Friday, November 21, 2014

The Signers and the Non-Signers

Once upon a time, I was the kind of parent who signed her child's school paper every single night - just as the teacher asked. But then one day, I just stopped. I didn't stop caring about my child's progress, I guess I just got tired of signing.

That day was towards the end of Connor's first grade year. I like to think I was pretty much the most kick-ass-paper-signer-of-all-time up to that point. And then I just fell apart. I remember realizing it when I looked in his notebook and had to flip back quite a few pages to find my last signature.

I was sorting papers in Helen's class a few weeks ago. And I have to admit, as good as I was at signing stuff when Connor was in first grade, these parents put me to shame. Many of them signed not just the box marked "parent initials", they signed their full name next to each line of the paper. They, by the way, are all parents of first born children.

Poor Helen, she never even got to witness all my kick-ass-signing glory. As I was sorting papers and got to hers, I and noticed this. It's not that I don't care - I just fail to sign.

Helen is super proud of the forgery, and occasionally requests that I not sign, even though I now try and sign the paper before she turns it in each Friday. Sometimes, Helen asks Connor to sign. When I texted this photo to my sister and mom, my sister wrote back "looks like she's pretty close to Ed's", which of course made me laugh out loud while I was volunteering in the class.

Good thing I know the teacher well. Otherwise, she might request Helen bring another parent to class with her!


Thursday, November 20, 2014


Connor hit upon the game Pokemon a few months ago, and he's been playing with friends, Ed, and occasionally Helen and I whenever he gets a chance. I actually don't mind the game, but my favorite part is not actually part of the game at all.

For the uninitiated, it's a card game where you draw Pokemon, that come with special fighting powers and abilities to fend off attacks and evolve into strong Pokemon. The names of the moves can be things like "stretch kick", "spiral drain", "ice ball", "spit poison", "powder snow"... The first time I played, I just presumed this was some weird theater game, so of course I pretended to be the Pokemon, and would try and act out the various moves. This thought had never entered Connor or Ed's mind, so they had failed to incorporate any crazy acting into the game at all. And in fact, when Connor tried to act out a move on Ed, Ed thought he was being a little rude. I, of course, confidently said "that's the whole point of the game". Which of course, it is not, but it still makes the game a lot more fun.

Even though Helen does not possess the level of reading skills required to play the game, she enjoys it anyway. Last night, she leaned over Ed's shoulder and created her own move - the "power cough". I almost fell over I was laughing so hard. Ed was a little concerned about the germ spread, but that's what makes it a powerful move, right?*

Now...I want to start making my own Pokemon cards with powers Helen or I deem awesome. It's going to add a whole new dimension to the game.


*Connor did come down with a high fever and ear infection following this great move, which may or may not be related to the move.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Season Ending Hike

As mentioned last Wednesday, a week ago Sunday, we should have been coming back from a camping trip. But by the time we settled on where we wanted to go, the campsites were full. No matter, Ed had a friend from high school in town, so he met him and another friend from back in the day out, while I caught up on some reading after putting the kids to bed.

But Sunday, we took advantage of what would turn out to be among the last really pleasant fall days. For at least a week now, it's been hovering around and below 30 when I run in the morning, and the day's aren't getting that warm either.

Old Rag, a hike that started the summer with a challenge, is getting to be old hat for the kids. I can't believe I haven't posted photos before now, but here are a few shots captured with the iPhone. Crappy photos, to be sure. But good memories all the same.

After the hike, I ran along the tow-path back to the car so I could meet the kids and Ed a little further on down the trail, letting Connor and Helen avoid the trek back to the car. No need to ruin a great hike with pushing it just a little too far.

Until Spring, Old Rag.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We Never Eat Science

Helen received a gift subscription of Little Passports from my mom for her birthday. This month, the packet took us to South Dakota. One of the items in the packet was a science experiment to better understand erosion, which was discussed in the context of the Badlands.

The experiment called for dropping different amounts of water on Skittles to see what happens. Before we started, Helen admonished Connor and I saying "we never eat science". This, of course, is not true, since we eat science every time we bake, so I asked Helen where she got that idea from.

It is a rule in her first grade class.

And in a first grade classroom, that rule makes a lot of sense.

Several hours later, our Skittles have nearly eroded away entirely, except the purple one which was doused with the fewest drops of water. I'm wondering if it will hang on until morning. And luckily, because we never eat science, I will get to find out!

This started out as four Skittles that did not touch each other.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The turkey family grows

Over the weekend, our turkey family grew by two. The number of needle felting injuries grew by one, as did the number of children in my home with an ear infection (Helen), and the number of children sporting a fever high enough to stay home for the day (Connor). The number of children who now have a second song memorized on her violin also grew by one. Hopefully I'll capture it on video tomorrow.


Sunday, November 16, 2014


Helen, holding one of the roughly 300 American Girl catalogs that will find our mailbox over the next month: "How is it even possible that I did not see this arrive in the mail?"

Me: "Because as soon as I saw it in the mail, I buried it in the recycling bin hoping you wouldn't find it."

But, of course, Helen's radar for that thing is very strong. And now, her willingness to look through the recycling bin has been increased about a hundredfold.

Dear Grandma,

Helen would like everything in the catalog. I know, because she has been pouring over it the past two days, marking ONLY the very best items. It's hard to find something without the signaling mark on it.

Your daughter / daughter-in-law


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Piano Recital

Connor had his first piano recital today. It was absolutely wonderful to hear him play in front of a crowd, and to think back on all the recitals I played at during my childhood. I remember one particularly traumatic one where I had worked very hard on a piece, and a note that is played over and over in the piece was a sticky key on the day of the recital. It sounded awful, but I was too shy to tell my piano teacher what was going on. I was the first performer, and so proud to get to be that performer.

The next student was a much older student, and she immediately realized what was wrong, stopped playing, flagged the teacher over, and then the teacher worked to fix it along with a couple of parents (my teacher was around 80 years old at this point and about 4 feet tall - so mucking around inside a grand piano was physically almost impossible for her).

I got to play again, and was so relieved.

Nothing like that happened today. I know my sister and parents would've loved to been here, but the timing just didn't work out. Here's the recording.


Friday, November 14, 2014

View from a parent of younger aged kids - My Niece and Her Sleepless Fake Baby

My oldest niece is taking a class in high school that involved her taking a baby doll home that attempts to simulate having an actual baby. It cries in the middle of the night, can be impossible to settle, has multiple needs that can be met- which the caretaker must guess at. Importantly (and unlike any real baby I know), it gets taken back to the teacher after one night. I have no idea if the exercise is mandatory or voluntary. I do know my sister and niece were awakened multiple times in the middle of the night, everyone is exhausted the night the 'baby' was at their house, and they agreed in the morning that nobody in their house ever wanted one of those things again.

Which of course made me ponder - is this even a remotely reasonable exercise?

No, is my conclusion.

The exercise operates on the assumption that teens are choosing to have babies, or are more careless about having protected sex than they otherwise would be if they knew how disruptive a baby is. Of course, we know that most teen pregnancies are not planned, and I'm betting money few teens decide to have protected sex or abstain from having sex because of a one night stand with a doll. To me, it seems a lot like an exercise in sleep deprivation with little to no benefit.

I told my sister I hoped her teen was not so tired the next day that she ended up having unprotected sex because she couldn't think straight.

I also wrote to my sister "Mark my words - if Helen brings one of those things home in her teen years, I'm sending a note back to the teacher letting her know we've discussed birth control and the "baby' is sleeping outside. This whole thing just sounds awful to me. I might also include a note to the teacher letting her know I have PTSD from a non-sleeping baby that was in my care."

And immediately, I recognized that statement as exactly what it was. A mom with a younger child who can't actually know what it's like to have a teen, saying something that would be forgotten as soon as the fake baby lands in her own home.

So I'm writing it down, just so my sister can make fun of me when I'm up all night with a fake baby!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Number NINE!

I can't believe I failed to post on Connor's  birthday. But then, things were busy, and I guess I just never got around to it. In any case, Connor turned nine and is now on the brink of double digits. It's almost more than I can bear to think about. He's still perfectly snugly, but he's also developing a bit of an edge - often deployed on Ed.

Last year, Connor had a sleepover birthday party. We started with a Nerf gun fight, followed by a pinata and a treasure hunt, and then the boys proceeded to nearly drive Ed completely nuts by barely being willing to contemplate sleep.

Connor had a ball.

He wanted to do it all over again.

Ed and I decided we'd buy him out of that dream. The price? An evening rental of the Game Truck. When the website says "mom's love Game Truck because it's easy", they are not lying. It was super easy. I met the boys after school, paraded them down the street to our home, offered them a snack which they ignored, and then shut them in the dark playing video games for the next two hours. Ed and I remarked that there's a pretty good chance we actually made the world a worse place.

But...the boys had a ton of fun, and we tried to ease our conscience by having them eat pizza on our deck and then they ran around the backyard, playing a round of Nerf guns. By the time the parents arrived to retrieve their children, all of them had acclimated to natural light again, and were at least reasonably tired out from running around the backyard.

We have a huge array of Nerf guns at this point - but the Vortex Revonix always gets chosen as the house favorite. Because the guns have different ranges, the boys come up with various house rules and a few kids always run around trying to be the referee. They are ignored, of course. I always like to see which boys dig their heels in and insist on getting to use a particular gun, which ones run around like crazy people, whether they are armed or not, which ones try and develop teams, and which ones get tired and start swinging on the tree swing (which, after about 6 years, is finally reaching the point it might need to be replaced).

At the end of the party, Connor's closest friend asked if Connor was going to have another sleepover. come back and run around our backyard anytime you want!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday, Ed

On Sunday, Ed advanced a year in age. We spent the day hiking Old Rag, which has become a favorite outdoor activity of both Connor and Helen. For some reason, their normal instinct of needing to fight about who leads gives way to just enjoying being on the trail and scrambling over rocks without worrying about much else. This is good, not just because I tire of the pointless bickering, but also because some parts of the climb are quite difficult, and they need to focus on not becoming injured.

After our hike, the kids and I went to a dinner with my mom's group, and then we came home and munched on brownies Connor had made before Ed work up that morning. Ed found a bottle of whipped cream in the refrigerator, which made the brownie consumption all the more exciting.

Happy birthday, Ed.