Friday, May 29, 2009

Helmet Heads

Grrr. The big kids have been riding their bikes to school. Sounds good, right? Mmmm. Not so much. The mister went out into the garage where he found the elder offspring's bicycle helmets. Perhaps the expectation of safety was unclear? The expectation that brains be protected from the many and varied possible injuries that can happen in the blink of an eye. (Just last year Miss Erin flew right over her handlebars and landed on her head. She needed a new helmet, but her head was quite right.) I am a bit mystified as to why the big kids would believe themselves exempt from wearing a helmet when riding bicycles. In response to their foolishness, the mister and I will be removing the children's bikes from the school racks. (The office will be aware so that any potential cries of "theft" will not cause alarm.) Perhaps the leisurely walk home from school will allow the darlings an opportunity to sort out why their choice is unpopular with Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I stared at the backs of my eyelids most of Monday night thanks to the assorted squeaky wheels vying for my attention. All of said squeakers happened to be spinning full tilt despite the need for rest. Few things detract from a good night's sleep quite so well as an unquiet mind. (If "unquiet" is not a word--- it should be.) All of the assorted to-do's had been shelved over the long weekend, and now each item was vying for prime placement in the top slots of the almighty "To-Do List". With the constant addition of new tasks, prioritizing is of little use. It's not as if one really has a desirable choice between chaos, confusion, and general disorder.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Memorial Day weekend feels like a taste of Summer. Long days that start a tad later than school schedules demand stretching into evenings extended by later sunsets hint at near endless possibilities. The swimming pools are open. Berries are in season. And we are unfettered by the have tos that so often define our days. Lovely.
The kids have already lost the first of many pool toys that will disappear over the course of the hottest months. The laundry loads have shifted from heavy sweaters to beach towels. The house looks like a dish-paper-shoe bomb went off. The t.v. yammers away with animated programming. The mister is alternating between sanding away imperfections and doing some patching on the master bath walls in preparation for the first coat of neutral paint in Mommy's Personal Spa Retreat. (Of course, now that there are not little fingers waggling beneath the door, we have a cat who will obligingly fill that void by slipping her paw under the door and shifting it back and forth. At least the furball doesn't ask what I am doing in there.) And I am enjoying a cup of coffee while cruising the net and absent-mindedly refereeing the children's more exciting discussions until I am needed to help paint.
By August the lackadaisical days of Summer will be gearing up in preparation for the First Day of School. I will be heartily sick of the kids while dreading the necessity of handing them over for the majority of their waking hours to professional educators. It will be too hot to genuinely enjoy the very outdoor activities that create a yearning for Summer. But for now, we are just entering the halcyon days of Summer Vacation with the endless possibilities of "What shall we do today?"

Picture Post: Beached

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Don't Know

I do not know everything. Please ignore any air of Know-It-All (because it is entirely unintentional), and be armed with the absolute surety that my answer is sometimes no more brilliant than, "I don't know." Because I am still learning. New ideas still happen, old ideas evolve into new versions of themselves with added information, and occasionally an old idea is thrown out simply because I determine it to be stupid in light of new evidence or perspective.
I hear your questions, and appreciate the questioners because they wish to know and quite possibly have retained a sense of wonder. If I know an answer to what you ask, then I will chime in with an offering. If you ask the answer to 4+2, then I'll respond with "6". If my child asks the same question, I'll tell him or her "Work it out." Should you wish to know the origin of some mighty big word, I'd love to supply the answer, but again the offspring will likely receive only reference to the large, rather worn, red book with what was once "Dictionary" stamped in gold down its spine. Knowledge-based queries offer a bit of a treasure hunt--- although less so than in the days before the big-mouthed internet was readily available.
The writing is on the wall: the children are reaching the sorts of ages where Mom is losing her grip on the title Knower-of-All-Things. The signal for the coming of the end of this age? Our youngest child recently asked, "What do you mean you don't know?! You are a Mom, and Mom's know everything. So, you have to know everything!" *sigh* Not so much, and one can only hope that "I don't know" will inspire a desire to seek out answers... to research a bit as the lovies mature into a realm that involves theories and ideas rather than bodies of fact.
The Mommy Grapevine has it that Moms lose I.Q. points at an alarming rate as their children hit the teen years. (Well, according to the children anyway.) I'm just hanging onto the idea that I will become gradually brighter again once the children are grown. I might even regain potential intelligence sooner if the darlings develop their brains.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The theory under which the mister and I wish to operate is that we will train the kiddies up from the earliest ages to prepare them for growing independence. This is not working out quite as we hoped. Conventional parenting seems to be something which The Boy works around. It generally works well for the daughters though. The Boy appears to consider such guidelines as... mmm... challenges.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Map Quest

Oh. Two of our children fall within the wide range of autism spectrum disorders. Sometimes I forget. Until something or someone reminds me. I've heard the same from other parents of highly functioning kids with autism. Because our kids look like the other kids in many, sometimes even most, ways. But they are not. And to forget is to risk. To risk dropping the ball. To risk having a child who learns to cope and fit in with the rest of the human beings on the planet. Or to fail to make an accommodation that might have led to that child fitting in. Or not. Autism speaks. But it seems to only ever ask questions. And most of those questions are without answers.
Today the internet brought an article on possible genetic answers to the question of why there are more autistic boys than girls, but that also set my mind to asking questions better left unasked. One of our affected children received early therapies. The other did not, and there is no way to really know how much difference might have been made by early therapies for the child who did not receive them. So the Boy chooses the Pokemon cartoon theme song to present to his 8th grade English class in response to an assignment on lyrics. And sees nothing at all age inappropriate about this choice. And our daughter only rarely shows those small signs that she is, in fact, not quite like the other kids. Because we, and our doctor, knew to be watching and to be vigilant about those small signs that there might be a little something extraordinary about those missed milestones that might otherwise be disregarded initially.
The irony here? Because of an "impossible" pregnancy, our son had genetic mapping following our decision to pursue amniocentesis. (There was never a question of whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy, but we wished to have the opportunity to prepare for what might be. Imagine our relief when no known genetic markers were found to affect our child.) Two years later, we again chose amniocentesis for our second pregnancy with the same relief at the results. By the time our third pregnancy rolled around, our eldest child was enrolled in school district programs and seeing specialists to try to answer the first of many, many questions that autism has asked. We skipped the amnio with Erin, but we saw the all-too-familiar behavioral and developmental signs in the months and years after her birth.
So. I read the article blathering on about genetic markers for autism with tears in my eyes, and more than a slight twinge. I love my children. And I would not trade any of them. But I wonder if there could have been a better--- more normal (Is that the definition of better?) outcome for Evan who knows that he is not like all the "other" kids had such genetic markers screamed out from his earliest tests? And yet, that is not our road. And to try to look down it really goes nowhere.

Sweet Spot

Middle Child has claimed french-style bakery and restaurant La Madeleine as "our" spot. It has also perhaps lent a slightly uppity tone to some of her comments to her siblings that she and Mom have a spot, while the siblings do not have any particular place to claim. She has a tendency to need more, or at least to need more vocally, than her siblings. It makes it a little more challenging to meet the needs of The Boy and Little Bit because they are not as in-your-face as Miss Kate about their needs.
As the trio get older, one-on-one time becomes more precious to me (and quite possibly to them as well based on their response to the offering of such a thing). It also becomes less attainable with the hectic schedules that are created when taking into account all the activities, appointments, jobs, classes, volunteerism times, chores, meals, etc. vying for slots in the calendar. Much as some creative solutions have allowed the mister and I to combine our weight management, pet care, stress relief, and couple time (We walk the dogs together before the kids wake up in the morning.), there are likely some similar options that can be found for the kids--- especially with Summer just a couple of weeks away. Surely the one-on-one time with the lovies can be arranged--- especially if one keeps an eye out for the odd unexpected opportunity.
For example, the mister is out on Wednesday mornings to meet his accountability partners at a local coffee shop after the tween and teen leave for school. Normally, I would be meeting my walking buddy for our three-mile trek, but I'm under the weather and not so energetic. So, instead of the usual push to walk extra miles, Little Bit and I drove over with the mister to the shopping center that houses his meeting place. We parked in front of the coffee shop, and he went in to meet the guys. Erin and I crossed the parking lot and entered a bakery. Erin "oohed" and "ahhed" over the assorted treats (and was both horrified and amused when, with her lazy listening skills, she heard a woman order two wild "boogary" muffins), but we stuck with an order of coffee (mine) and hot chocolate (hers) which she dubbed, "coffeecino" since the gentleman at the register wisely gave my girly the same kind of cup as Mom.
We sat in comfy chairs at the back sipping our drinks and reading from Mark. She was tickled to hear that we were sitting in the very same seats that were occupied on another trip to the same shop with a grown-up friend. She shared a scenario from her imagination of what Mom's grown-up coffee meeting might look like and how it was similar to ours. After we finished our reading and chat, we headed out to put our Bibles in the car and spent a good twenty minutes walking around the shopping center and talking about inconsequential things. Erin is already making bids for another trip to the bakery, but next time she wants to have breakfast. Looks like we have Our Spot.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit...

Oh, come on! Somehow, the children who eat similar meals around here are supposed to be taking in radically different calorie counts. Middle child has just been given the news that she needs to be eating 3200-4000 calories (good stuff--- not junk foods) per day by her doctor as part of her summer training program. The Boy and Little Bit do not need extra calories because each of them has enough extra weight to facilitate even a super-dee-duper growth spurt.
The only things I can think of to make this happen, without fueling unnecessary weight gain by the siblings, are beans. The eldest and youngest find beans in all their glorious high-protein, low fat forms to be disgusting. Middle child loves, loves, loves beans. And she won't be in school where the, ahem, after effects of the magical fruit will get one nicknames having to do with toots. *sigh* There are bound to be other foods that will help our growing girl to build muscle and put on the weight she needs without packing on the pounds for her siblings. I just cannot think of any others right off the top of my head.

I think we should stop talking to doctors about weight.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This week has been packed with the sort of women who make one glad to be counted among the rank and file of femininity. Some are well-educated, others are well-heeled. Many are mothers. Many are wives. Some are up the street and one a long plane flight away. Our contact has come via e-mail, blog, phone, Facebook, over coffee, during a photo shoot, by the pool, in the car, over dinner, sitting in an emergency room, and while sorting laundry... just to name a few of the locations where The Women have been found this week.
Whatever the setting, it is a pleasure to catch up, dream, discuss, pray, and just generally to enjoy that precious substance labelled friendship. The little plaques proclaiming "Good women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them." are perhaps trite, but they do resonate. The common adventures of the sisterhood form a bond perhaps a tad bit elusive and foreign to Team Testosterone. Happy Post-Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Things That Go Boom

  • Have recovered from my initial jaw-on-the-floor outrage over being "overweight". Despite feeling comfortable in my own skin, have decided to continue The Challenge long enough to fit within the idiot box (.gov's BMI chart) in addition to my skinny jeans. Because I can.
  • The bathroom is lovely, but the shower remains out-of-commission while we wait to order glass for the enclosure. To do otherwise would result in a fairly fantastic mess.
  • My Mom-mobile is back to normal after going blooey last week thanks to a fair amount of trauma performed by our local shop.
  • Finished What Was Lost by O'Flynn. A good read, and a quick one. Really could have done without some of the more course language, but can also see how it fit the character(s) where f-bombs were employed. Have somehow misplaced my biography on Ringelblum.
  • Wallpaper border stripped off of all but one wall in the master bath. The neutral paint sits in the garage waiting for me to get around to the rest of it. Meant to knock it out yesterday, but...
  • Saw Star Trek with a pair of girlfriends while the husbands and kiddies were at work and in school. One was seeing it for the second time, and two of us let off a spontaneous, verbal "Woo-Hoo!", so great was our appreciation. We're all drooling over the summer's upcoming pantheon of movies featuring Things That Go Boom from Transformers to GI Joe.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bad Mass Index

Today started off just fine. I was feeling thin, and looking forward to my well-deserved pat on the back at the endocrinologist's office for dropping my excess weight in just over two months through exercise and a sane diet that included all food groups and needful nutrients. (Yay, me!) Except that the "Woo-Hoo!" of standing on the scale that reflected my 17 pound weight loss turned to ashes in my mouth as the doctor shared the unpleasant truth that I am overweight by two pounds at 169.
The scale's reading would need to be at 167 to qualify for "normal" on a 5'8.5" frame. Seriously. Normal is a wide range that runs from 122 to 167. The good doctor would like me to set the goal range at an additional 20-30 pound loss. (Apparently my skinny jeans are really just my "overweight" jeans.) Because a normal body mass index is 18.5-24.9 and mine is 25. So. I recommit mysef to this plan to get my weight in line as an exercise in discipline.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


See Holly. See Holly twitch. *sigh*
Good news is that the master bathroom tile is being grouted today. Bad news is that the grout got on the ceiling which will now need to be repainted. We needed two more boxes of tile a couple of days ago, and then two more (for a total of four above and beyond what was expected) yesterday. Did I mention that the tile cost more than my mister had expected to spend? And that he went along with me because I really, really liked this tile?
While en route to retrieve boxes three and four from the retailer, my Mom-mobile began to vibrate. Violently. Uh-oh. And on the way home? The "Check Engine" light started flashing to further highlight the issue. Oh, but no. Today the truck is in the shop, and we are waiting for a call with word on just what caused the badness.
The glass guy who resorted to the "Little Lady" routine and added on to the price quoted over the phone when I arrived to place the order? Yeah. His increased price is still lower than the second quote by many, many dollars. I may just have to suck it up and go vacant and smiley long enough to get the glass installed in the bathroom. First, I will try to collect another couple of quotes in hopes of maintaining both my self-respect and the bottom line on the remodel.
Unless the cost of New Camera and Car Repair prohibit the immediate completion of the bathroom project. We're determined to stick to our pay-as-we-go plan to avoid incurring any new debt. Which may mean we further extend the wait for a fully functional 2nd shower. Again with the sighing and twitching.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And On...

Progress is slow, but at least there is progress in the extended version of our master bath remodel. We have to find a new glass contractor because the first quote changed when the "Little Lady" showed up to place the order and write the check. (That "Little Lady" business would be the other reason for using a different contractor. My mister tickles me with that "Delicate Flower" stuff, but from a contractor it's just condescension.) Tile grout ("Haymarket") has been selected, and a paint chip matched to the grout. I am beginning to greatly favor calling a realtor over calling a contractor because, even with an average of two-three months on the market, selling just might be quicker.
And these pictures? Taken with the replacement for Busted Camera. Happy Early Mother's Day to me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


In church on Sunday the girls and I heard about Zachaeus. Not the "...wee, little man who climbed up in the Sycamore tree...", but definitely the man who wanted to see Jesus. Straight out of Luke we met the tax collector who caused the crowd to complain that Jesus was meeting with a sinner. It was pointed out in service that Matthew was also a tax collector. And the tax collector was compared to Bernard Madhoff to further illustrate why Zachaeus and his ilk would be universally disliked. While it was unclear if the girls understood that example, they seemed to follow along well enough with the rest of the teaching.
That evening the girls and I were reading in Mark, and we happened to be reading about Levi. Who was a... yep. A tax collector. The girls commented on the apparent predilection Christ had for tax collectors. Which had us criss-crossing back and forth through the Gospels to compare similarities between people and statements. It also presented the opportunity to offer the girls a new example clarifying the position of tax collectors by likening them to very successful used car salesmen. Which caused Katie to laugh so hard she fell off the couch.
I wondered at the end of the evening if the girls really grasped the importance of our discussion, or if they had been distracted by the sheer quantities of tax collectors and Mom's oddball explanations. This morning, I asked Erin about our weekend's topic. Her response? Direct quote from our littlest girl, "He came for the lost. And for the sinners." Alrighty, then.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Blathering On

Our contractor is suddenly "going out of town". At least that's the message our son took down. The bathroom that was supposed to be a five day project is now on week three. And I blew my free hours today perusing glass samples for the obscured glass to replace our peepshow windows and trying to make up my mind about which sort of glass shower enclosure shall grace our lovely new tile. I do hope the contractor comes back.

I have new books. Thanks to Green Girl for recommending What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn. Which also led me to pass by the table in the bookseller's where I found Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto by Samuel D. Kassow. Yes, I am reading them both at once. Because I can.

My camera took a nosedive onto the kitchen tile floor. Now it flashes a message proclaiming a zoom error and refuses to play nicely. The people at Olympus informed me that the repair could be undertaken for $168. This is substantially less than replacement cost of said camera. It is also substantially more than I have budgeted ($168>$0) for camera-related expenses. In response to my camera woes, S. says that gravity sometimes gets us. I pointed out that gravity already got the Girls, and I find it to be extremely poor sportsmanship to take my camera, too.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Local school districts are closing schools in response to even a single case of Swine flu. Irresponsible news reporters ask questions about pork producers being investigated (!), or, better still, prosecuted (!!) only to be disappointed in the response by Federal Officials that "Swine flu is not a food-borne illness." Our church and our grocery store have prominently displayed signage related to their response to Swine flu and super-sized tubs of alcohol-based hand sanitizers available for use. And in the midst of this flurry, our Middle Child makes the statement, "Sheesh! There are only like five people in the hospital with that stuff. I don't know why everyone is making such a big deal about it."
Whoa. While I agree that there is an awful lot of press being given to what looks more like a dog and pony show of an outbreak than the three-ring panic circus being reported, it was disturbing to hear our girlie speak dismissively of anyone's illness because there were not sufficient numbers to impress her. I asked her how many people lived in our home. "Uh... five?" Understanding dawned quickly in her eyes, but it seemed reasonable to follow our subject. "So, would you still consider it unimportant if the five people hospitalized were us? Or maybe just five random people from our extended family or church? Does five still seem like a measly number when put into that context?" (The questions were put to Miss Kate in a gentle tone because the subject matter was sufficient to freak her out without it being presented as a hostile challenge.) Hopefully, our sweet girlie will be more aware in the future that just because something does not apply to her personally, it is not necessary to make light of others' misfortune or difficulty.