7 weeks

Well, this is the first Thursday I soundly missed my 11 am target. It was, of course, because I did not write my post. My Wednesday was busy! I hope you forgive me friends. I did manage to pull of the discipline for at least 7 weeks. I think it’s a great habit for me, and feel like I’ve been writing more, and more enjoyably.

Part of my posting delinquency has to do with a lack of good topics. So in lieu of actual good writing, I’ll give you a grab bag of thoughts.

1) My boys are in an awesome spot
Grey and Thane have just been rock stars this week, in the behavior zone. I was prepped for a horrible week of “What do you mean I have to go to school every day” following five consecutive Mondays out of school. But no! I’ve had children doing homework without being told the minute they get home. I’ve had children cleaning their rooms when asked. There’s been cheerful chores doing, tremendous snuggles, and book reading. I don’t know what happened to MY children, but man I’m sure enjoying the kids I have this week.

I was trying to think of a good way to thank Grey for his behavior tonight, without including junk food. Adam is doing aikido again (yay for him!) and so I had the kids myself. I picked up Grey and asked how his day was “Awesome!” and his homework situation (done at the Y!!!!). Then I offered him the chance to make the evening meal, with my active support/training and a grocery run if need be. He decided to make omelettes “Like Aunt Andrea made”. We stopped to pick up ham for cubing. (And Lucky Charms. And the tortilla chips I like that Peapod doesn’t carry. And bananas since every single banana I’ve ordered on Peapod for the last month has arrived frozen.) And then Grey sliced the ham and the chives, and I taught him how to make omelettes! Next up: teaching the children how to eat dinner….

2) Imagine how easy our commute will be this spring
All over New England, working parents have been doing rock-paper-scissors over who gets to leave early enough to get to work by 9 am, and who has to drop off the kids and saunter in at the crack of 9:30. (This is an improvement. Last week it was the crack of 10.) I didn’t think anything would make my normal commute look good… but having all the lanes available and the traffic just normal-bad will feel like a vacation. And parking… the lots have been full a lot lately, leaving my carpool to park in a $34 a day lot that’s about 1/3 mile away in 12 degree weather. Getting back to a reliable 3 block walk from a $18 a day lot will feel like a cheaper and easier life! Add in a commute that’s only an hour, and the mind boggles!

3) I don’t understand how a capitalist society can not have gloves for sale right now
I got in a car accident (I was rear-ended by a hit and run driver) last Thursday night. The car is like $999 dollars damaged. (This is how you can tell you have a $1000 deductible.) I was sore, but I’m ok. What was I doing Thursday night? I was driving to Target to buy more ski gloves for my kids because they would lose their limbs if they weren’t firmly attached to their bodies. I don’t blame my kids too much – I always lost gloves too. (Still do sometimes.) But in Target, there were swimsuits. Summer dresses. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk. And not a single warm glove to be found. Seriously, I would give a lot for a store that sold clothes you would be appropriately dressed walking out of the store wearing, and gear that you actually need right now. I simply do not understand how it is effective selling to try to pawn off on me stuff I can hardly imagine using while refusing to sell me things I desperately need. That’s how you get a grown woman on the verge of tears in your aisles after having risked LIFE AND LIMB to get to your store… thumbing up the Amazon app on her phone and picking next day shipping. Do better, Target, and all the other retailers in the US.

4) Lent has begun
By the time Easter arrives, the snow may have muchly melted. It is a time of transformational waiting, and I suspect I will feel that even more than usual as we go from the frozen heart of winter to spring. Six more weeks.

I’m really looking forward to someday going places and doing things again. I’ll be sure to let you know if that ever happens!

High Notes

It’s Holy Week and I am, as usual, late to the music stand with my Easter selections. Every year I go to the same box of music that I’ve had since I was 14. It has a “color printed” word art sheet on the front – done with Lotus Amipro – that says, “Classical Trumpet: It Ain’t No Oxymoron!” This was my way of expressing my individuality and ironically bad grammar as a youth. Shockingly, I was never one of the cool kids…. Anyway, I’ve played Handel or baroque music nearly every Easter for the last five years because: I know it, it sounds great, it goes with the other music nicely, and I own it. I would pretend that I decided this year that my church had been subjected to enough baroque brass music, but in reality I had played through everything I owned that was baroque and not lento and that I could play.

Yes, I did miss my senior prom because it conflicted with my orchestra concert - how did you guess?

I really wish the publishers would come out with a book called, “Really Flashy Awesome Easter Music for Trumpet Players Who Play Twice a Year But Were Good Once”. I would buy that book, and love it forever.

What I settled on were some Sacred Harp tunes – which are not really THAT Eastery, but at least provide some variety from “The Trumpet Shall Sound”.

By the way, you’re all invited to my church this Sunday for our Easter celebration (with pancake breakfast starting at 9!). I’ll have some awesome music! (If I learn it in time and have a good lip day). And your reasons for not coming because you’re heathen/pagan/on another coast/bursting into flame when you enter a church… well, they can stop you if you don’t WANT to come, but we’ll welcome you all the same if you secretly DO want to come.

I didn’t feel like I had quite enough material in my “complaining about Easter repertoire” up there to make it’s own post, plus I’m about 6 posts behind in my head, so I though I’d throw in a picture that – on another day – I might turn into a vast discussion.

In truth, I’m endlessly amused by the stuff Grey draws. It goes from heartwarming (two happy smiling characters, labeled “Rich” and “Poor” cheerfully exchanging a full bag of coins), to funny (like the favorite animal as the hydra one), to extremely nerdy. The other day he came home with this “board game”. He made it at afterschool. The design and drawing are his, and he made clay tokens to represent the players. I took quite an extensive video of him explaining it to his beaming father. In this picture you can see the game board, the three auxiliary cards and the clay figures.

Grey's Game
Grey's Game

OK, I’m off to go ice my lips!

Epochal Days

This weekend a big milestone occurred.

This happened
This happened

My sons live in a slightly hilly town with lots of things that are in biking distance. A 7 year old could get to school, to libraries, bookstores, soccer fields, swimming pools, ice rinks and playgrounds. A teenager could ride to the woods, to the T, to many parks, aikido dojos and other areas of as-yet-unknown great interest. Actually, a moderately ambitious bike rider could probably make it to an IMAX theater. When we go camping, most of the kids bring their bikes and spend their time until dark whizzing around the even, partially paved, quite safe roads of the campground. To sum up: my kids need to have bikes, and they need to know how to use them.

Now, I’d wanted to get Grey a bike last year, but my husband thought he was too young. But that argument timed out, so yesterday I walked with Grey down to the local bike store, where Grey chose the very first bike he was shown, it is a silver and green Schwinn.

Happy cold kids
Happy cold kids

Of course, Thane might actually spontaneously combust if his brother got cool new transportation and he was left behind, so I decided to do a two-fer and get him a trike. May I just say, for the record, that trikes have come a long way since my day?

The handle makes for easy cross-generational mobility
The handle makes for easy cross-generational mobility

We went to a local parking lot and went around in satisfied circles. It was awesome, with the bright sunshine and biting winds.

I have a lot of memories of bicycles. Riding on the back of my parents’ bike. The trike I had when I was four in Merced. The beautiful wine-colored 10 speed Schwinn that brought me anywhere in all of Prosser. That was the best bike ever. I flew like a bird. I went everywhere, with complete liberty, on that bike. Ask me sometime about the time my sister and I got epically lost in the Tri-cities, in the wrong time on the wrong side of the river. Turns out you should NEVER trust my sister with directions. That’s a tip, folks.

As I watched my sons speed (see also: snails) around the parking lot I thought about when I STOPPED bicycling. For years I thought it was when we moved to Mineral. There was a) nowhere to go b) no sidewalks c) narrow winding roads with big log trucks. But I know that I did take the red Schwinn into town to Dick’s Store. When I really stopped was when my sister nearly killed herself on a bicycle. Wear your helmets, folks. If you admire my sister’s intellect, it is likely that such intellect was only preserved by a bike helmet that completely split in two after a high speed wreck that required extensive repair. And I don’t think the bike made it at all. When I think about it, I’m surprised I have the courage to start my sons on a two-wheeled path. But life is full of rewards, risks and odds.

And this is worth having.

Brothers in adventure
Brothers in adventure

Aikido kid

Last night my husband and I took advantage of the phenomenon known as “visiting grandparent” and went to see the new Jackie Chan “Karate Kid”. My beloved spouse was possibly less than enthused and set a minimum threshold for Rotten Tomatoes approval levels, which it just barely cleared. So off we went!

It was a tough story to watch from a parent’s point of view – to see a kid struggling and hurting and unwilling to ask from help from his mother. You hope you’ll never be as powerless to stop your child’s pain, but chances are excellent that you will — even if it isn’t Kung-fu master bullies. Anyway. It was not nearly as good as “Drunken Master”, is all I have to say.

It was less than 12 hours from Karate Kid to Aikido Kid. Grey has been doing Aikido, a defensive martial art since fall — before he turned 4. I’ve really enjoyed what it teaches him. You learn mostly by observation — there isn’t a lot of “talk” in the class. But the Sensei, Michael Baron brings an excellent mix of fun, humor and intimidation to the mat. The kids are expected to sit still and pay attention. They’re expected to run, jump and roll. They adore the “flaming sword of death”. They’re expected to follow rules and instructions. They’re getting VERY good at “Sensei Says”. And sometimes? Sensei cheats. That’s actually one of my favorite lessons…. that life isn’t always fair. What do you do when someone else has advantages you don’t? What do you do if everything has been carefully orchestrated to be perfectly fair your whole life, and then you get in a situation where it’s not?

Anyway, Grey had logged enough hours to test for his first belt, the yellow stripe. (Note: in grownup aikido you don’t get colored belts. There are two colors: white and black. You earn black when you’ve worked long enough that your previously white belt has finally turned black with age and sweat and dirt. But for the kids they bow to societal pressure.) But suddenly, after several months of enjoying it, he started not wanting to go. We explained he needed to practice hard for his test? He balked. I asked more questions, trying to figure out why he didn’t want to go. Finally he said, “I wish there less love about Aikido”. After waffling for a little while, we suddenly remembered he’s FOUR YEARS OLD and doesn’t need any pressure. So we told him he didn’t have to test and he could just go watch his friends take their tests.

There they were: four tiny figures on the mat. They warmed up and did some of their practices. Then Sensei asked who was ready to test, and Grey raised his hand. And test he did. He did shiko and rolls. He counted to five in Japanese. He knew tsuki, shomenuchi, kaiten, tenshin, tenkan, and several other techniques. (Note: I don’t pretend to know how to spell these terms.) He bowed appropriately. And he did very well!

When he got off the mat, he was a yellow stripe. I asked him how he felt. “I feel proud of myself.” Being proud of yourself is the greatest accomplishment you can earn, son. I’m proud of you too.

The aikido class
The aikido class

Dribs and Drabs

Seriously, when did he get old enough to build towers?
Seriously, when did he get old enough to build towers?

Grey: believes that anything can become a joke with a combination of three elements: “knock knock”, chicken, and Barack Obama

Thane: Somehow learned how to build with blocks and spent half an hour last night amazing me with his Mega-block-abilities

Grey: has finally found a lovey. It’s a $4 white rabbit named “Robby” that was in his Easter basket. Robby did not do well with being washed. Grey will tell you about how Robby’s a baby, but now he’s old (with his bedraggled fur). Why do children not fall in love with their high quality stuffed animals?

Thane: likes to eat corn. One kernel at a time. After carefully inspecting each kernel to verify that yes, this is a piece of corn. His fastidiousness in this regard would be more understandable if he didn’t consider grass an aperitif and leaves a delightful dinner.

Grey: has decided his favorite food in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD OMG is the spaghetti & meatballs I made for dinner on Sunday. Canned sauce (with onions & green peppers added) and IKEA meatballs. But hey, it’s nutritionally slightly superior to Mac & Cheese, so no whining.

Thane: is too busy playing to play with meeeeee! I am sad about this and want to bop noses to make him laugh.

Grey: Learned some good skills on a playdate last night, about asking for what you want, compromising, and talking people into sharing instead of sulking.

Mommy: wishes she were hanging out with her guys right now.

Playing 'together'
Playing 'together'