Category Archives: Family

Parenting Success

Parenting Success

The other day I was talking with Morgan about his life goals, and half jokingly I said he should move to Germany to live with his boyfriend.  He looked very serious as he said, “I want to live on my own for a year first, just to know I can do it.  That’s what you always said.”

He repeated it to our family counselor tonight.

I just about burst.  This was something my mother always told us (well, at least me.  I can’t attest for my siblings.), that you needed to know how to take care of yourself so you never felt trapped.  My ex moved right from his dad’s home into mine, and it wasn’t until after we separated that he ever lived on his own.  He said to me a couple months after he moved out, “I wish I’d lived on my own sooner.  There’s so much I don’t know.”

So yeah.  At least one piece of advice will be carried on by the next generation.

I’m pretty chuffed.

Boot-y Call

Boot-y Call

Had Hero’s follow-up appointment today with the orthopedist.  It was actually pretty anti-climactic.  It still hurts a bit, but it’s better, so she can start easing out of the boot.  She’ll only wear it at school for the rest of the week, and she can start swimming now and easing back into cycling.  She needs to hold off on running until it stops hurting, so we figured we’ll give it until November and then she’ll do the C25K program again.  That goes slowly enough that it won’t re-injure her.  She doesn’t need to go back to the doctor unless things get worse or it doesn’t stop hurting.  But he seemed confident she would be fine.

I just know she can’t wait to get back on her bike!



As of 9:30 tonight, I have another kid.  A teenager, even.  Lord help me.

They are a friend of Hero’s who is fostering with another friend’s family.  But due to the vagaries of the foster care system, they aren’t allowed to go with the foster family on their vacation to Canada.  Rather than stick them with strangers for only a week, we agreed to take them in.  It will be like one long sleepover.  I hope.  Except now I have another teenager to roust from bed in the morning, and this one goes to a different school, so I have to take mine and trust that this one gets themselves to the bus on time.  Worked this morning, at least.

And no, neither I nor they are gender confused.  They prefer they/them pronouns, so I do my best to honor that.  Doesn’t mean I don’t get ticked off when they chirp me for getting it wrong, though.  And what’s the singular construction of “themselves”?  Themself?  The autocorrect keeps changing it for me.

I sense another blog post.

Thrilling Hero-ics

Thrilling Hero-ics

I should probably follow up yesterday’s post with a What I Did On My Summer Vacation flashback.

In July, Hero got hit by a car.


As anyone who knows her can tell you, that child is an incredibly independent soul.  Where most of her friends sit around waiting for their parents to drive them hither or yon, if she wants to see someone, she gets on her bike and goes.  Fortunately most of her friends live within two miles of the house, and she rides mostly on the sidewalks (because heaven forfend that bicycles get any respect as a mode of transport.  But that’s a rant for another day.) So on this particularly lovely Thursday in July, she was out visiting, and I was waiting for her to get home, as it was her night to make dinner.  She had wanted to try deep frying, and we had found a deep fryer at the thrift store that we were looking forward to testing out.  But it was getting late, and she wasn’t home, so I was getting cranky.  She has a bad habit of being late getting home, despite my reminders of both the carrot and stick variety.  So when her name came up on my phone, I was ready to lay into her.  What she said stopped me cold.  “Mom, I’m really sorry to bother you and I know I’m late, but I just got hit by a car.  Could you come?”

I scared the boys, who were both in the living room at the time, as I raced out the door.  I remembered my keys, wallet and phone, thankfully, as I’d be needing them all over the next couple of hours.  She wasn’t far, just at the train station a few blocks from the house, but I took the car anyway just in case.  They were right at the entrance to the station, and as I whipped into the nearest spot, I could see she was sitting up on the curb and that there didn’t seem to be any blood.  She was shaken, though.  A couple of young men helped bring her bike over as an older woman came to talk to me.  I don’t even remember what she said, other than that she’d been so scared she wet her pants.  Which I could see the truth of.  One of the young men offered her a pair of sweat pants.

Tangentially, I love these guys.  I don’t know who they are, but if I ever find them again, I’m making them cookies.  You see, there are two Pokestops for Pokemon Go right near the station, and one of them is kind of a hangout for the local players.  People put lures on both of them and can sit around in the park talking to each other and catching Pokemon.  Hero and I had both done it ourselves the week before.  These guys, though, had been out playing, saw what happened, and immediately came over to help.  Don’t ever bitch to me about Pokemon Go being a distraction and a waste of time.  It gets people out into the world, and more people in the world is a good thing.

The police showed up shortly thereafter, got our information and called an ambulance for us.  She hadn’t hit her head, but she insists that the car rolled over her leg.  She certainly had the scrapes to indicate it, although I’m not sure how her leg wasn’t broken if it had.  What we were able to figure out from the conversation is the driver didn’t see Hero riding on the sidewalk and went to turn right into traffic.  By the time Hero realized the car wasn’t stopping, it was too late for her to stop.  Fortunately they were both going slowly, or this story could have been a lot worse.

We left the officer to deal with the driver and got in the ambulance for Hero’s first ambulance ride and X-ray.  She did a great job holding it together until we were waiting in the hall for the x-ray tech.  She felt so bad to be crying, but I talked to her about shock and that she was going to be fine.  And she was.  I hated not being able to hold her hand while she was getting the x-ray, but it didn’t take very long, and she was good.

In the end, it looked like just a sprain on the top of her foot (not her ankle), so they gave her a wrap and an ice pack and sent us home with instructions to see the family doctor in a few days.  She was not happy to be sidelined in the middle of the summer, but she did like having permission to basically live on the couch.  She even slept there every night!  The PA at the doctor’s office confirmed the sprain and just told her to keep off it until it didn’t hurt.

Except it didn’t stop hurting.

She was getting around okay, so when we went camping, she just did her thing.  We aren’t hugely active when we camp, but we did do a couple of light hikes and a lot of swimming and bike riding.  And then school started and it was still hurting, so we went back to the doctor.  This time we got to see our GP, who ordered an MRI.  Joy.  Memories of my claustrophobic MRIs danced in my head, so I warned Hero as much as I could.  Except she didn’t have her head in the thing, and she got good music, so basically I came off as a big whiner.  I’m okay with that.  Once the doctor looked at the results, she recommended we go to an orthopedist, so I got an appointment at CHOP.  He looked at the results as well, and saw definite swelling along the bones of her second toe still.  He said it could just be healing slowly, but the swelling could be hiding a break, so he put her in a boot.  Now she was not a happy camper.  No biking, no swimming, and she had to stay in it unless she was sleeping or bathing.  This was the day before their placement tests in swimming class at school.  But on the plus side, now she has extra time to get to her classes, and she gets a set of elevator keys for the duration.

She has another week of the boot.  We go back to CHOP on Monday, when they’ll either release her or do another set of x-rays to get a better sense of what’s going on.  She has everything crossed for the first, but she says it still hurts, so I’m betting she’ll have some more time in the boot.  Not what an active teenager wants to hear.  After my experience last summer, I can totally sympathize.

The driver’s insurance company has been very good so far.  They gave us replacement money for her bike right away, and then gave a generous “pain and suffering” settlement.  I’ve stuck that in her savings, and with the exception of her new computer, she’s not touching it until college.  And they keep paying her medical bills without complaint, a pleasant surprise considering the unexpected MRI.  Which is all I can ask.

If it had to happen, this was probably the best way it could.  We both feel really lucky, and while she’s not scared to bike, it has made her a bit more cautious.  But I would always choose for it to not have happened.  That is the kind of phone call no parent ever wants to get.

Let Me Knit You The Stars

Let Me Knit You The Stars

Hero’s going to Disney World.

We hope.

She’s been having a great time at tech school.  I love hearing her stories, especially when she complains about the other kids not being serious enough about it.  That tells me she IS taking it seriously.  So far she’s done the industrial cooking section (cafeterias), commercial cooking (restaurant kitchen), and is now doing the front of house component.  She won’t do the baking component until her last marking period, but as of right now, she’s most interested in the commercial area.  Which, yay!  I think she’ll have more opportunities as a chef than a baker.  And maybe I can get out of having to cook dinner all the time!

The school is offering a special opportunity for their culinary and hospitality students this year.  They are sponsoring a themed trip to Disney World in Florida to get some direct learning experience in a major hospitality venue.  It sounds like a really amazing program.  I’m kind of jealous, because I’d love to do it myself!

During this trip, the students will:

  • Visit the Epcot Land pavilion to meet with the master gardeners there to discuss food production and resources, and will get to cook with some of the ingredients grown there.
  • Spend a morning at Le Cordon Bleu Academy, an internationally recognized culinary school with a campus at Disney, for four hours of intense culinary education, culminating in a feast of their own creation!
  • Go behind the scenes at The Grand Floridian, one of Disney’s premiere hotels.  Here they will get to learn what goes into running a first class hospitality enterprise, from the front desk to the back of house and into the kitchens.
  • Tour the World Showcase restaurants and talk to the staff about their experiences with food from their native regions.
  • Talk with executives from all over the property, from the head chefs to hotel managers and more, with the chance to ask them questions about working in the industry.
  • Meet other students and chefs from all over the country, with powerful networking opportunities.
  • And of course have opportunities to explore the park and have fun!

I’m especially excited for her about the Le Cordon Bleu opportunity, since the school is closing their doors in the US and will only be available in Europe after next year.

The only problem is that it’s expensive.  $1,600ish.  I’ve already put down $500, and she’s been doing fundraising that the school is offering, but it’s still going to take a big chunk of change on our part.  I was getting a little desperate, so I started a fundraising campaign on one of those websites.  Not GoFundMe, because I heard some horror stories about them not releasing the money quickly.  We went with RallyUp, which has been working well.  But we aren’t even halfway to our goal.

I’m sure most of you reading this have already seen my pitches, but if you haven’t, we could really use your help.  We’re offering baked goods and knitting in exchange for donations.  Seriously, if you are looking for a gift, I am DYING to make someone a Celestarium shawl.


I made this one for my mother, and it’s just gorgeous.  Those holes?  Glass beads laid out in the patterns of the constellations. Total heirloom quality, which is why I don’t feel bad requiring such a large donation for it.  Or for a smaller donation, I can make a scarf.


Again, heirloom quality. Totally worth a donation!

The final payment is due next Friday.  So please, spread the word, share the love, and let me knit something for you!  (Hero’s red and white brownie/blondies are amazing, too.  I’m just saying!)

ETA:  Like a moron, I forgot to include the link to the RallyUp! campaign!  If you are interested in helping out (THANK YOU!), you can find all the deets here.

Ding Dong Merrily!

Ding Dong Merrily!


Christmas is over.  But it was packed, and I deliberately stepped away from the keyboard for the week (although my mother might disagree with that!)  There are just times I want to be experiencing things and not documenting them.  That’s also why I’m terrible at taking pictures.  I don’t want to see the world through a tiny square of glass.  But now I’m home and back at a keyboard, so here’s the holiday rundown!

This was our year to go down to Virginia for the holiday.  We’ve started alternating between going there and going up to the cabin.  It’s getting harder for Mom to make the trip, but we don’t want to miss out on seeing her, so this seemed to be a good compromise.  Plus then we can alternate which of my siblings we spend it with as well!  And I was very happy that I was able to talk Nikki into coming down with us this year.  She doesn’t always like being pried out of her cozy nest, but we all love her company and in the end she usually has a good time, so I was really glad when she agreed to come.  She’s also more likely to stay awake while riding shotgun, unlike my kids! (Or me…)

Launch time was 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  I didn’t want to waste a whole day on travelling and being tired from travelling, so I left work a little early and by the time Hero got home from school, we had the car all loaded and were ready to go.  The timing worked well, as we were out of the range of any major city centers by the time rush hour hit.  It’s about a 7 hour drive from my house to Blacksburg, but it’s all highway driving, so in general it’s easy.  This trip a little less so, as it was foggy from Harrisburg all the way down, truly biblically at some points.  But our halfway point provided us not only with gas but also with Five Guys for dinner, so it was all good.  We pulled in at Mom’s just before 11, unloaded and crashed.

Wednesday was grocery shopping and some errands.  First, though, Hero and I went out together for a training run.  We were running a 5k on Thursday and wanted to get a feel for the terrain.  Well, the terrain was BRUTAL.  I thought we were hilly around here, but that was nothing compared to the trail near Mom’s place.  Hero and I almost came to blows at one point.  It didn’t help that she’d left her good running shoes at home, and the sneakers she had were terrible for running.  Finally, both of us frustrated, I told her to start walking back but I was going to go out for another fifteen minutes.  Which wasn’t easy.  I walked a lot more of it than I like to admit, and it didn’t give me confidence as to how I’d do the next day.  By the time I caught up with Hero, we’d both had a chance to calm down and were able to talk things through.  We came to the understanding that what I think of as coaching comes off to her as nagging, and that for both our sakes, we’d be better off running the race at our own pace the next day and there was no lack of love in not running together together.  We got back and showered (did I mention the humidity?  Because OMG the humidity!) and then went erranding.  First stop ended up being Goodwill to try and find her a better pair of shoes.  We did score a decent pair of Skechers for $3, and I found a fabulous bundt pan for $2!  What do you need a bundt pan for, you might ask!  Well, I’d just found this recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes using my favorite of their doughs.  Finding that pan just seemed to be demanding that I make this, so we added the ingredients to the shopping list.  Then we went looking for the yarn and fabric store I’d found out about through the Ravellenic Games, only to find they’d closed their Blacksburg store and were reopening in the new year down the road in Christiansburg.  So no yarn for me.  Phooey.

Grocery shopping was a hoot.  It was me, Mom, Nikki and Hero and OMG, we talked ourselves into so much stuff!  Good wine and cheese, egg nog and heavy cream and an ENORMOUS beef roast that is our holiday tradition.  We filled three grocery totes and a couple of bags.  But we would be eating well!  Once we got home, we unloaded everything and I started on the cake/bread/thing.  The dough had to sit for several hours and the cranberries for at least 8.  By then it was naps and dinner and watching way too many episode of Alaskan homesteader shows, my mom’s current go-to TV viewing.  But we were all in bed pretty early (a pattern for the week.  I think Mom started getting offended by how early we all go to bed.  We can’t all stay up until midnight every night like she does!)

Christmas eve was a whirlwind!  We had to be up early for brunch at my sister’s.  She and her husband have a great apartment on the campus at Tech where they’re faculty advisors, so they invited all their friends and us for brunch.  There was a bit of excitement with the catering, but it worked out in the end, and their friends were all really nice, and thankfully for this introvert they were all extroverts, so I could stand in a corner talking to Nikki and someone would come over and join us instead of me having to awkwardly work my way into a conversation.  We hung out there until about 11:30 and helped clean up before getting changed and heading over for the race.

So this race.  I’d found out about it online.  It’s the Frosty 5k that the local running store sponsors every year.  Rachel is a triathlete, but she’d never run this, so I thought it might be fun to run together, even though I knew she would smoke me.  Hero wanted to run, too, since she’s been doing the 5k training almost as long as I have.  She’s had respiratory problems, though, that have kept her from finishing.  We finally got her diagnosed two weeks ago with exercise induced asthma and got her an inhaler, although she hasn’t really had a chance to train with the improved breathing.  No matter.  This was just for fun, right?  Yeah, I’m not competitive at all.

Christmas eve… was not frosty. It was in the 60s, and it had been raining the whole afternoon and night before, so the sign in area/finish line was a muddy swamp. But the sky had cleared by the time we got there and got checked in, and there were pugs in elf costumes, so all was well, right?

We all started out together, but I didn’t see my sister once during the race. Hero and I hung together about a quarter mile (and up one brutal hill) before I headed out at my own pace. It wasn’t too bad. A couple of steep spots, but it seemed to be mostly downhill. I kept a good pace, and really only walked in spots where everyone else was walking, too, so I didn’t feel like so much of a slacker. Hit the water stop at the mile 2 marker and felt pretty good.

That’s when I ran into THE HILL.

Rachel had warned us about the hills, of course.  But I was thinking in Pennsylvania terms.  This… Yeah, calling it a hill was a vast understatement. It was easily a 45 degree vertical climb and it went on for three quarters of a mile! But of course starting into it, you can’t see that. I figured I’d run halfway up and then walk. Got to what I thought was halfway and realized that I wasn’t even close to the top. Which was probably why everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was walking. No one was even trying to run that beast! Bummed about my time, I hiked up to the top along with everyone else. Thankfully once we got up there, we could just make out the hi-vis jackets of the staff at the finish line through the trees, so I started running again.

Morgan was waiting as the path came out of the trees, and the high five he gave me was just the adrenaline boost I needed to get me through to the end. That last bit splashing through the mud wasn’t fun, but I was able to pour it on in time to see the clock as I crossed the line read 33:20. !!!! That was two and a half MINUTES faster than my first 5k back in June! Despite the hills! But no time for that! I raced back to the point where Morgan had met me to wait for Hero and just made it! She was struggling about as much as I had been, but using my new-found knowledge of the high five, I gave her a power boost, and Xander had another one for her closer to the finish line. She finished in 36:40, just under two minutes slower than my first race. Considering she hasn’t finished her 5k training, and did all that training with a respiratory deficit, she did amazingly!


As we were walking back to the car, she made a comment about “next time”. I think I’ve got her!

We went home and washed the mud off and just kind of putzed around for the afternoon.  I made dinner, finished the cake, screwed up some knitting and by 9:30 was ready for bed.  But we weren’t done.  Everyone filled their assigned stockings with much sneaking and angst about there not being enough room in the sock.  Mom needed whipped cream but was too tired to use the hand mixer and didn’t want to be bothered getting out her Kitchenaid.  Well, what’s the point of having a Kitchenaid if not for making whipped cream?  So I got it out and 5 minutes later we had whipped cream you could walk on.  Yum!  I was halfway into bed when I realized we hadn’t put the presents under the tree.  Back out I went with the bags of goodies.  Finally, FINALLY at about a quarter past 11 I was able to crawl into bed and pass out.

I was one of the first ones awake Christmas morning.

The problem with teenagers is they stop being excited to wake up early on Christmas.  It was almost 9:30 before we roused everyone and started on stockings.  Between stockings and tree presents, everyone had a good haul, just the right balance of clothes and stuff.  I got a couple of homesteading/DIY books, a Fitbit (ooooh, stats!), some running gear, a GC to Knitpicks and a couple more for clothes.  Yay!  Matt, Rachel and Uly joined us for dinner.


They brought fake snowballs, which were awesome but led to a couple of falls and arguments.  Of course it was raining again, so we couldn’t kick the kids outside to burn it off.  One more reason snow is better than rain!  And the bread/cake/thing came out good!  Drier than I would have liked, so next time I might not bake it quite as long, but the flavor was very nice.


Saturday was recovery day.  We got all the clean-up we could done (crowding 6 people into a two bedroom apartment leads to some inescapable disorder), and then Mom sent me and Nikki off to cash in my gift cards.  I got two pairs of slacks (size 8!), and silky blouse and this blazer that I swear is made out of sweatshirt material and flannel and may be my most favorite piece of clothing ever!  And everything was 50% off, so when I went over my GC amount, I didn’t feel bad about paying the extra.  The running shop was just across the parking lot, so we stopped in to get our final results from the race as well.  Then home for lunch and we went back out to Old Navy to return one of Hero’s gifts (white top, too small and too transparent) and spend some of our gift cards.  It was pretty zooish, with all the returns and the huge after-Christmas sale, but we all scored some goodies.  Hero came out best, as she found the last of these sleeveless running hoodies that they only had the display version of.  But it was in her size and looks phenomenal on her!  Plus she’s all about the hoods and can wear this over just about anything, so it’s the perfect article of clothing for her.  Once we got home, we had naps and dinner and started packing up for the trip home.

Sunday was back to reality.  Mom took us out for breakfast to her local place that serves beignets, which I had never had.  They were delicious!  Once we got home, it was a race to load the car and make sure we didn’t forget anything (we almost forgot our Christmas angel!)  But we did pretty well and were on the road by 10.  Slightly longer trip this time, as we had to take Nikki home on the way.  Of course it was beautiful and warm all the way up through VA and to the PA line, but almost as soon as we crossed into PA, the fog hit, and then the rain.  *sigh*  We dropped her off in Philly around 4 and were home by 5:30.  The worst traffic we saw the whole way home was around Philly, especially passing King of Prussia (everyone leaving the mall) and coming out of Philly to head north.  Once we got home, we actually did get the car all unloaded in record time, and then I ordered Chinese food, because there was no way I was cooking after all that.

And I was in bed by 7.  Bliss!

Washington (in brief and pictures)

Washington (in brief and pictures)


The D.C. trip was excellent!  Hard to believe it was almost two weeks ago.  Re-entry was a little rocky, but I blame the weather for that.  It can be fall any day now!

We didn’t leave here until almost 11, but made good time and got down there by 2:30.  I was most amused and a little startled to find that the hotel was the same one I stayed in when I came to D.C. for the first time my senior year in high school!  We were there early enough that once we settled in, we went out to explore the neighborhood, which was basically the Pentagon.


Dinner was our only awkward food day.  We didn’t get a microwave in the room, but they had one in the lobby, so we went down and nuked them in public.  A little embarrassing, but it worked and was yummy!  The kids went swimming, I did some spinning, and by 10:30 we were all asleep.

Saturday was day 1 of sightseeing.  We caught the shuttle and the train and were downtown by 9:45 (the museums open at 10), which gave us time to explore.


We started at Air and Space, where I got a picture of my Captain America Exhibit t-shirt in its home environment (that movie was a bit of a running theme for the weekend).


Then we had lunch on the Mall before walking out towards the Lincoln Memorial and everything in between.  Only one person the whole day notice it, the cashier in the gift shop at Natural History.  He was pretty gleeful.

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(Yes, I do seem to be travelling with a posse)


One of my favorite surprise photo ops of the trip.

By the time we walked back it was getting on to 5.  We went into Natural History for an hour and a half (thanks to Steven Universe, Hero really wanted to see the gems), and then it was dinner time.  That night was dinner out, so we found a relatively inexpensive fusion place that made huge naan burgers.

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Xander was the only one to eat all of his.


Then home, a swim and OMG crash!

Sunday was much the same, only we did the other end of the mall.  Started at American History, where we all acknowledged after an hour that we had rather stopped learning and were just looking at things at that point.  Input saturation!  After lunch, we walked up to the Capitol, which was undergoing some pretty substantial reno.


Pretty ironwork, though.

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On the way back, we wandered through the Botanical Gardens, which the kids surprised me by really enjoying


and the Museum of the American Indian.


Dinner that night was at Chez Hotel Room, and went well.  We sat up watching the first half of the special on the 2000’s, which the kids were really interested since that is all literally the length of their existence.  They got confused when I kept yelling at the tv, and quiet when I got teary.

We talked about doing something on Monday morning, but by then we were all brain fried and decided to sleep late and then get on the road.  Took the back ways to avoid traffic and tunnels in Baltimore, which was serendipitously beautiful, and made it home by 3.  Everyone had a good time but we were glad to be home!

We don’t have any more trips planned for the summer, which I’m just as happy about.  It looks like I’m going to have to get the brakes on the car done, so that takes any money I would have had for another trip anyway, and it’s probably not safe to take a long trip until I get them done.  *sigh*  Next paycheck.

So thanks for the memories, Washington, and we’ll see you again!


First Trip

First Trip

Our first trip of the summer is this weekend.  At long last, I’m going to Assateague to see the wild ponies!

Oh, yes, I was totally one of those girls.  From the age of 8 to about 15, I read every horse book I could get my hands on.  I only ever got to ride a few times, but I always dreamed of having my own horse.  My mom says I get the horse crazy from her mother, who loved horses and had her own as a girl.  The closest I ever came was a friend ins chool who had one, and who meanly rode it in front of me but wouldn’t let me take a turn.  Until that point I’d considered her my best friend, but we never spoke again after that moment.

And of course I read Misty of Chincoteague.

40 years later, I don’t remember much of the book, but I do remember the longing to go to a place where horses roam freely on the beach.  Two of my favorite things, horses and the Atlantic.  I’ve always wanted to go, but there were always other things to do, other places we needed to be, or beach camping was too intimidating with little kids.  But the kids aren’t little anymore, and I don’t have any place else to be this summer, so we’re going to Assateague.

It’s a good thing I decided early to do this, because I had to make the reservations back in February.  They book solid for the summer almost as soon as they open reservations, so you have to get right in with your dates.  Since this was a new experience for us, and because I’d heard nightmare tales of the bugs, I decided we’d just go for two nights and check it out.  If we liked it, we could always go back.  So we’ll go down Friday and stay until Sunday.  It’s not a bad drive from here, about 3 hours, which is not much longer than when we go on any other trip.  We’re staying in the National Park, although there is a state campground on the island as well.  All the camping is on the Maryland end of the island, but there’s a lot of stuff on the Virginia end as well.  It’s 45 miles between the two, so I suspect that will be our Saturday activity.

This week is about getting ready.  The kids are getting the camping gear down, and I’m prepping food.  Chili, taco meat, traveling cheesecake, s’more puppy chow.  I have to figure out sand stakes.  I keep reading differing opinions on what to use, but the best suggestion I’ve found was using plastic shopping bags as dead man anchors.  Dig a hole, fill them with sand, bury them and stake out your tent.  Not sure if that will work for our corners, but it will definitely work for the awning and for the screenhouse.  And we will totally be using the screenhouse, because bugs.

And ponies, apparently.  Ponies.  In the campsites.  EEEEEEEE!!!!

No More Pencils…

No More Pencils…

By the time you read this, the kids will be done with school.

It was a pretty mixed year.  Xander did a lot better in some ways.  I do think the tech school was good for him, taking some of the homework pressure off him.  I did have some serious teacher issues with one of his teachers. On a daily basis, she would score him well, but on a weekly basis, she tanked him.  Which I had suspected would happen when we switched to weekly reporting.  She would give no ground and wouldn’t really work with us, to the point where by the end of the year, his behavior specialist and I were both throwing our hands up and told Xander to blow off an assignment she wasn’t giving him any wiggle room on.  You know it’s bad if we’re both saying that.  And it’s not strictly the subject matter, because he did fairly well in that class last year.  But he’s passed the class, and honestly at this point, that’s all I can ask.

Hero is another issue.  We got her IEP in place for the last marking period, but it wasn’t really in time to do much good.  she already had three failing marking periods behind her, and dragging herself up from that was a daunting task even if she’d been able to put the new habits in place, which at that point she really wasn’t.  So she is right on the edge of failing 2-3 of her classes.  It really all depends on her finals.  If she fails 2, she can retake them in summer school.  If she fails 3…  Part of me worries that she self-sabotaged, as her two best friends were also failing and she doesn’t want to leave them behind.  I’m also struggling with the question of whether or not to get her medicated to help with her ADHD.  I would really rather she learn how to work with support systems on her own, but if she can’t focus enough to internalize those systems, I’m not doing her any favors.  That’s the route we took for Morgan, and now his self-esteem is in the toilet.  I don’t want that for Hero as well.

We won’t know her grades until next week, and there’s not much I can do about it now.  Summer school classes start the 29th, so we’ll have our first trip out of the way.  I will have to make arrangements for her to miss one day of classes for our July trip, though.  But again, can’t worry about it now.

This weekend we’ll work on their plans for the summer.  They’re going to work on DIY badges again this year, so we need to figure out which ones they’re going to work on.  Xander needs to decide on a fitness activity.  I may make him walk the first episode of the 5k training just to see if I can get him hooked on the story.  We have to figure out their summer reading yet as well.  Both of them have one assigned book (she has The Illustrated Man, he has The Cage) and then they get to pick one book.  I’m letting them both do graphic novels, but I’m being picky about what they can choose.  So we have to sit down and talk about genres and see what they might be interested in.  I’d love to get Xander to read The Graveyard Book, but we’ll see.  I never know with him what genre will catch his interest.

And hey, I can start sleeping in a little!  Or go out for an early morning run.  Oh god, am I going to turn into one of THOSE people?

ETA: LATEBREAKING NEWS!!  This was written on Wednesday.  On Friday, the last day of school, I got word from Hero’s case manager that SHE PASSED EVERYTHING!!  It was really damn close, as she got a 66% overall in Math, but she did it!  No having to plan around summer school!  HALLELUJAH!

Future Sensations

Future Sensations

(So much for every day.  Shall we go for fewest days missed?)

Friday I dragged the kids downtown to the Future Sensation exhibit.  We’d seen them setting up for it the week before when we took Nikki home from the beach, and it looked interesting.  Basically it’s an immersive art installation to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Saint Gobain materials company.  It was free, and got the kids out of the house, so I figured what the heck?

Unfortunately, due to a snafu with one of Hero’s friends, we got a very late start, which would impact the evening.  We left close to 7, but since the show ran until 10:00, I figured we still had plenty of time.  It took a little over an hour to get into Philly, and we went to park at Nikki’s house, which is only a few blocks from the Art Museum and the Oval, where the exhibit was set up.  We scored a really good parking spot, which is unusual in her neighborhood on a Friday night.  Nikki met us at the front door and we walked down.

The place was MOBBED.


Each of the 5 pavilions had long lines.  We weren’t sure if there was one line or one for each, so we just picked a line and stayed in it.  Xander and Hero got bored and went exploring while the rest of us waited.  At about 8:45, an announcer came on to say that, while the show was open until 10, the lines were closing then to make sure everyone in line got to see the exhibit.  Unfortunately, that only applied to the line you were in, so Morgan, Nikki and I only got to go into the Look pavilion.  But it was a good one!


The kids described it as like being in Tron or the holodeck.  The lines of light traced and flickered while images of art and science from the 350 years of the company flashed in between.  The walls were all mirrored, so it was like standing in space.  Very hot, stuffy space, but still.

Xander and Hero had slipped a couple of lines, so they made it into the Listen and Color pavilions as well.  I would really have liked to have gotten into the Discover pavilion as well.


I think it was poor planning on the organizers’ part to have it close so early in the evening, especially since the tour was only in Philly for a week (Saturday was its last day) and it was gorgeous weather. But ah well.

I wanted to go back the following day, but had too much to do at home.  Instead I convinced Eric to take them down.  Morgan stayed home, too, but the kids had a great time, and there were almost no crowds, so they got both the day and night experience.

I really have to remember to keep an eye out for free stuff in Philly.  I live near a great city, and I need to take advantage of that more often.