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Took Tre to his first

Took Tre to his first den meeting tonight. No, he did not get a pocket knife. He did, however, get to rampage around with five other cub scouts and do projects. Achievements, I’m told. They learned about safety. What they learned about safety I’m not sure, but that seems like a good thing to learn about, right? They also made truffles and trail mix and popcorn – “the old fashioned way.” When he said that I pictured them shaking wire baskets over an open fire ala Little House on the Prairie. No, apparently the old fashioned process of making popcorn goes like this: You take a pan and put it on the stove, then you add the popcorn and put some oil in there…
Old fashioned. Ooookayyy. Apparently my childhood is the good old days. Sigh.
I’m pretty sure the whole scouting thing is a cult. I finally got to sit down with the den leaders and have them go over what I need to go buy for Tre, the patches and shirt and scarf and slide and book…and it all means something. As I was furiously scribbling down instructions one of them reassured me that the people at the Scout Store would be more than happy to help me. “Well that’s good,” I said, smart-mouthed as ever, “because I’m beginning to think I’ve stumbled into a cult and it may take me some time to get up to speed on everything.”
Ooookaaay, not a cult with a great sense of humor. But nice people, nonetheless. I suspect that spending a great deal of time in this particular cult gives them special powers. The other week at the Pack meeting, someone was giving a plea for a volunteer to take over the Awards Coordinator position. He explained what it entailed (getting a list of awards needed by the various pack leaders, picking them up from the Scout Store, organizing and delivering them at the pack meeting), and I sat there, thinking, hmm. I could do that. But I decided not to jump in and commit myself. My life is pretty full…wah, wah, wah.
The next week I got a call. Steve, the Pack leader, called to say he understood I was interested in the Awards Coordinator position, and he thought that was just great…
I said “no, Steve. I didn’t say that to anyone.” He said, “hmm. Are you sure? I have your name down here…”
Um, long story short, I’m now the Awards Coordinator. And I do my best not to think anything that would offend those people. Not when they’re around.

(This is something from Friday

(This is something from Friday that I didn’t post then because the carpet in the room where my computer is was still wet. Plus, I didn’t manage to transfer the file from my laptop until just now. The weekend got hectic. So now you get two, count ‘em TWO blogs for the price of one. Can you believe your luck?)

The carpet cleaners came this morning, and as expected, they cleaned the carpets. So our house is damp around the edges. I’ve been doing my best to keep feet off carpet all day. We’ve been out a lot.
This afternoon the exile from the carpeted zones drove me outside, to the garden. It’s high time to tidy up the place in preparation for winter, anyhow. And fortunately I had Raphael’s help. I dug up some garlic and he drove a toy bulldozer over the cloves, mashing some into the dirt. So I saved the remaining garlic and moved to the reclamation project – removing the parsley forest. I may have mentioned the parsley forest. Well, as bemused as I was in the spring, when the parsley plants were all about four tender inches high, picture me today. Now they are sturdy foot high plants with deep, strong taproots. They own a good third of my garden area. And my garden area is fairly large.
So I set to pulling up parsley plants. I actually broke a trowel on those things. But I got a good portion of them up, and threw the parsley carcasses in a pile. Raphi drove his bulldozer over them. I showed him that parsley is good to eat, dusting off a few leaves on my shirt and munching on them. He took a fistful of leaves and marched around, chewing manfully. He didn’t really like them, but he wouldn’t admit it. Occasionally he would gag a little and I would ask, “You ok, honey?” He’d nod and reply with a grim expression, “Yummy.”
In his meanderings he found a under ripe bell pepper. “Iss a beena?”
“No, it’s not a banana, it’s a bell pepper.”
“Oh. Ah pick it?”
“No, let’s leave it there to ripen. But hey, thanks for asking first!” My hand met a sticker among the parsley and I jumped. “Ouch!”
“Whassamatter? Yoo hurt yoo leg? Ah kiss.”
“No, I hurt my hand. You want to kiss my hand?”
“Oh. Ok then.”
“Ah kiss it.”
“Thanks.” Smooch.
“Yoo aw better?”
I leaned back on my heels and breathed in deep the scent of parsley, garlic, dirt, and fall.
“Yup. I’m all better.”

Ok, picking up today. The carpet is all dry, and I’m going to get all the small bits of furniture back in their places just any minute now. There is already a new spot on the floor of the sun room, where Raphael spit chewed candy corn out. I don’t know why. Why does he do any of the things he does?
Dad took the boys to Elitch Gardens today. Pardon me, that’s actually Elitch Gardens Six Flags now. It used to be a charming amusement park nestled in an actual garden setting. But the area it was in got seedy, so they moved it downtown and sold it to the Six Flags empire. Now it’s huge and way more exciting. Tre’s words of greeting when they came home were, “We’re back! And nobody barfed!”
Well, you can’t ask for more than that.
I tried to get the boys into bed fairly early, since it had been such a big day (big AND barf-free), and tomorrow’s school. Pardon me a moment while I giggle maniacally.
Anyhow. Max went down ok. He was exhausted, since he had been up late last night playing a wonderful game with Raphael. It’s called “doughnut” and it goes like this: Mama puts her children to bed. Tre in his room, Max and Raphael in their room. As soon as she goes back to her room to watch “Trading Spaces”…err…do something productive, Raphael calls out merrily, “One…two…threeeeee….DOUGHNUT!!” Max flops over in bed and responds, “HUH?” This is apparently very funny. Veeerrry funny. There is much laughter and joy, until aforementioned Mama appears in the doorway with that look on her face. Then Max declares loudly and mournfully, “Raphael woke me UP!”
Repeat. Until 10:30 pm.
Eventually they went to sleep. But Tre actually outlasted them. He was reading in bed. He’s into the Magic Treehouse series, and he’s read four books this week. Every so often I’d poke my head in his room, and there he’d be sitting in the middle of his bed, so engrossed in the book that he wasn’t even aware of me. I suppose I should have made him turn off his light, but I just couldn’t bring myself to. Ok, I confess, I took a picture.
It’s just so cool, watching him become a reader. He’s been able to read for…what…almost four years now. But up until the last year it hasn’t been reading, it’s been decoding. Now he’s crossed a line where he’s not even thinking about the phonics, he’s getting lost in the stories.
And tonight, when he should have been way too tired to read, he was at it again. As a mother, when I’m standing in his doorway, watching him devour his book, I’m pretty proud. I taught him to read. Now I get to watch where it takes him.

This is not, I repeat,

This is not, I repeat, NOT going to be a coherent blog. I am a special depth of tired tonight, and am not planning to be all that entertaining nor insightful. Now, don’t you all feel treasured to know that I care enough to show up on a day when I’m sure to be a total bore, just because I don’t want to let anyone down?
Never mind, that didn’t even make sense to me.
Anyhow, what I’m thinking about tonight are ear worms. No, seriously. I read recently that the Germans have a word for those annoying snatches of song that get stuck in your head and repeat over and over and overandoverandover…till you could scream. And that word translates roughly to “ear worms.” Now, I call that descriptive. Calls to mind that scene in…some Star Trek movie where the bad guy…”someone,” puts those black slimy slug things in the helmets of…some of the good guys, and they crawl into their ears, causing them…some sort of problems. Um, I’m not what you’d call obsessive about details, particularly with Star Trek movies. But if there is any way you actually remember the scene I’m referring to, you know what I mean. That slimy slug creature, sliding into their ears? That’s what “ear worms” makes me think of.
Anyhow (again), that’s not what ear worms actually are. They are, as previously mentioned, those annoying snatches of song that repeat themselves in your head. At the moment, for me, it’s the theme song from “Out of the Box.” This is a children’s show on Nickelodeon (I think). My boys don’t like it, but I’ve heard the song just enough times to make it the perfect ear worm. See, in my head it goes like this:
“Out of the box (clap, clap)
Out of the box (clap, clap)
Something something something
Let’s something something,
Put them all together,
Look for one that’s something something.”
At this point I’m thinking, look for one that’s what, already? How does that go? Then I remember that I don’t care, it doesn’t matter, why am I wasting time on this anyhow? I go on with my day, only to catch myself about 4.6 seconds later, humming, “Out of the Box…”
Hate that.
Look, it’s your fault anyways. You keep showing up and encouraging me. Let today’s blog be on YOUR head.

Today (as in when I’m

Today (as in when I’m actually writing this) is my cousin Melyssa’s birthday. Happy birthday, Myss. Love ya; love your kids, so glad you were born. Hugs and apple crisp and poster thoughts sent your way all day. I hope you were cherished today.
Today (as in when anyone is actually going to be reading this) is also someone else’s birthday. She doesn’t like it when people look at her, so I won’t be mentioning her by name. I’m just here, sitting at my computer, not looking at anyone, musing about a certain birthday celebrator.
She is smart and funny – can make me laugh until I have to cross my legs. She’s capable of things I can’t believe. She undersells herself. She is a talented writer, who will really enjoy that aspect of herself someday when she’s ready/has time. Her gentle urgings have literally saved my life more than once (and I say that as someone who HATES it when people misuse the word “literally”). She is my best friend. And may I say to her, on this her day, may God bless you with joy and peace and wonder in the timeless world you occupy. Thank you so much for all you do and all you give. Love you.

It had been a long

It had been a long night. Raphi had had a nightmare somewhere around 2 am. Max had had…pull-up issues that resulted in him sleeping with me, which for Max means sleeping right in my armpit. Tre had woken up around 4, wondering if it might not be time for us all to bound out of bed. But finally the morning came, after far less sleep than I would have liked. I was a touch cranky. I crawled out of bed (perhaps snarling just a little), and started the great push through breakfast and off to school.
Ah, school. It was Monday. That precious day. Max and Tre were off to their respective classes, Raphi was spending the morning with a friend, and for three blissful hours my time was to be my own. I didn’t get my Monday last week, because I was helping out at the school. But here we were, at Monday again.
I harassed the kids into their seats at the breakfast table. I slapped food down in front of them. I snapped at them to hurry up.
“Mama? I’m itchy,” whined Max.
“You’ll feel better once you have clothes on.” I replied. No idea where that logic came from. “Eat your breakfast.” And I stomped off to pick out clothes for Raphael. Let’s get this show on the road, I thought. Me time. As I came back down the hallway, I was met by Max. Who was not, as you may have guessed, eating his breakfast. “Look at this, Mama.” He held out his arm. Which was covered in welts. I grabbed his other arm. Ditto. They were all over his legs too, and creeping up his cheeks. It was so bad that when I called to Mom to come and look, she said, “Oh my goodness!” Mom is a nurse, and I have made her look at every skin anomaly on my boys since they were born. She usually glances at something I’m sure is melanoma, at least, and says, “Hmm. He’ll be ok.” The strongest reaction I’ve ever gotten out of her is, “Keep an eye on that. It’ll probably just go away.” But today she stopped, kneeled down next to Max, and peered at his arms and legs. Moved him into better light. Set down her keys even though she had been on her way out the door to work. “What has he eaten this morning?”
I sighed. “Nothing.”
We inspected his breakfast, and it was true. “Well, has he used any new soap?”
I thought. “No…WAIT! That’s it! He used my shower gel last night! Tons of it.” We studied him in silence for a moment.
“He should have a bath,” she advised finally, “with baking soda. See if that helps. Maybe call his doctor when the office opens.”
So that’s what I did. Mom took Tre to school and I put Max in a baking soda bath (as an aside here, a bath with a handful of baking soda is good for just about any problem of children’s skin. Rashes, diaper and otherwise, dry itchies, you name it. Love the stuff). The welts started clearing up almost immediately. Soon they were almost all gone. He was still a little itchy though, so after a consult with the nurse at his pediatrician’s office, I gave him a dose of Benadryl. After that he was perfectly fine, if a little logy from the Benadryl.
I, on the other hand, was not fine. Instead of a morning of freedom, where I got to go out and be cool with my laptop, I got a morning of home. With. Kids. I get plenty of those. I wanted a break. I was not a happy camper. I took a deep breath and got over myself soon enough, but the voice in my head was distinctly whiny.
Max was pretty sad about not going to school. He was supposed to be the special person of the day (it’s ok, I got it switched to next week), and he wanted to be there. I felt bad for him so I offered a lunch out at the place of his choosing. He chose the Golden Wok. He and I went there once when Tre was at a birthday party that Max hadn’t been invited to, so ever since it has been a symbol of “Mama –n- Max time.” So we went there and were sat in a booth. The last time we were there the tray kept falling off the high chair. I could see it was the same high chair, so rather than fight with it I just put Raphael next to me. Then Max decided he needed to sit next to me too, so I sat there, flanked by boys. We ordered our food and had a peaceful meal. As it was slowly winding to the end, I started contemplating errands I could still accomplish, even though my day had been shot. Let’s see, I mused, I could go get that stuff at Wal-Mart, and the Vitamin Cottage is right next door to the restaurant. As I sat and planned, I stared at a water fountain across the restaurant. It was a large flat panel, with ripples of water moving smoothly down it into a collection of rocks. It was bugging me, because I kept focusing on one ripple, and then following it to the bottom. I waved down a waitress. “Could you send our waiter? I’m ready for our check.” She looked at Max, who was still picking tiny green bits out of a dumpling. “Don’t be so hurry,” she urged, “take you time.”
Huh, I thought. On my right sat Raphael, in his Shooperman shirt, scooping ice contentedly out of my water glass. On my left was Max, leaning against me in a Benadryl fog, soaking up the comfort of mom. As she walked away I turned my attention back to the waterfall. For the first time that day I relaxed, and instead of focusing obsessively on one ripple, I took in the entire soothing wall of water.
And it was good.

I was sitting here, catching

I was sitting here, catching up on my blog reading after a full day away from the computer (well, 23 hours at least. Baby steps.), and Raphael climbed up on my lap for a hug. He pressed his silky fat cheek to mine, wrapped one arm around my neck, and crooned in my ear, “Gimme dat paper.” He wanted my notepad. He’s always swiping my notepads. Reason #2045 I will never be organized. But I’m a kind and benevolent mother, so I gave him the requested paper, plus a pen that caught his eye. He trucked off and flopped belly down on the carpet to draw. After a few minutes of scribbling furiously, he came over to me and shoved the pen in my direction. “You draw.”
“What do you want me to draw?”
“You draw Raphi.” By this time he was glowering at me, irritated that I hadn’t complied already.
“Well, give me the paper,” I replied, pointing to the abandoned notepad on the floor behind him. He heaved a sigh at my obstinacy.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO. Gimme new paper! Dis one!” He was pointing at the printer, so I obligingly handed him a sheet from the printer. He snatched it from my hand and turned to trot away. A few steps from me he turned back and informed me with that special Raphael intensity, “Ah SHOOPERMAN!”
You know, I don’t know if I should be worried or not, but I suspect that he actually thinks he is. Yesterday he found a jammie shirt of Max’s. It’s blue with that big red and yellow Superman emblem on it. It even has a cape that velcros to the shoulders. Well, Raphael went nuts for the Shooperman shirt. Wore it all day and all night. If I tried to take it off him he would clutch at his belly and squirm out of my grasp, shrieking, “NONONONONO! Dat’s my SHOOPERMAN!” I decided to put that one in the category of “battles not worth fighting.” Besides, he’s awfully cute. Whenever anyone asks him about his shirt, he takes the stance. One hip juts out, one shoulder comes to his ear, and his belly protrudes. “AH SHOOPERMAN!”
Tonight Dad was flying Shooperman around the room. Raphi was trying to hold his arms out in front, because Dad had told him that’s how Superman does it. But the swooping flight was just too thrilling, and he kept clasping his hands right under his delighted drooly smile.
Well, I guess it’s ok, this super-fixation. The only real problem is his new identity and his nickname merge to an unfortunate “SuperBug.”
Can’t win ‘em all. Even if you’re SHOOPERMAN.

Today’s Dad’s birthday, so I

Today’s Dad’s birthday, so I wanted to say a few words about him. Dad has stepped up to the plate in a big way with my boys. He’s in the fray, throwing balls in the back yard, teaching them to play chess, training Tre as a beekeeper (Dad’s a beekeeper – that’s a whole ‘nother blog), and generally standing in place of their dad as much as he can. He’s such a gift to my sons, and I cannot imagine how I would ever thank him. But he isn’t doing this for my thanks. He’s here because he knows what’s important. Because he values the things that matter.
The other day Raphael spotted a picture of Dad and climbed on a chair to get it. He was frustrated because he wanted to take the photo out of the frame, to love it directly. I tried to explain that if we took it out it would get torn or ruined, but he was not impressed. “Gib it to meeee!” he shrieked. Raphael does not understand the concept of loss.
Dad has been looking forward to being a grandpa since he was just a kid. His given name, Martin, was the surname of his mom’s dad. His Grandpa Martin. Dad loved Grandpa Martin, and some of his earliest memories were of him.
But Grandpa Martin died in a car accident, when Dad was just a teen. I think he still misses him.
So there you go. Raphael may love Dad (and oh, he does), but Dad knows what it means to lose someone. So Dad loves him, but he also knows to cherish him.
Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday.

I signed Tre up to

I signed Tre up to be a Cub Scout tonight. He is thrilled. He is simply beside himself. Of course, you must understand that for Tre Cub Scouts has two basic meanings. 1) He will sell MORE GREENERY THAN ANYONE and therefore win the Gameboy SP, and 2) He will be getting a pocket knife. Any minute. His friend from across the street is a Cub Scout, and he has a pocket knife. AND he informed Tre that just about everything you do in Cub Scouts requires a pocket knife.
So Tre and I went to tonight’s meeting and scooted to a seat in the back. After a few minutes of flag stuff and greeting, the boys were taken off to another room to play raucous games while the adults talked. That mainly meant lots of sincere pleas for volunteers. Finally they brought the kids back. Tre had looked a touch anxious, leaving with a herd of kids he didn’t know, so I was glad to have him come back. He rushed over to me and sat down. As we turned our attention back to the leaders he leaned over and whispered, “I had fun. The kid next to me, wow. He acted like Max when he’s tired [this means bizarre and hyper behavior].” I nodded, trying to listen to the troop leader or pack leader or whoever was talking about the big greenery sale. Tre leaned over again. “I didn’t get a pocket knife yet. Maybe next week.”
Well, after the meeting we talked about it, and now Tre knows that we’ll find out IF he needs a pocket knife next week at his pack meeting. Or is that troop meeting? Den meeting? Sheesh, no way I can figure all this stuff out. Like the different levels. There’s Tiger Cubs, then they become Cub Scouts, then Webelos, then Boy Scouts. Ok, I know what a tiger is. I understand “cub” and Lord knows I’m familiar with “boy.” But what the heck is a webelo? Mom’s helpful take on that is that it’s a little, small something underneath. You know, a wee below. Dad, on the other hand, is certain that it refers to something that wobbles, but doesn’t fall down. Thanks, guys. What would I do without you?
In other news, Pepe` is doing much, much better. This is a great relief to all of us, especially Max. He’s been following the poor dog around, petting him and whispering comfort. Whenever Pepe` moved anywhere, Max would carry his water bowl to him, leaving asterisks of water on the floor all over the house. Well, Pepe` slept on Max’s bed last night and all the tender care (plus the medication) have worked wonders. He’s even started bringing balls and dropping them at our feet again. He’s not the only one breathing easier around here.
Finally, let me share with you a moment with Raphael. Have I mentioned he’s two? Oh, ok then. So he spent the day doing his level best to destroy the world. This evening he was standing on a chair, turning a light on and off. I was around the corner, talking to Dad in the kitchen. I overheard Raphael talking to himself, something like this, “Ah turn it OFF. Ah do it my SELF. Ah’m SHOOPERMAN! Ah’m da IRON GIANT! Ah’m Punkin’ Buug!”
And indeed he is.

Pepe` is not well. He’s

Pepe` is not well. He’s been lethargic and coughing since yesterday, so the boys and I took him to the vet’s today. His owners are off camping somewhere, so we couldn’t get ahold of them. So I rallied the troops and we were away to the vet. I reported the symptoms like this, “Well, I don’t know his medical history or how old he is, but he’s been making this gagging/coughing noise and he’s way too calm. Like someone turned his dimmer switch waaaayyy down.” So she listened to his heart and lungs and took some x-rays. Ready for this? It’s his heart. He has a murmur, and he’s in congestive heart failure. There’s fluid all around his heart and collecting in his lungs. The vet explained gently, “He’s not getting much oxygen. That’s why his…um…dimmer switch has been turned down.” She said it can happen like this, heart problems surface all of a sudden. Just bad luck that it happened on my shift.
But I’m fretting about Jodi, his “mom.” What a terrible thing to come home to. Pepe` might be just fine. He’s on heart medication now, and he’s already doing much better. I’m sure Jodi and Pepe`s vet can figure it out from here. Oh, but what a hard thing to come home to.
But I’ve done what I could, I keep reminding myself. Time to let myself off the hook. See, that’s a problem of mine. Like last night. I could tell Pepe` wasn’t feeling well, and had decided to take him to the vet’s first thing in the morning. But he kept having these coughing fits, and I was worried. So I took him upstairs and let him sleep on my bed. That way, whenever he had a coughing fit I could wake up and helplessly stroke his back. I could have left him sleeping peacefully on the couch, but no. I had to be there. Because Lord knows, if there’s a problem it’s my business.
So today I’m exhausted. And Claire (our beautiful stupid cat) is miffed at me, because she caught a DOG, of all things, sleeping in her spot on my bed. Sheesh.
Hey, but Pepe`s doing better. Counts for something, right?

I was at a four-year-old’s

I was at a four-year-old’s birthday party today. Actually, Max was the one in attendance, but I was there as his backup. He had just met the birthday boy a few weeks ago at school, so he wasn’t comfortable being left at his house just yet. Come to think of it, I wasn’t all that comfortable with the thought of leaving him. Fortunately, the mom of the birthday boy (Adam, by the way, an adorable towheaded wee boy) was very understanding about it and perfectly happy to have me stay. Even though that meant adding me, Tre, and Raphael to the guest list. At least, she seemed to be ok with it. She was terrifically gracious about it, and the boys all behaved themselves, and I tried to help out…ok, getting off track here.
Anyhow, there I was, bouncing kids back into play whenever they tried to wander out of the back yard; making small talk with a bunch of moms I don’t know. I did my best to avoid the subject of dads, but…well…the subject will come up. One mom was chasing down her daughter with a bottle of sunscreen and she remarked, “She just burns so badly. You’re lucky, your boys are so brown, and they must not burn. Is your husband dark skinned?”
“Yes…um…he’s Mexican actually…but…we’re divorced.” Silence descended on the group as they looked back and forth between my three kids and me. I could see them thinking, her youngest is just two. They were shocked. Understand the demographic here. These are all homeschoolers. Christian, family values, homeschoolers. I went to a homeschool convention in June, and attended a talk for single homeschoolers. Out of thousands of participants in the convention, five single homeschoolers showed up. There simply aren’t a lot of us.
“Wow,” someone finally said, “have you been divorced long?”
“It’s been final for a little over a year.” Awkward silence. I don’t blame them for not knowing what to say, and I wanted to save them from their distress by launching into the tale of what happened. Fill the silence and oh, by the way, explain how it’s all his fault. But I try not to do that any more. I try not to exploit his failures to cover my shame at being the only divorced mom in the group. Hey, mistakes were made. Move on.
So I launched into a speech about how fortunate I am to have my parents, who have given me and my kids a place to live and made it possible for me to stay home. All true.
I’m not proud of this, but today’s not the first day I’ve thought longingly about how much easier it would be to be a widow.
Ah, what the heck.
Life is hard. God is good.