Monday, September 29, 2008

This Just In: Midterm Grades

Tell me, please, how it is possible for a child of mine to get an A in pre-algebra, an A in English literature, a B in Science, a B+ in History, an A- in Social Studies and a C…in P.E.

P.E.! All you have to do is show up and; I know she shows up because, if she didn’t, the school would notify me via its (kind of creepy) automated telephone system and I would have heard DEAR PARENT, YOUR CHILD WAS ABSENT FROM ONE OR MORE CLASSES TODAY. IF YOU ARE UNAWARE OF THIS ABSENCE PLEASE NOTIFY THE SCHOOL IMMEDIATELY which, never happened. The only other way to get a C in P.E. is to just plain not participate in the class activities and, I wash her P.E. uniform every week; the kid participates, I’ve smelled the evidence.

So, yeah…C…in P.E. Baffles the mind, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, her grades in the core classes are so awesome, I can’t even complain about the C for fear of setting off some emotional chain-reaction wherein the kid decides to throw all her energy into running laps around the track and lets her other grades slide. No, as the mother of a pre-adolescent, I must choose my battles and this? Yeah, not the hill I choose to die on.

In other news, The Girl’s volleyball game this weekend went well; she is really improving on her overhand serve and is now one of the few girls on the team who is allowed to serve overhand at the games. We are really proud of her.

In other sporting news, the Man-Cub started football practice last week. His team is made up of kids whose parents I mostly enjoy so, when we are all freezing our asses off in the unpleasant weather that is sure to come any moment now; at least I will be surrounded by other parents who aren’t afraid to bitch about it with me.

That’s the spirit, huh?

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Pound Is a Pound Is a Pound

I have diligently followed my diet and exercise program lately and, as of this morning, have lost 5 pounds. I’m not getting too excited; it could be water weight and, with Aunt Flo and her merry team of sidekicks-the Horrormones-riding shotgun on my ass, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those five pounds creep back on in the next week or so.

I’m sticking to the program anyway. I just feel better when I religiously, compulsively and obsessively devote myself to eating well and exercising daily. For one thing, my back doesn’t hurt. And, my mood is significantly better; my emotions are stable (with the obvious exception of the times when stupid things like Hallmark commercials make me cry; see above: Horrormones) and I have a lot more patience with the kids.

Also, I need to make appointments for my annual check-up with the gyno as well as a routine physical with our new GP and; I don’t really want to go in until I am able to say-without lying-that I am taking proactive steps to improve my health.

Plus, I’m requesting a blood panel and, with my family history, fully expect my cholesterol level to be off the charts-improved diet not withstanding (we are producers, hear us roar!); I would like to be able to say that I am at least trying to make a dent in the number.

I know, all this diet and fitness talk, blah, blah, snore. Let’s talk about something else; The Girl has a volleyball game in a neighboring town tomorrow and she has to be at the school at 5:30.



It’s times like these that I am glad we live a mere block and a half from the Middle School; I do not envy the “country kids” whose parents have to get out of bed to drive into town for drop-off. As it is, The Girl will walk to the school, calling us on her cell phone once she arrives safely. We will follow the bus a little later.

Hopefully, we will get back from the game in time to do the million and one chores that have accumulated around the house in the past several weeks and I might even manage some time to address my roots-please,please,please, let there be time to address my roots.

As an aside, I am old.

That is all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Turning the Other Cheek

Hugh and I were called to the school yesterday afternoon to deal with a situation in which the Man-Cub had been kicked in the face.

By a girl.

The girl in question is a year older than the Cub and has been labeled a “problem child” due to a history of semi-violent outbursts at her previous school. She is the product of a sadly broken family and has only recently been adopted by a family here in town. They are trying their best to help her develop the social skills that most kids have already learned by the time they are in the fifth grade but which she never had properly modeled for her.

When she kicked the Cub, it was a result of trying to get the attention of a group of girls in the class, girls who are friends of the Cub’s and who were engaging with him in some good-natured back-and-forth teasing (you know; knock it off, no, you knock it off, shut up, no, you shut up. That kind of thing). The girl in question obviously wanted very much to fit in with the group and, not understanding that the kids were playing; decided that the Cub needed a swift kick in the head for arguing with her intended friends.

The Cub was none the worse for the wear; he’s been getting kicked by his sister for years.

The sad part is that we had to be called in to the school. The other parents were-understandably-upset, the Cub freaked out because he thought he was in trouble, the classroom teacher was beside herself because it all happened so fast and she hadn’t had time to intervene and we were all upset because school policy dictates that the police be called into any situation regarding a physical altercation, no matter that it was a misunderstanding on the part of a child who simply does not have the social skills necessary to thrive in the elementary school system.

What really sucked was that Hugh was the only cop on duty because all the regular officers are using their vacation and accumulated comp time for hunting so; guess who got to take the report?

Luckily, the girl’s parents were more than receptive to the idea of having a uniformed police officer talk to the girl because they wanted her to understand the seriousness of taking aggressive physical action against someone and, I have no doubt they were right. I cannot imagine the daily stress involved in trying to undo the damage caused to that child over the past eleven years and my heart goes out to them.

Also, luckily, Hugh felt that the conversation with the girl went well. She started out quite closed off and sullen but, by the time they were finished, was speaking more freely and occasionally smiling for Hugh. I hope she overcomes her history. I hope she gains confidence and self-esteem and that she doesn’t become another statistic of child abuse and parental drug use. I really do.

In the meantime, the Cub has offered to be “especially nice” to her; he understands that she hasn’t had the same advantages that he has had and that she might need some kindness in order to help her make friends at school.

I seriously hope it helps and that, one day, they look back and joke about how they met and became friends on that day that she kicked him in the face.

What a great story that would make.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Double Digits

Happy Birthday, Man-Cub,

It seems like just yesterday that I was pushing that lovely head of yours out of my nether-regions, of course; they say childbirth is a pain that you never forget and it would appear that they are correct.

I love you, anyway.

I love how much you enjoy this life that your father and I brought you into. I love how much joy you derive from the simplest things, kicking a stone down the street as I walk you home from school, building imaginary forts in the tree outside, perfecting your front-flip on the trampoline; my life is more joyful as a result of watching you and I am forever grateful to have you in my life.

On the way to school this morning, you told me a joke…

Little boy: Doctor, doctor, I need a new butt!
Doctor: why do you need a new butt?
Little boy: This one has a crack in it!

….upon delivering the punch line, you laughed until tears rolled down your cheeks. It made me laugh almost as hard. I hope you always have more happy tears than sad ones, that you always remember how a good joke can brighten the darkest day and that you always have someone to laugh along with you but, most of all; I hope you always know how special you are and how much I love you.

You were worth the pain of a million labors.

Love, mom

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Wilderness Family

Our trip to the lake for the Man-Cub’s birthday party went very well. The kids got more than their fill of playing in the woods, rock climbing, fishing and cavorting about like lunatics escaped from the asylum.

Jana and I should have been playing the part of warden to the lunatics, I suppose, but; we were too busy taking pictures of the changing aspen leaves and drinking Irish coffees to bother with our duties. Chris and Hugh were likewise engaged in manly endeavors such chopping wood, stringing new line on fishing poles and doing a lengthy quality check on the Cub’s new compound bow (must make sure the weaponry is in good working order, AKA: play with the new toy before the child does) and were, therefore, too busy to supervise the lunatics.

The kids were fine, of course; they are all of an age that they can play without being shadowed by their parents, even in the wilds of the forest and, that? Is awesome.

The cabin that Jana’s mom and step-dad live in is located on a river just below a dam that houses a reservoir stocked with fish so; we had a chance to fish both by trolling from the pontoon boat and from the riverbank. The Cub would like you to know that he caught one of the two fish that we managed to snag and that it was this big

which, for the record, it so was not but, it was his birthday party so; you didn’t hear that from me.

The Cub would also like you to know that he loves his new bow and that he is a really good shot, already; in fact, he is so good that he can promise that he will not shoot anyone’s eye out nor will he accidentally shoot any neighborhood animals, children, old folks or random strangers as they walk through the neighborhood for crying out loud, motherrr!

At least, that’s what I heard. Considering the massive amount of sugar that I consumed by eating a slice of birthday cake with an Irish coffee chaser; I may have been mistaken.

And, I continue to say that it’s all fun and games until someone takes an arrow in the heinie so I will fret nervously every time the Cub practices with the bow.

That’s my job.

I don’t care how many birthdays go by; that will always be my job.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do! We’ve Got Spirit, How ‘Bout You!

Sorry, bad cheerleading flashback there.

Anyhoo, The Girl seemed to thoroughly enjoy her first experience with the marching band. And, by enjoy, I mean she was all smiles right up until she saw me on the side of the street with my camera, when the smile was replaced with The Look; the one surly pre-teens get when they notice their parents taking any sort of pride in them. Sooo embarrassing, I know.

Of course, once she noticed our good friend, Neecie, standing next to me, she was all smiles once again. See?

The fact that I am parenting this child without smothering her in her sleep has got to be earning me points toward my eventual flight to Heaven; that can be the only explanation for why God created puberty.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New and Improved! Now With 50% Less Swearing!

Things are much improved on the soreness front, I barely even cussed when I sat down on the toilet this morning; it was more shitfuckdamn than SHITFUCKDAMN! So, my body is either becoming immune to the pain or my spirit to fight it is becoming weaker.

For the record, I’m betting on the latter of the two.

Speaking of spirit; our local Homecoming football game is tonight. As part of the festivities, there will be a parade on Main Street later this afternoon and The Girl is marching in it with the band.

To show off her awesome School Spirit, she requested that I rise before dawn to paint her face in the school colors; a request to which I acquiesced, not because I am easy but because I was frankly too sore and weak to argue. It was worth the effort because, I have to admit, she looked adorable when she left the house; now, here’s hoping the paintjob holds up throughout the day so I can get some good pictures of her at the parade.

On the same topic, The Man-Cub’s scout troop is hosting a tailgate party before the game and we plan to attend. Unfortunately, Hugh is working for the Police department and won’t be able to take the Cub to the game, itself. I would do it but, I hate football have a lot to do before we leave for the lake tomorrow, things that include decorating the child’s birthday cake and packing so, with the exception of The Girl, who has to play the school song with the band during the halftime show; our family will miss the game. The Cub doesn’t seem too broken up by that, his desire to lick the frosting bowl overriding his desire to watch boys tackle each other on the playing field.

As it should be.

Plus, with him around to lick the bowl, I am less likely to do so.

Oh, who am I kidding? I don’t have half the energy required to move my tongue aggressively around a batter bowl.


So, that’s how this whole diet and exercise thing works.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Warning: Contents of the Following Post May Be Considered Inappropriate For Some Readers

In a last-ditch effort to get right with my body (helloo, gall bladder attack!), I have been watching my diet (peanut butter M&M’s, oh how I miss you) as well as ramping up my exercise program and, I have to say; I have never been sorer in my life and I gave birth, without drugs.

The effort will pay off in the long run so I’m not really complaining but, I am suffering from an unexpected side-effect of the program; the inability to move without spontaneously cursing. Seriously, every move I make leads to an involuntary slew of curse words spewing from my mouth, a lot of curse words.

Sitting down on the toilet? SHITMOTHERFUCKERDAMN!

Reaching for an object on a shelf? SONOFABITCHMOTHERFUCKER!

Walking up the stairs? DAMNMOTHERFUCKDAMNDAMN!


Bending over to pick up the newspaper? HOLYSHITSONOFABITCH!

I’m a sailor without a ship or George Carlin, reincarnated.

My personal diagnosis of the condition is Exercise Induced Tourette’s Syndrome and I’m embracing it to its fullest because, really, what else can I do; as I’ve said, the outbursts are involuntary and spontaneous and occur every time I move.

As one might imagine, they have also made me wildly popular with the customers at the hardware store, my neighbors, random passers-by and the occasional door-to-door salesman (realllly sorry about that unfortunate incident the other day, Schwann’s man).

On the other hand, my most annoying employee, a local politician campaigning for re-election and various telemarketers now avoid me like the plague which just goes to show; there is a bright side to every situation.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This One is Going to Be All Over the Place

The Girl played volleyball yesterday and I am proud to report that her team won. She scored the winning point in the second set with a serve that was so perfect it brought tears to my eyes. She was pretty tickled with herself as well since her serves have been the one aspect of the sport that she has found most challenging.

In other sporting news, the Man-Cub starts flag football practice next week. We haven’t heard from the coach as to what days they will be practicing or when their games will be but I am crossing my fingers for them not to be on Thursdays as the Cub is still attending tutoring sessions once a week and Thursday is his day for that.

The tutoring has really improved his skills in a lot of areas. It has also increased his self- confidence which has helped him to do better when taking tests. I’m still not a fan of the whole standardized testing bullshit but, I feel better knowing that he has overcome his anxiety at having to take them. Which can only help his scores, right?

On a totally unrelated topic, I ate the last of my fresh blueberries this morning. It actually made me sad. One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast is vanilla low-fat yogurt with fresh blueberries and a light dusting of low-fat granola and now I’m not going to be able to eat it anymore.

And, while I am aware that there are still a few containers of blueberries to be found on supermarket shelves, I am reluctant to purchase them because the berries are puny looking at best. Also, they are ridiculously expensive.

On the bright side, I did have the foresight to freeze several containers while they were in season so, at the very least; I can have oatmeal with frozen berries. And, you know, complain about how IT JUST ISN’T THE SAME!

I’m sure Hugh will grow to love that refrain. Right around the ten millionth time he hears it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Sure Sign of Fall

The aspen hybrid tree in my front yard is turning color. It is always the first to go and is, therefore, my official harbinger of autumn.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the slightly cooler mornings and the crisp smell of fallen leaves. The crunching sound the leaves make as you walk through them is as relaxing a sound as any I have heard and, the shorter days mean more time to lounge in front of the fireplace while the kids work on their homework.

The time change works in my favor, as well, giving me an extra hour in the morning to get in a workout or to organize my life before heading out of the house to work and, let’s not forget Halloween and everything that it entails-Hugh’s plans for decorating front porch this year are more involved and detailed than in any year past and Hugh and I, um...I mean, the kids are going to love it.

Thanksgiving this year will be spent in Denver with The Barbies and the rest of my family and, knowing my sister, this means an early morning wake-up call on Black Friday. Now, I don’t normally do the whole shopping on Black Friday thing, because I am not insane (also, because I finish my holiday shopping before Thanksgiving) but; I’m more than willing to drag my ass out of bed before the break of dawn in order to accompany my kin, I mean, some one's got to make fun of them, and it might as well be me.

I’m a sweetheart like that.

My birthday falls on Black Friday and, although I am facing down the big 4-0 (which makes it BLACK, Black Friday), I won’t let the misery interfere with my ability to do good hair (extra credit if you can name the movie that line came from) or to interfere with the pure enjoyment I derive from watching my sister sniff out a bargain-seriously, she is a Bargain Bloodhound, it’s mind-boggling.

Also mind-boggling? The fact that this whole pathetic post was inspired by the tree in my front yard. I hate to imagine the post that might have been spawned had the tree suddenly sprouted underwear from its limbs or something.

No, I take that back; that would be awesome.

Although, I’m not sure that newly-fallen panties would make quite the same crunching sound as you walked through them, nor would they smell as good.

I’m just saying.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Good Galls Go Bad

Gall bladders, that is.

A few days before Hugh and I left for Barbados, I experienced a weird attack of pain on my right side. The pain radiated from my ribcage up through my shoulder and into my neck and left me prostrate on the carpet in Hugh’s office. Moving was a feat beyond my capability and, as I writhed in agony, Hugh was helpless to comfort me.

Finally, after about fifteen looong minutes, the pain subsided enough for me to drag myself to bed where, eventually, I was completely recovered. I chalked the episode up to a bad case of gas and called it good.

The day before we flew out of Denver, Hugh and I met my younger sister, Barbie, for dinner. When I described the episode to her, she immediately diagnosed it as a gall bladder attack, a condition with which she is sadly familiar. I didn’t want to believe her, of course, I mean, gall bladder attacks are for like, senior citizens or something, not for healthy youngish women but, I took her diagnosis under advisement and I really paid a lot of attention to what I ate on the island where I thankfully encountered no additional attacks.

I still wasn’t convinced that it had been my gall bladder staging a coupe however so, upon our return home, I consulted Dr. Google and, it would appear that Barbie was right; gall bladder attacks aren’t just for the blue-haired set after all.

I’m still not certain that I actually had an attack myself but, my symptoms certainly did jibe with what Dr. Google would expect to see and, let’s just say; I have been paying due attention to my diet since. God forbid I ever find myself prostrate on the carpet due to my inability to just say no to the fried burrito plate.

In totally different news, this weekend was busy. Shocking.

The Girl played volleyball in a neighboring town and she did a great job. She seems to have a natural athletic ability, no thanks to my portion of her genetic make-up. Unless, athletic ability skips a generation in which case, she can totally thank her grandfather and I am honored to have carried the gene for her.

Yesterday, I whipped up a batch of royal icing and crafted five pine trees out of ice cream cones. The trees are for the Man-Cub’s birthday cake and I am pretty proud of how well they turned out. They need to dry for the next few days and should be rock-hard enough to transport to the cabin where they will be placed on the cake for the party. That is, of course, if the cat doesn’t find them and eat them, first. I do have the weirdest cat on the planet, after all.

Speaking of weird pets, Rowdie is still recovering from his recent ear infection. He has milked his illness for all that it is worth and we are all growing weary of his puppy-dog eyes and the hang-dog expression on his face as he engages in pitiful attempts to score seconds on his meals and snacks. I swear, the next time he does it; I am going to ignore him.

Or, you know, the time after that. For sure.

I mean, for all we know, the extra calories and fat could trigger a doggie version of a gall bladder attack and we can't have that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back on Track

Hugh and I have been back from Barbados for a grand total of two days and, already, it seems like it was all a dream. Real life has taken hold of us again and, with all the flurry and activity of two children, two jobs, a dog with a newly diagnosed ear infection (does the fact that my highest-maintenance “child” is my dog make sense to anyone?) and a house that needs cleaning; we are once again busy as can be.

The Girl has a volleyball tournament in a neighboring town tomorrow. We will rise before dawn to have her at the school in time to catch the bus, which we will follow closely behind. The Girl is looking forward to having us at the tournament since we missed the first two games of the season (while lying on a beach, enjoying the soothing sounds of the surf….where was I?) and we are likewise looking forward to watching her play.

The Man-Cub’s tenth birthday is a little more than a week away and I need to bake the cake for his party (which will be a small camping/fishing excursion at Jana’s mom’s cabin on the lake this year, rather than the large parties that we are accustomed to throwing) as well as cupcakes for his class and cookies for his Scout troop since his actual birthday falls on Tuesday, which is when the Scouts meet.

Speaking of which, I still need to get to Neighboring City to purchase the Cub’s new Scout uniform, since he is moving up another rank. Like I don’t have enough to do.

This is why people in Europe traditionally take six-weeks of vacation, I’m sure of it. Too bad the U.S. hasn’t quite caught on to that way of thinking; I could use another “holiday”, already. In lieu of that, I’ll just have to think happy thoughts whilst going about my daily chores…..

That shouldn’t be too hard.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank You, Ike and Hanna, For Your Cooperation

Barbados was lovely. Breathtakingly, fabulously, exotically, lovely and Hugh and I had wonderful time. The weather cooperated, especially the tropical storms and hurricanes and we were blessed with both perfect weather for traveling and, with the exception of one rainy day, perfect weather while on the island.

We stayed at the Turtle Beach Resort, a very good choice given the other resorts we viewed when picking up fellow tourists for excursions around the island. Turtle Beach was all inclusive which meant never having to carry around our wallets and free booze for the duration of our stay. Hugh took full advantage of the free booze by downing his own body weight in strawberry daiquiris-the absolute girliest drink that I have ever seen him consume. I myself took full advantage of the pina coladas as well as wine that was surprisingly good.

Staying at a private resort, with its own private beach, also served to isolate us from the usual salespeople, beggars, etc. who sometimes troll the beaches hoping to earn some cash from uneducated tourists and, with the exception of one local woman hawking jewelry and a man who made it his business to chat me up as I lie on the chaise lounge, sipping a pina colada while Hugh boogie boarded in the ocean, we were left alone.

The jewelry the woman was selling was nice but, I wanted to shop around before making any purchases and she was very nice about that, leaving us with a wave and a smile. The man, on the other hand, was a little harder to shake and, at first, I was flattered by his attentions, I mean, the compliments rolled off his tongue as sweet as the syrup used by the locals to sweeten tea. When he asked if Hugh was, by nature, a jealous man, I had to admit that he is not and, with that, the man made himself comfortable on the chaise next to mine and began to tell me a bit of history of the island. After making chit-chat for a while, he asked me if I was a “healthy woman”, you know, no smoking habit…..? and I realized, with a shock, that he was

a) So enamored with my beauty that he was assessing my value as the future mother of his children or

b) Assessing my suitability as an unsuspecting kidney/liver/heart donor, which would make him a major player in the black market organ business or

c) A total drug dealer feeling me out for a possible transaction.

Now, I’m no great beauty and everyone knows that tourists having their organs stolen and sold on the black market is an urban legend (right?) so, it didn’t take too many brain cells-pina colada soaked though they might be-to figure that the answer was c and, as I made that realization, Hugh came back up the beach and my new friend disappeared like foam on the ocean.

This means that I can totally say I was approached by a drug lord on a Caribbean island. Awesome!

I can also say that I swam with sea turtles which was one of the coolest, creepiest, most amazing things that I have ever done (they are, like, huge and stealthy, silently rising underneath you in the water until you are practically standing on them, trying not to scream like a girl and choke to death on the mouthpiece of your snorkel…um, I've heard).

The catamaran tour that we took around the island included stops to swim with the turtles, as well as making several stops at ship wrecks. Snorkeling among the wrecks was surprisingly peaceful and the sea life was beyond cool. I took several rolls of film with me and, with any luck, my crappy underwater camera will do the fish some justice but, I doubt it.

After snorkeling, the crew of the catamaran served us an awesome lunch and, did I mention the free drinks? Because there were free drinks, lots of them (which in no way contributed to the girlie-like screaming caused by having a giant, 100 year old turtle suddenly appear between your legs, I’m sure) and a good time was had by all.

Of course, I’m happy to be back home. We missed the kids and, as much fun as vacationing on a tropical island can be (waking up everyday to the ocean right outside your door, never having to cook a meal much less refill your own pina colada, tanning to a golden brown on the white sands of the beach, swimming in sea waters warmer than bathwater, viewing a native carnivale parade, complete with men on stilts and women in traditional costume, shopping duty-free….wait, why did I come back?), it is always good to come back to the people who love and missed you.

I couldn’t have asked for a bettter anniversary.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dear Hurricane Hanna,

I just spent the last two hours packing every stitch of my summer wardrobe into a brand-new suitcase which I had to purchase on account of my old suitcase suddenly self-destructing in my closet.

I had the unusual forethought to make copies of my travel itinerary, passport information and last will and testament for my parents who will be watching the children in Hugh and my absence and I have written out a detailed schedule to which they may refer while we are away.

I gave myself a pedicure last night.

I have eaten nothing but fruits, vegetables and lean protein for the past week lest I bulge out of my bikini and offend other beach-goers (OK! THAT IS A LIE! I HAVE EATEN AN ENTIRE BAG OF PEANUT BUTTER M&M’S WHILST WORRYING MY HEAD OVER THE INEVITABLE FACT THAT YOU WILL HIT MIAMI ON WEDNESDAY, THUS TOTALLY SCREWING UP MY VACATION PLANS! ARE YOU HAPPY!?).

I have made the appropriate travel playlist for my iPod and have discovered the perfect book for beach reading; in short, I am ready to vacate.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t screw up my plans. Go north, please; I hear it's really nice up there.

Also, my sanity kind of depends on you.