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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strange Days

It's been a strange week, I think. One that started with a fund raising golf tournament, had a trip to the orthopedic surgeon, a birthday celebration and a whole lotta kids stuff thrown all around.

The kids stuff is a given. I am used to putting on my chauffeur hat and shuttling kids from place to place. I actually kinda like taking them places. When they are with their carpool groups they forget I am in the car and they talk. I listen. I hear everything. I hear about their likes, their dislikes, who is making them angry, how they feel about their place in their family and all manner of completely random comments. I actually like the chauffeur hat.

The other activities that have thrown me this week. 

I am not used to starting my week with 18 holes of golf.  I am very much a schedule person.  I like my schedule and routine and when it gets thrown off my whole week gets out of whack.  18 holes of golf to start the week meant the laundry didn't get done on laundry day, which meant the rest of the week was one day off.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining because I had a blast playing golf with my friend and then enjoying a fabulous dinner after it just threw my week off.

After golf we added a trip to the orthopedic guy for Zach's shoulder.  For those of you who missed my blog on Saturday, Zach got hurt in his last hockey game.  He stepped out onto the ice for his second shift (not his first like I originally said).  He took a check hit in a weird way which caused a separated shoulder.  The ER doc in Philly gave us a two week estimate on how long Zach would be out of hockey.  The orthopedic doc gave us the real deal...six weeks.  Zach will be out of the game he loves for six weeks.  He can start practicing with his team after three weeks but absolutely no contact or hitting and then another three weeks before he can get back in the game.  Not exactly the news we wanted from the orthopedic doc but we gotta do what we gotta do to get Zach's shoulder healthy and whole again.

Then yesterday was my mom's birthday so we celebrated and celebrated big.  It's the first time ever that we have lived in the same state as my parents since we had kids.  This is their first time inviting my mom over for her birthday dinner with just a short drive to and from their own house.  The kids were happy and excited to celebrate a birthday with my mom the way we celebrate birthdays at our house....a dinner of the birthday person's choosing ~ although, my mom didn't play along and choose her own dinner.  We had Filet Mignon, langastino lobster scampi, salad, bread with roasted garlic and Lucas' giant toll house cookie with vanilla ice cream.  My mom and dad were beyond happy to celebrate with us and three of their grand kids.

Now, we move back into normalcy...

This afternoon I had Claire's dance carpool and Lucas in the car. Lucas has to come along on Thursdays so I can drop him at his hockey carpool. I'm not sure he's ever been in the car with four fifth grade girls. It was an interesting exercise for him. He listened, and chimed in, as the girls talked back and forth.  Lucas is incredibly easy going so it wasn't too much of burden on him to listen to and chat with four girls.  I think he actually had fun, but if he heard me say it, he would deny it.  He had fun teasing the girls when they said something completely out of the blue.  I think he found a kindred spirit in the group of girls this afternoon.  Lucas is the king of pulling random comments out of the air but one of the girls in our carpool had him floored with the comments she could whisk out of the deep, dark recesses of her brain.  It was an interesting ride and I am looking forward to watching it unfold as we continue on for the remainder of hockey season and dance.

I am looking forward to a quiet week next week...I want to keep the kids out of the ER this weekend and just focus on some semblance of a normal week in our house.

Oh, for the love of my children....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The ZU is on the Move

Today was my first travel trip with Zach for the beginning of hockey season. While I was looking forward to spending time with our hockey families, I wasn't looking forward to our early departure this morning. We needed to get on the road before 8 a.m. so we could get to Philly in time for a 2 o'clock game. Early mornings do not excite me. The two hockey families who were traveling with me showed up at our house at 7:30 this morning. Lisa, her son Trey, and Coach Rob with his son Robbie loaded their stuff into the TRVLN ZU. We stopped at Wawa, filled up with gas, filled the boys bellies with food and pointed the ZU North.

The traffic was light. We made great time, arriving at the rink well before the coach's rule of arriving one hour before the game. The boys unloaded their gear and went to warm up.

The pucked dropped at center ice and the game was on.

I spent the first minutes of the game texting Stan about the nastiness of the rink, the length of the periods and the size of the kids. The rink was about as nasty as I have ever seen. The roof leaked all over the benches, leaving everything soaking wet and mildewy. The rink was built around dirt and rocks, just to enclose the sheet of ice so there was dirt, rocks and boulders inside the rink. The periods were 20 minutes long, five minutes longer than our boys are used to. And the kids were heads and shoulders taller than most of our boys, except one...

One boy was smaller and he was on the ice for Zach's first shift. Zach stepped out onto the ice and started to play his game. The smaller kid and Zach collided just the wrong way and the game was over for Zach. Zach's coach, Scott, told me later he saw what was happening. He saw Zach at center ice with the puck. He said he watched as the small kid got Zach in his sights and went in for the hit. He wanted Zach off the puck. Scott said he watched Zach brace himself for the hit and was impressed as the kid just bounced off of Zach. He never imagined a hit seemingly so minor could cause an injury. I didn't see what happened, all I knew was Zach was headed off the ice and into the locker room as soon as his first shift was over.

I was getting ready to head to the locker room to check on Zach. I knew something was wrong, Zach was moving slowly and cautiously ~ a way he never moves when he's on skates. One of the dads sitting by me said not to worry. Zach probably just needed to adjust his jock...Yeah, right and I'm King Kong. He's hurt and I know it but I wait.

I get the call to go into the locker room. I step into a firestorm from Zach. He's mad. He's hurt. He doesn't want me in the room but it's no use. I'm there. Zach is in pain and he tells me to leave. He yells at me to get out but I hold my ground.

I'm not usually the one who takes care of injuries. Stan is injury man, I do's a written rule in our house. I don't do injuries. I get lightheaded and dizzy at the sight of my kids with blood or broken bones so Stan takes care of the injuries. But Stan wasn't there so Zach was stuck with me and I with him. (I find out later from Zach that he didn't want me in the locker room with him because he was afraid of how I would handle his injury. But I have to say both of us did very well and I can take care of Zach and his injuries. He is a model patient...polite, respectful and jocular all while being in immense pain.)

Zach couldn't move his shoulder. He was pale and shaky. He said his shoulder was dislocated. He was ready to pass out, or throw up, or both. I ran out to the ZU to get some ibuprofen and called Stan as I headed to the car. I said "I'm on my way to the ER with Zach. He hurt his shoulder and thinks it's dislocated." Stan's response was "What the F---?" How could he be hurt? I had no idea. I didn't know how he got hurt. I didn't see the hit to his shoulder.

Lisa, God love her, volunteered to come with us to the emergency room so we headed out of the rink. I wasn't sure Zach was going to make it to the car on two feet. He looked weak and woozy. Luckily, we got Zach into the car without him (or me) fainting. Zach begged me to drive gently, every minor bump sent jolts of pain searing through his body. Thank God for Lisa, she took care of the car while I got Zach into the ER.

Lisa parked the car as I navigated the security guards/cops at the hospital. We weren't in the nicest part of Philly ~ in fact we were, maybe, one step above ghetto. The patients in the hospital were beyond sketchy. It was a scary, scary place. My first hint at the sketchiness of the place was when I saw a semi-crazy woman who was cuffed behind her back and was not happy about it. She cried out loudly that she was unfairly cuffed. She complained and shed tears and fussed, telling the officers they were wrong to put cuffs on her. Her words fell on deaf ears but she kept ranting. She grunted, growled, cried out in pain and made all manner of gutteral noises while she was restrained. The cops took her to the room next door and stood guard as she was treated for whatever ailment she had. Then there was the homeless, drunk man, passed out on the gurney across the hall from Zach's room. He woke up from his drunken stupor intermittedly, looking for a nurse or his watch or whatever a drunk, homeless man looks for when he wakes up from a bender. I've never been exposed to a scene like we experienced in the ER but luckily, the security guards were out in force.

The doctor came in, examined Zach and gave us a diagnosis of a probable separated shoulder. X-rays were ordered so Zach waited. He was in pain but at least not nauseated...they gave him something for the nauseau. Zach was treated well and treated quickly. The hospital staff was, I think, happy to have someone on the "normal" spectrum to take care of. Zach was taken back for x-rays and we waited. The prognosis came back. Zach's shoulder is separated, just midly, but it's separated just the same. He's out for at least two weeks, it could be longer, but we won't find out until we see the orthopedic surgeon. Damn, why oh why, do we have to have an orthopedic guy on speed-dial?

As we were waiting in the ER, we were getting updates on the was 0-3, badguys were winning, when we left for the ER. The score climbed and climbed and climbed ~ not in our favor! The final score was 0-14. Shit! So, Coach Rob, Robbie, Lisa, Trey, Zach and I traveled five hours in the TRVLN ZU to get our asses kicked and a separated shoulder. REALLY?! When I texted that to Stan he said...

"For the love of your children..."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Boys

Last night was my night for carpool. I started the evening shuttling Claire and three of her friends to dance. I ended the evening driving Lucas and four other smelly hockey players to and from practice.

Did you know there is a difference between boys and girls? No, seriously there's a difference and BIG difference.

I drove four girls to dance class and on our travels I listened to the girls talk and talk and talk. They talked about boys, school, grades, teachers and whatever else popped into their brains. They sang silly songs and giggled. I heard some huffing when one of the girls wanted to talk and someone started talking over her. I saw eyes being rolled when the irritation grew. But they were, for the most part, kind to one another. The girls crack me up when we are in the TRVLN ZU. There are times when I love listening to their chatter, last night was one of those nights.

As soon as the dance girls were dropped off it was time to pick up the hockey boys.

I loaded four boys into the van and headed off to the rink. It was a much different trip. The boys played the punching game. They yelled. They yelled more. They yelled over each other to be heard. I couldn't yell loud enough to be heard so I just shook my head, repeatedly. I dumped them at the rink and ran to get some dinner for myself and a little later, for the boys. When I went back to the rink for pick up duties, I loaded five stinky hockey boys, gear and all, into the van and started for home. Dinner was distributed and their consumption of food kept the volumn down, just slightly.

As we rolled home, I listened as the boys traded barbs, made fun of each other and were, for the most part boys. I was treated to stories of body functions...what happens when you get sick from both ends. I listened to one of the boys say "oh, my area is vibrating..." over and over and over ~ every time he got a text. I heard the boys bust on each other about girls. The boys played five star on the way home. That's the lovely game where boys smack someone else as hard as they can, usually the back, with their hand open so it leaves a giant red mark in the shape of their hands...five star. Either the boys forgot I was there or they were trying to impress me with their 13 year old boy banter. Whatever the case was, they didn't ebd up impressing me with their "machismo."

My carpools last night couldn't have been bigger polar opposites. The things the boys said to each other was...well, it wasn't sugar and spice and everything nice. The things that came out of the mouths of the boys was snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. I wouldn't change a thing about either carpool. They were both vastly entertaining just completely different.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lucas and the Lawn Mowing Malfunction

A landscape artist, he is not.  A lawn scape butcherer is a more accurate term when it comes to Lucas and lawn mowing.

Lucas' job is mowing our lawn.  He gets paid fairly handsomely for a job he hates...sounds like real life.  He does what he can to push off mowing the lawn.  This past time it was almost two weeks without a mow.  Our rule is, "you mow the lawn ~ you get paid.  But if you don't mow the lawn ~ you pay Dad for doing your job."  It's a $50 swing...Lucas can earn $25 or he can end up paying Stan $25.  So far, Lucas hasn't had to pay.  There have been threats and close calls but he's gotten the job done just in the nick of time.

Last night was one of those times.  It was down to the wire.  Stan's threat to mow the lawn loomed out there like a hurricane waiting to come ashore.  There was one small problem...yesterday it rained so the lawn was saturated.  Stan gave Lucas the instructions "go out into the back yard with the lawn mower and see if it's mowable."  No further instructions were why it would be better to do a spot check in the back yard.  Lucas, and his 12 year old brain, heard "go mow the lawn." 

He took the  lawnmower to the front yard and proceeded to mow the sopping wet grass.  I came home to grass armageddon.  It looked like the apocolypse hit in the form of a lawn mower.  There were piles of wet, sticky, globbed up grass stretching from our front walkway, onto the driveway, down to the sidewalk and into the street.
These pictures were taken this morning, after a rain and well after the snow shovel was employed to help get up the majority of grass clippings that spewed from the lawn mower in great, giant, wet clumps.

This is not Lucas' first foray into the realm of disasturous lawn jobs. 

A couple of years ago he was employed by our neighbor to mow her lawn.  One particular day Lucas grabbed the lawn mower and went to mow her lawn.  At this point in Lucas' lawn mowing career, he was not good about "seeing" the lines he created as he walked behind the lawnmower, back and forth across the grass.  His "lines" were not straight and he missed clumps of grass as he mowed in squiggly lines.  Why our neighbor employed him, and paid him $35 to mow her lawn I'll never know but she did.  This particular day, though, Lucas was determined to mow in straight lines and mow it well.  He came into me about 5 minutes after he started and said "the lawn mower keeps stalling."  I've mowed a lawn once in my life...I know nothing about mowing lawns, lawn mowers, the gas that goes in them...NOTHING!  The one and only time I mowed our lawn I had to stop the UPS guy to help me out.  So I told Lucas to check the gas tank and keep on mowing or to go ask Zach for help and advice.  Another ten minutes passes and he comes back  in the house with the same tale ~ the lawn mower keeps stalling but now there's a bigger problem.  The part of the grass he has mowed is starting to turn brown...UH, OH!  What the hell?? 

It turns out Lucas had the blades way too low so the grass was clumping up in the lawn mower, causing it to stall and on top of it the part of the grass Lucas mowed was turning brown because it was too short and it was starting to burn...Luckily, the part of the grass he mowed was in the shape of a giant D which was the grade he got on that particular lawn mowing job.  Our neighbor paid him just the same, God love her!  But we fired him from lawn mowing for a while!

Yesterday's job could have been avoided if Lucas would have listened to Stan when he told him to try mowing the back yard first.  The lawn mower would have spewed great, wet globs of soggy grass back onto the grass and not on the driveway, sidewalk, street, front walkway, etc...Lucas' reason for mowing the front was that Stan didn't explain WHY he should mow the back.  He just heard "MOW."  Lucas is one of those kids who needs a bit of an explaination and not just an order.  Stan is one of those people who can give and take orders with the best of them.  He doesn't need much in the way of explainations.  Gonna be an interesting time when Lucas hits full on teenagehood, let me tell ya'!

If we can just get Lucas to quit with the lawn mowing malfunctions we can start working on getting through the teenage years!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Disappointment and Tears

Today was the deadline.  Claire wanted to turn in a sketch for the cover of student directory. She wanted to compete at a chance for her drawing to be the cover.  Last year she competed and her drawing was one of the runners' up.  She was so proud to be able to see her drawing on the inside of the student directory.

This year Claire began the same way she did last year.  She came up with an idea of what she wanted to draw so she wouldn't go into the process blind.  She made copies of the official entry form so she would have extras just in case she screwed up.   And then she started her drawing of an eagle's wing high fiving the hand of a student at Rivers Edge where the year slogan is "High Five Heroes," honoring those who make a difference both in the school community and in our community at large.  Her drawing wasn't coming along quite like she wanted it to so she started drawing on the copy she made...problem is, this year she only made one copy ~ last year she made many copies.

She kept forgetting to go to the office and get a new copy so the deadline passed without her drawing being turned in. 

This afternoon Claire came home with disappointment on her face and tears glistening on her lashes.  She said the votes were taken today and her drawing wasn't there to be judged.  She knew the fault was hers for not picking up a new copy and that made the sting of disappointment that much harder to swallow.  Disappointment in yourself is sometimes harder to bear because the only blame to be laid is at your own feet.

I kissed her nose, gave her a big hug and said I was sorry her picture didn't make it onto paper and into the office but she has last year's drawing to look back on and be proud of.  What else could I say?  Disappointment and tears on a gloomy day.  YUCK!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

3, 2, 1 Contact!

Lucas has been asking for quite some time to go back to the optometrist and try contacts again.  He has tried twice before but with no success.  The first two times saw Lucas frustrated, scared and upset.  He couldn't do it.  He couldn't get past his wicked blink reflex or his long eye lashes.  He worked for hours trying so hard to make it happen and it just didn't.

Today was different.  He was still scared but determined.  His motivation ~ he wants to play hockey without glasses.  That's a good motivator.

He worked with the fantastic team of ladies from our fabulous optometrist's office.  They were patient and kind as he struggled to put his contact lenses in.  His blink reflex was still strong and his eye lashes are still long but he worked and worked and worked.  I could see the sweat forming on his brow as his determination grew.

Lucas was actually not successful at putting the contacts in himself but he was able to let someone else do it for him and he did great getting them out so they sent him home with his new contacts in his eyes.  He needs to practice, practice, practice they said.  Lucas is more determined than ever to make this work now that he "sees" how well they work (my weak attempt at a pun...).
Lucas came home from the optometrist and immediately headed for Facebook.  Picture and all are now proudly displayed in his status.  He walked into the rink tonight for hockey practice with his head held high and ready to take on the ice with new-found vision...He's a blooming visionary!

I am so happy for Lucas.  It's been a long time coming for him.  He tried and tried and tried.  One of my friends, Yasmin, commented on our Pefect Mamas Confess quote of the day today and she said "Persistence, perseverance and patience....never fails!"  That was Lucas!  I know he'll stick with it.  He's like a bulldog, when he gets ahold of an idea or something he wants to do he doesn't let go.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Smoked Chili

Yesterday was a perfect day for chili.  It was cool and damp and a bit dreary.  I was craving chili.  I wanted a good, old fashioned, spicy, red chili.

I bought all the ingredients to make the perfect pot of chili.  I came home from the store and started dicing onion, mincing garlic, browning meat and opening can after can after can of beans and crushed tomatoes.  I filled our big 12 quart stockpot with all the fixings, turned the heat down and left to go to a meeting.  As I was driving home I got the text that something was not quite right with the chili.  Stan said it smelled "off" and just a little burnt.  Not quite the words I was looking for when trying for the perfect pot of chili...

I seriously thought about going out and buying all fresh ingredients and starting all over again but the boys said it was edible...again not quite what I was striving for with a pot of chili.

I got home and immediately smelled the burnt, scorched bits of beans, meat and onion but I decided to try and salvage what I could so I started ladling off giant spoonfuls of charred chili.  I transferred the contents to two smaller stockpots and gave it a taste.  Smoked chili. 

It's neither good nor bad as far as I'm concerned but God love Zach he actually said it was "Good!"  So now, we have a new recipe in our house for smoked chili but I really wouldn't recommend trying it unless you're feeding a hungry 15 year old.  Luckily, we have two more gallons of it so hopefully Zach is hungry when he gets home tonight because it's on the menu again.

Ahhhhhh, for the love of my children....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shockingly, I'm the Calm ONE!

As you all know, Zach just got his learner's permit and I have to say he's doing a remarkably good job for having NO formal instruction. Virginia is a state where the kids can take the test for their learner's permits and drive right that means Stan and I are Zach's formal instruction...kind of like the blind leading the blind. Maybe the state of Virginia doesn't do things quite right. Maybe parents should have to take a refresher course on driving rules. Or maybe it should have been up to Stan and me, and we should have been more proactive in our preparation for Zach's foray into driving. But Stan and I know how to drive, right? Neither of us has had an accident (knock on wood) in quite some time which is excellent because it means we have paid careful attention and avoided the idiot who is not paying attention. Both of us have had, however, speeding tickets in the past years but we know what causes those...excessive speed. It's been a learning experience all around for the Pokey family.

Today I told Zach I needed to run some errands so he asked if he could come along. I knew he wanted to come along so he could drive but I couldn't resist the thought of his company so my answer was an immediate "YES! Come along!!" YAY! I was going to have Zach time today! I love having one on one time with my kiddos. It's even more special when the 15 year old son wants to tag along on errands to Target, Kroger and Marshall's...I LOVE it!

As we were driving around Richmond Zach and I got to talking about his driving. He asked how I thought he was doing. I told him I think he is doing very well. He's a cautious driver, one who is full of confidence but incredibly inexperienced. But he can only gain experience by driving more so...he drives.

As he was driving today Zach told the story of driving with his dad yesterday. Yesterday Stan dropped the F-bomb on Zach as he was trying to negotiate a tricky in "What the "F" are you doing?" Zach tried pulling out into a turn lane when there was someone already in the turn lane and he almost caused an accident. Inexperience.

So today, I couldn't resist asking Zach who was calmer in the passenger or Stan? Shockingly, according to Zach, I am the calm one. Zach said he thought it would be the other way around. But when I was a kid learning to drive, it was the same way in my house. My mom was the calm one. She was the one who was calm enough to teach me how to drive. My dad would get so irritated and frazzled when I was behind the wheel. My mom was cool as a cucumber ~ at least that's what she prortrayed to me. My mom was the calm one. I guess she passed that down to me.

WHEW! I'm the calm one...isn't that a hoot? Me, calm? Normally, I think I must look like I have three heads to my kids. I am the one who dances around, acts crazy and is loud and obnoxious. I always wanted to be calm, elegant and serene ~ that's really not me but I love being thought of as the calm one for once!

I'm gonna try to continue being the calm one for the love of my children...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Poky Little Puppy Turned Into The Grumpy Bunny

Zach's nickname in hockey, and now lacrosse, is Pokey.  It's just easier to say than to try and stumble through a rendition of "GO POKRYWKA!" If the name were spelled as it is pronounced it would be Po-krif-ka and if it was actually translated into English from Polish it means "pot lid or cover."  Not that any of this matters to this blog, it's just a little aside in my story telling. 

In sporting cirlces we are known as the Pokey family.  Lucas is Lil Pokey.  Stan is sometimes Big Pokey or Mr. Pokey.  I'm Pokey's Mom and if you say it quickly enough it sounds like Pokemon.  Claire is in on the act too with her email address being The First Pokey Girl ~ she's the first Pokrywka born girl in 57 years.    But Zach ~  well he's the Original Pokey.  When someone says Pokey, I think of him.  It's his name, we are just along for the ride.

Last night at the football game, one of my friends (who has, I think one of the best names ever ~ Kendall who married a man with the last name of Kendall, so she's Kendall Kendall) introduced our family to her daughter and said "This is Pokey's family."  Kendall went on to say she used to refer to her son as Poky when he was moving slowly, based on the book "The Poky Little Puppy."  I used to call Zach that too when he would move slower than January molasses running uphill.  But now, the name has taken on a whole new life and Kendall said she was told she could no longer refer to son as Poky because it's Zach's name.  

This morning, as I was picking Zach up from a sleepover he clambered in the car, yawning.  He told me how tired he was.  The boys went to sleep around 4 a.m. and I picked him up at 9 ~ not a lot of sleep time there.  He had promised, though, he would go help teach little kids how to skate and play the game of hockey.  He and I pull into the Lil' Rink parking lot when Zach realizes most ofhis hockey playing  buddies are not there.  Grumpiness starts to creep in.  Zach goes to the back of the van to get his skates, gloves, helmet, stick and warm ups.  He sees there is no bag for his gear.  Uh, oh ~ more hints of grumpiness.  Then he realizes I brought the wrong stick.  How silly of me to not realize the hockey stick I grabbed had never touched ice before.  DUH!  But the icing on the cake, when the wheels really fell off and the whining went into full force was when Zach saw that Stan packed two different gloves...not a pair, just two different gloves.  The grumpy bunny came roaring to life.  One of Zach's hockey coaches heard the din of whining over the rumbling of the Zamboni and yelled to me "Even boys get their periods!"  The tired and grumpy bunny still had a committment so onto the ice he went to try and teach little kids how to love the game of hockey as much as he does.

His mood was much improved by the time the lesson was over.  I brought him home, fed him lunch and sent him to bed.  The grumpy little bunny turned back into Pokey.  Thank heavens!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Are You Ready For Some Football?

It's that time again...high school football season and we are off to the home opener!  While I'm not a die hard football fan, (I'll take hockey anytime over football) I do love a high school football game.

I love watching the kids.  Their enthusiasm and school spirit is awe inspiring.  They cheer and stomp and are completely engrossed in the game...or at least they are really good at pretending but I don't think it's pretense.  They are engrossed in the game and the excitement of the moment.

This time last year we had just welcomed Jan into our family.  (For those of you just joining my blog, Jan is our fabulous exchange student from the Czech Republic.)   In order to give him the full taste of high school in America, he had to experience a good ol' football game.  So, off we went to the Deep Run High School home opener.  Jan wandered off and found himself sitting next to a cute girl who decided she needed to experience something too...she started rubbing her hand on Jan's thigh.  Jan just looked at her and she said "Sorry, I just had to do that."  WOW, what an experience for Jan at a high school football game!

I am sure we won't have quite as much excitement at this home opener but it will be fun, nonetheless.  So, we're off and ready for some football.

Oh, for the love of our children....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fill 'Er Up!

The other day I blogged about the world of "Hurry, Hurry." I talked about life getting sucked away by the hurriedness of our daily lives. Today I am on the opposite track ~ sort of.

This morning saw me racing to get the kids fed, out the door, myself ready and out the door by 8:20. I had to get to Zach's school, drop off a check for his pictures (I got a little overzealous in my recycling and the form was long gone) and then get myself to the tennis courts by 9:15.

I got the check dropped off and steered the TRVLN ZU to the courts. As I was flying down the Interstate with the windows down and the tunes cranked I looked down at my gas gauge and saw that I was perilously low on fuel ~ Oooof, that's not what I was looking for when I have a 20 minute drive to the tennis courts!

I did not run out of gas and I won my match so I guess you could say I had luck on my side. Thank goodness for small favors!

On my way home I stopped at Wawa, filled up my trusty Mommy Van and headed home. As I was barreling back down the highway, again with the music blaring and the windows down, I realized how much we, as mamas and daddies, are kind of like our trusty transportation.

I think of us as the Mommy Van barreling down the highway of child rearing and our kids as our passengers. We, as transportation, give and give and give. Our kids, as passengers, take and take and take. They suck the fuel out of us. And every now and again we need a pit stop to fill 'er up.

Tennis is one of my pit stops but I also feel an overwhelming need for something to fill not only the fitness tank but the spiritual tank as well. So in my desire to keep my tank full I am blessed to be able to work with a fabulous group of women facillitating M.O.M.S. ~ Ministry of Mothers Sharing. It's a spiritual journey of self-discovery, one I have taken once and facillitated three times. I realized what a better person I am when I am involved with ladies who push me hard to grow, accept, change and make the world a better place. I need to keep not only my fitness tank full but my spiritual tank full as well.

So, today I say "fill 'er up!"

Oh, for the love of my children....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mean People Suck

I love this bumper sticker ~ tt's one of my all time favorites.  It conveys a lot in three little words.  Mean People Suck. 

I think it's safe to say we've all screwed up at one time or another and been mean.  I know I've been mean.  I've used my blog to write about the times I've screwed up and treated someone in a less than favorable way.  I've been a sucky, mean person both to strangers and family alike but I try and work hard to make amends with strangers, family, and friends too, when I screw up.  Most of the time my apology is accepted and we move on...either to a better place in our relationship if it was a close friend or family or we just simply move on if it was a stranger who was caught up in a bad day of mine. 

There have also been times when I have been kicked to the curb so hard I didn't know whether or not I'd be able to get up again.  Mean people suck.  But I've learned to get back up, dust myself off, lick my wounds, forgive and moved on. 

Mean people don't just have to be those who are overtly nasty.  I think mean people are also those who hold grudges, all the while touting forgiveness, but don't really forgive.  I think mean people are also ones who subject you to the silent treatment when you've behaved badly. They are the ones who do some serious damage in relationships.  I know all about those types of people.  I used to be one.  I used to hold grudges and subject people to the silent treatment when I was angry or hurt.

But, thankfully, I learned how to work through and talk through bad feelings instead of shutting down and
shutting out those I care most about.  Now when I'm mean or angry, it's out there.  No two ways about it.  When I'm angry, it's known.  I think it's easier this way.  I can work to get the anger out, get over any bullshit and move on. 

I hope I teach my children, and teach them well, the value of conflict resolution and the value of forgiveness.  I hope I teach them never to hold a grudge and subject someone they care about to the silent treatment when the other person has been mean or behaved less than favorably.  I hope I teach them that talking to one another is the only way to resolve bad feelings and nasty issues.

I've got a lot of work ahead of me.  But I need to teach them that Mean People Suck.

Oh for the love of my children...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hurry, Hurry!

The Army has a saying  "Hurry up and wait."  You have to hurry up and get somewhere so you can sit around and wait for the next move.  That's really doesn't fit my life.  There is no hurry up and WAIT, it's just HURRY UP!

Now, that school has started it seems life goes flying by at Mach 3.  I was listening to Pandora today and Alabama's song "I'm in a Hurry" came on. 

The song served as a reminder that "I'm in a hurry and don't know why."  I rush from place to place and errand to errand.  According to Alabama's song "I rush and rush until life's no fun."

So as I zip off to pick up Lucas from hockey practice I will roll down every window in the TRVLN ZU, blast Alabama through the speakers in my rockin' mini van and I will savor every single second of my race to the rink!

Oh, for the love of my children...

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Top 10 List For Today

This past weekend went by in the blink of an eye. There was not a spare moment found.  The boys had five games between them and they won four of the five games.  Not bad for the beginning of hockey season.  Both boys scored their first goals of the season as well, so I have to say it was, overall, a successful hockey weekend. 

In addition to the hockey games we also hosted Lucas' team for a spaghetti lunch on Saturday.  We had spaghetti and meatballs for 50 people.  The food was good but the company we kept was better, it was an awesome time at our house.  Luckily for me, we've got some pretty outstanding friends who pitched in to clean up when my friend, Lisa, and I boogied to our oldest boys' game.  Thanks Suzie, Kim and (another) Lisa!!

We finished off the weekend with dinner with my parents.  I fixed baby back ribs, homemade baked beans, mashed potatoes, salad and brownies a la mode. 

It was a blast but now I find myself sitting here wanting to write but mentally off.  All the excitement of the first weekend back at the hockey rink has left my brain a muddled mess.

So today, as much as I know I have to get done, I also want to just sit and procrastinate ~ veg out, do nothing.  I know I won't really sit and do nothing but it's a lovely fantasy. 

As I was thinking about what I wanted to write today, I started thinking of great ways to procrastinate and put off doing the inevitable.  For me procrastination is not just about finding deliberate ways to blow stuff off, it's also about wasting time, doing nothing.

So here's my top ten list of ways to procrastinate...

10.  Sit and stare off into space.

9.   Let a squirrel run by...and then follow him.  This is also known as getting easily pulled off task...finding something else that needs to be done, getting sucked into that and then smacking yourself in the forehead for being so easily distracted and go back to the first task.  (Lucas comes by his ADHD honestly.)

8.  Surf the Internet.

7.  Make a list of all the things you have to do and then lose it and write it down again.  Repeat as necessary.

6.  Go to the grocery store without a list and wander around aimlessly, trying to remember what was on the list that you lost.

5.  Follow that squirrel again! 

4.  Facebook.  Need I say more?

3.  Go through your paper pile and move papers from one pile to another.

2.  Open the refrigerator door to look for a snack, repeatedly and often.


I feel so much better when I write my list and check it off as I go along but it's not shaping up to be an organized day.  It started out rocky when Lucas wandered back into the house after missing the bus and needed a ride to school.  And for me, I think it's one of those days where I look at Lucas and say "I understand."

Ah, for the love of my children...

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Think I'm A Sap

Or so I was told last night at Lucas' hockey practice.

It came out at Tuesday's practice that I still fix lunch for Zach...and breakfast, and I still wake him up ~ OK, so maybe it's a bit much to still wake up my 15 year old but I only have him for another three years, what's the harm, really?

Last night I drew grief from the dads...they gave me heck about breakfast and lunch (they didn't even know I still wake Zach up so I guess I'll catch even more grief once this little tidbit gets out!). Stop making his lunch for him, they said.  He knows where the food is and he can do it, they said.  THEN they found out I switched phones with Zach for the night. I gave him my iPhone and took his whatever-the-heck-he-has. His phone was low on battery ~ actually dead ~ and he was trying to find a ride home from the rink with after his hockey practice (which ends at 10 p.m. and is on the other side of town from where we live.) I wanted to make sure he could call Stan if he needed to pick him up, just in case his ride fell through, so I gave him my fully charged phone and took his dead as a doornail phone. The dads said I was too nice! I need to be more mean and strict and stern...NEVER give my kids my phone, they said!  If his phone isn't charged, too bad, they said.

I think I'm just being a mama...mamas are the caretakers. They make sure the kids are fed, watered, awake, asleep, bandaged and, too a certain degree, coddled ~ or at least this mama does. When I told Zach all the dads said I was too nice, making breakfast, lunch and making sure his awake with his feet on the floor each morning he looked at me with a perplexed expression and said "I love you, Mommy!" Awwwwww shucks, Zach! I'll keep being a sap for you and your siblings!

Ahhhhhh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Pensieve

I love Harry Potter...the movies, the books, everything.  The first year we moved here I read all five books which had been published and I was hungry for more.  Last summer I re-read all seven in preparation for the seventh movie.  I am just geeky enough want to be part of Harry's world.  A much fun would that be?!?  Of, course I would only be a good witch.  I would never serve any type Lord Voldemort.  I can see me, now, wielding a wand, casting spells...

OK, back to reality.  I will never be a witch, good, bad or otherwise. 

But there is one thing I have which is so similar to something Professor Dumbledore has.  He has a pensieve...I have a pen-sieve.  Pofressor Dumbledore is able to gather his thoughts and memories and draw them out of his head with his wand.  He stores them in a bowl that sits perched in his office.  My pen-sieve is my way of drawing my own thoughts and memories out of my head. My writing is my pensieve.  (Get it?  You need a pen to write.) I'll put together a story about what's on my  mind or an issue or a sweet, sweet memory and I can come back to it later and revisit it when I want to or need to.  Hopefully, my kiddos will enjoy my pen-sieve when they get older and want to remember about events from their childhood.

While I may never be a witch I still have one witchy skill to keep me on par with Professor Dumbledore and Harry...I won't mention all the times I tried casting spells! 
My pen-sieve is for the love of my children...


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mama Guilt

Yesterday I posted a blog all about Willie Nelson coming into our house the night before and I shared our list of everything we crammed into three short months.  And then I went on facebook...

And I see friend after friend after friend who has posted pictures of their kiddos going back to school!  DAMN!  I forgot!  I forgot to take a picture of Claire as she headed out the door on her last first day of elementary school.  I didn't capture her excitement mingled with her sadness at the thought of this being her last year in elementary school.  I didn't get the image of her standing there in her t-shirt, jean shorts and cowboy boots...topped with a raincoat.  I didn't get the picture...

Couple that with the fact that I didn't say good-bye to Lucas and my mama guilt-o-meter was spinning like crazy.  I didn't give Lucas a hug, tell him I loved him or tell him to have a great day.  Here's the story...

I drove Lucas to school to help him change his schedule and drop off his epi-pen.  It was a crazy, crazy time trying to get into school.  Every parent seemed to be driving their kidsl.  The rain was coming down in buckets which turned all of the kids who are normally walkers into car riders yesterday.  The traffic was insane trying to take the turn into the school.  Lucas kept looking at the clock.  He didn't want to be late for his first day.  He knew he was under the gun from the get-go because he lost his locker combination and needed to get a replacement in his homeroom class so he could put his backpack in his locker.  New rules are in effect this year ~ no backpacks are allowed in classes they have to be stored in the kids' lockers. Lucas didn't want to be out of compliance on the first day, I told him to run to homeroom, get his locker combination, stow his stuff and meet me back down in the counselor's office.  I completed my task with the counselors ~ no sign of Lucas.  I walk next door to the clinic to turn in his epi-pen.  Finished there too ~ still no sign of Lucas.  I hung out in the hallway for a few minutes hoping he would reappear but no luck so I headed back out in the torrential downpour without saying good-bye to my little blond boy.

Mama guilt sucks so to assuage (great word, huh?) my guilt I made sure to take my camera to capture Claire as she came off the bus on her last first day of elementary school and I made sure to hug Lucas extra tight to make up for my hugging lapse in the morning.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Willie Was Here Last Night

A couple of months ago I told the story of how Stan always plays Willie Nelson's "The Party's Over" whenever a good time is over.  The song always blasts through the house on the last night of summer vacation.  Last night Willie serenaded the kids as we wrote our list of things we did or experiences we had this summer.  It's in no particular order...a thought or memory pops into our heads and it's written down.

The party may be over but we crammed years worth of things into three short months...

Said goodbye to Jan
Lucas' hockey camp
Claire's Nationals in NYC
Lucas and Claire off to Camp Silver Beach
Had a blast with the Dolliver's at their beach house
Kings Dominion
Cape Hatteras with the Horton's
Smurf's movie
Zach' surgery
Harrry Potter movie marathon with Zach after his surgery
Hurricane Irene and her power outage
Lucas falling into the canal with his phone...oops no more cell phone
Algebra prep course for Lucas
Online P.E. for Zach
Nana and Granddad moving into Richmond
Last day of school
Claire's first Rodeo
        -Followed closely by Claire's first pair of cowboy boots
Girls night out!
Sleepover with the Horton's
Philly tourney
Helping get the Lil Rink up and running
25th High School reunion for Stan
Boys' trip to Louisville
Girls' weekend
4th of July fireworks in the cul-de-sac
Claire's wisdom tooth removal
Catching dogfish
Avon Pier
Kayaking in the sound
Horton falling off a bridge
Driving on the beach
Zach getting his learner's permit
      - Followed closely by Zach driving me home from the DMV
Call me RED!
Summer reading lists FINISHED!!

It was a crazy, crazy party but I enjoyed every second of it...even the little hiccups along the way.

Ah, for the love of my children...

Monday, September 5, 2011


I love to people watch.  I enjoy making up stories about people I see and what their lives might be like. I'll notice someone in line with me, sitting at a nearby table when I'm eating out or when I'm running errands.  They'll do something to make me take note of them and I do.  Maybe they have a limp, a scar or wild hair that stands up all over ~ whatever it is, I'll put together a story from what I observed.  "What's the tattoo by that man's eye?" I'll think to myself.  And then I go on to ask myself who could he be, why is he here, how did he get the scar and when did he get it?  I want answers so I make them up about the people I watch.

People watching at the airport, to me, is the best.  Watching people come and go from the airport is in a class by itself.  People from every walk of life are there ~people with stories that are rich and vibrant.  I watch frazzled parents with young kids struggle to make it to their gate and I make up a story that they are headed to Disney for the first time.  The kids race around, out of control because their excitement can't be contained.  Then there's the harried businessman working hard to get his job done and get home.  He's tired and grumpy and the people in front of him at security are holding him up.  He disdainfully looks down his nose at those who aren't used to flying and have no clue about procedures.  He just wants to get home. I see the grandparents  and I imagine their excitement.  I see the twinkle in their eye and I imagine their joy at the thought of their grandchildren at the end of the journey.   And then I see the  people who look like they just saw a ghost.  I imagine them as a someone who is deathly afraid of flying and their fear is palpable to all who are around them.  Their stories scream out to be told, if only to myself.  I love to capture the essence of their story, make it what I imagine and finish their story in my head. 

The grocery store is another good place to people watch.  I would so much rather watch people in line at the grocery store than read the gossipy magazines sitting near the conveyor belt.  Real people standing in  line at Kroger conjure up good stories in my head.  It amuses me to no end to make up details about their lives.  I'll make up stories about some guy in front of me with a long, scraggly ponytail.  I imagine him as some kind of a badass, biker dude with his Harley parked outside.  I don't want to do anything to piss him off so I make sure my people watching is a little under the radar. 

I weren't so dang blatant about my watching some might think I'm a voyeur ~ ah, who am I kidding, I am kinda like a voyeur only my stories are made up, I don't go cruising into someone's real life!  I just people watch.

Maybe that's why I love to write.  I love to take what I see and tell the story.  People watching gives me the gift of a good story line.  I have pages of notes tucked in my trusty black bag.  It's a favorite ~ it the one that holds my iPad and laptop when I'm traveling.  I'll jot down little thingsI noticed at the mall; little blurbs that pop into my head when I'm out and about living my own life.  Taking what I see and tweaking it enough to make the story interesting is what makes it fun to me. 

Life here at home provides me with more than enough material...there rarely is a dull moment around here. Our family storyline needs no embellishment.  Our life is embellished enough, thank you very much. Lucas is a walking embellishment with his quick wit followed by a few good blond moments!  Stan is larger than life ~ his booming voice and large stature only add to the larger than life perception.  Zach is neat and tidy but also loud and completely wacky.  And Claire, well, she can be decidedly messy but also delightfully charming.  Every one of them add to the craziness that is life here in our house.  I don't need to make up stories about them...they provide me with weeks of material at one sitting.  Sitting back watching them gives stories that are ripe for the picking.  Someday, I hope these stories provide hours of entertainment for the kids when they are grown, gone and looking back on their own childhood. 

That's what I do.  I sit back and watch...for the love of my children.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Don't Ask A Question...

...If you really don't want to know the answer.  I learned this a long time ago from an old boyfriend.  He wasn't the nicest of guys and he loved to play with my head.  He loved to keep me hanging and wondering.  When I would finally screw up my courage to ask him where he was the night before or where our relationship was going he would say "You asked the question but do you really want to know the answer?"  The fear that question bred in me has stuck to this very day.  But I'm a little more brave now and I do want to hear the answers to the questions I ask.  I never want to be kept in the dark.

My blogging partner, Julie, on my other blog, Perfect Mamas Confess ( recently stumbled across a potential infidelity.  She's not sure about what she saw but she's pretty sure she saw a friend, in a compromising position, with someone other than the spouse.  Julie and I wrote about it last night and our blog got me to thinking about the question "Don't ask the question if you really don't want to know the answer.

Infidelity is such a touchy and scary subject ~ touchy because no one wants to admit it happens and scary because  the thought of our spouse being unfaithful brings waves of fear creeping into our thougths.   The thought of a spouse going out and finding love or comfort in the arms of another is more than most of us want to accept.

Back to our blog on Perfect Mamas Confess...

Maybe the spouse of the potential adulterer knows there could be cheating involved but doesn't want to ask the question.  It's too scary for them to think what the outcome could be if aldultery is really being committed.   I guess we'll have to wait and see what really is going on.

I know, though, from a year of living in the dark with my old boyfriend I would much rather know the truth, ask the question and hear the answer...even if the given answer was not what I wanted to hear.  I wouldn't want to be in the dark.  I wouldn't want to live in fear of finding out something when I wasn't prepared..  I wouldn't want to wake up every morning wondering if this was the day the bomb would drop.  I would want know to know the answer if I thought infidelity was making an insidious creep into our marriage.  I would want to be brave and face the consequences of an answer I didn't want to hear rather than to live a life of lies...for the love of my children.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Price of Modesty

A good friend of mine writes a blog called Wanderlust (  She lives in Poland and recently wrote a blog about her experience at a gym in Warsaw.  This blog posting is called "Americans Don't Do Naked Well." She talked about how immodest the European women are ~ how they are comfortable in their own skin, showing their bodies.  They can stand and have a conversation together all while be butt, ass naked!  I enjoyed reading her blog and remembering my own experiences with European's confidence in their own bodies.  People of all ages, with all different shapes of bodies freely walk around beaches or pools topless and in speedos

Last night got me thinking about that blog and how my own modesty affects life here in our house.  I can say most anything, tell you whatever you probably don't want to hear, act goofy, dance around, look like a fool but my kids won't, willingly, see me naked.  Zach and Lucas do practice the "knock and walk," where they knock and then proceed to walk in without waiting for the "come in" from me ( I have talked about this little issue on my blog before). I have told them they will be scarred for life if they keep walking in on me while I am changing my clothes.  I have no problem talking to them about sex, drugs, drinking, debauchery...but let them see me naked?  NO WAY!!  Last night, though, got me to wondering why it's so taboo for me.

I really wanted to take a bath last night.  I wanted to sink down in the warm water of our big ol' tub in our bathroom.  I wanted to relax and chill out.  My parents had just left after a nice dinner together.  Stan was off playing hockey, the boys were upstairs playing x-box and Claire was getting herself ready for bed.  I started running my tub when Claire walked in and said "OH, Mom!  When you're finished will you keep the water in the tub so I can get in?"  She loves a good bath as much as I do.  I was more than happy to let her in on my little bit of bliss in the form of a good, hot bath.

As I was lounging in my tub, I realized I was lonely and bored.  I love taking baths, yes, but I also like company or something to do.  I like to read a book.  I didn't bring one into the bathroom with me, I forgot it.  I like to chat with Stan.  I like it when we can sit back and chat, surrounded by warm water and the jets of the tub making a soothing humming noise...kind of like sitting in a jacuzzi only it's in our bathroom.  Rather than going for a book, I went and got Claire.  "Put on your swimsuit and meet me in the tub," I said.  I told her to bring all of her lotions and potions so she could wash up after I got out.  I put on my suit and climbed back in the warm water of our big ol' tub with my daughter.  We sat and chatted and had a relaxing time together.   No more being lonely and bored, I had Claire to keep me company.

But part of me wondered if I was being too modest.  We both changed into our bathing suits in our own rooms and headed to the tub after said swim suits were in place.  Isn't it OK for mothers and daughters to see each other naked ~ not necessarily in the tub in our bathroom but in general?  What about a big ol' tub at a spa?  Is that OK?  I am perfectly comfortable climbing into a tub at a spa with no clothes on, provided my towel is close by and I can reach it when needed.  But what if Claire was with me or, goodness forbid, I was with my own mother?  I can't imagine that.  I am always amazed, and a little in awe, at the mothers and daughters who feel comfortable enough with each other to be immodest.  That's not me.  I don't mind walking around in my bathing suit but I really would rather not be in my birthday suit.  I'm not sure why I have so many hang-ups about being naked.  It's not like my body looks much different without a swimsuit or underwear on...for goodness sake.  I am trying to become a little less modest but I don't know if I can power through it.  I don't want Claire to grow up having hang-ups or thinking she needs to be ashamed of her body.   I think that's a pretty high price to pay for being modest. 

But God help us all if I ever get over this modesty thing!  If I can or do most anything all the while maintaining my modesty hang-up what would I be like if I shed my modesty mantle and still said or did whatever pops into my head??  OH, would be a scary, scary place in our house!  Maybe the price of my modesty is good!

Oh, for the love of my children....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Store Bought Peanut Butter Is Crap

Or so my family tells me. 

I am raising a bunch of peanut butter snobs.  I know many coffee snobs, some tea snobs but not too many peanut butter snobs ~ that's because they have never had my homemade peanut butter.

I like to make about eight pounds of peanut butter at a time.  It's gone in the blink of an eye.  It goes on everything...bananas, apples, celery, sandwiches and it goes in smoothies.  The kids and Stan devour it.  It's gone before I can even go out and stock more peanuts.

The problem is my Kitchen Aid grinder is tired.  It's tired of cranking through eight pounds of peanuts.  It's failing me.  I need to get a replacement but just haven't gotten around to it so I had to resort to buying peanut butter from the store. 

You would have thought I brought home liver and onions with the reactions I got.  "Mom, this stuff is disgusting," was one reaction.  "MOOOOOM, how could you bring something soooooo gross home?" was another.  It's not like I went and bought the worst brand of peanut butter out there and I did buy organic but it's got a different flavor, texture ~ it's just different and they don't like it. 

They are peanut butter snobs and I have to say, secretly, I'm happy they are.  I know exactly what's going into my peanut butter.  There's nothing hydrogonated, corn syruped or buggyed about it ~ it's just ground peanuts from Trader Joe's and a little oil.  It's better than any peanut butter out there, hands down! 

As I sat here writing this I decided to do something about the deplorable lack of good peanut butter in our house so I switched pages and bought a new grinder.  Hopefully, it will be here soon.  The kids will only have to suffer through two jars of store bought peanut butter and then it's back to the good stuff.

So, don't be surprised at Christmas, when you open a gift from our house and find homemade peanut butter under your tree!  We're gonna be making some damn good peanut butter ~ we've had enough crap!

Oh, for the love of my children...