Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have promised my children "Nothing." 

School ends Friday.  Just two more mornings to wake up early.  Extra early as we have had a practicing Safety Patrol in the family who has needed to be at school twenty minutes early.  (We're supposed to be honored, but actually we're tired.)  Just two more days of "Hurry up." Two more days of "We don't have time for bedtime stories." Of checking the calendar repeatedly to be sure we aren't missing anything --other than family dinners.

The weekend is still busy.  Even though both boys are out of the baseball playoffs, Bug was chosen for the All Star team and therefore still has one game left on Saturday. CD and I are going out Sunday night and leaving my parents to babysit.  But come Monday morning, I have promised them nothing.

No need to get dressed.  Unless they want to.
No need to eat at 7am, unless they're hungry.
No need to do any work, run any errands, attend any lessons.

We will spend the day, maybe even  most of the week just relaxing. Lego will get built- or repaired with adult help (as Bug has been needing since February).  The new Mindstorm kit will be started by Pook, with assistance if he needs it.Baseball cards, Pokemon cards, 39 Clues cards, Ninjago cards-- all can be sorted, exchanged, used in whatever way those things get used.  Books can get read, and read, and read. 

Then we'll make our annual lists of Things To Do When Bored, and Friends We Want To See This Summer.  We'll finally make the stepping stones. We'll bake. We'll go on some field trips.  We'll look at maps and plan our big Yellowstone trip further.

The pool will lure us and we will spend hours in the sun with Summer Friends.

I will still have grocery shopping, laundry and other household tasks, but I'm hoping they'll be willing to help out.  I will still have yard work, (I bought some edamame plants today!) but I don't mind if they play ball or climb around while I putter.

We will have days when we accomplish nothing.

Nothing but relaxing and recovering from a very busy spring.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Pook's turn. The fourth grade has been writing a lot of poetry recently.

Crimson is exciting.
Crimson is lava.
Crimson is strong.
Crimson smells like peppermint.
Crimson tastes like pie.
Crimson sounds like bird calls.
Crimson looks like fire.
Crimson feels like heat.
Crimson makes me want to run.
Crimson is powerful.

Spring is green.
It tastes like ice cream.
It sounds like birds chirping.
It smells like flowers.
It looks like baseball.
It makes me feel cheerful.

The Bugs
The bugs buzz around
They run all of their errands
And then they go home.

Monday, May 16, 2011

poor George

This is a story that just came home from the (getting emptier) desk of Bug as he finishes up first grade.  (unedited)

Once there was a wolf named george.  He lived with his mom in a little cottage.

And yesterday his mom asked him to go out and play. So he did. and he was never aspost (yes, he pronounces it this way) to go Past the five oak trees.

But he did and he found a Dragon.  Now this Dragon was mighty tricky. And his favorit food was wolfs named george. but he didn't tell george that.

And George started to run away when the Dragon told him to come to his cave. So George did.

but then he relized the Dragon was makeing Plans to eat him and he shouldn't have followed the Dragon.

and right after that he remembered he could aparate.

So he did.  exept he acsidently wen to a motor boat. (were there was a Dragon)

So he got on his Broom and flew away.

In to a tree.  were there was a Dragon. But finaly he ascaped.

the End.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


My baby is a decade old.  He is very excited to turn ten on May 10, "but really Mama, why couldn't you have had me a year earlier so I could have been ten on the tenth in 2010?"

Every week during my pregnancy with you I checked the photos in the book I had to see what this creature- already called "Pookie" -looked like.  "A grain of rice!"  "The size of a strawberry!"  "He should have all his toes by now, so they say I can drink wine sometimes."

CD and I had made a deal before having children.  He would give them his hair, (blond and curly as a child, light brown and curly now) and I would give them my eyes (good vision, big and blue as a child, greener now and needing reading glasses).  And yet when you were born, as they placed you on my belly and gave CD scissors with which to cut the umbilical cord, my first thought was "Are they sure he's mine?"

You had a fuzz of red hair around your head and looked nothing like the babies I knew.  CD's uncle jumped several feet when he first saw you, remarking "Wow!  He looks like me!" and so, despite Uncle R's white head, I learned the source of your wonderful red.fluff.

We called you many names back then:  Pookie, Old Fluffyhead, Little Boy Blue (or LBB for short).  I watched your every move and knew that you were perfect.
Pook and Lego, just prior to his first birthday

I don't remember you ever not knowing things.  You amazed me at every turn.  At a couple of months old, you would listen to any book or magazine we would read aloud.  Your attention span was unlimited.  At twenty months, you put your tiny dictionary of learned words (first word: "This") onto a mental shelf and turned to mastering the alphabet.

We gave you a bike for your third birthday.  It was a little bitty thing with training wheels just like your friend's.  You were ecstatic that you'd also been given "SCISSORS!" and proceeded to cut out a line (as opposed to cutting on a line, your finished product being about 2mm wide.)  Since then your art has even been hung on the refrigerators in friends' homes--after one of them "bought" a picture from you and his mother was so impressed with the best drawing "her child" had ever made (until the artist was accidentally revealed to be you)

From you I am learning to slow down.  Making a train track wasn't about getting trains to drive around the room to accomplish their delivery goals, as I made the game.  It was about painstakingly designing complicated tracks with bridges and ramps and "spaghetti junctions."  I could lay on the floor to watch you and you requested little more.  But watch you I must.  While pregnant with your brother, and tired, you spoke to me impatiently one day as I mumbled "uh huh" with my eyes closed.  "Mama!  I want to see your blue eyes now!"

The slowness can still drive me crazy.  Someday I will wish you were still around, sitting half dressed on the floor, or deliberately chewing all your food until it is the texture of applesauce before swallowing. (A "Champion Enjoyer") But now I know I hurry you.  School and bedtime have to happen and are not as flexible as you are.  For you are (for the most part!) an easy going kid.  When your coach had given away the jersey with your favorite number on it, he wasn't concerned and neither was I.  "That's what I figured with him, that he would be flexible," he wrote to me.

You have a wonderful memory and are so consistent with your work that I never worry about you at school and seldom even look at your homework. When you set your mind to complete a project you do it without fail.  When that project was a challenge to do something every day to make your life and someone else's life better, you chose to give me a hug every day at 4pm.  And you did.  And it did make my life better.

Pook, you make my life better every day that you're in it.  I love you.  Happy Birthday.

PS.  I will always give you bonus points for letting me put my hands down your back to warm them up.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

that which doesn't kill me will make me stronger

I love physical therapists.  I really do.  I've been to doctors who want to stick a needle in you or prescribe a bottle of pills to deal with pain.  I've been to chiropractors who want to have you return every week forever after.  I went to an acupuncturist once who left a needle in my leg which I found later at home.  I've certainly seen a lot of practitioners who didn't know what was wrong, so they treated me for something else that was more familiar.  Throw a treatment at it and maybe it'll go away.

I first mentioned my foot in 2008 in this blog.  (Yeah, archives!)  Doctors never successfully recreated the pain, it sometimes went away, it was a mystery and they probably did what they could.  But nothing really changed.  I started buying better shoes, put an orthotic in most of them and limped along. (That pun was truly not intended, but I had to leave it when I noticed it.) I found a massage therapist who does wonders for it, and when the leg gets bad I go see him, hurt worse for a day and then get six weeks or a few months before it gets bad again and I go back.

This fall I started noticing a lack of mobility and range of motion in my right shoulder, which had been sore for years.  When it got worse I quit blaming the mattress (replaced once upon a time for this very shoulder) and decided to see a doctor.  I was cheating on my old doc, a family practitioner whose office has annoyed me for ten years, and went to a new practice.  The doctor used a magic phrase with me:  "At your age..." she started (and I've heard that one enough that I winced) "you shouldn't have any chronic pain."  I decided I liked her!  I was sent to an orthopedist and I expected that PT would follow.

I couldn't see going for treatment on my shoulder when my foot/leg were such a problem still.  So, I defied the standard protocol and mentioned both.  The orthopedist (rather quickly) labeled the problems "frozen shoulder" and "sciatica".  Off to PT for both.

The PT, however, disagreed.  He says I have too much movement left in the shoulder to call it that and he's sticking with "rotator cuff pain."  Then, he recreated my foot pain.  He had me sit on the side of the table, put my painful leg out straight, flex the foot, and then... nod my head.  He says I have a nerve which is "snagging" somewhere.  He has since decided this is a hip problem.

So, I've been seeing him twice a week now for two weeks.  And, despite all my love for all things physical therapy-- HE IS TRYING TO KILL ME!

But I think the shoulder is improving and I think he knows what he's doing regarding the foot/leg.  This one won't be something that gets better quickly, but I'm optimistic that it will get better.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

listen to Me!

We've made it.  We've made it through "You have to practice for fifteen minutes" and "Your teacher made this rule, not me, so don't be angry at me" and "Let's pretend that (the small bust of) Beethoven is racing across the piano and every time you play a line he runs five more notes!" and we are now at "Listen to THIS!"

I'd been told that it took a year.  Bug started piano young; he was barely five when he began, based on his own interest. He loved it and practiced with my help every day, playing his homework and then doodling for longer.  A year later his teacher gently kicked me out of lessons, saying he could handle it on his own.  Also a year later- just this fall- Pook decided to start lessons too.  He started just as school began and he was picking up the saxophone for the first time in school band.

Throughout fall Pook played his homework as required.  He'd doodle a bit, messing around with chords, but usually did the listed pieces for the listed number of times and then stopped.  Bug would whine, fuss, play one piece through and try to quit.  I would cajole, tease, make games of it, argue and threaten.  Grudgingly he'd play a bit more, but his doodling stopped for the most part too. Seriously bogged down.

I'm not sure if it was age, competing with his brother suddenly, or just the time, but it was a tough fall and winter with Bug.  His teacher dialed back, made sure Pook was assigned pieces that Bug had never played so it would be harder to compare themselves, and lowered her expectations.  We plodded on.

This spring, instead of lowered expectations, she gave him a piece of music from a book which her older kids usually use. He is enthralled by Chinese Dragon Festival by Dennis Alexander.  All on the black keys.  A piece For Big Kids.  Then  another-- Intrada in C Major by Graupner-- which he was "allowed" to play the first measures, but that was all.  He dared to go further to surprise her, giggling that she'd be so amazed when she heard him.

And she was. And I am too.  This is the back of Bug's head as he practices Chinese Dragon Festival .  He played the two pieces in his recital over the weekend.   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

20 days of May

The year end treadmill:
20 days of school in May
1 piano recital for two kids 6 1/2 baseball games, plus (can we just lose now?) playoffs for both boys
5 end of year/season parties
6 extra boys for a slumber party here, in a tent
1 carnival day at the ballpark

6 piano lessons
2 awards days
2 field days (helping at both)
3 days of family visiting
1 night at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with no kids

Monday, May 2, 2011

ten test

My firstborn thinks he's about to turn ten.  Ten!  Cripes, how did that happen?

We have told Pook that there is a Ten Test which he must pass in order to pass this birthday milestone.  He is still struggling with the first item, and is reminded daily that this test is upcoming.  He denies that there is such a thing, so to prove to him that there is a Ten Test, I have reprinted it below.

Ten Test
1. Can you complete a meal without using your fingers?
2. Can you brush your teeth in the same bathroom as a sibling without arguing with him or spitting on him?
3. Can you match shirts, pants and socks without pairing navy blue with black?
4. Can you pack the materials you need for a sport without forgetting anything?
5. Can you complete your homework and return it to school without reminders?
6. Can you talk to an adult politely?
7. Can you answer the phone while your mother is in the bathroom without telling the person on the phone that your mother is in the bathroom?
8. Can you prepare a healthy snack for yourself?
9. Can you cut with a knife?
10. Can you run an errand which involves leaving the house and remembering the errand long enough to complete it and return?

If you have answered 'yes' to all ten of these questions, and if your tenth birthday is imminent and you know what the word 'imminent' means, then you are deemed worthy of turning ten.