Saturday, August 09, 2008

What I Did This Summer

You all know consistency is not my strong point. Neither is spelling for that matter. My blog entries are sporadic even when I have to be sitting at my computer every weekday. In the summer, when I don't have to be at my computer...I'm not :P

But I can bring my blog up to speed with one epic post. This is a letter I wrote to my dear friend from high school. The Jedi used his awesome ways with the force to track her down for me, since we had lost touch in the *sigh* twenty years since high school. We got to see each other briefly in June, and have been in touch (a little bit) via email. Not a lot because its summer and I'm not sitting at my computer. Her blog name shall be Mme Presidente, for reasons she will immediately recognize. (Cause we all thought we were so funny in our high school French club). And because Awesome Supplier of Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies was a rather long name to type. ;)

Anyway, here be the letter...

So, three weeks later, and I’m finally sitting down to write about my summer. I feel like I’m doing a September school report, “How I Spent My Summer.” Anyway, if you don’t mind, I think when I’m finished writing this, I’ll edit it and use most of it as a blog update, cause I’m just that lazy…and let’s be real, I’m never going to get around to writing twice today. (or even twice this month, for that matter).

You know from my blog my plan at the beginning of the summer to do a “space camp” theme. We absolutely did that, and it went *great*. The kids really got into decorating the fridge to be our mission control center. I cut sections out of colored paper and taped them together to make on sheet of paper with five colored sections in yellow, orange, red, purple, blue. At the top of each section I wrote a day of the week, then I laminated the paper. That was our dry erase board for our “shuttle flights”. Since Little Guy is working on learning to tell time, I also printed some blank clock faces, cut them out, and laminated them as well. For each “shuttle flight” I used sticky tack to put a clock face on that day, and drew clock hands to show what time we were leaving the house for that outing. We also each had a “pre-flight routine” and a “landing procedure”…which were our checklists for our morning and afternoon tasks. I got foil star stickers and kept a sheet of them on the fridge. Each day, when the kids finished the items on their lists, they put a star next to that item. At the end of the week, whoever had the most stars, got to pick a special activity that we all did together (like family game night, bike riding, pick a movie from blockbusters, make cookies, etc). And if they tied, or came close to tying, they each got to pick an activity. The whole system worked so well, and was enjoyed so much, we going to continue it through the school year. Sweetling has already planned out our “themes” for the different months and seasons. In August and September, we’re going to switch from Mission Control to Emergency Dispatch Center and have a safety theme.

Also on the fridge, we put the list of things we wanted to do this summer. I slipped it in a page protector, and each week, we tried to make sure that at least on of the activities made it into our flight plans. Then we put a check by the activity. We got most of our list checked off. Plus, we got to do many cool things that weren’t on the list. Some of the favorite extras were going on a cicada hunt, collecting fossils, holding Madagascar cockroaches (*I* did not do that, but the kids did), petting a baby alligator, participating in a hotwheels race, going to ‘the goody shop’ outdoor dairy whip, going to Young’s Dairy Farm and petting a cow and feeding a pig. Petting the cow was my own personal favorite, mostly because all the other mothers we were with told me it wasn’t going to happen. The trip to the dairy farm, which is up by Dayton, was organized by one of the moms at church. Several of us all caravanned up there. We ate lunch, and toured the petting farm. A few of us dug through our purses and found dimes for the kids to get goat feed out of a remodeled gumball machine. Little Guy feed his goat food to the pig, and was thrilled to death. The goats tried to eat the long hair of the girls in the group, and they were less than thrilled. We washed our hands at their outdoor sinks, and I insisted that I wanted to pet a cow. They had baby cows in the petting barn, but I wanted to pet a big cow. The other moms told me forget it, all the grown cows were way out to pasture. Which you know, was *exactly* the sort of encouragement I needed. So I went around the side of the barn to the fence and gate that led into the muddy milking yard. No, I did NOT climb the fence, Sweetling and Little Guy were with me after all. But I did stay by the fence and start talking to the cows which were milling about by the silo. Sure enough, after about ten minutes of coaxing, one of the cows came on over to the fence and let me and the kids pet her. That drew a crowd of other children, but she was the sweetest, gentlest cow and let everyone pet her. I went home that night and worried about that cow. Was she lonely? Were the diary workers nice to her? Did she have a name? Did anyone pet and love her every day? I told the Jedi about my worries. He just looked at me and said, completely serious, “We are not getting a pet cow.”

Every now and then it strikes me as highly ironic that I’m the “adult in charge” during the day. Not only am I responsible for my own dear ones every day, but adults who *know* me and who should know better regularly leave their children with me, whether its moms bringing their children over for a play date or girls for a home Bible study, or adults at church leaving me with the preschoolers or letting me lead the children’s musical practice. (After one such practice this spring, Pastor came over to me and asked if I was the one who had gotten his children all wound up. I looked him in the eye and asked, “Would *I* do that?” He got the biggest smile on his face and said, “Yes, yes you would.”) I mean really, there is no one here during the day to tell me that I can’t have s’mores for lunch. (I did have fudge pop-tarts and ice cream for breakfast once, but it wasn’t as yummy as it sounded.) Granted, Sweetling is always here, and in her little girl voice will tell me very matter of factly, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Mommy.” Case in point, we were having family cooking night, which happens on Mondays. We were making spaghetti together. The Jedi wasn’t home for work yet….it’s really for the best that the Jedi doesn’t witness many of these things first hand…. Anyway, I had the water boiling on the stove, and we were breaking the spaghetti over a big bowl on the table, then I was going to dump the spaghetti into the boiling water. Well, I decided it would be much more fun to karate chop the spaghetti. So, I held a small bunch of spaghetti, one end in each hand, and told Sweetling to karate chop through the group. Sweetling looked at me like I was crazy, and told me she really didn’t think it was such a great idea. I said, sure it was, it would work great. Watch, says me, Little Guy will do it. So I held the bundle of spaghetti out for Little Guy. He did indeed karate chop through the spaghetti, and on his downstroke, his hand hit the edge of the large plastic bowl. To say the bowl tipped wouldn’t be accurate. The bowl was turned into a catapult and little spaghetti pieces went *everywhere*. After a moment of stunned silence, we all burst out laughing. We salvaged the spaghetti pieces that were still on the table, and then, after some repositioning of where and how we held the spaghetti bundles, the kids took turns karate chopping through the rest of the spaghetti. And Little Guy, bless his little heart, is always the first to talk about my little misadventures for the day at the dinner table. “Daddy,” he will say, “Mommy almost hit a tree…” And then I’m left explaining, over Sweetling’s peels of laughter, why it was not my fault that the trees at the sculpture park were growing right up against the narrow strip of blacktop that passed for a road, especially when there were really cool sculptures on the other side of the road distracting my attention. We used to have a song that we sang, when my sister Smurf was living with us, that went “Don’t tell the Jedi, ‘cause he does not need to know, no, no, no…”

Sweetling, as you may have surmised, is very calm, quiet, and very intellectual. I would call her practical, but she has a bit too much of an absent-minded professor personality to be considered practical. She gets so absorbed in her own thoughts, that she completely loses track of where she is, or what she’s supposed to be doing. She can get sent into her room, to do a very simple task. I’ll come by twenty minutes later to check on her, and she’ll just be standing in the middle of her room thinking and completely oblivious to how much time has gone by. And yet, despite this, she’s still appreciates routines and structure. She doesn’t like spontenaity or free-style exploration. When we went to Eden Park, and got a little turned around, I said that we weren’t lost, we were exploring. Sweetling’s suggestion was, “next time, can we print a map from the internet?” She is a brilliant little girl, and I speak from more than just a bragging mother. One of her favorite books is “Geometry, Relativity, and the Forth Dimension.” Her favorite subjects are science and math (in which she starting her second year of Introductory Algebra.) Sweetling has spent most of her free time this summer on the computer. She’s been really into a website called Webkinz Insider. She writes short stories and poems and makes graphic art and whatnot to post on their forums.


Little Guy, in contrast, is very outgoing, very energetic, very personable. I’m not tempted to call him practical, though he will make a great engineer or architect. He is an amazing builder. Amazing. He puts together these complex bionicle lego people by following their multi-page, step by step build booklet. He can also look at just a picture of a Lincoln logs structure and recreate the little ranch house complete with attached horse coral completely on his own. He’s close to learning how to read…I think that skill will completely fall into place in the next couple of months. But he does any “desk work” standing up at his desk, cause sitting still in a chair is just unbearable for him. I also keep a mini-trampoline in the living room because he is going to bounce on something while his watching his PBS kids shows. It can either by my couch or his trampoline…but the bouncing itself is just inevitable. And at five, he is quite the ladies man. At church a few weeks ago, I came out of my Wednesday night class to find that the preschool department had already dismissed, and they had left Little Guy with a very good friend of mine. Little Guy and my friend Telephone were hanging out at our little ‘café’ tables. At one of the tables, a group of three teenage girls were sitting. Little Guy had perched himself on one of the teenager’s laps and was having a great time going through the girls’ purses. He was eating their tic tacs, trying on their sunglasses, brushing their hair with their little hairbrushes, and getting them to take pictures of him with their cell phones. This sort of encounter is not that unusual for Little Guy. Just about wherever we go, Little Guy eventually has some girl or group of girls going out of their way to please and entertain him. We went to the Hamilton County Fair yesterday, and Little Guy scored a ride on the kiddie coaster with some cute little blond girl.

I’ve been considering coming up with a new blog name for Little Guy. Little Guy just doesn’t quite fit him anymore. He’s too grown up for it now. Plus, it doesn’t quite embrace the dynamic nature of his personality. I’ve tossed around several possibilities in my mind. Mr. Personality was pretty high up there on the list. The Jedi calls him “a regular Casanova” or “our little Don Juan”. Before he came home with us, I used the blog name of “Energy” because I just had this sense that it was going to fit our little boy. When we met him, I discarded Energy in favor of Our Little Guy. But now, I’m thinking Energy was still a close fit. He was an electron at our church costume party on New Year’s Eve. (Sweetling was a neutrino and I was a proton. The Jedi wore his UC chemistry lab coat and safety glasses). And the electron was very wisely chosen for him. So, I considered going back to Energy, or using Electron, Mr. Random, or Captain Chaos….but he isn’t really a source of chaos…he just has a lot of energy. Sweetling suggested Toa Boy, and a good friend on line, independently suggest Toa of something. (Toa’s are the guardian robot warriors in the bionicle world). I really like the suggestion. It fits him. Toa of Boy suits him. It describes his love for building, and bionicles are one of his favorite things right now. Plus the toa warriors all channel some form of energy or element, and he definitely channels energy. And he is in many ways, all boy.

Last week we had our vacation bible school at church. Which is the primary reason I didn’t get back to finishing this letter. VBS week is one of my favorite weeks of the year, but all other aspects of my life get shuffled to the side lines during VBS week. When the Jedi uploads the pictures from the camera, I’ll have to send you some, or put some up on my blog, or both. In the meantime, cause I think you’ll appreciate this, I’m on this site called “twitter.” It’s a micro-blog…which I’m more inclined to keep up with during the summer. I’ll send you some of my ‘updates’ from that, just cause I think you’ll find them an amusing snapshot of a day in my life.

So far today I have, scrubbed out a car seat and washed its cover (not mine), referred bionicle disagreements,.... tried to save our house from a veritable infestation of ants in the foundation cracks, but was thwarted by a broken nozzle on the... insecticide bottle. so I emailed the Jedi in a panic and told him our front stoop looked like something from a horror film….Now I'm going to make lunch for three little boys and a diappointed, lonely little girl. After lunch I'm going to hope 1pm comes quickly…Then I'm going to help Sweetling sew an elastic waist band in a skirt for a webkins, go get another spray bottle of insecticide from... the hardware store. Come home to spray my foundation. Then I'm taking kids on a rock collecting hike. (Just my kids). I don't know where yet…And tonight we're meeting with a life insurance agent about updating our policy. Read all these updates from bottom to top to make sense :)…. And somehow in all this I have lost my dish detergent. I took it outside when I was spraying and scrubbing a car seat. Now its gone….Add scraped off the burnt parts of the grilled cheese sandwiches to the list….And tried to convince a two year old ninja that he did not need extra sugar in his chocolate milk. Guess what my sanity outlet is today?

The other new thing in my life right now is that I’m taking Tae Kwon Do classes. I’ve had two weeks of classes so far. (It would have been three weeks, but I missed a week for VBS.) Sweetling has been taking Tae Kwon Do for a year and a half now, and the Jedi started taking lessons sometime last spring. I went to a safety seminar at church about a month ago and part of the seminar was some self-defense training. I hadn’t realized when I signed up that any mat-work was involved. I’ve always taken the attitude of, I need to be cautious and aware of my surroundings, because I’d never stand a chance if I actually got attacked. I thought I’d just be done for. I’m too small and weak, I thought, to ever really defend myself. But here I was a few Saturday’s ago. The instructor of the class had been a police officer, had worked for the FBI for a time, and now was back on the police force again training other officers in self-defense. He started the mat portion of the seminar by asking, “I’m 6’2” and weigh 240lbs. Do any of you think you could take me?” And the small group of church women just stared at him in stunned silence. He told us that he was not going to make the exercises easy for us. He promised us that we wouldn’t get hurt, but said he wasn’t going to either let go of us, or go down to make us feel good. He said he wanted us to know that if it were a real situation, we could really, truly get away from someone who had grabbed us. The only way we would know that fur sure would be to know that our practice sessions were are real as possible. And that meant that he wasn’t going to make it unrealistically easy for us. I was surprised and thrilled to discover that I did have a slim chance against an attacker that was bigger and stronger than me. (I managed to flip the instructor). I loved the sense of confidence and strength I walked away with after just that very basic practice in self-defense. The Jedi had asked me many times over the past few months if I would be interested in taking Tae Kwon Do classes with him. I always said no. I explained I would never be able to do the sparring practice. I would be, I was sure, too timid, too small, too wimpy for Tae Kwon Do. But after that Saturday class, I was ready to try the martial arts.

My first class was on a Tuesday. It was really, really physically demanding. I’m just not used to that amount of sustained activity level. Nevertheless, I kept up pretty well and was proud and excited about my accomplishment. The next day, however, I woke up and felt like I wasn’t going to be able to lift myself out of bed. I dragged myself through the day with the aid of motrin, and wondered whatever possessed me to put myself through that. I’m not sure I have ever been so muscle sore and tired other than after giving birth. Thursday I was marginally better, but I was still sore and still tired, and thought I would never, ever, make it through class that night. But, I did make it, and did fairly well. I was even more pleased then than I was after the first class. So, we signed me up for two months of classes. My intentions, during VBS week, were to keep up with the stretches and at least some of the forms and exercises so that I wouldn’t be back at square one. I did the stretches on Monday morning, but after that it just didn’t happen. I’m worried that come Tuesday I’ll be back at square one. I’ll try to squeeze in some time tomorrow and Monday to stretch and exercise, but I think even with that, Tuesday is going to be rough.

Next week is our last week of summer vacation. I’m hoping that all our books and curriculum arrive during the week, and that our on-line courses get activated so that we can start school on August 11th. I wasn’t going to put *anything* on our schedule for the week. I’m exhausted and really want the week of down time. But, likely our week will be filled soon enough. As it is, we’re going to the library on Monday, because Toa of Boy won the grand prize drawing for their summer reading program. We’re meeting the children’s librarian at 1pm and she’s going to take his picture and award him a gift certificate for a bike that he gets to pick out (I think from Toys R Us, but I’m not sure.) On Thursday, Sweetling and I are going up to church to help pack up school supply kits for our annual back-to-school give away. We’ll have 250 kits of school supplies that we give away on a first come, first served basis this coming Saturday to families in the area. And one of those days I want to get together with my friend Christopher Robin and watch a movie or just hang out. So, there’s three of my five “non-scheduled” days already booked out. Oh, and I want to let Sweetling have an end-of-summer sleepover. I don’t really want to do that on Friday night, but I don’t know what other night would work. Maybe Monday? Maybe Saturday and we could take the girls to church with us on Sunday. At any rate, last week of summer vacation for our family.

And, because you’re my good friend, I’ll tell you a secret I haven’t fessed up to anyone else yet. (Of course, since I’ll be posting this on my blog soon, the rest of my friends will find out soon enough.) For the past few weeks, on a fairly regular basis, I have been having the most vivid dreams about foster care. They’ve made me wake up nearly every morning really wishing there was a way we could become foster parents again. In each dream, I’m like an outside observer in the life of a child or a pair of siblings. I know so many details about them. I’ve witnessed what they’ve been through, I know their personalities and their hopes and fears. They each have a name, a face, a history that is so real and so known to me in the dream. And in each dream, these little children are being placed in the state foster care. And I know how desperately they need a loving family and a good home…and then I always wake up before I learn where they have been placed. Now, before we adopted Toa of Boy, we were discussing and praying about whether to pursue an international or domestic adoption. The Jedi, at one time, was leaning toward domestic. But, after having to deal with the process of foster care and social workers and agencies and forms and weekly visits and appointments and lack of any authority or say *I* had in the process and in the bureaucracy when Vaya was with us, I was very, very resistant to considering going back down that path again. I eventually came to a place of surrendering to God’s will through a great deal of tearful prayer, but three years ago, I just wasn’t ready to go through that again. Now though, now that I’m having these recurring dreams and I feel like I know and love these children who need a home, now I want to pursue foster care again. We can’t right now. We simply don’t have a bed or a bedroom to put another child in. So, why am I having these dreams if I can’t act on them?

And now, I need to go give Toa of Boy a bath and get him tucked into bed. It’s 8:23 and his bedtime is supposed to be 8:30. Let me know what happens with your interview for that teaching position!

Your long lost friend ;)

1 comment:

Impossible Mom said...

good update. Towards the end Vaya and the jedi's name got used a few times, Might want to edit that. I think the jedi was like 3 instances ;)