Saturday, June 29, 2013

housing update

I really thought it would be easy to find a place in our school district so Geoff could stay here. After a solid month of looking, it seems to me that we may have to look out of district. The superintendent's office has informed us that there are no open school choice spots available... and the fact that he has only two years to go doesn't account for anything. So while we're waiting for something, anything, to open up in our district, we've also begun to look out of district.

Geoff is pretty confident (or at least puts on a brave face) that he'll be okay changing schools. To me, it's devastating. I don't want him to change schools, start over at grade 11. Part of me feels like sure, it's a fresh new start... and another part of me feels that it is ridiculous to start over when so close to the finish line. I worry about his social abilities, and how he'll manage his anxiety. Because I'm the one who has to deal with him the most when he gets these anxieties... and then I get anxious.


Here's a rundown of what we've seen for houses...

1. Mid May, we had lined up a rental but it fell through. Miscommunication and what I think is a slightly shady landlord resulted in us losing out on that one. Part of me feels we dodged a bullet, another part feels nothing but regret.

2. Day after we lost option 1, I spoke with another possibility here in town. The husband was all gung ho to rent it to me. The wife has a different idea of what to do with the rental and it does not include us. Got my hopes way high up on that one. Disappointed.

3. Two places in the next town over (also our school district) both way out of our price range.

4. Next town beyond that (we are a three town school district) has a 3 bedroom, in a complex. Not sure we want that. Everything else is a two bedroom. Technically we can't do that - kids can't share a room. Chaos will ensue.

5. Started to look out of district. Looked at a gorgeous place in Haverhill, in the woods, on a hill, perfect. Great size, deck, gardens... everything. Then looked at the Haverhill schools and decided it wouldn't be a good fit for Geoff.

6. Looked at a great place in Methuen, newly restored, perfect floors, brand new kitchen, great backyard, nice neighbors, one town away from the Lawrence line but that's okay by me. Cop for a next door neighbor. Then we looked at the Methuen schools and decided again, not a good fit.

7. A duplex opportunity opened up the next town over and is in our price range.  The owner said 43 people submitted their names for consideration which he found slightly overwhelming, so he sent everyone back a list of questions so he could try and decide who to pick. We made the cut, with three other possible renters, so we get to see it on Tuesday night. I think it is right across the street from my friend Beth's house, and Jess is house sitting for Beth right now so she's looking at the house to see if anyone is coming or going, packing and moving. Right now, this is my first choice for a place. Fingers crossed.

8. Today we crossed the state line and went up into Salem NH. School system there is better than Haverhill or Methuen, not as good as ours. But hey. It's better than I expected. The house we looked at is on 2.5 acres of land, right around the corner from a pond with canoe put in. Nice neighborhood, less than a mile from the main drag with all the stores and shopping you can ever need. The house itself is TRASHED. The rental agent was a little shocked at the condition of the place, as it was her first visit and she rented it out a year ago to a family. Turns out they had about 11 kids staying at the house, 5 adults, and a mess of dogs. No one took care of the yard, it is completely overgrown and wild. It is going to take a lot of work to get it into living condition, even the ceilings need to be washed. The listing agent was happy we could "see through the mess" to see it as a livable option. I feel bad for the owner. Really bad.

So, right now, this is where we are. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

addendum to the last entry

Remember the last bit about 12 year old girls? ha. ha ha ha ha ha. Add a little sugar and they become monsters. I'm not sure what it is about me and kids, but I do bring out the devil in them.

observations on a birthday party

Where I work, we host birthday parties for kids. And for those of you who do not know where I work, it is a cooking school. I work in the office. I'm a decent cook myself, but I'm not a culinary expert so teaching classes isn't something I do. I run stuff in the office. I book parties, events, format documents, correct misspellings in recipes ("Flay the chicken..." oh... Perhaps... filet?) when they come to me cut and pasted or typed out fast by one of our chefs.

As for the birthday parties, they start at age 5, and most kids usually don't want to have a cooking birthday party past about age 12 or 13.  We have several different menus, some are simple (pizza) some are a touch more challenging for the older kids to take on (Asian, Hawaiian...).

I'm working this beautiful Saturday and managing for the day, which is something I don't get to do often but I actually enjoy. I don't think I'd be a good birthday party chef instructor. Managing is fun. For the most part. At least, it has been for me. I'm lucky that I haven't had a horror show of parents, petulant bitchy children, or an absolute chaotic nightmare of a day.

There are four parties today. Two in the morning, two in the afternoon. I'm making some observations here.

1. If you tell kids to do something in small instructions, they tend to do it. Give them 20 instructions in a row and you lose them. I learned this from parenting Geoff.
2. Make them repeat the four things you just said to them back to you and hold your fingers up and count them off.
3. Invariably, one kid will always still screw up. And that's okay. No blood, no foul.
4. Keep it slightly light, be a little silly.
5. I have a tendency to bring out all the silly in the kids... which is very very dangerous. Then, I lose them. So far, I've managed to not bring out all the silly. Just the right amount.
6. Sometimes, the birthday girl is a crying, whining baby, even if she's 10. Trying to help her cheer up sometimes is a lost cause. Hopefully she'll cheer up when she gets some sugar.
7. There is nothing sadder than waiting for the birthday girl to come out of the bathroom while all 9 of her friends are in the party, ready to go.
8. I'm so glad my kids didn't do stuff like that.
9. Sometimes, 12 year old girls are angels and I could spend all day talking to them. Today is one of those days.
10. A happy parent is worth a million bucks.
11. Ask at the beginning of the party if they wanted gift bags or not when the sheet doesn't indicate yes or no. Waiting until they are ready to go out the door means you're building 10 gift bags very, very fast.
12. Cupcakes are addictive.
13. When you tell a parent "No, you do not have to bring food and drinks and appetizers for the parents of the other kids" they won't listen to you... and then they sit there with two giant trays of sandwiches and fruit and drinks for all the other parents, who dropped their kids off and left... well, it's kind of amusing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Geoff and the Book of Job

My son is mad at God right now and is kind of living a Schrodinger's Cat experience with whether or not God exists for him... He neither feels nor sees an existence of God in his life, and right now things are so negative for him, that he can neither believe nor disbelieve until he gets some evidence of one versus the other. He is very upset about our housing situation and where he may have to go to school (or not) next year.

He keeps saying "maybe your God can figure this out soon" or "why is your God doing this to us?"

For some of you of faith you may be shocked that he's in a God is neither dead nor alive place, a place of anger and doubt. Others may say that it's good that he goes through this period of refinement of his thoughts. And others yet will say that it is good that he has lost his belief because God does not exist.

Whatever happens, Geoff certainly is developing. And in some ways I think we all are always developing.

Anyway, our pastor is going on sabbatical, but for a year or so he's been offering to take Geoff on a fishing trip in his little boat. Geoff loves the ocean and the water in any form, and he was thrilled to go. He had to catch one fish for his fishing merit badge, as he had done all the other work on that badge at last year's summer camp. But the entire week, the fish weren't biting. Rob wanted to help him finish the badge,and this past Saturday it worked out that all three of them were all free, so Rob extended the invitation to go out and fish.

I wanted Geoff to have some more time with Doug without me, and some time with the Pastor Rob. I told him it is safe to share his anger, doubts and fear with Rob. Rob is kind and understanding and I think you could even go so far as to say mean horrible things about God and Rob would understand. Unlike a lot of pastors that might pitch you into the sea and yell "get thee behind me Satan" or something like that. There are few people for Geoff to talk to on earth outside of these walls that will love and understand him and not get angry with him. And Rob is one of those guys. 

We got to the marina, I left, and off they went. Rob had three fishing poles with him, and one had a quadruple hook rig on it that he called a Christmas Tree. He gave that one to Geoff in hopes it would quadruple the chances he'd catch a fish.

Geoff cast the line into the water, and in 90 seconds the pole dipped. He reeled it in and all 4 hooks had fish on them. Three mackerel and a pollock. Rob was kind of stunned. "Beginner's Luck!" he said. Geoff said "hey, I've been fishing dozens of times! I am not a beginner!"

They spent three more hours out there and only caught one other fish. They went to clean out Rob's lobster pots, and Geoff was a natural out there, banding the claws, doing the measurements, scooping up the buoys with the hook stick and hauling them on board.

When they told me the four fish story, I had to laugh.

Geoff had a need, to catch ONE fish and have his picture taken with it, and in literally the first breaths of the trip caught fourfold of what his need was. If I was there, I would have pointed out that maybe Geoff  maybe should have started to think a little bit about God giving him more than his need right at that point... Rob held his tongue too but thought the same thing. But we think Geoff had an inkling about time, provision, and how things work out sometimes.

When they got back to the marina, Geoff said to Rob "so, I caught some fish. Maybe your God can find us a place to live next."

Rob let that statement go and didn't point out that "hey, isn't he your God too, maybe you can turn to him and ask him for his help." That fell to me and Doug on the way home. Sometimes asking someone else's God to do something for you may only result in you getting nothing. Except angrier that things aren't working out the way you want.

Doug talked to Geoff about the book of Job. I never like to use Job as a talking point with people because it starts out with the devil and God making a wager on Job, and how Job would react to the suffering that was to come. I really hate that concept. But some of it resonated with Geoff, and he has softened his anger. Knowing that God comes to Job in the whirlwind and says "there's a lot going on that you don't know, won't understand, and don't need to know. Were you there when I created the heavens and the earth? The whales and the animals?" Doug said that it is basically a "listen, smartass" response from God to Job, and that we do not and cannot understand what God's plans and reasons are. Job accepts this answer, the devil gives up and says that God wins, and God then blesses Job tenfold.

I hate the book of Job. I really do. But if it is the thing that helps my son connect to his place in the universe and in creation and in the process of what's happening with us now... heck I'll take it.

Anyway. Apologies to those of you who don't like the God stuff. It's a big part of my life so it is included. If you do pray (or, if you prefer the term "send mojo) we could use the prayers and positive energy.

Cast your line on the water... see what you get back.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Photos of the mountain climber...

Stolen from the Troop Scoutmaster after he posted them to our private FB page. Doug is bruised badly, sore, has slept most of the afternoon. Can't say as I blame him. But even after the fall he took, he managed a couple smiles for pictures. And to think, I almost lost this guy. For reals, not even exaggerating, it could have been so much worse. I'm so relieved.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


I forgot to mention that Geoff was standing right next to Doug when he slipped and went down the initial drop.

When he made it back up, Doug told me Geoff was pale and frightened... he said Geoff looked at him and said "Dad, that was really scary."

Now, Geoff normally would point and laugh and say "HA HA!" like Nelson on the Simpsons...

I have to say that I'm relieved that he reacted appropriately. That was really scary.

And when I think I'm not catching any breaks...

My husband and son are camping. Doug did NOT want to go on this trip. Friday night it was raining with tropical storm Andrea remnants, and they faced a 2.5 hour drive, to pitch tents in the dark and pouring rain, and a 9 mile hike the next day.

I got home from work last night after a TWO HOUR commute to find him waiting for me by the back door. "Did Dan call you and cancel the trip or anything... are we still really going on this trip...???"

Yes. Yes you are.

He was hardly packed - everything was all over the place. It was a disaster. Geoff was ready to go, but didn't care it was raining so he didn't pack or organize his wet weather gear. I had to scramble and help him. Doug couldn't find his day pack. Geoff pulled a zipper off track on his brand new replacement piece for his Osprey pack. It was a cluster if ever there was a cluster.

They left a half hour late, all the guys were waiting for them at the departure point... I was sad that they left in such a disorganized manner but I didn't think I'd get home at 6:15pm when leaving work at 4pm.

Oh 128. How do I hate thee?

Today, I did 6 hours of volunteer work today at the town park BBQ for the art show, and the entire time wondered how they were doing. I knew the skies had cleared but figured there would be a lot of water on the trails.

My phone rang at about 10pm, it was Doug. First thing out of his mouth was "So, you remember Homer Simpson falling down Springfield Gorge? Yeah. That was me today."

Uh, what?

Seems that he and a couple other people came to a ledge after a difficult climb up, they all had to help each other. He turned to the Scoutmaster and said "awesome! Let's Go!" and FLOOOOOP slipped right down backwards, about 10 feet straight down off the ledge. He said he landed on his feet, and pivoted as a reflex, and fell down again, another 5 or so feet on his ass, then slipped even further down, ending up about 25 feet down from where he started.

I bet the guys at the top of the ledge thought they lost him for good and for sure.

"The only difference between me and Homer was there was no landing on my head." says my husband.

He yelled up to them that he was okay, and it was a challenge climbing back up - but he got there. He had no choice but to continue the hike... the granite rocks were really slippery... and some of the younger scouts were then terrified after watching him go down the side of the mountain.

I hope he sleeps okay, he said his thigh and ass are horribly bruised. I told him to go to the camp office and get an ice pack but he was already in his tent horizontal. Hopefully he can get out of the tent and stand and not be screaming at the top of his lungs. Hopefully he can drive... I have no one to drive me up there to help drive him back.

I'm sitting here thinking it could have been so much worse. He could have had to get airlifted out of the mountain, he could have broke his leg, hip, coccyx. He could be dead.

I was thinking early today about "when am I gonna catch a break?"

I think i just did.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Update on the moving right along thing...

I am up and down, happy and sad, okay with everything and pissed at the world all at once. After my last entry, we tracked down a house rental. We were all set to move for July 15. I started getting boxes and newspaper and thinking of what is getting purged.

Due to a miscommunication, the dude renting the house rented it to someone else who was ready to move in June 1. He was pissed that we didn't want to move in June 1. We didn't even want to move until August 15th to be honest but heard him in his gripeyness and negotiated the July 15 date.

And just like that a handshake and a gentleman's agreement -- out the window. We were supposed to go sign lease paperwork during the week, and I blame myself fully and completely that we didn't get there to do so AND I didn't pick up the phone and call him to say "can we come in over the weekend - this week is a shit show."  I don't know why I couldn't pick up the phone and call him. I don't know what was stopping me... I didn't think he'd just yoink the place and give it to the next comer alonger just like that. But that's exactly what happened. I'm slightly confused how you can shake someone's hand and agree to something, and then throw it out the window.

When I did call him and he told me he was very "hey, sorry. But you gotta understand that guy wanted to move in on Saturday and you didn't sign the papers so. Oh Well."

Yeah, oh well.

Part of me feels like we dodged a bullet with this guy, he's a touch sketchy to be honest. But another part of me feels like the ground opened up and swallowed us. This house was literally the only house for rent in our zipcode this year.

Our school district is comprised of three towns -- we're looking in all three. There is a townhouse complex two towns over but they don't take pets. And I don't want to live in a townhouse complex.

Geoff was a touch upset about the whole moving thing when we broke it to him, but Doug took him up to the house and showed it to him. Then on Monday I had to tell him "hey, remember that house? yeah... Not gonna happen." So now he's freaking out a bit more, and he's also teetering on blasphemy yelling that my so called God is obviously wanting us to suffer and hates us, IF He exists at all... So there's a crisis of faith on him, a crisis of housing, a crisis of "do I have to change schools?" and a crisis of "Oh Crap... am I going to lose my Boy Scout Troop...?"

I can't get into the whole school thing as I don't know who reads this blog. We're doing our best to find housing in the district though. We don't want to mess up his last 2 years of school. And we want to stay close enough that we can still get him to Boy Scouts every Thursday Night.

Cross your fingers. Say a prayer. My friend Nancy said that our house is out there, we just have to wait for it to make itself known to us. I do hope that is true. Not sure what we'll do if we can't find a place before August 30th.

I'm going to try and go to bed. I've had many sleepless nights this week due to this and a pinched nerve in my left shoulder. Sigh.