Thursday, June 30, 2011

surgery and BOA

The results of my MRI are in, and after talking with the surgeon and Doug we've scheduled my surgery for August 3rd. Kind of looking forward to getting this over with. Also, our attorney emailed us to let us know that BOA received our complaint that was sent to the district court and their lawyers have requested more time to work on their end of things and do further research. He said that he gave them the date of July 26th to respond by.

It could be an interesting first week of August. Fingers crossed for great outcomes on both fronts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mess Kit

By the way, two entries ago when I wrote about the packing to leave for camping, I had mentioned I sent Geoff up to find his mess kit for eating at the camp. He couldn't find it, and flipped out, breaking his gianormous piggy bank and thus leading to us having to clean his room to spotlessness on Tuesday.

I found the mess kit.

It was actually up on his book shelf. Stacked nicely and neatly. Waiting. To be packed to go camping.

Sometimes, looking up when you're looking for something is the way to go.


Now, for those of you who know me, I am not a big stickler for tidiness. I don't ride my children every weekend to clean their rooms. There are dishes in my sink every day, new ones because we wash and then put in, and do it all over again. My house holds piles of clutter, piles of dog hair, and piles of junk mail, all of which I fight with... and sometimes it is a losing battle.

I am not a great role model for my kids, so I can't exactly demand of them if I am not willing to do myself, if you know what I mean.

After our Saturday Morning shenanigans with trying to get out the door to go camping, we returned home on Sunday night to that large, broken piggy bank in the middle of Geoff's room. On top of all his dirty clothes, and piles of paper thrown on the floor that he didn't need through the last several months of eighth grade... I wouldn't let him sleep in his room on Sunday night, because there was no walking into that room without slicing a foot open. There was broken glass in the bed.

On Monday, Geoff picked up all the glass he could and boxed it up for the garbage. I told him I was too tired after work to continue the job and that we'd tackle the rest on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon, I was downstairs and I heard the vacuum going, which meant only one thing: Geoff was trying to vacuum, and there was still a nightmarish amount of stuff on his floor. I didn't need the brand new vacuum we'd bought in April getting completely killed, clogged, demolished because of his haste. It was time for me to go supervise.

The vacuum was on top of a pile of glass, and he was trying to get the vacuum to suck up pieces that were too big.

I'm not sure whether that is just 14 year old boy thing or Geoff thing. I had him take the vacuum out of the room, I tackled the laundry pile, and had him address all the discarded papers, soda cans, wrappers, and all kinds of things.

We worked for two hours together, and then he told me that he'd keep going... I took a break and he kept to his word. Another hour later and I was back up there to check on him. He took a break to water the garden and ... of all things, do dishes. He came back up as I was finishing. We redressed his bed, and talked about the next projects - cleaning the "baby" books off the bookshelf and cleaning out the closet. All told, close to four hours of work.

I should require that he do this more frequently. I should also do similar things more frequently. The room looks great... I hope it stays that way for more than two days.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oh, to live on Swedish Fish Island...

Back home now from an adventurous weekend with one overnight at Adventure Bound in Caratunk, Maine. I had most everything organized but not packed the night before. I was happy when I woke up at 5am to start putting stuff in the bags and the car.

And then all sorts of fresh hell broke loose.

Geoff packed his bag and couldn't find his mess kit. He had taken it with him to Cape Cod on the bike hike in April, and had no idea where it was. I'm not the keeper of his gear, so usually I start hounding him a day or so ahead of time. This time, I kept my mouth shut until the morning of.

Kind of a mistake.

I sent him to his room to look for it, and said "If you can't find it, you'll be eating soup with your hands so get up there and look!" I went out to put stuff in the car, and Jess came downstairs to the kitchen where Doug was standing.

"Geoff just picked up his piggy bank and threw it across the room."

Mind you, this is no small piggy bank -- this was a two feet tall glass pig jar that Doug's grandmother gave us when she moved into assisted living. For years it has sat in the corner of Geoff's room. He puts money in it once in a while, but for the most part it was empty. And now it was shattered into a million pieces in his room.

I went up, assessed the situation, suggested that maybe he get his ass downstairs before I kill him, and that his mess kit was probably in the Troop Trailer.

We got in the car and left. Doug lecturing Geoff a bit, and we went to pick up Geoff's friend Devan and his Dad. Also named Doug, so I'll call him Doug 2 if the need arises.

So there we were, driving north, Geoff is prattling on and on, Devan has on his iPod and is in a world of his own. Geoff is just oblivious that no one is listening to him. As we get up north of Skowhegan, the skies clear up a bit, and we see this huge huge lake on our left. There are tons of little islands in the lake, and Geoff starts talking about moving out there to one of the islands and living there. Devan is now listening as Geoff weaves this tale of "Swedish Fish Island" and how he needs a couple hundred friends to come out with him. Devan thinks a couple hundred people will not be able to live on the island, that is too many, so just bring a couple friends.

The fascinating tale of Swedish Fish Island began to grow, and with each passing island Geoff's desire grew. "I will take a canoe out there, that one. No that one. No, this one is bigger, has more trees. And we'll settle there, and build cabins and have a great time."

With so many islands from which to choose, how does one pick which will be Swedish Fish Island?!

Devan asked what happens when everyone starts having babies and the population grows? Will the settlement move to another island? Yes, there can be Big Swedish Fish Island and Little Swedish Fish Island. Or, North and South Swedish Fish Islands. The entire bunch of islands can be like the Florida Keys, or an archipelago of Swedish Fish Islands.

I think I'd like to live there.

If you are ever driving up Rte 201 North of Skowhegan, look to the left after you go through Moscow and Bingham, and think of which Swedish Fish Island you'd like to live on, and come join us.

We got to our campground and the Scoutmaster and his family were already there. They'd come up the night before and camped at a KOA near Skowhegan (or even in it, not sure) and they were getting the site checked in.

The facility was beautiful. Great big huge welcome lodge with an indoor rock climbing wall and big TV with huge assortment of movies. They also feed everyone (I think it is for an extra fee, not sure) but we were having our own lunch and dinner as some of the boys needed a requirement of cooking at a camp out for rank advancement, so this was a great way to do it. We all had lunch, they had an epic game of soccer, some kids went for a hike, there was basketball and horseshoes, and a pool and a hot tub. The grown ups just sat and relaxed with feet up (or face under ice for the Scoutmaster as he took a shot of a soccer ball directly to the face. Hilarious and horrifying all at once).

After dinner, everything except the tents we were sleeping in was packed into the trailer so little or no work would have to take place. We had decided to eat breakfast in the lodge, at 7am, and so there was no need for all the cooking gear and the portable car tent thing that we have on trips (it is essential... the best thing ever). Everything put away, the boys had a date with the rock climbing wall. Geoff attempted but didn't get far. It's hard to rock climb at his size if you don't have the requisite upper body strength. Some of the kids raced right up the wall, others made it to the top after a lot of struggle. There was cheering and support. It was fantastic.

At about 8:30pm, the sky still beautifully light (thank you Midsummer!) and the boys in the pool and hot tub, the grown ups sat by the bonfire and chatted until 10pm. A few had never met, and this was their first time spending time together. There were stories and laughter, and the boys ran around the fields in their wet bathing suits, with the dusky sky above and mountains surrounding.

I slept like I was dead.

Breakfast in the morning was pretty good, and then we got down to brass tacks. A meeting was held for all the rafters. We had been given the opportunity to go on the actual rafting trip, but I didn't want to blow out my shoulder (and I also have my period so that would be no fun on the trip... six or seven hours without access to a bathroom to do the necessary business sounded awful to me).

The guys then suited up in their wet suits. The outfitters insisted on it because the temperature was below 65 degrees, and the water temp was pretty low... everyone groaned because they didn't want to wear the suits, but the girl running the show was really kind and smiley and said "trust me, you'll thank me later!"

Watching them get into their suits was hysterical. And the faces show how much they loved this. Geoff didn't want to wear the pants, he couldn't get a pair that would go on his body without a struggle and he didn't want to struggle. The girl in charge said he had to wear the jacket and he'd be okay in his swim trunks. "I have blubber power!" he announced, so she laughed. She asked if he was afraid of cold water and he told her how on a camp out he swam in a lake that still had ice on it, he always does the 6 am polar bear swim thing when they camp... so she was assured that he'd be fine.

And then they were off.

Doug and I finished packing up our tent, got ourselves organized, repacked the car, and headed out to a hike. We went to Moxie Falls, which was not too far from where we were camping. A nice short walk, and not too brutal a descent, and gorgeous views. Lovely. A hike out and a visit to another resort area, where the Kennebec Brewing Company has their brewery in the basement, we started to build a fantasy about returning in the winter for a long weekend of snowmobiling. Doug's always wanted to do that, and this place caters to those kinds of shenanigans.

We then missed a turn that Doug wanted to take, and ended up in Bingham where we got sandwiches, and we turned about to go find the turn he missed. Turn discovered, dirt roads encountered, we were heading uphill for some views and hopefully some wildlife.

These are logging roads, designed for huge tree-eating machines. We found a man on an ATV and asked him where the best views were. He told us to follow him, and we went way up, up slopes that we would not have gone up without a guide (thank you Subaru for being awesome). The views were truly spectacular.

The dude and his little girl spent time with us, he told us basically his family's life story of how they ended up living up here and all the beauty and life and experiences they have. He pointed out the landmarks, Pleasant Pond, Big and Little Sugarloaf, other mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and we just soaked it all in. Topped off by a beautiful sight of a golden Eagle flying around, hunting, we just had a beautiful and quiet lunchtime atop a mountain.

Back to the outfitters, the kids had just gotten back. Lunch was supposed to have been served on the river but they cut that out and decided to eat upon return. So the grills were fired up, the food was warming, kids were peeling off their wet suits, tales of amazement were being told.

Turns out Geoff got pitched from his raft on the first set of rapids, known as "Big Mama and her Three Sisters." He said "I ALMOST DIED!" and though he was under water for five seconds and was pulled back into the raft without incident, I am absolutely sure he FELT that way. Doug and I both had said two or three times while we were driving around that he probably had been pitched at least once... Turns out he got pitched in the scariest class 5 section of the trip.

The girl running the show was a merit badge counselor, so she had spent time with him in the raft covering all the stuff he needed to know. After lunch he took a quiz, got an 80 on it, and she was really proud of him, and very excited to sign off on his badge.

Near death experience but you get a merit badge. Nice!

Here is a picture taken by the rafting support crew, right when Geoff got tossed. It is a proof, so it is watermarked, and I'm going to buy the original and replace it (so nobody be mad at me just yet!). And he does NOT find this amusing, at all.

We had an awesome time, and I highly recommend this outfit to people. If you are looking for something to do in New England, something different, something exciting, and something where you're not just sitting around a camp site in the pouring rain with nothing to do, this is the place for you. As I said - the lodge has tons of stuff to do (I found out on the way out the door there is also an arcade and pool table. Dude!) and so if it is just pouring out and you're not on the river, there is stuff to keep people happy.

So that's our adventure. Perhaps next year if we do it again I'll go. My shoulder and the cycles of the body allowing, of course... But even though I didn't raft, I still had an amazingly beautiful time in Far Northern Crazy Beautiful Maine, near Swedish Fish Island.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Whitewater Adventure

So tomorrow morning bright and early, Doug and I are taking Geoff and joining the Boy Scout Troop in way hella northern Maine for some shenanigans whitewater rafting.

Personally, Doug and I will not be rafting... we're just going for the fun/camping/fellowship. And because I've just had the shittiest couple of weeks and really need to get away.

My prayer right now is that the rain/drizzle just stops. It doesn't have to be sunny/gorgeous/90 degrees and awesome. Just .... not raining. I don't mind if it rains while I am sleeping in my tent. I would just like it to be dry while Doug and I do a little hiking, maybe some canoeing.

The boys are going over some serious rapids, I have no interest in getting dumped out of a raft and soaking wet in a freezing cold river. I do have quite an adventurous spirit, but as of late just haven't been of the mindset to participate in such. I just want a nice quiet hike with Doug, in the non-pouring rain.

If it pours, I have no idea what we're even going to do to entertain ourselves. There is just so much sitting in the tent reading a book that I want to do.

So cross your fingers, lift a prayer. This girl needs a ray of sunshine and a break.

Edit 8pm:
And something else for you to cross your fingers for me over -- I just got my period, which means by Sunday it should be maybe kind of super not fun for me if the pattern continues. Great. Awesome. Super. Meh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts About the Big Man

When I was in high school, I had a crush on a tenor sax player, and wanted to switch from the flute to the tenor sax, so I could march near this guy in marching band.

I talked to the band director who told me that she had 4th and 5th graders who were doing summer music camp for their first instruments. She told me that would be the best thing for me to do, to come to summer music and learn how to play the thing. Either that, or learn how to play it myself.

So I did. I spent each morning with the 4th and 5th graders, honking away on a saxophone that my parents rented from the school district. I already had SOME music skills from playing the flute, but the fingering and the sound and the style of play were totally different and alien to me. We got through the summer, me and those little kids. And I was deemed good enough by our band director to make the change to tenor sax.

I wasn't just crushing on the boy who played tenor sax. I was inspired by The Big Man, Clarence Clemons.

I had been introduced to Springsteen in 8th grade English class when Mr. Smiley brought in "Darkness on the Edge of Town" for us to read the words and analyze. I saw live footage of the shenanigans on stage that Bruce was doing and I loved the energy and the love he gave in his performances. I didn't become a rabid Springsteen fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think that he joined the lineup of Taylor, Browne, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and Fogelberg for me at that time and his songs over the years have been written into the fabric of my heart.

And the way Clarence played that sax breathed such beautiful life into some of the songs. "Spirits in the Night" would not be the same without his short opening riff, and the end of "Jungleland" for me far surpasses that keyboard ending to "Layla" by Eric Clapton, hands down.

"Jungleland" was always my Springsteen song. I always imagined myself on many summer nights over the past two dozen years as "Barefoot Girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain..."

My husband doesn't like Springsteen. But as a sax player himself, I think that he most definitely respects the Big Man.

His passing ends an era, one where warm deep horn tones illuminate the text the way a monk would decorate the opening letter of a passage in a book. Now, everything is electronic, no one plays sax, and storytelling is truly lacking in songwriting. He will be sorely missed.

Fun in the MRI Machine

Today I had my MRI, which is necessary for the surgeon to know how bad the fibroid(s) is/are before he does the UAE procedure, which I discuss here in this entry.

I've never had an MRI. Jess had one when she fell off the stage in 10th grade and strained her MCL (knee) really bad. She told me what to expect, a little. Everyone told me the noise would be overwhelming and annoying, so I steeled myself against that concept and went in there today, expecting the worst.

I had to have an IV for the contrast pictures, the tech did a great job of getting it in and it not killing me. She got me all set up and handed me a list of Sirius/XM radio stations and told me to pick a station... any station.

Looking over the list, I opted for the E Street Band Station, All Bruce All The Time. I did this in honor of the passing of Clarence Clemons... more on that later.

My shoulder still isn't 100% but I was kind of psyched at how far I could get it down flat sort of up beside my head. She put a pillow under my hand and got me all comfortable. I joked with her that I was way way wayyyyyyy too fat to fit inside that stupid thing. She laughed and told me that I was indeed NOT too fat to fit inside. She put stuff on my abdomen, and I pointed out to her that now most definitely we were not going to be able to get in there. She told me to shush and plinked me in the arm.

We had a good laugh.

She went behind the glass and shifted the magical gears to roll me into the tube.

Now, I did fit. Nothing rubbed against the roof of the tube. That was kind of reassuring that I am not a giant huge unbelievable monstrously fat fatass. She cranked up the Sirius/XM radio, as cranked as it can be compared to the sound of the machine.

There were some soft acoustic strains of a song that I couldn't even identify as the machine started its own symphony. I probably should have asked her for the electronica station, because the machine sounded much like some sort of soundtrack to a rave.

Two "pictures" into the process my arm really started to hurt. The shoulder was just not loving being in the extended over my head position. I managed to move it about a bit, put my left hand under my elbow and hold it up. She asked me if I was okay, and I told her that I would make do and it was alright. Two more pictures, and it just wasn't working anymore. My muscles in my side were quivering, the shoulder itself was starting to spasm. She came in and adjusted me, putting my arm across my chest under my chin. While feeling a little tight in the breathing, this was much better. Much.

The radio started playing a recording of Bruce's 2009 Meadowlands show, the second to last show ever there before they tore it down. When they started to play "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" I actually cried a little bit. Listening to the crowd lose their minds over the lyrics "When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band, from the coastline to the city all the little pretties raise their hands. I'm gonna sit back right easy and laugh, when Scooter and the Big Man bust this city in half..." really really impressed sorrow on my heart at his passing.

The MRI tech came through my earphones. "Are you okay? You're crying. Are you in pain again? Is this freaking you out?"

No, honey. It isn't the MRI. I explained to her that I was sad for Clarence. She didn't know who he was, she knew the songs and the sax but not the man's name.

A few more images later, a few where I had to hold my breath, a few with contrast getting injected into my arm, a few that lasted over 5 minutes .... and then we were done. It was a good thing too, because I was starting to get hot and uncomfortable inside the tube, and my feet and hands were freezing from sticking out of the tube.

The noise of the machine indeed didn't bother me, and I kind of left doing my own noisy little beats that sounded like the dang thing. They gave me a CD of the images. I haven't looked at it yet, because I will, of course, have NO idea what the hell I'm looking at.

Now I guess we wait for the vascular surgeon to let me know what the next step is. But this was a lot better than I expected it would be.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Observations at Lunch

Jess and I had lunch at Panera today.

A woman walked in with a baby in a car seat. She sat at a table near us, and pulled the baby out of the seat and cuddled it. Nothing abnormal there. It was a very new baby.... very. I think it had to be less than a week old.

People started to walk up to her and engage her in conversation. They were beaming at her, talking to her about the baby, congratulating her. They obviously didn't know her, but they had lots of questions. There were young women, moms with little wee kids, other pregnant women, older couples.

They touched her affectionately on the shoulder. They touched the baby. They sniffed the baby on top of its head. They gently massaged the baby's toes. Everyone was beaming at the mom and her baby, going gaa-gaa goo-goo in the middle of the restaurant.

It dawned on me that no one ever walks up to parents to say "What a lovely young man you have there! How old is he? Fourteen you say! Oh my! He's so big and handsome! Oh, what beautiful curly hair! Oh he's a big one, a good eater? Yes?"

Babies. So overrated. Pfth.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Robin in the Road

Recently, I had a falling out with a friend. I honestly have NEVER had a falling out with a friend. I look back over time, and there honestly isn't anyone that I am estranged from for any reason. I've been frustrated with people, I've been worn out by people. But never have I had this experience. Ever. Not even with breaking up with boyfriends.

But now I find myself that way. It isn't like I wanted this to happen, but it just has.

I was driving to get Jessica at work the other day and in the middle of the road on one of the yellow lines was a dead robin. His mate was standing on the other yellow line, she had her mouth open and even through the closed window I could hear her song. I drove past, not having enough time to really pull wide to the right, I felt I was too close.

She didn't even move when my car passed.

I think I know how she feels.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Saw Today

Today I saw several dozen very dorky, self-conscious boys and girls walking across a stage to receive academic awards and certificates of completion of 8th grade. Two kids taking home the gold and silver medals in each academic category. This made for a big snoozefest for everyone in the audience.

I saw SEVERAL girls in very short skirts, or dresses that had their boobies pushed up and out like they were porn stars (I'm not kidding) and some very high heels. And some very short skirts. I saw at least three boys who obviously didn't give a crap about dressing like this was some sort of occasion of note, and at least three boys who over did it.

I saw several dozen kids who didn't receive awards for any academic feats but still had huge smiles on their faces when all was said and done. I also saw a social studies teacher who I am going to miss the hell out of, because he will not be in either of my kids' lives anymore. That made me very sad.

Congratulations to Geoffrey and all his friends who "graduated" today. Onward, some to different schools and others to our district high school. Wherever the road is taking you... be well, happy, and the best kid you can be.

In four years, you'll be the best adults you'll be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

College Students. My own and others.

Over the weekend, Jess turned 19. She didn't want to go out to eat or have people over or anything. In fact, Friday night we (Doug, Geoff and I) went on a church retreat and left here here to hang out with the doggies. She watched hockey, drank Kool-Aid and Seltzer, and enjoyed having the house to herself for the first substantial amount of time since coming home from college. I think that is the best gift that we could have given her.

It is weird to have a 19 year old, almost as weird as being married for 20 years. I have to say that in the midst of all the "are you kidding me" stuff going on in my life, in my body, in our bank account, it is so wonderful to not have to worry about her and her well being. I like the person she is. I like that she hangs out here in the living room with us instead of always hiding in her room (like I did when I was that age and younger).

We had pizza on Saturday night, and I took her clothes shopping yesterday after work. At her request. She hasn't asked for any new clothes other than wacky nerdy T-shirts that are mostly Dr. Who related. She bought a lot of rather nice looking grown-up work things to wear to work at church, which impressed me. Nothing too dressy because she is a lot like me -- not dressy. But she looks great. I loved dropping her off this morning and seeing her looking like a real person working at an office instead of a college student.

As mentioned, we went on a church retreat up to a Northern NH summer camp that our church supports to do a volunteer work day and help get the camp ready for the campers to arrive. Friday night was gorgeous -- moony, warm, a little buggy but we handled that. We had about 10 people, a bunch of little kids, and a huge fire.

Staying at the camp for the past couple weeks is a roving band of environmentalists, I won't link to their website or anything, mostly because I can't find an official page for them through web searching, which seems a tad sketchy if you ask me. But they are young, idealistic, haters of big carbon footprints and climates that change. They are biking through the region speaking to groups about reducing fossil fuel use, and my guess is mostly for in-home use like heating. In talking to a few of them, I found they were from places like New Jersey and Massachusetts, but they went to college in far away places like Florida and Texas. Which, begs the irony of how do they get there if not by plane or car?

Reducing my urge to get snarky I listened to them talk about how important it is to put geothermal in your home, or solar panels (considering the month of May was the gloomiest May on record, with 20 of 31 days being overcast/rainy, I don't think that solar is the answer for Massachusetts...). Then they talked about studying overseas in Copenhagen and Paris.

"Oh, did you take the Human Trafficking class while you were in Copenhagen?"
"Oh yeah, that was really powerful..."

Flying to Copenhagen to take a Human Trafficking class seems a little anti-climate love to me, but ... whatever. I reminded myself that I was once young and idealistic too. Only I wasn't bankrolled by wealthy parents.

Anyway, the best part was when a beautiful young girl came over and played guitar and sang a song about the garbage ball in the Pacific. A truly heartfelt, unbelievably schmaltzy song. It almost hurt to listen to. I asked her if she was a fan of Guster, because hey -- they love the environment. Adam Gardner is Mr. Environmentalism.

She heard of them but didn't know any of their music, but she said Adam came and spoke at her college in 2009 and that he was "really cool." I encouraged her to learn some Guster. It would have made my fireside time a bit more fun.

I offered her a marshmallow to toast and she looked around to see if anyone was watching. "Oh yeah. This is great. I'm not a vegan so I'll take one! But be careful who you offer these to! There are some serious vegans in our group."


She then played some Dylan ("Simple Twist of Fate") and her willingness to eat a marshmallow combined with that musical choice made me much happier. She asked us where we were from so we told her what we were doing. She asked specific questions about our denomination, as she was Catholic and hadn't heard of us. So Doug and I filled her in. She asked if we were just like Unitarians, so that was a fun question to field. We ended up having a wonderful time with her.

I went to bed and in the morning, it was POURING out. The forecast was for overcast, so I wasn't exactly prepared (some Boy Scout leader I am). I only had Teva sandals because I thought I'd be doing painting and/or trail maintenance and didn't want to ruin my one pair of sneakers. I didn't have a raincoat. I had sweatpants and a sweatshirt, but that wasn't going to protect me against the rain... I opted to hang out with the 5 kids in the nice warm cabin while everyone else worked outside. Doug and three others went to do the trail maintenance and got the truck stuck in the mud. Geoff went with Jeanine and did some interior painting in the game room. Greg and Grant got up on rickety ladders and cleared out gutters that were backing up into the barn and causing roof damage.

Greg said that if it wasn't raining, he never would have seen that the gutters were messed up, and wouldn't have been fixed. So we were thankful for the rain.

As for me, spending the day with these five kids was absolutely exhausting beyond expectation. They camp directors left us boxes of T-shirts to fold and put into the camp store, and there were literally hundreds of them. The two older boys and the one girl did a fantastic job of folding the shirts and sweatpants and the two younger boys used boxes as boats, hideouts and forts. The boxes didn't last long. It was a riot.

All told they were probably as worn out as I was. It took me two days to recover fully from spending the time with them. This was my favorite picture of the day, I gave them a "break" and they just turned into a pig pile of children. Geoff later came in and sat on all 4 of them... and they loved it even though they screamed like they were being murdered.

Twas a good time.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little exhausted still, and a little blue today. Must be all the non-sunshine and the left over 5 children hangover. More later.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Physical Therapy

I've shared with some of you the fact that since the first week of May I've been seeing a physical therapist twice a week. Long and the short of it is in December of 2009, I narrowly avoided a car accident by swerving into someone's yard during a snow storm. I wrenched my shoulder and neck (right side).

My friend Keri brought muscle rub to my office and pain killers and saved my life because I was seriously struggling staying at work being in such pain. So thankful to her still for that, to this day.

Throughout 2010 my arm hurt if I sat in the wrong position for too long, or if I slept wrong on it. In December of 2010 Doug and I moved 2 cords of wood into storage, and I was incredibly uncomfortable after that, and it just never got better. At the end of February, I was not able to sleep through the night because of the pain. I went to an orthopaedist, he gave me a cortisone shot and told me I had tendonitis. He told me to do exercises, and I did, but it wasn't getting better at all, so he sent me to PT.

I go the next town over from me to a nice little place. The staff is really good, and when they evaluated me, I couldn't lift my arm over shoulder level.

Fast forward five weeks, and I am doing much better -- my range of motion is great... but there is one problem

I cannot put my hand behind my back, I can't get it past my butt cheek. Now, mind you, I do have a big butt, but... I should be able to reach back and scratch my own back or pull my bra down to unbuckle it.

This makes for a comedic situation sometimes, but it is mostly just a pain.

I have stretches I am supposed to do, and I do them. I have an evil green band that I'm using to pull on my arm and try and get it behind my back. There is a feeling of "catching" at times, almost like a snag. It happens when I move quickly to maybe pull my pants down to go to the bathroom, or when I accidentally hit my arm on something while I turn. It is a debilitating pain -- I almost black out. I see stars. So ... I try not to use my arm in that manner.

I'm glad that the PT has helped, because in February I honestly had no idea what I was going to do. I'll be sad when the PT stops -- and I'm honestly afraid that my arm will go back to worse by having the PT end.

We shall see.

What I Saw Today

On the highway driving south to Awesome, I saw a horse trailer with three horses inside. They all had their heads out the windows of their stalls, and their lips were flapping in the wind, and their manes were flying.

They looked very funny.

And maybe they were all dogs in a past life. Who knows.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Uncontrolable laughter in church

So today, it was a communion Sunday in our church. Doug wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home, and I'm kind of glad because he would not have found any of this entertaining.

It was also Youth Sunday, so our kids in the congregation did most of the service. Things were going really slowly, and there were a lot of people there, so communion seemed to take forever. Jess was sitting next to me and she started to dip her pita bread (the "body" of Christ) into her little wee cup (the "blood" of Christ) and I scowled at her.

"The Blood Of Our Lord is NOT a dipping sauce!" I whispered with a mean face.

So she started to laugh, and I started to laugh, and I looked away, and then looked back at her and we both lost it. A woman sitting in front of us had looked over her shoulder to see what was taking so long for the distribution of communion, and caught us, so we started laughing harder. SHE started laughing. A woman behind us started laughing.

It was kind of out of control.

It has only happened to us a couple of times ever, sitting in the pews. Whenever we sing this hymn, it happens. We can't stop laughing because all we can think of is Mr. Bean.

So inappropriate and so awesome.Link

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Summer Plans for Geoff...

Geoff had applied to a local agricultural/tech high school and didn't get accepted. He found out in mid March, and was rather upset, but he took it rather well in the end. He seems to have accepted the fact that he is going to our local regional high school., and I've tried to get him focused on making the best of a situation that he didn't want to be in.

He told me today that he wants to sign up for football, and fall sport sign ups are this Monday night. He played a few years back, if you recall, and he enjoyed it greatly but then up and quit for 7th grade. He figured he would be too busy with academics to make time for sports. So I was kind of glad to hear that he was willing to do this. He needs to do something, to integrate with other kids and get "into" high school.

I'm trying to convince him that he also needs to do band, percussion ensemble, theatre. Something. He's good at these things but has not done them in middle school, even though kids have asked him to join and be part of things.

Hopefully he'll come around.

This summer he is doing the July program for Rebel, and I have him signed up for the August program too, but he told me that may not work if he makes the team. Practices start in Mid August.

"I have a lot to consider and think about, it seems," he said to me in the car yesterday.

All told, I'm glad he's thinking about things.

He is two Eagle required merit badges away from the last rank before Eagle, Life Scout. He has about 4 hours of community service, 2 Eagle required badges and 2 non-Eagle required. He is getting 2 badges (so far) at the next Court of Honor. I like that he's totally put himself into Boy Scouts the way he has. He's only 14, so he's got plenty of time to achieve Eagle. But he is totally gunning for that.

He told me he wanted a job this summer, but with Rebel and maybe Football (maybe), there would be no time for that this year. He's a little more ambitious than Jess, who never wanted a job at 14...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Summer Jobs for Jess

So Jess will be working part time at "awesome," which is what I call my job. It is awesome. She'll be working with the summer camp program, backing up the instructor, doing prep work, cleaning, doing dishes.

It's funny because her prerequisite for a job was to not work with children and to not work with food. And she's doing both at the same time.

I understand her not wanting to do those jobs, she hates children in large quantities for extended periods of time. She also didn't want to work at a pizza or coffee shop or in fast food.

The job at "awesome" is a little different. She'll be in a teaching setting. She'll be doing setup and prep, which will be different all the time. She does dishes at home very well, and at awesome she'll have a dishwasher... and it is in short bursts of time.

Her schedule is such that she has a ton of time open on other days. So I encouraged her to find a second part-time job, and figure out how to dovetail them together.

We got a call from our pastor the other day, saying that the church secretary had given her notice, and last Friday was her last day. He asked if Jess wanted to fill in for the summer because no one was biting at the job posting. So he offered the seat to her while she's here for the summer. She starts on Monday, which is great because her position at awesome doesn't start until the end of June. And it pays 5 more bucks an hour than the job at awesome does... so it will fill in the gaps very nicely.

Jessica isn't religious. She is more of a skeptic or an agnostic than anything else. When we stopped going to church, it was probably at the worst time for her development as someone who would be a believer. But we just couldn't be led by the voice coming out of the pulpit at the time, and we were both soured by the overall experience at the church we were going to, so we just stopped going for three years. We're at a nice church now, where politics aren't preached from the pulpit, and where the congregation doesn't pressure you into doing stuff. Or make you feel guilty for skipping 4 weeks straight (which I always hated).

Our pastor knows that Jess isn't very "churchy," and that doesn't bother him. He wanted her for her smarts, her ability, and her willingness. We have a lot of tourists stop at our church because it is a rather historic building with a world famous basement, and people just drop in all the time and want info. He feels that she'll be great at handling visitors, strangers, and will be able to communicate the historical importance of the story clearly and kindly. I'm kind of psyched that he asked, because other avenues of job hunting weren't paying off for her. She had applied to a couple places, but without work experience in retail they're not calling her.

So, it looks like she'll be a busy bee for a couple months. Which is good, she can contribute more to her education costs and get some experience, not just in the kitchen but an office.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

XX anniversary

Yesterday marked our 20th wedding anniversary. In years past here on the blog, I've only mentioned the event a couple times out of ten years of writing. Usually writing about how we went out to dinner. My favorite was a few years ago when Geoff argued with us about going out to dinner (we always have been too cheap to pay for a sitter, combined with wanting to spend time with them as part of our celebration).

Now that they're older, much, we didn't take them out with us this year. We went to a little restaurant in Haverhill that we've wanted to go to for a while. It was hotter than heck in there due to the weather (very hot, very humid... and June 1, 2011 will be remembered as the day of four tornadoes in western Massachusetts). We ate dinner and left without dessert.

Both of us were rather quiet, not a lot to talk about really. I've mentioned that our lives feel like they are no fun at all lately and I think that it has carried through to even those life moments that are supposed to be fun. On top of that, feeling horribly overheated while sitting in a restaurant is no fun.

In years past, I had always thought that we would take a trip for our twentieth anniversary, go back to Nova Scotia where we had our honeymoon and retrace our trip, the places that we saw, and do it with our kids. That simply isn't to be this year and it makes me kind of sad. Not having a job, not having the ability to pay for a trip with some expendable income, and the pending loss of our house if we don't win our lawsuit against BOA really put a damper on the fun life that Doug and Chris used to lead.

That said, I know for a fact it could be worse, totally.