Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Great Race

Or, as I preferred to think of it, the "Great Stroll-through-some-neighborhoods-and-say-hi-to-all-the-dogs."

My colleague passed away suddenly 6 weeks ago. It was a total shock to everyone and we've spent most of the summer scrambling to figure out how we'll manage the coming year or so without him.

Every year he and his family competed in this team triathlon. His family graciously invited his coworkers and friends to be part of the group of teams competing in his memory. The Nerd Farm was on board, if by "on board" you mean "eating tacos right up until the last minute and doing zero training of any kind." Because we were totally totally on board with that.

I did the 5K. It wasn't pretty but I came in second last and finished and I swear it was almost entirely uphill. Like, the course wound up up up for 2/3 of the race and then one quick downhill to the return.

I handed the arm band off to Jorge who took off on his bike. I should probably note that this summer Jorge won silver medal in the state for this exact same length event so we were pulling in a ringer on that one. He made up for mama's shuffle-walk-run that mostly involved high-fiving all the kids I passed, complimenting kids on their chalk work, and asking people about their dog breeds. He passed a handful of people and came in strong.

Finally, Rob and August hopped into our new inflatable kayak and rowed out and back on a 2 mile course (2 miles on water sounds like torture to me! I can't even pretend it sounds manageable).


Katie had considered running with me but opted to cheer for everyone.  Frankly, she's always been the smartest one in the family, clearly.

Maryna didn't come along this time. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

blah, of course it's a massive dump update.

Y'all. It's been a month of Sundays since I've updated.

I mean, not quite. It's been about 21 weeks, which is close to a month (30 days?) of just Sundays. Is that even what that means? I don't know. It's been ages, though. But I'm not ready to let this die.

I had left off with Katie's stage-mom life and planned to immediately follow with Maryna's modeling gigs. She begged and pleaded for modeling classes and we signed her up for a program. I suspected it wouldn't amount to much but the plus side was that it required her to think more about her social media images, tattoos, food, and so much more and I thought it would be a good external validation of my regular feedback on these issues. It worked sort of barely. It didn't end up with any jobs and we've moved on. It's over.

So where are we, other than in Late July  nearly mid-August? Mostly neck deep again in Things Unbloggable. But focusing on the other stuff (and of course this update will be a list.):

1. I got TENURE! Yes! Yes yes yes. And yet, I still have panic attacks and nightmares regularly, and also gut-wrenching freak-outs whenever my department chair or dean or pretty much anyone else pops in my office or sends a vague email requesting a conversation. Maybe someday it will feel real. Maybe after some therapy. Whatever. Tenured!

2. My best friend here didn't get tenure and then announced with literally 2 days notice that she was moving out of state. I keep suddenly remembering that she's gone or realizing "oh, wait, that also means she won't be here for [insert random event]!" and crying.  It takes me forever (like, a year of Sundays) to make friends and I miss her so hard. I realize that this is harder for her than me, but oh do I miss her.

3. Rob had scabies. Then I had scabies. I managed not to burn the house down but was sorely tempted. I think it's over. Thank goodness that none of the kids got it, but seriously.

4. Maryna graduated high school and it was beautiful and emotional and a great great thing. Let's leave it at that high point for now.

5. Katie turned 13 and Maryna turned 20. In fact, Maryna turned 20 and we had about 12 days of no teenagers in the house and then Katie turned 13. We won't be teen free again for over 10 years. Good thing we really love teenagers.

6. We started a 4-H group last fall and it's chugging along. Our Nerd Farm here at home is still 90% of the action, but considering my main goal was to get my kids into 4-H even if it meant I made the club, we're right on track. I wish the other kids were more into it and more available, but whatever. We'll get them eventually.

7. Rob and I are great. So good. I mean, it's been 18 years of marriage and something like 22 years of knowing each other and it's just so good. I chose well for me. In many ways we got damn lucky with finding each other, in many ways we've simply chosen and worked to make this work. But honestly, I have been blindsided by dozens of friends with "oh, turns out we've hated each other for more than a decade; we're divorcing" or something, so I have taken to asking friends how they're really doing. And sharing how we're really doing, which is honestly great. Life sucks a lot sometimes, but I couldn't have a better partner for it.

8. Since I have tenure (can I get a "woohoo!!!"), that means we won't be required to move anytime soon. As such, some home remodeling is on the docket. We have wanted to do some minor and major adjustments for years, but we figured the resale value was better with certain rooms as they were. Now that this is our home for the indefinite future, we're less worried about resale value and more worried about using the space as would best fit our house. If all goes well, we'll have a total disaster going on here through the fall and a much better layout to enjoy just before I'm completely sick to death of snow.

9. Daphne, our sweet old lady of a dog, is getting old. Like, really old. She's 15.5 which is over 100 in dog years and it's starting to show. She's still mostly happy and super sweet, but getting slower on the stairs and more needy about going outside and I'm dreading the idea of winter with her but also dreading saying goodbye. I suspect we'll reach a critical point soon, but then she also often appears to be immortal so maybe we're still 2-3 years from a final goodbye. Who knows? She's a sweet old lady and we just keep taking care of her.

10. I got elected to our church board. Rob's on our school board. We're starting to take over the world a little tiny bit and it's good.

11. The kids are good. They're kids. Maryna is 20, graduated from high school, and living her life. Letting life happen as your kids make decisions you know will only make things harder is a tough reality, but it is what it is. Katie is 13. She's weathering the emotional shifts of tweeny-teen life better than most, maybe, but is also endlessly sensitive and very prone to overthinking and over analyzing and so she has a great overall perspective but also obsesses a bit over every little thing. Jorge is 11 and is the most social kid I've ever known. He craves constant time with friends and people and it is so foreign to everything I know about life that I probably fail him a lot. Just, like, go chill in your room for a few days with a book, ok kid? Isn't that what every kid wants?  He does love books and building and creating and is a great kid, really. Just a social bug of epic levels.  And then August who continues to be everyone's baby even when he should probably be expected to be a bit more of a big kid who is turning 8 next week. Like, really, little dude, put your clothes in the dirty laundry. Close a cabinet. You can solve algebra problems so I think you can figure out turning off the sink. But he grins his Olaf grin and does something sweet and snuggly and adorable and it all blows away.

12. Today -- just today-- for the first time ever I learned how to swim under water without holding my nose. Yes, at 41.  I'm a big believer in "never stop learning." This summer I also learned how to knit a sweater, knit Fair Isle style, screen printing, and some other odds and ends with sewing. My fall goals include making my Spanish a wee bit less of a trainwreck.

An even dozen seems reasonable as a stopping point.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Stage mom: part 1 (Katie)

Katie's school is unique in a lot of ways but one really stands out to me: all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are required to identify a career they are interested in learning about and then do an internship. At the end of the year they present on their experience to the rest of the school (there are about 8 total kids in grades 6, 7, and 8 and less than 30 kids in the whole school, so this is much more interactive than it sounds).

Many kids work with animal shelters, libraries, pre-schools and such and those are great experiences. Katie wanted to do anything related to sewing and/or theater. After her experience in the local children's theater in the fall (village woman in Beauty and the Beast) she really wanted to see more backstage action.

A series of emails and calls in January landed her the dream job: intern for the costume designer at the local city ballet as they prepared to do Aladdin.

Short version: she spent 3-4 weekend mornings at the costume designer's house looking at sketches and then following her instructions to cut out and sew together some of the costumes. She did hand work and some machine work. She attended the dress fitting days and helped record notes on needed alterations and then brought home a basket of items to alter. In the past 10 days she has put in at least 25 hours at the theater watching dress rehearsals, doing on-the-spot repairs and alterations, and helping ensure all costume pieces are in the proper dressing rooms and fitting correctly.  Yesterday we attended the show as guests and today she spent another 6 hours at the theater do pre-show repairs and organization, doing backstage work during the show, and then helping pack up all of the hundreds of details and get them loaded out onto the truck back to the main studio.

It was an amazing experience, and she's already been assured more opportunities on future shows if she wants them. I'm crazy impressed with her for doing such a huge activity at 12!

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Someone turns eleven today!

Dear Jorge,

Today you turn eleven. 

This year you've discovered the world of role playing games. Every Friday after school you head to your friend's house for an afternoon of D&D and snacks. On the way home you regale me with stories of the bard's attempt to defeat the warlock and the near-death of a cleric but the heroic rescue from the half-orc/half-human soldier. Your group of buddies is funny and interesting and a great combination of geeky and creative.

You are starting to take life more carefully -- slower handwriting, more careful work in your math classes, and a general sense of focus. The frantic energy of the past 4 years is slowing down and concentrating into something like real passion and interest instead of a scramble to experience all the things at one time.  It's fun to see you bury yourself in a series of comic books or a project like a stop-motion animation.

Your hair is a shaggy mop, your glasses are big and self-tinting in the sun, your favorite coat in the world is your fleece black-and-red checkered coat. You love robotics and outdoors and figuring out the underlying rules and patterns of life (again, no longer simply slamming into every wall to see which ones hold, you're now interested in understanding how and why things work). You sleep in a robe and slippers in your bed -- a little burrito of fleece.

You love snuggles and candy and spicy foods and trying new things. You adore your extended family even when you think the immediate family is a bit of a prison ward. You alternate being best friends with both Katie and August -- rarely both at the same time -- and are rarely seen alone. You're an extrovert to the highest degree. You crave interaction, noise, togetherness, and movement at all times. For the rest of us (who need a nap after more than 30 minutes of direct interaction with people) it's boggling and it's just a good thing that there are so many of us in this house so you can direct that spotlight of energy and interaction at someone else when one of us runs out of batteries.

Your sense of humor is sly and dry, usually, but when something amuses you, there's a steady bubble of giggles that you can't stop. Your head tips over and magnets onto someone's arm every single time. Giggle-giggle-giggle-press-head-into-bicep. I think you're part cat. Like pretty much every pre-teen boy in the world, you are especially amused by any jokes that involve gassiness or rear-ends.

You and I still struggle endlessly to move past a pattern of fighting and frustration. There's so much emotional damage and a huge barrier there; but we're working on it. It's worth the effort, but some days feel like swimming through a pool packed with jellyfish -- every single thing creates a painful mess. I'll never stop trying, though -- even though some days we both need to just walk to our separate rooms until we figure out a new approach.

Love you, Captain. I hope that turning eleven is everything you hoped for.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Sewing internship

This girl! She had her first interview today, scoring an internship with the costume design team at the local professional ballet! She'll be shadowing the designer as she moves from ideas to drawings to pattern to creation. She'll be helping to sew items and add embellishments ...and then the adjustments and dress rehearsals all the way up to the process of moving costumes over to the theater and putting them in dressing rooms, being backstage to make alterations and repairs during the shows, and then packing up and bringing all of the pieces back to the studio.

I'm so excited for her to have a chance to see two of her passions (dance/theater and sewing) come together! She is going to learn so much and get to be part of bringing all the characters to life. Internships as a middle school requirement were a bit odd sounding to me when I first heard it. Today, I was able to  show up to an interview with her, prompt her a bit when she didn't brag on herself hard enough, and then help her follow through with thank you emails and other real-world skills that are so much harder to learn on your own! And now...sewing!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lasso Maria

Auggie dances around this line of little boy and big kid. He reads whole novels (recently, The Hobbit and Gulliver's Travels) and adores square roots and algebra and just started cooking his own eggs each morning (cracking and everything!).

On the other hand, he loves playing with his Hot Wheels. Today he set up his Gator Gulch track and spent hours putting them in competition, ranking them, awarding them medals, and encouraging them to keep trying.

His favorite is named Lasso Maria. No one knows why, and that pretty much sums up August.

(There's also Blank. Blank didn't appear in any photos as he's just a chassis. )

Thursday, January 11, 2018

So this is pretty much par for the course these days...

Mid day email from a teacher...

If I tell you I laughed out loud at the "they disagreed about whether it was returned" part, will you judge me as a bad mom or just realize that the crazy is starting to wear me down?