Monday, August 27, 2012

ain't nobody happy

"When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  So they say. But when nobody ain't happy, Mama ain't happy either.  And it seems like my babies are not happy.

School is too long. The bus takes forever. He has no time to play or read. Pook is adjusting to middle school, but grudgingly. He's right; his schedule is much changed from the past years. He isn't getting off the bus until 4:45 (instead of 2:30) and he needs to fit in homework plus saxophone and piano practices. He's used to his homework being done before dinner, but it isn't working that way.  He liked getting some free time.  It may settle out, or he may just get used to it.

Bug's dissatisfaction is more global. "Everything" is wrong. "Everyone" hates his teacher.  It is true that his friends are mostly in other rooms. He has the only teacher in the grade that I didn't want him to get. She taught Pook in 3rd grade too, and I wasn't thrilled with her "old school" style. I think she's probably starting the year very strict (no smiling until Christmas) but I also think she'll mellow out soon. Bug doesn't seem to know what she wants. He thinks this is the directions on the homework but he also thinks he needs to do things like this or he'll "get in trouble." He's intimidated by her and isn't asking for clarification.

Yesterday at the triathlon, the kids were treated as capable, independent beings. No adults were allowed in the transition area before, during or after.  The kids set up their bike, towel, socks shoes and shirt, and a box for goggles and bike helmet. I never even saw how they laid it all out. The kids were lined up by age and number and marched to the aquatics center where we waited to watch. Pook had two hours to wait while Bug ("juniors division") raced. CD and I saw them both swim then we ran outdoors to catch snippets of biking and running. We saw them pass through the finish line. The miles they covered they covered without us.

I liked the independence required of them. When Bug wanted to find the bathrooms and I wanted to see Pook finish, I sent him to the opposite side of the place on his own. If he can race a triathlon, he can find a port-a-potty on his own. And, they handled it-- mostly.  I did step in when Pook came out from the pool without having found the volunteer holding his glasses. He had to bike (6 miles) without them, but I found the woman who had them and was able to return them to him before the run. Sometimes Mama still needs to help.

But with Bug at school, I don't want to step in yet. I want him to figure out how he can work with his teacher. I want him to learn how to ask for help, both from her and from us. I want him to learn to explain his worries more clearly. I want him to feel independent and successful.  Then Mama will be happy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

try tri

I mentioned the triathlon briefly last week without giving any explanation.  Sorry. School has filled my brain and summer activities are getting quickly squeezed out by things like new schedules, homework projects and fall baseball.

The triathlon is an extension of our summer swim team. For a few years I've heard neighbors talk about kid triathlons-- one in particular called the Iron Kids. It sounded like something they could handle, coming right off swim team particularly. But, the Iron Kids was huge and not timed well for our schedule last year and we never got around to looking into it seriously.  Yet as the boys climbed out of the pool, barely winded after swimming for hours, it kept coming back to me.

When a parent mentioned a kids triathlon sponsored by the YMCA, my ears perked up. I picked up the brochure when I was there next. The cost was low, the location convenient, and most of all, the distances were perfect for a first triathlon.

Juniors ages 6-10
swim 100 meters
bike 3 miles
run 1/2 mile

Seniors ages 11-15
swim 200 meters
bike 6 miles
run 1 mile

We have a team of friends who are all participating. The boys have taken some runs with CD, since running is probably their weakest area. We tried putting wet bodies into socks, shoes and shirts.

They're ready for the sport. They're ready for the transitions. The crowds may be intimidating, but assuming we find their buddies, they can stick together. The point isn't to win this, and they know it. Bug put it well:  "When they talk about me on the Olympics they can say that 'He did his first triathlon at age eight.'"

So this Sunday morning at before-the-sun-rises-o'clock we will be heading to the triathlon. I'm pretty excited for them. Me, I'll be doing what I do best. Participating as a member of The Audience.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

third grade

Welcome to the Third Grade! As moms of Third Graders, we must have a united front. We must be prepared for school this year.

Here is your supply list. Please have these items last week or expect consequences.

  1. patience
  2. poster board
  3. distractions
  4. a 25th hour to the day
  5. wine
  6. patience

Here are a few of the first projects you will need to do. Extra credit will be given if there are no tears. From either of you.

  1. It is Friday afternoon, an hour after school has let out. Your third grader just announced that he left his paperwork for "the big project" at school. You have no way to get the papers. Solve this problem while making dinner preparations and answering urgent email.
  2. Your third grader needs to make a collage of pictures "all about me." You recycled all the old magazines this morning. Your printer is on the blink. Again. Solve this problem in color.
  3. It is bedtime on Sunday night. Your third grader opened his door so you would hear him sobbing. He apparently just remembered "the big project." Get him to sleep before you fall asleep. Every minute counts against your grade.

There will be pop quizzes and meltdowns at random moments. There will be more poster board needed at unexpected hours of the day. You must always be prepared for these. Each time you use phrases such as "Are you serious?" and "I told you so" you will be penalized.

Again, welcome to the Third Grade!

Monday, August 20, 2012

suddenly with free time

I've been a bit at loose ends since school started.  Especially in the morning and especially while I've waited for Pook's bus to come.  I find myself dawdling in the front yard, so I deadhead an old day lily, then another and another. Finally I head up to the house to check the time to see if I should drive the poor child. I hesitate to do it because the driver needs all the kids if she's ever going to get the route settled. So instead I grab the pruning shears. The plants have enjoyed the attention. I shouldn't have been shocked at the number of weeds out there.

This picture is of dead things, but really there is quite a bit alive at this point of the summer. It has been a weird August. The summer started out so, so hot and dry. I believe my new creeping azalea had a lifetime guarantee, so I'm going to check into replacing it. The rest made it through that hot period ok only to then get rained on so regularly that some of it has rotted, such as the poor lamb's ear (best seen here by the lamp and hose but also the rest of the non-green area in this pic) Fortunately, I think they will rebound next spring.

This is part of the yellow and black family of flowers in my yard. I suppose they're all in the Rudbeckia family but the size of the flowers and overall plant vary. I should probably identify them, because they're clearly different, but I haven't. I'm just enjoying their happy color. This first button nosed bloom with short, rounded petals is with purple coneflowers and lantana usually. Neither of them is blooming much this year.

The longer petaled blooms seen in the second photo are near the daisies. Both of those combinations are wonderful. I should encourage all three to mingle. Sorry I couldn't have them all this year. The daisies are so thick that I can tell I need to dig some out to move them. I've been deadheading, so I hope they'll rebloom this fall.

 The third yellow petaled flower has a coneflower button nose, longer, larger petals and twice the height (about six feet tall).

I found three of these friends at the daisies the other day. The rain had left their webs looking beautiful in the morning light and is the reason I went for the camera and caught all these pictures in the first place.  I pruned away dead daisies but I watched this lady and tried to avoid disturbing her web.

Friday, August 17, 2012

the room: conclusion

Yes, Pook's room is finished. But the boy needed to alphabetize his books and perfect the bulletin board. Then the Lego exploded back out of confinement in the closet and I got distracted.

The amount of work involved in getting this room ready to paint was incredible. I understand that his room was formerly the playroom, and therefore got used harder, but geez!  Just getting to the point where we could find the thousands of thumbtack holes to fill took three days.  The poor boy spent most of that cleaning up Lego. Then there was the realization that behind all those Lego creations was ten years of dust. And, when he was a tot, I had guided him to put stickers onto his bookshelves at the end of the day. (It kept them out of the laundry.) A razor blade and goo-be-gone were needed to scrape them all off.

This was the painted border my MIL and I put on before Pook was born. It took two coats of primer to get it covered.

Here it is, sort-of-made bed and all. The deeper yellow is nice in this sunnier room.

We thought the room was completely finished, and it was for a couple of days. But then there was an... altercation with one boy on either side of the door. The casualty was the mirror. I told them they'd have to share the seven years of bad luck.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I have had multiple requests for my Perfected Pimento Cheese. I must have made it a dozen times with variations on ingredients, only to find fault with all of them. The flavor was sometimes good, but the texture all wrong. I grated the cheese by hand (good, but annoying) I tried putting in cream cheese (not helpful to flavor) I tried adding cottage cheese (had potential). Finally I realized it wasn't ingredients as much as technique.  So experiment with flavors you like, but treat the stuff gently.

Grate 1 lb. sharp cheddar with fine blade of food processor and remove it to a large bowl.
Blend  with food processor:
1 c. cottage cheese
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3-5 T. mayonnaise
1 tsp+ Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
Mix 4 oz. pimentos into mayo blend
Pour over grated cheese and gently fold it in.

Some people like grated onion, garlic or jalepeno in their cheese. These are fine, but not what I was looking for. But, I think the ingredients are personal and the gentle mixing is what finally gave it the fluffy texture I wanted.

Maybe I'll make granola bars this week too. I've finally perfected that one to my tastes too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

what's cookin'?

We've been cooking up a storm here at the House of Pook and Bug. I think I'm restless without my babes here all day.

I've made a fresh salsa, perfect pimento cheese spread, and some hot pepper jelly. If someone gives you a large bag of mixed peppers, remember that hot pepper jelly doesn't call for many. I used the jalapeno ones, decided to dry the chilies, put the banana peppers on salads, and I think I'll pass the habanero peppers forward. If you or someone you know would like about 30 (probably) habanero peppers, please give me a call.

Here are some lovely photos taken by Bug of the gazpacho he helped me make. It is a perfect recipe for a kid to prepare.

Here is the snack Bug and I made with our new pepper jelly, cream cheese and crackers. Yum!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

triathlon training and tears

Triathlon training: Transition swim-bike

1. put on swimsuit
2. get in shower
3. get out of shower (timer starts)
4. put on socks (all rolled down and ready to go)
5. put on shoes (trouble came here)
6. put on t-shirt (time 0:59)
7. run downstairs and out the door
8. put on bike helmet
9. leap onto bike
10. crash bike while still in driveway
11. extricate self from bike
12. cry and limp into the house
13. get Mama to wash the knee
14. refuse a bandage because it might hinder your biking performance
15. get back outside
16. go biking with Daddy

Thursday, August 2, 2012

R&R but no painting

No, Pook's room isn't finished yet. Almost. Poor kid-- his books and toys are piled into boxes still.  But the baseboards needed to be painted and we had a week at the beach scheduled, and, well, life got in the way.  Soon. In fact the painting of the trim will happen tomorrow, and maybe we'll get his art on the wall over the weekend.

We went to St. Simons Island last week for a bit of R&R. This spring when summer camps first came into conversation (everyone seems to register in February for these) the boys expressed interest in Circus Camp. I pulled the laptop out one evening and investigated it. Over $300 each and it didn't even last all day. I turned to CD and moaned that we could rent a beach condo for that price.  He very logically suggested then that we do. The next morning I put it to the kids: do you want a week of Circus Day Camp or a week with Daddy at the beach?  And the beach won.  We've raised those boys right.

Of course we didn't manage a week at the beach for $600, but it wasn't too bad and it was well worth it. We were in biking distance of the beaches and walking distance to the many restaurants in the pier area. We had some good food-- my favorite was at a place called Bubba Garcia's where I had a calamari and pineapple taco and some of the best guacamole I'd ever tasted. Another night we ate award winning BBQ and, being right by Brunswick GA, some Brunswick stew. All good.

I also realized that kids are magnets. All it took was two boys with two boogie boards and two shovels and suddenly there were boys ages 8-12 all over the place. Everywhere I looked. They all had boogie boards and they all had pails and/or shovels. I couldn't find a toddler anywhere, and yet when I had tots, I swore they were everywhere I looked.

Today was "Bridging Day" at the middle school. Pook and I were given (different) mock schedules of classes and spent 25 minutes in each. We met the core teachers, counselors and other administrators. I believe the kids learned how to open a locker. I liked all the teachers I met. They divide the 6th graders into two "teams" and then four teachers share those kids, plus "specials" for PE, art, band, etc. There are lots of clubs and activities and since Pook's good friend K attended one of the other feeder schools, he'll have an easy time meeting all the good geeks. I'm optimistic for him.

No pictures of the finished bedroom and none of the middle school (I'm sure everyone is so sorry about that) but here are some pictures from St. Simon's Island:
Two holes connected with sand "snowmen" keeping guard

Pook rides a wave all the way in

Fort Fredericka

Live oaks and Spanish moss
A Logerhead turtle at the Turtle Hospital on Jekyll Island

Clearly we needed one more day of vacation so we could finish this