Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mommy needs a ball glove

I took Son1 to baseball practice this morning and spent the two hours hanging out in the sunshine, drinking some coffee and knitting the gusset (again!) on Son2's sock. We got home in time for dear husband to run an errand and then take Son2 to T-ball practice (just an hour for these kids). After they left, Son1 and I eventually found ourselves outside in the front yard playing catch, not too far apart, in a nod to my beginner status. I got a bit more comfortable and asked him to start throwing to me overhand. We played catch for 15 minutes, I think!

And Mommy needs a ball glove. I had to stop because my hands were hurting. Arrgh. It was fun, though!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Busy bee, busy B

I'm thinking, mulling over, paying attention to how busy I am and how I feel about it. I have an opportunity to commit to something sort of open-ended and "big", and I think I've decided to withdraw from that possibility. Mostly because I look around and wonder what I would give up in order to make room for the new. I'm just now rediscovering the joy of making meals for my family and doing homemaking things for them. I'm involved in some wonderful new things in my parish. I'm finishing some things in my MOMS Club chapter that others will take over. I want to be able to make flourless chocolate cake and not worry too much that I haven't made some phone calls. I want to be able to play catch with the kids or knit in the sunshine while they ride bikes, and not fuss over fitting my travel dates into the family calendar.

This idea of building some margin into our lives -- I think it's really important. Especially for me. There are so many things I COULD do, and do well, but that doesn't mean I should be the one to do each of those things. I need to step away and let others step forward, or let it change or fall away.

What if I were homeschooling in the fall? How would I want to order our days? Then, bring that forward to now: how do I want to order our days NOW?

Margin. Breathing room. Space for enjoyment, for peace, for creativity, for life, for prayer, for homemaking, for laughter.

And time for knitting outdoors, with my feet in the warm spring sunshine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Vroom, vroom

Remember that I mentioned, many posts ago, that Son2 (now 5) seems fascinated with cars and driving? Something new to add to that scenario: yesterday or the day before, dear husband is driving the four of us somewhere, and Son2 pipes up, "Daddy, when you drive, you make that... that... those numbers only go to 2, but when Mommy drives, she makes it go to 3. Why?" Dear husband and I know Son2 can see most or all of the dashboard dials from his seat in back, and we realize he's noticed the rpm dial when we shift gears! (We drive a manual-transmission, a/k/a stick shift, car.)

Dear husband's response was nice and simple: "Different people drive differently" :)

In the meantime, we're both thinking -- race car driver? car designer? police officer? ...??? Hee.

By the way, no movement on the school situation and/or homeschooling. No decisions at home, either. The boys have been separated for recess and that's "going very well" (of course! they're not with each other!).

Monday, April 25, 2005

What dinner? Flourless chocolate cake!

Dinner, who needs to bother planning dinner? Instead of such mundane necessities, I have my first-ever flourless chocolate cake in the oven, and in a few minutes I'll fix the chocolate glaze. I might take it to an after-dinner meeting tonight, if the host is okay with that. Otherwise, it'll stay home and the kidlets and husband will be entirely delighted.

Now, what was that other food-related thing? Oh. Dinner. Talk about uninspired.

This is the beginning of my standard recovery from I-don't-want-to-cook-this-month. In spring and fall I remember that I enjoy cooking, being creative in the kitchen, and offering that gift of myself to my family. The downside is that it seems to follow about two months of tomato soup, breakfast for dinner, take out, husband grilling (not a bad thing at all!), son eating school lunches, and so on.

My first step in reluctant-cook recovery is making myself attend to the family's food needs even when I don't particularly want to. The next step is to start baking treats and breads -- that's where I am now. Last week "chocolate balls" were a big hit: a ball version of the no-bake chocolate-peanut butter-oats cookies.

I've already noticed my renewed sense of enjoyment in taking care of my family as far as making dinner is concerned. Too bad those two months or so happen first.

Gotta go, time to make the glaze. Smells heavenly so far!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Oklahoma City bombing anniversary Tuesday

One thing about living in central Oklahoma is that in addition to national media coverage of anniversaries of the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, you get the local coverage. In 1995 we were living in California, but dear husband was actually on a five-week work-related visit to northern Oklahoma at the time of the OKC bombing. That's when I got clear on how far apart the Enid area and OKC are :)

By the time of the five-year anniversary in 2000 we had been here in central Oklahoma nearly a year, and the local coverage was spectacular and moving. Live coverage at the bombing memorial began with (at an extremely discreet distance, if I recall correctly) the private commemorations at the site early in the morning, and continued through the day, covering events at the site, special features, and so on. There's nothing quite like the local news anchors giving personal recollections of exactly where they were at the moment the bomb detonated.

Both with and without out-of-town visitors we've visited the bombing memorial on beautiful spring days, hot summer afternoons, and bitterly cold winter days with dreary skies, drifting flurries of snowflakes, and the reflecting pond glazed with ice. We've walked along the chain-link fence overflowing with mementoes and messages; read the graffiti left by rescue and recovery workers on what was an alley wall along the bombing site, now preserved; sat near the survivor tree and looked down across the memorial site; entered and left the memorial through the walls that symbolize the beginning and end of that single moment in time; stopped at the weeping Jesus statue at the church across the street; and even marveled at the design of the new federal building that now occupies a nearby block. I've never made it into the memorial museum, in part because the boys have always been with us and have been, by then, tired and ready to head home.

I'm never sure what to say or think or do in the face of tragedy and horror, so I have no deep thoughts to offer. Tears, yes. Things to say, no. Tomorrow I will have the TV on. I will watch and listen and lift up in prayer all who were and are affected by the OKC bombing. And the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on America. And the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Comfort, o comfort your people, Lord.

We have baseball at last

As of this weekend, both boys' teams have coaches and scheduled first practices (Son1: machine-pitch boys' baseball; Son2: co-ed T-ball). Yay! Or not. Mostly because the whole school playground/group-o-boys incident with Son1 has us half ready to skip any involvement with groups of nine- and ten-year-olds! The school situation still is not worked out -- we're far from comfortable with that right now.

But Son1 is really looking forward to baseball, we all enjoy the baseball season, and it's great to see him progress with his skills. Dear husband and I hope he gets some opportunities to be catcher -- last year he seemed to play that position really well.

Son2's team meeting was Saturday evening and his first practice was tonight. Son1's first practice will be tomorrow evening along with, I hope, the team meeting (to decide team name and colors, ideas for sponsors, and whether we'll have or get a pitching machine like last year's team did).

At the T-ball meeting and practice it's been fun already to see the variety of parents, all of us hopeful and encouraging of our five-year-olds and wondering how the coach and her assistants will go about this. Among the parents and coaches (the coaches are two parents and two coworkers) there were quite a few much younger than dear husband and I, most with younger kids but no older kids like our Son1, several sporting generous back and arm tattoos, some of the same and some others with pretty cool wildly colored hair, and also a few navel? belly? piercings and a lip piercing were sighted. Yet I also noticed none of that had a THING to do with which parents and coaches were completely comfortable chatting with new-to-them kiddos, and which were super reserved in that situation. It's a whole new group of people to get to know a little bit over the next couple of months. The kids agreed on naming their team The Incredibles, and of COURSE their colors will be red and black, LOL!

As for Son1's baseball, dear husband and I are crossing our fingers that one of the parents has a lead on a good sponsor. Last year's team had a sponsor and it was great -- they covered the cost of the uniforms AND a pitching machine AND an end-of-season party! It made a huge difference with our budget last year to only have to cover the cost of Son1's new shoes (we always seem to replace 'em at the start of a sport season, LOL!), cup (!), mouth guard, team pictures, and occasional team snacks and drinks. And of course the pitching machine was a huge help in getting the kids comfortable with hitting a ball that's coming toward them at a good clip.

Son1 came along to Son2's Tball practice tonight, brought his glove, and was a great helper to the various coaches. I'm looking forward to learning from my kids over the next week or so how to catch and throw a ball properly, in order to help them BOTH with their fielding skills and improve along with them. THAT's one thing I can do to help them. Should be fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Online homeschool convention -- just the thing for me

In the manner of one blog leading to another, I discovered that SpunkyHomeSchool has a great idea: an online homeschool convention, with bloggers as speakers, by way of blog posts they submit, and everyone who submits being accepted. What a cool idea!

Since at this point I'm quite unlikely to go to our area's main homeschool convention -- too much of a bother when I don't want to be tempted to buy, buy, buy, and I'd rather read Web sites and books by the keynote speakers than attend a convention to hear them -- I'm going to check back with her and enjoy an online HS convention. Excellent :)

Online homeschool convention

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Back to socks

We're still waiting to hear from the principal. She was finally able to talk with all of the boys involved this morning before the start of today's required standardized testing. In the meantime I've talked with several other parents who were at the school this morning (daily morning assembly) and at lunchtime. I'm learning a lot more and getting a much better picture of what's going on. I'm too tired to process it for y'all tonight, though :)

Back to socks. I finished the socks for me last Wednesday -- yippee! They were in a worsted weight acrylic variegated-bright-pastels yarn and lots of fun. Now I'm using sock yarn -- much, much thinner -- on little 2.5 mm needles to make a pair of socks for Son2 (age 5). I was dying to get started on another pair of socks, even if they're acrylic! We found a few colors of sock yarn at the local Hobby Lobby craft big-box store. He's looking forward to a navy blue sock with some variegated-primary-colors accent yarn in stripes.

One thing I learned quickly: acrylic yarn is wayyy too slippery for me on aluminum needles. Now I have new bamboo double-pointed needles in the appropriate size (2.5 mm, more or less "US size 1").

Next thing I learned: if you're buying new needles for a project, think carefully. I got the regular length of double-pointed needles, but knitting a child's sock with them means I feel as though I'm knitting with pickup sticks; they stick out everywhere! If only I'd gotten the shorter, 5 inch?, dpns. Oh well. Maybe sometime later for a second pair for him, but for now I'll make these do, LOL!

Something I did NOT learn quickly enough: be very careful where your idle yarn lies when you're knitting in two colors. I did a doubletake this afternoon when I saw my idle yarn (the variegated yarn) coming out the side of the sock cuff. Yes, I knit it into a row. Sort of. More like, through the row? I can still knit the second four-row stripe, but I have to draw the yarn THROUGH the sock. Hahahahaha! I'm so NOT ripping this back. I'm going to knit the second stripe in the variegated yarn, and then cut that yarn (and free it from the cuff! hahaha). If Son2 wants variegated heels or toes I'll join that yarn anyway rather than carrying it along. I'll try to remember to take a photo tomorrow before I cut the yarn!


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Family/school uproar

As of last night dear husband and I are tossing around thoughts and feelings such as "boys following their leader at recess -- grrrr," "teachers who watch for any hint of poor behavior in one particular group of boys -- grrrr," "boys who shift blame to our son when the adults ask -- grrrr," and, oh yes, special for this week: "standardized testing -- grrrr," followed by "just pull the boys out of school and we'll homeschool them!!!!!"

It's been an interesting 18 hours. I'm waiting for a call from the principal, or I'll stay when I drop off Son2 at noon for pre-K, to discuss our Son1 being "written up" yesterday for bad behavior at recess -- a big deal. We believe our son, who says he was (foolishly) copying a leader of the group of boys who play together and have known each other for 4-5 years, and that the behavior was play, and not in any way the problem the playground-supervisor teacher said. His action was what she saw, and he was the one written up.

Dear husband and I are weary with encouraging our son to choose not to play with these kids who make bad choices and who treat him NOT as a true friend would. He is a normal, good boy. Not perfect but not a troublemaker or wild child. Yet what kid wouldn't want to play with the kids he's played with for years, even if they're getting in mild trouble for some of their choices, and by the way also try to get him into trouble for little and bigger things, many of which are invented?? We were getting bothered about that already. Son1 already avoids playing with them sometimes at recess when he doesn't like their games or knows they'll get in trouble for what they're doing.

On top of that, it especially steamed us when we heard yesterday that certain teachers are hyper-vigilant at recess for any hint of poor behavior choices with our son's particular group of playmates. What set of boys wouldn't end up in trouble pretty soon in that situation?

One of the things that frustrates me about school is that he is with these peers for many hours every day in a situation where I have no objective knowledge of what is going on. I have to listen hard to what he says and every hint he drops, ask lots of questions, keep an open mind to all of the possibilities and not just he is saying, and that's just with my son. I have to do the same with his teacher and, today, with his principal, and attempt to get to an understanding of the truth of what's going on in his days at school. And in this case, figure out what actions to take re. Son1, recess, school, etc.

Dear husband is vehemently talking about withdrawing both boys from school and homeschooling, which of course I would love, but -- this is a surprise.

We'll see what the next few days bring us.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Storm chasing begins

My dear husband is off somewhere in our part of the southern Great Plains this afternoon with his buddy, chasing severe weather and hoping to see a tornado. In our first storm season here I was extremely nervous about this idea and, due to the new baby in the household, told him he wasn't going that year. Poor guy. I've gotten used to him chasing off and on most seasons since then, the usual deal being an early afternoon departure and returning home wayyy after dark (they stop for dinner when it gets too dark to see the clouds, and then head home, LOL). Now it's harder for the two of them to take an afternoon off from work, so this is a precious weekend day with storm potential. The one promise I exact from him is this: if the storms head our direction, get here before the storms do! The unspoken one is, don't do stupid storm chaser things and put yourselves in danger. See: Twister, the movie.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Twister: this meteorology household's guilty pleasure

It's April and the beginning of storm season here in the heart of Tornado Alley. It must be time for "Twister" to show up on TV -- the movie about storm chasers, starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. A guilty pleasure because it's full of exciting, stupid-chaser, bad-storm-safety moments. And they toss around lots of storm-chasing buzzwords -- but that's kind of like watching an "E.R." for storm chasers, I guess. Gotta go, the Big One is about to hit the town...