Friday, December 18, 2015

This weekend (12/18/15)

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas, everyone!  It's going to be a crazy, action-packed weekend for us.

Friday:  Julie's work Christmas party.  Nate has a scout lock-in event at the YMCA.

Saturday:  7:40 am - home scrimmage vs. Winterhurst
                 5:50 pm hockey practice
                 7:00 pm open skate
                 ???? Taking the boys to see Santa at some point.

Sunday:  8:00 am away hockey game at Strongsville.  Ugh.
               ???-??? shopping, cookie baking, wrapping, etc.
               4:00 pm Bren scout family Christmas party

I think there's more . . . I guess we'll figure it out when I get a text asking where I am.

Friday, December 4, 2015

This weekend (12/4/15)

Sunday, December 6 - 9:50 a.m. - home vs. Kent

Afterward, Bren and I are hitting the road to Columbus for the MLS Cup!  Go Crew!  Or . . . Go Portland!  Oh, heck.  We'll just go with Go Akron!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

This weekend (11/20/15)

Not one, not two, but THREE hockey games this weekend!!!  One away, two home. 

Saturday, November 21 - away at Winterhurst - 8:40 am
Sunday, November 22 - home vs. Strongsville at 11:20 am [double header]
                                                - home vs. Shaker Heights at 3:40 pm

I think that's basically it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

UPDATED 2015/2016 Hockey Schedule


The team has done some tinkering with the schedule, so this is a more current schedule.

Saturday, November 21 - away at Winterhurst - 8:40 am
Sunday, November 22 - home vs. Strongsville at 11:20 am [double header]
                                       - home vs. Shaker Heights at 3:40 pm
Saturday, December 6- home vs. Kent - 9:50 am
Sunday, December 13 - home vs. Winterhurst - 7:50 am [not yet confirmed]
Saturday, December 19- home vs. Winterhurst (scrimmage) - 7:40 am
Sunday, December 20 - away at Strongsville - 8:00 am
Saturday, January 9 - home vs. Geauga - 12:10 pm
Sunday, January 10 - home vs. Fremont - 1:20 pm
Sunday, January 24 - away at Shaker Heights - 10:30 am
Saturday, January 30 - away at Fremont - 2:45 pm
Sunday, February 7* - away at Geauga - 5:30 pm

*Yep.  Still Superbowl Sunday.

Friday, November 6, 2015

This week (11/6/15)

Nate has a hockey game at Kent State Saturday, November 7 at 5:35 p.m.

That and raking 3,436 bags of leaves are the only things on the agenda for now.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Are you ready for some hockey?! [PLEASE SEE UPDATED SCHEDULE]

If not, well, too bad.  We have a hockey schedule!

Saturday, November 7 - Away at Kent - 5:35 pm
Saturday, November 14 - home vs. Shaker Heights - 10:30 am
Saturday, November 21 - away at Winterhurst - 8:40 am
Sunday, November 22 - home vs. Strongsville at 11:20 am
Saturday, December 12 - home vs. Kent - 9:10 am
Sunday, December 13 - home vs. Winterhurst - 7:50 am
Saturday, December 20 - away at Strongsville - 8:00 am
Saturday, January 9 - home vs. Geauga - 12:10 pm
Sunday, January 10 - home vs. Fremont - 2:45 pm
Sunday, January 24 - away at Shaker Heights - 10:30 am
Saturday, January 30 - away at Fremont - 2:45 pm
Sunday, January 31 - home vs. Winterhurst - 8:40 am (An 8:40 game the day after driving to/from Fremont.  Ugh. At least it's at home.)
Sunday, February 7* - away at Geauga - 5:30 pm.

All in all, that's a pretty great schedule.  Lots of home games. No 7:00 am games in Cleveland.  Nice long break around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the season will be over by the first week in February.  But please, for the love of all things, do not tell Nate that there aren't any Parma games scheduled this year.  I swear some days I think that child plays hockey just so that he has an excuse to go up there and eat pierogies.

They're not listed on the schedule, but we will also have two tournaments (South Bend, IN and Columbus), and I believe we'll be playing at least one game up at the Q again this year.  I'll let you know when I know more about that.

*Yes, that would be super bowl sunday.  No, there's nothing I can do about it.  The coach is trying to get it changed.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Times Change

This weekend I was talking with some of my Mommy friends about the fall daylight savings time change.   When we were younger, it was practically magical.  We could sleep in an extra hour in the morning!  It was great, until our bodies eventually acclimated and it felt just as miserable to get up in the morning as it had three weeks prior.  In our twenties, it gave us an extra hour before the bars closed, and an extra hour to sleep it off the next morning.  Even as young adults, it would give us a chance to get up and hit the gym before work for a couple of weeks before exhaustion and apathy set in.

But for parents of small people, there is no reason to celebrate daylight savings.  For them, the time change is an epic hassle. Toddlers are nothing if not creatures of habit.  Change their routines, and there will be hell to pay.  Mike and I started the parenting thing a little earlier than a lot of our friends, so we're at a very different stage in life than the ones who still have infants and toddlers living under their roofs.  We're not facing weeks of disrupted sleep, kids waking up an hour earlier than the clock says they should, or falling asleep in their plates at dinner.  Even if our kids wake up earlier than we want them to, for the most part it has no effect on our day.  In fact, just this morning I got up to let the dogs* out and sat down on the couch in the TV room to check my email.  After a few minutes, I heard a weird clicking sound from the front room, and wandered in there to find Nathan happily playing video games.  Until that very moment, I thought I was the only one up. 

When your kids are born, you have to essentially function as an external life support system.  They're completely dependent on you for everything, and you have to teach them things - to eat, to walk, to talk, to blow their noses - that seem ridiculous, in retrospect.  Later, those lessons get a little more abstract - to beware of strangers and cars, to read and write, to share.  We're in a sort of weird parenting phase now.  Both of our kids are able to feed, dress, and entertain themselves.  Nathan can read better than most high school students and rarely needs help with his homework. Brendan is in high school now, teetering on the brink of adulthood.  He never asks for help with homework.  In fact, he nearly always denies the existence of any homework assignments.  Tonight he cooked us dinner.  He made wings (in a deep fryer that I am not allowed to use without adult supervision), corn, baked beans, and tater tots, with minimal assistance.  Sometimes it feels like the only role we have left is to write checks, provide transportation, and keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked.  They're both pretty good kids, and because we provide so little help to them with their day-to-day needs, it sometimes feels like the only thing we have left to do is to wait out the teenage years and unleash them on the world after graduation.

But I realize that the hardest and most important part of our job is still in process.  We have to teach them how to be productive and engaged members of our community.   They need to know that the biggest test of their characters will be how they act when nobody else is looking.  We have long (and generally interesting, sometimes absurd) conversations about politics and economics and justice. We have to teach them how to be good friends, boyfriends, and later, husbands, and (hopefully) someday, fathers.  Anyone can teach a kid how to tie his shoes; it's a lot more difficult to teach him how to handle himself when someone he thought was a friend turns out not to be, or how to stand up for people and animals who can't stand up for themselves.  When they are little you can carefully curate their list of friends and arrange playdates for them.  When they are teenagers with smart phones and social media accounts and 24/7 ability to be horrible to one another without any parental buffer, sometimes the only thing you can do is just reassure them that high school won't last forever.  And, perhaps most difficult, as our friends and family age and die, we have to teach them how fleeting life is, how important it is to spend time with the ones you love the most, and how to honor and carry on those loved ones' lessons and memories.

Some days it would be so much easier to go back in time and deal with lost sleep and tears because someone took the train they wanted to play with at the library.  Luckily for us, they are good kids, and their friends are good kids who come from good families. With every day that passes, I become more acutely aware how quickly their entire childhood goes by.  We're on the precipice of driving (which means even more independence), SATs, and college visits.  Someday soon our only role will be to worry about them from afar, offer advice only when asked, and occasionally bail them out** when trouble strikes.  That will be the most difficult phase we'll ever endure, and it'll last for the rest of our lives.  So for now, I'll just try to enjoy sleeping in and providing taxi services and commiserate with our friends who haven't slept through the night in weeks.  And I'll take my own advice and remember to try to love nearly every precious minute of it.

*Dogs, of course, do not respect Daylight Savings time.  They are now the weakest link in our household.

** Dear lord, please let there not be any literal bail payments.

Friday, October 9, 2015

This week (10/9/15)

The soccer season is finally dragging to a close, just in time for hockey to start up, lol!  This week should be interesting.

Saturday, October 10 - 9:00 a.m. - home vs. Hoban

Monday, October 12 - 5:00 p.m. - away at Lake.

Thursday, October 15 - 5:00 p.m - away at GlenOak.  Last game of the season and I'm going to miss it. Boo!

Saturday, October 17 - 11:00 a.m. - hockey away at North Olmsted

Sunday, October 18 - 10:00 a.m. - hockey vs. Winterhurst at home.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This week (9/28/15)

. . .  just sucks. That's all.


Hockey & soccer practice.


Mike and I signed up to work the concession stand, not realizing that Brendan doesn't even actually  have a game that night!  Argh.  That means we need someone to take Bug to hockey.  Anyone?


More soccer practice.  More hockey practice.

Also, fall sports bonfire.


Soccer game - maybe?  The schedule says they're playing away at Copley at 5:15.  But they already played Copley a month ago, in a game that was supposed to have been cancelled.  The away team's bus rolled up halfway through the boys' practice, so they played it.  So is this a leftover game from when it was supposed to be rescheduled?  Or a duplicate game just to round out our schedule?  I have no idea.


Soccer practice.

Hockey game!

8:40-9:40 pm - Home vs. Rocky River.  Sweet moses.  So glad it's at home, but really?  A game that late for nine year-olds?  Honestly.


Bren might have a game against Findlay.  He also might not have a game against Findlay.  Who knows?  If it takes place (like one of the two calendars indicates), it will be at 11:00 am at home.


Nathan hockey - 10 am - vs. Geauga - Home.

Monday, September 21, 2015

It's a great day for hockey! 2015-2016 Preseason schedule.

Our little Gretzky is getting ready to start his second season of hockey this week!  They've been practicing since late summer, and tryouts were a couple of weeks ago.  This year he's moving up from the "Mite" division to the "Squirt" division.  Quote of the day: "For such an aggressive sport, I have no idea why they use names like 'mite' and 'squirt' to describe the age groups"  - Mike Bickis.

Mites skate on half-ice and play 2-minute shifts of four skaters and one goalie.  The game stops every 2 minutes and the entire line (except the goalie) leaves the ice, replaced by a whole new set of players.  It keeps things moving - nobody gets bored and starts taking off gear on the bench, and they don't get too tired.  For squirts, they move to full ice, which has been a huge transition.  I don't know how many kids are on the ice at one time, or how long their shifts last.  We're still so new to all of this!

At any rate, this week they scheduled a series of preseason games.  These don't count in the season statistics; they're designed to let the coaches and admins figure out which division to place the boys in.  The first game is this coming weekend!   

9/27/15 at 11:45 a.m.  - vs. North Olmsted - Away
10/2/15 at 8:40 p.m. - vs. Rocky River - Home
10/4/15 at 10:00 a.m. - vs. Geauga - Home
10/17/15 at 11:45 a.m. - vs. North Olmsted - Away (we're not playing this game)
10/18/15 at 10:10 a.m. - vs. Winterhurst - Home (don't think we're playing this one, either)
10/24/15 at 4:00 p.m. - vs. Fremont - Away (this is way out yonder toward Toledo/Sandusky. Ugh)

Come if you can. 

I think I'm being Gaslighted by my own kid.

Over the weekend, I asked Nate to do some research on hermit crabs to see if it needed some fresh food to supplement the dry food we bought.  He did, and we found out lots of fascinating things about hermit crabs, a.k.a. "you're doing it wrong."

According to random folks on the internet, they enjoy green vegetables like kale and broccoli, as we  as fruits, including bananas, mangoes, peaches and apples.  Some observations:

1) Oh good, there's another foodie in my house.
2) How, exactly did they figure that out?

Our old parrot used to scream her head off if anyone dared to make popcorn and not share with her, so I guess I should be careful into whose glass cage I throw stones on this subject, but who woke up one morning and decided to give a hermit crab kale?  I can get on board with mangoes and bananas.  They grow in tropical places where you're likely to find a hermit crab.  But did someone take their crab with them to the produce section, give it a $5 bill and let it go crazy on the apple bin?  Weird.

As it turns out, you're also apparently supposed to provide them with fresh water and salt water.  And don't think you can get away with just dissolving some regular salt into that water.  Nope.  It needs to be a special marine salt mixture.  Nate helpfully found a 2lb. bag of it online, which would probably be a lifetime supply for an entire army of hermit crabs (which, let's be clear, I'm not interested in owning). Instead, we went to the pet store and found some already mixed up!  It's the size, shape, and color of an ordinary disposable water bottle, so we were sure to warn the kids when we got home that it was just for Hermes (which is what we've been calling the crab for months).  Nate threw a look of confusion mixed with pity for being so incomprehensibly stupid over his shoulder and said "What did you call him?  His name is Hercules."  That's . . . news to me.

Here, Hercules, have some kale.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This week (9/18/15)

No soccer this weekend.  Just one game, on:

Tuesday, September 22 - 5:15 p.m. - vs. Green (at home)

We get to see the Gangs!!!  So excited.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Guess what?  Wednesday's game vs. Hoover is back on.  5:00 pm., at home.  Be there or be square.

No soccer wednesday 9/16/15

It appears that the Hoover game will be in October.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

This week (9/11/15)

This week, there will be soccer games on:

Saturday, September 12, 2015 -  3:00 p.m. - away at Walsh Jesuit.  Not sure of the exact street address, but it looks like the fields are behind the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, off of Wyoga Lake Rd. in Cuyahoga Falls.  The street address for the school itself is 4550 Wyoga Lake Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44224.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 5:15 p.m. - home vs. Hoover. This game is on one calendar, but not the other two, so . . . use caution?  I have no idea.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The funds, they are a-raisin'

A couple of weeks ago a viral photo of a PTA fundraising form was making the rounds of Facebook:

(photo courtesy of Dee Heinz)

Apparently it touched a nerve because the woman who posted it, Dee Heinz, suddenly found herself the focus of interest from hundreds of thousands of fellow parents, and from outlets like CNN and Good Morning America.

That it did was no real surprise.  As soon as the children go back to school, form-filling-in season is quickly replaced by fundraising season.  Within the first week or so, the fundraisers start pouring in: Cookie dough! Yankee Candles! Not-to-scale casserole dishes which look like they're made for a lasagna but are actually made for a meatloaf!  Wrapping Paper!  Chocolate and candy! It seems like every week they send home a different plea for kids to shill crap you don't need.  Now, Heinz has made it abundantly clear in interviews (and to me, personally), that she is not anti-fundraiser.  I agree.  Our PTO is amazing.  They do wonderful things for our school.  Just in the past few years they have installed new playground equipment, renovated our gym, and provided all of the teachers with smart-board technology in their classrooms!  Those are all GREAT things for our kids that the school district was unable (or unwilling) to provide.

What I don't like are the manipulative tactics that some of the fundraising companies use to get kids to buy in to them.  If you don't pester your grandma to buy an overpriced ceramic bowl, you won't get the little plastic charm to hang on your necklace like all of your other friends!  If you don't sell $300 worth of wrapping paper you don't get to attend the pizza party! The other thing that galls me about those fundraisers are the incredibly tiny profit margins for the schools.  They're pimping out their students for a couple hundred dollars.  I think if they sent out a simple request to the parents for cash donations in lieu of all of the nonsense, they could easily get as much, if not more.  I do feel for the parents who aren't in a financial position to do that.  Their kids should have an opportunity to help the school, too, and the sales make that (in theory) possible.

Apart from the pimp factor, for us, the school fundraisers aren't the only ones we have to worry about.  A couple of days ago, Brendan came home from a boy scout meeting and told me that if he sold $2,500 worth of popcorn, he could get a ~$200 electronic gadget.  Oh, yeah?  Sounds like a great deal.  Sign me up!  Nate, as a cub scout, is also expected to sell popcorn.  For many years now, we've reached an accommodation similar to the one proposed in the above photo.  The boys will do the storefront sales (I'm sure you've seen them - arm wrestling the girl scouts selling overpriced cookies for space at the front of Lowe's or Giant Eagle, or Walmart), and we make an outright donation to the troop for an amount that we think is about the profit margin that they would've received if we allowed the boys to harass neighbors, grandparents, and our coworkers.  I suppose it defeats the purpose of teaching them salesmanship, but it's just how it works in our house.

Because it's not just school fundraisers and boy scout popcorn.  Oh, nooooooooooooo.  So far this year, there have been at least three fundraisers for Bren's high school soccer team.  Last year there were at least four fundraisers for Nate's hockey team.  Lacrosse, so far, seems to be blissfully fundraiser-free, but I imagine that will change in the near future.

There are a couple that we will participate in.  In the winter, one of them (hockey, maybe?) sells some pretty holiday wreaths and poinsettias.  The prices aren't bad, and we'd probably be buying them anyway, so the organization gets the benefit of our laziness.  Likewise, every spring the Boy Scout Troop sells flowers (like, the planting kind, not the vase kind).  They're beautiful, very high quality, and an extremely reasonable price.  We'd buy them at that price or higher from Lowe's anyway, so there's no real downside.  Our boys have very generous friends and family, and we try very hard to avoid hitting them up for money every time we see them.  We do occasionally pass along one or two of the things that we think are reasonable, or that people might legitimately be interested in.  So if you find yourself hungry for some chocolate covered popcorn, you can feel free to come buy it from them at Giant Eagle in a couple of weeks, but we won't be twisting any arms.

In the meantime, here's a solution I think we can all get behind:

Friday, September 4, 2015

This week (9/5/15)


No games over labor day weekend (that we know of, anyway).

Thursday, September 10- Home vs. Hudson -  5:15 p.m.

Saturday, September 12 - away vs. Walsh Jesuit - 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Roadkill Stew

So, this morning was special.  The entire house was woken up at 4am by an alarm that Brendan set for (presumably nefarious) purposes yet to be determined.  Nate went back to sleep, but I'm pretty sure he was the only one.  After I finally accepted that there was no time machine available to give us back all of the sleep that we lost, and that getting ready for work was both necessary and inevitable, I got up and got dressed.

I woke Nate up shortly before I left because last night he asked to get up early because he had a Very Important episode of Chima to watch before school.  As I puttered around the kitchen making my breakfast we chatted about the little family of bunnies who have taken up residence in our backyard.  He told me all about the mama and the daddy and the littlest one who likes to hang out by the pine tree which doubles as his clubhouse.  He laughed when I told him that every time I let the dogs out I open the door first and yell and waive my arms to give the bunnies fair notice to vacate the premises.

As I was pouring myself a drink, I heard the familiar rumble of the garbage truck rolling through the neighborhood and realized that nobody had taken the garbage out.  I panicked and raced out to the front porch, where I saw it head the opposite direction from our house.  Knowing that that would buy me some time, I opened the garage door and frantically started dragging bags to the curb.  As soon as I took the first load down, I saw a small, still lump with a snowy white tail laying in the roadway, right in front of our yard.  I instantly knew that this would work out in one of two ways, neither of them good.  Either the dogs would find its tiny little corpse so irresistible that they would barge through the electric fence and claim their prize, or it would be in Nate's direct line of sight as he left for school in the morning and he would be devastated.  So I grabbed the pooper scooper and used it to pick up its stiff* little lifeless body and carry it over to the trash can.  Nearly there, the spring in the scoop designed for picking up dog waste and not Peter Rabbit gave out, and it fell to the road with a dull thud.  I took a deep breath, picked it back up, and dropped it in the can.

I left the lid open because I intended to get another bag to put on top so that it would be hidden from view after I went in the house and washed my hands.  But then I forgot about that, and drove off to work with the trash can standing open, bunny in full view. Sorry garbage guys. I guess that's payback for the time that you wouldn't take our trash because it was in the grass next to the driveway instead of on the pavement.

*So, SO grateful it was stiff.  Had visions of it being not quite dead and then having to figure out what exactly to do about that.

Monday, August 31, 2015

This week (8/31/15)

One soccer game: Monday, August 31, 5:15 p.m., at home, vs, GlenOak.

Remember how we all had high hopes that high school soccer was going to be eminently more organized than club soccer?  Ha ha, we were so adorable.

Late last week I noticed a discrepancy in the team calendar(s).  One version had a game scheduled; one didn't.  I asked a parent who's been with the program for a few years now to clear it up, and she pointed me in the direction of still another calendar, which indicated that it had been rescheduled to the second week in September.  Bren also told us that at the end of practice on Wednesday, they were told that there was no game the next day and it would just be practice as usual.  So Thursday morning I sent out the bat signal, and told everyone not to come.

Fast forward to early Thursday evening, I was sitting at my desk, working late on a project, and I got a text from Mike saying that toward the end of practice the buses for the "away" team rolled up.  Apparently they didn't get the memo that the game was rescheduled.  So the boys, after having just run a full practice, rehydrated and hit the field.  Unfortunately, they suffered their first loss of the season.  Boo.

Shortly thereafter we got a message that the Saturday game in the Toledo area was also cancelled, but I kept looking at my phone all day Saturday, expecting any minute to see a text or email saying "Whoops! we were wrong!  Game starts in 2 hours - drive fast!"  Luckily that didn't happen.

This week's confusion largely centers around sartorial matters.  As it turns out, Bren has a game tonight.  It wasn't completely a surprise.  I just didn't have my act together this week to get out a schedule ahead of time (and frankly, given the scenario detailed above, I wasn't 100% sure there was a game). But it turns out there is.  Sorry. Tonight, at 5:15, at home, vs. Glenoak.  Two of Bren's old teammates from CU will be playing for the opposing team. It will be interesting to see them play against one another and nice to see their parents again.  We have seen some of these people almost daily for the past four years.  It feels so weird not to hang out with them during practice, laugh on the sidelines during games, and furiously text back and forth about uniform/schedule/field assignment changes.

Anyhoo, GlenOak is a Federal League team.  When they play against Federal League opponents, they're supposed to dress up for school that day - button-down shirt, tie, dress pants.  Late last night, after an emergency shopping trip, we got a text saying not to dress up for this game.

When they play non-Federal-League opponents, they generally get a text from the team captain about what to wear (usually the alternate jersey of what they're playing in that day, presumably so they don't get the Tuesday Meatloaf Surprise on their actual game jersey at lunch).  No text last night, so he went to school today in just regular clothes, but took his alternate jersey with him in case he had to change.

So, I apologize for the crazy late notice, but long story short, we have a home game tonight.  I believe it will be on the "back" fields behind the high school, and I have no idea if they will charge admission, so maybe bring a few dollars just in case.  One of us has to leave at the half because Nate's school is having a parent meeting at 6:30.  Also, Nate had tryouts last week for hockey, and practices start this week on Tuesday and Thursday.  No soccer this weekend, though, as far as I know.  I suppose that could change 12 times before Saturday, so check in with us.

If you don't want to be at the mercy of my addled brain, here is the link to the official school calendar.  I can see at least one error on it, but it's probably better than nothing:
Jackson Boys JV Purple Schedule

Friday, August 21, 2015

This Week (8/21/15)

Brendan's high school soccer career officially kicks off this Saturday!  He's been training with the team all summer and has played in a handful of scrimmages, but Saturday morning is their first official game.  In true youth sports fashion, they got their uniforms 15 minutes before the team photos were taken this week.  The OCD side of me wants to just barge in and take over all of the organizations the boys are involved in.

So, that brings us to the schedule!  I think I posted a soccer schedule a couple of months ago.  Ignore that.  Some things have changed since then, and I honestly don't have the time, energy, or attention span to go back and compare it line-by-line, so I'm going to just post an updated one . . . eventually.  In the meantime, I'll try to get back to posting weekly updates so that everyone who wants to come see him play can do so.

Saturday, August 21 - 10:00 am. -  away @ University School.  2785 SOM Center Rd., Chagrin Falls, OH 44022.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 5:00 p.m. - away @ Brunswick.  3581 Center Rd., Brunswick, OH 44212-3695 (I think this is the address for the football stadium, which might also double as the soccer stadium.  If you're planning to attend check in with us on the day of and we'll try to steer you in the right direction).

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 5:30 p.m. - @ home vs. Copley!  The calendar says "back field," which I think means the practice fields behind the high school.

Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 4:00 p.m - away @ Anthony Wayne 6035 Finzel Rd, Whitehouse, OH 43571.  Unless there are multiple Anthony Wayne high schools in Ohio, this one is way, way the heck out in the middle of nowhere, past Toledo.  Also, that address is based on a highly scientific review of a google earth image of a soccer field behind the high school.   Since both of our JV teams are scheduled to play at the same time, we might be on a different field . . . somewhere else? Again, for anyone who is really into road trips, plan ahead and call us for details as the date approaches.

Go bears!

What else is going on, you ask?  Oh, not much, just the beginning of hockey season.  The pre-season "mini camp" is going on this week (Nate has practice Saturday morning right after we get back from Bren's game up in Cleveland).  Tryouts are next week, and practices will start shortly thereafter.  Last year the first game of the season was November 1.  I imagine this year will be about the same.  Also, the kids went back to school this week.  So far, things are going well.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer magic

Yesterday afternoon we dropped Nate off at horse camp for a week.  When I was little, my favorite place in the world was girl scout camp.  Every year, in late winter, they would release the schedule for the following summer.  I would pore over it, trying to decide whether Crafty Critters or Woodswoman 1 had better potential for adventure.  I'd pester my parents to have the registration form in the mail on the first day that registration opened, so that I wouldn't get stuck on a waiting list or closed out entirely.

I went there every summer from the time that I was a Brownie (the summer after first grade) until I was a Senior in high school.  I started out going for three days, then a week, then two.  Later, I spent the entire summer there as a counselor.  It was the only place that was truly my own.  My Mom had gone there as a child, and later, as a counselor, but when I was there, I was largely on my own.  Other girls I knew always went with a friend or a tentmate already picked out.  But for me, a quiet, painfully shy bookworm, it was the only time all year that I was able to fully be myself amongst mostly strangers, without any of the the weight of expectations and past histories.

I did know some people there.  Occasionally someone from my own home troop or school would be there at the same time as me.  Eventually, after going for so many years, I began to make friends that I would see for just that one week each year, occasionally writing letters back and forth over the winter to keep in touch.  As I got older, the older sister of one of my good friends became a counselor, and I was completely starstruck.  But for the most part, my home and camp circles had very little overlap.  If I said something dumb, or fell on my face in front of a large crowd (this happened with frightening regularity - I'm not graceful) the statute of limitations for embarrassment expired the minute my parents picked me up on Saturday morning, rather than haunting me for the entire school year.

Also, although there were adults there, and schedules, rules, and boundaries to keep us safe, we were also left to our own devices to some extent.  For the first time in many of our lives, we did all of the basic chores that kept us clean, dry, and fed [most of the time we ate in a dining hall, but a couple of times each week we would cook our own meals at the campsite].  I would return home afterward with a certain smug satisfaction that if the power were to go out, I would probably outlive 70% of my classmates, and that my expert fire-building skills would be in high demand.

After high school, things changed, and I stopped going.  The camp has since been sold and now the trails there are quiet, except when the new owners are there four-wheeling or hunting.  But even today, the friends I made there are some of the most important people in my life.  Even if we haven't seen one another in years, within minutes we fall back into the same old easy rhythms of those long-ago summers.

I wanted all of this so badly for my own two boys.  I wanted them to get the high score in archery. To learn how to work as a team to paddle a canoe so that it travels in a somewhat straight line. To laugh until they cry when someone inevitably tips that canoe over in the middle of the lake.  I wanted them to meet the people (other than their own family) who they will turn to for comfort when they are in pain - the people who will always be there for them no matter what.  But most of all, I want them to have a little part of the world that belongs to just them, where they can have their own, separate identities outside of their ordinary, parent-managed life.  A Peter Pan fantasy where the only adults are 19 year-olds from America, and Columbia, and Australia, who are more likely to tip the canoe than to yell at you for doing it.

Both boys go to summer camp with boy scouts, but they go with their home troop, with the kids they go to school with and see every week for scout meetings.  With adults who are actual, legitimate grownups with mortgages and a healthy fear of malnutrition from eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly for a week straight. It's just not the same.  So each summer we also send them to another camp for some pure run amokism.  This is Nate's fourth year.  He goes to a day camp program there for part of the summer, and also does one session of overnight camp.   He didn't take to it right away, but he has had some amazing adventures.  Yesterday, when we dropped him off, all of the counselors knew him by name.  He has made one particular friend who has many of the same interests.  They spend the entire summer scheming to create a viable population of crayfish, and the entire winter looking forward to seeing each other again.  Last week, when he was there for day camp, his chosen special activity of the week was hiking.  I asked him if he'd seen anything amazing or new on one of his hikes, and he said "Mom.  I've been going there for four years.  I know everything in that place."

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Duke's Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Tuesday

Four and a half years ago, I was wasting time on the internet and found a puppy at the pound whose face was just irresistible.  He was a boxer-mastiff mix mutt, who they called Elwood.  I decided I needed to have him, and my husband, who is the sweetest man in the universe, actually spent the night in the parking lot of the pound, in December, in order to be the first one in line when he became available for adoption.  That little bundle of paws came home on his lap that day and changed our lives forever.

I like to say that he's the world's most expensive free dog.  As a puppy, we discovered that he has terrible food allergies.  We searched high and low for a food that wouldn't cause a reaction, even giving him, at our vet's recommendation, some ridiculously expensive food made from ostrich meat.  No, I'm not kidding.  Shortly thereafter, he dislocated his knee, but the vet decided that he wasn't a good surgical candidate, and we had to instead basically keep him immobile for 4-6 months so it could heal on its own.  Yeah.  A six month-old puppy.  Pardon me while I double over in hysterical laughter.  Eventually it did mostly heal, although he still has trouble going down stairs, and it gets stiff and sore in cold weather.  We found a food that he could tolerate.  And we got another dog so that he would have company during the day while everyone was at work or school.  For the most part, they were growing and thriving, and keeping us on our toes.

But then, last summer, we noticed a lump on Duke's side.  At first I thought it was just a big bug bite, but it didn't heal, and actually kept getting bigger.  We made an appointment with the vet and they did a biopsy by inserting a needle and extracting some of the material and sending it off to a lab for analysis.  It came back positive for a type of  malignant cancer which is fairly common in boxer-type dogs.  He was scheduled for surgery shortly thereafter.  On the day of surgery, the vet noticed another lump, further back toward his rear end, that she also thought looked suspicious.  They decided that it should be removed too, just to be on the safe side.

His recovery was difficult.  He had two very large incisions, one of which started swelling up with fluid.  He had to go back in and have a drain put in to relieve the pressure and allow the incision to heal properly.  The cone was a constant source of misery for him.  He had trouble getting to his food and water bowls, and up and down stairs because it was in the way.  For the next week or so he bashed it into every conceivable object in the house, including the humans.  He also decided that he couldn't possibly be expected to do his business if he couldn't sniff out the perfect spot with the cone in the way.  All in all, he was a pretty terrible patient.

But when the lab results came back after surgery, they were promising.  They thought they got all of the cancerous tissue, and said it that the disease was at an "early" stage two (on a scale of 1-3, 3 being the worst).  So, shortly before his 4th birthday, they gave him an estimated 60-month life expectancy.  Because larger dog breeds tend not to live very long, 60 months would be basically a full life span.  His hair grew back and the scars faded to a slightly less Frankenstein-ish appearance, and he was back to his old self before long.

A couple of months ago, he was laying on the floor in our TV room, in his favorite sunny patch.  Because of the way the sun was shining on his fur, I noticed a lump, halfway between his two old incision sites. I felt it, and there was definitely something there.  We took him in for his annual checkup and shots, and I showed it to the vet.  She agreed that it needed to be removed, but told us that because it was on the small side, his recovery should be easier this time.

Yesterday he went in for the surgery, almost exactly one year after the first surgery.  Everything went well and he was back home resting on his bed that night.

So far we're still not a fan of the cone.  He's still too drugged up to care right now, but he and our other dog, Abby, suffer from serious separation anxiety.  Because she's an idiot and can't be trusted not to pounce on his incision, she had to spend the night alone in their room without him.  She voiced her displeasure with this state of affairs by barking all.night.long.  None of us got a wink of sleep.  But we're so, so glad that he's home.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mark your calendars: Horse Show!

On Saturday, August 1, at 9:30 a.m. Nathan will be participating in a horse show to cap his week at horse camp.  I don't want to post the address on here, but text me and I will provide it.

Also, during the week that he is at camp, he can receive email messages.  They print them out and deliver them to the kids at mealtimes.  Please let me know if you would like the email address.  I can also give you the physical mailing address if you would prefer to send him a real letter.

He is so excited!  He has been counting down the days for weeks now.  Told me last night he'd like to have a horse.  Sure, kid.  He can sleep in your room.

Court of Honor Update

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Brendan's Court of Honor ceremony for scouts.  He'll be receiving his Life rank, and a handful of merit badges.  Unfortunately, this week also begins the first week of two-a-days for soccer.  Tuesday night he has (mandatory) practice from 6-8pm.  The picnic starts around 7.  Our hope is that we can pick him up from soccer and bring him over to the ceremony and make it there by the very tail end.  

So if you are planning to come, I'm sorry, but there's just no way I can guarantee how this is going to work out.  We would love to see everyone.  Maybe one of the grandparents can stand in for Bren and receive his awards on his behalf!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

This weekend (7/16/15)

Oh my god, I don't even know.  I've been leaving the house at 6am and getting home at 10pm all week and I can barely remember my own name.  Bren's camping.  Nate's . . . Nate-ing?  Whatever.

Bren's scout ceremony is Tuesday.  6:45-ish.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Boomerang Pets

When I was younger, I was really, REALLY into turtles.  It got a little ridiculous. So ridiculous that I apparently insisted on one of them making a cameo appearance in my Senior class photos:

One nice spring day, while I washing my car, I took that guy outside to get some fresh air and sunshine.  As it turns out, the whole thing about turtles being slow is a total myth.  I turned my back for just a few minutes, and he disappeared.  We looked everywhere.  We recruited all of the neighbors to check under decks and shrubs, and tore the entire neighborhood apart looking for him.  After a couple of days, I gave up and figured he was gone forever.  Since he was an asian species, I knew that the midwestern weather wouldn't suit him, and he was kind of inefficient at eating the food that I left for him in his cage, so I thought that there was a 0% chance he'd make it in the wild.

All summer there was no sign of him, until one day, in the early fall our neighbor called me over.  One of her students (she was a tutor) found a turtle in her driveway!  I was ecstatic!  He had been gone for six months, and here he was, less than 50 yards from where he went missing!  My personal theory is that he had some adventures to go on during the summer, but once the weather turned, decided "this is crap - I want my heat lamp," and came home.

We recently got back from a week at the beach.  While we were in a store there, my youngest son, Nathan, who is a lover of animals of every kind, found a cage full of hermit crabs for sale.  He decided that he HAD to own one, and asked us every fifteen minutes for the rest of the trip when he could go buy one.  He used nearly every penny of his hard-earned vacation money to buy the crab, and a cage and food for him.  We got a cute little guy with a shell painted to look like a soccer ball.  We took it home and let it out (under close supervision) to crawl around the kitchen of our rental house.  That thing could scoot!  And it was seriously determined; every time we would put it back in the center of our circle of humans, it would make for the nearest exit.

As I wrote last week, a couple of weeks after we came home, Nate was on his way to bed when he noticed that he had left the lid off of the still-unnamed crab's cage, and he escaped.  We tore the house apart looking for the little creature, but had no luck.  We decided to leave the cage on the floor, with the lid off, and with fresh water and food inside, in case he decided to come back on his own.  Every time I walked past that room I'd check in the cage, hoping to see a little soccer ball sitting there, but a week went by with no sightings.  Finally, last night, as Nate was getting ready for bed, he checked the cage and there he was!  Just like he'd never left!  

I was amazed and thrilled, because Nate is super sensitive, and takes the losses of our pets (we've had really bad luck with pets) hard.  He hadn't been too upset this time, but I think that's just because he hadn't entirely given up hope that it would come back.  And lucky for all of us (and the crab), his faith was not misplaced.

Last night, as we were climbing into bed, our older son says "Nate didn't put the lid back on the crab cage right."  He fixed it, and to be fair, it wasn't missing - it just wasn't locked down tight.  Unless he has supercrab strength, or opposable thumbs, I don't think he was getting out.  But I think maybe we'll get a slightly more secure cage.  Otherwise, part II of this story: "the crab who ended up in the washing machine because he was scooped up in a pile of laundry," is probably inevitable.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pro tip:

Always choose the ice cream that matches your outfit.

If you have to ask how I discovered this, you don't know me at all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Just another day at the zoo

Last night we discovered that Nate's hermit crab has absconded from his cage and is now wandering the house somewhere.  Tore the place up last night looking for him, but no luck so far.

So ridiculous.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This weekend (6/26/15)

Nooooooooooooothing!  Well, unless you count the 324 loads of laundry we'll be doing after three bedraggled boys come home from a week at Scout Camp.  Sometimes I just want to hose them off in the driveway before I even let them in the house.

From the last update I received, everyone is happy and healthy and doing well.

Friday, June 19, 2015

This weekend (6/19/15) [edited to add hockey game because I'm a moron]

Saturday's 7v7 soccer tournament has been officially cancelled!  Apparently it was a mixture of apathy and weather.  So, no soccer.  Last night we went to the high school soccer team family picnic.  The freshman families were assigned to bring desserts.  I'm always irrationally hyper-sensitive about these things, because in the past I've encountered a lot of judginess about being a working mom and that crap just sticks with you.

Not knowing any of these people, I was feeling a lot of pressure to produce something decent.  Well, life gets in the way, and there was not even the tiniest chance that I could make something to bring.  So I did the next best thing.  I stopped at Fisher's on the way home, and bought two containers of no-bake cookies that looked like I could have made them. When I got home, I put them on a paper plate and covered them with tinfoil.  I was completely fine with perpetrating a fraud on Brendan's teammates' families.  Mike, who knows me better than anyone else on the planet, called me out on it immediately.

Then I focused the Crazy on my outfit.  Not too dressy; most of these people live 99% of their lives in athletic gear.  Not too slovenly; don't want to somehow get voted off the island on the first date.  I  ironed my shorts, people.  In the end, all three of us were an inadvertently adorable conglomeration of blue and white.

We went, it was lovely, and the entire dessert table was filled with nothing but plastic bakery containers and my lonely little plate of camouflaged cookies.  I genuinely wish I'd taken a picture, as a reminder that that's just how life works, most of the time.

On to the nitty gritty:  there's nothing really going on this weekend, except, hockey, which I totally forgot about when I wrote this earlier.  Natey's last hockey game of the spring session will be Sunday at 2:40 pm.

Also on Sunday, Mike and Bren are leaving for camp.  If you want the address to send letters, let me know and I will give it to you.  Nathan will join them on Wednesday for his very first camp experience!  I know they're going to have an amazing time, and I'm going to miss them like crazy.

The dogs and I will be eating a lot of cereal for dinner and watching not one single scary movie because I don't do well alone in the dark.  Insert memory here about the one time I called the police because I thought someone was breaking into the house, but it was really just my pet turtle bumping up against the back door.  Oops.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fall soccer schedule

You can just tuck this one away for now.  Apart from some preseason stuff (like this weekend's 7x7 tournament, actually - more on that later), this schedule doesn't kick in until August.  And we won't have Bren's roster spot until the first week in August, so . . .

I think for now we can expect to see him on the JV Purple team, until we hear otherwise.

JV Purple
JV Gold
Sat 8/8
Sat 8/16
University School
Wed 8/19
5:30 pm
7:30 pm
Tue 8/25
5:00 pm
7:00 pm
Sat 8/29
Anthony Wayne
4:00 pm
4:00 pm
6:00 pm
Mon 8/31
Tue 9/1
5:15 pm
7:00 pm
Sat 9/5
1:00 pm
3:00 pm
Tue 9/8
5:15 pm
Tue 9/8
7:00 pm
Thur 9/10
5:15 pm
5:15 pm
7:00 pm
Sat 9/12
5:00 pm
5:00 pm
7:00 pm
Tue 9/22
5:15 pm
5:15 pm
7:00 pm
Sat 9/26
1:00 pm
1:00 pm
3:00 pm
Tue 9/29
5:15 pm
7:00 pm
Thur 10/1
5:00 pm
5:00 pm
7:00 pm
Tue 10/6
5:00 pm
5:00 pm
7:00 pm
Sat 10/10
9:00 am
9:00 am
11:00 am
Tue 10/13
5:15 pm
5:15 pm
7:00 pm
Thur 10/15
5:00 pm

Other miscellany:

6/20 Jackson 7v7 Sat all day 
7/17 Friendlies (TBA) Fri-Sat all Day 
T-Th 7/21-23 Mini-camp am/pm 
Sa-Su 7/24-26 Dayton Friendlies Sat – Sun all day. 
Wed 7/31 Friendlies pm 
Sat 8/1 ALUMNI GAME Sat pm