Changes

So I got a job. As a teacher. But with a mandatory 8-5 schedule. Which is nice I am forced to work 40 hours. Which is horrible that I can’t be with my kids during the afternoon.

And then there’s the commute. Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t really that bad. It’s under an hour. Supposedly just over 30 minutes. But that’s another 30 minutes not being with the kids.

And then the next three weeks my parents, The Friendly Giant, and my grandma (AKA my first line of defense in childcare) will be gone. Yea. I nearly forgotten what it was like to not have a support network. No. I didn’t. It sucked. This sucks. I luckily still have a support network of awesome friends to help. Fingers crossed on the ex’s help.

So in four weeks, we’ll see how everything is going. Perhaps I’ll love this, and the boys will adjust fine, and everything will start getting better. Or not. Or I might be in a middle of a move to somewhere I have reservations about, but yea that place between a rock and a hard place.

So I’m going to dig in some time to write here and follow other bloggers. Because I need this space. And I like the bloggers I met so far. It would be nice to meet more.

So wish me luck. I’ll see you around.

Summer?

Summer ends this week.

What?

Where did it go?

It was here a minute ago.

I want to go do something A-MAZING with the boys on their last day.

I’m not sure what.

On the other hand, I’ve been scouring YouTube for the perfect scene for the post I’ve been working on. . . for . . . um. . .days.

Also I have no idea what a Gif is. I do. But not really. Magic. And how to make one. Magic and trolls and gnomes.

Back to looking for this perfect video. . . .

I’m a Comedian

The ex dropped off the boys after their bedtime. Tornado E was wearing a white shirt. It was an emergency shirt. I never buy white shirts. Because they attract dirt. Tornado E was splattered with chocolate all down his shirt. He still had chocolate stains on the corner of his mouth, dribbling down to his chin.

Tornado E: Mommy, you were right.

Me: Say that again. Hold on; let me get my phone so I can record that.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re funny. (No, I’m dead serious. I need the proof.) You were right. A brownie fudge sundae is too much to eat.

Me: You look like you’re an undead thing covered in blood.

Tornado E laughed.

Tornado E: I look like I ate chocolate.

Me: Let me take a picture. Don’t wash yet.

I snapped a picture.

Tornado E: Mommy, when you put it online, write, “I didn’t eat your chocolate cake.”

So I typed it into the post. Then I typed, as Tornado E read over my shoulder out loud to his brothers, “Me: Seriously, he looks like the undead covered in gore. But a zombie or a vampire?”

The boys broke into fits of laughter.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re so funny.

Tornado S: You’re hilarious. (pause) But not as funny as Daddy.

Me: WHAT?! I’m like so much funnier than your Daddy. Like by tons.

The boys laughed more.

Tornado E: No, Daddy is funnier.

Me: Oh my god. Obviously I have been laxed in your comedic education. I’ll have to fix that. Movies. Music. Videos. Because seriously, I am so much funnier than your dad.

The boys: No.

By this time, I was gently pushing them up the stairs.

Me: Yes! And smarter. And prettier. Most definitely taller. And so much younger. So, so much younger.

They kept laughing.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re hilarious.

Damn straight.

 

Thanks, Mom

The Ex took the kids to Disneyland. For four days. Out of state. Like an eight hour drive. With four children.

Obviously I was worried. I was married to the Ex for a number of years.

Will someone get lost? Will someone be misplaced? Will some sort of emotionally crushing event occur?

I knew the boys were going to have a great time. I mean DISNEYLAND. And I’m sure my boys don’t curl up into little balls and sob, “I want my MOMMY!” I’m hoping they remember me beyond that-woman-wh0-makes-our-food-and-makes-us-do-chores-and-homework.

But I still worried.

Car crashes. Earthquakes. Drunk drivers. Relatives that don’t like me and don’t mind talking in front of the boys. Lightning strikes. Dust storms. Freak accidents. Ride malfunctions. Kidnappers. About the last couple, I realized I was getting a little paranoid. I mean DISNEYLAND. That stuff doesn’t happen there.

So I was worried.

But I went on my merry little while, doing my best not to think about it. I had a plan. It was working too. Until I wasn’t able to reach the boys on their first night of their trip. (Breath. Stick to the plan.) Or the second. (Breathe. Stick to the plan. Don’t freak out.)

On the third day, my mother called. At 8am. Um, woman, do you remember I’m a night owl without my morning larks to wake me up?

I was thinking you should’ve written your phone number in permanent marker on their bodies. (Um, you know the Ex would just wash it off.) What if they got in a car accident? And the Ex and his girlfriend are knocked unconscious? It would be days before you found out. The Ex probably doesn’t have you as the boys’ mother on his cell. (But the boys know-) What if they are knocked unconscious too? (Someone woul-) You don’t know that. And the Ex never keeps his eyes on them like he should. What if they wonder off? Who would know? (Disney has like tons of-) And would they call you? Probably not! (I do have friends who wor-) What if he takes them Fae? What if he never comes back with them? When would you know? What would you do? (Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I don’t think the Ex would-) You don’t know. You never know. Did you talk to them last night? (Um, no.) So you don’t know how they’re doing? (Um, Mom. I’ve got to get some stuff done. I gotta go.) You should come over for dinner. (Yeah, sure. I love you, Mom. Bye.) I love you, sweetheart. Don’t worry too much. Bye.

I sat there holding the phone. Breathe. Don’t panic. Stick with the plan. Breathe. Don’t freak out. Stick with the plan. Breathe. They’re ok. Stick with the plan. Breathe. Dear God, protect them. Stick with the plan. Breathe,

Yeah, I’m totally not going over for dinner. I can’t handle another conversation like that.

 

Futility

I feel a bit defeated this evening.

Yesterday I worked my butt off cleaning the house. I put things on hold, so I could get my chores done. I figured one good scrub, and it will be minor maintenance for the rest of the week; I surely could get all my other stuff done tomorrow night.

Sigh. I’m an idiot.

The floors are thrashed once again. The toys, picked up this morning, were scattered by bedtime again. I forgot to inspect the toy room before bedtime again. The island is holding clutter again. The table is filled with half-built Lego projects again. The sink is filled with dirty dishes again. The toilets are peed on again. The bathroom floors are covered with dirty footprints again. The bathroom sinks are covered with a layer of toothpaste spit again. Honestly, why did I clean yesterday?

Since I had to do triage, I didn’t have time to finish everything I needed/wanted to do today.

If anyone wants me, I’ll be in my room. (Lisa Simpson, “Bart Gets Famous.” Last lines of the show)

Oh dear god, they left toys and books all over my room!

 

 

Just a Few Skills Needed

The school wants to hold Tornado S back in first grade. Because he’s at all types of at-risk in reading. Because they are all freaked out by this stupid reading test at the end of 3rd grade. Because he’s so immature. Because he’s in the middle of the pack. Because he’s just so non-enthused by school. Because, well, it would do wonders for him.

Except.

He got all A’s and B’s. He was on honor roll all 4 quarters. He is immature, but the kid is still going through a divorce, which included (Surprise!) a new baby sister, another caregiver, a new house, and a custody arrangement changed 3 times in less than a school year. Christ; that’s a lot for a kid to deal with. Besides holding him back won’t mature him; he will be as mature as the kids a year younger than him. He will never be the top of the pack; he’s content to be in the middle. If I held him back, he would just be in the middle of the pack next year. The kid has just a little motivation; he’s content to just be. So really the problem is reading.

And the reading! He had to be with a special tutor. But in the last quarter he started progressing leaps and bounds. Funny how that was when I demanded everyone to make him read 20 minutes a day, not 10. And my mom started working with him because I was working and she started doing his homework with him. She learned he covered up the next word he was about to read. She learned he read better and faster when he sat up and read loud. She learned he started reading a page and noticed the picture several words in and became distracted. Oh, and why didn’t the reading teacher notice these things?

So I’ve been arguing with the teacher and the principal. Next stop is the superintendent. I want to know what their big plan is for an honor student they want to hold back. How will they challenge him? He won’t challenge himself. He’s proven that he, not only knows the curriculum, but exceeds expectations on mastering it. So what’s their plan?

To win this fight, I put Tornado S in private tutoring for reading. I giggled when they told me their tutoring service was geared to get kids to comprehend their reading at top levels. Tornado S’s reading comprehension is amazing, even his teacher admitted that. The private tutoring also focuses on handwriting, which Tornado S needs serious help on because of his poor fine motor skills. I will do whatever it takes to my kids across the finish line. Even if I have to push them across myself.

On his first day, his tutor came out of the workroom to discuss his progress and how well he did. We agreed I didn’t have to grade his homework so tough on the handwriting because of his (for lack of a better word) disability. She laughed at his stubbornness, trying to get out of doing the last worksheet. She then told me he would be right along as soon as he as he picked out his stickers for the day. I assured her it might be a while, and she moved on to speak to another parent in the church-quiet waiting room.

Then Tornado S stormed out of the workroom, banging the door open and into the wall.

The tutor jumped up and ran to him. She showed him how to gently open the door and had him repeat the instruction.

She smiled at me. “Just another skill we offer.”

“HEY! MOMMY! Guess what! I got stickers!”

He slammed the door to the workroom shut.

The tutor’s face took on a look quite close to horror.

I smiled and shrugged. “I’m raising him in a loud family. We were meant to be Vikings. Come on, little dude. Let’s go home.”

I opened the door and ushered him out. Then I gently closed the door behind us.

I will not surrender

My boys don’t want to go camping. Are you kidding me? They don’t like bugs. They’re afraid of snakes. Leave it to Tornado E to figure out which snakes are native to the area and how poisonous they are. For Christ’s sakes, they’re in Cub Scouts. I had been camping for years by Tornado E’s age. Really? No camping?

Fine. So I came up with a plan. Picnics. Hikes. In the mountains. I will start slow. I will convince them.

Only it took a couple months to put my plan into action. Monday. Hell or high water, I was going to take the kids picnicking and hiking on the nearest mountain.

Life is ironic.

As par for the course, we headed out later than I planned. I wasn’t really thinking the night before, so my prep was off. I didn’t research the hiking trails. Hell, I spent summers running wild on that mountain. I didn’t pack the night before. Pssht, piece of cake; I’ve done this before. I’ll wing it.

Never wing it.

I forgot a few things, so after a stop at the Cub Scout council for books and wonderment, we returned home, which was on the way. Everyone had to pee first, and then off we went.

Hold up. I forgot caffeine. Just a quick stop at a drug store to grab some soda.

Off we went.

Just as we hit the mountain base, I saw a sign, flashing, “NO CAMPFIRES! NO CHAR-COAL! NO CAMPFIRES!”

Oh for the love of God, if I had known, I would’ve picked up fried chicken or sandwiches instead of bring hot dogs and marshmallows. And char-coal and lighter fluid. Maybe it isn’t meant for grills. Maybe the sign is old. I mean, it’s rained a couple of days in a row up there.

Then we passed the fire danger sign. “EXTREMELY HIGH!” Oh sonofabitch! So much for earning cooking-outdoor patches. Also will the boys eat cold hot dogs? They barely swallow hot hot dogs.

A few more turns up the mountain went by before I remembered FEES. Oh crap. Did I have enough for fees? I turned into an observation site and scrounged through the emergency coinage and the ash tray and my wallet. 5 bucks was secured.

It was about this time that Tornado S started complaining about heights and fear. He wanted to turn back. Another few curves and Tornado A was joined him in his whining.

Since the fees were self-pay, I debated paying. What were the odds I would be caught if we were there only for a couple of hours? Then I remembered I was poor and a ticket would ruin my month as in electricity or ticket. So I paid the five backs, jamming the envelop filled with change into the slot.

Tornado S asked what took me so long.

A mile later, it was lightly raining.

A mile later, it was raining.

A mile later, it was pouring with visibility cut dramatically.

Have I mentioned this was my first time driving up the mountain? Usually I go with my parents, and my dad drives because he more or less grew up on that mountain. The other times I was with the Ex who grew up on a mountain and complained that I couldn’t mountain drive for anything. Dude, I grew up in a valley. So, yeah, I had something to prove.

The boys were a little freaked out and excited. I uncovered the sun roof, so they could watch the rain. Tornado E was worried about the day’s activities. I assured him that if it was raining in one part of the mountain, it didn’t mean it was raining in another part.

Only it was. It rained all the way to the top. It rained as we drove through the town. It rained when we got to the picnic and hiking spot. By rain, it poured. I could barely see a car length in front of me.

Tornado E: Mommy, why are we here?

I parked the car. Soaked hikers scrambled into cars. We made it.

Me: I was determined to get us here.

I opened the car door and stepped out into the downpour. I made it. And Christ, that was cold.

I jumped back into the car.

Tornado S: Now what? I’m hungry.

Tornado A: I’m hungry too!

Tornado E: Mommy, what are we going to do?

The sky flashed. Thunder rolled. The boys screamed.

Seriously, people, thunder too? I’m sure I was promised certain things when I had boys. Like I would never have to kill a bug again. Not so much. And I, girl who used to sit on top of her Bronco to watch storm come in and overhead, had boys afraid of thunder.

Me: Give me a second.

I couldn’t afford to take them to the restaurants. But I could take them to the general store. Perhaps I could buy sandwiches or cheese or something.

I started the car and turned back on the tiny mountain road. Then it started hailing. It stopped short of blanketing the ground.

We made it to the general store. The boys asked for an umbrella. I found one, and I climbed out. The sky flashed with thunder on its heals. Ok, no one is holding a lightning rod on my watch. I ushered the boys out of the car and across the parking lot in freezing rain.

The store was filled with touristy souvenirs and touristy-priced necessities. It was crowded with breakable objects. My boys were tired and hungry, spring-loaded with energy. Not a good combination. They whined and begged, and I was patient, listening to their demands and deflecting as quickly as I could. I couldn’t bring myself to buy $2.50 Lunchables, so I committed to the plan of cold hot dogs. I bought the boys rock candy and homemade fudge. I ushered them out to the porch to debate my options.

I had to feed the boys soon. I couldn’t waste this day. I couldn’t let this trip go bust. The storm was letting up. I looked over at my SUV with its way way back. I had an idea.

After the boys had a little fudge, I loaded everyone back into the car. I drove out of town and down the mountain just a mile to a picnic spot that I had planned on stopping at on our way out. It had amazing bunch of rocks to climb and scramble over. I parked the car overlooking the hills and trees.

Me: All right, boys. We’re going to eat lunch in the car. Who wants to go in the back? Who wants to sit in their seats?

They all wanted to sit in their seats, so I unbuckled Tornado A. I got out of the car and opened the back hatch. I moved things around. I moved supplies into the front seat. I started making lunch with the hatch protecting me from the sprinkling.

Me: Who wants what on their hot dogs?

Tornado E: Mustard.

Tornado S: I don’t want any.

Me: That’s all we have, so you’ll have to go hungry.

Tornado S: Fine. Ketchup and mustard.

Tornado E: Me too. But, Mommy, how are we going to cook them?

Me: They’re cooked. Just cold. Nana used to make your uncles and me cold hot dog sandwiches all the time. In fact, the Friendly Giant loves hot dog sandwiches.

Tornado A: Me too. Ketchup on mine!

Me: (as I began fixing hot dogs) You know, it would be easier to share the box of cheese crackers if you were all back here.

They all scrambled over. I opened the box of crackers, and they dove in as I fixed hot dogs. I passed out lemonade. I handed out hot dogs as I made them. We ate happily listening to the rain and the thunder.

Me: When everyone is done, we still have more fudge. We have marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.

Tornado E: Cold s’mores!

I passed out the fudge and marshmallows.

Tornado E: We should ask Grandma to make rocky road fudge.

Me: We should! Ok, everyone, we need to hit the bathrooms before we leave.

So I marched them in the sprinkling rain to the outhouses. The boys were horrified by the smell and the concept of peeing in a whole.

Then I decided a little walk to the rocks wouldn’t hurt. We were already there. We picked up pretty rocks. We scrambled up the boulders to get a good view. I took pictures. They splashed in puddles. We walked back to the car.

Tornado E: Can we come again? When it’s not raining?

Me: Yes.

Tornado S: Can we bring fried chicken next time?

Me: Yes.

Tornado A: I want to cook hot dogs!

Me: We can do that too.

Tornado E: Next time we come during monsoon season, I’m bringing a jacket and pants.

Me: Well, I thought the storm would hit in the afternoon as they usually do. I figured we would beat it home.

Tornado E: (noticing the rain was nearly stopped) Too bad we didn’t come earlier.

I loaded everyone back in the car, and we headed down the mountain.

Things Proven:

  1. The boys can like being in the mountain.
  2. They like picnics and are willing to try hiking.
  3. I can drive up and down a mountain without killing anyone.
  4. With a little determination, I can turn a potentially bad situation around.

Luckily, I’m a pretty determined girl.

 

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