Comfort and Limitations

It’s dark when the alarm goes off and my husband hits the snooze button to squeeze a few more precious minutes of sleep from his restless night.  I lay there not quite wanting to open my eyes and tentatively move my sore limbs, regretting my decision to tear down a fence in the back only a little, thinking, not bad for an old chick, as I become familiar with each ache.

The sound of the shower motivates me to swing my feet to the chilly floor and shuffle downstairs to turn on the kettle for tea.  One English Breakfast tea bag goes into the stainless travel mug for my husband and I fill the coffee pot to the six line for myself, dumping two mounded scoops of coffee into the basket before remembering to actually turn it on.

The cat is looking at me from her perch on the arm chair and I’m wondering why she isn’t yeowling at me like she normally does at this point in my morning routine, hurrying me along so that she can have a fresh bowl of food.  I glance at the dog’s dish to make sure my son has fed her before heading down to tend to the cat, proceding with caution on the stairs because I know she’ll come barreling down them right as I’m ready to take another step and I don’t want to be a feature story on the 5PM news.  But she doesn’t today, and I look back to see her staring at me, seemingly as uninspired in this routine as I am.  I tap the spoon on the rim of the cat food can and peer around the corner to see her headed down the stairs.  She stretches each hind leg, then looks up at me and yeowls, as if to say, it’s about time.

Continue reading “Comfort and Limitations”

School Underway and All Systems Go…so far.

With the first week of school under our belt, life should settle into a comfortable, but relentless pace.  Sounds dramatic, even if it isn’t wholly accurate.  Suffice it to say it should be relentless for the RTR and I, who are most comfortable in our house potato state.

We prefer to characterize ourselves as easily entertained.  Simply entertained?  Okay, how about low maintenance in the entertainment department.

The junior year in high school blew in for my youngest this past week, and with it the expectations of a cool 150 pages of U.S. History and exam each week, and a studio art class that will, by the end of the year, allow him to produce a portfolio that is quite the humdinger.  There’s a project due every Friday and with the supplies and studio fee, the MoH’s plastic is about $375 heavier.  Unbelievable.

The decision to take Statistics instead of Calculus seems to be working — sure there’s homework every night, too, but it’s the “easy” class and he gets that done first.  Physics fits in here somewhere, but I haven’t figured that out yet.  The English teacher seems to be nowhere in sight.  AGAIN.  I know that this recurring theme is some perverse punishment meant solely for me — dedicated English teacher and passionate writing teacher that I once was.

The English teacher is the only one of his teachers that didn’t send home a syllabus.  I’ve never figured out how that’s even ethical…  Okay, so, here’s my kid for a year.  Teach him, but I don’t need to know anything about any of your plans because I’m just supposed to trust that you’re a professional, because you know, all teachers are professionals and have the exact same practices, right?  And that when my kid begins to show signs of faltering, and he will, trust me, that we will have absolutely nothing to go on to pitch in and support him like we know you expect us to, or we’ll be forever known as slacker parents, which wouldn’t be true, but you’d think it anyways.

You can tell I’m pretty much over school right?

Between my own education, my career, my boys education…I dunno.  I think I gave at the office.  But I think I’m going to enjoy my job as Chief Buttress in the History and Art departments this year.

Ah, yep.

You, Too, Can Organize and Decorate with Teens

Guitar The Resident Teen Rocker turned 16 while we were in Italy last month. Other than giving him a card that had our family’s required elements of butts, farting, or both, and singing Happy Birthday as horribly as we pridefully aim to, he didn’t have a candle to blow out. Now that I think of it, that’s kind of rude, but I’ll make it up before school begins.

Speaking of school and rudeness, the enormous registration packet came in the mail yesterday, and since he’s the one who retrieves the mail from our box each day, the look on his face told all. You’d have thought he had a bite of a bad frozen burrito. I mentioned that I wasn’t looking forward to him going back to school, either, and pondered the possibilities of running away from home with him to avoid the inevitable. Instead, I told him to get his calendar marked up so he could enjoy what was left of his summer, and start hitting the sack sometime before dawn, or at least make a half-assed attempt.  I still can’t figure out how in hell I raised a kid who dislikes school as intensely as he does.  Not that there isn’t much to dislike, mind you.

Every other summer of his life, the RTR has had an agenda. It hasn’t kept him hopping as much as the MoH would have liked, but that’s because it was organized primarily to keep him occupied while we were at work.  A variety of YMCA Camps, San Diego Zoo Camp, Balboa Park, ID Tech Camp at UCSD, Camp Gramma, you name it, he’s been there.

But not last year. Summer school was supposed to happen but mysteriously never did, so I gave the RTR some projects I thought he might enjoy, and learn from. I know. Deadly. Ironically, he was assigned a project in his art class last semester that required a bit of research and wonder of all wonders!  He remembered the summer work he’d done and was able to make use of it for his presentation. Amazingly resourceful when he wants to be. Teen Project Mess

Like this past weekend. We finally made it to Ikea to purchase the finishing touches for his bedroom. Not too long ago, we painted his room with colors he chose, the MoH changed all the dull switch plates, and  I put up some new shades. (Of course, the shade pulls are already hanging in shreds leaving one shade unworkable, but it was swell while it lasted.)

After cruising through the showroom maze at Ikea, the RTR chose a double bed, a larger work table, and a chair that looks way too comfortable for the homework that he will definitely have with the schedule he chose (Statistics, Physics, AP American History, AP Studio Art, American Lit, and Woodshop. Yes, that’s right. Woodshop.) He is soooooooo having homework. I’m wincing just thinking about it.

So yes, after the three of us removed the boxes we’d wedged into my mother’s borrowed Escape, we schlepped them into the livingroom to sit. I told the RT it was his job and that if he needed help, he knew where his dad was. I, on the other hand, went to the grocery store.

Old mattress Bear in mind that for the RT to approach any aspect of this gargantuan task, he had to clean his room. Pigs would fly first. But he’s very creative and found a way to move things around so he could work. You know, have a bit of elbow room and squeeze space allowance for toilet use?

More Teen Project Mess

When I returned from the store, he’d made quite a bit of progress and was just beginning to take the big red bunk bed he’s had since his fifth birthday apart. I could get all misty-eyed right now, but won’t.

I heard him call from upstairs, “Mom. There’s a funny looking flat screw thing that has a hole in it with edges…”

Now, I knew this would get his attention, and called up to him about whether he knew where the allen wrenches were tucked in his dad’s trusty tool box. No he couldn’t find them, and yes, I walked up the stairs to show him where they were. I also stayed long enough to gently ask him whether starting with a screw at the bottom of the bed was a good idea, and whether there might be some unexpected happenings as a result of that decision.

“Oh. Heh,” he smiled and chose a top corner screw instead.

The only time he asked for help was when he noticed a screw was stripped. A whack of the hammer from the MoH fixed it, and that cute bed that has so many memories attached to it is now in parts leaning against a wall in the garage waiting for a “Free to the first Caller” Craigslist ad.

Monday morning, the RT and I moved his tiny desk down the stairs — or tried. It fell apart from the stress on an edge while we were resting, and unfortunately, my ankles we on the receiving end of the boards that fell. Hurt doesn’t quite cover it, but we did get the desk to a resting spot.

He put his new desk together, and the chair.

I figure if he wants me to put up the very cool tiny work light with the jointed neck, and the shelves for his army of thousands, he’s going to have to clean up the mess.

But I’ve been reorganizing the cupboards in the kitchen, so between the two of us, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll ever see the floor or counters in our house again.

New Work Table

That Summer Feeling


It’s the last day of school and because 99.9% of us have spent time in a seat in a classroom counting the days and minutes and seconds until we could say, “It’s the last day of school!” we know it’s a special day.

And then there’s another portion of us who stood in that classroom in front of those kids, and later, in front of those teachers, and thought the very same thing. This particular experience gave new meaning to the phrase, barely contain my glee…

Okay, so for some — those of us who still have children at home — this day conjures conflicting emotions:

A. You’re ecstatic that you no longer have to get up at 6:30 (or even 6:57) for your 7am car pool responsibilities.

B. You’re in a quandry because your almost 16-year-old son will be home every single day for 10 weeks (too old for camp, not able to attend summer school to make up crappy grades in Spanish and Algebra II because his perfectly delightful and generous but most likely too indulgent parents are taking him to Italy) attempting to put a pet rock to shame with inactivity and behaving quite charmingly the entire time. Lifeguard Tower

A. You’re seriously glad that you no longer have even more children — little ones — at home who now need you to be the summer tour director, organize appropriate television viewing time, snack time, nap time, play group time, reading time, craft time, and errand-running-time with said children in tow which was always so much fun.

B. There’s no B on this one. Trust me. Ice Cream Stand

A. You no longer have to ask (prod, cajole, encourage, motivate, hold a mirror under his nose to see if he’s breathing…) aforementioned teenager if he has homework to do, classwork to finish, quizzes or tests to study for, papers to sign, grades to keep an eye on, or projects to complete, and compose yourself long enough to stimulate chronic eye twitching.

B. You no longer have time to do all of the above because it’s the last day of school and all of the above didn’t exactly work, so you’ve resorted to Plan Z in preparation for the next school year. Already.

A. Even though you’re a million years older than you once were when you couldn’t wait for the Last Day of School, you still remember that the Day After the Last Day of School was a very special day that meant you’d lay in bed as long as you possibly could waiting to feel that feeling you’d waited for all year. You know. The, “IT’S SUMMER AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL!” feeling. The one where your days stretch in front of you, yawning with possibility. Evening Boardwalk

B. Since The Day After the Last Day of School is Tuesday this year, and that’s normally a car pool morning for me, see the first “A” above.

A. You’ll finally, finally get to see your wannabe artist son’s art portfolio knowing it will make you smile, appreciating his ability even though the world wants to browbeat artists, guilting them into thinking that begging on a street corner spouting formulas and quadratic equations in Spanish will gain them more handouts than painting or playing a violin. Okay, so an electric guitar maybe?

B. I’ll finally get to maybe think about possibly considering looking in his backpack, hoping against hope that there are no apples in the bottom, left to ferment for weeks. But if there are apples, I’ll be reminded that sometimes apples do fall far from the tree, and that is fortunate.

Happy Last Day of School!

Choices & Consequences: Dubious at Best

Looky, Mom! I got an A on my report card! w00t!

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

How’s Your Vocabulary?

And the RTR does fairly well in that area also, but suffice it to say the school shenanigans have surfaced again. In other words, periods of time where small things like several homework assignments in a row aren’t done. Or a zero show up on a quiz. For absolutely no reason on this Earth. None.

And so that means I have to have one of those conversations with him. The ones I absolutely can’t stand and really wonder whether they do any good at all.

“Blarg,” as The RTR would say. Just Blarg.Blarg! is how I feel about all this.

So the conversation went something like this…

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Blogging & Future Rock Stars

I told the MoH I was staying up here nights. At least that way I can get my blogging done. Jeez.

Is there any reason WHY, if I don’t salivate over watching football, or baseball, or basketball, or hockey, or soccer, or poker, or curling (just wanted to see if you were paying the hell attention…) but yes, he watches that if it’s on, too…that I can’t BLOG? Well?

No. I didn’t think so.

So maybe Cafe Kelly is closed. Okay, well, don’t get too excited, because I do have to do my foodblog. Really. And I do have to pay more attention to it. At least try.

No hissy fit. Just making a statement. Now I’ll put my soapbox back under my desk for the next time.

But you can help out by going to my food blog and clicking on the vote button in the upper right hand corner. You know. Just in support. I swear there are people who are cheating. So vote for me. “Kay? Routinely. When I’m famous, I’ll put you on the payroll. We can party.

I can’t believe it’s been forever that I’ve posted again. TOO much going on. Seriously.Gee-Tar

But I did want to share the RT’s new status as Resident Rocker. So that means I guess his name has to be different now. How about Resident Teen Rocker. RTR. And while I’m at this nonsense, I need to say some serious thanks to Scott for helping me along as I did my research on guitars. I paid attention! He’s already had his first lesson, actually practices, and sounds like he’s hitting the right notes. Okay, so that’s kind of piano lingo, but that’s all I know. He IS sounding decent and playing around with the sounds on his amp. I haven’t needed earphones once. We’ll talk in a couple of months, though. Remind me.

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Silver linings and Butthole dragging dogs.

As Far As Today Has Gone…

What was annoying?

Getting up the second the alarm went off, getting ready for my first official day as a person who actually goes to work after a year (only part time) and is ten minutes late because of traffic.  Three miles in twenty minutes is a problem.  I am not someone who is ever late.  Ever.

But what’s good about it?

Not getting pissed off about it.  I got to work.  All was well.  And tomorrow, I’m taking another route.

What’s gross?

Realizing that the dark smudge and related four-foot streak across one of the only clean places left on the carpet this morning was caused by the dog who couldn’t take an extra minute to poop outside, so came upstairs, summarily parked her butt hole on the carpet, then proceeded to skooch forward using all four paws, removing whatever offending turdlett was hanging on for dear life.  It worked.  What a genius.

Where’s the proverbial silver lining?

Obviously not on the carpet.  But the image of the dog dragging her butt hole is completely, side-splittingly HILARIOUS even though the spot remover didn’t quite remove the stain.  The bottle lied.  I’m an expert at lying carpet stain bottles. And in knowing that she doesn’t have worms or clogged anal glands.

What makes me want to rip my hair out?

After pulling off a B+ so close to an A in Algebra II during the first grading period this year, the RT has systematically worked to destroy his grade (okay, so it’s a B-) by not doing most of his homework because he doesn’t feel like it.  He’s knows it’s more than strange that he’s engaged in this rather highly developed form of academic suicide, but hey!  He’s good at just not thinking about it.
Why do I grit my teeth, grinning to bear the agony of this revelation instead of ripping his lovely brown eyes out of his skull?

He’s in more agony about it than I could ever be.  Daily, he procrastinates, then doesn’t do the work and the routine begins again the next day.  He must love the torture.  Plus, he must love my rather lengthy and antagonizingly argumentative discussions about life and work and responsibility.  And the concept of beginning to look for a job now that requires no degree and a cheap place to live while employed in said fashion.  In San Diego, that would be a cardboard box.

And the bright side of this debacle is?

He gets this flat look about the eyes, like I have the calm audacity to suggest he will have to fend for himself in this world, and that he may not get it right.  It lets me know I’ve gotten through.  And then I get to tell him that he’d better figure it out because he only has about six years of math left to take in his life if he isn’t planning on the minimum wage job route.  It doesn’t matter that he most likely will NEVER use any of the math he’s required to take, but you can all rest assured that at least with my kid, the good ol’ U S of A will have a chance to compete.  You know.  Mathematically.  In the world.

Could someone tell Edwards for me please?  He was sweating bricks over it during the minute or two I listened to the debate today on NPR.

Oh, and the RT completed his math while I wrote this, so clearly it’s not challenging.

Like I said.  Torture.