Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's All Relative

A while back, Mark was trying to explain to Kira about relative strength. He explained, "What's heavy to you might not be heavy for me. What's heavy for me might not be heavy for Mom. What's heavy for Mom might not be heavy for Gramp. What's heavy for Gramp might not be heavy for a crane."

Love how the next strongest thing he could think of after his grandfather was heavy machinery. :D


Oh, thank goodness. Dad helped me get the air conditioners in the windows in the living room and in my bedroom. (reminder to self: need to clean filters later) The original plan was to put the old air conditioner in Mark's room and get a new one for the living room, and hopefully also one for Kira's room, but we had to make some choices today, and my choice was to have the living area where we spend the most time, as a livable space. The air conditioner that was in Mark's room last year is pretty close to unusable. About three or four years ago the knob came off, but it was okay because I could still turn it on and off with pliers, and I figured that would discourage Mark from messing with it if he couldn't work the buttons. Well, last year he gave it a shot with the pliers and snapped the stem right off, so the rest of the summer you could only turn it on or off by plugging or unplugging the whole unit. So I think that one has finally bit the dust.

Kira's room gets *very* hot and stuffy, but where Mark's room is physically bigger, I can always put her to sleep in his room, whereas I cannot put him in her room. So the priority is to have one in Mark's room.

But anyway. Now the living room is nice and cool, and my bedroom is set to 70 degrees (until I can get window units for the kids' rooms, in desperation they can both camp out with me), which will be glorious. This is only the third summer that I've had air in my bedroom. As I absolutely MELT in anything much over 75 degrees, I was not a happy camper in the summer. My bedroom gets pretty much no breeze at all (it probably would if I could get a screen door made for the balcony door, but that is going to be a custom size and I just don't even know where to start for measuring or anything), so it was not pleasant. Now it's niiiiiiiiiiice and cool, and the air conditioner has a remote, even, which makes me feel so spoiled. And because my bedroom window is tiny, the unit itself is tiny, which meant that it was not expensive. I have already gotten more than the price of the unit's worth out of better sleep at night.

Now to start measuring and pricing for two new units. Well, Kira's room is small, also, so that one shouldn't be *too* horrible. I hope. Sigh. mk


Beast Mom has written an excellent short story which received an Honorable Mention at the Mom Writer's Literary Magazine. Go check it out! (I'm so proud! sniff, sniff)

I've re-started Atkins for the bazillionth time. So should be having regular updates on my Atkins Blog. (which is nothing but talk about weight and stuff, so don't feel you need to check it out if it's not interesting to you...I won't be offended or anything. That blog's more just a food/weight journal, really.)

Found an interesting site called Remember the Milk. It's basically an online list site, to help in organization. I'm not sure if I'll sign up or not, as I'm a little addicted to paper lists, but we'll see. I'm getting a little tired of being so disorganized around here, I need to get it in gear.

Amy at Tea and Bonbons put me on her blogroll! I've gotten quite a few hits from it, too...very exciting. Thanks, Amy!

Mark has started running. His future soccer coach has "assigned" a running program for him, of 2-3 miles, at least twice a week. This morning was Mark's second run, of 2 miles. I've been dying for him to get into running for the longest time, he's got the right build for it (those looooong legs) and I think he will really enjoy it. So far, he seems to. We've measured out distances along my road, and he is eventually going to build up to a 3.5-mile distance. I landmarked distances by the half-mile, thinking he would start out with maybe a mile, but he hopped right into the 2-miles, and seems to be doing great with it. I wish I could join him. Way back in my youth a million years ago, before ankle and knee injuries took running off the table forever, I used to love the feeling of flying along the road with long strides, unconnected to the earth. sigh.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a surprise comment on my other blog from a guy I graduated high school with. (Hi, Peter!) We've since exchanged a few emails, catching up, and the next time he's in the area we're planning coffee. He's doing some amazing things, traveling around the world. Right now he's in Korea for a seminar. I'll tell ya, it made me feel VERY much a loser. I don't feel I've accomplished anything in my life. I've decided, if anyone asks me what I'm up to these days, I'm going to answer with the usual about doing the mom thing, and that I'm also working on a novel. (Now, so that nobody thinks this is just a spontaneous lie, I actually *am* working on a novel. And also another book. Possibly two. All unrelated subjects. Mostly because I couldn't decide on just one.) I may not ever actually FINISH any of these novels, but at least I'm *working* on something.

My parents got Mark a pair of digital drumsticks at a yard sale. They're pretty cool. I like the headphone feature, so they don't get too obnoxious. Speaking of obnoxious, Ro gave Kira her old TracFone. It was about to expire. So for two whole days, Kira had her own cell phone. She brought it with her to a birthday party, and she must have called me seven times while she was gone. She's also been just playing with it, changing the ringtones and stuff. She thinks she's pretty hot stuff. I'm about ready to take the thing and chuck it in the toilet. But I won't. sigh.

I need to do some *actual* housekeeping with, you know, my actual HOUSE kind of housekeeping. And my lawn desperately needs to be mowed. Dad's been taking care of it for me while my ankle is still in recovery (holy COW, it's taking forever). But he's also doing his own lawn and my grandfather's lawn, and he's averaging about every 10 days getting here to get it done. So it's in a constant state of overgrowth, even when it's just been mowed. It really needs to be cut, then cut again immediately. I was planning to have Mark take care of it, but right now it's past where he could handle it. Also, Dad has taken the lawnmower WITH HIM. So even if I *wanted* to do my lawn, I can't. big sigh. The *plan* is for him to come today and do it. And leave the mower here. So hopefully on Thursday Mark will mow it again. (Mark's going off for the day today, and tomorrow the kids are with their dad.)

Well, this is NOT getting my housework done, so I'm off. mk

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kira's Butterfly

Starting home in the car from camp yesterday, driving down the dirt road and Kira suddenly shrieks from the back seat: "STOP! Drive the car on the other side!"

As I was actually driving down the middle of the road, I was a bit confused, but she quickly clarified that she wanted me to drive down the left side. Followup conversation:

K: "I was walking down the road earlier and there was a butterfly! It's dead! Well, it's a *little* bit alive! I don't want you to run it over!"

me, now trying to drive down the wrong side of the road, watch for oncoming traffic, and catch a glimpse of a butterfly on the ground: "I don't see it."

K: "Well, it's covered up with dirt! Don't hit it!"

I hate to break it to you, darling, but if it's laying there with dirt covering it, I don't think I have to worry too much about anything *I* might do to it. mk

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pocket Change

As part of their reformed pack-ratting plan, my parents are getting rid of stuff. They've been holding periodic yard sales at their house, offloading some of the things they've bought themselves at yard sales (and estate sales) over the years, very often at a pretty profit (unless you are one of their customers; in that case, you are getting THE BARGAIN OF A LIFETIME!!!). So far this summer, they've netted about $6,000 from their yard sales. (No, that is not a typo.) BTW, I read somewhere that the average household has enough extra clutter in their house that if they held a yard sale, they'd make about $2200. So yes, my parents have made triple that, and in large part, you really can't tell that they've even gotten rid of stuff.

But this was not the story I set out to tell. (it just boggles me, though, so I had to say it.)

Most people have a little dish somewhere where they empty out their pocket change. (BTW, seen that statistic?: If you have money in the bank, in your purse and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.) In my case, periodically I take my spare change and put it in a little tiny jar marked "Rainy Day Fund." (so far I might be able to survive a sun shower.) I do most of my financial stuff by check or debit card; I just don't really have a need for cash (except lunch money during the school year. And allowances).

My parents handle many financial transactions in cash. And while they're getting much, much better about using those funny little places called BANKS, for the longest time they were forgetting to roll their change and bring it in. Plus, who really enjoys rolling change? It sucks. Especially if you have a lot of it. And lemme tell you, tellers don't enjoy large amounts of loose change. I know; I was one. We HATED it. We even turned it away if there was a lot of it and it was unrolled. We'd provide the customer with a bunch of coin rolls and let 'em do it. Or we'd tell them the fee for that (I think it was something insane like $1/roll), which was a pretty good deterrent, too.

Now, of course, they have those WONDERFUL machines that will count your coins for you. They have them in the supermarkets nearby, but they charge around 10% to do it. I'm sorry, I'm cheap. I'll do it myself. (Not that I currently have enough change that would fill a whole roll, but you know...if I ever did.)

BUT. There is a bank nearby that has one of those wonder machines, and they DON'T charge a fee to use it. So the other day my dad starts gathering his loose change, in preparation for bringing it to the bank. He collected it from the top of the bureaus; and the pickle jar beside the bureau; and the pickle jar in the barn; and the two in the barn chamber; and the one in the cellar; and the wooden bucket in the furnace room. Oh, and the sock full of change he used to keep for some reason that I don't quite understand and don't really want to.

So when he finished up, and he could find no more spare change anywhere, he had five pickle jars and a wooden bucket, all full of mixed loose change. (I'm telling you, he had not rolled change in A WHILE.) He lugged it all to the bank, up to the machine, and he started pouring it in. And pouring it. And pouring it. The tellers were agog. They kept asking him what his total was up to. (According to CoinStar, the average household has about $99 worth of loose change.) When he hit $400, they told him they thought that was probably the most any single customer had EVER brought it at once. And he kept pouring.

After AN HOUR AND A HALF, he finally reached the bottom of the pickle jars and the wooden bucket. Then he remembered the sock, which he had also carried to the bank. He untied the knot in the top and emptied that in as well. His grand total of change....SPARE CHANGE.....that they had FOUND AROUND THE HOUSE......


Not a typo. Eighteen hundred and fifty dollars. In pocket change. mk

Note to robbers who are seeking out easy marks: all this money is now in the bank. There is NOTHING LEFT at my parents' house. Please do not rob them thinking they are stashing any more. They aren't. Honestly. You know the signs that some convenience stores have that say: cashier is holding less than $50 and has no access to the safe? It's like that. Don't even bother. mk

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation: Homework!

The seventh grade math/science teacher sent home packets with the kids yesterday. Each packet consisted of a bunch of "help" pages and 27 math assignments (each one is both sides of a piece of paper, plus a "show your work" page). And an answer key. Mark, being Mark, was fuzzy on whether this homework is going to count for anything, or if it really needs to be passed in, or really *any* helpful details.

The seventh grade language arts teacher sent them home with a reading assignment. (just "read a book you haven't read before"...gee, with the seventh Harry Potter coming out next month, THAT will be a hard one.)

I remember having summer reading assignments for English. A nice list of books that had to be read over the summer. (Man, I HATED Moby Dick. I'm going to re-read it soon to see if it sucked as bad as I remembered, or if it was just resentment from spending my week in New Hampshire having to slog through it.)

I understand the purpose of assigning these math lessons, and of course I understand and fully endorse pushing kids to read as much as possible (although it's not like I've EVER had to push either of my kids to read). There is such a backslide of progress over the 2 1/2 *months* the kids are out of school, as evidenced and reinforced by standardized test scores (don't get me started on the whole debate of those...but I am using them to back up my point here, so let's just keep going), with a marked decline in scores between spring of one grade level and fall of the next. A great deal of time is spent just getting the kids re-familiarized with work they've already done. While there's something to be said for the technique of hitting a subject over and over until it's pounded into our skulls (grin), it's frustrating for the teachers, and it's frustrating for the kids, who weren't thrilled the *first* time they had to go through it. Assigning work over the vacation to "keep it fresh" might have the desired effect of shortening the time required re-teaching the material.


IF kids spread it out over the summer, instead of either jamming it into the beginning to get it over with, and then ignoring it all summer, which effectively negates the entire purpose, or cramming it in just before school starts, in which case they'll start the school year already burnt out from homework overload, and probably with little-to-no retention of the work they've just done.

Now, since there are 72 days of summer vacation left, and 27 math assignments, if Mark does 2 or 3 of these lessons a week, he'll have it spread out nicely. (actually, about 1 assignment every 3 days)

Now doesn't that sound like a great school vacation? Doing math assignments every 3 days? I already know I am going to have a hell of a time convincing Mark that this is a good plan, to spread it out over the summer.

What will be even more of a thrill for him will be if he finds out before school starts that he's gotten into the pre-algebra program, which is under a different teacher. Who might not even want the homework packet.

I love learning. (yeah, I'm geeky that way.) But I'm also a huge believer in letting kids have some downtime. There's a lot of pressure on kids these days, between schoolwork and their other organized extracurriculars. Being in a rural area, everything needs to be driven to, also, which makes it all more complicated (ah, the days when I was growing up and everything was within walking or biking distance). Summer vacation is a time to escape all of that, to relax and enjoy just spending the days swimming or reading or sleeping in or hanging out. A time to recharge the mental batteries, and to just be a KID. To get used to all the body changes that are happening, and figure out what all this mess that is "growing up" sorts out to.

So, am I for or against this summer homework? Honestly, I don't know. Mark will do it, of course. I don't know exactly how it will schedule out, but it will get done.

But I'll be making darn sure my kid has lots of time to count the fireflies, too. mk

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Vacation, Day 1/2

Well, the kids are officially on summer vacation, after their half-day of school, most of which was taken up with the final assembly, in which Mark received five awards: honor roll all four quarters, helping out in the kitchen, band participation, student council member, and an All-Star program the entire sixth grade did through the guidance department. (apparently it was a 13-week program. I never heard about it 'til today. huh. Obviously an important program.) About a billion parent volunteer awards were given out (which consisted of a thank-you card and a small laminated bookmark that says "Volunteering...a work of heart"). I find it kind of amusing that the parents who volunteered pretty much all the freaking time received exactly the same recognition as those who came in once during the year. (In fact, one parent received an award and I overheard her say to the principal, "I don't remember doing anything.") lol. It's a good thing my purpose in volunteering in the school isn't for the validation at the final assembly, or else I would be sadly disappointed. Personally, I could care less if we even got mentioned at the assembly...really, it was the longest part of the program, applauding each individual name that was read, when about 95% of them weren't even there. The kids were super fidgety, which made it very uncomfortable for me, because Miss Kira decided the best place for *her* to be for the entire assembly was in Mom's lap. All 65 pounds of her. (not too heavy in general, but after an hour I could no longer feel my legs. Not to mention that her butt seemed to grow bones as time progressed. Pointy bones.)

Mark forgot a math book in going to school this morning, which prompted a frantic phone call from him that if I didn't bring it in, he couldn't bring home his report card. Now, as I joked to his teacher earlier today, this threat would have a lot more bite if it weren't for PowerSchool. I can keep track of Mark's grades through the whole year, so I already knew in detail what his report card was going to look like, right down to the teacher comments. Bringing it home is just a formality. (I still brought the book in, of course.) [PowerSchool isn't accessible for the lower grades at our school, though, so when Kira was melting down that if she didn't pay her library fine, I did call the school....she, of course, *had* no library fine...she had heard the announcement that if you didn't pay your fines, you didn't get your progress report, and she thought it was directed at her. Sweetie.]

So. After the kids came home (screaming and yelling things like, "Finally! We're FREE!"), we had to take off for my parents' house so I could drop off the kids while I went to P/T. I did a few machine exercises, then they hooked four electrodes up to my ankle and ran some varying current through it for 15 minutes while they iced my foot. Supposed to help with pain and swelling. Not seeing any significant improvement on either, but I'm being patient. It felt *very* good to get on the machines and get a bit of exercise without fearing that I might roll my ankle. I did have to warn them in the therapy department that the frightening shades of dark red that my face turns at the least amount of exertion is actually normal for me. I think they were freaking out a bit. :D

The short time I expected at my parents' house of course turned into the whole afternoon, dinner, and part of the evening. Dad and Mark played Pirate's Dice (which Mark got from one of his friends at the party on Saturday) about a bazillion times, as well as a game of chess. (Dad even gave Mark an advantage, removing his queen at start of play. Dad still won, of course.) Meanwhile, Mom taught Kira how to knit. Kira took to it very easily, and was knitting all by herself by the end of it, several rows. She did a great job, and Mom was impressed as all hell. (I, by the way, can't knit.) Oh, and Kira asked me to give her some algebra problems to show Gram. So I did. Started with x + 3 = 5 and moved on to 2x = 4, then 2x + 1 = 7. Mind you, the girl's 7.5. I'm so proud. :D

After we got home, X picked up Mark to take him along to one of the dog's obedience classes. Kira stayed with me. Now both are upstairs and in bed (and both individually argued, unsuccessfully, about having bedtimes on summer vacation--I might loosen up later, but at least the first couple of nights, let's get rested, kids).

So we have 72 days until school starts. A beautiful string of days of possibilities. mk

Friday, June 15, 2007

To (Not) Catch a Thief

So we had a playoff game last night, away game. Mark played the first three innings, center field, then was put on the bench. (He has not played one full game all season, which has been a major source of irritation, because it smacks of favoritism, but I have to keep reminding myself that as soon as you have tryouts and people don't automatically make the team just because they registered, that the purpose of the game changes and it's a priority to win games. And that to do that, they will play their best players. Or their favorites. Little League has a minimum-play rule, and as long as they do that for Mark, I haven't got a real leg to stand on to complain. But it still sucks.) He had hit the ball during his one up, a nice solid crack to it, but they got it to first before he got there so he was out. Still, he made contact and I was pleased.

THEN. The top of the sixth, we're down 2 to 1. A kid got walked to first base, and then Mark was running out there and replaced him. Pinch runner! (I asked later why they put him in, and he shrugged and said, "I run fast.") Mark proceeded to steal second. Then stole third, politely dodging the third baseman, who was not getting out of the way. (and did not have the ball. Hello, obstruction!) And then, during a play in which the catcher missed the ball, and it was IN the home plate area, and there were NO other players on ANY other base (in other words, this was not a force run for Mark), he freakin' STOLE HOME. It was insane. There was dust flying, people screaming, those long legs were eating up the baseline, and he was sliding and SAFE!!!!! It was amazing, incredible, truly the high point of his season. He tied the game up, 2-2, and forced a last at-bat for the home team. Everyone was ecstatic. The boys were pounding Mark on the back, the helmet, hugging him, screaming, cheering, it was just fantastic. Mark was so pumped. He was chinning the doorway in the dugout.

The boys lost the game (2 outs & 2 strikes in, the other team's runner on third stole home also), but Mark had that shining moment to treasure. And so do I. mk


Yesterday my therapist and I were discussing techniques for asking for what you want. (Assertiveness.) We were prompted by an upcoming appointment I have to do a med check with my primary care physician (remember when we used to be able to just say "my doctor?" Nowadays people have so many different doctors for different problems that we have to get all descriptive on it. sigh.). I've been timidly mentioning for a few years that I might need to change my antidepressant, because, well, it's not really working very well. I don't like the side effects, and in order to have a dosage that works on making me a little less of a psychotic bitch who overreacts to literally everything, I end up being a flatline zombie who sleeps through life. Not acceptable choices anymore.

When I explained what was going on with that, she exclaimed, "DEAR MAN!" At first I thought she was doing a pseudo-curse (such as my "Many swears!"), but it turns out she was using an acronym for a dialectical behavior technique, which she gave me a handout for. We went over how we could use this technique for the doctor, as well as for some other situations I've got going on.

Well, last night at the baseball game I actually asserted myself! To people I don't know well! And it freakin' worked!!!! I didn't *quite* use the DEAR MAN technique, but close.

We've had what I refer to as a "line o' dads" at every game this season. We have four coaches for the team. (not sure how many of those are "official" coaches, but let's call it four) At the games if they're not on the baselines, they stand at a certain section of the fence. Well, these certain dads (or stepdads, or uncles, and occasionally a woman, but for the most part, dads) have taken it upon themselves to line up along the fence beside the coaches. So we have this solid WALL of about 10 men along the fence. And it's annoying as hell to those of us sitting on or by the bleachers, because we can't see past them. At the last game, a mom (who is very confident) FINALLY went up to them and told them that they were blocking the view for everybody else, and that they weren't coaches and they should stand back. It got a little hot for a minute, but the guys did back off.

Well, at last night's game, they did it AGAIN. And I had arrived 45 minutes before the game was supposed to start and set up my chair to have a good viewing location without blocking anyone, and then at the last minute the men mosey up and completely covered my view of the plate. I literally could not see the ump, catcher, or batter. At all. And I was mad. The woman who was sitting with me agreed that it sucked, but then she just abandoned her chair and went to sit on the bleachers. Well, I went over to the bleachers, too, for a minute, but then I got pissy and went back to my chair. I was raging a bit, probably at an excessive level, but dammit, it sucked and it was inconsiderate and I was tired of it. These guys weren't the only ones who supported their kids, and they weren't so damn important that they just HAD to be at the fence with the coaches.

And I worked myself up and built up my courage and went over all of the worst-case scenarios and imagined all kinds of nasty scenes, and then I went over and said to the four people on the end that I didn't want to be a bitch, but I couldn't see at all past them. At first there was some semi-jokey kind of comment that *I* could move, then, but I stuck to my guns and didn't really say much (and they all knew that I had been there first, and that there had been the other incident at the previous game) and then they asked how much I was asking them to move. And I just kind of said something about them acting like they were friendly and standing closer to each other and to the dugout. And I went back to my seat and they moved down and turned and asked me how that was and it was MUCH better and I gave 'em a thumbs-up and then enjoyed the rest of the game. (as soon as my heartbeat started approaching normal speed)

I know that to most people, doing this would not seem like a big deal at all, but this was absolutely HUGE for me. For a lot of people, they wouldn't have had to even think twice about saying something, and they would have pretty much forgotten about it as soon as it was over. I think it's a little pathetic how big a deal it is for me, and that I'm even talking about this on my blog, but working on this issue is major. Borderlines have a difficult time with assertiveness at an appropriate level. I think this went well, and that's a great step.

Kristen will be so proud. mk

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lyrics & God

Ever have one of those moments when song lyrics just rise to the surface of your brain, not necessarily related to anything that you are thinking about (in a direct line, anyway), but eerily apt?

Here's what just popped into mine. From "To Know You," by Nichole Nordeman (who is far and away my favorite Christian singer--saw her at Women of Faith and fell in love from the first chords of "Is It Any Wonder"):

"It's well past midnight
And I'm awake with questions
That won't wait for daylight
Separating fact from my imaginary fiction
On this shelf of my conviction..."

Sometimes I think that these ghost lyrics (as I refer to them in my head) are messages from God. The last one I got was also Nichole Nordeman, "Please Come:"

Oh the days when I drew lines around my faith
To keep You out, to keep me in, to keep it safe.
Oh the sense of my own self-entitlement
To say who’s wrong, who won’t belong, or cannot stay.

'Cause somebody somewhere decided
We’d be better off divided.
And somehow, despite the damage done,
He says come:

There is room enough for all of us, please come
And the arms are open wide enough, please come
And our parts are never greater than the sum
This is the heart of the One
Who stands before the open door and bids us come.

Oh the times when I have failed to recognize
How many chairs are gathered there around the feast.
To break the bread and break these boundaries
That have kept us from our only common ground,
The invitation to sit down, if we will come:


Come from the best of humanity
Come from the depths of depravity
Come now and see how we need every
different bead on this same string.


And you'd better believe that I was in church that Sunday. I spend so much time trying to figure out how to hear the quiet voice of God when He speaks to me, if I even *think* I might be hearing Him, I listen. mk

speaking of listening, if you haven't heard any of Nichole's work, you really need to. She is amazing. Truly truly wonderful. It is so refreshing to me to hear Christian music that praises as well as addresses the honest struggles with faith that I believe so many of us have, yet are afraid to admit. Like doubt. And hypocrisy. And judgment. And did I mention doubt?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mark's Dating Update

Remember the dance on Friday, where Mark was going to ask that girl for her phone number?

She didn't show.

He's disappointed, but apparently not deterred, as evidenced by his (semi-joking? oh, I hope so) suggestion that we put a photo transfer of Cleo on his birthday cake. (which would probably be easier for me to do if I had ever SEEN the girl) mk

Oh...I know I'll want to remember this, and what is my blog for, if not to put memories down for future enjoyment?

I showed up a little early to pick him up from the dance, so I could go into the fitness center which overlooks the basketball court where the dance was held. (yes, I was spying. I freely admit this. Enjoyed it thoroughly, too. And darn it, I wanted a look at that girl.)

I'm watching Mark, and he was just walking around. And around, and around and around....he kept circling around different groups of people (quite often this one particular group, though...there was a cute girl in the group, and I found myself mentally cheering him on to ask her to dance...but he never did). Anyway. Circling and cruising around the gym. Just continuous, ceaseless motion. He was all alone, too. The image that was just SCREAMING in my mind.....oh my gosh, my son is a shark. mk

Monday, June 11, 2007


  • Odds of bowling a 300 game: 11,500 to 1
  • Odds of getting a hole in one: 5,000 to 1
  • Odds of injury from fireworks: 19,556 to 1
  • Odds of injury from mowing the lawn: 3,623 to 1 (by the way, this has happened to me)
  • Odds of being struck by lightning: 576,000 to 1
  • Odds of being killed by lightning: 2,320,000 to 1
  • Odds of dating a supermodel: 88,000 to 1
  • Odds of being considered possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1
  • Odds of being on plane with a drunken pilot: 117 to 1
  • Odds of dating a millionaire: 215 to 1
  • Odds of catching a ball at a major league ballgame: 563 to 1
  • Odds of finding a four-leaf clover on first try: 10,000 to 1
  • Odds of spotting a UFO today: 3,000,000 to 1
  • Odds of a meteor landing on your house: 182,138,880,000,000 to 1
  • Odds that on the day that you finally throw away the fact triangles (that your daughter had buried at the bottom of a pile of a babillion pieces of paper, that she has not mentioned ONCE in the last six months, and which you distinctly remember throwing away in the trash that has already been taken to the dump) she will suddenly, desperately, NEEEEEEEEEEEED them: oh, give a guess. mk

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Teen Issues

[Or, why I will be completely grey by the time my kids graduate high school.]

Lately I've been hearing a LOT about what our local teens have been up to, and it's not good news. I'm hearing about kids drinking, drugging, and having loads of sex. According to three different sources I've talked to in the last week, about 90% of the freshman class at our local high school are engaging in some form of sexual activity. I'm not sure if that number is in any way accurate, but it's very, very scary. There have been problems with some of the 8th graders in our tiny school regarding blow jobs. Teens are performing oral sex and anal sex because that way you don't get pregnant. (Kids, have you not heard about diseases? Oral sex doesn't protect you from those!) There have been "hookup parties" where kids go just to have sex, and they don't particularly care who their partner is, or even if they have the same partner from one party to the next. Or even the same partner for the entire party. Teens don't consider oral sex to be "real sex"....it just doesn't count in their book.

This information really scares me. Mark's going to be 12 in less than 2 weeks. He's not far away from the ages of these kids I'm hearing about. He's just now beginning to show some interest in girls, and from what I've observed (and from what my spies tell me), his interest is very very innocent and basic. But how long until it could turn into something else? What the hell are these kids thinking? Why have they not had these topics addressed by adults? Where are they getting the idea that this is okay? Are we, as a society, at all aware that we are projecting so irresponsible a picture to our youth that they would think this was acceptable?

I was no nun in high school. I had sex for the first time when I was sixteen (junior year). I would guess that less than half of the girls I knew had been involved in *any* sexual activity by that point. The difference being, I was in love with the guy, we were in a relationship, I fully expected (naively, as it turned out--no real surprise there) that we would get married eventually, and for me it was an expression of love and commitment. (and yeah, the raging hormones helped) I didn't know ANYONE who was having sex casually, and nobody talked about oral sex, much less had PARTIES dedicated to it. (I'm not saying nobody DID it, just nobody *talked* about it.)

I know that I don't have a lot of recourse to keep my kids from getting involved in this stuff, other than locking them in their rooms for the remainder of their lives (and the law apparently frowns upon this). I've done some talking, I'll do more talking, I'll keep track (or try to) of where my kids are going and who they're with, and at some point I'm just going to have to have faith in the moral building blocks that I've given them. The one thing I will have to remember is to NOT fall into the trap of "it can't happen to me." Quite frankly, thinking about all of this scares the shit out of me. (and this is not even CONSIDERING the drinking and the drugs.) My kids are 4.5 years apart in age, which means that I have the next 11-12 YEARS to worry about this crap. I'd better start investing in Clairol. mk

Friday, June 08, 2007

Rites of Passage

Well, today both of my children will be experiencing rites of passage moving them away from childhood. In Mark's case, at the dance tonight he will be asking for Cleo's phone number, which will mark a further step from boyhood towards adolescence and ultimately manhood, as he makes his first significant step in the mating dance. (this is gonna be a very very long dance. Like the extended version of "Stairway to Heaven" that was always the last song played at our school dances. Only I'm hoping this is going to be the extended-extended-EXTENDED version.)

In Kira's case, she got her ears pierced this afternoon. She and I went together, leaving Mark at home, so that it was a special mother-daughter moment. She handled it very well, with only a moment or two of trembling after it was done while she assimilated. She chose her birthstone (blue topaz) for her studs, which look very pretty. (and actually look rather turquoise, which apparently is also a birthstone for December. Huh.) They did both ears at once, which was a condition of mine and is actually very common practice on children. She loves them, and thinks that she looks very pretty and grownup. Sigh. She does.

So, this will have been quite the day of emotional events for Mom. Mark *just* left for the dance with Eddie. I have to pick him up at 10. That gives me a little bit more special time with my girl, who might even let me borrow her bear to hug. 'Cause I dunno how well I'm handling all these signs that my kids are growing up. What was that slogan? "If they could just stay little 'til their Carter's wore out....." mk

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ankle Update

Yesterday I finally got around to visiting the orthopaedist to have my ankle looked at. She poked around at it a bit, observed that there was still pain and swelling, had another set of X-rays done to confirm that there was, indeed, no fracture (hey, the receptionist was right! Although I did learn about occult fractures, so take THAT, snotty receptionist lady! I *COULD HAVE* had a fracture that didn't show up!!!).

Anyway. No fracture, but ankle still definitely not healed. So I am ordered to wear my Aircast whenever I am going to be walking, for at least the next two weeks. Also, the orthopaedist's office is going to be setting me up for 4-6 weeks of physical therapy (which reminds me, I need to call them tomorrow about that).

The orthopaedist specifically instructed me to wear athletic shoes with my Aircast. I am NOT to wear sandals or clogs or Crocs or anything remotely cute. (this said with an almost apologetic look at the adorable leather toe-ring sandals I wore TO the orthopaedist's office) I am not even permitted to wear Ked-type shoes. They must be actual real athletic-shoe sneakers. You know, the big ugly ones that do NOT look good with anything other than track pants.

Now, this is bothering me A. LOT. Because, among other things, summer is approaching. And my feet get overheated amazingly quickly. I start wearing sandals in April, and wear them through October. Because I am very, very foot-centric, and my feet are a thermostat for the rest of my body. Meaning, if my feet are cold, I'm cold. Conversely, if my feet are HOT, I am roasting. So, if, say, my feet are trapped in a pair of big ol' sneakers, maybe with a big ol' ankle brace strapped on there as well, and the obligatory socks that must be worn under the brace to prevent painful rubbing of the straps, and if we add SUMMER into that mix, I can predict with extreme accuracy that I am going to be miserable.

Let us also add in that big sneakers are NOT a good fashion statement with, oh, say, capris, which are my clothing of choice during hot weather. Also not a good look with any OTHER pants besides the aforementioned track pants. It can *occasionally* work with jeans, with the right top. (um, maybe a T-shirt? If you're going to a sporting event or something?) But otherwise? Yuk.

I'm not a big fashion snob. I'm definitely not a fashionista, or even stylish. But I do have a few little fashion quirks, and footwear is one of them. This is probably largely due to having weird feet. I have wide feet, and bunions, and tailor's bunions (bunions on my pinkie toes), and flat feet, and fat ankles. I know that's a lot of issues to have going on with one's foot, and let me tell you, it makes for HELL in finding comfortable, attractive footwear. Often I just KNOW that the shoes I am putting on my feet are going to make me wish for a swift death within a few hours, but I am so desperate for cuteness on my feet that I am willing to suffer through. I invariably regret that decision later.

So when I find a shoe that is cute AND comfortable AND doesn't make my feet look Mickey-Mouse size, I go with it. It doesn't happen much. Sandals qualify, especially toe-ring sandals, where nothing rubs against the bunions OR the back of my heel (which is also highly sensitive and prone to blisters). I love sandals. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. And they are FORBIDDEN to me. For AT LEAST TWO WEEKS. I am crushed. mk

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dating Advice

Mark has recently started asking me for dating advice. Sunday night he spent two hours in my room talking to me in detail about how he could go about asking this girl for a date. I mean, he wanted to know how to phrase his phone call when he asked her out, right down to how he would know if it was okay to hold her hand, and at what point you can consider someone your girlfriend (that last one, I didn't really have a good answer for, although I did say that at his age, if you were holding hands, you probably could say it then).

We went over fairly detailed scenarios, including the possibility that her parents don't allow her to date yet. And how they might not like the idea of a total stranger showing up to pick up their daughter and cart her away for a few hours. (possible solution: asking if she would like to meet him at the movie theater) He wanted to know what to say to her when he was going out to get a refill on the popcorn they're sharing. (hint: tell her what you're doing and ask her if she wants anything)

Today he came home with the very happy news (to him) that there is another Y dance on Friday. This was where he met the girl, and also the only place he has ever seen her (at two dances). Now, if she is there, he is plotting (again, with my help) on how to get her phone number. (my helpful hint: ask if he can call her sometime....then ask for her number) (he said, "What if she says no?" answer: say "OK." "ohhhhhhhh," he replied. My gosh.)

This has been interesting to me on a bunch of different levels. One is that holy cow! My boy is old enough that he's thinking about dating! How the hell did I get this old? Another is just how interesting it is to see the inner workings of my son's brains, and his worries. And noticing how much he's like me, in trying to see all the different angles of something before he gets into it.

Another thing that I like is that this gives me yet another teachable moment for him; actually, a whole lot of them. There's the whole "girls are really people, not scary aliens" lesson, along with letting him see that many of other people's decisions that affect him are not necessarily going to have anything to *do* with him (she might say no to a date for a whole bunch of reasons that aren't a rejection of Mark personally...other scheduled plans, her parents won't let her date, etc). There's letting him see that there are sides to every relationship, and the need for consideration of "her side" (i.e. If you get her phone number, you then have to follow through and CALL HER, otherwise she will think it's a personal rejection of her, and how would you like that if it was you? So don't get her number if you aren't ready to call.) And, to remember to just be himself, and not pretend to be something he's not, because you want someone to like you for yourself.

Then there's just the practical advice of dating. Like, when you call her for a date, already have a specific plan in mind. Instead of saying "wanna go out sometime?", ask her "Would you like to go to a movie on Saturday and then get an ice cream?" (which is actually the planned activity we worked out for when he does get to the 'date' stage) There's, make sure you have enough money to pay for everything, plus a little extra, 'cause it's super embarrassing to run out of money. There's, you need to walk her to her door after the date is over, not just say "see ya" from the car. And, don't hog the armrest at the movie. You know, the basics.

What's really funny about all this (besides, hello, this is my KID asking me!), is that I'm not actually good at dating, myself. I haven't had a lot of experience in formal dating. Most of my past dating involved a lot of "what do you want to do?" "I dunno. What do *you* want to do?" for a couple of hours while we drove aimlessly around the rotary. (or making out somewhere. Which I am not going to tell him about. And he can't anyway 'cause he needs rides everywhere and that means an automatic chaperone. Although I did tell him that I'm not going to be staring at him while he walks her to the door. I also promised him I wouldn't sit near him during the movie. I'm not quite at the stage of just dropping them off at the movie alone for a couple of hours, though.)

Oh my. He obviously still needs help. He is now overplanning. I had recommended that he maybe have a scrap of paper in his pocket so he could write down her number. He just came downstairs and said that he has the paper ready, that on the other side of it he has written fake homework assignments so it doesn't look like he's *planned* to have a scrap of paper with him. He has crumpled this paper up and smoothed it back out so it looks used. He was asking me if he should ask Eddie to have a pencil in *his* pocket that Mark could then borrow. I said no. I said he could actually just go ask one of the chaperones for a pen. (and then he all obsessed about "what if they don't have one?" at which point I assured him that if they didn't, they would help him find one.)

I am now wondering if my son is going to grow up to be a stalker. Or a player. He has never been this prepared for anything in his LIFE. I must now go put my head down on my desk. mk

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Oh. My. Gosh. Went sailing on the Isaac H. Evans yesterday, owned and captained by my friend Brenda; it was AMAZING. I had such a wonderful time, came away relaxed for the first time in I can't remember how long.

Despite all the weather forecasts to the contrary, it didn't rain OR thunder while we were out. We even had sun! We didn't have much wind in the beginning, but the last half-hour the skies darkened up a bit and the wind picked up. The whole thing was just wonderful, though.

The kids had a great time. They actually spent most of their time running around with some other kids who were there, which isn't what I had hoped they would do, but okay, they're kids. Mark did his Pied Piper thing and attracted the very youngest kids, including a 19-month old boy (little towhead dressed in an argyle sweater vest! oh my gosh, the cuteness!) who got so attached to Mark during the 4 hours we were out that whenever Mark would put him down, he would immediately start reaching up for him. Mark is so good with kids, I think spending time with them was his favorite part of the whole thing. He made quite an impression on the passengers who noticed him with the kids....most of the adults knew Mark's name by the end of the trip.

BUT, they did get to do some cool boat-related things. The passengers are encouraged to help in some of the activities, including the raising and lowering of the sails. Mark and Kira worked the throat line on the mainsail. Mark also helped with the folding of the mainsail while it was being lowered. (I'm sure there's real terminology for that job, but y'know, I was impressed with myself for remembering "throat") BOTH kids got to take a turn at the wheel....Kira even tacked the boat! (is that right? Turned it around) Kira popped down to the galley and watched them while they were fixing lunch (which was super-yummy), and both kids explored all the cabins and messed around with the maps and dividers (we had NO idea what the parallel rulers were for and I never got around to asking Brenda).
For myself, I spent the majority of the time sitting on (something I don't know the name of) and just basking in the feel of the ocean wind on my face. My entire soul just sucked up the joy of it. I had forgotten just how badly I need to spend time on and around the ocean. Not *near* the ocean (as in, hey look, you can see the ocean), but in actual touching distance. Even today, I can still feel the roll of the waves and the wind, can still almost smell the sea air on my skin. I would dearly love to go on one of Brenda's extended trips (three to six days!). Unfortunately, budget most definitely does not allow for that kind of luxury for me. HUGE sigh.

After the trip was over (sigh), I stocked up on some basic gear (hooded sweatshirts for me and Mark, T-shirts for me and Kira, a hat for me (which I am wearing right now with my pj's--I am so fashionable), and a magnet for the fridge--Brenda brought us up to where her "secret stash" was for some of it, which wasn't stocked down in the cabinets in the boathouse (?is that the word?) yet) and we (reluctantly in my case) headed for home.

A small kind-of sidenote, in that Brenda is one of the most amazing people I know. She is quite an incredible woman. I met her back in '93 when I first started working at the bank--she was working there also, as a loan secretary. I feel immensely fortunate that I became friends with her then, because it wasn't too long before she left the bank to start crewing on a windjammer. From there she moved over as mess mate on the Isaac H. Evans in '95, and in '99 Brenda purchased her and got her captain's license. I went out on Brenda's first official Friends and Family trip (which has morphed into the Benefit Day Sail). In between the overwhelming amount of time and work she puts in on the Evans, she also finds time to do some really cool things. She's gone down to Kentucky to learn blacksmithing. She's in a steel drum band, she does a weekly show on a local radio station, she does the National Toboggan Championship each year, she does a ton of volunteering, she travels, she keeps a blog for the Evans...I can't even think right now of all the stuff she does, but I'll tell you, she is one BUSY lady. And yet, she is just so incredibly thoughtful and caring. We haven't been able to spend nearly as much time together as I'd like (I can't catch her!), but, as easy and understandable as it would be, she has never just let our friendship drift away. I feel very fortunate in that.

So. Yesterday was probably the best day I have had in forever. I know I haven't done it justice in my writing, but sometimes I just can't capture these things in words.

[Oh. Something I forgot to mention. Went to bed Friday night with my neck thrown out (again). Saturday morning it was spasming so badly, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to go. Shortly after we boarded, I stopped noticing it, and by the time we got back to dock it was just an achy memory. That says a lot about the healing power of ocean for me.]

The kids and I wrote thank-you's to Brenda last night (Kira's was four pages long....Mark had to re-write his because his first one was one part thank you and two parts hitting her up for a summer apprenticeship), and I burned her a CD of the pictures I took while we were out. Here are a few of them:

Two of my favorites of Kira at the wheel. She wrote in her journal that she felt like a captain.

Here Brenda is telling Kira how to tack. The wheel was a little stiff after the winter.

Tacking! Brenda recommending standing up for this, to have better leverage, because you have to spin the wheel as fast and hard as you can. Hannah couldn't stop herself from helping. :D

I love this one of Mark and Brenda. Brenda was the first non-relative I allowed to babysit Mark. He's grown a bit since, eh?

Amazingly, no little kids in sight. Not many pictures of Mark like that!

An actual family picture. (me in all my windswept, slightly sunburned glory)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Idiocy Rant

I'll try to make this a short one. But you know how I get. (oh hell, I don't know why I even bother with "I'll make this short." 'Cause I won't. It'll be long as all hell, and probably boring to everyone but me, but whatever.)

So. 2.5 weeks ago I injured my ankle. At the time I was treated in the ER, the doctor told me that if it wasn't better in 6-7 days, to go see my doctor because (and this is the important part: AND I QUOTE:) "It could be a hairline fracture that we missed on the X-ray."

Last night I re-injured the ankle AGAIN. Walking slowly and carefully across the baseball field. Heard/felt something go "pop" and it started to hurt more, and started swelling back up, etc. So I decided that it really was time for me to go see a doctor about it.

This morning I call the orthopaedist's office, and they can't get me in for an appointment until next Wednesday afternoon. Y'know, six days from now. So I called my *regular* doctor, to see if I could maybe get in *there* a little faster (like, oh, today?), and the earliest I can get in *there* is Monday morning. And in the conversation with the receptionist, it went a little something like this:

mk: "Is there anything at all open today? Because I'm worried that it might be healing improperly. The ER doctor said that if it wasn't better to get it checked out, because it might be a hairline fracture that they missed."
receptionist (in a snotty voice): "Did you get X-rays?"
mk: "Yes."
snotty receptionist: "Did anyone *call* you about them?"
mk: "No."
snotty receptionist: "Then there wasn't a fracture."
mk: "But the doctor said that they might have *missed* it."
snotty receptionist: "If there was a fracture, they would have seen it on the X-ray."

Um. This bothers me on so many points.

1) At what point did you, the RECEPTIONIST, get a medical degree?
2) If the ER doctor HIMSELF says that there may be a fracture that they missed, who the hell are you to contradict him?
3) What if they didn't take the X-rays properly, hmmmm? Like, I don't remember them actually X-raying the part of my ankle that was hurting (which struck me oddly at the time....they X-rayed the INSIDE of my ankle, but I don't remember them doing the OUTSIDE).
4) People don't make mistakes? Ever?
5) Did I mention that you are the RECEPTIONIST?!?!?! <== note triple interrobang
6) The ER is basically (in my opinion--correct me if I am wrong) a bandaid operation...you know, quick, sometimes temporary fixes, to get you by until you can see your regular doctor. It is not supposed to be a substitute for specialized care. And as such, sometimes you need, oh, FOLLOWUP CARE. Or there may be FURTHER COMPLICATIONS. Or an EXACERBATED injury?
7) I'm sure there are more, but at some point I need to rein it in.

In other words, don't TELL me it can't be something when you haven't looked at it. And you are A FREAKIN' RECEPTIONIST!!!! mk

p.s. Not to say that a receptionist is necessarily an idiot. This is not meant to be a put-down of the field of receptionists/secretaries/office assistants/anything I missed. I have been a receptionist, and a secretary. I recognize that there is a certain skill level required, and in a medical office, a certain familiarity with the medical environment. However. Methinks this person is just a teensy weensy bit out of her area of education to be diagnosing (or rather, eliminating possible diagnoses) over the phone when her job is to...schedule appointments. Yes?

Oh, and when I asked whether they would be able to put me on a call list if there was a cancellation today, she told me that "they don't do that." Because people would be calling all the time and asking for that. But that if I wanted to call back later and see if there had been any cancellations, I could do that.

Does this just seem wrong to anyone else?

Customer service has just continued to go downhill on a steep slope since I left the working world. And I wonder why I hate dealing with people. mk