No Punny Title Today

I just found out someone died – someone that used to be a huge part of my life. I hadn’t seen him in nearly 30 years. That’s kind of awful, that someone can go from being a huge, day-to-day part of your life and then *snap*- you haven’t seen them in nearly 30 years. I guess that’s the way shit works sometimes.

The person I speak of was my first stepfather. He and my mom were married for roughly 10 years. I vaguely remember him coming into our lives sometime during my 2nd grade year and then them splitting up at the beginning of my senior year. He and I weren’t mutual fans at first. I’m not sure he was ever a man that wanted kids, and I was still probably kind of pissed off that a stepfather was necessary in the first place. He was all into absolutes, the “you follow _______ rule because I said so.” I wanted to know why, the justification for _________ rule. He thought I was challenging him when I questioned him and would get mad. I thought he was just being mean because he would get mad at what were -I thought- perfectly reasonable questions. At the end, though, I was pretty gutted when they split up, very angry at my mom.

My memory can be a funny thing. Maybe that’s everyone. I don’t remember an awful lot about that time, but the fragments, clips I do have are very rich, very detailed. And did I say random? This is a brain dump of stuff that’s been in my head since my mom called me and told me he died.

His house – and it was his house – had pretty hideous furniture looking back. At the time, I though it was luxe and cool. He had this chaise lounge, probably comparable to a double bed in width. It was brown and fuzzy. It was the ultimate kid seat. He also had these white couches with metallic edges. I thought they were fancy.

His whole house was carpeted. This was Pennsylvania in the 80’s. I remember it being peach colored, maybe? In the winter, I’d lay on the floor in his living room watching cartoons with my feet jammed up against the furnace vents. It was the only warm place.

The yard had amazing trees in it – about 4 maples. Two or three of them were great for climbing. I spent a lot of time in those trees. I think I even dragged a board up in my favorite so I could perch and read books.

He lost his job at one point – the company was bought out by a French entity and they let everyone go. After that, he’d get pretty angry if I spoke French at home (which sucked because I was taking French and needed to practice). Before that, he took the same thing to lunch every single day: 2 Lebanon Bologna sandwiches cut in 4’s and a 2 pack of peanut butter Tasty Kakes. He would use the same brown paper bag over and over. He might have also reused the ziplocks. I thought that was so weird. I also used to get pissed about the Tasty Kakes, as I could never have any. I guess I talked about that a lot, as Will asked “was this the guy that ate the same lunch every day for years?” when I told him he had died.

He had an almost Depression era mentality, especially when it came to soap. In our bathroom closet, there lived several square plastic tubs where soap chips went to live. You know what soap chips are: when soap is used/dissolved to the point where there is just a tiny, flat chip left. I’m not sure what the plan was for the soap chips, if he was going to melt them down into bars or what. He collected soap chips FOR YEARS. I don’t think he ever did anything with them.

He was a Vietnam vet. He didn’t like to talk about that.

Despite his opulent and obvious 1980’s furniture, he spent most of his time in what was a man-cave (of course we didn’t call it that then). He had slipped discs in his back which caused him a lot of pain. He spent most of his down time laying on sheepskin rugs doing exercises on the floor of said man-cave. The walls – even what had been a closet with doors removed – were lined with bookshelves chock full of those books you could order from TV infomercials that had the matching spines. He must have had hundreds.

I don’t ever really remember him being hands-on with me. When I would take over his living room when I’d get sick – hours and hours of watching Poltergeist over and over, or blaring Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence, Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U, and Peter Murphy’s Cuts U Up videos during my mono experience, he would just navigate around me. That was ok. That was our understanding. Once though, when I had pierced my ear slightly wrong (just jamming a stud in myself, of course), I must have nicked a vein. All I remember is blood running down my neck and getting all woozy. He followed me into the single bathroom and made me put my head between my legs, then helped me get cleaned up. I took the stupid earring out.

He was not adventurous then. He didn’t want to travel or try new foods. That bummed out my mother after a while, and probably me as well. We learned later that he remarried a nice woman with at least one child (a girl, I think) and they traveled. I think they even went overseas, which blew my mind. You can’t help but wonder when stuff like that happens “what if?” Regardless, I’m glad he found happiness – someone that could drag him out of his man-cave and away from his bookshelves.

We were both kind of satellites orbiting my mom. We all found a working system by the end. Largely under his roof, I went from angry and sad second grader to goth teenager. I’m glad we found peace with each other.

Who I was when I got there

Who I was when I left

We were Facebook friends, but didn’t communicate much. He posted a lot of silly memes and videos – the type and extent of which can clog your feed – so I actually had him hidden. I feel pretty bad about that now. We last had a message exchange about a year and a half ago. An old neighbor lady died that used to watch me sometimes, and he wanted me to know. He also said he loved watching my kids grow up on Facebook. That was it.

His death was very sudden and unexpected, which I suppose is a good thing. His wife was able to donate some organs, which I really like the idea of. I hope he was happy at the end. It seems like he was. I’m glad. I like that idea.

Goodbye, Greg.

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Depress Your Luck

This is one of those “speak my truth” moments.  I’m depressed.  Not “having a bad day/week” depressed.  Like actually depressed.  Now that I’m acknowledging it, I think I’ve probably been this way for a while.

I think my shitty summer was as much a function of the depression as it was pneumonia, stupid weather, other irregularities.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed….like really laughed.  I don’t seem to find joy in anything.  Things that should make me happy don’t.  Sometimes they stress me out.  “Fun” things feel like something else I have to do, to manage.

I have no patience.  I’m currently not the best mom, wife, friend.  I don’t talk to people unless I have to.  I stay in my office at work.  I don’t talk to my colleagues/friends.  It feels like a job to do so.  I hear them out in the halls visiting and I just cannot make myself join in.  Granted, much of the time they’re complaining about stuff and now let’s circle back the the first sentence in this paragraph about the patience shit.  I’m clearly negative enough for myself, F you very much.

I feel so F-ing emo.  This isn’t cool.  I’m normally a very logical person.  I can’t figure out what has changed, what’s different.  I feel like if I could figure out when and how this paradigm shift occurred, I could fix it.  I’m still taking my stupid Wellbutrin.  I’m in the same house, same spouse, same kids, same lame-ass job.  I’m still obsessing about my kids, their ADHD, school.

I don’t look depressed, right?

Maybe I’m just tired and worn down. People talk about taking mental health days, but I don’t think they mean it. I’m not sure it would do much good.

I want myself back.  I just don’t know how to do that.

 

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The Son Also Rises

Dear Felix,

I want to tell you a few things, but since you aren’t really able to have heavier conversations, I figured I’d jot it down for later.

First, please know that this summer was not the summer I wanted us to have.  I got sick and just had no energy.  We didn’t go and do as much as we usually go and do.  We went to Tennessee with Oui Oui right when school got out, and I’m so grateful for that trip – especially for the experiences you got to have.  You saw mountains and rocks in situ for the first time in your life.  While Stella was happily alpine sledding, you were content to “mine” for minerals and fossils.  We probably spent $100 on buckets of dirt seeded with delightful stuff and it was worth every penny.  You could have done that all day (and almost did), and I was content to sit with you while you did it.  I estimate you came home with at least 30 lbs of rocks and fossils.  You are your MyMom’s son.

But otherwise, we didn’t do much.  There was an odd trip to the trampoline park or Chuck E Cheese here,and a museum or two there, but we stayed close to home.  We didn’t go to jiu jitsu much, not because you didn’t want to go (although you did complain vigorously about sweating in the heat in your heavy gi), but because I just didn’t have the energy.  That stops once school starts, by the way.

You’re getting ready to start first grade.  As usual, I’m a nervous wreck.  You’re not where I want you to be or where you need to be.  You need to be in a gifted classroom.  I have fought and continue to fight for that.  Everyone that talks to you thinks you’re f’ing brilliant, from the guy at the grocery store yesterday to the lady at the pharmacy when we went to get your meds.  You’ve spent the summer reading about the periodic table, chemistry, and physics.  We wrote to Bill Nye, but he never wrote back (bastard!).  We are currently germinating  Coast Redwood seeds because you’re fascinated by them.  We spent part of this past weekend playing with the gallium you’ve wanted for months (and special thanks to your JoePop for sending you stuff like gallium and Coast Redwood growing kits).  I spent the rest of the weekend cleaning up the results from the gallium.  Playing with gallium makes it look like the Tin Man had the shits upon every surface of the house.

But I digress.  I’m sorry you have to grow up in a system that doesn’t seem to value your kind of gifts.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to make these people see reason – to look at the mountains of evidence suggesting your immense potential but they won’t because they’re hung up on one f’ing test score.  I’m sorry I keep dragging you places to be tested.  My heart almost broke after the last one, when you asked “MyMom, how many more of these do I have to take?”

You have such a sweet nature.  You get upset when someone prunes or otherwise cuts into a tree.  You want to nurture absolutely everything.  You get upset when other kids even pretend to “shoot” you with a stick.  That’s just not who you are.  Yesterday  you spent about 5 minutes studying Pillow the Violet (yes, you name all your plants), rubbing your cheeks on the leaves because they are soft (like a pillow – duh!).

I worry.  I worry that other kids are going to start to get mean, calling you weird or worse because you’d rather discuss plants or elements than video games or monster trucks.  I worry you may have to actually use the jiu jitsu you’re learning (but oh shit we’ve been missing lots of classes…).

I’m going to continue to worry.  I’m going to continue to fight.  I’m going to continue to indulge your curiosity as much as I possibly can.  I’m going to continue to soak up all the little moments like when you rub your cheek on a violet leaf, knowing that one day probably soon the world might dull that impulse for you.  I’m also going to try to put my worry aside, because I don’t want you to know that I worry.  I want you to continue to walk out the door each day feeling confident and curious, hoping you always will (and steeling myself for when and if that changes).

I hope you read this one day as a happy, kind, successful man.  I hope you have mostly happy memories of being a kid.  I do try to make sure that happens for you and your sister.  I hope you’ve continued to be led by your sense of wonder, and that you’re pursuing a degree or career in the things you’ve always talked about: botany, engineering, paleontology (well, maybe not that because jobs and stuff), architecture, chemistry, or street performing (maybe not that, either).  I hope you know that your MyMom loved you more than she could ever tell or show. And I hope you always call me MyMom.

Good luck this year, Dude.

I love you. We got this.

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Thank You For Your Nervous

About a week ago, I drafted a post.  It was driven by worry, and the worry was driven by “experts” who were convinced – and were in turn convincing – that we were about to be destroyed by hurricane-driven flooding.  I mean, we were going to GET IT.  So I penned (typed?) a maudlin post about how the rest of the world forgets once these storms pass but to us, the names linger forever and we often sound like we’re talking about the guest list at a bad hipster party no one wants to go to.

Fortunately, the “experts” were wrong for most of us here (and yes, I know others got the snot kicked out of them), and instead of getting 20″ of rain in 36 hours, we only got about 2,” which is roughly the equivalent of a normal Louisiana summer thunderstorm.  Experts, schmexperts. Piss off, I say.

While hunkering down in preparation for our destruction, we did make the most epic box fort. It was twice the size of the couch. The kids spent about 10 minutes in it.

But all that does little to calm the building nerves, nerves which are building because of the looming apparition that is the start of the latest school year.  There are only about 3 weeks left of summer.  The panic is setting in.  We haven’t done any of our mandatory reading (Stella) or assignments (both kids).  I never did get to finish working with the psychologist for Felix, so I guess he’s back in a regular classroom with an unknown entity.  I’ll have to continue to tilt at that windmill.

Did I tell y’all I figured out what my next tattoo will be?  I menacing yet feminine looking sword in black and gray, with a billowing orange ribbon on the hilt for the ADHD.  I feel like I’m often at war because of it.

Stella will be off to 4th grade, but without her guardian angel present.  That wonderful human being moved with her family over the summer.  I’m a nervous wreck about that.  I always knew that if Stella freaked out or otherwise had a really bad day, this person was there to get her somewhere safe for regrouping.  I don’t know any of Stella’s teachers yet, and will they be willing to work a little harder to “get” her? I don’t know how the hell I’m going to manage 2 f’ing simultaneous carpools.  I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to do that this year.

It just makes me so sad and tired, y’all.  I just want to shelve all of this and try to relax and shake off the nerves.  And I guess I can…for a little while.  But I just remembered I still have to inventory uniforms and replace what’s needed in the next few weeks and school supply shop for Stella….Dammit.

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The Whole Is Greater Than the Summer Of Its Parts

About a month ago, I was talking to my good friend, M (I’ll stop short of calling her the Divine Ms. M, only because that’s already been taken, but she is and she’s the mother of my bonus child, fighter of my similar fight, drinker of wine, cusser of things that need to be cussed, and kindred of spirit), and we both remarked about how great last summer was; our kids were both in a great camp program that we trusted, which is huge when your kids are a bit different.  We were able to relax for a while.  No homework.  No drama.  Just camp followed by quiet, peaceful evenings – or as peaceful as evenings at the Bomb Factory can get.  Summer reading.  Arts and crafts.

This summer, neither of us can seem to get into that headspace.  Yeah, there have been health issues – my lungs, and lots of ear stuff between Stella and M’s boy.  Who knew swimmer’s ear could be such a dick?  Stella has been ornery to the extent that I’ve finally upped her meds.  She’s been on the same dose since the end of her kindergarten year, so it’s time.  Now it’s the wait and see of “is this the magic amount,” but that’s been confounded further by the ear thing.  She won’t do summer reading, yet still gets angry when Felix gloats that he’s reading more and earning more swag.  It’s just strange and unnecessary.

Camp feels different, although that could be the result of everything I just said above.  This is Stella’s 3rd year and Felix’s 2nd with this camp.   They’ve always loved it and were excited to go at the beginning of the summer.  It seems like even at camp, folks just aren’t hitting their stride.  We just finally went back to jiu jitsu last night for the first time in almost 2 weeks.  They complained the whole way there, but seemed to settle in when we got there.  Maybe now that everyone is healthy (furiously knocking on nearby wooden object), at least that can get back to normal.  Whatever the hell that means.

Felix….where to begin.  He’s funny and sweet and quirky as always.  I’m still trying to work with a psychologist to schedule more testing which may or may  not do any good for school, but should give us more information.  I guess I never worried as much about him, because he’s always been so happy and good-natured.  He never whined and hollered and acted out like his sister.  Now I’m realizing that as happy as he is, he’s simply not in tune with the rest of us most of the time.  It reminds me of the old days, trying to find that elusive radio station in your car and you end up with 2 coming through the speaker – one dominant and one faint.  I’m afraid that for Felix the rest of us are in that faint realm for him.  I don’t know how to fix that, and since I’m his MyMom and his favorite person on earth and I can’t reach him, what does that mean for the future?

We need to recapture this summer before it gets away from us completely.  I need some fun.  I need some stress-free magic in my life.  August 8 – the first day of school – looms large.

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Germs and Conditions

Ours is not a “family that gets sick” kind of household.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve had to take Stella to a doctor outside of regular checkups and ADHD visits.  Same with Felix, once he had the tubes put in his ears.  I don’t go to doctors other than my annual woman stuff.  It’s embarrassing, but I don’t even have a GP.  I don’t  need one.  I don’t get sick.

This summer, we’ve been sick.  I don’t know if the universe is doling out our punishment all at once or what.  I’ve been treated so far for a sinus infection, cough, and walking pneumonia.  And I’m still coughing so much sometimes that I’m almost peeing on myself (sorry) and being kept awake at night.  I’m starting to think I may never be all the way well again.

Stella has been bitching about her ears hurting for 2 weeks, and just when I’m on the verge of taking her in to see someone, it’ll go away.  She’s also sniffling and coughing pretty constantly, so I’m 99% sure it’s allergies.  And did you know that occasionally our air quality takes a beating due to Saharan dust?  Yeah.  We’ve had 2 pulses of that stuff lately.

Felix has been OK with one glaring exception: the day their camp took them 2+ hours away for a field trip, he experienced an apoocalypse.  He basically had diarrhea all day long.  There was nothing anyone could do.  He came home missing underwear and socks (sacrificial) and holding a huge wad of paper towels to his butt.  It was awful  for everyone involved.  I got off easy.

All that combined with the heat and the summer vacation mindset, we’re just not doing everything we’re supposed to be doing.  The kids have missed a lot of jiu jitsu; either they or I don’t have the energy to go.  I’m not keeping up with one of their summer reading logs, and I’m not currently making Stella do any reading at all.  I just don’t have the pep to fight that battle with her at present.  And I need to be doing summer work with both of them so they don’t lose their school  mojo sitting around playing Minecraft all day.

I know it’s temporary and isn’t necessarily catastrophic but the guilt is creeping in.  I was talking to my mom the other day and she pointed out how quickly the summer is going and how soon she’ll be here to visit.  My sphincter tightened.  We have too much to do: uniform inventory and acquisition, school supply shopping, the aforementioned reading and work packets.   I’m hoping in the next week or so I’ll actually feel better and regain my energy. I gotta herd these cats!!

 

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These Boots are Made for Walking Pneumonia

I’ve been feeling like merde for the past couple of months, finally going to urgent care on Memorial Day, at which point I was told I had a sinus infection and – brace yourself – a cough.  I was given stuff for my cough, a steroid, and antibiotics.  No dice.  It all helped a bit, but I was still not my usual self.  I wasn’t dying, but was only operating at about 75-80% of my usual energy levels.

I decided today that I needed to go back to see someone, but had a field visit scheduled for this morning.  It was actually a good day to be out – a rare summer morning in Louisiana when the temperatures were in the low 70’s.  We were outside near a bayou.  There was a breeze and cloud cover.  We saw 2 pretty bit gators.  If only I felt better.

Say hello to my little friend

As we were leaving the site, my foot felt funny.  It was if I had stepped in the world’s biggest wad of chewing gum.  When I was finally free to examine my steel-toed boot, I noticed that a little something was wrong: the damn sole was coming off.  Seeing as how I have a ton of field work coming up, that needs to be addressed PDQ.  Working for the government, however, nothing can be done without approval.

While waiting for said approval, I popped over to the doc in the box.  I gave them my spiel: cough, feeling as if I can’t hear, feeling like I get water in my nose when I bend over, no energy, and all after a full course of treatment.  Turns out there’s a reason: I don’t necessarily have a sinus infection and a sinus infection only.  I have walking pneumonia.

So a shot of yet another steroid, a new antibiotic, and 2 things for cough, and it was back to work to wait for my approval for boots.  And that is where I sit now.  I wish I could go home, but unless I duct tape my sole back on, I won’t have anything for Friday.

At least my kids are elsewhere, so maybe with another 24 hours of the correct medicine, I’ll be on the mend.  It’s so weird not having them, and I’ve been full of nervous energy.    I’ve made ugly challah bread (forgive me, Paul Hollywood), wild rice and mushroom stew, and I’m back knitting.  I think if I were right, I’d have my house spotless. 

But I miss my children.  Felix still climbs in bed with me early in the morning and curls his little body up next to mine.  When he’s like that, he still feels little, his hair has that softness that young children have.  Will hates it, but I soak it up.  I know it won’t last much longer.  And the kid is a ninja!  Usually he doesn’t even wake me up when he does it, so I can’t possibly send him back to his room.

So what’s the point?  I don’t know.  I guess this story is soleless.  Sorry.  I guess it’s to not be a stubborn cuss like me.  Go to the f’ing doctor sooner than 6-8 weeks after you fall ill, and if the first doctor doesn’t help, don’t wait another 2 weeks before going to someone else.

 

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Suck In the Middle With You

I’ll be honest, I’ve been feeling a bit down about my kids lately.  I know it’s summer and I’m supposed to be taking it easy, but it still hasn’t been easy.

I’ll start with Stella, as that one seems a bit more cut and dry.  She’s just been an ass lately.  She’s been disagreeable, arguing with everything and whining an awful lot.  She spends most of her time glued to her tablet watching crap on YouTube.  It’s like an addiction.  And yes, it’s largely on me to regulate how much time she spends on it, and I do.  Most of the time.  Some days, though, there’s just too much else going on and I need easy.  I feel like I’m constantly bitching at her about something.

I’ve been picking my battles with her.  Some things I insist on, such as jiu jitsu.  Other things, I’m letting go.  She’s decided she doesn’t want to do summer reading – something we’ve done every year and something that comes easy to her.  After 2 weeks of fighting, I’ve let it go, although there has been a recent development that might change that: Felix has won a gift card to a toy store for doing his reading.  She’s going to be pissed.

My beautiful girl (photo credit Oui Oui)

Felix, as usual, is sweet and happy.  And he’s learning the art of trash-talking.  Just when I think he doesn’t pay attention to anything outside of his own head, he proves me wrong.  He picked up on the fact that Stella isn’t doing her summer reading, so at least once each day he asks me very loudly if he’s doing good at his reading, and reminds me that he’s read more than Stella.  This has also spilled out in the car after every jiu jitsu lesson, asking who did better.  Maybe the competition will get Stella moving.  Or maybe she’ll be pissed about his gift card and pick up a book.

As sweet and interesting as I think my son is, I’m realizing that not everyone feels that way about him, and that hurts my heart so much.  Sure, he will talk to a turnip until it begs for mercy, but I think he’s one of the most interesting kids I’ve ever met.  I love spending time with him.  My favorite part of this past weekend?  Taking him for a haircut and going to the library after.  His Amazon wish list is full of science stuff – books and all manner of plant kits.  He’s currently begging me for Coast Redwood and Sequoia grow kits.  He’s still watching his mailbox for Bill Nye’s reply to his letter. (Please Mr. Nye, write him back!) But I’m starting to watch other kids when he’s trying to share his excitement about his passions.  The other kids aren’t usually into it.  And I get it: he would rather talk about botany than monster trucks.  But then I’ll hear kids call him “annoying” or “weird.”

That sucks.  It sucks as much as seeing the looks when I’m with Stella and she’s having a hard time.  I just wish I could scoop them up and keep them safe so that they can’t see or hear that.

Dammit.  Just dammit.

My kids will be with Oui Oui through Friday, so for the second time ever, I’ll not see my children for more than 24 hours.  I’m hoping this will reset everyone.  I hope to be a kinder, more patient mom/MyMom when they come home.  I hope my energy and creativity return, so I can keep up with the Dude’s quest for scientific knowledge and find ways to connect with and inspire Stella.

In the meantime, there is gin and tonic.  Cheers.  Have a swell week.

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Who, What, Where, When, and Nye

We are easing into summer after returning from vacation.  It’s been a week.  The kids have done pretty well, although Stella is about to go on a major YouTube/device diet.  I swear those things are a portal through which demons possess your formerly-sweet child and turn them into an asshole.  Additionally, they both seem to be fighting some kind of new cold-germ thing off.  This is not surprising considering they are now with a brand new herd of kids.

I’m still fighting off whatever funk I’ve had for 4-5 weeks now.  I just finished an antibiotic and steroid, and am still taking some kind of prescription cough stuff, but am still not quite right.  Steroids weren’t nearly as much fun as I remember.  Last time, I can remember going into some kind of fugue state and coming out of it in a sparkly clean house.  This time, I just couldn’t sleep for shit and it felt like my heart was going to pound out of my chest.  I also had a doctor day Wednesday for regularly-scheduled maintenance.  I’m now at the age when I get to go to the dermatologist and get stuff frozen off my face.  Good times.

All that being said, things are OK.  I’m ready to just let loose and float for a while.  I still have a few school-related loose ends to tie up, but I don’t feel as urgent about it.  Either it’s wishful thinking or insanity, but I just feel like I’m going to get Felix where he needs to be.  I just have to keep fighting, slowly but persistently.  I’m nothing if not a pain in the ass.

But speaking of Felix, that kid amazes me every day.  Just before we left for Tennessee, he discovered some old Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes on Netflix.  For whatever reason, Netflix has since pulled them (I wonder if it has to do with Mr. Bill going on TV, dropping the F-bomb and torching a globe?), but we have found tons of material on YouTube.  While we were out of town, he decided that he needed to send a message to Bill Nye, and how could I, his MyMom, help him to do this?  Lo and behold, I found an address and promised the Dude that we would write to him as soon as we got back home.  It got sent out Tuesday.  He told Bill all about himself, that he wants to be a botanist/engineer/mineralogist/architect/street-performer when he grows up, and that he wants to meet Bill so that he can bring him a snack of chocolate and Goldfish crackers.  I think Bill Nye has gone off the deep end a wee bit over the years, but I would forgive all globe-flaming if he writes my kid back or if his staff sends my son a picture.

He’s also hard-core into the periodic table and the elements.  He took his periodic table blanket on vacation with him, and is memorizing the atomic numbers of his favorite elements.  We’re reading a 5th grade level book on Marie Curie and her discovery of radium.  He gets really annoyed with me if I try to read him a basic old story book.  He wants to read books about “real stuff.”  The problem is, there aren’t a lot of books on his level for his interests.  We’ve already read the more younger-skewing books on plants, and I can’t find any on elements, other than this really cute book I found at Barnes and Noble about the periodic table which breaks the elements down into cartoon characters.  I think it’s safe to assume I’ll be learning a lot this summer reading to my kid.  Anyone out there with good book suggestions for my science dude, please send!

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Everything But the Kitchen Synch

“I hate you all,” said Stella, Will, and I almost in unison. We didn’t mean it… much. Felix did dude stuff in the background, largely oblivious. That’s his wheelhouse. I think he was talking about a paper birch tree.

We were finishing the last breakfast of our second vacation in under a month. Important note: I am NOT complaining about vacations. I am pointing out that Togetherness can be trying, even under scenic, beautiful circumstances.

This vacation was with Oui Oui. We went to Tennessee to see mountains and do mountain stuff. This is a big deal, for those of you who don’t live in Louisiana. In Louisiana, it’s FLAT. We have next to no topography. The only rocks we have are largely alien – brought in for landscaping. It’s pretty depressing being a geologist in a state without visually-apparent surface geology. In any case, unlike Virginia Beach a few weeks ago where my family of 4 lived in a single room hotel room for a week, we had a bit more space. We had a big beautiful cabin, and we had the 2 bedroom/1 bath top floor. There were 2 other bathrooms, but I guess I’m strange about that. To me, habitats are broken into zones, and if a bathroom has been claimed by another person and has their personal toiletries in it, it’s off-limits. The other 2 bathrooms in the cabin had been so claimed. Our top floor bathroom was crowded.

Oh but y’all… the mountains were great. Felix in particular was in heaven. He promised to fill his backpack with rocks and minerals, and he didn’t fall much short. I estimate he’s returning home with about 30 pounds of rocks, fossils, and minerals. Stella got to zip line and go alpine sledding. We went to this awesome place called Wonderworks with all kinds of science stuff, such as an earthquake simulator and a Tesla coil, plus a gyroscope and roller coaster simulators. We had a ball! I will say that hiking with young kids isn’t the most fun. They don’t really get that the hike itself is the experience, along with the views. To kids, it’s like the Green Mile.

Oooh! And we went to a cave!

Look at those happy, excited faces…

Felix would have happily mined for gems the whole time…

So why am I yammering about bathrooms? Well, when we were in Virginia few weeks ago, something peculiar happened. You know how often women who live together end up with their cycles synched up? The same thing happened to my family and their bowels. We haven’t been right since. It doesn’t help that 2 members of the family like to sit a while with a video game while they take care of their business – and I’m not naming names. There have been more than a few instances of me banging on a door urging someone to hurry up while one kid or another holds their butt cheeks together.

Regardless, it’s now summer, and we’ll be settling into a more relaxed routine of work, summer camp, and jiu jitsu. We have no more travel until October and that’s ok. The kids start camp Tuesday. We get about 9-10 weeks of no homework, no carpool. If I need to work a few minutes late, it won’t be catastrophic. We have friends this year – and our friends have access to a pool! I’m optimistic. This may be our best family summer yet!

I’m ready to relax for real!

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