Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Three Things, with Gifs


  • It's mid-January, so I finally feel safe in saying congratulations, friends:  we have survived another season of unnecessary apostrophes!  We can at last turn our gazes to the contents of our mailboxes without fear.  I love Christmas cards and newsletters so much, so I've more or less made peace with the trauma I'm dealt each holiday season as my eyes are repeatedly assaulted with good-intentioned missives from "The Smith's" or "The Jones'."  (IT PAINED ME SO MUCH TO TYPE THAT LAST PHRASE.)  Now we're back to the standard fare of bills, ads, and scams every day!  ...yay? 
Is this helpful?




  • We've reached the time of year of Late Starts.  Schools around here will do just about anything to keep from outright canceling (and the parents are guh-RATEFUL) because we don't want to send our kids to school through July.  Enter:  the two-hour delay!  -30 degree wind chill?  Two hour delay!  Slick roads?  Two hour delay!  Blowing snow causing low visibility?  Two hour delay!  We have one today, which is why I am writing this rather than packing endless lunches for our kids (someone remind me to write a post regarding how much I loathe packing school lunches).  I'm not really sure why there is a two hour delay on this particular day; we had a full day last Friday and I'm pretty sure the temp was almost exactly the same as it is this morning- like, to the degree.  Expected temperature of -4 at 8 a.m.?  Check.  Wind chill of -22?  Check.  Lightly snowing?  Check.  This also means I have to sign off social media for extended periods of time as I get unreasonably bitter toward people who live in warmer climates but still complain about the cold.  "Brrr! It's thirty degrees out today!  I searched everywhere and finally found my gloves lololol.  #cold #winter #socold."   Me:  




  • A while back I went on a field trip with Caedmon's class to the Science Center of Des Moines.  I'm pretty sure that, in addition to keeping all the children in your group alive, chaperones are supposed to help keep the kids engaged and point out interesting things they might learn.  I would have done that (the latter, I mean, not the former; all my kids made it back alive, thank you very much), but I got distracted by how much these conceptions of dinosaurs on display there

resemble these.




And does that mean this

was actually this?





Something to ponder.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Falling and Getting Back Up and Falling and...

Our family recently went ice skating.  It was the kids' third time ever, my second, and Derek's hundredth.  Or something.  The point is, he's been a lot, the children and I have not.

As such, Derek is very steady on his skates.  Adelaide and I actually skate quite well, for novices, whereas Caedmon takes a while to master his fear and let go of the wall.

Atticus, meanwhile, continually hurls himself across the rink at high speeds, inevitably falling in a flailing and sprawling of limbs. He is never seriously hurt, usually smiling as he gets back up.

Taking a break between skating/falling/skating/falling.

I, on the other hand, fell twice in the two hours we were there, and now have a bump at the base of one of my fingers, where digit meets palm, which hurts when pressed on, and which one of my friends has given a layman's diagnosis of a bone chip caused by these falls.  This is apparently the difference that 25 years makes in falling.


Just a few years ago I was pretty good at falling; I had frequent practice, tripping every few months while walking or running throughout my life, and had learned a way to not fall quite so hard.  With increased yoga practice, though, my balance has improved dramatically, to the extent that I can no longer recall the last time I fell.  Barring the time I strapped blades to my feet and went coasting along on a sheet of ice, of course.

I've been reading a lot about falling lately, in large part due to this book that we got at the library several months ago.
I don't think I'm within the intended audience age bracket for this book, but I can't help it:  I still found it helpful, and it's caused me to re-evaluate the way I do a number of things in my life.  I think my favorite part is that the author recruited a group of women, who call themselves "goldeners" and who are all over 70, all of whom went through Bowman's program and benefited greatly from it.  There are sections throughout the book written by these women, where they talk about what led them specifically to the program, or about things they found they could no longer do, and how the exercises or shifts in movement helped them, along with any number of other things that I can't think of without the book in front of me.  In short:  it is so good.

In the book Bowman states that fear of falling is just as crippling as actual falling and outlines a series of exercises addressing this, which I apparently need to incorporate into my daily routine.   Also, I want to take one of the classes featured in this New York Times article.  Do you think they'd let me in?  And who wants to pay for my flight to the Netherlands so I can fall with the elderly?  That's not a euphemism.  

For now I'll just treat every run as an opportunity to potentially practice my falling; we've been covered in snow and ice for a while now, with only a couple days above freezing to allow any melting.  I've tried running on the treadmill at our local gym, but anything more than ten minutes on those things makes me want to go full Office Space- Printer on them.


Yes, that is an imperfect analogy, as the treadmills don't enrage me by malfunctioning; I just can't abide spending copious amounts of time on them without being overcome with feelings of worthlessness and resultant, irrational anger, usually going something like this: "I'm not going anywhere.  I'm not getting any of the benefits of being outdoors.  This entire enterprise is utterly meaningless.  Life is meaningless." 

So, I run outside, even though yes, it is very cold out.


At that point I find I have exorcised what may be some underlying anger issues for yet another day.   Life once again has meaning!  Huzzah!  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Free Animals Looking at Contained Animals

In other words, we went to the zoo.

Yesterday we were headed over to western Iowa to celebrate the 90th birthday of Derek's grandmother.  We decided that since we were already making the drive, we'd introduce the family to the Omaha zoo.  None of us had ever been there, and everyone raves about it, so it was time.

When we left home, the outside temp was still below zero, but Omaha's forecast promised to reach TWENTY WHOLE DEGREES above zero.  It was glorious.

Knowing that this was the expected weather for the day, I'd asked around as to whether or not a winter trip to this zoo was worthwhile; although we are hardy Iowans, both Derek and I start to chafe at dragging frozen younglings around for more than an hour.  I was assured that there are plenty of indoor areas for exploration.  There were.  More glory.

That place is vast.  I'm sometimes bothered when visiting zoos, as I hate to see big animals cooped up and pacing back in forth in small pens.  We did see a bit of this- I mean, it is a zoo- but each holding area for the animals was quite large, and the employees we spoke with repeatedly mentioned "enrichment;"  that ball is for enrichment, that fabric is for enrichment, the scents they spray on those poles are for enrichment.  So the animals aren't just shuffling around listlessly in tight circles.

Those same employees also encouraged questions be asked of them, which our kids never ever ever have a problem with.  They were grilling the young lady in the "elephant family quarters" when one of our children asked where the elephants came from.  She pointed to two and said they were from Africa.  The third one there at the time was from the wilds of  Toledo.  Someone asked how they got the elephants from Africa, and she replied, "Well, we made a deal with them:  there was a drought there, so we sent water and food, and in return we got two elephants."

Caedmon waited a beat and then asked in a bewildered voice, "How do you make a deal with elephants?"

We all learned a lot, is what I am saying.

Because it was cold out, many buildings were nearly deserted, like the cat house.  I watched the big cats slink around and marveled at how awkward and weird humans are.  Then I was overcome with gratitude at these brains of ours, because we are not exactly stunning physical specimens, are we?  I had no idea the zoo would cause so much introspection.

The gorillas were definitely one of my favorites.  Their area was sizable, but several of the gorillas hung out right next to the glass.  (Plastic?  Plexiglass?  I don't know what it is.  Something blessedly strong.)  Adelaide and I lingered a while to watch this mama and her baby sleep, which is super creepy now that I write it down.  Well, it seemed sweet at the time. 

We did other things there, too, like visit the aquarium and the jungle and the desert dome, but please don't worry, there is no tedious play-by-play imminent here.  I'll just say that Derek had fun scaring everyone in the desert dome, Adelaide is afraid of bats, Atticus is afraid of the American alligator's mating call, and  those gators are huge, especially when you're viewing them in a man-made swamp meant to echo the bayou and those gators are in open water on the other side of a net.  I'm sure it was all very safe, but the effect was eerie.  Well done, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA, for short, as I'm sure exactly no one calls it).

Also I now do my best to always stand uphill from Adelaide in photos with the kids.  Why do these children insist on getting taller?

The desert dome, where we all felt properly warm for the first time in months.



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Productive Procrastination

We've started the welcome process of taking down all our Christmas stuff.  I can say "we" because I recruited Daughter to help gather all the holiday stuff and place it in a designated location, so I'm not finding things my eyes apparently slide right past throughout the spring and summer.

She promptly broke the "flame" off of one of the battery-operated candles we place in each window, rendering it non-functioning.  She has been relieved of her duties.

This was one of the first things to go:
It's a bundle of pine boughs I cut from our giant pine and looped with a buffalo-check scarf, hung on the front door.  From the outside, it's festive and charming; from the inside, I startled every time my peripheral vision caught sight of what was surely a large, hulking man peering in at our family goings-on.

We are also evidently building shelves for our pantry today.  We went and bought the lumber for it yesterday, and Derek keeps talking about measurements and notching and other things my brain glosses right over.  What this brain does understand is that while Derek does mystical things with the wood in the freezing basement, I will be painting the pantry a nice, bright white, all the better to see the truly alarming number of cans of Ro-Tel we apparently possess. Why do we have so much Ro-Tel??

Although, if we're being honest, it's not Ro-Tel, it's Casa Mamita Diced Tomatoes and Chiles, which is the Aldi version of Ro-Tel.  Also we have so many cans of the stuff because I buy it.  Mystery solved. 

We hauled the crappy wire shelves that came with the house and that we've lived with for 8 1/2 years out of the pantry last night, and the floor underneath got a proper scrubbing for the first time since I was pregnant with Caedmon and had to chisel a dead mouse embalmed in Karo Syrup that had tipped over at some point during the night and embalmed the mousy corpse in sugary goodness.

It's a laugh a minute around here, is what I'm saying. 

So now the pantry is scrubbed and awaiting paint, which I suppose I have put off for long enough in writing this post.  Blogging is good for so very many things.





Saturday, December 30, 2017

Big Fat Update- Kind of- and a Winter Hike

Well!  Long time, no blog!  It's hard to force myself to spend any extra time on the laptop when I'm now working on it for hours a week at one of my new(ish) jobs.  I hesitate to even mention it, because the company I work for is super weird about confidentiality and constantly reminding its employees that THIS IS PRIVATE INFORMATION and TELL NO ONE and IF YOU TALK WE WILL COME FOR YOU IN THE NIGHT. 

I'm kidding, of course, about at least 40% of the previous sentence.  Good luck figuring out which part. 

And no, I'm not in an abusive professional relationship, and no, I was not recruited by the CIA.  Just typing that last phrase made it hard to type this one, because I'm giggling somewhat madly at the idea of working for anything like the CIA, what with my utter lack of a poker face, ability to get lost in a cardboard box, and penchant for giggling madly. 

Really, though, I've found a meme that describes at least one aspect of this work rather well.  Thanks, memes.


Still, I'm not ready to finally put this blog out of its misery and kill it off, so I'm declaring (yet again, somewhat wearily) that I will be attempting to post with some degree of consistency!  Just like I did in ye olden days when our chillins were little and nap time equaled blog time!


Um, let's see.  It's cold here.  Yay, Iowa.  Derek and I have agreed to jack our house's temperature all the way up to 70 degrees to combat this forecast:

I don't think I'm really allowed to complain about today's temp, as the high is supposed to be above zero, but tomorrow and Monday, look out:  I will say what I want.  You get to do that when the temperature isn't supposed to be above zero for days.  It's in the Iowan handbook.  I have no idea what's in the Minnesotan handbook for negative temp days.  "Congratulations, it's Tuesday, now get back to work"?

Because we knew this cold front was on its way, I took the kids on a forced march through the snowy forest preserve yesterday, although I charmingly called it a "Winter Scavenger Hunt" because they tend to balk at anything that calls to mind gulag-like conditions.  Maybe all three of them were Russians in their former lives?  Never mind that I don't believe in reincarnation.

Wow, ANYWAY. 

Seen above is the list of things we were going to be hunting for on our hike, a thumb belonging to Caedmon, and a face belonging to Atticus.  Pop quiz:  Which of our children is still young enough to be fooled by exercise disguised as fun?

Really, though, what is it about children and their inability to stay off the ground?  Even now, at any given public space that we enter, I'll turn around and at least one of them is rolling around on the ground.  I don't know what this is about.  They like getting the crap from other people's shoes in their hair?  Children have a better barometer for what's better for their bodies than adults?  I mean, who can tell?
Oh, look, they're on the ground again.  Imagine that.

Lest you think our hike was all fun and games and our lives are snow-winter-perfection, may I submit this photo for your consideration:
He had just learned we not even halfway through our hike.  That is not a happy face.

Not to worry, though, he got back on the ground- well, onto a log over a frozen creek bed- and everything was better.
We made it back to our vehicle, I mused aloud that we could make another loop through the preserve, as we'd only been out for around an hour, and Atticus climbed a tree in protest, saying we could go but he'd stay and take a nap in a tree.  We've read The Little Match Girl four times in the past month, so he knew how this would end.


In the end we did not go 'round again as I decided we had properly celebrated temperatures in the teens, so we went home, the kids got hot cocoa, and I got to be the adult and stay outside for another hour shoveling and waiting for the plow to charge by- for our more southerly friends, the snow plow drives by so fast it throws all kinds of snow from the street up onto the sidewalk that you have to shovel that mess, too, so you're not really done until it's gone by.  It did not complete our street until after I had come inside and hung up all my wet snow gear.  Naturally.





Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fatigued Soccer

Somehow Atticus sprinted and dribbled and kicked his way through nearly one entire soccer season with his mother taking nary a picture, despite him both loving the game and being really quite good at it.

Finally, though, I managed to get my act together.

As ever, click to embiggen.

It was a good game, and according to Derek he played well.  (I always think he plays well, even when he has apparently done something less than great.  This is because I am still baffled that any child of mine could have so much as a modicum of athletic talent.  This boy has dodged all the genetic bullets my DNA could throw at him, which let me assure you, are legion.)

He, like, runs toward the ball, over and over, and chases after it for close to one hour straight.  This is amazing.  Let's also take a moment to appreciate the kid above on the right who may be having some kind of existential crisis.  "But why do we chase the ball?"  I feel you, buddy.


As well as he played though, and as happy as I was to have finally remembered the camera, it was kind of a tough game to watch.  Atticus is normally more or less tireless during these games of his, but on this Saturday, he was sluggish and slow compared to his normal self.  He would kick the ball, or pass it, or whatever, but then instead of sprinting after it as usual he'd just stand there, or walk.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him until Derek said, "Well, he didn't get any sleep last night, remember?"

Oh.  Right.  Night terrors.

We've experienced the effects of our son's night terrors for years now, but it was still pretty upsetting for me to see it so clearly, how exhaustion was keeping him from doing his best.  I realize it's just a kids' soccer game, with minimal repercussions, but watching all those other kids bounce around out there, it was evident how different Atticus's reality is from theirs.  And that sucks.
How to tell if Atticus had a rough night:  look for the bags under his eyes (illustrated above) and the thousand-yard stare.  Same goes for his parents, with the addition of slow download speeds for his mom.  Please allow an extra ten seconds' worth of blank staring when asking her a question. 


The day after this game, though, I was talking to another parent about her little girl, who has Type I diabetes, and who has had to re-orient her family's life around this diagnosis.  It was a good reminder that all families have invisible struggles, from night terrors to diabetes to children who give their mothers that birthed them a hard time about listening to Christmas music in October.  THERE IS NEVER A BAD TIME TO LISTEN TO CELTIC CHRISTMAS, OKAY, UNGRATEFUL PROGENY?

Know who he reminds me of, though, in this red jersey of his?
Especially when he's looking all tall and stuff?

His dad.
He's the tall one in the middle there.  Comparing the two, I'd say the genes are strong in this one.

Maybe Yoda had night terrors, too.

Soccer season is now over, which Atticus is already grieving.  I'm excited about the time this frees up, but am wise enough not to say so.  It's already given us extra orchard time!





Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stories for Two Out of Three

I have yet again had a talking-to with myself and said that I am not to let this little piece of the internet waste away with but a single post a month.  We've been busy little bees-

and speaking of bees, those things stinging our children were not bees but the vile and depraved YELLOW JACKET, and once I took the time to do two seconds of investigating I found that why, yes, there was a hole in the ground with a steady stream of black- and yellow- banded winged insects streaming into it, and if I hung around for more than two seconds that trend would reverse itself and a steady stream of those same insects would begin filing out, heading straight for my own apparently threatening body.  The internet is divided on what to do about this, so thus far I have fallen back on one of my greatest strengths and done nothing.

- so, yes, busy little bees we have been indeed, with both the boys having birthdays and turning different ages, which is helpful for me because all three are now back to their evenly-spaced, stair-step ages, so I don't have to look like a terrible mother when people ask me how old they are, as I stand there and try to remember just what age our own children are right now.

Adelaide seems to be feeling the full eleven-ness of her eleven years, which I will explain with a small story:

There was recently a lock-in at our church for sixth graders.  Adelaide was willing to go and participate, but kept bemoaning the fact that it didn't start until 9 p.m., and didn't those leaders understand that only gives her around two hours of fun?  I tried to explain that the point is to try and stay up all night, to which she responded with a harrumph and more grumbling about needing her sleep and how kids her age need a good 10-12 hours a night and are the youth group leaders responsible adults or not if they don't understand that?

But off she went, towing her sleeping bag and pillow, fully planning on using both to good effect.


I picked her up the following morning at 8 a.m.  She was holding two doughnuts and a full package of Oreos.  The youth group leader told me he was pretty sure she hadn't slept at all.  She confirmed this.

I knew what this meant.

Adelaide is right to put a priority on sleep.  She does and has always needed plenty of sleep, for with proper rest she is her usual delightful self, but without, she regresses in age by around 70%.  And sure enough, halfway home she burst into tears because I laughed too hard at one of her jokes.  Derek suggested she stay home from Atticus's soccer game to sleep, which she did, but then we attempted to rouse her for the afternoon, not wanting throw her sleep schedule off any further.  What we got for our efforts was a vengeful she-beast who wailed every time she was reminded that no, no, she mustn't go back to sleep, she must stay awake for her own good.
Approach with caution.

Eventually self-preservation won out and I did let her lapse back into slumber for the bulk of the afternoon.  By Sunday she was more or less back to normal, so I suppose it all worked out.


Atticus has been running around playing lots of soccer, of which I have zero pictures.  He has scored the majority of goals for his club soccer team, of which I have zero pictures.  Does this mean they revoke my soccer mom card, or did that automatically happen when I told Derek I still don't understand what "offsides" means?  At least it looks like I'm in good company:  a google search of "soccer offsides" gave me a bunch of results, naturally, topped with "How to Understand Offside in Soccer:  11 Steps," "What is the Offside Rule in Soccer? -dummies," and a 4-minute YouTube video of a soccer coach trying to explain this rule.  No wonder!  You're going to lose me in any situation that it takes 11 steps or four minutes or whatever to explain a sports-related rule.

Other than photo-less soccer, Son the Elder has also been harvesting his sunflowers for seed so he can plant more in the spring, because he really does love to grow them.
Note that he wears his shin guards to do so.  This is both practical for gardening and so that he can return immediately to soccer after finishing.  And regarding the knife:  I've found that even my more reluctant gardeners are more likely to join in when I tell them they can use a knife at some point.  This kid merrily sawed away at all our sunflowers, some to dry for seed, some to leave on the table on our back deck to try and draw the birds in closer.


We do still have a third child, and he has been doing things, but darned if I can remember what they are.