Friday, May 30, 2008

Portrait of Modern Parents

Scene: Last night; middle school cafeteria; crowded; rows of folding chairs filled with lots of parents with cameras; chairs and podium on the stage.

I'm sitting on a aisle seat so I can get up quickly to take pictures when I need to. I don't know where Dan is sitting.

The orchestra sounds better than I expected.

My cell phone rings and I put my earbud in and took the call.

I enjoy three selections by the 7th grade band.

The Rest of the Story:

I'm at Tasker Middle for the 8th grade awards ceremony, Dan's at Ogle Middle at Fern's spring band concert. Both started at 7:00 pm. Kevin sat with the students on the front row. From where I was sitting I could see a little of him and he seemed well behaved. He got called up to the stage four times for awards in "most improved in science," "academic excellence in math and reading," "academic excellence with a 4.0 gpa," and perfect attendance. Each time he went up with little or no prompting, accepted his certificate, and shook hands with the administrators and returned to his seat like a pro. Dan calls me when the 7th graders take the stage so I can hear Fern play. Shortly after she was done I lost reception so I couldn't return the favor and Dan couldn't hear Kevin's name for his 4.0 gpa. I did take pictures, however. But I can't post them because the camera battery is on the charger at home. Doh.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I hate this time of year. Oh, I love spring, don't get me wrong. But I hate it.

Tuesday it was 85° outside and 70° in the office. Wednesday it was 55° in the morning outside and 68° inside. How am I supposed to dress for that? I still need my winter wardrobe for the office, or else I'll freeze. And when I go outside dressed like it's February, I roast. There's no winning.

How come if I microwave a pack of microwave bacon for 2 minutes and 45 seconds it's not quite done enough and I have to add 30 seconds 3 times so it's not raw in the middle, but if I set the timer to 3:15 it burns beyond consumption?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

Dan was away this weekend so I held down the fort myself. It wasn't hard to hold down, gravity pretty much did it for me.

I let Fern have Mandy sleep over Friday night. I tend to be lenient when I'm on solo fort patrol, if Fern is occupied, then she's not as much as of a pain as when she's by herself. Saturday morning I dropped Kevin off at AM's for her oldest to watch and took the girls to Danny's bar mitzvah. There was no way Kevin could have sat through a two and a half hour service. Afterward, I took home three girls and collected Kevin.

At 5:30 AM's oldest and her cousin came over and I took the three girls to the Bar Mitzva reception party. AM and Mark were seated at another table and I didn't know anyone at my table so initially I thought I was going to hate the next four hours. But my table mates turned out to be lovely people, one even works here in my building. I'd never had the privilege of attending a party like this, except maybe my own wedding, and my children weren't there then. Havdalah was new to me as well. I stayed out of Fern's way so she could have a good time without me around, but I still spied on her when I could. She did a good job keeping other people between me and her a lot of the time, the rabbi even reported he'd seen her dancing a slow dance with a boy but I missed it.

As it turns out, this was the same boy with whom she was on the phone for 75 minutes Friday night. My teeth almost fell out when I found that out. I was perusing the cell phone bill Sunday and saw the calls. I had wanted to check the number of text messages she used on the way home from the party on Saturday. She and the girls were talking about how much fun they'd had, and after a while I gathered (yes, I was eaves dropping!) two of them were texting another boy from the party on the car ride home, one being my daughter. Giggling never lies.

Anyway, Sunday. I took the kids to church, and to Five Guys afterward. Fern got soup from Panera, instead. I've entered a new level of bribing Kevin. Instead of promising him Five Guys if he goes to church, I promised him Five Guys after church if he'd let me check his teeth brushing. See how sneaky that was? He's not good at brushing his front bottom teeth well enough and he doesn't want me to inspect. Now he lets me check his teeth and he goes to church. Brilliant.

In the afternoon I did some yard work. I got the shrubs around sidewalk trimmed, and used the wagon to haul over some mulch JustMe offered. The wagon broke after the second load. Ever since the break, I've been trying to work out in my mind how I can rebuild the wagon. It was a beautiful Radio Flier when it was new. My parents gave it to us for the kids. Now we use it for yard work, except not any more. The trucks are still in good shape, it's just the deck that needs replaced. And since I won't be carrying kids, it doesn't have to be pretty, just functional. I need to get more mulch, I've got more beds that still need attention. But what's another year of neglect, anyway?

I took Fern and Mandy shopping for a new bathing suit and then went to a Mexican restaurant for a late supper. The girls have a Spanish final this week so they ordered their food in Spanish. Kevin even ate a taco! Then I let Mandy spend the night again. And for some reason there is a 98 minute call to that same boy. Maybe Mandy has something to do with Fern's propensity to talk a lot with him? Hmm. I'll have to inspect her phone bill some more to determine a correlation.

Monday I taught Fern how to drive the lawn tractor and mow the lawn. At first she was going too fast relative to her ability to control her mowing so I made her keep it in 2nd gear. I mow in 4th. Her legs were too short to reach the break so I scooted the seat forward for her. I'm hoping with years of practice, she'll transfer the knowledge to driving a car. When we let her. When she's 20.

Dan got home at 2:00 and I'd promised Kevin I'd take him to the pool so we all went. I already posted about that. Not some of my better posts, but what do you expect tapping out one letter at a time on an iPhone while getting sunburned poolside?

This morning on my walk with AM, in a neighbor's trash pile, (Tuesdays are trash days) I saw a piece of wood, a perfect new deck for my wagon project. wahoo!

Fern at the Bar Mitzvah

Fern with AM's son and Danny.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Now, an hour later the shade creeps closer and is welcome.

Pass the sunscreen, please

I'm sitting in a lounge chair poolside at our pool club. I know water is too cold before July, so I didn't even bring a suit. I have to retrain my eyes so I can spot Kevin among kids because he's grown three feet since last summer. I also didn't bring a book to read. Since I've been quilting a lot I don't have books in the queue. It tends to be one or the other with me.

The pool club had to take a lot of trees down so shade is at a premium this year, I already miss it. Especially missed are the trees around the parking lot. And the grounds look so bear now.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life Lessons

I learned something yesterday. They don't make a lot of Bar Mitzvah cards for protestants to give. They don't make any for protestants to receive.

My daughter and her gaggle of friends earlier today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Calling All Quilters, and Everyone Else, Too

I need your help. Study the picture below or click to enlarge. How does it look, does it flow? Is the arrangement pleasing? There are nine rows of 11 blocks. If you were to rearrange any of these which would they be?

I think the block at row 7, block 1 (from the left) needs to be swapped, but with what? And 6-9 is out of place too, but what block belongs there?

Please comment, you can even be anonymous.


Dearest Husband found the ID in the garage on the floor below the driver's door on the Toyota. Thanks again, Hon!

One of those days

My mind's going crazy.

Why this time?

I'm trying to retrace my steps and figure out what I did with my work ID badge. Can't leave home without it.

Well, apparently, I did. I couldn't find it this morning so I had to get a temporary badge today. Which is a pain because I have to stop at the guard's booth first, then go to the badging office to get one to use for the day.

Yesterday I left work. I had it then, I used it at the badge reader to get out of the building.

I went to my massage therapy appointment and I'm pretty sure it was still clipped to my pocket when I left.

I took money to Fern so she could have a snack during tutoring.

I got gas in the rental car.

I went to the dealership to turn in the rental and pick up the Toyota. I could have bought two HD LCD TV's for what the repairs cost. But hey! They gave me a new battery, yes, GAVE. I guess I can't be too mad at them for the other lapses in customer service. Did I tell you they wanted $40 to install two light bulbs? sheesh. Granted, changing an auto light bulb is a smidge more difficult than changing your garden variety household incandescent bulb, but not $40 more difficult. I'm pretty sure I had my ID badge there and hadn't left it in the rental.

I went back to the gas station to put gas in the Toyota.

I went home to wait for Kevin to come home from swim team practice.

I went to pick up Fern from tutoring and took her to softball practice, but it had started raining so it was canceled. Today is the HSA test, the High School Assessment in algebra. I hope all the tutoring "takes" and she does well and she doesn't have to take the class over again. She'll be bored out of her skull if she has to repeat the class. So bored, she probably won't turn in any assignments and get low grades again. sheesh.

I went to the grocery store to buy an EZpass.

I drove home. This is where my mind gets fuzzy. I think I still had my badge on my pocket and told myself to take it off, I didn't need it at home. But did I? Did I take it off? Where did I put it? I normally drive the van, but Dan had been driving it this week while I took care of the repairs on the other car, so at that point I couldn't have put my badge back in the van where I usually keep it because Dan had the van at golf league.

I did some Girl Scout badge sewing and talked to a new client. Her daughter is in a troop in a different service unit from the troops I've been sewing for, which means the mom will spread the word about my service and I'll potentially have more clients from the troops there. My ID never came into question.

So this morning, it's not in my bag, nor in my jacket pocket. It's not clipped to yesterday's clothes pocket. It's not visible on the kitchen counter. Not on the bathroom counter, not on the bed-side table. Not on the sewing table. I'm going nuts, I tell you.

Where did I put the silly thing, the ID with the horrid picture of me?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

I guess it's time to round-up yet another weekend.

Today I got in to work late because the courtesy van didn't pick me up until almost 9:00 when I asked to be picked up at 8:00. The Toyota is in the shop for general maintenance, you know, all that stuff that you're supposed to be doing all along but haven't, which includes a new clutch. We dropped it off Sunday night and by 3:00 yesterday afternoon I still hadn't heard what the status was. I didn't hear back until after 6:00 what was wrong and how long it's going to take to fix, and how much it was going to cost. Two days and many car payments-worth. They'll give me a complementary loaner, but I'll have to pick it up on Tuesday because the rental counter closes at, you guessed it, 6 pm. Sheesh.

I teleworked yesterday since we only had one car. I actually got a lot done. I had a report to do I'd been putting off. Weird part was, I was comfy-cozy at home and didn't even do the blog thing. I feel like I'm shut off from the world sometime when I don't read my blogs.

Sunday Dan was under the weather so Kevin and I went to church, and later we went with my neighbor to the fabric store. Much to our pleasure, mine and my neighbor's, not Kevin's, they had a unannounced sale, fabric was 30% off. I didn't go too crazy, I just got four pieces. One was a planned purchase, three were spontaneous selections.

It's that season, end of the school year, when I'm getting a lot of Girl Scout vests to work on. Moms are trying to get their daughters' vests caught up before the end-of-the-year awards ceremonies.

To sew badges on, I use clear thread, large needle, and a zig-zag sewing foot, not the the same gear as with quilt making. Two weeks ago I sewed like crazy on the new red quilt and finished 2/3 of my blocks, but got tired of them and welcomed the break of the badge work. But the vests kept coming and my quilt project kept calling me back. Over the weekend I switched out the badge sewing gear for the quilting gear and finished the last 36 blocks last night. Now I can start laying them out to sew together. But in the mean time, it's back to vests. I've got two Brownie vests in the queue. I've already gotten about 20 new clients since January so I can't complain, I am getting paid.

Kevin had another Special Olympic swim meet on Saturday, this one up north of Frederick, MD. I volunteered to help when I got there because it wold have been a long boring day if I had nothing to do. Kevin swam in three events: 25 free, 20 free, and 25 back stroke; and got a third, second, and first, respectively.

I took a new camera with me to the meet. It's not a new camera, just new to me. A friend just bought a Nikon D3 and I'm playing with his old Nikon D50. When you carry a big camera around, you get asked to photograph things you hadn't planned on. (Iamnot posted about this very thing sometime last year.) I'm not really happy with all the photos, I didn't expect a learning curve, there is one, but here are the better shots.

Kevin ready to swim

Finishing the race

Kevin getting his second place ribbon.

Waiting to Swim

Just after the swim

Look Ma!

These two were my attempts at capturing the beauty of the raindrops on the wild grape vines. I'm getting tired of this rain, by the way. Which photo is better?

With flash

Without flash

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I saw a Maserati in Bowie yesterday.

Anyone got $110k?

in Bowie, really?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ISO: sleep

Note to reader: I started this post Tuesday and didn't get a chance to finish, so now it covers two days.

I was wrong. It didn't work.

Kevin was napping before I even got home yesterday. (See yesterday's post.) He woke up around 9 pm despite several attempts at rousing him earlier. And he was still awake at midnight.

He's going through some new OCD thing, I guess. We have to be in bed just right, heads on pillows just so, arms under the covers, or he'll "fix" us, Dan mostly, but still. It's annoying because he's not letting us sleep and frustrating because he doesn't understand not to do it. I wrote out a script of rules.
Bed time is at 10:00 pm.
I will be quiet when Mommy and Daddy are sleeping
I will not turn on the lights.
These scripts usually help direct him to appropriate behavior, but once he's worked up, he doesn't always comprehend the rules he's reading.

Freshman Orientation

At 8:30 Tuesday morning I took Kevin to the high school to meet his teacher for next year and to tour the school. There are 45 CRI students at Bowie High School separated into four classes and I recognized many of them from Kevin's other schools, Special Olympics, day camps and after care programs. It becomes a small community after a while.

In addition to academics in the CRI classes, there is a big vocational program. Job skills and work etiquette are taught from the beginning. Several of the first-year students even work at NASA in the rocket lab cafeteria. In Maryland non-diploma track students stay in school until they are 21, so for six years they get a lot of on-the-job experience, and often have permanent jobs by the time they finish school.

Students who are independent and show aptitude in special areas can take elective classes with the general population, like art, cooking, and music, but it's not required. There is not the integration with the rest of the school Kevin had in middle school, every quarter he had different class.

I got a good vibe from the tour even though the school is so large, so I'm not too worried at this point, but my baby's going to high school. That in itself has inherent apprehension.

Last night Dan went to the Orioles game and I took the opportunity to try to get Kevin back into a cycle of sleeping when he should without Daddy distracting him. I ran a lot of errands with Kevin so he couldn't nap and when we got home directed him to homework. It kinda worked, he went to bed around 11 instead of 12 or 1:00.

I'll take one victory at a time, no matter how small. Although I wish victories were bigger and came more often.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lost Weekend

Kevin was up past 3:00 Saturday night.
And let us know about it.

Sometime after 2:00 I promised him Five Guys after church if he'd just go to bed. Eventually he did.

I knew he'd take a nap when we got home from Five Guys which would then push his bed time back to some ungodly hour, again. I hate that.

Time for a preemptive strike. I camped out on my bed, where he like to take his naps, and attacked the backlog of laundry, matching socks and stacking underwear, while watching episodes of Lost on DVD. Every once in a while I'd hand him a stack of something to put away and he finally gave up on the nap idea and played computer games, instead.

I started at the beginning of season one of Lost since I hadn't seen it in a while. If you keep up with the show, you know we've learned things this season that blow "normal" TV out of the water. If the series hadn't done that already. So yesterday, I watched the first five or six episodes and I noticed that all those early comments, seemingly innocent at the time, have deeper meanings and are clues for the future. It's just like reading all the Harry Potter books over again after you've learned the end of the story and all those clues Harry and gang glossed over in the early years pop out at you like someone took a highlighter and marked up your books.

I started to head downstairs around dinner time but got shooed back up. I was served surf and turf dinner "in bed" and then I finally came downstairs for real to watch the Survivor finale at 8:00.

Kevin did have somewhat of a normal bed time, about 11:30, so the strategy worked for the most part. And, this is the bonus part, he won't (oughtn't) have that domino effect tonight and take a nap as soon as he gets home from after-care. He's off to high school in the fall and they have a start time of 7:30 which means he'll have to get up an hour earlier. Yikes. We'll have all summer to practice getting up early, right?

Friday, May 09, 2008

I'm thinking about putting a taxi meter in the van.

5:00 Fern to algebra tutoring
5:30 pick up Kevin from after-care
5:45 pick up supper for said children
5:50 deliver said supper to Fern at tutoring
6:55 pick up Fern from tutoring
7:00 take Fern to softball practice
8:30 pick up Fern from softball

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

Well, I'm really rounding-up a lot more than the weekend, it's been a long time since I've been able to sit down at a computer and blog. I've been away from the office, too.

At the crack of dawn on Thursday I took the Acela to New York with a colleague to do some usability testing on a new instrument for work. After the last interview, I headed to SoHo for an appointment with Lina for a new haircut. I needed to get the mess fixed from the last cut I got. The new do is fab. I guess I'm too old to talk like that. The new haircut is great, especially a day later after all the stylin' was washed out. When I went to pay I was told my bill was five-twenty. $520? I don't even pay Nick, the owner, near that much. I say out loud "$5.20?" After a consultation with another clerk I was charged the proper amount.

I headed uptown to Times Square to the TKTS booth to meet my colleague to pick out a show to see. Whilst considering our choices, a man with two tickets ($76/seat) to August: Osage County offered them to us for $50 total. The show is pretty new, we'd never heard of it, but this man "swears" it'll win the Tony next month. (He was dumping the tickets because of a Rangers' game, or so he says.) Anyway, we took them and enjoyed the drama, although it was over three hours long and we didn't get back to the hotel until almost midnight.

Friday: another interview for work and lunch and the train home. Friday night, Kevin had more swim team practice, he has a meet on Sunday, and I spent the time cutting fabric for another quilt I'm working on. Yes, another quilt. No, I never finish anything, just start, start, start.... It's called ADD, thank you.

Saturday I took Kevin to his activity and went over to the Honda dealership to look at the Fit. I'm very tired of the 20 mpg my van gets, so I'm dreaming of a more efficient car. The Fit is a compact station wagon, the trunk holds at least two bags of golf clubs and a couple suitcases, that and cruise control, what else do I need?

In the afternoon, I fired up the newly tuned-up lawn tractor and mowed the front yard. I dumped all the clippings around the trees instead of bagging them. It's a lot easier, but I still get stuff all over me. And in my hair.

Sunday after church I mowed the back yard. As I circled back around for another lap I noticed gobs of bunny fluff. At first I thought I hit a rabbit, but then I couldn't remember actually hitting it. And, there was no blood on the fluff. Alas, I'd uncovered a nest. The babies are about 3 inches long with brown fur and long skinny legs. I tried to be careful not to touch the area so the mom would come back and take care of the young'uns. I tried to take pictures of the critters, but I just got blurry fur. They sure do move around a lot. I showed Fern later and she thinks there are about seven future flower eaters in the nest. My words, not hers.

I wanted to get the Living room and sewing room vacuumed, that meant I had to pick up and put away the erector set that Kevin had so graciously placed dumped all over the room. I cannot just scoop and dump, I have to put every part away in the proper compartment, every little nut, every bolt, everything. (Again with the ADD/OCD!) This, of course is the slow way and Kevin comes down stairs to check on me before I'm finished. Oh well, all this work for naught. i prepare myself for the undoing of my work. But it doesn't come. He doesn't get upset I'm cleaning. I'm floored. I'm so floored, I'm still trying to get up. I'm seeing a tremendous change in maturity in him, with this incident and the legos on his bedroom floor last week, I'm just amazed. He is even doing his homework with out balking, Dan says he sought it out earlier today to do. Oh, and he is 70" tall, now. Last Tuesday, Dan and I met with his teacher for his annual IEP meeting. She, too, has noticed great changes in him. Who is this child and what has he done with my son?

Monday I played golf, already wrote about that. Today and the most of the rest of the week, I'll be in a pre-retirement class. More time away from my computer, another thing to keep me from blogging. Darn.

Here are some quilt blocks I've done with the fabric I cut on Friday night. What do you think? So far I have 63 blocks done and 36 to go, but I'm kinda tired of it so I'm taking a break.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday Round-up

Today I played hooky from work.

Can you guess where I was?

Dan and I joined AM and Mark as a team for a charity golf tournament. I had two for the highlight reel, I think it'll be on ESPN later. Maybe not. The first one was a long putt for birdie, then I had the longest drive for women, beating out the woman who usually wins by at least 20 yards. The prize was $50. I didn't even realize it was the hole for the contest until after I teed off. I would have totally choked it I had known. It was a beautiful shot, right down the middle of the fairway. It's shots like these that keep you coming back for more, because the rest of the holes were disappointing by comparison.

I'll round up the weekend later, remind me to tell you about The Boy. But now I need to get some aloe on my sunburn.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Say What?

I'm back from my two days in NYC, a quick jaunt for work.

While I was there I cheated on Nick with his wife, Lina.

She's less expensive.