Monday, November 19, 2007

Love, Adventure and Other Goings-On

Lots going on around me right now.

* Mentioned that Brenda got engaged. Well, yesterday she and Brian asked me to be the maid of honor. Yay! She PROMISED that she will not make me wear an ugly dress. :D I'm very excited and honored. This will be my second time playing MoH. (Funny, I've never been "just" a bridesmaid.) I am just so happy for Brenda, this is so wonderful, and I am tickled to be a part of it.

* Saturday night my friend Kimmie called and in the course of chatting she mentioned that she had won a cruise for two to the Bahamas! Three days, two nights, needs to be taken within the next 18 months. AAAAAAAAAND....she asked me to go with her! Yay! I need to get my ass in gear and apply for a passport. (WHICH is one of my 101 things, so double-yay!) (And staying overnight somewhere I've never been is ALSO one of my 101! dang, I'm knocking these things out left and right!) I've never been on a "real" cruise and I am VERY VERY nervous, but also psyched as all hell.

* Speaking of, #92 on my 101 list? Done.

* Under the category of "Things I had no freakin' idea about," apparently drinking a lot of red wine turns your teeth black! Seen the scene in "The Patriot" where the son's fiance fed him ink? Yeah, it's like that. The tannins in the red wine will stain your teeth. This can be avoided by either drinking a lot of water in addition to the red wine, or alternating red wine with white.

Funny, but these are the only things I can remember to write about right now. I *know* there's so much more happening than this, but my mind is locking right up on me. hmph. Well, it's not like I can't write more later, y'know? So, I'll be back. mk

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Hate My Clothes

I'm going for dinner and a movie with a friend tomorrow night (he's cooking) and I have an outfit planned (not much of an outfit, but it's not sweats), but it was a very painful process. I have no freakin' clothes. I am SUCH a soccer mom. (excuse me; a basketball mom.) I don't even own any nice jeans.

I need to put together a better wardrobe; one that has all the basics for everyday casual wear (read: when I don't leave my house), as well as a variety of adaptable stuff for various occasions from school events to evenings out with friends to even a fairly dressy thing or two. I *used* to have all that stuff (well, barring the school events...this was a million years ago, before I was a mom). When the hell did I become so completely fashion-unconscious? I am SO out of it.

Problems in my way: budget. And, um...budget. And did I mention budget? Also, size is an issue. I am currently about a 16 (on a good day....grrrrr), and also have short legs. There is not a lot out there that doesn't make me look like I am draped in a roll of fabric.

SO. Not much I can do before tomorrow, but I am on the lookout for some new clothes that are fairly flattering and make me look like I know what year it is, and also that are not so expensive that I can afford one sock.

sigh. Must research. mk

My Son the Porn King

Well, *this* post should get some interesting hits.

Wednesday I was helping a friend pattern a boat cover (he has a custom canvas business), when my cell rang. It was Mark. His dad made him call. Apparently Mark had gotten caught at school accessing some "inappropriate images" on the laptop. He had a detention the next day and his father and I had a conference with the principal.

Turns out that Mark had been utilizing some "very creative" methods to get around the school's filter so that he could get to "pornographic" websites. (I've put quotations on pornographic because I don't actually know what the sites are, although from the principal's descriptions of them, I'd have to agree they probably are.) He had created a folder of them, which he had named with a harmless title, so it wouldn't attract attention.

So there was a meeting with the principal, with Mark, where we could tell him how angry and disappointed we were, and how he had betrayed everyone's trust, and how it had been particularly hard for people because it was Mark, and he had always been such a good boy, etc etc. The principal also was concerned that this might be a major issue for Mark where he might have an addiction, because this wasn't the first time he had had this problem at school. (Last year he was apparently googling the Sims, and inappropriate images came up on the Google search, and he clicked on them...he lost the laptop, just before the Academic Fair, for which he had created a web site on his research topic of the Internet. He was granted supervised permission for his laptop to be available for the presentation, but then it was taken back away.)

So. He had a detention (one detention, for 45 minutes), and he has to have a meeting with the guidance counselor, and he has lost his laptop privileges. It wasn't determined by the time of our conference how long this restriction would last or under what conditions he would regain the privileges. We'll be given that information later, in writing. [I suggested the possibility of disabling his wireless, so that he would have to actually "plug in" to access the Internet, and so he'll be right there under a teacher's nose while he's online. They're going to look into that.]

Altogether, I was a little disappointed at the light punishment Mark received from the school for what they indicated was a severe infraction. There was a lot of talk about what would happen if this occurred again, but I'm sorry, if it's severe enough to warrant a parent-principal conference, I would at least expect a day of in-school suspension. I think everyone is trading on 8 years of "good Mark." If it had been a kid who routinely caused trouble, there'd probably be some major repercussions.

On the other hand, his father and I have passed down some harsh stuff at home. No Internet, of course (although he had already lost that privilege some weeks ago, when I found him googling inappropriate stuff here at home...this was not a new or surprising thing for me, to get the call at school, although I had hoped that he had learned his lesson here...apparently not.). In addition, he's basically under house arrest until the end of the calendar year, including loss of all electronics. (His father, who originally wanted to "kick Mark's ass," has already asked me if we can at least give back the TV, because "Mark will go crazy without TV," which really means that X will go crazy if *he* can't watch TV around Mark. Way to stick to your guns, X.)

The school's going to do some pretty thorough laptop checks now for the entire middle school. They've also already talked to each class again about laptop rules (not mentioning Mark's name, of course, although I'm sure his bright-red face gave him away).

So, oh joy. It's been a week. mk

***much later note:
It was officially decided that Mark's laptop privileges have been revoked until the kids return from Christmas vacation on January 2nd. He won't get internet privileges back until the end of the 2nd quarter, January 26th. The meeting with the guidance counselor: she called me and told me that she didn't believe that Mark was "addicted" to searching out inappropriate images. She didn't see anything that indicated a real and true problem, in her opinion. So he's not a psycho or anything. mk

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

She's a Wanderer, yeah a wanderer...she roams around and round....

Kira freaked me right the hell out of my skin last night. We were at Mark's basketball game, and she told me she had to go to the bathroom, and I just did one of the "yeah, fine" things that happens when you are deeply entrenched in the watching of a sporting event involving your child, and so she took off.

And didn't come back.

Eventually at halftime I figured this out, and started looking for her. And looking. And freakin' LOOKING. I looked all OVER the damn school, and out on the playground, and around the building, and through the whole school again, and again, and asked people as I passed if they had seen her (no one had), and was getting more and more frantic, and had asked the principal and the guidance counselor and the custodian and was just about ready to start screaming for someone to find my little girl, when I passed through the gym again on the start of another round, when I saw my parents waving at me from the bleachers and Kira was sitting on my dad's lap. So I went *back* around and told the principal and the custodian and the guidance counselor that I had found her. Turns out the *guidance counselor* found her in the *music room* (which I had looked in, but didn't see Kira), and told her that her mom was looking for her and she'd better get back. By this time I was giddy with relief and the resulting anger (the how-dare-you-scare-your-mother anger).

I had missed part of the third quarter, which pissed me off even more, and I just told Kira that she was in such trouble I didn't want to talk about it right now, and settled it to try to enjoy the rest of the game.

Which wasn't really possible, partially due to the huge surge of adrenaline that had drained me out, and partially because the other team was really stomping on us (pretty literally--very physically aggressive team--they really took our boys to school). At some point our coach decided it really wasn't going to be possible for us to win and he started cycling out the experienced players and putting the newbies out so they could get some minutes and game experience. I thought that was really great of the coach, that it mattered more to him that the team develops than to keep the point spread low (which he could have done if he had kept the veteran team members in). So we lost by a considerable chunk, but the new guys got a taste of game and a few of them really developed visibly, i.e. the kid who whenever he received a pass would stand rooted in spot and immediately pass the ball back out, actually dribbled and tried to bring it to the hoop. That was pretty cool.

Anyway, after some jokes with other adults about fitting Kira with a buzzer that goes off whenever she's more than five feet away (or a GPS chip), at home I spoke seriously with Kira about how unsafe her actions were, and that as a result I am curtailing her ability to wander during events. Now she's going to have to sit right by me during the entire game, and if she has to go to the bathroom, she's going to have to wait until halftime when I can take her. She wasn't really happy about that, but she did understand that what she had done wasn't responsible. And we did the whole hugs-and-I-love-you's and all is well. mk

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Captain Brenda's Engaged!

In her own words:

After a wonderful weekend in New York that included meeting his mom, step-dad, brother, sister-in-law, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews, attending a soccer game that one of his nephews was in, ice skating, throwing a baseball around, swinging on swings at the playground, a walk in the park at sunset, dinner, a movie, and a myriad of other things, Brian proposed Sunday night.

I accepted!

Crazy in love,

Wedding tentatively scheduled for the end of May, before her first sail of the season. Congratulations, Brenda! mk


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shirts vs. Skin-and-bones

Mark's skinny. He's always been skinny. (well, okay, when he was three months old he had a little pudge on him, but dang, it went away fast.) He's always been in the 95th percentile for height and the 50th percentile for weight for his age. This translates into a skinny guy.

In working on his family newsletter for school, he got a photo from his dad's house, showing Mark jumping into the water. It was a photo from behind, and you can see literally every bone in his back, all the ribs, everything. It's really quite gross (when Mark comes home tomorrow, I'll get him to give me a copy of the picture and I'll post it on here). That was the first time that Mark himself realized what we were talking about when we say how skinny he is. This picture to the left is from this summer's pond swim, and it gives you an idea.

So anyway. Skinny kid. And tall. He's about 5'8" and weighs about 120 pounds. Or he did. Apparently he has LOST WEIGHT during this basketball season. Well, he's got a high metabolism anyway (did NOT inherit that from his mom), and he's been playing basketball for 1.5 hours every day. He's burning calories at an incredible rate. And he just literally does not have enough time to eat enough food to restore those calories. But losing weight when your BMI is already 18.4? Not good.

I became aware of the weight issue when I picked Mark up at practice yesterday. They were playing shirts and skins, and he was a skin. And bone. I was on the bleachers perfectly able to count ribs and vertebrae. I need to fatten that child up. (eek, echoes of Hansel and Gretel there)

So, in a weird twist on today's obsession with weight, I am actually on a campaign to INCREASE the amount of calories that Mark will be taking in, while keeping it healthy. High levels of proteins, good carbs, and lots of veggies. Might add some Carnation Instant Breakfast shakes or something. Any suggestions?

Damn, I wish I had this problem for myself. mk

update: here's the other reeeeeeeeeeally grossed out some of the girls in Mark's class.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Big Talk, Less Followthrough

Mark's teacher sent home a goal-setting sheet for the second quarter. There was one the first quarter, too. The student had to list his/her specific educational goals, and then list what actions he/she would be taking to attain those goals. Then there is a spot for parents to list how they are going to help their child with the goals. Lastly, the teacher lists specifically how he will help the student with their goals. Everyone signs it and we're all happy.

Mark's goals for the quarter are excellent...on paper. He wants to:
1. Make high honors this quarter and other quarters
2. Use my time wisely on big projects
3. Work harder in Social Studies and Language Arts
4. Read bigger, longer, harder books

His "Student Commitment" says: "For my goals, I'm going to put forth my best effort in my work and will pay more attention in L.A. and S.S., and will use my free time to work on my projects and reading."

Wonderful, you say. What a great kid, really interested in pouring himself into his scholastics.


We are in day two of the second quarter, and Mark has already missed a current event that was due Monday (that he is working on now). He also had an opportunity to correct a math quiz that he got a 'D' on, and the average between the old grade and the corrected score would be his new grade. (That 'D' nearly cost him his A in Pre-Algebra) Still hasn't done it. It's due by tomorrow. He's grumbled and groaned his way through the whole evening.

And this is what I'm AWARE of. I didn't know there was a current event due. Mark is very bad at writing in his assignments in his planner, even though there is time set aside for this exact purpose.

I don't know if this is all just a part of the (non-diagnosed) ADD, or if he really just doesn't care all that much and makes all the right noises to impress people, but just doesn't want to bother with the followup efforts. It's incredibly frustrating for me.

I also worry that he sees my lack of consistency (due to my own mental illnesses) and thinks that this is an okay way to be. I worry about that a LOT. Also, I can't always keep on top of him (or Kira) with checking up and making sure they're doing everything they need to. I end up, from necessity, having to trust that they are getting it done. But with Mark, he doesn't. If you don't stay on top of him for this stuff, he lets it go until the last possible second, and then he slaps it all together in a piss-poor job, and blames everything else in the world except himself.

He's horrible with taking responsibility for his actions (or lack thereof). It's a fault that his father has as well, and I wonder if this is a learned thing or if it's hereditary. Am I fighting a losing battle in trying to establish better habits in him? (Not that I'm going to stop, but....)

Anyway. I'm trying as hard as I can to help him establish these basic tools in his organizational repertoire. (While I'm at it, I should do it for me, too....physician, heal thyself.)


Sunday, November 04, 2007

No NaNoWriMo

Well, it's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those "in the know"). Once again, I have contemplated the idea of trying it. And once again I have chickened out.

I know I have a novel or two in me. I just can't focus and concentrate my thoughts enough to pull it out. NaNoWriMo is supposed to help that...the idea is to write *something* every day, to finish a 50,000-word novel (about 175 pages) in one month. It's not necessarily going to be a GOOD novel. In fact, it's probably going to be crap. But dang it, you'll have written something.

Sustained effort on ANYTHING is a near impossibility for me at this stage. I can't even remember to take my daily meds on a daily basis. I can't keep up the laundry. I can't keep the housework up. Often I don't even have the energy to take a *shower* every day. So the idea of setting myself up for pretty much guaranteed failure on a 30-day writing project is probably not my best move.

Yet, I continue to hold NaNoWriMo up as a "someday" goal. Maybe 2008. mk

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Four Decades of Star Trek

So, Thursday night Ned and I went to the Rockland library, which was having a series of evenings titled: Four Decades of Star Trek.

Thursday, November 1 at 6:30 PM
Four Decades of Star Trek:
Star Trek: The Next Generation

Guest Host: Star Trek star and director, Jonathan Frakes

Four Decades of Star Trek continues with a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We’ll be talking with Next Generation star and director Jonathan Frakes, giving away Star Trek dvds & books, and screening two episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In The Pegasus, the Enterprise is ordered on a covert mission involving a secret Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) has held for 12 years. In The Next Phase Geordi and Ensign Ro are pronounced dead after an accident. They awaken on the Enterprise, only to find that they can’t be perceived by any of their crewmates.

* * * PLEASE NOTE: Seating is limited to the first 75 attendees * * *


So, Jonathan Frakes was great. He was funny, told lots of stories, and was there for about an hour and a half or so. Ned was disappointed because it wasn't set up for Jonathan to sign things (lots of people had brought things for him to autograph). I wasn't as worried about it because I already had an autograph from before (story to follow). I just relaxed and enjoyed myself. Took a couple of pictures, only one came out. I had worn my new Bajoran earring, set my cell phone ringtone to the Star Trek theme (although I had to set it to silent during the actual event, it was fun when it rang while we were waiting for it to open). Definitely glad I went, although I was totally exhausted by the time I got home, and yesterday I wasn't good for much of anything. Still, wouldn't have missed it.

My other Jonathan Frakes story: a few years back, Mom and I were in Planet Toy in Rockland, just leaving, when around the corner came this little family--mom, dad, boy. The dad, who was very tall, was just putting his son up on his shoulders, to the delight of the youngster. I was smiling at the sweetness of the family scene, and admiring the very attractive dad, when I suddenly realize that it was WILLIAM RIKER FROM STAR TREK!!!! I was agog.

After an extremely short discussion with mom, we went back into Planet Toy, and after a couple of minutes of working up the courage, I went up to him and shyly asked if he was Jonathan Frakes. He confirmed that he was, and I said that I really admired his work. He thanked me, we shook hands, I asked if he could sign my bag (the Planet Toy bag), he did (he wrote: Go boldly! Jonathan Frakes), and I thanked him and went away. He was very nice, friendly, and holycow handsome.

Meanwhile, my mom had been stalking his wife around the store (he's married to Genie Francis, better known as Laura from General Hospital). Mom never did get to speak with her (Genie was talking with someone about murals for her son's room). I was floored at how dumpy and unattractive Genie was in person. I mean, bad. Maybe she was just having a really, REALLY bad hair-and-makeup day, but it was kinda shocking to me.

Jonathan and Genie live in Belfast, where she owns and runs a shop called The Cherished Home. (one of the questions someone asked was whether he helped out in the shop. He said his wife wouldn't let him do anything except cut up boxes and stack them neatly in the dumpster. He was also allowed to move things from the Cherished Home to "the cherished shed," and change lightbulbs.)

So, there's my story. Kinda cool for me. mk

This Is Halloween

So. Halloween pictures (finally). We had a totally fantastic time with our haunted pirate ship. Turns out we made the local paper. They posted a piece online, and that led to a few additional people coming by. :D We were, at one point, the second-most emailed article at the paper.

We considered it a total success. There were kids screaming, crying, refusing to come down the path, running away (one poor child fell down while he was trying to run away screaming). We toned it WAAAAAAY down for the little-little ones, and overall there were very few crying babies as a result. Brenda would walk candy out to them if they were too scared to come to us.

We even scared some older kids. Notably two girls in their early teens who were so scared they were clutching onto each other and moving together like some kind of drunken spider. Although there was also another girl who looked to be about sixth grade, who was totally freaked out by me in my dead-pirate guise. She was trying so hard to be brave and stand up to me, and when she finally did get all up in my face, Brenda, who had snuck up behind her, yelled "ARRRRRR" and the girl just about passed out. It was great.

It sounds kinda mean when I just write about it like that, but we really did scale the scary to fit the kids. We gave the kids what they could take.** We got a HUGELY positive response. People were taking pictures, telling us it was the best house they'd ever seen, that we should win a prize (except, of course, that there was no contest), that we were better than Disney (which was not quite true, although we appreciated the sentiment) was just great. We had a truly marvelous time. Brenda and I got TOTALLY into our characters, roaming amongst the graves, using our "pirate voices" to threaten and cajole. Brenda actually chased people down the street (which they loved). Ned *tried* to get into the spirit of it, but he couldn't quite be as mean and scary as Brenda and I were. :D

[**We had one boy who looked about early high school, so we started out with the top-level scary. His mom, who was with him but stayed at the top of the path, quietly informed us that her son was autistic and might take us seriously, so we scaled it way back. When he was done with the trick-or-treat, he was getting back into his mom's car and we could hear him jubilantly saying over and over, "I did it! I did it!" It was really a fantastic moment for us.]

Then there was an ADORABLE little girl in a ladybug costume. We weren't being scary at all for her, but apparently it didn't matter anyway, because she looked at us in our horrifying makeup and masks and smiled and said, "Hi pirates! I like your lights!" She was soooooooo cute.

I haven't had so much fun in forever. Brenda was really, REALLY having a blast. By the end of the evening, we had used our pirate voices so much that we could barely talk, and the next day neither of us could do the pirate voice at all without a GREAT deal of pain.

OK, pictures. mk(this is Brenda)