Friday, September 27, 2013

Ready or Not, Here it Comes

Fall is making its presence felt around our neck of the woods.

I'm not quite ready to do anything rash, like wear long pants or socks, but if I don't pull my down coat out before the next soccer game, I may get hypothermia. No, not ready at all, but I guess the earth didn't ask my permission to tilt away from the sun again this year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Trying to Get Organized

This year is the first that E and Z are in separate classrooms, which means that my automatic backup system for homework, announcements, forms, and fliers is no more, which means I needed to get organized to keep up with two sets of paperwork for two kids.

At first, I thought of making some kind of pocket wallhanging, but decided that: a) that would be too much work, and b) we don't have enough wall space for something like that. So instead I bought an accordion file thingy with lots of pockets.

On the front, I stuck on a piece of blue paper listing all of the things they need to do for homework each evening (I thought i was very clever making it look like a chalkboard with fluorescent colored pencils, but, they informed me, they don't even use chalkboards in school anymore; they use whiteboards).

Inside I labeled each slot with the types of papers I expect to come home: schedule, math, spelling list, reading log, projects, forms. That way they can always find their spelling list or reading log when it's time to study or write down their minutes (I can't tell you how many times M failed to pass in his reading log because it was lost somewhere amid the clutter on our kitchen table).

Because it's all written there for them (and because they can now read––yea!), it gives them some autonomy. Ideally, I won't have to constantly remind them of every single thing on the list, but they will one day come home from daycare and just do it all (wishful thinking is good, right?). So far it has worked fairly well, at least we haven't been going through the drill of trying to find all of the lost papers all over the house. They are still waaaay too tired for the amount of homework they get (which is only one math paper––for Z only––plus studying for spelling and reading), but that's a topic for another post.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Bird in Hand

On Sunday, while admiring the garden of relatives we were visiting, E and I spied a humming bird.

E set about trying to catch the poor thing, while I tried to capture it with my camera.

Our host offered him ten dollars if he could catch the hummingbird with his bare hands.

But it always flew off before E could get into grabbing distance.

Later, after a walk to see the pond and the cranberry bog, we all returned to the garden where a pair of juvenile humming birds played and tumbled together like a pair of juvenile humans that I know.

Z moved stealthily up on one and captured it in his bare hands.

E came out and had to catch one too, to claim his ten bucks.

Z, however, turned out to be the hummingbird whisperer, and soon had them eating out of his hand, literally.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Howling at the Moon

Sometimes, as a working parent, it seems the only time I'm ever with my kids is spent coaxing them to do things they don't want to do: get out of bed, get ready for school, run for the bus, do your homework, eat your dinner, get ready for bed, go to sleep.

 With the return of school and soccer season, it seems this mode has shifted into overdrive. Last week, I found my afternoons spent racing to far-flung soccer fields (and in at least one nerve-wracking case, the wrong field), birthday parties, school open house, and a packet deadline for me. We sat down to dinner only one evening. The rest of our meals consisted of sandwiches or burritos eaten in the car on the way to guitar practice, or on the sides of soccer fields.

By Friday night, after E, Z and I went and got pizza, and finally found M at the undisclosed birthday party location ("Everyone else got picked up an hour ago." "How did everyone else's parents know what time the party ended or where it was?" "I dunno."), we were all in meltdown mode. E and Z responded to my innocent, "Please take your lunch bags out of your backpacks," with red-faced screaming, "I already did that!"

Lying together in bed each night, reading My Side of the Mountain (thinking that living in a hollowed out tree sounded pretty darn good), was about the only quiet, down time we had. That and a walk in the full moon light Thursday night. 

The weekend brought more soccer and parties and visits. I had a hard time letting go, too wound up by everything to just relax and enjoy myself.

And yesterday it began again––soccer game, late dinner, too much homework. Too late to read, I lay in bed with first E and then Z, brushing the snarls out of their long silky hair, and then read them just one poem.

It's not enough. It's never enough. But if that's all there is, I'll take it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Little Collections

I've been collecting sand from the beaches we visit for a long time (ten years to be precise), but I'm not always good at doing anything about it once we get home. I've also amassed a large collection of old bottles––the kind that emerge from old cellar holes here in New England––without even trying over the years. A couple of years ago, I finally got some of the sand I had collected into a few bottles, and labeled with the beach and the date of the visit, and I started to make a more concerted effort to get sand when we're at the beach.

(The fat jar in this picture contains Irish sand, and the jar is from the most divine Irish rhubarb yogurt.)

But I got lazy again, with sand sitting in buckets and jars for the last year, and the labels I had bought got wet and warped (we do keep them in the bathroom, after all, so water is an issue). After making some jam recently, I realized that the labels that come with the jars would work perfect for this project––they're almost impossible to remove with soap and water and a lot of elbow grease. So I rounded up my buckets and jars of sand, washed out some new old bottles, and dusted off the ones that already had sand in them, made new labels for all, and lined them up behind the bathroom sink.

In the process, I realized I don't have any sand from our most-frequented beach (ironically, I collected some last time we were there, and sent it to my sister in a "beach in a box" for her birthday). I think that's as good a reason as any to make sure we get to the beach once more this season, don't you?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Other Two Chairs

After I recovered the first four of our dining room chairs, I placed the two chairs with old, grimy seats at E and Z's spots, figuring they're the messiest eaters (or at least two of the tree messiest eaters) in the house. But E did not like this at all. He kept rearranging the chairs so that he would have a nice, new, clean, orange seat. And he kept bugging me about getting the other two chairs redone.

So I finally ordered the fabric––I decided to go with crazy green dandelions, rather than try to find something in the same color family as the first four chairs––and last weekend, when I had about ten spare minutes between other projects and activities and household chores, I ripped off the old, and stapled on the new.

Now E makes sure he has one of the green chairs at his spot. Only the best for that boy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weekend Things––Running and Rock & Roll

This past weekend our town had its "Whitefield Day" celebration, with events and activities planned for the day. M and his buddy/band-mate managed to get themselves a gig opening for the professional band that was to play at midday. C and I planned to go watch his rock & roll debut, but didn't have much interest in the other aspects of the event.

But then, Thursday night, Z announced at dinner, "There's a run on Saturday. I want to do it."

"You mean the 5K?" I asked. "You really want to do that?" I had thrown the several dozen fliers that had come home from school about it in the recycling bin. I mean, who pays money to go run?

"Yeah. How far is that?"

"About three miles." I looked at C, "You wanna do it with him?"

"No way," said the spouse.

We both looked at M.

"I've got to save my breath for my show." Uh-huh.

I dug the flier out of the recycling bin. $15 per person. $30 per family. Walk or run. Okay, well, I can walk three miles, no problem. But I'd rather walk it in the woods, up a mountain, on a trail, alone or with my kids. Not on the side of the road with sixty people who paid money to run and who actually take it seriuosly. No thanks.

"You know running's bad for you," C said. Great, just what I needed, for him to discourage the kids from exercising, especially the kid who never, ever stops moving, and should probably run a 5K every day. I hushed C, dug the flier out of the recycling bin, signed us up, and talked E into walking with me.

Saturday morning, we arrived early, got our shirts and our pinnies. Z lined up at the front of the pack. E muscled to the middle, with the walk-joggers. So much for my walking partner. I worked my way to the back, where I found my friend R, who came even without her kids to drag her there, and who showed up in jeans. My kind of 5K-er. I asked some of my running friends to keep an eye on Z, but there were lots of kids in the pack so I figured he'd be okay.

About a third of the way into our walk, we saw the front of the pack returning––the people who take these things seriously––and not too far behind them was Z, red socks pulled up to his knees, red t-shirt, red baseball cap, and red cheeks. He was running and taking it seriously. I never saw E––we must have crossed paths during the short loop section––but he did finish the race, even if he never went through the finish line and handed in his sticker. And R and I didn't finish last-last––we passed a kid with a knee brace.

We went home, showered, ate lunch and returned in time to watch the debut of Double Jinx.

M played guitar, sang, and worked the crowd, saying things like, "Some of you might be too young to know this song," before launching into Nervana. They even played two songs of their own composition. I can't quite explain why it makes a mama's heart swell with pride to hear her twelve-year-old on stage singing, "A mosquito, my libido," and "Lock up your daughters, lock up your wives..." but it did. I had a tear or two in my eye, I have to say.

Music is as alien to me as running. I never played it, and most of the stuff M likes to play is music I never listened to myself (AC/DC, what?). For some reason, it shocks me every time I realize these babies I gave birth to are individual human beings, whose mission from that first moment is to become their own selves. And they're going to awe us and perplex us every step of the way. I mean, runners and rock stars? Never would have predicted that.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Mini Getaway

There was a period of time, back in our mid- to late-twenties, when C and I went to four or five weddings every summer.

We traveled to Colorado, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and all over Maine to see our friends get married.

But then almost everyone was married and having babies and the weddings dried up, to the point that the last wedding I can remember going to was at least six years ago.

So it was a pleasure for C and I to get away briefly last weekend to see one of his good friends from college days get married.

We got to spend a bit of time exploring an island off the coast,

Then watched two beautiful people get married against a stunning backdrop.

We got to catch up with good friends, and some people we haven't seen in almost twenty years.

We ate lots of delicious food,

And danced until the wee hours of the morning (well, at least until 10:00 anyway).

I had forgotten how much fun weddings are!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Evening Walk

Sometimes, the chaos in the household gets to be a bit much for me.

I get sick of listening to my own self telling everyone to stop goofing around and get ready for bed (or finish eating dinner, or do their homework) already.

Sometimes it's better for me to leave them to their own devices...and their dad, and just go out into the world to see what's happening in a calmer space.

Last week, I had one of those nights (only three days into the school year, ay yi yi).

So I snuck out among the trees and the clouds and the setting sun.

I might just need to make it a nightly ritual.

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