Thursday, July 16, 2015

it's fine

I just dropped off my baby, my firstborn child, at the high school.  High School. See? I said it out loud, or in ink, or... something like that. That means I'm on my way to acceptance, right?  I seem to be comfortable with the words "ninth grade" but the "fresh..." word hasn't made it out yet. I'm trying.

No, school doesn't start quite this early. August tenth is bad enough. This is the start of rookie band camp, held at the high school for two days. Next week they go away to a 4-H campground for five days with the full group. 

We talked him into marching band. He has enough friends participating that I think he'll love it.  He needed a group of peeps to start school with. The kids in the high school are the same as those in the middle school, and the place is just across the street, but somehow it felt like it would be important for him to have a circle. Kids he already knows, who can watch his back, other boys who can play wingman for him with girls.

He's tried a variety of extracurricular activities and nothing has really stuck. Chess club was "ok," winter swimming was "meh," Lego robotics club was "fine," and Ultimate Frisbee is "fine when my friends go."  His motto would be "it's fine."

And marching band will be fine. High school will be fine. For him. But for me? I still get the words stuck in my throat, a lump in my gut, and tears in my eyes every time I talk about it.

The way my brain goes is this:
1. Pook started preschool at 2 1/2. That was the end of ever knowing what he did during the day. It was "fine" every day. He liked the playground.
2. Elementary school lasted a long time. I'd gotten pretty comfortable there and saw no reason to leave. I still never had a clue what he did. He told me about the cafeteria and the rest was just "fine."
3. Middle school went by like a quick roller coaster. I learned about his friends and activities through the mom of his buddy. He said it was all "fine."
4. High school will go by quickly. He will never tell me squat. It will be "fine."
5. College will be far away, physically or metaphorically. He will communicate with text and tell me it is "fine."
6. He will move somewhere cold. It will be "fine" and I will be lonely.

At this point in the thinking process, I get teary. I announced to CD that I needed a dog.

Friday, February 27, 2015

bad kitty

Next door to me live Bob and Morris. I've mentioned them once before, commenting on their co-hunting techniques.  In 2010 I said they were eight years old, so we'll go ahead and assume they're 13 now. Teens! Perhaps I can blame teenage brain syndrome on Bob's behavior then. 

Bob,on left with white belly; Morris, on right, fully orange.
One morning several weeks ago I exited the house, into the garage, and startled Bob, who had apparently spent the night inside it. He dashed away to his own home very quickly.

He did it again a few days later. And then again. And then one Monday morning when I stepped out to go to work, I heard a meow but didn't see a kitty source. I listened carefully and then gingerly opened the workroom door.  Out came an orange blur which ran straight into my neighbor's house.

I agonized over this. The best that I can remember, no one had opened the door to the workroom since the previous Wednesday. Five days? Including a full weekend when we were home but never heard him calling?  Possible, but I hoped not.

Soon after, I spoke to my neighbor and told her about his escapade.  She looked wide eyed and said that he'd been missing for a full five days just a few weeks before. She'd finally decided he wasn't going to come home. We discussed whether he could have been ok without food or water for five days, but weren't conclusive. Our workroom isn't really a room, but more of a closet full of tools and paint cans. There is a box full of drop cloths which might be cozy, and warmth from the water heater. There is a sink, but no water source available to a kitty without opposable thumbs.

I hoped Bob had learned his lesson.

But, no!  I was trying to leave the workroom door open to air it out because in whatever length of time Bob stayed in there, he'd needed a potty at some point and I haven't located anything I can clean up. The next day when I opened the garage door, the dear little orange blur came running out of the open workroom and out of the garage.

Meanwhile, our garage door has quit opening electronically. We're hoping it will cooperate again in warmer weather (sub freezing here recently) and haven't done anything to fix it. But it's a pain to open and close it when I'm running short errands, so I've been leaving it open when I'm not home occasionally.

So, now I'm stuck. I can either leave the garage door open for simplicity, or I can air out the workroom, which stinks. (Sorry,kitty, I know you like the scent, but I think it stinks.)  And Bob keeps sneaking back whenever he's able. I was outside unloading groceries today and he tried to sneak in!

Any kitty people who have tips on how to deter Bob?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

no vacancy

I'm here. I haven't written for reasons of laziness and busyness and winter blues and indecisiveness.

Those same problems have caused us some trouble. We've been planning to go to the Grand Canyon during the summer of 2015 for about two years. Two years.  And about one of those years ago we should have made reservations because... we are not going to the Grand Canyon this summer.  There are NO VACANCY signs hanging outside the canyon, just for us to see. And to make us feel dumb. Nothing but laziness prevented us from planning ahead. Apparently there are over 900 rooms on the South Rim alone. All taken. North Rim? Nada.

Instead we will travel to All The Parks except the Grand Canyon. We will save the Grand Canyon for another trip another summer. Someday.  The kids also want to get to New England, maybe driving up the coast all the way to Maine. Again, another trip, another summer. We have a few left before our dear Pook tries to get away.

We've started our planning. The boys both want to drive through Arkansas. Not that they want to see anything in Arkansas, but somehow it's a state we just plain missed on our big Yellowstone tour. It's right there, so I don't know how or why we didn't drive through it just to say we'd been there, but we didn't, so this time we've got it in the itinerary.

The rest is quickly evolving. We'll hoof it out there in two long days, then start day trips. Carlsbad Caverns and the Petrified Forest will accept us sloths even without a year's preparation. We'll stop in Monument Valley and Natural Bridges, and carry on to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Somewhere in there will be rafting on the Colorado River, probably in Utah.

We'll see the Four Corner states in more depth than we saw any of them on our Yellowstone tour.  We should have enough time to see each park thoroughly. The Grand Canyon can close its doors on us and we'll simply divert ourselves elsewhere. We're starting to look forward to it already.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

how to grow a project

This How To tutorial can be used in almost any circumstance. Simply replace your verbs and nouns with more specific words applying to your task.  However, if you follow this tutorial I am not responsible for your ensuing troubles, including but not limited to wallet shrinkage.

Stage One: Awareness
  1. Notice the water on the floor of the laundry room. Mop it up and wash yet more towels.
  2. Notice the water on the floor of the laundry room.  Note that it has happened before but put it to the back of your mind.
  3. Notice the water on the floor of the laundry room. Note that it has happened before and decide to pay attention to when it happens.
  4. Notice the water on the floor of the laundry room. Note that it is happening more regularly. Remember to mention it to your spouse.
  5. Notice the water on the floor of the laundry room.  Tell your spouse that this is the night the washer has to come out to inspect the situation.
Stage Two: Investigation
  1. Remove baseboards so washer can be moved. It fits tightly into the space. Very tightly.
  2. On the count of three, heave the washer out of the space. 
  3. Run a load of dirty towels which were used earlier in the day to mop up from the washer.
  4. Use three more towels to mop up from the washer which leaks while it washes the towels from before. Wonder where you got so many old towels.
  5. Note that the outside and underside of the washer are totally dry. Realize you're going to have to call a plumber.

Stage Three: Worry
  1. Panic when you see mold on the wall. Investigate black colored mold and discover that Black Mold is something really, really awful. 
  2. Buy gloves and face masks.
  3. Decide it is ordinary mold. Notice that the plumber is just using a sponge and bleach. 
  4. Decide that maybe you don't really care what kind of mold you have. Correct that to "had" and feel much better about decision.
Stage Four: Money (Technically this stage is easy)
  1. Regard calendar and daily schedules and arrange for plumber (conveniently also contractor.)
  2. Do it again when he says the problem is in the pipes inside the wall, not in the washer.
  3. And again when he says he needs to rip out the wall and possibly part of the slab.  
  4. Give him a key so he can come back three more times over the period of two weeks to check on the dampness of the wood studs in the wall and proclaim them, "still too wet" to close up the wall.
Stage Five: Adapting
  1.  Remain flexible about location of washer, which has been positioned in front of dryer and in front of door for three weeks now.
  2. Hit your head (again) and wonder how many more days until you can put the washer back.
  3. Wrench your back (again) and wonder how many more weeks until you can put the washer back.
  4. Get estimate for permanently moving both washer and dryer for future convenience. 
  5. Say "thanks anyway" to plumber (conveniently also contractor) and continue current discomfort for several more weeks.
Stage Six: False Congratulations
  1. Feel relief that the wood in the wall is finally dry enough for the wall to be rebuilt. Yay! The laundry room will return to its original state!
  2. Realize that plumber (conveniently also contractor) is putting up drywall. And coming back the next day to remud it. And the next Monday to sand it.
  3. Notice that drywall is green, mud is white. Room used to be dark blue.
  4. Realize that the new section of wall needs a coat of paint.
  5. But primer first.
Stage Seven: In for a Penny, In for a Pound
  1.  Discover that you have no dark blue paint since the room was this color when you bought the house in 1999.
  2. Think that it makes more sense to paint the room with one of the many leftover cans of paint you own. Maybe the kitchen's pale yellow.
  3. Two coats of primer. On the whole room.
Stage Eight: Start the Project
  1. Look at the amount of Stuff kept in that small space and watch it grow like a wet sponge as it comes out and fills the whole kitchen. Try to squeeze a step stool into the space vacated by all the stuff and see that it barely fits.
  2. Remove the switch plate covers with a screwdriver.
  3. Remove the shelving with a different one. And a hammer.
  4. Dust the dang walls so the spiderwebs and dryer lint don't get painted.
  5. Start priming the trim/edges, moving the step stool in and out multiple times and tripping over the washer hoses each time.
  6. Hit your head, elbow, hip and knee in a continuing sequence.
Stage Nine: It Will Never End
  1. As you wash primer from your brush, roller and hands, realize how many more times you'll need to do this since you can't even start half the room until the washer and dryer move to their original locations.Wonder if it will ever get done.
  2. Notice the build up of laundry around the house. Wonder if it will ever get done.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

train wreck

I haven't talked much about The Paid Job here. Funny Kid Stories are harder to come by than Stupid Kid Stories, and seeing as the kids aren't mine, writing about them even anonymously worries me.  But I'm with all those kids regularly and, for the most part, feeling useful and good.

Most of my time recently has been with Vomit Girl.  (See how I use a fake name to keep her anonymous?) Even after all these weeks, Vomit Girl is so anxious about school, that she-- (do we really need to fill in the blank here?)  I took a change of clothes today in anticipation.  (Joy, Fun and Goodness!) But Vomit Girl was out with a stomach bug today.  (I feel like the straight man waiting for the comedian to get the punch line here:  "How would you know?")

Nevertheless, I was in my boss' office discussing who I might go see and work with instead. She mentioned Impulse Control Boy and I brought up Control Freak just as the girl's teacher walked in and asked me if I could come see Mr. Hurting People Lately because his lack of social skills is becoming a problem in her classroom and his mom is concerned.  It occurred to me that In Your Face Girl also needed some follow-up and maybe I could do a social skills group.  Then it was obvious to all three of us that Chaos Boy would also need to be included and suddenly we all got quiet and serious. Chaos Boy's mom is a teacher at our school and his behavior is a Very Touchy Subject.

I was full of confidence at this point. A social skills group! I could do this regularly and teach that little group of four year olds how to make friends and how to play without controlling, hitting, grabbing, kissing (yes this is a problem) or otherwise causing chaos and repelling their peers.

I had a couple of minutes to think about this plan before the day started. I grabbed a book about personal space and confirmed that I could use an empty classroom. What else would I need? (As I said, full of confidence.)

The five were all excited to come with me. (Cool. All's well so far.)

We entered the empty classroom and they all started grabbing toys off the shelf.  I dealt with that and gathered them on the carpet. (Doing ok...)

I showed them my book and asked if any of them knew what 'personal space' meant.  In Your Face Girl could easily have licked my nose while she told me with much excitement that Yes! She knew what it was and she had the very same book at home!  All five of them proceeded to tell me what it meant-- (although I doubt they knew-- everyone was talking at once and I really have no idea what they were saying.)

I read the story, then got into In Your Face Girl's face when I spoke about it again. I thought she'd back away, but she didn't notice (hmm.) I tried it with Impulse Control Boy. He began to incessantly tap me on the arm while telling me that I was too close. (Yay? He learned something?) Control Freak was also telling me what I was doing wrong (technically she was right) and with her authoritative face she looked ready to lead the group.  (Nothing like getting a finger waved in your face while being told by a four year old how wrong you are.)

Chaos Boy was trying to escape. I touched him lightly to encourage him to come back, and he cringed away from my hand. (This child needs lots of personal space!)

We finished talking about the book and I decided I wanted to do a group block building activity. They each pulled out a toy. I insisted they put away all the toys. I chose one that none of them had picked. I put a box of train tracks on the floor and talked about how putting it in the middle helped everyone reach. (They gave me "yeah, whatever" eyes.)

Immediately Control Freak told everyone that we were going to make a track in a circle. Impulse Control Boy and Chaos Boy had already started making their own tracks. Hurting People Boy seemed to be doing fine until I noticed that he'd pre-counted the trains and realized there weren't enough for everyone. His method of solving that problem was to sit on them hoping no one could see them. Impulse Control Boy is also Copycat Boy and so he grabbed two from Hurting People Boy and did the same. (Oh my, what am I doing here?)

The result of that would have been blows if I hadn't been right there. In Your Face Girl (who was also right there) and Control Freak tried to intervene.  Chaos Boy tried to escape again. In Your Face Girl was making it hard for me to get him back to the carpet because she was wanting to hug me. I told her she needed to ask (she did) and then I answered no. (God help me! Have five minutes passed yet?)

There was no way they could make one track as a group, so I helped shape the track into something oval-ish. We drove (shared) trains on it for 30 seconds (Hurting People Boy looked like he was seething) and then I could tell we needed to clean up and be done. Control Freak Girl told everyone to line up at the door while In Your Face Girl tried to hug everyone. Impulse Control Boy had run down the hall and was already in his classroom. Chaos Boy escaped.

I couldn't decide if I should just sit on the floor and laugh, or make plans to try again.