Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Anya Has A Posse... time to saddle up

For almost a year now I've had the "Anya Has A Posse" graphic in my left navigation column on all my entries and on my main page. I've written a couple of times here in the last year about my good friend Keri, how she adopted Nastia and how she has been working on adopting Nastia's sister Anya...who is 16 now and living in an orphanage in Siberia.

For a long time, I've been silent on the Anya topic. Several of you have asked what is going on, where are they in the process. I haven't written an update because, well, there was nothing to say, there was no news to share, there was nothing to write home about.

Well, there is now news about Anya, and it is time to share. And I need to get the posse ready to ride. Here's what's going on.

For quite some time, dear readers, you know that Keri has been waiting for her adoption to go through. Kemerovo had closed all international adoption while Keri was in the process, and the adoption was stopped. This happened to her when she was trying to adopt Nastia, and Keri patiently waited for the reversal of the decision... and eventually things changed, and Keri brought her Siberian Princess home to Massachusetts.

We also thought it was curtains for Anya because once an orphan turns 16, there is no way to adopt him or her. And Anya turned 16 in August. But Keri learned there is a loophole for children who have siblings who are already adopted out into foreign nations, and because Nastia came before... Anya has until she is 18 to be adopted.

That is good news, the loophole. There was still time.


The hard part was the closed to foreigners adoption policy, wondering when Kemerovo would lift the ban... wondering when Keri go back to square one, start again from the beginning of the process, and get her daughter out.

At least Keri and Anya could communicate on the phone. But... it got to the point where the orphanage decided they would no longer allow Keri to talk to Anya because every time she did it would upset her so much she'd freak out.

There sits Anya... suddenly without a word from "home" and "mom." Anya became convinced that she wouldn't ever be adopted and that Keri had given up.

Well, a ton of political shifts have taken place in the past few months, and Anya's adoption is on the fast track once again. Hopefully, Keri will be able to adopt her and bring her home in February. Keri has been able to speak with Anya, be in contact with her, and everyone is thrilled about that.

Keri reports that Anya is not well. She is despondent, she is depressed. Keri has received reports from contacts and friends who go to check on her that Anya believes that the adoption will never happen, she will never come be with "mom" and her sister... that it is all pointless. It is all a lie. It is all a dream.

Anya has been begging her, "I need you. I need you mamma." Heartbroken for her, we know Keri is doing everything in her power to assure her, comfort her, bless her... When I spoke with Keri this evening, she was actually planning on the possibility of going over to Siberia over Christmas, just to give her that comfort in person.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is this will set Keri back quite a bit of money, and will probably monkeywrench the adoption and push it back later than February... which is something she doesn't want to have happen. Again.

Keri has been praying. Sometimes, she'll be in the middle of something and she'll feel it -- the call to prayer. She'll stop everything, she'll pray with intensity for Anya's healing, for her mental health, for her comfort, for her strength of soul.

Obviously, this is a lot on Keri. She wants to go there, get her now, can't do it, can't assure her daughter that soon all this will be well... she has work to do. She has Nastia to home school, she has Shakespeare to teach.

So now, posse... Anya's Posse. Now's when you saddle up to ride. It's not about money right now. It may be eventually when Keri has to pull funds out of mid-air, and I'll call for that then. But right now. Oh honey.

Anya needs prayer. Keri needs prayer. She cannot shoulder the burden of cosmic mojo all on her own.

When we talked tonight, Keri mentioned a prayer circle. An old fashioned prayer circle where people are notified what to pray for via the church newsletter or something.

I said, better yet... I'm so blogging this.

Many of you who read here walk with God. Many of you are kind of spirit even if you are not of "the faith." Many of you believe in a kind of cosmic mojo like I mentioned before, and will gladly pitch in the good vibes.

I don't care who you are or what you believe. I'm putting aside any sort of denominational hierarchy and I'm going whole-hog ecumenical, even all World Religiony on you.

I need you people now. Anya needs you.

Rally your hearts and minds and spirits round a little blonde girl in Kemerovo Siberia, and pray for her daily. Pause and contemplate her situation, daily. Wiggle your fingers and send the powerful energy to her, daily. Starting now.

Some of you have not prayed in YEARS, I know it. Some of you have had your hearts and souls burned by organized religion, but men and women who have abused the power of faith. Some of you are currently being victimized by judgment and scrutiny, even from your own parents and siblings.

Put that aside.

Please reach into your stores of energy and share it with this child. You can do this in so many ways without smells and bells, crossing yourself, kneeling in a church. Here are some thoughts:

  • Set your Outlook Calendar to go off once an hour with an "Appointment with Anya."
    If once an hour is too much... a few times a day while you're sitting at your desk. Perhaps the moment you arrive, the moment you get back from a meeting or from lunch, the moment you shut down your PC to go home for the night. You can do it.
  • You can print the photo, stick it up at your desk, and each time you glance across it, let your mind soften and your heart speak her name.
  • If you have children, when you look at them, talk to them, lift her up in your thoughts that she will one day be home with her mom and sister
  • If you're running on a treadmill in the gym, instead of staring at the tv, look ahead of you, focus, send the energy you're generating to Anya.
  • When you're stuck in traffic in Boston, each time you step on your brakes -- let that be a moment to think on her.
  • As you're falling asleep at night, in the quiet small hours (like now, it is 1:02am for me and I'm writing this because my brain will not allow me rest) think on her.

I don't believe in asking God for specifics. I was taught to pray by some very wise and super smart men at the college I went to avoid praying for the specifics because disappointment always arises when those specific wishes/prayers don't come to fruition. We then end up angry at God. Instead, I always pray that good and right outcomes will be realized, and His will shall always be done in whatever the situation. Let his will be done. That's all. But I do know what she, Anya, needs and I honestly believe God will bless her with these things if we ask. I think these are the kinds of specifics that he can get behind if we all sing it out together:

  • She needs healing in her soul.
  • She needs calm and comfort in her mind.
  • She needs her anxiety to cease.
  • She needs peace and understanding.
  • She needs to be ready to have acceptance in the face of disappointment if Keri cannot come be with her in December.
  • She needs assurance in her heart of hearts that it is for the best and will result in her eventual, sooner than we ever imagined, adoption.
  • She needs the power of the holy spirit to enter into her and enrich her and support her right through all this.

And while we're at it -- I mentioned praying for Keri. Please do not forget her. She has had a couple of amazing answers to prayer in the past week... but I know she needs strength and guidance, the support of all the mojo we can muster to help her get through this. Pray also for Nastia as I'm sure that all of these things are overwhelming to her... there are fears and anxieties and uncertainties that I'm sure she cannot voice right now. I cannot speak for her, because I don't know what possibly is going through her head, but suffice to say that her life is directly impacted, shifted, changed, altered, once Anya comes to join her. Sisters who have not grown up together, who were split apart so long ago. Please consider her as you walk through your day.

You don't need to leave a comment or let me know that you're praying or meditating or sending mojo or anything, don't feel obligated, but I would love to know who is in the circle. And I bet Keri would love to know.

I'm dead serious in my desire for Anya to be cared for, not just with food and warm blankets, but with a sustained spirit. She can't pull that together for herself right now, and I know her posse will have her back on this... in the form of lifting her.

Thanks for your time. It is now so very late and I'm so very tired... and I guess that pounding this entry out over the last few hours is yet another example of how to pray for someone.

Blog it too on your end, direct link to me here, spread the prayer circle. Get'r Done.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Thanksgivingness Update

I've been trying to sit and write this entry for days now... I had a lot on my mind and really couldn't sit and put into form what I wanted to share with the world and talk about this Thanksgiving.

There isn't anything wrong, per se. I would just sit down here and start typing and after an hour hate what I was saying, so I discarded entry after entry. This one, I want to make stick. Just because you guys deserve an update. In order for me to do an update though, I find myself wanting plenty of uninterrupted time, and a clear head and open heart. So more than a week has passed and many of you feel maybe I've been put into a hospital in traction due to my back. Well, rest assured, dear reader. Not an ounce of truth to that speculation.

My back is better but not perfect. Doug and I took a long walk today and halfway through it I wanted to go back to the car. The dogs needed a run, so I sucked it up but really feel like it is time for Dr. House to do an MRI on me.

I'm too young to be couch ridden, playing video games, against my will and better judgment.

Since my last entry, I turned 41.

The birthday was quiet and uneventful. Doug and the kids met me half way between my office and the house at The Cheesecake Factory. Now, I know I've said here before that we prefer non-chain restaurants, but I had been to a Cheesecake factory and REALLY loved my meal, so I figured for my birthday... well, why not.

It was kind of craptacular. And I'm truly disappointed that we spent the money to get the bland-assed food we ended up with. Our appetizers were ice cold, and it sucked because we each took bites out of the items and sat there looking at each other wondering if we should send them back to get heated up a touch when the entrees all showed up. Mere moments after the appetizers.

I got the "bang bang chicken and shrimp," which was more like "bland bland chicken and shrimp. It was 98% rice, not at all flavorful "Thai" sauce and rubbery chicken. The shrimp was decent... and that was about 1% of the over all meal.

Jess got Shepherd's Pie... which is what she got the last time we were at The Cheesecake Factory and it is her all time favorite thing to get out at restaurants where it is carried. She was stoked for it, and didn't even need to open the menu to see what her other options were. She said it was all salty and not very tasty.

Doug got the Hungarian Goulash, which he said was ALL salt and no other flavor of anything. He ended up waking up in the middle of the night parched, dehydrated and his mouth dry as the Sahara.

Geoff got a cheese pizza, and that boy will eat hot melted mozzarella on a cardboard sheet, so he was perfectly happy with what he had.

After the meal, which some of us finished and others didn't (me being the latter) we wrinkled our noses, paid the bill, and got some cake to go to eat at home... no one wanted to eat cake after that experience. I think I ate mine on Wednesday night after I got home from work.

Fool me once...I doubt I will go back. Hands down, that was a nasty meal in a beautiful presentation. And I'm sorry -- I'm not paying for pretty fixtures. We won't be visiting one again anytime soon. Meh. I could have had really delicious pad Thai if I wanted Thai food, but there I was at a big box restaurant hoping for a decent bite and got nothing.

I honestly blame the "too much on the menu" thing. They have about 65 different entrees on the menu. And that is way too much to specialize, focus, and MAKE a good meal out of something. Sad. I'd rather go somewhere that there are 10 total choices, and you know there is a chef in back preparing them by hand, not pulling things out of pre-portioned containers and slapping it together.

If you have any opinions on the Cheesecake Factory -- feel free to share.

My parents came up for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Doug roasted a brined bird, a la Alton Brown, and it came out wonderful. He made this huge squash casserole that smelled really good, but just didn't taste as great as it looked.

Perhaps we can sell the recipe to The Cheesecake Factory. Heh.

Thanksgiving is a really low-key holiday for us. We don't have 30 people for dinner or have to go from house to house to house visiting and catching up. We talked to people on the phone who weren't with us, because they were in NY or Pittsburgh or Portland Oregon... and we took a couple of walks with the dogs, and that's about it.

I like low-key. Low-key is some good stuff. As much as I miss family far away, to me it is more special to see people in the middle of July when there's nothing going on... or February... bring the love at different points of the year.

After doing that travel thing to NY when my parents lived there, I learned my lesson... just stay home. It's okay. See folks another day. Thanksgiving and Christmas and whatever... they don't have to be these EVENTS that are blown up with stress and expectations. Just get with people who are geographically close, and do Thanksgiving in March if you really really gotta do it.

Also, I don't really get the after-Thanksgiving insanity with the shopping. I know people who go out for Black Friday shopping, and I listen to them tell the tales of woe with the traffic taking 4 hours to get to the outlets, and the "by the time we got into the store and to the counter the laptop that was on special was GONE!"

??? uh... dude? What'd you expect, that you were the only person gonna show up to get that special deal? Wake up. No deal is worth the stupid that you have to deal with in order to get through the door.

I also think it is criminal for retailers and stores to whip folks up into a frenzy. Just open at the regular time. Have a sale. Act normal. Don't be all "door busters insanity!" at 4am. It is just wrong and stupid. And it makes people have to come into work at midnight to get ready for the truckloads of stupid that will be coming down the pike to bust those doors open.

Once upon a time, I worked retail. Once upon a time, I worked for a store credit card company and had to work the day after Thanksgiving. No one appreciates you for it, from the consumer end to the boss end. And you go home with a migraine at the end of the day. You're welcome, America. Enjoy that Wii system.

I deliberately do not shop the weekend after Thanksgiving. I deliberately shop online. I hate malls, I hate stores, I hate crowds. Or, I go to small, unique gift shops in small unique towns and buy different, unique gifts that you can't find at Target or Best Buy.

I'm a snob. With big box store restaurants and malls... I admit to you, I'm a snob. I don't like the homogenous nature of consumerism here in America, where every kid has THAT razor scooter, THAT Nintendo DS, THAT game, THAT cd, THAT iPod. Don't get me wrong, there are things that I like that are really popular, Guitar Hero being one of them. But I'm not waiting outside in the freezing cold at 3am to GET a Guitar Hero. I'm ordering stuff online. And if you pay 20 bucks less than I did, good for you and your wallet but I don't care. I slept until 10am and have a stress-free smile on my face.

This leads me to kind of a point where I'm noticing that we think differently than a lot of people. Last night, Doug sat and watched all three installments of "The Godfather." I watched some of part 1 with him, and went and played the aforementioned video games. I'm not a big mafia movie fan, the genre does nothing for me. He came upstairs to bed and said "Wow. That was incredibly overrated."

I thought that was kind of funny, because I anticipated that he'd enjoy the experience of watching a real American film classic, with the word "classic" echoing through the air. It was presented uncut, unadulterated, uninterrupted, and I really thought he'd be all over it, making the connections between the installments, watching how who got where by part three... Instead he found it underwhelming. He said that the story just isn't interesting. The characters didn't connect with him. He just didn't like it.

It reminded me of this whole thing that comedian Jim Gaffigan does about when you tell someone you don't like or haven't seen their favorite movie and they get PISSED! I know a lot of people who love this movie, all three movies, and they always rank on everyone's top ten American Movie lists when these things are generated.

Well, I'd better keep him away from Star Wars and watching it Episode after Episode... he could really piss someone off without meaning to.

And here's what I've been having a problem really sitting down to write about.

Last week, one of the girls in the Shakespeare program lost her mom.

I never met mom, but I know her daughter well and find her to be simply a WONDERFUL and special, spectacular person. I really like her. When Keri informed me that her mom was sick, it gripped my heart in a way that I had not felt before for someone I didn't even know. Mostly because I was worried for the daughter.

When Keri told me they were moving her to hospice I felt incredibly overwhelmed with sadness, because you know that's the last stop on the mortal coil rail journey. When she died last week, I found myself slammed by the passing of this woman I never ever met.

I found myself pondering why I was so sad, and what it ran down to was I was so sad for her daughter. Knowing the things that would be coming up in her life, from high school graduation, to picking colleges, perhaps planning her wedding, and the next few summers with Shakespeare... knowing that her mom wasn't going to see her do any of those WONDERFUL and mind-blowing things really hit me. I was sad that she wouldn't have her mom beside her, but I was so sad that her mom was going to miss out on all of the above too.

And then, of course, ones thoughts turn inward and then it became all about me and Jess.

You with children, no matter how old they are, think of what it would mean to leave your 15 year old behind. Really look at your child, look at her, and really think about all the steps she'll take without you.

Are you crying yet? Yeah -- I sure did.

My daughter is the same age. Keri's adopted Siberian Princess is the same age. The two of us talked a few times, both of us knowing that the grief is one thing on the surface and that it is normal to be sad for someone dying. But when you can't help but think about yourself and your own child, it becomes an uncontrollable fear. The knowledge that there may come a day when there is nothing you can do, nothing that will change anything... and you'll be dead in a few days.

There were several moments in the past few weeks where I was just racked with helplessness suddenly sweeping over me, and then looking at Jess thinking that... well... she'll just have to make her own way.

Yes, in our house there is daddy... and I know Jess would be cared for, guided, helped, loved, all the more in my absence if (God forbid it a thousand times) I found myself on the way to hospice.

But there is something different with Mommy. And you mommies know that is true.

The memorial service was on Friday and I couldn't really bring myself to go to it. I knew this girl would be surrounded by family and friends. I didn't want to encroach upon that, being on her periphery is okay... she's got many hands to hold her up, and if she ever needed mine, they'd be there in a minute. But her mom's memorial service would not be the time or place for me to go and make that offer.

I also knew that if I went, I would be going for my own selfish reasons.

To thank God that it wasn't me who was gone, and to give him thanks that I have more time here on earth with my incredible daughter, and my incredible son. I would make a corner in my remembrances for the mom who was gone, thanking that He sent her to be here at all, to raise this lovely girl. To thank him for her presence here for the short time many had her. But I knew my prayers would be "there but for the Grace of YOU go I," and I didn't think that was right.

In the meantime, I've done nothing but think about this young girl and how awesome she is. I know many will step in to fill a void, as a mentor, council, friend, guide, muse... and all the while I do hope she keeps her mother close in her thoughts as the years pass.

And I am not going to promise I won't cry when I see her act next summer, because that's a promise I just can't keep.

Alright. It feels better to get that out. I am going to see what's going on for football, and see if Jess is ever coming home from Lizzy's today. I miss her.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It Could Be Worse...

Yesterday morning, I was in the shower and I stepped forward to pick something up. I slid. It was a very fast motion and I felt my legs going up in front of me. I put the brakes on (did you know I came with anti-lock brakes? I do... on all models, standard. Because I care about safety) and thankfully I didn't fall.

But Jeez Oh Man I jammed all the muscles in my lower back, right above my big fat arse.

And I am currently in incredible discomfort.

I'm glad it happened in the shower... I stood there bent forward for a few minutes with the hottest water our house could give me pounding onto my back. I gingerly got out of the shower and made it to my bed where I sat down...

and couldn't get back up.

It was about a half hour of "oh shit... oh man... how am I going to get dressed?" with Brodie dog jumping all over me because she wanted to cuddle and convince me to get back into bed... she's clever like that, with her cuddly puppy cunning ways.

Managing to get dressed and out the door, I made it to the car. Doug drove it last, and he does this thing with the driver's side front seat that makes me feel like I'm getting an exam at the gyno... the seat is reclined backwards to an absurd angle, and the front of the seat puts my knees up at 9 and 3 on the sides of the steering wheel.

Hello Doctor, how's it lookin' in there? Oh, you're not my doctor, you're the Subaru Logo.

I had forgotten that he does this to the car, and got into the seat before I could stop myself from falling backward.

The next 15 minutes are a kind of foggy mess, but I think I cried as I fished around for the controls to move the seat into a somewhat more comfortable position. I realized my left leg was still outside of the car, and I had to LIFT it with my hands to get it in the car... because it was blocking access to the seat position controls.

Why I didn't take Brodie's suggestion and go back to bed is beyond me.

I made it to the office, and we have a massage therapist who works on the first floor. I had his business card in my wallet, and gave him a call. He managed to find about 20 minutes in the middle of the day where he could see me and he fit me into the schedule. Thank God. I don't know if I would have made it through the day without seeing him. I'm going back on Monday, because it is obvious this morning that I'm not better, not 100%.

Guess it is official -- I'm old and crippled, right before I turn 41.

Fanfuckingtastic. Ouch.

So now I'm going to stand in the hot shower again, get a little looser... more heating pads and some Cat's Claw gel samples from the massage therapist's office... and I'm off to work. Thank God I don't have to do any heavy lifting/moving or anything that requires effort. All I have to do is program one spot that starts Monday and then preivew all the content for November 23-December 2. That is done in a big, comfy conference room chair while wrapped in a cozy blanket. I can handle that.

I wish there was a fun kind of thing to talk about, but you guys can go ahead and point and laugh accordingly if you want. Go ahead. Point and laugh at the old lady.

Gotta go. more later from cripplesville.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sucking Less at Algebra

Thursday was Parent/Teacher night at Jess' high school. I was there for 3 hours, because I'm one of these parents who goes and sees every single teacher. Every. Last. One. The teacher I wanted to meet with most was her Algebra teacher. A little backstory that I didn't blog about in September as I just didn't feel like getting into it, but you should know so I can gloat about how awesome my daughter is.

At the beginning of the year at parent night this teacher informed us that the kids were "all struggling with the class, none of them were doing well... and it was encouraging us as parents to encourage them to come in for extra help."

I was confused... last year she was an A+ student in geometry... what is the deal that she'd be struggling with all the other kids with Algebra.

And then I looked at her schedule and noticed it was Algebra II, not Algebra I.

"Um," I raised my hand... "Why is my daughter in Algebra II and not Algebra I? No wonder she's having a hard time... she doesn't know any Algebra. How'd she get in this class?"

"They changed the curriculum so ..." the teacher started to explain.

"Wait. Whoa. What you're telling me is that the school district changes the curriculum midstream, takes the kids in 9th grade and places them in a level 2 class for tenth grade with absolutely no pre-preparation, doesn't inform parents of this, and you expect "the children" to do a good job? And you're disappointed that they are not? What did you expect from them? Are you kidding me?"

I was kind of mad and told her that I wasn't taking it out on her, but this was all news to me. I hadn't heard a peep about anything changing in the curriculum. Had I known, I would have taken measures to see to it that we got her some training over the summer to prepare her for skipping an entire year's worth of education on a topic.

The teacher, she's so young and so beautiful and sweet and kind... God bless her... she felt my frustration, and the similar concerns and frustrations of the parents of the entire class. She told us that the kids are frustrated and she's doing the best she can with them.

"I know, I know, I'm sorry. It is what it is... I'm doing review with them..."

Oh honey. Stop. No.

"Review?" I gaped, "You're using the wrong word. It isn't review if you've never seen the material."

"In eighth grade they had pre-algebra. They were exposed to some of the concepts..."

"Eighth grade! These are tenth graders who don't remember what happened at the beginning of the summer, much less what happened academically two years or 18 months ago. It's not review of a full year's worth of course work that they studied and know. It is like you're expecting them to be fluent in Latin after reading a take-out menu from an Italian restaurant two years ago. That doesn't work too well, no wonder they're struggling."

Some parents started to leave because the bell rang and it was time to move along to the next stop on the schedule. But I was not satisfied with the situation and I was going to argue. Momma bear's hackles were up and the teeth were showing.

"I know, I know, I'm so sorry...but it is what it is. Please encourage your kids to come in after school, I'm here three afternoons a week and I'm here at 6:30am daily, a full hour before school starts. I have three free periods during the day. I will work with them, all day every day..." she offered. I thanked her for her time, and reiterated that I was not mad at her at all, I just couldn't understand what the hell the school district was thinking putting her in this position, not letting us know, and expecting good work out of the equally frustrated and confused kids.

After that night, I complained to the district and to her department head, not about her -- but about the situation. I didn't get any satisfaction there, so I knew that it was on us, actually... more on Jess... to get through this. I spent a lot of time following up with Jess, staying on top of her, checking how she was doing.

When she got her first test back, she got a 50. I had a minor stroke. This is not good. How is she going to go through the rest of the academic year with a grade like this?

Then, she said something that made me totally check my attitude.

"I think that for never having seen the material that a 50 is pretty good," said my sage daughter, my seniorita smarty pants. And I knew she was right. 50 for never EVER having seen this crap? Okay.

You know the family philosophy... suck a little less every day. So we applied it. I said "Think you can do a little bit better the next test?"


And she has. She is up to a 92 average. And out of all the teachers at the school, I wanted to speak with Ms. Algebra the most. I went to her class and waited a half hour to see her as she had three other parents ahead of me. I think I was her last visitor and when I came in she was so glad to see me. We talked for over a half hour. She is so impressed with Jess and how she's doing. 92 average... constantly making strides, not being afraid to raise her hand and say "I totally don't get it..." She told the teacher that the class sucked out loud, and everyone in the class laughed and they all agreed, and for all of them, it was kind of a cathartic moment -- to let it out, laugh, express their frustration.

All the kids in the class (except for one kid who sleeps and drools on the desk through the entire class) are making amazing strides... the teacher told me she could not be happier with how they've risen to the occasion... she is so proud of them. But told me that of all of them, she is most proud of Jess. Every day she is thankful for having her in the class. Her blunt honesty, her joy when she gets it... how she is respectful and thankful to her, and helpful to other people around her. The sense of humor she exhibits... all this was so refreshing for me to hear.

I told the teacher about the "suck a little less" thing and she LOVED it. "Oh yes! I'm so going to use that going forward... so you got a 67 on the test. Next test, just suck a little less and maybe get a 72. And you'll keep getting better and better!" We laughed at that and she really was wonderful to talk to.

And I'm so relieved that Jess has her for a teacher and that it is going so much better than I could have dreamed. Hallelujah!

Today we need to pull our ACs out of the windows and get the storm windows down... winterize the joint. We need to get all of our winter stuff ready. We haven't ordered wood yet, and that's pathetic. It's going to get cold soon and fast. I just don't feel like dealing with it. I also don't have the money, so that sucks. The house is also a disaster again and needs a total cleaning. I wish I had a cleaning crew to do this for me... meh.

I'm also in the midst of a web project that I'm not 100% happy with and sure of. I am switching someone from Godaddy's pimpyassed Website Tonight product to a hosted account because he wants people to do online payments (not a webstore, but pay your bill online for all different amounts...) and Website Tonight doesn't support that.

It is one of those situations where they signed up for it, and Godaddy said "oh yeah, you can do that. We'll just switch you over later when you're ready to do it!" They didn't know what that entailed. I thought an hour or two's worth of code and development and a phone call to switch. Ha! It's never that easy. Fifteen to twenty hours later, I find myself right now sitting on a website waiting for the DNS to repoint so I can load the new page. It's been a pain in the butt. All because the right questions weren't asked up front. Even the guys at the tech support place have said to me "gee, this should go faster... I wonder why it is so slow?"

Well, because it is the story of my life, I think. It never goes as smoothly as you expect or want it to.

So as many of you have already seen, the Fox 25 news segment (featuring me in all my really large, orange-fleece encased body, rather luxurious and beautiful hair and silly table finger-tapping glory) about adults who use social networking aired this week. If you still haven't seen it, oh... why not. Go here. Check it out. It is all the rage. I'm such a huge celebrity. My 15 seconds of fame.


And some of my rebel Shakespeare kids had their pictures from my photo gallery splayed upon the TV screen. That was kind of cool to see. I wish they'd shown the Midsummer pictures, not because King Lear wasn't GREAT but because... well, fairies and ass heads. That's so cool.

What other news... nothing really. Just that aside from my brief moment on the TV news, which the girl found hysterical, I've got a lot of stuff I need to be doing. I guess I should... get to some of that, eh? More later. Have a good day and a good weekend in all you do. I'm off to put down some storm windows.

Monday, November 05, 2007

And in the end, he sucked a little less...

We've had a busy week here at the Way Out Inn, and another busy week looms. I figured getting up early this morning and pounding out my first November entry would be the best thing I could do for you, dear reader. I know how you pine for news from this outpost.

Geoff is the Avatar!Last week we had Halloween. Geoff wanted to go it alone, but instead I got him a tag-along with his friend Sully and Sully's mom. Sully's got a little brother, and so I knew mom would be out there. Geoff was more than willing to go with her, but eschewed going with us... whatever.

Luckily Mrs. Sully is a good sport and welcomed him with. He had a great time, and we could hear him all through the neighborhood shrieking like a little girl at things that were not very scary, not one bit.

He made off with a fair amount of candy-based loot. He wanted to be The Avatar (for those unfamiliar, it is a Nickelodeon cartoon that we're very fond of). He had been asking since May to do this, and I was reluctant to shave his head or buy a bald wig. Lucky for us, Avatar has grown his hair out and is in hiding... and so I was able to make Geoff look like Season 3 Avatar and didn't have to resort to the baldening of a Season 1 or 2 version.

When he was out around the corner, I heard a kid go "Hey! It's the Avatar!" so my pulled-from-the-closet and culled from many different corners of the house costume looked the part convincingly enough that kids knew who he was.

I am not a big fan of store-bought costumes. I think going out and buying a 20 dollar "Scream" mask and saying you're dressed up for Halloween is a cheap and lazy path to walk down. If you're going to dress up, be creative. Don't just go get a black cape and call yourself a Wizard.

four of my five witches In addition to Halloween this week, I got to dress up. Geoff's Cub Scout Den had their annual Halloween party, and I headed up the witches room in the "haunted hallway."

We built a little "fire" with wood from my den mother's house and blinking orange lights and yellow, red and orange cellophane plastic. One of the cubmasters brought dry ice from his workplace (whatever he does, he's got dry ice!) and we filled our cauldron with bubbly, smoky weirdness. I started the evening with one witchy helper, and by the time the show got underweigh I had five junior witches in my coven. Pictured here are four of my five... not sure where number five was when I took the shot. I had them learn the witches parts from Macbeth, and we put the sheet into a Martha Stewart cookbook. It was a lot of fun to work with these girls, and it was the first time since Geoff has been in cub scouts that we volunteered to do the downstairs haunted hallway portion of things. Normally we'd be upstairs playing the games, but the boys all were feeling too old for that... so they wanted in on the action downstairs. Geoff worked with two older kids in the room next to mine, and had a great time. I was sore the next day from pinching the cheeks of chubby little boys that would look good in our cauldron, and we didn't scare anyone really... mostly made them just stare at us in disbelief. The scary room was down the hall and we could hear all kinds of screaming coming from there... my witches each went down to take a look and reported back that it was, indeed, wicked scary.

It was a good time. I'm going to miss cub scouts. Perhaps we'll volunteer to do this again next year. There were several younger boy scouts there helping out... the ties between our pack and their troop are strong.

What else... oh yeah. Football. Last Saturday, Geoff's team had an away game and played in the pouring rain. They won convincingly, and it was a mud bowl. One of the other parents who was there from our team said her son also had a soccer game, but it was called off because of the weather. Pfth. Soccer. A little pouring down rain can't stop football! Get a clue! Play in the rain... it's fun.

Geoff ended up forcing a fumble last week. He stood up and smacked the center right back into their quarterback. Doug and I heard him yell "Ball!" when the QB dropped the ball... and the kid next to him on our side recovered the fumble. It was pretty cool. He was quite pleased with himself.

"Did you see that? I made that guy bump into that other guy and he dropped the ball. And I yelled ball. And then we got it."

Yes I did. I saw that. Indeed. It makes me smile just thinking of it.

Geoff's football season ended yesterday. They lost 20-13 but it was a great game. Geoff played in several drives, instead of his usual two or three, and that was nice to see. My parents came up to watch the game and have a little visit. Geoff seemed happy to have someone come to the game to watch him.

101907 geoffThey had a pizza party after the game, and I wanted to talk to one of the coaches. He'd had a hard time with Geoff when they lost a game in September and Geoff majorly freaked out about it ... he was very displeased with Geoff's behavior that day and I think it may have colored how he felt about him for the whole season. And about us. He wasn't very friendly to me after practices when I would wave to him, and I knew... you just kind of know... you're the parent of a kid that another parent doesn't want to have to deal with. Some of you parents have had this experience... and you know what I'm talking about. You can't expect other people to like your kid when he is a total pain in the ass sometimes. You tolerate, or I should say, I tolerate a lot of mess and noise from this guy. I try and reason with him, let him know that the rest of the planet isn't going to put up with his shite, and he needs to straighten up and fly right. This coach tried really hard with Geoff, and I know the boy wore him down to a very raw nerve by the end of the season.

So I wanted to thank him in the end, eye to eye, face to face, for being patient with Geoff, and putting up with him. And helping him. He told me that by far, hands down, Geoff was the most improved player of the year. He came a really long way. From the very first day that they had him (the day that he told me he sucked, and I told him to "suck a little less") to that forced fumble, Geoff developed his skill and started to really get what he was supposed to do each and every time, and he was glad to see that improvement.

It felt good to hear him say it... he could have just said "you're welcome" or "whatever, your kid sucks and I hope to hell I don't have him next year" and I totally would have understood that.

I think that in the end, a lot of people learned a lot of things, not just my son. Geoff learned how to lose, how to win, how to hold two people back, one on each arm, how to not stand there after the play is over but to pursue, just in case something happens and he can make a good defensive play. He learned to be a little more aggressive, learned to hustle just a bit more, and hopefully that will develop more next year. And I think the coaches got to learn from a non-neurotypical kid, how he thinks and feels, how he sees things, what he can do and can't do... and they built on that. And I learned that my son finally found something he likes, and thank God it is something I like too.

Geoff's already talking about next year. And I'm already looking forward to it.

Anyway -- that said, I need to suck a little less right now and run out the door and get to work. We've got special super visitors at the office this week and it will impact where and when I get to preview content, so I need to get as MUCH done as possible to day, and clean my desk off. Nice. Gotta make it tidy and look less like a crash pad. More later. Have a good Monday...