Bittersweet Sixteen

16 years ago today I got my first glimpse of the face that was going to change my life for the better forever…

I’m quite sure at that moment I had absolutely no preconceived notions about what that little tyke would be like at the ripe old age of sixteen, but even if I had…he has far exceeded them all.

So today was the day to celebrate Uber, and celebrate we did – – mostly by eating our way through the better part of two counties!!  Andy’s “formal” celebration was on Saturday, when we got together with 15 of our good friends and family for an outing to the local minor league baseball diamond.  Our home team lost in a big way, but we made up for it in loud enthusiastic support!

But today was all about the food!!

Homemade waffles in bed for starters…

A stop by our favorite coffee cafe, where Uber is so much of a regular that they had a candle-topped muffin already waiting for him!

Then it was time for Andy to cash in on his birthday present from one of our dearest friends – – lunch out at a local vegan eatery.  Right up Uber’s meat-free alley!! What we didn’t know was that our friend’s restaurant suggestion even provided free birthday favors in the unisex bathroom!!!  Those vegans know how to party!!!

After a little more rambling around in Uber’s favorite sections of counter-cultural society, it was time to eat AGAIN…this time at Timeworn-Techie’s house for burritos, and of course some ice cream and cake. 

I swear the poor kid just told me, “Don’t worry about fixing me anything for breakfast tomorrow mom.  I won’t be hungry.”

Thank goodness we couldn’t afford a car for the kid on his big day.  He’s going to need to walk till he’s 17 just to burn off today’s calories!!

Happy 16th Birthday Uber!!!

Advertisements

Maybe I Can Practice While I Vacuum

Believe me, I understand how vomitous it is to read yet another blog post by someone saying how busy they are.

But I am seriously, no-holds-barred, barely-can-find-time-to-take-a-shower, ready-to-run-screaming-down-the-street kind of busy right now. 

So please forgive me for my bloggy neglect. 

j0283975 And to ADD to the busyness I am seriously thinking of taking up the harmonica.  I have no idea why.  I just want to.  My dad played a little, and maybe I’m just having missing-my-daddy issues.  But the harmonica looks like so much dang fun to play. 

On the downside, I’ve never really been able to get proficient in playing any other instrument.  Five years of piano lessons gave me the ability to plunk through a few elementary-age songs fairly well.  That is the height of my expertise.

To make it even worse, I have several family members who can pick up any musical instrument and make it bend to their will immediately. 

Stupid gene selection!! 

We have a neighbor who sits out on her back deck every night and plays the Native American flute.  Won’t it be cool when I just chime in with my harmonica out of the blue one evening???!!!  It’s almost worth it to learn just for that moment alone.

But the most positive side effect of all?  My boys will see that you are NEVER too old to let your interests lead you toward learning.  Golly, I love unschooling!!

Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit

Today was a FUN day.  I mean more fun than a lost dog in a meat market! I have no pictures to show for it, but that’s because I was having too much fun to remember to take them.  The temps in our area hovered around 90 degrees – – the first and only time I can ever remember that happening in April.  It was a day right out of a Joe Cocker song…”walking on a sidewalk hotter than a match head.” But did we care? No. We were playing in the “big city” today with friends and leaving our cares behind.

First stop…food.  A place called Barley’s which is famous for its beer and pizza.  Weirdly enough, I don’t care much for either, but the spinach salad was so good it made you want to swallow your tongue afterward just to get the last bit of juice off your taste buds. 

Second stop…Mast General store.  If you don’t live in North Carolina, then you don’t know about Mast General, which is as sad as a mule with a mouth full of bumblebees.  Mast General is just about my favorite place in the world to shop.  Each one is set up like an old general store – – right down to the barrels of old-fashioned candy that you purchase by the pound.  They sell everything from woven baskets to hiking boots and I could basically bookpitch my tent there and take up residence.

Third stop…the bookstore…where I purchased the book that inspired this blog post.  The one that has given rise to the terrific sayings (seen here in italic) that can only be homespun here in the south.  All I can say is that if you were to head over to Amazon and purchase your own copy, you’d be smarter than a tree full of owls.

Final stop…the chocolate lounge!!!   The part of the day I had looked forward to most. AND the place where I learned the most valuable lesson of all…teenage boys can never appreciate the finer things in life.  When three relatively sane boys scrunch their nose up in disgust over a wine glass full of sipping chocolate, you know that bringing them there was about as smart as trying to sling a hammock between two corn stalks.  We moms are already planning our next visit – – sans neanderthals.

It was a glorious summer-like spring outing in the city, and I hated to call it a day, but I guess (((sigh))) sometimes you simply have to pee on the fire and call in the dogs.

R-T’s Man Crush

I’m not a naturally jealous person.  Well, at least not in the sense of checking the hubster’s collar for lipstick stains, or foraging through his pockets for any stray hotel matchbooks. (I guess the mere fact that I used such clichéd examples of jealous wives shows that I’m not even green-eyed enough to figure out what it is wives are supposed to do these days when they suspect infidelity!)

However, even my unsuspecting personality has been on slightly higher alert the last couple weeks.  I mean a woman just KNOWS these things, whether or not there is any substantial evidence.

And R-T has been feeling slightly depressed ever since his doc temporarily quarantined him from his favorite hiking haunts.  So, I guess it’s not that surprising that he would seek out someone to make him feel alive again – – virile – – dangerous.  When one name started to come up more than once or twice a day in conversation, I admit my ears perked up.  Even worse, I actually caught him watching video covertly in the bedroom not once, but twice.

Finally, I just decided to confront my questions head on.

“Do you have a man-crush on Bear Grylls?”

Like any man, he avoided the question altogether at first.  “Did you know that he has skydived onto every continent on earth??  And was one of the youngest Britons to ever climb Mt. Everest?? And that was AFTER he broke his back in three places and doctors weren’t even sure if he would ever walk again!! Is that not freakin’ amazing??!!”

While I stood there with my mouth open, not able to find the words to respond, R-T got up the nerve to confess everything.

“I’m thinking of sending in an application to join him on his show.  He’s asking people to send in letters and videos and explain why they deserve to get to go on an adventure with him.  I really, REALLY want to go with him.  I think I would be the perfect candidate! Don’t you?”

Instead of breaking down or lashing out, though, I started trying to rationalize my husband’s disloyalty.

It had to be the pain medicine they gave him for the broken ribs – – that, and his recent restlessness and despair.  He’s hallucinating, of course.  Thinking that I would EVER let him go on an adventure with Bear Grylls – – he’s moved past depression and is now in full-blown psychosis!!

Rationalizing only gave me so much comfort, though.  Especially after I discovered the letter he wrote to Bear.  I’m including it, here, in case you had some lingering thoughts, dear readers, that perhaps I was paranoid and just imagining my husband’s man-crush.

Dear Bear,
I believe you should pick me to be your guest on one of your televised survival adventures. Americans have this whining thing down to an art form. I have no doubt you will be inundated with letters from this side of the Atlantic by very noble people who have selflessly overcome many challenges and probably deserve a chance to go adventuring with you. That stuff might work on Oprah, but not on someone like you who eats raw maggots from the rotting intestines of mountain goats. Let me be blunt. I don’t deserve it at all. Consider this: How would you feel if one of those noble, selfless candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize ended up croaking on one of your wild survival treks? Could you really live with that guilt? Why not take an ordinary guy like me and not risk years of emotional self-flagellation if I slip through one of those ice crevices? Instead of boring you with some really sad story about why I am the most deserving contestant I am going to cut right to the chase and appeal to your ego. Obviously, you have a massive ego. Anyone who breaks his back in two places and then goes on to become the youngest British person ever to climb Mt. Everest in order to write a book about it has to have an ego to match that lofty summit.
In trying to appeal to your ego, let me first just say what a cool name you have. It’s right up there with Crocodile Dundee. Americans rarely get named after ferocious animals and when they do it’s usually just a golfer named Tiger (although I recently heard he changed his named to Cheetah) or someone like that. Also, I must add that you have single-handedly restored my faith in British masculinity. Before Man vs. Wild, my opinion of your country had been largely formed by my wife’s obsession with Jane Austen’s Victorian England and those Notting-Hill-Love-Actually-Bridget-Jones movies that she is always watching. Based on those, I used to think that all British men ran around like Hugh Grant speaking in a posh accent while fretting over paper cuts or getting exercised about the bread crust on cucumber sandwiches. Then you came along, biting through the spinal cords of raw fish with your teeth, eating worms and drinking your own urine. Wow! You taught us what it means to be a real Brit of a man by showing us that when some of you say “bloody” it’s not just an expression, but an adjective that is going to describe supper on tonight’s episode of Man vs. Wild.
I also happened to notice that before you parachute out of planes or paraglide off the side of a helicopter you make the sign of the cross. So I suspect that if you are a religious man living in England that you must be an Anglican. What good fortune it is that I just happen to be an Episcopal clergy person. Having me on your show would help strengthen the Anglican Communion. There’s no question that it could use some of your survival skills. Now to be honest, those of us who are in the Anglican Communion really have no idea what that is other than to use one of our favorite phrases: “It’s a profound mystery.” However, like all good Anglicans, we believe that if it is really old then we must somehow work to preserve it. That is where you and I come in. Countless Archbishops and ecclesiastical hierarchs have held numerous conferences and drafted endless parliamentary resolutions seeking to ease the strain on the bonds of the Anglican Communion, but what it really needs to jump start the process is for an Episcopalian and a member of the C of E to go out and leap over a pit of rattlesnakes together or make our own zip line through a rain forest somewhere. I do not know the Archbishop of Canterbury personally, but I cannot help but think that you would earn some good will within Lambeth by doing your part to foster the Communion. You could even rename our joint episode and call it, “Man of the Cloth vs. Wild”.

Thank you for your consideration.
R-T

So, as you can see, I am completely justified in my jealousy.  I am not sure what recourse to take, at this point.  Do I give him an ultimatum??  Wild Man or Topsy??  or do I take the if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em tactic and offer to go ahead and move with him to the mother country for the sake of the children??

Think of me, will you, as I ponder these things in my heart?  Who knew that a few broken ribs could also lead to a wife’s broken heart??

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

So I haven’t blogged about the hubby in a while, and after this week, I think it just may be high time. 

That’s because this week, Resistant-Techie has come front and center of the Topsy drama.  To explain why, though, I’ll need to backtrack just a bit and give you a little history.

Not only is R-T not the techiest tool in the shed, but he is actually quite proud of it, you see.  He makes it known far and wide that he don’t need no stinkin’ flashing lights and beeping sounds in his life.  No sir!  He is a man of the great outdoors!!

So, in keeping with his character, he has made it his life’s goal to see every known (and unknown) waterfall within a 100+ mile radius of where we live.  And let me tell you – – that is no small feat.

R-T hikes in good weather and bad weather.  Alone or in company.  He doesn’t care.  He just wants to explore falling water and take photos of his finds.  Right now I could basically keep every calendar company from here to Nantucket in business with all the incredible waterfall pics that are sitting on our hard drive. 

If R-T doesn’t get to hike at least once a week he gets antsy.  No, no, I mean really antsy.  Trust me…I love the man and he has definitely still got it and all, but I’m all for the hiking, capisce??

Anyhoo – – the hubster often has to hike alone.  That’s because if he always waited for the geek squad to join him, he would be twiddling his thumbs until he had a nasty case of carpal tunnel. So he heads out on his own.  The only requests I make of him are that he please let me know the general direction where he is going and that he please stay on the trail.  That way, if he does run into the inevitable bear, and ends up as Resistant-Techie pellets, I will have the DNA to produce for the life insurance peeps. 

But last week he got cockier than usual when his spidey-senses told him that there was an as-of-yet undiscovered waterfall just over the ridge from the trail he was on.  He WAS in the general direction where he told me, so I suppose he figured one out of two wasn’t bad. 

But it was.  Bad. And now I feel guilty because I should have been there.

Had I been with him, he would have never gone off trail.  And had I been with him, he would have never convinced himself he could walk across a log to get to the other side of a creek.  And had I been with him, he wouldn’t have slipped off that log and landed with his side slammed against it.  And had I been with him, he wouldn’t have a broken rib and three detached ones.

And now, poor hubby has been forbidden by his doc to go out traipsing through the woods for at least 2-4 weeks.  I’m figuring that is going to make him one ANTSY camper.

And me?  Well, let’s just say I SHOULD have been there.

Why We Homeschool…The Sequel

So.

Where were we?

Oh yeah.  Deciding whether or not to send my little guy back into the world of mass-market learning.  Well…I spent the whole summer before Uber’s 1st grade year studying my options…

  • Private school?  Not even an possibility.  Therapies and doctors visits had already put our rears in arrears.
  • Public school? Scary.  I’d heard horror stories from local moms about how their kids with special needs were mercilessly teased and how services for kids with IEP’s or even worse – – giftedness – – were basically non-existent.
  • Charter school?  Hey, there’s an option. So we went for it!

But no one told me that the brand new charter school which was getting such rave reviews had a waiting list about three miles long. (and btw, Uber could’ve probably done the unit conversion for that to kilometers in his head at that age!)

So we homeschooled again the next year.  And the next.  And it was a rousing success. But when H-T’s time came along, would you believe I STILL couldn’t quite give up the dream?  That’s right, H-T’s cute little five-year-old tushie was marched right into kindergarten. 

And yes, I got to be a homeroom helper.  And wait in the drop-off/pick-up line.  And even bring cupcakes for his birthday.  The whole kit-n-kaboodle!!  Yet when his teachers sat down with me for his first conference and told me they suspected he might have a learning disability, the very first thought that came to my mind was…

“Well, I’ll just homeschool him then.”

So I did.

And except for a short bout of Uber wanting to try his wings in school during sixth grade and part of seventh, that is exactly what we have done. 

Not because I didn’t believe in the public school system – – far from it.  But because I believed it was the best choice for my individual kiddos.  And I still believe it…so much so that this year I’ve even trusted my kids enough to put the bulk of the responsibility for their education into their own hands. 

And when they sit in their therapist’s office twenty years from now, and regale her with tales of how they are in the crappy mess they are in because their mother didn’t “socialize” them properly, I will STILL believe I made the right choice.  (and probably also that my latest facelift makes me looks a little too much like Charo)

But those are the breaks, kids.  All I can do is what I think is best for my boys, who I say I “love” when “love” doesn’t even begin to cut it. 

Here’s hoping they’ll think so too someday…

Teenager plus one

I swear it seems like just a couple months ago that I was bemoaning my youngest sons entrance into official teenage-dom. And yet, yesterday was H-T’s 14th birthday!!  How does that HAPPEN??!!

H-T is into keeping things really simple these days, so all he wanted to do to celebrate the 14th anniversary of his birth was have a family dinner at IHOP, followed by a silly string duel in the backyard. 

Uh. Yeah.  I think we can manage that.

I take back everything I’ve said about teenagers. 

Teenagers are a piece of cake.  (or in H-T’s case, a piece of store-bought giant chocolate chip cookie.  see?  easy!!)