Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Well, as it turns out, there's no room at the inn for our family this weekend. We could, in theory, sleep in sleeping bags on the floor, but SmallBoy's allergies would just be awful and he would be miserable. We would also have to park our cars outside of the park because all of the spaces in front of the house would be taken. This is not altogether a bad thing...if it were just PC & me. Schlepping weekend bags and groceries for five through a the park on roads barely wide enough for a car, let alone a car and people, is probably not the best idea, especially with SmallBoy. We have the kids for four weekends in a row which is a wonderful thing! It's nice to do something different with them every once in a while, especially something as incredible as Michigan. LargeBoy couldn't get enough of it and can't wait to go back. Girl and SmallBoy have been BEGGING to go up all summer, but with Girl's softball & basketball schedule, combined with the weekends the kids are with their dad, we just haven't been able to get them there this year. Soccer starts today with games every Saturday and/or Sunday from now until November, which eliminates getting up there before we close it up. Lesson learned from getting MY hopes up too high: Never plan around something. It's easier to change plans and to punt than to have no plans at all. Good Lord, I'm whining entirely too much. I suppose it's probably less expensive to stay home than to try and fuel up the car for that trip....have you SEEN the prices today?
Oh well, as we say in this town for our North Side baseball team....Wait til next year.
Monday, August 29, 2005
WHAT IS ASPERGER SYNDROME? Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a neurobiological disorder on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. An individual’s symptoms can range from mild to severe. While sharing many of the same characteristics as other Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) including Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), AS has been recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis in Europe for almost 60 years, but has only been included in the U.S. medical diagnostic manual since 1994 (“Asperger's Disorder” in the DSM-IV).
Individuals with AS and related disorders exhibit serious deficiencies in social and communication skills. Their IQ’s are typically in the normal to very superior range. They are usually educated in the mainstream, but most require special education services. Because of their naivete, those with AS are often viewed by their peers as “odd” and are frequently a target for bullying and teasing. They desire to fit in socially and have friends, but have a great deal of difficulty making effective social connections. Many of them are at risk for developing mood disorders (anxiety, depression), especially in adolescence. Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders should be made by a medical expert to rule out other possible diagnoses and to discuss interventions.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ASPERGER SYNDROME
Each person is different. An individual might have all or only some of the described behaviors to have a diagnosis of AS.
- Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as: eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
- Extreme difficulty in developing age-appropriate peer relationships (e.g. AS children may be more comfortable with adults than with other children)
- Inflexible adherence to routines; perseveration
- Fascination with maps, globes, and routes
- Superior rote memory
- Preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of all others; amasses many related facts
- Difficulty judging personal space; motor clumsiness
- Sensitivity to the environment—loud noises, clothing and food textures, and odors
- Speech and language skills impaired in the area of semantics, pragmatics, and prosody (volume, intonation, inflection, and rhythm)
- Difficulty understanding others’ feelings
- Pedantic, formal style of speaking; often called “little professor;” verbose
- Extreme difficulty reading/interpreting social cues
- Socially and emotionally inappropriate responses
- Literal interpretation of language; difficulty comprehending implied meanings
- Extensive vocabulary; reading commences at an early age (hyperlexia)
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms
- Difficulty with “give and take” of conversation I must make a clarification on the hyperlexia - it is not necessarily reading at an early age as much as it is reading higher than age/grade level and not having the comprehension skills to understand what is being read.
Friday, August 26, 2005
HAPPY SWEET 16!!!!
>LOVE YOU TONS L'IL SIS!!!
So now that you're 16, you're really really making me feel old, but that's ok, we still love you!
Smoochies and Loves
Me, PC, LargeBoy, Girl, & SmallBoy
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Gas prices, for one, are just unbelievable. War, conflict - whatever you want to call it- is truly not the reason for these prices. It doesn't cost THAT much money! Not to mention that we have oil HERE in the UNITED STATES! DUH! I live seven minutes from work by car, just a hair too far to walk to work and still be presentable - not to mention a hair too far in the freezing Midwest winters (9 out of the 12months of the year) or the scorching hot summers of the Midwest. My paycheck is going to be my gas money soon. I'm not saying that by using means other than my car to get to work will put less of a dent in my wallet, I'm just saying that....well, OUCH!! It's ridiculous. I have started making my children hoof it to the places they want to go - which I should have done a long time ago. I am trying terribly hard not to feel the guilt about his because they SHOULD walk. It's good for them. I always walked to wherever I needed to be, why can't they? Right? Ok, then. That's settled. They'll walk and I won't feel guilty (especially why I drive seven minutes to work).
Let's talk about how the cost of education is yet another way the government is helping our nation into an even bigger financial crunch. I have three kids all in school. LargeBoy just started high school. Girl will be in high school in two years, SmallBoy in six. Currently Girl and SmallBoy are at a parochial school. There are ups and downs to this, but the bottom line is it is expensive, but I'm locked into it per my wonderful little divorce from Ex, so I can't whine about that. However, high school itself is almost as bad as parochial school! Sure, the registration fee, the yearbook fee, the lunch fees...reasonable. I'm talking about books and supplies; things I'm going to need for all three kids which, by the time SmallBoy gets there, will probably be obsolete. Books! Holy cow! When I was in high school all of our books were on state loan, even the novels that we had to read for my English classes. Today, only a few were on loan. We had to purchase his novels, his history book and his Spanish books. His history book was $91.50! For a high school text book, I think $91.50 is outrageous! Thankfully we were able to find a used one online for $48.00, and I have one of his novels myself. The bookstore at the school, however, didn't give us the option to not buy any of the books, only to return whatever we have or don't need. The return process, of course, allows not for money to be returned to the families, but for it to be left on account for next time. In theory, this is a great idea, as then, perhaps, next semester's books will cause a little less damage in my bank account. In practice, though, it stinks, as I still have ultimately paid for the books twice. GRRR......I don't understand why the funding for education and books has gone down. It makes no sense. Our children are important. Their education is key to the future of our country. If we can't afford the books for our children, then what are we to do.
The school has a program that helps those families that absolutely cannot afford it. They get a discount on books and lunches. I am in total support of that program. Unfortunately it's the people in the middle who get screwed. The people who make too much to qualify for the aid, but due to the rest of their financial obligations cannot afford it. I looked over the form to see what it asked and what it considered as requirements. It asked merely the income per household in comparison to the size of the household. So what! According to my income per size of household I should well be able to afford my child's high school education and, for that matter I should be able to afford it if all three of my children were in the school simultaneously. What it didn't account for is the fact that my children need food bought for them, clothing bought for them, a roof over their heads, school supplies, any extra services or medical bills paid for,and fuel to get them from place to place. Hmmm....ironic how the gas prices rear their ugly heads again!
Isn't there a more efficient way for the government to spend its money? Perhaps the lovelies who figure out what goes where, financially speaking, should take our children into consideration and stop trying to drive our country into the ground through them. Perhaps they should remember that our children are the ones who will ultimately be in charge of their Insurance, their Social Security (ha ha ha), the staff in their nursing homes, the lawyers who will execute their wills, perhaps even the people who help decide if the ambulance company that is supposed to take them to the hospital after their heart attacks can afford to gas up their fleet....
Wow! I NEVER soap box! That was very, well, relieving. Honestly, I had only planned on complaining about the price of books and the graphing calculator that I can't find cheap except far away - which means I have to spend money on gas to go far to save money. I, in no way, meant for this to become a political rant, but take it how you will and feel free to let me know! Comment, argue, commiserate.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
"Perhaps you could get them together now? Have you found where all your classes are?"
LargeBoy, PC, & I then huddled around the kitchen table, looking at the miniscule map of the school contained on 4 separate pages of the school handbook...one page for each floor. Conveniently for LargeBoy, most of his classes are on the 3rd and 4th floors. Unfortunately, his locker is on the first floor. PC and I took the liberty of inflicting some unnecessary freshman jitters on him. It was so late last night that I honestly don't remember what we did to him, but it was fun...he knows PC is a jokester, though, so he caught on pretty much right away.
With morning rapidly approaching, LargeBoy decided it was best to stop putting off the inevitable and to succumb to sleep. This morning, as I was up getting ready for work, it was with much relief that I heard him moving around downstairs. When I came down, he was dressed and sitting at the kitchen table with his backpack at the ready. Once again, he was reviewing his path around the school and trying to make a mental note of where, at least on paper, his classrooms are located. As I walked out the door, I gave him some money for lunch, wished him luck, and told him that he would be just fine. PC drove him to school today - a special treat for the first day ONLY. He had threatened to embarrass the snot out of him by bringing along a pair of SmallBoy's Sponge Bob underpants and yelling to LargeBoy, as he crossed the campus, "LargeBoy, you forgot your spare pair!" Luckily for LargeBoy, PC did not follow through with his plan, although he did share it with LargeBoy, so he knows what he's in for!
I won't hear from LargeBoy until I get home from work. I'm sure he will be just fine, but, you know, it's his first day of HIGH SCHOOL! This is a huge change for him after being in the same school with the same people (and about 1200 less of them) for the last 9 years, since kindergarten! Perhaps I'm just over anxious, or maybe a bit melancholy for my high school days. LargeBoy will be fine. Next Monday Girl and SmallBoy start back to school. That prospect is a little less frightening, rather comforting, actually! Oh, I can't wait!
Monday, August 22, 2005
The talking in my belly began shortly after 9. I attempted to soothe the beast within with a smidgeon of the fudge that PC and I brought home from Michigan. It worked...for about 3 minutes. I had to run around and pick up LargeBoy from a friend's house, then took a bath (no, not a soak, sadly, but a bath because I still can't get my stitches wet), then I came in and started the never ending job hunt. My stomach has not stopped complaining since.
Suddenly, this little file folder in my mind remembered that when PC and I went grocery shopping, the 10 for $10 sale included Cheetohs! I held my breath on my way to the kitchen and prayed that the children would have left me at least 4 or 5 Cheetohs! When I got there, I was terribly relieved to see the can. Of course, in this house, that could mean that ...oh, no use going there, it's kind of like putting the empty ice cube container back in the freezer. Anyway, I found the can of my cheesey cheetah choosing not only with cheetohs still remaining, but...this will be a shocker, so be sure to be seated...UNOPENED!!! Did I do the right thing and offer some to my children...ohhhh Noooooo. Nothing of the sort. I grabbed my fake Spade purse and used it as a shield in order to escape with my Cheetohs. Thankfully, LargeBoy and Girl, when they didn't have their eyes stuck to the television, were beating each other...much easier to sneak past.
Oh, I was doing great. No guilt, perfect heist and escape...yet, everytime I heard a sound on the stairs, I would have to hide the chips. Ok, maybe hoarde is a better word. As I took the last bite (I left 1/2 the can, mind you - I have Self Control), I realized that there was nothing wrong with what I was doing and, besides, even if the children had walked in the room and didn't see the can of Cheetohs that I have buried behind the latest reading material, I think the orange fingers and Cheetoh mouth would have given me away!
All I have to say is, guilt or no guilt, I finally got to some of the grocery snacks before the children demolished them! That absolves me from any and all mommy guilt that I may come in contact with during this Cheetoh crisis!
REMEMBER 1957? I know we are not all old enough to remember, but this email below was put together in a great way. I hope you enjoy it.
The following were some comments made in the year 1957:
(1) "I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, its going to be impossible to buy a weeks groceries for $20.00."
(2) "Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long when $5,000 will only buy a used one."
(3) "If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous."
(4) "Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?"
(5) "If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."
(6) "When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage,"
(7) "Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls,"
(8) "I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying 'damn' in 'Gone With The Wind,' it seems every new movie has either 'hell' or 'damn' in it."
(9) "I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas."
(10) "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday that they will be making more than the President."
(11) "I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now"
(12) "It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."
(13) "It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."
(15) "I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business."
(16) "Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress."
(17) "The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."
(18) "I guess taking a vacation is out of the question now days. It costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel."
(19) "No one can afford to be sick any more, $35.00 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood."
Friday, August 19, 2005
To be perfectly frank, being restricted to weekend trips in the summer truly and completely sucks (pardon my French). I can't take time off during the summer to take a vacation with my children, but the weekends are always full of other obligations. I can't take a vacation with them during the school year because I refuse to have them miss their education purely for fun - not to mention that the cottage closes in October. What I really, really need to do is to find a NEW job; one that will allow me to have time off in the summer when my family has time off.
I never really understood what PC meant when he was talking about how he was longing for Michigan. I understand now. LargeBoy understands now. It is this need, this ache, this empty feeling that can only be filled by piling in the car and just going. Once you've been there, you just have to go back. Staying away is entirely too difficult. There is so much to do there, a weekend isn't nearly enough time...but I'll take what I can get until I can find a better job. I can smell the cottage and the beach, I can feel the sand between my toes (OH Sand between my toes! I miss you whoa whoa whoa!), I can hear the waves as the crash along the beach and I can hear the kids running up and down the sand. OH I NEED TO GO BACK NOW!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Never fear, Mommy Guilt is staying right here and will continue to be filled with anecdotes, stresses, and happiness.
Monday night was supposed to be a nice family night. The children had returned from a weekend with their father and we were going to kick back and relax, enjoying the small time that we have left before school starts. Well, Monday night was taken up by my trip to the Immediate Care Center for the stitches and the ensuing margarita. Tuesday night is our "date night". Since PC's schedule is so crazy and unpredictable, we try and make sure that Tuesday night, if it's free, is our night out. Typically we go and do karaoke with a bunch of the people he works with. We have a blast. Tuesday night, we did that after spending some time with MIL & Princess (they had spent the day with Girl and SmallBoy at the movies). We got home at about 1:30 a.m. Yesterday I had to go for my wound check right after work and then a parent orientation for incoming freshmen. Thankfully the doctor was unusually fastidious and we were out of there with time to spare before we had to speed of to the high school, allowing time for me to nuke some leftovers for the kids for dinner. On to the orientation and then to grab a bite to eat...oh, and I can't forget...consume a beverage to deal with the stress of officially having a high school student. We were home early, by 10:00, but then I kissed the kids good night and boogied up to bed. I was so tired that I didn't even get to pay much attention to PC.
So, yes, I'm having some major Mommy Guilt today. I know what you'll say - that Monday night couldn't be helped and that last night was FOR a child, so no guilt in either of those. But you ALL know how it is....the reasoning, rational or irrational, behind the mommy guilt is of no never mind. All that matters is the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, especially when SmallBoy hasn't been properly tucked into bed for three nights. I know he's missing it. Tonight I am all theirs, but I don't think that I can make up for the last three nights of not being there. I know they understand, but it's a mom thing. Comments, support? Anyone? Anyone?
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tonight is also a parent orientation at the high school. YIKES. It's easier to pretend he's still in 8th grade if I don't have to actually visit the high school. I think, though, that if I don't go, I'll miss something important. Perhaps I'd better have a beverage between the doctor visit and the visit to the high school.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
It was a normal evening, like any other. I had finished my work day and my work out and was settling in to the evening ritual at home. SmallBoy had cleaned his room, so the garbage can was overflowing with stuff from there, Girl had cleaned out the chinese food from the fridge, so that was in there, along with all of the rest of the garbage. It DESPERATELY needed to be taken outside. As I was taking the bag out of the can, it spilled all over, naturally, sending chicken fried rice to every corner of my kitchen, papers to the hidden spots one finds upon moving out..oh it was a mess. I reached under the sink and got another garbage bag and separated the trash, cleaned up the spill from the floor and called Girl to help me get all of the trash out. I offered her the choice of bags - the cheaper, generic bag that was lighter or the good Glad bag that was a bit heavier. She opted for the heavier. THANK GOD! As we were walking towards the cans outside, I felt a scrape on my thigh from the garbage, and then another, so I put the bag down to look at my leg. While I did that, I remembered that there was broken glass in that bag. I thought to myself, "Gee, I better get a better grip on this bag so that I don't drop it and send the glass shattering across my yard." Well, that was my mistake. As I hoisted the bag up, I felt an sharp pain slicing through my calf. I thought that I had scratched my leg a little deeper this time, so I stopped again to look and found myself looking at a gouge in my leg and a whole lot of blood running down my calf. I ditched the garbage and walked sort of limpy, sort of tip-toey towards the house so that I wouldn't bleed as much.
I was very good. I was a big girl and didn't cry...until I turned the shower on it. The cut was much larger and much deeper than I had originally thought and the second that the water hit it, it screamed out at me. Girl was very good. She came and took care of me and brought me the antibiotic ointment and the gauze, tape, and scissors. She brought me a glass of water to make sure that I didn't pass out or anything - which I wouldn't have, but I was getting pretty grossed out. She kept trying to convince me that I needed stitches and I kept trying to convince her that I didn't, knowing full well she was right. She won the argument and 30 minutes later I was at the Immediate Care Center looking a tray with a syringe, sutures and a bunch of other icky looking stuff. Thankfully, PC was right there holding my hand. By 9:30, my leg was all stitched up and ready to roll, and not once did I cry. I winced a bit when she poked me the first time with the needle for the lidocaine, but each successive injection hurt less and less. By the time those four or five injections were done, I felt nothing. That pleased me.
The doctor used dissolvable stitches which will take a bit longer to go away, but should leave little to no scar. For that, I am totally appreciative. I can't exercise for 10 days, which bites, but I understand why. I'll be ok. For being so brave and only whimpering once, I believe I said, "I've given birth, I can handle this", PC took me to our favorite Mexican restaurant for Fun With Cheese (Queso Fundido) and a margarita to help when the anesthetic wore off.
Thanks, Girl, for being right! Thanks, PC, my love, for holding my hand (and for the margarita!)
Monday, August 15, 2005
PC's brother, ET, had been at the cottage since Tuesday when he went up with PC & LargeBoy, so we figured he would still be awake when we arrived. Not seeing him in the cottage, we knew, instinctively, that we would find him down at the beach fire - at 3:15 a.m. We dropped our stuff in our room and headed through the darkness to the beach where we found ET and a few others still gathered around the fire with coolers and chairs. We talked, laughed, joked, and were very irresponsible for a while. I have found that every once in a while, we grown ups need to be irresponsible and act like teenagers or college kids to remind us that life isn't all about being stuffy and stressed and worried. So, in our irresponsibility, we hung out in the sand talking and drinking just like old friends. It was an incredible sky that night with the constellations decorating the deep darkness that was our canopy. Every once in a while, we were able to see meteors streak across the sky. I think we collectively saw about 10 or so. Those things you don't see when you live just outside the blaring lights of a big city. We finally mosied back to the cottage around 6:30 and hit the pillows as the sun was rising.
ET's fiance, SIL arrived Saturday morning - EARLY. ET & PC were, of course, out cold when she called at 7:30 a.m. to let us know she was half way, so I got the wake up call. She called periodically to let me know how close she was. This was very enouraging. I was terribly excited that she was coming to join us - thus taking some of the "fun" from the brothers for herself. Trust me, when those two get together, you're either laughing so hard you cry, or you're crying so hard you laugh. It's always good to share that fun with at least one other person. I got up and grabbed my book and read until I needed to help navigate SIL through the park. It was after sitting on the porch and talking about the brothers that we decided they had been asleep WAY too long and decided to wake them from their slumber. This was fun. Nothing exciting for me, but PC woke up to the sound of ET & SIL chasing each other through the house and tormenting each other. Clearly they are in love - one can see this demonstrated so clearly when ET is smothering SIL with his 3 day unshowered armpit...yes, true love.
I finally manged to rouse the bleary eyed, hungover, disoriented PC out of bed. We all got dressed and headed off to the sodabar to grab some lunch. The best part of the park is that there are usually two or three routes to wherever you need to go. Getting to the sodabar gave us two choices - take the Million Stairs, or walk along the beach. The Million Stairs is most definitely a shortcut, but think about it: First off, the stairs from one side to the other are not a million, but certainly feel like it by the time you finish. Secondly, disoriented, dehydrated and hungover are not the best states of being for walking a million stairs. We, therefore, opted to take the longer beach route. ET & SIL arrived before we did and had already ordered. By the time we ordered our food, they had gotten theirs and exited to the patio to eat in the open air. Prankster #1 - that would be PC - got the notion that it would be a great idea to dump a glass of ice water right into ET's lap. While attempting to pull this off, PC ended up not only dousing his brother, but pouring water all over the lunch of SIL. Since she is cooler than cool, she merely dumped the water out of her squeezy cheese and kept right on eating her cheesy fries and cheeseburger. Oh it was beyond funny. Thankfully ET & SIL had finished their lunch and headed back to the cottage before our food arrived, so their was minimal threat of immediate retaliation.
As we finished our cheeseburgers, the sun finally made an appearnce and warmed us up enough to tempt us beachward. We went back to the cottage and made our afternoon plan of attack...beach and shopping for dinner. I have a problem swimming in large bodies of water, especially when the water is cold and when pranksters like my husband and my brother in law are involved...moreso the water than the boys, though. The sun had decided to disappear, so I stayed up on the beach all bundled up while they hit the water. If you know these two, you know to expect the unexpected, and that it usually involves bare butts. I was not surprised, then, to look up from my book to see both of them holding their shorts over their heads. What was even better, however, was when ET, for some unknown reason, let go of his shorts and they flew out of his hands to go play in the undertow, leaving him bare-assed in Lake Michigan. I LOVE it when their pranks backfire on them! It makes those of us involved just that much more satisfied.
Shortly after the pants-ing episode, it started to drizzle and I was freeeeezing. Everyone had come out of the water to rest - thankfully, ET found his shorts. After drying off and not warming up, we all decided that it was time to go to the store and get some fixin's for dinner. PC and I had already changed back into our regular dry clothes and were waiting on ET & SIL when we were graced by ET showing us his white ol' butt out the door at us. We were laughing hysterically until SIL pushed him out the door, closed and locked it. PC and I lost it. I don't think any of us have laughed that hard ever! OH GOD it was funny! Adding to the hilarity were the eyes staring at us from ET's buttocks. He and SIL had drawn these on for a mooning earlier in the day. It was almost as if, once the shock of SIL shutting the door had hit ET, the eyes on his butt made that same, "HOLY CRAP!" face that he was making!
Once we picked ourselves off the floor and ET had managed to clothe himself, it really really was time to worry about dinner. SIL had brought up some chicken breasts, so went in search of the perfect dinner for the evening. We ended up at the closest local grocery store where most of the "natives" and all of the summer "residents" go to shop. Michigan is blueberry happy. It is WONDERFUL! Right now, they are at the conclusion of the 42nd annual Blueberry Festival. It is a madhouse of blueberry goodness. Our first step into the grocery store led us immediately to a table full of all things blueberry. Blueberry scones, blueberry-everything mix, blueberry syrup, blueberry pound cake, blueberry flavoring, blueberry BEER - (interesting, to say the least), and, of course, fresh blueberries. As we were on a mission for dinner food, we settled simply on blueberry poundcake - OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!! We managed to resist and finish our shopping. Food and beverages in hand, we left our blueberry blur behind and headed back to the cottage.
Our lack of sleep was beginning to catch up with us, and we decided it was naptime. We planned to nap for an hour or two and then get up and prepare dinner. The important word in the sentence was PLANNED. Four hours later we woke to ET yelling, "WAKE UP! IT'S 9:00!!!" Were it not for the arrival of the cousin and girlfriend of the cousin (hereafter known as Corn and Burrito), pulling up in their car, we would have slept straight through til morning. Not bad, we needed the sleep, but we would have missed our last night on the beach - potentially, the last one of the summer. That would have been awful. So with Corn and Burrito at the cottage, we got reoriented and embarked on dinner. ET grilled up the chicken for us. SIL then took the chicken, cut it up, wrapped it in tomato & basil wraps, along with onions, ranch dressing, lettuce, shredded carrots, and a terribly sinful apple barbeque sauce, and then fried them up in butter....DELISH. We had corn on the cob. We had originally thought about cooking the corn on the grill, but then it was suggested that we steam it in the big ol' pot that we have up there. Corn thought that it might help to sweeten the vegetable by placing a bit of sugar in the water below. Well, as fate had it, we were not all quite awake yet - totally not paying attention to our food cooking, and soon enough, the corn was boiling over. As it turned out, somehow the water, in boiling and seeping out, had carmelized the sugar which, then, stuck the pot to the stove while, at the same time, turning the corn a nice caramel shade. (Needless to say, this was how Corn got his nickname). The corn looked a little interesting, but none of us hesitated to eat it! I don't think we'll be able to duplicate the flavor again, but it was delicious.
We finally made it down to the beach fire around midnight. Corn and PC brought their guitars. We brought our beer. Uh - oh, two nights of adult irresponsibility, whatever shall we do? We had a much cooler night than Friday and the wind had picked up. The waves were crashing on the beach much harder than the night before. The fire was burning bright , the sparks were flying and the smoke was always in someone's eyes (I HATE White Rabbits)! It made for the perfect setting for our wild night. The more we sat, the more people showed up, including one more with a guitar and another with a harmonica. We had music. It was perfect. We taught a few of the people how to play the fart game - would you believe we were the oldest ones on the beach, acting just as silly as the 20-somethings? SIL got her new nickname of "Chalupa" - to go with "Burrito" and my "Flauta". Somehow we all have food nicknames - go figure.
We had run out of beer and, feeling very much like college students, had to make a run. Thankfully, we only needed to go back to the cottage to get more. Piece of cake, right? NOPE! We had walked down to the beach, and therefore were faced with the prospect of walking back. The park does not have any lighting other than the homes there. If people have their lights off, it is pitch black. You cannot see your hand in front of your face. ET & PC know the park like the back of their hands, but I don't, so you can imagine how relieved I was when one of the other people offered to drive us back up in his golf cart. That was an experience I have never had - let alone on pitch dark roads, especially since I was on the back of the cart!
We came back armed with beer and marshmallows and spent the rest of the night talking, playing the fart game, dodging popping sparks from the fire, experimenting to see how long an aluminum can holds its integrity in the heat of a burning fire, and tossing beer back and forth across the fire. (Real grown up, huh)? The funniest part of this was when PC tossed a fresh one across the fire to ET. Perfect throw and the can landed standing up - a perfect landing...except that it was upside down and full of sand. I'm sure that's exactly what he needed - another helping of sand to complement his beer. We had all been crunching sand for at least two nights already, ET for 5, so what's a little more?
We finally left the beach at somewhere around 5 a.m. or so and made some scrambled eggs before bed. Hey, there's no rule anywhere that dictates breakfast must be eaten after waking up instead of before going to sleep. We slept a good 4 or 5 hours before waking up again to the sound of ET and Chalupa (f/k/a SIL) walking back from their morning swim.
With ET & Chalupa back, I got PC out of bed and we headed out for lunch in South Haven. We drove into the middle of Blueberry Fest and somehow still managed to find parking. We had lunch on the top of this boat called The Idler where I'm pretty sure it was a requirement to be a blonde bimbo to be considered for employment. The food was ok, the weather was nice, and we got to watch all the different varieties of boats going up and down the river - and all of the people on them. We LOVE to people watch. We're BAAAAAD!
ET & Chalupa had arrived in town ahead of us and had hit one of the local wine shops. They suggested a trip down there after lunch to taste some of the superb wines that had already crossed their lips. So, after leaving the bimbos behind, we headed down to the wine shop. They, of course, had a blueberry wine. Initially I liked it. It was sweet and very different. We tried a mix of a white & cranbery wine. That was YUMMY. Another was a peach wine. I didn't think that I would like it, but Whoa Mama! It was really good. A nice summer wine. Sweet, but not overly sweet. Another was a red. PC liked it. I thought it was too dry, however, that's its selling point - the dryness. I prefer wine with flavor that's not going to leave me with dry mouth. We tried another and another and another, but finally decided on the blueberry, the peach, and the dry red. Next it was on to the fudge store. We are SO bad. We bought 1/2 lb of fudge (they gave us a pound), and a pound of chocolate covered pretzels. So SO bad.
We parted ways with ET & Chalupa, since we parked in different places. Before heading back, we stopped to pick up some fresh blueberries. I mean, really, could we have left The 42nd Annual Blueberry Fest withOUT "blubes"? We ended up with three pints of blubes and a bag of blueberry granola. YUMMY YUMMY in my TUMMY!
Finally, sadly, the time had come upon us to hit the road west. The ache for Michigan already setting in. We knew there was no way that we'd make it home by 5, when the kids were due back from their dad's, so we had called our moms in for back up. Our mothers had been taking care of our furry friends for us while we were gone, and were more than happy to come and spend some time with their grandchildren. After sitting through ridiculous amounts of construction obstacles, we finally ended our journey shortly after 6:oopm last night. When we walked through the door, we were met with a smell that made me feel so happy. A smell that reminded me of my Gram. Pot roast and dumplings. My all time favorite meal! We love our mothers. We thanked them for dinner, waiting for the children, and watching the pets by cracking open a couple bottles of the wine and sitting down to eat. After dinner we grabbed one of our favorite games, Apples to Apples, and played for a while, before the moms decided they were pooped and headed home. LargeBoy & Girl began Prankfest 2005, while SmallBoy, PC & I all went to bed. I was asleep by 10:30 and was actually awake (and alert) this morning.
I need to get back to Michigan in a big way. I am dying to take the kids up there. Of course, that means that I'll be going up as a parent. No beach fires for me. But, I've had several. I have to say, though, that every once in a while, it is so nice to forget that I'm a thirty-something mother of three and to just be an irresponsible, (within reason), relaxed woman. It helps every once in a while to alleviate the Mommy Guilt.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
The only phone call I got was late Tuesday morning to let me know of their safe arrival and their imminent plans to grab a burger at the soda bar and then head on down to the beach. From what I understand, they never stopped. They hiked, swam, ate, played, hung out with a whole bunch of people - none of whom LargeBoy knew when he got there, but with whom he is now on a first name basis. They ate pizza - and didn't bring me any (how rude!). LargeBoy experienced his first beach fire party. He learned the story of how ET changed the face of the map by re-routing a river that runs through the park. He also got to witness ET being humbled at finding out that the summer residents go out to that river every year and re-dig to assure that his handiwork stays put against Mother Nature. They took a night hike on the darkest night of the summer. LargeBoy begged for them to use a flashlight, because it was SO dark. Not wanting to be dubbed as the dreaded "RENTERS", the boys never bring a flashlight. Aside from ET doubling back behind them in the dark and jumping at them, they survived just fine. I have managed to quell my worries and "what ifs". They are big boys and they were doing everything they've always done. I'm sure that had LargeBoy spent his summers there, he'd be able to walk through that park blindfolded also.
Some wonderful moments and bonding came out of this trip. While walking in the dark, LargeBoy was very firmly holding on to PC's shirt, so as to avoid being separated from him. It showed me how much he trusts PC and I find that so fantastic. We've been together for only a bit over a year and been married for 7 1/2 months, so it is such a great feeling to know that they have this trust between them. More bonding on the beach, too. The guys were involved in a game of catch or something with some of the other people on the beach. In this game, each player had a nickname to which they had to respond, lest they miss the ball coming at them. I don't have any clue what PC & ET were named, but LargeBoy was dubbed as "Stepson". The best part of that is that LargeBoy was totally comfortable with that. It makes me happy. Oh, and, I cannot forget ... most importantly, the biggest, most incredible bonding that took place is that the three of them made the 2 - 2 1/2 hour car ride together never fighting over music, never releasing enough gas on each other to make anyone pass out, and never once stopping for a pee break! In my opinion, that's some SERIOUS bonding right there.
LargeBoy was so excited when I saw him after he returned home. He couldn't stop talking about it. He's already decided that he's going to be up there every weekend next summer, with or without the rest of us and that, if it's possible he's going to live there over the summer and come home only on weekends he's supposed to be with his father. Gee, think he liked it? He's already written a song about his fun at the beach. I don't know how long it will be before he shares it with anyone but PC and me, but he was absolutely inspired. I feel so lucky to have these people and places in my life. Who'd'a thunk?
In talking with a coworker today about this ridiculously expensive dilemma, she suggested I try this website to look for lower prices. This site takes your ISBN number, title, etc and runs it through all of the online bookstores and then ranks them by price. Granted, there is some serious caveat emptor going on, and you MUST be wary of what you purchase, but still... when faced with a history textbook at $92.00 new in the school bookstore and $12.00 used online, well....my math and most of my logic are showing that the $12 is, in fact, a better deal. What's even nicer is that MOST of the sellers will let you know details about the condition of the book.
Where was this site when I was in college? This is awesome. I'm hoping that the novels he has to read in his English class will be ones that I can find cheap, or that I can pick up at the library. We'll see. What a relief. This comes as a HUGE help, especially after reading earlier today, that the average price of books for a freshman is $350 - $400/semester! OUCH. I think it's time for the boy to get a job!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Imagine my joy, nay, delight!, this morning when, after dragging my poor overtired and still sick body out of bed for work, I looked out the bathroom window and saw that the dirt in my garden was dark black, seemingly wet! The patio at my neighbor's house was....OH.MY.GOD....WET!!! That meant that, no, that garden fairies didn't appear in the night to tend to my drooping garden, but that yes, indeed, it had RAINED! This was confirmed further on my way to work as I drove along the tree lined streets and watched my windshield develop a polka-dot pattern of droplets from the leaves above. It really really had rained!
The weather report on the radio said that today's high was going to be 84 degrees - at least 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, and that we are supposed to have continued showers through the morning. I'm not sure about the rest of those showers, as the sun is beaming in the sky; of course, it's only 8:45. There are still 3hours and 15minutes left for morning showers! Even without more rain, which is still greatly needed, I'll take the 84 degrees. I have no air conditioning at home and yesterday, the INSIDE of my house was 89 degrees. We have a small window unit that we put upstairs in the bedrooms where SmallBoy sleeps and where PC and I sleep - IF the fans won't keep us cool enough. The main floor of our house is laid out in such a way that it takes a network of fans to get the cold from one window unit to circulate through the first floor. Entirely too complicated and gives entirely too much of my hard earned cash to the electric company.
For the meantime, I will stop complaining about the heat and rejoice in the wetness that covers the ground this morning and the promise of a cooler day. Mind you, as I'm typing this, I'm sitting in my office in a winter sweater over my pretty top and skirt, and with a space heater on my feet. There most definitely IS a/c here!
Friday, August 05, 2005
I miss having the after school routine of homework, dinner, family/sports time, bed time. Of course, during any given sports season, the dinner and homework schedules are largely skewed, but hey - it's still a schedule. I miss coming home from work and helping SmallBoy with his homework or having him ask for my help with a book report. I miss our "spelling bees" to help everyone prepare for spelling tests - I always win those! I miss my daughter and my husband watching the news together in the morning while they prepare for the day.
I know, I shouldn't be wishing for school to start so quickly, though. I still haven't finished buying school supplies, the uniforms are not together yet, LargeBoy doesn't have his high school wardrobe together yet (jeans, t-shirt, gym shoes everyday), I haven't managed to get all of the high school paperwork in yet. I know that in two weeks when LargeBoy goes for orientation, that the next 4years of my life will fly by before I can bat an eye. And then it will be Girl's turn, as she's only 2yrs behind him. Then SmallBoy. Then they'll be grown up and off to college.
Ok, maybe I CAN wait for school to start.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
High school was a little better. The braces came off, I got contacts, and discovered make up. I started learning how to take control of the hair, and before long, discovered Sun-In, which ultimately turned into Clairol blonde. In junior year, I discovered that I could use my unruly hair to my advantage and began to dress like Madonna. Oh Boy - I think I just aged myself. Still not exactly the prettiest girl in class, but I was working hard on getting past this image problem.
College led to a more casual attitude and I got used to getting up and going to class looking like total crap and being o.k. with it. Of course, everyone else did the same thing. I had a boyfriend or two at the time, but really, it was nothing fabulous. And I still was working on getting past looking in the mirror and saying, "GROOOOOOOOOSSSSSS!!!", despite the comments to the contrary by friends & family. In my mind, friends and family always thought that you were beautiful despite anything else in the world.
After college - which I have yet to complete, I met Ex. Ended up getting married 11mos. later - you do the math. I never had the opportunity to do anything about appearances except to look like who I was - a Mom.
Post divorce, I dated a few men before finally marrying the love of my life. They all told me I was beautiful. I didn't believe them. PC, I believe. He makes me feel beautiful and I'm beginning to see that the beautiful he speaks about begins from the happiness he brings me. It starts on the inside and works its way out to be seen by everyone else. This is not Don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful kind of beautiful, because I am a far cry from that - at least in MY opinion. It is a deeper kind of beauty that you feel inside. If you're lucky, well, then other people will see it too.
Lesson learned: The adage about beauty being more than skin deep is true. Once you feel it deep inside you, it will radiate out. The love that you feel from others and for others will make you feel that. It will shine out from you and, even if you can't see it, everyone else will. So move on. Get past the image problem. The other piece of that is that when you find your true love (and, trust me, it IS possible), you WILL feel it. I found him, and now I feel it.
I just wanted to add a quick clarification lest I offend anyone unintentionally: The above titles can be taken multiple ways. One particular, well, the first and last are for those who need to get OVER IT...not meant for ANY of my girlfriends, even those with whom I have "tiffed". I will have your curtain to you before you go, I promise.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Last night, my throat hurt, but I was alive. I went to the grocery store to get dinner because those other people that occupy my house really don't care if I'm not feeling well, they feel this genuine need to feed. By the time I got home from the grocery store, my neck was stiff, my throat was totally swollen and I could hardly speak. I took some aspirin-substitute-substance, probably Ibuprofen, and went to bed. Sleep was not easy. I kept waking up to that horrible pain in my throat. One would think that I'd have called in sick today. Nope. Not this Hard Workin' Mama. I'm dedicated to my job that doesn't pay me nearly enough money to be here when I feel this crappy, but that I can't afford to miss. Oh, and not to mention that I was sick last week and used up almost all of my vacation and sick hours and any time that I take off now is unpaid. So, I'm sucking it up, drinking juice, and then going home and going to bed so that MAYBE I can come to work tomorrow. I have the kids making me jello so that I have something to eat when I get home from work. But for now, I'm just glad it's almost lunchtime....oh, wait, I have to work through lunch today since I was late this morning. GRRRRRRRRR. Need.Sleep.
I am, I admit, confess, and feel terrible about, neglecting my dearest friends - those who stood by my side and held my hand while I walked through Hell and back. It is not, however, because I got married. I have left choir, which pains me greatly, not because of any issues other than a complete lack of time. I will soon be neglecting my children as this second job is going to take my time away from them, also, especially once school starts. I will be missing homework time, dinner time, tuck into bed time, sports time, movie time, just plain hangout time.
My friends and family have always been the first to tell me that I need to have some "me" time and not always worry about the "make everybody else happy" time. Apparently, no one told me that having "me" time ticks off a lot of people, especially when that time is beyond difficult to come by. I promised to help a friend out last night and find something that is buried somewhere in the pit of my back porch - which I also have neglected and not cleaned out in forever. Why? Because I haven't any free time. I did not get a chance to call my friend back and tell her that I didn't get a chance to look for it because my throat was so swollen and my neck so stiff, that I took some aspirin and crashed for the night.
I've tried. Honestly. I AM trying and certainly am not, as has been implied, writing off my friends due to my marriage. I know that all of my friends are working their behinds off also, and have time for friends in addition to marriage, children, and jobs. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to manage to find this "me" time, and, perhaps, sleep, without ticking off any more of my friends and without sacrificing the one thing that I have all to myself - sleep ( a commodity which is also in short supply)? I'd love to hear them.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Saturday, you may have read in my previous post, I was home alone. I ended up going to the fabric store to by some fabric to fix the colossal rip in my favorite jeans, and then I went to PC's bar and harrassed him for food for two hours...which he finally gave me. Went home and got cute for the gig.
The gig...well, that was another story. Do you remember the scene in the Blues Brothers when the band is playing on the stage behind the chicken wire and getting heckled, and getting bottles thrown at them? Ok, so it wasn't that bad, but that's what we (I) felt like. It was just the feeling of the bar, to be honest. Apparently, the bookings got terribly screwed up and they ended up booking us opening for a grunge band that was followed by a metal band. The grunge band was pretty good. Their drummer was phenomenal. Sadly, we never learned the name of their group. We didn't stay long enough to hear the metal band, though. Regardless, here we were, this country/rock cover band opening for grunge and metal. The crowd consisted of the other two bands, their girlfriends, a few people that our bass player had brought in, and some rowdies at the other end of the bar. Interesting, to say the least.
Sunday was breakfast with ET & my SIL. OH.MY.GOD. Biscuits & gravy. Need I say more? I could, but let me just leave you with this vision: Hot steamy buttermilk biscuits slathered in gravy loaded with sausage. OH.MY.GOD. It's a good thing I'm going to work out tonight after work!
Gotta run, boss is lurking!