Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Camping Trip in Photos

Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other

I haven’t done a decent update in awhile. I have a huge list of blog topics, but a lack of time to actually write them. And for me it is kind of like a snowball effect. It starts out little, and then as time goes on the snowball gets bigger and bigger as it threatens to run me over. Maybe I have been run over. In some effort to start new after being run over, I will try and get caught up, let's see how I do.

Major Purchase:

We bought a travel trailer in early May. AB and I love camping, we both grew up camping, we want our kids to enjoy camping. But I have reached a point where a dome tent with two kids and two dogs on an air mattress just takes all pleasure out of it. Over the last few years we have identified what exactly we want in a trailer and this spring we surprised ourselves and pulled the trigger. We had been looking for used 4-season bunkhouses and knew what was reasonable to pay for them. Last fall we negotiated on a used unit, but gave up when they failed to negotiate more than $500 lower off the sticker price. This spring we bought a new one for that same price.

We have taken the trailer out twice, and the kids love it. We are still learning it, but after our first longer trip (3 nights this past Memorial Day weekend) we have it pretty well figured out. And I am even getting good with my handsigns. AB is even better at interpreting my handsigns.

We weren’t actually quite where we wanted to be financially before buying it. But in the last year I have given a lot of thought to what living means. I look at my mom’s life and while she had a good life, I look at the things left undone. The things she hoped to accomplish. No one knows our fate. But I have embraced living more in the last year. Taking off and doing the things we want to do instead of just talk about them. I want my kids to love the outdoors and to tramp around the forests like my sister and I did as kids as well as AB and his family did, and have those experiences that we both remember so fondly. I have to make that happen. Purchasing the trailer is making that happen for us.

And my 16 year old self is so laughing at me for “RV’ing”.


Leif is wrapping up his last year at the Montessori school he has been at since he was one year old. 6 years here, the end of a legacy of sorts. Wah. My baby Is growing up.

Leif is so very excited to move on to bigger and better things, though he is so very tentative. He really isn't sure about this whole riding the bus without me thing. He will be in public first grade this coming fall. This summer he is looking forward to some science camps at the local branch university and Adventure camp through our health club.

Leif is such a sweet, loving, tender hearted little boy. Poor kid doesn’t understand girls at all and is constantly confounded by them. He surprises me daily with the things he knows and remembers.

The other day Leif and one of his friends was playing at the park as Skadi practiced TBall. I looked over and saw him crawling up the outside of the slide tube. When I went over to him I asked him if that was very safe. He thought for a bit and then replied, “No, but it was impressive.”

We opened a 529 account for the kids awhile back and because I am a geek I maintain a spreadsheet that forecasts the funds growth on a quarterly basis. I set it up and forecasted out and then calculated the year that Leif will go to college. When I realized that I didn’t have to scroll down 3 pages to get to that year it made me a bit ill. My baby is growing up. College is only one Excel page view of quarters away! GAH!


Oh Skadi Skadi Skadi. My sweet little girl… sometimes. The other time she is something else.

We are struggling with Skadi in preschool, out of preschool, through the night… What can I say? It’s darn good that she is as cute as she is! I contemplated last week pulling her out of the Montessori preschool she has been at for three years now. I was *this* close to pulling the trigger. Then AB went in and talked with the teachers a bit and we decided to sit in the holding pattern for a bit. See how things go through the summer.

I talk and talk to that child.

“You had fun on your McDonalds field trip, right?” (She agrees.) “If you don’t behave you will continue to lose field trips and won’t be able to go do these fun things.” (She agrees to be good.)

She is a smart girl. She is pretty mouthy – the other day threats looming that she was bordering upon losing the “Beach Party Day” at school she dared to tell her teachers they could go ahead and take away the privilege from her, she didn’t care, because she planned to tell her mommy to keep her home and we would have our own party and not invite them, so there.


And no, that is so not happening.

She is quick on her feet with her words, but reminds me a lot of my grandmother when she talks, “betend” is “pretend”. “Yesternight” is last night. “Two-head” is still forehead.

This weekend while camping I went over and started poking (or in AB’s words, “fiddling”) with the campfire. My husband is a bit particular about his campfires and with the wet weather this weekend, he had his work cut out for him. Skadi sees me and said, “"Mom, hurry up fiddling with the fire before daddy gets back and sees you!"

The other day Skadi came out of the bathroom and announced, “Mom, I think I am finally old enough to learn how to pee like a boy.”

And then there are days unlike the start of this section where I so agree with her and know she is my daughter, “Leif: "I want to listen to Les Miserables, the Battle Scene in Act 2."
Skadi: "I want to listen to Dancing Queen."


AB recently had the joy of jury duty. I have always wanted to serve on a jury panel. Yes, seriously. My friends and coworkers look at me like I am nuts when I say this. But for some reason I would like to see first hand our legal system in action. After AB was on a jury panel for a week he can unequivocally say that there is little "action" and that he hopes to never have to rely on our judicial system.

Anyways, I was still jealous. He actually got picked after offering up every reason why he shouldn’t… “I know the prosecutor”, “I work at the same place as the defendant and he looks familiar to me”, “I don’t want to serve, but I know it is my civil duty” (among a group of people who said they did want to serve nonetheless)… but alas he was picked and got to hear abuse stories that still make him cringe. Yeah, maybe I don't want to serve on a jury... I have a friend that served on one about a farmer stealing another one's goats - and a friend's wife who served on a jury about poaching of eagles... nope, AB got a real nasty one.


My work. Blah.

It’s hard to get very enthused about it when people around me are struggling to find enough work to prevent themselves from being laid off. I am normally in a position to help people out a bit, but this FY, not so. I don’t have much buffer myself. I have even set up an Excel sheet to plan out my upcoming work to make sure I can cover myself. I may be embracing 3-day weekends this summer more than I have in the past.

One of my topics on my list to blog about is the whole “best friend” at work thing. We do these polls that estimate our happiness as a group with our place of employment. Historically my group scores high, which is pretty cool. One of the questions on the poll asks if you have a best friend at work. For years I have been in a position to answer yes to that simply because one of my best friends works here, though I have never had the occasion to work with her. The fact still remains that I have a best friend at work.

In the last few months I have actually had occasion to fully embrace the notion of having a best friend at work in the context of the question. What they want to know is do you have someone you work with that you can go and talk to about what is going on. Sure my good friend down in the other building, who I can’t actually talk to about what I do on a daily basis qualifies to a certain degree. As do the couple of women in my hallway who I can go and talk about daycare or restaurants or hotels, but once again have never really actually worked with them. In the last year I have found my best friends at work… two unassuming guys I work with regularly that I don’t think anyone would really peg them as my “best friends”. But the last 6 months or so they have heard me whine, bitch, cry and complain – and I have heard it from them too. Ok, so they don’t cry. And I only almost cried once.

It’s a big step for me actually. I work on a lot of varied projects with lots of different people and rarely a single core group as so many people do. I get good reviews from people and word of mouth (I believe) is why I am not short on work right now when so many people I know are. I have gotten to know a lot of different people and get called up to do lots of varied projects. I have talked with the two about teaming more regularly and we have a few concepts in the pipeline. I enjoy working with them, appreciate their strong work ethics and we work well as a team. What more could you ask for?

There is a lot of tension here as work is becoming more scarce. Project work has become competitive when jobs are suddenly at stake. While I am funded right now, it is the end of the fiscal year that scares the daylights out of me. Most of my “little” projects wrap up between now and then due to either lack of funding or meeting our completion date. I have a big proposal that was sent out to my least favorite client this morning. One of the guys I wrote the proposal with told me last week that the program manager was already telling him congratulations on it. So I am crossing my fingers that project comes through, though I fully expect another CR and thus actual money won’t arrive until well into FY12 I am sure.

Work… eh, it’s ok. But AB and I have started talking… wonder what else is out there? Where in the world could we wander to? Do we want to live here forever and ever?


Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Yes typically speaking about this time of year my goals start going by the wayside. Summer is just hard to maintain that “do the work around the house” attitude when we have so much we are doing outside and the days are long.

As of today though the quilt is very nearly ready to haul down to the long arm to be quilted. That will be my big checkmark.

AB cleaned the garage pretty well… I intended to help. And I intended to get down and dirty by digging out every last little remnant and adorning the garage with plastic bins and random storage notions.

Well the garage is clean and that is that. My motivation to go out there and work at it more is nill. Not when I have my MIL coming for a visit, a trailer that needs to be cleaned and mopped for the next Father’s Day trip and laundry stacked up to the ceiling upstairs.

June optional goals… if I have time I plan to:

June goal #1 – Think about the outdoor patio kitchen and get some drawings with ideas down on paper.

June goal #2 – detangle my jewelry and figure out something for actual storage of bling that I use on a regular basis.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Yep, I am one of those moms

You know the ones - the ones that share everything hilarious their child says and expects that everyone else will find it every bit as humorous.

Since I have admitted this as a problem, I can embrace it.


Skadi: “Do you know how I got to you?”

Me: “I have an idea...”

Skadi: “God was holding me in his hands like this,” (cups her hands) “and then he said ‘whoops!’ and dropped me into a field of tall grass. You were wandering by and picked me up and said, ‘hmm, I think I will keep this little girl baby’.”

Me: “I remember you being in my tummy.”

Skadi: “I wasn’t finished mom. THEN you cut your tummy open and tucked me in, pulled your tummy back together and taped it up really good until I got too big to be in there, then you RIPPED the tape off and out I came!”



Leif with a pained tone to his voice:

"Mom, I am having trouble. It feels like granvity isn't working on my boxer shorts!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One of "those" parents?

T-ball game. My daughter in her dress, pink leggings and green t-ball shirt is out in the field. Daddy is behind her – about half the parents are out there.

The ball comes straight to Skadi, she has it! Then that other little brat rips it out of her hand! Then my husband pries the ball out of the little brats hand and hands it back to Skadi.

Parents gasp.


We are a proud YMCA sports family. We appreciate their lack of competitiveness among the younger set. We have participated since Leif was Skadi’s age – that would be for going on three years now – and have taken our turns at coaching.

Every team we have participated on before has had a great coach. Caring, fair, kids adore them. When AB has coached we have for the most part had good experiences. As a coach you are volunteering your time for the sake of the kids. It isn’t just a two hour a week obligation (one hour practice and one hour game). Nope, there is organizing the snacks. Calling parents when games are cancelled (this spring there was a lot of that for these coaches). Thinking up drills. Engaging the kids and generally keeping them corralled with help from the parents (you always hope). Organizing the end of the year party. Ordering trophies.

As coaches, we have had a few parents get mad at us. There was the Indoor Soccer team that we cancelled the picture day (team agreed) and decided to do pictures on our own as the picture day was horribly inconvenient. Of course, there was one parent who missed the e-mails and showed up with her son at the appointed place and time. And she was ticked. And gave us an earful. And we took it all the while mumbling, “but we sent 3 e-mails and talked about it at the prior practice and game?!?”

Then we got chewed out this spring because one of the boys last fall was “never contacted”. Umm he was. We e-mailed the e-mail address we were given for every single update, we phoned twice and the number was disconnected. But apparently we didn’t try hard enough… we finally got a not so happy e-mail back this spring.

But we move on.

2/3’s of the t-ball season has been me. AB and Leif had soccer and other obligations pretty consistently. So AB just got to hear my whining about the coaches and kept reminding me “they are volunteers”.

Skadi is on a team with one other very demure little girl and 8 very rough and tumble boys. Leif is not so rough and tumble. He loves sports and gets in there, but he isn’t and never has been aggressive like I see many of these little boys behaving. The first two practices I thought Skadi was going to hold her own. She got into the dog piles and often came out on top. My friend commented that t-ball really meant tackle ball.

Two practices was about her limit. Then she quit getting into the mix.

And here is the cycle:

Skadi standing waiting for the ball.
Skadi runs to the ball.
Skadi doesn’t get the ball.
Skadi gets frustrated.
“Nobody EVER lets me get the ball!”
Skadi doesn’t get the ball.
Skadi gets bored and wanders off and wants to play on the playground equipment.
Skadi doesn’t want to go back out into the field.

The female coach has been a touch sympathetic towards her, “come on Skadi, let’s you and me get the ball from these boys!”

And she buys it for a few hits.

And if she is lucky she gets a ball and it sustains her for the inning.

And if not the cycle repeats.

I know my daughter is difficult. I know she is a whole bunch of drama wrapped up inside one little girl. I know she is one child in a team of 10. But come on.

The male coach ignores her and gets visibly annoyed with her when she starts screwing around. (But the boys can roll all over the ground and battle each other.)

For the later third of the season AB started showing up since soccer finished – and going into the field with Skadi – and running the bases with Skadi – in an effort to keep his thumb on her and to help her out a bit. Still Skadi never gets to play first base (the coveted position since the players all throw the balls to first base) and is consistently one of the last batters.

And I bite my tongue, because the coaches are doing their best and they are volunteering their time. I didn’t step up (this time).

Then there was last night. Skadi is in the field next to one of the bratty boys. I saw him step on her hand to release the ball. Skadi cried. I saw him pry the ball out of her hand three times. AB talked to both coaches, who shrugged their shoulders.

See we don’t tolerate bullies on our teams when we coach. They sit out. And parents are usually – or at least they act that way towards us – very supportive.

So when I saw AB pry the ball out of the brats hands and give it to Skadi. I sighed. I looked around at the parents scowling. And my friend I was standing with proclaimed, “go daddy! Stand up for your girl!”

The brat started bawling. Dad picked him up, glaring at AB.

AB came off the field saying, “I don’t think I made any friends.”

Yeah probably not. But my daughter finally got her hand on the ball and with that experience she can maybe finish out the season.

T-Ball – not Skadi’s sport. Swimming is still looking like the winner.

Monday, May 09, 2011

More stories from the castle

Skadi: "Mom what colors of flowers do you like?"

Me: "Purple, white, all colors."

Skadi: "Do you like green flowers?"

Me: "Yes, I haven't seen many green flowers."

Skadi: "That's what color of flowers I have at my castle."


Skadi: "Mom, don't you wish you had a car with a bathroom inside?"

Me: "Not really."

Skadi: "Why?"

Me: "Because it would be stinky."

Skadi: "At my castle I have a car with a bathroom inside and we drive it all over the place and we don't even have to stop to go to the bathroom!"


At dinner tonight:

Leif: "Mrs. T got thrown from a horse one day a long time ago and she broke her arm and the bone came through the skin."

Me: "Eww!" (Feeling a bit nauseated at the thought.)

Skadi: "That happened to me too."

Me: "Thankfully, you have never broken a bone."

Skadi: "Yes, I did at my castle, and the bone came out, but the skin healed up just fine. See?" (Shows me her arm.)