Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ah, Wilderness!

So, I left for vacation determined to finish up all my current knitting projects so I would be free to start new ones when I got home.

That didn't happen. Where does a dream go when it dies, anyway?

Lewis and Clark ran across this sort of thing all the time, I'm sure

We're back from 10 days of camping in the Maine wilderness (well, if the definition of wilderness includes a campground with ice cream cones every night, pastries in the morning, and bathrooms to die for), and I wish I had paid someone, anyone, to come to my house and take ALL THE CRAP out of it before we returned.  Because, really, we had all the clothes and stuff we needed while we were camping, so what are all these extra things still doing here, anyway?

Says the woman who dragged a neighbor's discarded bookcase and large wicker basket in from the curb this afternoon...

Anyway, the trip - it was marvelous. I mean, mostly marvelous. You know how personal injury lawyers chase ambulances? Well, divorce lawyers couldn't do better than to hang around family campgrounds and hand out business cards.  Particularly during set-up and take-down. And those days in between...

Where was I? Oh, yes, the trip.  We did 3 hikes (South Bubble, Pemetic, and Beech Cliff, for you Acadia National Park fans), 3 family bicycle rides (which, I swear, required more planning and preparation than landing Allied troops on that beach in Normandy), and Larry even had time to canoe and kayak with Rachel.  What's more, Brian got his own tent and was thus able to stand being with us for 2 whole weeks.

Teens are fun, right? FUN.

So now I am back home, trying to figure out what to do with the mess we left behind and attempting to gear up for the school year, which is bearing down on us with all the delicacy of a Cat 5 hurricane. Gearing up includes having Rachel finish her standardized tests that were supposed to be completed by the end of July, so I can legally homeschool her again.

See? I'm behind, and we haven't even started the school year yet.  This does not bode well.

I think I'll go throw some more stuff out, while Larry isn't watching.  Also, I believe I'm supposed to be providing something other than ice cream cones for dinner now. Although, for the life of me, I cannot think why...

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Don't Let Me Agree To This Next Year

It's late, I need to get to bed because we are supposed to get up at the crack of dawn to finish loading the car and hit the road, I'm tired as all get-out - but I need to blog RIGHT NOW so that I remember just how hellish this day-before-vacation was.  Errands, Anna leaving for college (and God bless the friend who helped drive her things down, no way I could have done it today), Larry being called in to work unexpectedly, the girls apparently having none of the right clothes to pack, my realizing after dinner that I still had to EMPTY THE REFRIGERATOR....

Let's just say it wasn't pretty.  I was tossing out plastic containers full of food, left and right, without even stopping to photograph them. What a tragic waste, both of comestibles and of a decent blog post, right?

Larry the workaholic redeemed himself by dealing with the 3-week-old fettucine.  I knew there was a reason I married that man.

Has anyone noticed? Rachel turned 13 last week. THIRTEEN. That means that she wasn't all that enthusiastic about having to help with a million things all day, ranging from cutting up the watermelon to going outside to pull the recycling and trash cans around front.  Granted, all 3 kids are still adjusting to David's being gone; they are still in the process of figuring out that his absence means more work for everyone left behind.

Rachel is thirteen.  You know, Larry and I have been dreading that particular milestone for 9 years, ever since Anna was apparently kidnapped by extraterrestrials on her 13th birthday and replaced for several years with an alienated teen clone. The special day itself passed undramatically, but there has been a definite uptick in attitude around here. You would think I would be immune to it, but no.  No one is immune to the disgust emanating from a put-upon teen girl. NO ONE.

By the way, Rachel's cake wasn't this fancy.  In fact, I forgot to buy candles, so she had to settle for a numeral 5 and a numeral 4 paired up with 4 individual candles.  Get it? It adds up to 13.

Yup, we made her do math on her birthday.

So yeah, today was a mess. I'm exhausted, Larry's exhausted, and we still have to load the car, attach the camper, close up the house, and drive at least 9 1/2 hours tomorrow. Pray for us - we'll need it.

[Cake image: Pinterest]

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Be Prepared

Quiz: what do 2 kids moving out to college, plus 2 birthdays, plus preparing for a 12-day camping trip look like?

A. 2.4 gazillion trips to Target
B. A lot of pizza for dinner
C. A house that looks as though it threw up on itself
D. All of the above

If you guessed the answer was D, congratulations! If you didn't, well, never mind.  I don't want to hear about how organized you are.

Larry came home last night and said, "So, have you been getting ready for our trip?"

12 days worth, right?
"Sure," I said. "I've figured out which projects I'm bringing, downloaded a few extra patterns in case I change my mind, and inventoried my needles to make sure I have the right ones.  I'm missing a size, but no worries - I can make it to the yarn store tomorrow."

He kept looking at me, so I said, "Did I forget anything?"

"I guess I was hoping you'd say something about clothes or food," he said.

Men - they just need to get their priorities straight.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015


I forgot that I promised last week to tell y'all about Brian's job search.  You see, he's always been the entrepreneur of the family, making money hauling garbage cans around front for the older ladies of the neighborhood, watering neighborhood plantings, mulching and weeding people's yards.  And it's a good thing, because this kid NEEDS money.  Those Legos aren't going to buy themselves, you know.

Brian's preferred work environment

Anyway, lately he's been saying he is sick of weeding people's yards and wants a real job - one with air conditioning and maybe an employee discount.  At the local movie theater, say.  Only, he's just 15, which makes it difficult.  Most places won't hire a 15-year-old, because of the restrictions on how many hours they can work during the week.  Never mind that he is a homeschooler, these rules still apply.

So I drove him to a local grocery store which will sometimes hire 15-year-olds to bag groceries. He went in to talk to the manager, while I trailed him into the store at the required mom distance and headed over to Produce to wait for him. I noted that he paused at the entrance of the store to allow an older woman to precede him through the door.  "Good," I thought. "My son knows not to knock down little old ladies.  That's something."

I've been raising teens for a while, people.  The bar, it has been lowered.

So, after 10 minutes, Brian joined me in Produce. "Well?" I asked him. "Did they give you a job?"

"I'm too young," he reported. "There's a small chance they might use me just for weekends, but I have to come back when the hiring manager is here."

We turned to go and were approached by a woman, the same one who Brian had waited for at the entrance. "Are you his mother?" she said. "I just want you to know that I think this young man is very polite.  He was so pleasant to me when we were coming in!"

"Well, thank you," I said, glancing at Brian, who was looking embarrassed. "That's always nice to hear."

"You know," she continued, "He mentioned he was here looking for a job. I really need someone like him to do some yard work at my house.  Let me just give you my number..."

I managed not to laugh, but, as soon as we got into the car, I yelled at Brian, "You got the WRONG JOB!" And Larry and I followed him around all that evening chanting, "Destiny! Destiny! No escaping destiny!" in our best Gene Wilder voices.

I can't imagine why he pretends not to know who we are anymore.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Parental Abandonment

Larry drove David to college today.  I know, I should be used to this by now, but truly it isn't the grown teen I am missing.  You see, the problem is that, when a grown teen walks out that door for college, the cute toddler he used to be goes with him.  Oh, I miss that little guy! So my couch is currently strewn with photo albums full of pictures of David, at age 2 and 3 and 4, looking exactly the same as he does now, only trapped in a body that is much shorter and rounder.

It's sort of like Muppet Babies, you know?

Anyway, I felt like grabbing him as he headed to the car and saying, "You do know how much you've meant to me, don't you?" But I didn't, because he doesn't.  He never will.  Parenting, although it has its rewards, is still somewhat of a one-way relationship.  And that's okay.  Most days, anyway.

There was MORE than this.
The past week David spent packing and attempting to clean out his room.  Remember, David is the family packrat.  The engineer/artist in him sees a potential use in everything, which prevents him from consigning anything to the trash can.  Somehow, despite all this, he managed to cull out and pack the essentials, box up for the attic other items he wasn't ready to part with, and generally clean out his desk, dresser, and closet.  It helped that he and Larry had spent an entire day a few weekends ago going through David's collection of defunct computer parts and disposing of them.  (Believe me, when you have a techie kid, EVERYONE gives him their leftover electronics.) 

The resemblance was remarkable

But last night, late, he turned to me and said, "My room isn't quite cleaned out." Now David, if I haven't mentioned it before, is a master of understatement, so I knew I was in trouble.  And it's true - a cursory inspection this morning told me that I have some work to do in there.  But not today. Today is for looking at old photos and wondering where the heck all that time went. Today is for remembering how, at age 3, that kid looked and sounded EXACTLY like Tweety Bird - big head, tiny body, and a speech impediment that had him saying "tat" for "cat."  Today is for reminiscing about all the times David, aeronautics aficionado that he was/is, patiently explained to me the principles of flight (apparently, it isn't magic, as I had supposed).

Today, above all, is for wondering how we will make it to December without David around to fix all our stuff.  I picture him coming home for Christmas and finding us regressed to living like cavemen, reading by candle light and cooking over open fires, as our computers and tablets sit silently with darkened screens, passwords irretrievable, software out-of-date.  The floor under the Christmas tree will be bare, devoid of gifts, due to my inability to log onto Amazon. His younger siblings will run to him and cling to his legs, pleading desperately with him not to leave them again with their technology-impaired parents.

Yeah, we're scared we can't handle life without him. What of it?

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