but a renter of them, generally speaking. (I know that the title is supposed to be italicized, but bloggity blog blog isn't cooperating. That being said, let's move on.) There's some glorious hype about this work seeing as how Harper Lee has really reached something of a mythical status in American literature lore. She's really one of those one and done authors that we all wish had produced more during her glory years. Or any of her years, for that matter. If you're going to make a short list of seminal American lit works, To Kill a Mockingbird (again, italicized...I know) has to be on it. It HAS to be on it. It may not win the award for THE American novel, but it'll come purty close. (I'm also aware that I switched from "American lit works" to "American novel" which are not one and the same. No, they are not. I'm condensing for the sake of nothing much.) There is a real purity and true goodness about To Kill a Mockingbird and the trifecta of Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout. This lies in large part that the rise and fall of the events relating to the act of overt racism is experienced and reckoned with through the eyes of a child. That's a genius move since it wasn't just a token perspective but the honest account of all that was good and bad in that particular (fictional) moment. With Go Set a Watchman (GSAW), Lee alters this perspective in some ways. The social disconnect and conflict is still told through Scout (Jean Louise), but she is a 26-year old city girl returned home for her annual two-week hiatus. The generally recognized story is that Harper Lee spent somewhere around 4 1/2 years editing To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM) before it was published. Lee is decidedly elderly now, and this manuscript is not the same. The public understanding about this latest publication goes that Lee wrote GSAW first but shelved it and then wrote TKAM, which was then published alone. Supposedly, this is the "lost," "forgotten," or "missing" manuscript that has recently surfaced. IF this is not so much heresy but rather a true story, as I at least want to believe, then I do not believe that Lee spent much if any time in the editing process of the GSAW manuscript. It's clunky at times. Transitions are often rough. And the general tone is harsh, specifically in the last 2/3 of the book. That being said, it's a harsh subject. But, so was TKAM. I do believe that a skilled author and a careful editing process does or can soften these rough edges. This book does not always read as a truly finished product, to me. However, I found it to be completely believable as a Harper Lee product. Especiallly in the last 2/3 of the book. I realize that this sounds counter-intuitive that the section that I find to be the harshest in tone is also the most believable to have been written by Lee. Comparatively speaking with TKAM, this section would benefit from some amount of polish, but the subject matter, the emotion, and the character development are much more in line with the final product that we have so well loved with TKAM. As far as the characters go, we still love Scout, though we miss her in the guise of Jean Louse. We must recognize that Dr. Finch fulfills the Atticus Finch character in developing Scout's understanding and perspective such as we remember from TKAM. (Atticus is still around in GSAW, but his character is weakened physically and impactfully.) And finally, Aunt Alexandra does not live up to her role as the "new" Calpurnia nor does Hank/Henry provide a satisfactory substitute for Jem. The moment we all want, a showdown between Jean Louise/her developing perspective and the gloriously crafted Atticus does come to fruition, but this is the only moment when Atticus shines throughout the entire work. Even better, Dr. Finch's explanatory and decisive interaction with Jean Louise does provide the necessary punctuation for the conflict. He is the Finch that really shines when it matters most. He is portrayed as half-senile (strikingly similar to the half-daft by dint of his I-don't-care-what-others-may-think-so-long-as-I-follow-my-conscious attitude that exemplifies Atticus in TKAM) and impassioned. It is truly what we want and why we read this text, save for our ongoing love affair with the delightfully, tomboyish, who gives a flip Scout. The day before I started reading GSAW, I had a conversation with a lady who was on page 113 and was bemoaning the lack of purpose of the text. In her words "It shouldn't have been published." To that end, I disagree. If you're willing to work your way through the first 100 pages or so, there are nuggets of insight buried within, glorious bits of pain and confusion that tantalize and develop. And, it begins on page 113 when the church leader quotes the Biblical text to "Go set a watchman..." There is deep purpose that lies therein. Who is the watchman? Who is responsible for guarding us all? THAT is just what Jean Louise has to reckon with. And, it turns out, our tomboy Scout loses her human deity but gains some perspective on just what it means to be called as a social watchman in a cruelly developing reformation.

Friday, July 31, 2015

On this, the last day

I don't have anything particularly newsworthy to bemoan or bemirth about today, so I'll just put down a few random bits on this, the last day of weekday summer before the boy heads back to the realms of full-time employment. 

Before I get too caught up in a whole bunch of not much, I'm currently working through Go Set a Watchman, which (SPOILER ALERT), now you know what my next post is going to be about.  I'm turning into all book reviews all the time now, it seems.

So the girls have become caught up in Jake and the Netherland Pirates, which means that my new nickname is Scurvy Dog.  Alright then.

The boy has been going back and forth with an online company for a new set of glasses.  Certainly, we can pick our frames out in person, but he's been less and less thrilled with the options that have been available the last time or two when he has switched things up.  But then again, when we're sniffing out free frames, we need to be mindful of not always getting our cake, too.  But, and get this, I convinced him to go with a hipster pair of BLUE frames.  And they came today.  And they're really BLUE.  And it just emphasizes how much he needs a haircut.  I could write a weepy saga tale about his emotional investment in finding a slick new set of eyeware, but that's really his story.  Plus, it's less than interesting.

But, like I mentioned, the boy goes back to his full-time gig, which is going to significantly hamper my work time for the next 10 months.  So I'll be switching back to largely a night owl worker, and I have to admit, that just works with my personality.  On the nights when I don't have work to do and I'm faced with an hour or two of unscheduled activity time, I'm a bit on the nutsy side: Should I make something in the kitchen?!  Would I really waste my time reading?!  Maybe I'll find somethinganything (!) to watch because obviously I have too much time on my hands and I don't know how to fill this void!!!  It's unsettling.

Next week is going to feel a lot like wehavetoomuchtimeonourhandsandit'sdrivingusalltothebrink(!!!) unless I morph into cruise director mode.  And so there will be day trips galore, some time spent on Google Maps finding new parks and bakery/coffee shops, and something like trips to three different zoos.  (I challenge that notion of being the Scurvy Dog.)

And finally, pseudo-speaking of cramming everything into a short amount of time, we seem to like trying to make heavy financial decisions or house overhauls in the last waning days of vacation time.  Summer 2015 is ending with figuring out which impossible options are best for refinancing This Olde House and finding my next car.  Here's something that would be significantly helpful in making choices such as these: being able to see the future.  (That would also be quite helpful in deciding how to best save for eking our kids through the weep-worthy cost of their college educations 'cause if you already knew that they would be working through a 2-year program at the local community college versus, say, the private college choices that we both made, that would make a considerable difference in how we thought about saving.  I get now why my dad kept urging me to consider the University of Hawaii; if I'm going to shelling out for the Big Time, then I might as well get a sweet vacation out of it once a year for Friends & Family weekend.)  The only thing that makes these never fun decisions 100% worse is trying to do them while juggling work schedules.  Gag.  Me.  Thoroughly.

I know that I already said "And finally..." but that was a bummer of a way to end this mish-mash of little consequence.  So I'm going to repeat it and try again.  And finally, I made my annual PIE and it is pretty much everything about why I do not enjoy making or eating PIE.  But the boy does enjoy at least the idea of PIE (any kind, really).  And his birthday is coming up, so...there we go.  PIE.  It needs to get outta my fridge so I can replace it with a more worthy effort, namely, BIRTHDAY CAKE.  Cheers to that.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: The Royal We

I keep hearing a lot of chatter in the recent months about The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.  I'm down with a good fairy tale story as well as a bit of British wonderlust.  Heck, I watched that royal wedding at whatever 6 a.m.-ish hour of the day it happened.  And, I just worked through two heavy but significant modern interpretations of World War II atrocities.  Sometimes, you just need to fall a bit mindlessly into some good book candy.

The Royal We was not it for me.

I really wonder how so many are recommending this one.  As a society, are we this in love with saccharine glop and basic mush that wholly lacks depth?  Are we entirely ruined by re-tellings of what many argue are the same handful of plot lines in the entirely political business that is Hollywood?  It must be so, else why would anyone believe that this 456 page book has any value?

Come back again when it's been pared down to some purpose in 250 pages. 

There's an unlikely story, and then there's a so-completely-farfetched-that-we're-really-dealing-with-complete-and-utter-fantasy-housed-under-the-guise-of-a-romantic-fling.  It's ludicrous.

The heroine:  Is she beautiful?  It's hard to believe so.  If she's not, then why would this uber bachelor prince have any romantic desire about her?  Before you call me out here for reverting to gender stereotypes and shallow misconceptions, hear me out.  If the entire work is going to be based on beautiful people doing beautiful people things, then the heroine had very well better be beautiful.  She truly reads as nothing more than average other than when she's all tarted up after the seven year romance ultimately has led to the massive heirloom ring. 

The hero:  He's not that likeable.  And furthermore, there are oh so few characters in the book who really are.  Again, if you're going to weave a wistful fairy tale romance, there's some understanding that we're supposed to like these main characters.  (And I'm not talking about the guy who ultimately turns out to be the protagonist.  But riddle me this...he's no more disagreeable throughout than any of the others until he finally reveals his blackest soul in the 11th hour.  Too little too late to separate him from the pack.)

The story line:  Come flippin' on.  Iowa girl skips across the pond for a semester from Cornell to Oxford to study art history not realizing that she was moving onto the very same dorm hallway as the Prince William character.  Not only was she utterly oblivious (oh, but it made her so charming and bumbling!), but no one on the British side happened to mention it either.  Well of course.  Please, random American: Come live across the hallway from one of the most protected British citizens and we're not going to tell you because why would we?  Why indeed. 

The royal family: The authors chose to use all actual royals until Queen Victoria/Prince Albert and then alter the names but otherwise keep the same persons as the actual royal family.  For example, Queen Elizabeth = Queen Eleanor, Prince Richard = Prince Charles, and Prince Nicholas = Prince William.  Somehow Princess Kate turned into the aforementioned oft drunk, Cubs-loving random girl from Iowa.  (Sorry, Princess Kate!)  The royal family characters read of the authors' imposed characteristics based largely off of the rubbish that is often published in trashy rags about the actual people.  Those are the same trashy rags that these same authors try to lambast in the novel.  If you're going to spin a fictional tale, then start with fictional characters rather than your limited interpretation of actual persons. 

The ending:  I understand what the authors are trying to do by ending this book as they did (452 pages...452 pages...452 pages), but they essentially end with a cliffhanger.  'CAUSE THEY COULDN'T FINISH THE STORY IN FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO PAGES?!?  Oy vey.

In summary:  It's largely a pretty lame story line, heavily (heavily) reliant on cliches from start to finish, and has little imagination.  However.  Some people like that.  Those people also throw down $9 or more to watch sub-par movies with some frequency, I'd hazard a guess.

If you're feeling up to this royal romp, you might want to do so with several of the same drinks that are so heavily flowing throughout this behemoth of a non-story.  It might not help, but it surely wouldn't hurt. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Working on the puzzle (in elephant undies)

It's only taken me TEN years to figure this out (and I can't believe that I never put forth the effort before): It is worth it to my general happiness and ability to tolerate others to have work time to myself on a consistent basis outside of the house.  I dare say that I am less snappy and more happy.  It can be a pain to try to coordinate everyone's schedules so that I don't feel skittish about disappearing for 3 or even 4 hours a day, but every day has been worth it.  Every single day. 

And proof positive that I'm not indispensable at home is how the girls have been dealing with my relatively large amount of absence.  They haven't cared one bit. 

Of course, the boy has been home with them when I've been gone, but regardless of whether it is during the day or when I am teaching in the evenings, they never care.  My kids are healthy, the boy is healthy, and our family is healthier because I am not always home with them.  Whether the boy is holding down the fort or we have a stand-in adult, the kids never care.  We provide for them foremost by way of stability, and the rest just happens.

Tonight, he boy took the Elder to a pre-season Cross Country meet (for which the Elder has been wanting to pack her snacks and supplies since yesterday, which is to say she's been a wee bit excited and is a girl who likes to be prepared), which left the Younger and I to just doodle around the house for a few hours before bedtime.  Friends...this kid.  She certainly has her moments as we all do, but oh, the snuggles.  She's an agreeable little one who loves her some tricycle action and a sneak attack hug.

We made brownies.  She doodled with markers while wearing nothing but her elephant undies.  She took charge of a new puzzle, carefully consulting the picture in order to figure out where pieces went.  In other words, we had grand times.  And I know that I wouldn't have been in the same frame of mind if I had not taken my me-time/work-time this afternoon.

Good things come from knowing what you need to thrive and taking care of yourself in order to make that happen.  I've been smack dab on the slow end of this learning curve, but I get it now.  Doing what makes me happy is worth it even if it's never "worth" a dime.  I've been so bent out of sorts trying to solve the impossible conundrum of making all of the pieces fit in the puzzle all the while not realizing that one or eight of the pieces have been flat out missing.

But I think I found one of those elusive pieces these past few weeks.  And that's enough of an incentive to keep at it and search out another.  At times I will find myself caught up in trying to find the "complete picture" so I can consult it and find exactly where the next piece fits in to the incomplete mess that is laid out before me.  But in watching the Younger give her all with  a bunch of mixed up pieces scattered before her, she doesn't always see the need to check in.  Sure, she does sometimes, but most of the time, I'm sure it's a gut feeling and a glimpse of a color or pattern that gives her a clue how everything might just well fit together.  What a delightful way to solve a problem: trust yourself, try a different perspective now and again, figure it out as you go, and know...just know...that there's a complete picture that will all come together if you're just patient and persistent enough.   

And if you happen to work at it in nothing but some elephant undies, that's not half bad either. 


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Here's to friends

A year ago, we had four weddings on our radar, and yesterday, we joined in the festivities for the last newlywed shindig.  I love me some weddings.  I love the anticipation, the ceremony, and the almost instantaneous release of tension once the official proclamation is made.  It's pretty amazing how a bunch of a couple of hundred people can all go from hushed reverence and tears to let's boogie all night long. 

For someone who unashamedly skipped her ten-year high school reunion, yesterday felt like just that with a great night of reminiscing and laughs with the hometown crew.  My buddy and prom date from Senior year married an absolute sweetheart, and you could hear the excitement in his voice when the pastor asked "Will you promise...?" and he responded "I will!" loud and clear.  Those are good times to witness.  Who wouldn't want to be part of witnessing those promises made and received?  I DO. 

The wedding was a solid length, not too short, not too long.  The storms more or less stayed away while people were trying to move in and out of buildings.  We were just a wild and crazy couple on the lam since the girls were staying with my parents.  And, my high school BF showed up, which was absolutely great.  We have quite the different life trajectories, which we both knew would happen after graduating, so getting some time to catch up is always great.

And catch up we did.  The reception was held at a banquet facility that is actually divided into two rooms: the eating space and the go-nuts-air-guitar space.  For as standard or traditional as many if not most weddings are, receptions are often a mixed bag with all sorts of creative options available anymore.  The boy and I dug the divided aspect of the hall last night.  How great it was to be a part of the reception but still be able to hold a conversation without also trying to pseudo-dance or yell at each other over thumping music.  So, my little posse took advantage of that.

We laughed hilariously, talked about any number of topics, and compared locker mates from 15 years ago (which, by the way, I pretty much hands down won that contest) for five solid hours.  We figuratively opened the place and then shut 'er down.

We also performed exactly no air guitar, danced not at all, and only got caught up in Journey one time 'cause there's nothing like yelling out some "Faithfully" in the dregs of the night.

(I actually didn't belt it out here since I was sober.  But then again, a pregnant lady was getting down with her angsty self during that song, and we can only hope that she was sober as well.)

All in all, good friends are great to have in your life, whether a lot or even less and less.  You can never have too many of them or too much time with them.

So cheers to the newlyweds.  You're a fabulous couple, and we all wish you many, many years of good times together.

And here's to friends.  Thanks for the laughs.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hudson's Bands of Hope

Heaven help us, but my child is going to have to learn to allow clothing to touch her precious skin.  She's generally an enjoyable little person when wandering the aisles of the local Target, as we did this morning, checking off items on a list.  And though we tried on a half dozen pairs of tennis shoes of various styles and colors (very important), I'm here to boldly declare that a) I still have little idea what size shoe the Elder wears and b) I'm pretty sure that her feet are different sizes (mine are...probably not that uncommon). 

But despite the generally festive mood that accompanies shoe shopping and purchasing of #2 pencils and plastic folders, my heart has been feeling heavy lately.  A dear college friend and her husband inexplicably lost their unborn son at 37 weeks of gestation.  This is not my story, so it wasn't something that I was going to include here.  But I decided that I will because of an organization that I want to focus on for a brief moment.

An organization called Hudson's Bands of Hope reached out to my friend by doing what they do best: providing support and hope for grieving parents.  The most current information that they have posted states that they have reached 14 hospitals, 34 states, and 4 countries.  That's great, but surely the outreach can be more extensive.

When my friend received her bracelet in the mail, it was postmarked from my town.  And other information seems to indicate that it is in fact a local ministry that has a worldwide impact.  While the name of the organization sounds vaguely familiar to me, I can't place when I have heard about it.

What I do know is that this is a heartfelt and selfless ministry.  I know that there are other organizations around the state and country that work to provide a sense of healing and community to those who have been affected by the loss of a baby or child.  I know that it has already been impactful in my friend's life.    

And, I know that as soon as I finish typing these last few sentences, I will be contacting Hudson's Bands of Hope to find out if there is any way that I can help.  This is the second time this year alone when someone who is near and dear to me has left the hospital without their blurry-eyed babe, and that's twice too many times.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cave people

This past week found us caving in Kentucky in a very small portion of the world's longest known cave system.  (It's really pretty incredible.)  When we soak in some majesty such as this and we get all sorts of "Scientists have determined that..." facts in the process, I'm always bumswaggled.  How, pray tell, can scientists figure this stuff out?  They're pretty smart peeps, I guess. 

(Shout out to scientists everywhere.  Collectively, you're pretty cool.)

Prior to the trip, we got a few "You're taking children through the caves?  Are they going to be okay?" comments.  Well, pshaw.  Of course we were taking children through the caves.  I remember going when I was a wee lass, and they're pretty much set up for families.  It's not like we were chucking them a hard hat, lantern, and pick ax and telling them to go find a new cave tunnel.  There are tens of tour options, and wouldn't you know it but our kids can hack a little bit of walking on well trodden paths.  IN FACT, the Eldest really liked Fat Man's Misery.  (And the Younger was carried a lot because she's in that mood of late, and who are we to argue vehemently when our last tot wants to snuggle hug?)  Even better, caving is somewhat weather proof as you're (obviously) underground and cool year-round.

Which is great, 'cause it rained.  Pretty much all week.

You know that when you're on a trip, you're going to have some unexpected twists happen.  Our first one occurred pretty quickly when we realized that we didn't pack the Elder's sweatshirt.  Somewhere between packing a couple of days in advance and then unpacking the sweatshirt for some insignificant reason, it was never returned to the suitcase.  As a parent, you just want to shrink to the back of the tour group when you all have to slosh through a downpour before spending two hours in a dark, 54-degree cave and your kid only has a long-sleeved t-shirt on.  And the rangers kept harping on "No one get hypothermia!  It takes us a long time to get you out of the cave and to the nearest hospital!"  So the boy ended up giving up his long-sleeved t-shirt for the Elder, which meant that he was not only nice and wet from the hike to the entrance of the cave, but then he only had a t-shirt for the entire tour.  But he's a sport.

Still, we toured, we hiked, and we cabined.  Twist #2 happened when it soon became obvious that our cabin was also housing a horde of mice (or at least one very persistent one).  While I'm not one to over-analyze a mouse's psyche, I do think that Mr. Mouse missed the mark when he moved an entire Ziplock of trail mix from where he found it to buried in the boy's suitcase.  That right there was an exercise in insignificant diligence.  And if he had chosen to bury his cache in my clothes instead, I would be busy shopping right this very moment to replace all of the clothes that I would have had to burn. 

(That being said, we were pretty thrilled with our cabin, overall.  If you're looking to visit the caves and want a family-friendly option, check them out.  Though the lady who gave us the key was on point when she kept reiterating "You're going to be camping...This is pretty much camping...Now, you understand that you're basically camping...")

(I'll take cabin camping over tent camping when the heavens open up for days on end, any time.)

The first night of our stay, we watched a whole herd of white-tailed deer just a few steps away from our cabin's back door.  We crouched by a curious turtle after our second cave tour.  And then on our way out of the park, we ogled some wild turkeys who were doing their turkey business at the side of the road.  Admittedly, I enjoyed those snatches of wild life more so than the scads of cave crickets lurking a few inches above my head in a short, narrow tunnel.  Those things gave me the heebie jeebies with their ghostly white, spindly legs and antennae, and the well intentioned teenaged girl holding things up in front of me a) to take a picture of water dripping and b) to show my children that there was water dripping did not fully grasp my anxiety at that moment.

Despite some hitchy moments on the trip and far too much road construction and detours, the trip is in the books, and we have new experiences to draw on as we remember things like "Pack matches if you expect to use a camp stove" and "A mall is not a fun place to wander around if you're a child."

The next goal, now, is to remind myself that I'm not on vacation anymore and therefore can't justify 4,000 calories a day.  Which is kind of a bummer.