I turned 50 this year and it seems to have made me even more introspective than usual. Things have been hectic for the last month or so as we run up to the end of school. Lots of projects and getting ready for Tyler to graduate from 8th grade. Next year - high school! It's such a weird thought. My son is headed to high school. Most of the time I feel like my high school days weren't all that long ago.
I had a thought this morning that sent my mind racing back into the past. I was a rather shy and introverted child. I was happy as a clam just sitting alone and reading a book in my bedroom at home. If I didn't have a few extroverted friends, I might never have left the house. Thankfully, there were a few people along the way that would drag me out into the sunlight from time to time. My elementary school friends, Sarah, Laura and Jane. I love you guys. I wish we'd never lost touch. I want to thank my friend Pam for being the first friend who pushed me toward boys and forced me to flirt. Without Pam and, later, Chris - I might NEVER have had a boyfriend. After high school, there was my work friends - Sue, Harry, Kerry, and Sarah. I always seemed to have great luck when I had a friend named Sarah. And Kerry...he was a little person. That was not, however, the first thing you'd notice about him. He had a BIG personality. So big, you didn't even realize he was quite a bit shorter than everyone else. He made me feel beautiful in a wildly inappropriate way. What a charmer! But it was risky dancing with him. Sadly, as is far too common with big personalities in tiny packages, he had serious health problems and passed after complications from a heart transplant. I miss him too.
I also think being inside my own head so much of the time is what made it so hard for me to relate to my brother. He is 5 years younger than me, so the age difference was already difficult, but he was also rather extroverted and high energy. I am a very low energy kind of person. He didn't get me, I didn't get him and we never really bonded very well, sadly. It's a shame. As I get to know him, now, later in life, he seems like a really fun person.
I don't have any of that anymore, sadly. No extroverted friends. No one to drag me out of the house and get me into trouble now and then. I miss it.
Monday, June 13, 2016
I turned 50 this year and it seems to have made me even more introspective than usual. Things have been hectic for the last month or so as we run up to the end of school. Lots of projects and getting ready for Tyler to graduate from 8th grade. Next year - high school! It's such a weird thought. My son is headed to high school. Most of the time I feel like my high school days weren't all that long ago.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
My best friend died. Yes, it was many years ago, but I still think about her. Her birthday was May 30th and just a couple days after turning 22, she was gone. John found some stuff in a box today with her name on it. He was looking for something else for me, but she found a way to make herself known. She was like that. Just wanted to make sure she was never far from your thoughts. *grin* (Hi Kath. I haven't forgotten you.) Just out of curiosity, I plugged her name into Google (she would have LOVED Google) and it spit back a website that had her address, family member names and estimated her age at 47. Sadly, no. She is forever 22. Google had a street view of her house, tho. That was pretty nifty.
Last time I saw that house it was painted dark red, had black shutters, and was nearly unseen from the road. Her parents valued privacy and they lived on a VERY busy road, so they had an ancient rock wall that ran along the road and behind that was towering overgrowth and trees hiding their house and yard from view. It doesn't look anything like that now! Somewhere along the line, the town removed that ancient stone wall and put in a sidewalk. That would have come in handy years ago when I was riding my bike to Kathleen's house and, because of all the traffic, nearly getting killed every time. New owners cut down all the plantings, trees, and shrubs; painted the house white, put on a new roof, and now it's all open and grassy. I don't like it.
After studying the street view and the satellite view (so I could see that big back yard again...the tree house is gone too) I virtually toured the town. We spent quite a few years living in Bedford when I was growing up. That was where we stopped roaming for a while. Dad retired from the military and, after moving every couple of years, it was weird just staying put. I cruised through the back roads and found my old house on Google Street View too. My house used to be this gross mustard shade. Now it's painted white. There are TONS more trees and the house is nearly hidden by them from above. I like it.
I found the pond where I took swimming lessons. Springs Brook Park looks more like a pool from above. They've altered it, for sure. You can see the bottom and there is probably less risk from snapping turtles. I'm not sure if I like it.
Anyway, enough nostalgia for tonight. I was going to put screen shots of the places I mentioned in here but depression is sapping my energy even more than usual. That'll do.
Posted by Becky at 11:25 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Like an elevator...one where the car never stops on the same floor twice and at any moment the cable may snap. Life. I've been a little emotional today. I read something on Facebook that really triggered a lot of mixed emotions. Next month, Tyler's 8th grade class is taking an annual trip to Washington D.C. Tyler wasn't invited. He missed out on the 7th grade trip as well. He was SUPPOSED to be invited, but someone didn't send critical emails. By the time we realized we hadn't seen any details about this year's trip, we were told it was too late. Besides, they aren't "equipped" to handle any special needs Tyler might have and don't want to take responsibility for what might happen. Yes, we asked. Yes, we protested.
I call BS on that! He's not that different from his fellow 8th graders. His needs could easily have been met (a list of foods he likes, a room with someone he is familiar with, no loud music, and someone making sure he knows well in advance where they are going, what they are doing and how long he has to prepare.) It's not hard.
He tells us he really doesn't care if he goes or not. But I have a feeling when he's sitting in an empty classroom for 2 days and then hears everyone excitedly talking about the trip on their return. he is going to have regrets. He's going to feel left out. He's going to feel hurt.
And I'll be feeling all that pain and rejection right along with him. He just wants to be a regular kid and treated like a regular kid. It's really not that hard.
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
Thinking about adopting a child? We did! We adopted 2 baby boys to make our little family and we love them more than life. I've advised a number of friends and acquaintances over the years on the ins and outs of the domestic adoption process. (We have little experience with international adoption other than researching agencies and starting to fill out paperwork.) We've talked about private, semi-private and open adoption (we prefer open), going through an adoption attorney vs. an agency (we've done both), creating a portfolio, etc. All very useful.
One thing I've never really talked about are regrets. As a whole, we've been very pleased and very lucky, but there is one thing, if I had it to do all over again, that I would change. Before I get into that, I'd like you to consider something.
Imagine what is going on in the life of a teen who accidentally gets pregnant. If they come from a loving and supportive home environment, chances are that baby won't be placed for adoption. Teens who give their baby up are most likely to come from a chaotic home environment. During the pregnancy, the fetus will likely be exposed to a lot of stress. Fighting, yelling, poor diet...you get the idea. All the literature says pregnant women should avoid stress, maintain a calm and restful environment and talk to their unborn child. They can hear you and are deeply affected by what is affecting momma.
That said, I wish we'd brought our first birth mother home with us. Our baby would have grown in an environment full of love, support and the sound of not only his birth mom's voice, but ours as well. I think it would have made a huge difference. If you have the means and opportunity to have the woman carrying your child come and stay with you during her pregnancy, DO IT.
If you are considering giving your baby up for adoption, please go to a lawyer who specializes in adoption or to a reputable agency. Ask for housing with your prospective adoptive family. That way you can get to know the people who will be raising your baby, they can help take care of your needs, and lower your stress level. It's a wonderful gift and will make you more confident in your choice. They will really want to be there for you and even help with delivery, if you feel comfortable with that.
Monday, April 04, 2016
I was shoveling a salad into my face for lunch today and found myself contemplating the strangeness of life. You know...like you do. See, my salad was liberally coated with ranch dressing. "What's so strange about that," you ask? Well, I hate ranch dressing. Or rather, I used to hate it. Growing up, anything made with buttermilk was eww. And I mean REALLY eww. Make me vomit eww. I wouldn't say I was a picky eater. I ate way more stuff than your average kid. Chili. Chinese food. Tacos. Spinach. Yeah. But I had my list. There was stuff you couldn't get me to eat even if you paid me.
Asparagus! Brussels Sprouts! Lima Beans! Bacon! (I know, right?! What kid doesn't like bacon?) Liver! Gravy with "gizzards" chopped up into it. Raw tomatoes! Oh, the list goes on.
My mother often told me, especially when I'd turn my nose up at something, that perhaps that food item was "an acquired taste" and I'd appreciate it more when I was a grown up. There did seem to be some foods that only grown-ups liked, but I was fairly certain it was a big scam. See, my parents tried to convince me that steak cooked out on the grill was "an acquired taste" and just for grown-ups. Us kids? We'd get Spaghetti-Os or Kraft Mac n' Cheese on those nights when Dad was going to cook out. The steak, wild rice, onion rings and asparagus (ok, I was fine with that last one) was just for Mom and Dad. Us kids? We'd be sent to bed after our boxed dinner and Saturday night was date night. Mom and Dad and their steak dinner, on TV tables in front of a good show like Love Boat or Fantasy Island.
Then, one night, I crept downstairs. I was hungry, not at all sleepy, and curious. Their dinner always smelled soooo good. I crawled to the doorway of our family room and peeked around the doorway to watch my parents eat and watch TV. It didn't take long before they spotted me. I plopped down next to my Mom and asked if I could try a taste of her food. She was very reluctant, but finally allowed me a bite of steak, a fork-full of rice, and an onion ring. They...were...awesome! It was fun staying up late, watching TV and eating off my poor Mother's plate. Soon after, I was allowed to stay up later than my little brother and they would make a little plate up for me with my own TV table. I began to wonder what other "just for grown-ups" items were being kept from me.
I'd try a sip of my mother's various cocktails. Good! I'd try a sip of Dad's cocktails or beer. Not bad! I took bites of lobster thermidor, shrimp scampi, hot crab dip and all the other foods my mother had deemed too sophisticated for my young palate (or, as I more wisely suspected, too expensive to make for more than 2 people.) But I still had my limits. That list in my second paragraph up there was still a no go.
It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized bacon was actually really good. Lima beans too. Then I tried asparagus that was roasted and had this amazing sauce drizzled over it. Not soggy from a can. And fresh brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat with bacon crumbles...yum! Then came the restaurant that gave me a salad covered in ranch dressing (instead of my rather new adult love of bleu cheese) and it was also GOOD. Feta cheese! Bleu cheese! Goat cheese! Oh all the cheeses I'd avoided as a kid because they were "stinky." Sour cream!!! Realizing I loved sour cream was almost scary. I'd avoided that stuff for decades. Probably good, because all these rich and creamy tastes would have made me fat MUCH sooner. Heh heh.
Now I feel like I'm making up for lost time. I try things that I used to avoid, but there are still a few things I don't want to try because I have a feeling I will LOVE them and will eat far too much. Like Italian gelato. Ice cream that is supposedly even creamier and richer than American ice cream? Yeah. I better live without that one, just to be safe.
But you won't see me eating liver. I have a feeling, if prepared well (onions, bacon) that I could stomach liver now. I just don't want to. Same goes for mussels. Why do people want to each something you don't even chew and has been described as choking down a wad of snot? Food that is still moving (look on YouTube for sushi bar octopus or squid.) I have expanded my palate, but I still have to draw the line somewhere. :D
Posted by Becky at 5:27 PM
Friday, April 01, 2016
I had an excessive amount of caffeine today, so pardon me if I ramble a bit. My mind has been racing from one topic to the next, but I found myself thinking about those times in my life where the verbal filters in my brain seemed conspicuously absent. Words came out of my mouth and, from the look on the listener's face, I could tell I said something that shocked or hurt them in some way. I am better at thinking before I speak, these days. Usually. But sometimes, I ask the questions that no one else dares to ask. Apparently.
Think of a news reporter. There are those times, in an interview, where the reporter will ask a question and the audience will *gasp* audibly. That can be a good thing. They've asked the question everyone hoped would be asked. Or the question no one else dared to ask, but everyone was wondering about. And we admire the reporter's audacity. They went there! Then there are those times where a reporter will ask a question that no one else dared to ask because...it's just rude. The audience will *gasp* in horror! How dare they go there! That's going too far!
I've never been very good at discerning that line. But I want everyone to know, I ask because I am genuinely curious and concerned. I'm not a busybody! Honest. I don't gossip. I just need to understand what's in people's heads. What makes them tick. Why do they do the things they do and what goes into their decision making process.
And no, I am not satisfied with "I don't know." My children have hopefully figured that out by now. I'm going to keep asking until I am satisfied I have a real and truthful answer. ;)
Posted by Becky at 6:42 PM
Thursday, March 31, 2016
I meant to do a quick search of my blog to see if I've written on this topic before, but I opened a new entry first. So, now I must start writing. I am 50 now, so I guess I have a good excuse if I start repeating tales from my storied childhood. Ha.
In 3rd or 4th grade at Nathaniel Page Elementary, we were given the opportunity to join the band or the orchestra. That meant choosing an instrument. I'd always loved music and musical instruments, so this was HUGE. What should I play? Flute? Trumpet? Cello? Harp? French Horn? Tuba?? Violin?!?! There were so many choices! My father's first concern was cost. My mother's first concern was size. "How are you going to carry something that big to the bus stop?!" Followed by, "Are you going to practice? If we get you this instrument, you have to promise you'll practice!" I was ready to promise my first born child if they'd only allow me this chance to learn.
After drooling over various choices at a local music store, I finally settled on the violin. I'd taken ballet. I loved (and still do) Classical music. It was a sleek and elegant choice. Plus my parents said no way in hell to an electric guitar or piano. So...there was that.
I remember being measured for my violin. I remember my mother gasping at the rental fee but being placated by the sales person that all fees went towards the total cost of the instrument. Eventually, if I kept it up, we'd own the thing. Rent-to-own is a nifty deal to a naive 9 year old.
Then we bought the recommended text book, sheet music and record album. Yep. You read that right. My violin book came with a record album. Anyone remember The Suzuki Method? It's still really popular and a great way to learn. Like most kids, my very first song was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My second song was something by Bach. Yeah! The dude! And it was something I actually recognized from my Dad's radio station or an old Warner Brothers cartoon. REAL classical music. Not the boring, repetitive junk the other kids were banging out down in the band room.
|This is the one! I found this on eBay. Ah, memories...|
At school, my music teacher would play each part on each of the different instruments in our orchestra. I didn't think much of it at the time, but seriously. How impressive is that? He'd play the viola part on my friend's viola. He'd play the cello part on his own cello. He'd play the first and then the second violin parts on his own violin. He could play them ALL. Then we would all try and play together. For a pack of elementary school kids, I thought we sounded amazing. Like, Boston Symphony Orchestra amazing. And it was fun!
I played and played and eventually I started just lying on my bed and reading a book while my Suzuki Method record played for me. My mother would call up the stairs, "You are sounding really good up there, Rebecca! Keep it up! 15 more minutes and you can go outside." *sigh*
I did keep it up through Junior High. I joined their orchestra. But by then they expected you to know how to read music and there was no handy record to listen to and learn the part. I'd fake it for the first couple practice sessions until I knew what to play, then I'd join in. I also painstakingly wrote the corresponding letter for each note on my sheet music. For some reason, I could follow AABCFF much easier than just notes alone. I only looked at the notes to tell me how long to hold it. I'd lost most of my passion, however. That daily battle with my mom took its toll. When I headed off to high school, my violin was relegated to the floor of my closet and all but forgotten. I'd take it out, now and then, and play along with my Suzuki record, just to see if I still could, but I didn't really play seriously again until a couple years later when my mother got it into her head that I should compete in the Massachusetts Miss Teen pageant. I'm pretty sure I wrote about THAT topic.
I took my old violin out a few years ago, polished it up, tuned it, and squeaked out a passable rendition of Twinkle Twinkle. Max was thrilled. He loves music and instruments almost as much as I did at his age. I heard him noodling around on the electric piano today we got him for Christmas a couple years ago. Next year he will have the opportunity to join Band at his school (if they still have a music program by then.) I hope he decides to play something. It really is fun.
Posted by Becky at 8:19 PM
Monday, March 14, 2016
I am turning 50 tomorrow. In some ways I'm surprised I've lived this long. Fifty seems so OLD when you are a kid. So very far away. Inconceivable, really.
I wanted to take a few moments to record my reflections on turning the big 5-0.
I got nothing. *falls over laughing* Maybe I'll try again tomorrow.
Posted by Becky at 9:04 PM
Thursday, February 18, 2016
I am not a morning person. Anyone who knows me well knows I am at my best when I am allowed to sleep until noon and stay up until 2 AM or so. Between 10 PM and 1 AM I am often at my most creative...and loony. There is some weird sh*t that crosses my mind, let me tell you!
A few months back a friend was relating her pet woes. She has a dog who keeps knocking over the kitchen trash-can and making a huge mess. That got my gears working. I thought about potential solutions. I thought about common trash-can design. I thought about ways of defeating a persistent pup. Sure, some smart person designed a kitchen trash-can that slides in and out of a kitchen cabinet. But that would require a bit of remodeling and losing a whole cabinet. Then I came up with the idea of an inverted cone design that would not tip and opening like a flower to change the bag. I pictured sleek stainless steel with enamel coatings in various modern hues. It was an engineering masterpiece and a work of art. In my mind. Then, just to be sure I wasn't reinventing the wheel, I did a Google search for untippable trash-cans. Ha. I thought up a new thing! There is no sign of anything close to my idea out on the interwebs.
Of course a patent search might reveal otherwise, but my CAD skills are too rusty to draw up proper blueprints and go through all that red tape. So I'll just record my ideas here and if an ambitious pet product company or trash-can manufacturer wants to talk to me, just comment below.
But back to my late night musings.
I have very poor vision. It's especially bad in low light and, of course, I can't see a thing in the dark. Heh. I have a tendency to work away here at my desk and not notice that the sun has long since set, the husband has turned off nearly every other light in the house, and I am basically trapped. Once I leave the ambient glow of my monitor, I can't see a blasted thing and am likely to trip and fall over things in the gloom. Kids leave a lot of things around to trip over. So I starting thinking about solutions. Some kind of comfortable, wearable flashlight would be nice. But I don't want a "hat" or something hanging around my neck. That would get annoying after a while. Maybe a bracelet... I popped on to Google and, of course, TONS of people have come up with a buttload of wearable flashlight ideas. That's not original. But none of those designs felt just right for my particular needs.
The lovely folks at LootCrate had provided me with a little X-Files themed mini-flashlight that I've been carrying around with me lately (or trying to remember to carry around with me, except I tend to be a bit scatter brained and forget my light on my desk, or on my night table, or in the bathroom.) So that set my mind to ticking again. What do I always have with me that I can just attach a light to? My hair? Perhaps. A light up hair clip would be pretty nifty. My CANE! Yes, I need a cane and it is my constant companion wherever I go. A light that clips on to my cane would be awesome!
So I Googled "cane light".
Crap. Someone else already invented it. It clips on to the body of the cane and acts like a little headlight! So cool! Me? I took my X-Files pocket light and attached it to my own cane. I may not have invented something new, this time, but it's been 4 days and I have not been without a light to see by. I'd say that was pretty inventive.
I'll keep thinking. I've come up with all kinds of cool ideas over the years, but I never wrote them down. Do I still remember them all? Nope. Let's hope this is the start of a new/good habit. Write down those brilliant late-night inventive thoughts, people! You never know.
Posted by Becky at 9:09 AM
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
The boys had a half-day of school today. My cantankerous teen exited the school building first and jumped into my mini-van. While we waiting for my little 3rd grader, teen boy began a typical rant about the ills of society and how, one day, he would amass sufficient wealth to purchase his own country where he would rule as supreme dictator.
His Lordship: "I'd go into International waters, Mom. I'd build my country. A big island nation with only people I choose to live there. I'd bring back public executions. I would be the one making ALL the rules!"
Me: Interesting. So your goal is to become Magneto? [a reference to a comic book villain who bought his own country just for Mutant kind, for those who are not familiar with the X-Men.]
His Lordship: *derisive snort* "Mine would be a REAL place, Mom. You know World War III is going to start soon, right?"
Me: Well...I'd still be proud of you. I mean...your own country. I'd point at you and tell everyone I saw "THAT'S MY BOY!" By the way, how do your friends feel about these semi-insane rants of yours?
His Lordship: "Oh, I don't talk about stuff like this with my friends. Just you. I like pissing you off. It's fun."
I nod knowingly. See, I'd always suspected this was the case.
Me: "I see. What would you like for lunch?"
As I watched him mentally shift gears to think about food, I thought about our daily/nightly debates. He gleefully picks the role of devil's advocate and spouts random and highly controversial ideas just to see what I'll say. And yes, our discussions do get heated at times. He is very very good at pissing me off, but it takes a lot.
Then it hit me. He IS learning. THIS is how I impart wisdom and morality to my boy. THIS is where he tests the waters of belief, right & wrong, life goals, and how the world works. I am unwavering in my own personal moral compass. He tests me, but my answers are consistent and clear, With a side of lecture. Sometimes moral outrage and yelling. But he IS listening. He hears me and is taking it all in.
It was a moment of clarity that astounded me and gave me some more hope. It's going to be a lot harder to piss me off in the future. ;)
Posted by Becky at 1:34 PM
Monday, February 15, 2016
From Facebook: *giggle snort* When my hunny can't decide on which box of chocolates the boys and I will like best so he just buys 1 or 2 of each kind. Max has already negotiated that we will be sharing EVENLY the box of Lindor truffles and the box of Lindor GORMET truffles. He was ok with each of us having a box of Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates. John's valentine's card made me cry (he's so sweet!) AND he got an edible arrangement full of pineapple stars, grape skewers and more chocolate covered strawberries. PLUS he made chili for dinner. I am floating on a cloud of heavenly smells and love. Now I'm not trying to make anyone jealous. Really, I think I need help eating all this chocolate!
It was really nice waking from my nap to the whole house smelling like John's homemade chili. He got the recipe from his Dad and we've been enjoying it for many years. Max actually helped make it today and ATE some for dinner! We had to keep the onions out until we'd grabbed his helping. He is very anti-onion, for some reason. He also determined that dark red kidney beans are yucky. But the meat and "sauce" were good on his rice. We can live with that! (Note to self: Next time we make chili, Max gets strained broth and meat only. Ha!) Have I mentioned that he likes those Doritos tacos from Taco Bell, but with meat only on them? Oh! And he did try (and like) my chili cheese dip on SuperBowl Sunday. He's getting more adventurous. Thank goodness.
The other thing I loved was the big roll of bubble wrap the packers at M&M used to protect John's present. I ordered him a Valentine's themed box of their custom M&Ms. Which reminds me...I should probably get a photo of some of them before they all get eaten. That bubble wrap tho. I haven't seen the kind with the BIG bubbles in a long time. Like the original stuff, just larger bubbles. Max was enchanted. He rolled the sheet out onto the floor and proceeded to shuffle rapidly up and down his bubbly trail and sounded like he stirred up a nest of machine gunners. Very loud! Very satisfying. *grin*
As for me... I feel totally spoiled. 3 boxes of chocolate, an Edible Arrangement, a sweet and romantic card, and dinner all made. Amazing. Oh! And poor John attempted to install the Kohler faucet I got for Christmas. Long story short, the old faucet has sprung a leak and John has tried everything from super glue to nail polish to plug up the weird pinhole that opened up in the side of the spout. Caused by rust under the white enamel coating. Sadly, he could not locate his vice-grips. He tried to make due with a regular wrench, but I could tell by the cursing it wasn't going well. He finally gave up when a hunk of plastic from...something, who knows what, snapped off and hit him in the eye. Max ran for safety goggles (he's such a good boy) but that was like closing the barn door AFTER the horse escapes. John threw up his hands in surrender for now.
Now it's 2am. I conked out at 10pm but woke to pee and can't get back to sleep. The whole house still smells heavenly. And I'm hungry. Heh. I think there is some salad I can nibble on...
Posted by Becky at 2:08 AM
Saturday, January 30, 2016
It's funny. I often get into these intellectual thought-loops where ideas buzz through my head, moving from one connection to the next. One idea to the next. Until it all comes back around to a thought I had days or even weeks earlier. Sometimes years earlier.
I was having an argument (as I often do) with Tyler about intelligence and whether or not the measurement of IQ was any indicator of real ability. How being "smart" is no guarantee to being "successful". He pointed at me and said "Look at you. You have a high IQ and you're just sitting there. If you're so smart, why aren't you rich or successful?" Yeah. He blows my mind on a regular basis. How do you respond to that? How do you take the weight and summation of a life half-lived (if you assume I am middle-aged at this point) and condense that into a couple sentences that will explain to an attention-lacking teen all the reasons (excuses?) as to why my life doesn't measure up to his standards.
I don't feel like a useless failure, most of the time, until I talk with my teen boy. Heh. Maybe I'll just print out this article for him to read. I can pretty much track back the places in my life where I was derailed to an early age.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
I haven't done a stroll down memory lane post in a long while. The brain tends to focus on getting through the day and time to just let thoughts drift isn't available. I did have a funny memory come to mind the other day when I was talking with Max about growing up in the 1970s.
In the early 70's, my family relocated, once again, to Massachusetts and eventually we bought a house in Bedford. It was a quaint little town with many old colonial influences and a crap ton of history. We were in a newer neighborhood (at that time) on the outskirts of town. All houses, no businesses. It was 10 minutes, by car, to the nearest strip mall, and our new town had a few of those.
In my many attempts to impress on my spendthrift son the joys of saving money, I mentioned that my brother and I also received a weekly allowance, but 25 or 50 cents a week didn't really go far in most places. There was the Ye Olde Bedford Country Store just off the main drag that had a great assortment of penny candy (I think it's a chiropractor's office now, sadly) but if you could reign in the urge to spend for a couple weeks, the place to go was Bowen's Toy Store.
This particular strip mall I am remembering had a number of different businesses, but the ones I remember best were Bowen's and RuthAnn's (a drug store). Years later my favorite Italian restaurant also opened in that mall, right across from where Bowen's used to be. I miss their chocolate mousse cake.
Back to Bowen's. You had to have at least a dollar to get anything good in that store, unless you were happy with the junk in the gumball machines. I did luck out with some pretty cool rings with big fake gemstones. I think that is also where I got my mood ring, but that machine was one of the 50 or 75 cent ones. Every now and then, when the stars aligned, my brother and I would have enough money to get something REALLY good. A personal favorite was:
Plus that plastic gunk smelled like a cross between gasoline, model glue and magic markers. I'll bet sniffing it was really bad for you, but it was hard to resist.
A tube of this could keep me entertained all day long. I had fun explaining this stuff to Max. Naturally, he wanted some. Explaining why they don't make it anymore was difficult. The wiki said something about noxious fumes. I can believe it.
Then there was that one Sunday, after church, when my Mom needed something at the drug store, so, naturally, my brother and I begged and pleaded to be allowed to visit Bowen's again. My Dad must have been in a particularly good mood on this particular Sunday, because not only did he allow us to browse the store while my Mom was doing her errand, he also allowed us to buy some of THIS:
Now Crazy Foam is really glorified shaving cream. It was meant to be used in the bathtub or shower as a funky and fun way to lather up. Much more fun that your standard bar of ivory soap! (This was before the days of shower gel.)
But how do you play with this stuff on a hot summer day when your parents have no interest in running you a bath?
Once we got home, Dad said (and I quote) "It's just soap. Go ahead and play with it in the backseat of the car. It could probably do with a good washing."
Yeah. I don't think Dad had any clue what 2 kids and 2 brand new cans of Crazy Foam could do.
My brother and I were both talking at once. My Dad turned a bit red for a moment and said "just go get the hose." After that, it was back to squeals of fun as Dad turned the ice cold hose on us both and rinsed out the back seat too. He didn't say a word about the mess and I don't think he told our mother either. We were running around the car, squealing and getting sprayed. So much fun. I am still amazed that my Dad kept his cool. He never kept his cool. Never. Which is why, I think, the memory is such a strong one for me.
Maybe he realized that the whole mess was his idea in the first place. He was the one who told us to go ahead and play in the car. Rational explanation, eh? But Dad was not known for being super rational when he was mad.
Maybe he saw the humor in it. Both his kids covered in soapy foam from head to toe and the car full of foam up to our waists. It must have looked hilarious! I'll never know. I think I'm the only one who remembers this incident. It was a good day.
Thursday, January 07, 2016
Happy New Year! Had an interesting discussion with my youngest boy.
Max ripped a giant hole in his favorite performance wear pants today at gym. I told him he had to wear the new royal blue pair Santa brought or I could get him another in black because there was no way he was going to wear leggings with giants holes in them. I had to go through the whole speech my mother used to give us about not letting her children leave the house looking like hobos. He countered with "but all my friends wear jeans and stuff with holes in it. On PURPOSE. It's fashion, Mom!" *le sigh* But he did eventually agree to a new pair in black. On Amazon, I see they are having a winter coat/jacket sale too. "Max, do you need a new winter coat?"
Max: Yeah. I want to get a pink one.
Me: Um...what? Did you say pink?
Max: Yeah. Pink. You got a problem with that?!
Me: No, no. I just wanted to be sure I heard you correctly. Are you sure you want a pink coat?
Max: Is there something wrong with a boy wearing pink, Mom? Are you being sexist? Colors are for everyone. I can wear pink if I want to.
Me: Oh I agree! I'm happy to get you a pink coat, if that's what you really want. I just worry that other kids might give you a hard time about it. I think you should be able to wear any color you like. But there are still too many people stuck in the mindset that "pink is for girls."
Max: I want to be a pretty pretty princess. And I don't care what other people think. I want a new shirt too. One that sparkles. Boys should be allowed to wear pink AND sparkles.
Me [now pretty sure he is messing with me, but he seems dead serious]: OK. Let's see what Amazon has...
We find a pretty coat in a pinky-purple shade and he says YES! Add that one to the cart! I'm wavering. It has faux fur around the hood. Then I spot a cool looking Under Armour hoodie in pink and black. "Oooh! Look Max. Pink and it's Under Armour too!" That gets him off on a tangent and he finally settles on a hoodie with matching pants in lovely shade of aqua. I'm thinking we've dodged a bullet, but no.
Max: OK. Now go back to the page with that coat. I still want to be a pretty pretty princess. I can totally pull it off, Mom. Why are girls clothes so much cooler than boys? Most boy stuff is ugly. Oooh! What's that! *points to the screen*
Me: Uh. It's a lace shrug.
Max: See? Do they have stuff like that for boys? No.
Me: Well... I might be able to find you a cute bolero jacket or something...
Max: OK! I want one of those. With sparkles. Mom? Am I gender fluid? I want to show everyone...I want to...everyone can wear what ever they want. It's ok.
I nod and smile. I get it. He wants to break the mold. Be outside the fashion box. Trendsetter, if you will. He might not have all the buzz words down (and don't ask me where he got the term "gender fluid" from...I suspect that's from his big brother who is constantly accusing him of being and acting "gay". I know that's a teen boy thing and it's how all his friends talk. But I still get disappointed when I hear it. I just wish other parents would discourage that nonsense the way we do. "That's so gay!" is like the worst insult in the world to them. They, almost all those boys, are so homophobic at this age. Their hormones are out of control and they are just figuring things out, but GAY is not the worst thing in the world. *grumbles*
Anywho, Max finally cracked a grin and told me he was messing me on the whole pretty pretty princess thing. He didn't really want the pink coat. But he'd totally wear it if I got it for him. Just because. And he'd be proud about it too.
Now I have to find him jeans with holes and something sparkly to wear. He WAS serious about that part. *grin*
Posted by Becky at 5:48 PM
Monday, November 23, 2015
I am very late for my update on Max @ 9 and a bit early for my update on Tyler @ 14, but here we go.
I'm so proud of the kind and gentle soul Max is becoming. He loves his friends and family, is not ashamed to kiss and hug his Mommy, and loves to wear shorts - even on the coldest of days. He has 6-pack abs and a burning desire for play-dates every day of the week. He loves to play catch with his Nerf football; especially with his Dad and big brother. His fondest desire waffles between a kitten of his very own and Pokemon cards. *snort* Every dime he saves is almost instantly spent on those goofy cards. He has 2 albums full and ziploc bags and tins stuffed with more.
My only source of sadness with my boy is the up and down nature of his relationship with his big brother. I relish the times they pal around together...taking walks down to the school fields and playground, biking, or playing catch. But those moments are too few. Most of the time it's the teen pushing his little brother's buttons until a fight breaks out. He takes perverse pleasure in making Max cry. *sigh* I really pray it's a phase and the boys will one day be the best of friends, but being nearly 5 years apart in age is a tough hurdle to overcome. I should know. My little brother is 5 years younger and the gulf between us is vast.
I just wish he wouldn't use his powers of intimidation for evil. I hear from his teacher that he is actually very good with the younger special needs kids at his school. Patient and helpful. I'm pleased he is able to maintain a calm and patient demeanor at school. It's taken a lot of work and maturing to reach this point. Tyler feels ready to return to a mainstream school environment, but there is red tape we have to work through to achieve this goal. At home, however, I think Tyler takes his pent up frustration and anger out on his little brother. He teases and goads unmercifully at times and it makes my heart hurt for Max. I know home is Tyler's "safe space" where he can unload and unwind. but it's hard on us at times. I pray his level of maturity continues to grow (and his sense of humor too.)
Tyler has discovered the joy of internet trolling. There are certain groups and topics he just loves to verbally attack...feminists (sigh), the fat acceptance movement (sigh), gender equality (sigh), terrorism, and gamergate. He basks in the flame wars he incites and just can't resist poking the bear at every opportunity. The kid loves to argue. He is drawn to controversy ("Mom! Vote for Donald Trump! He's a genius! You agree, right?!" *gag*) For years I've told him he'd make a great criminal defense attorney, and that tongue-in-cheek comment seems to have taken root. He frequently talks about becoming a lawyer. We will do everything in our power to help him achieve his goals. We hope to have him mainstreamed in at least a couple of classes before the year ends in the hopes that this will ease his transition to high school next year. High school. HIGH SCHOOL. Yeah. I'm just letting the terror wash over me for the moment. *breathe* *breathe*
Back to my new-and-improved, more independent boy. He leaves the house frequently to hang with friends or walk to the store. YES! and oh shit. So far, this year, he broke 4 bones in his foot horsing around with friends and broke his little finger taking a spill off his bike. We've added an orthopedist to our laundry list of doctors now. Thankfully, Tyler now sees the wisdom in taking his calcium supplements. No more chewables, however. He can swallow pills like a BOSS. Seriously, the kid will take his ADHD med, sleep med and, like, 4 vitamin supplements and swallow them ALL at once. Sometimes without any liquid. *gag* I can barely manage one pill at a time.
Really, I am over the moon that Tyler is able to maintain his friendships. I can only guess that his buddies are exceptionally understanding and patient or they are just as surly and ornery as he is and birds of a feather...yadda yadda. *wink* Unfortunately, the head of his school's child study team has taken this new-found ability to socialize as further proof that his autism diagnosis is incorrect (in her opinion) and he needs to be re-evaluated. Followers of my blog know the struggles we've had with that school district over the years. Mrs. W made up her mind when he was in 3rd grade that Tyler was "emotionally disturbed" and all his problems were just evidence of poor parenting and the school treated him as such. It took years of testing and multiple doctors confirming each other's findings to finally get the accommodations he needed. But many in the school still treat him based on Mrs. W's opinion and NOT his IEP or doctor's recommendations. She is still on a mission to prove us and the doctors' wrong. She even made Tyler's new therapist's jaw drop at the garbage that comes out of her mouth. She drops psychiatric and medical buzz words into her conversation but, he says, she has NO IDEA what they really mean. Clueless. And terrifying that someone so clueless is in charge of all the special needs kids from pre-k to 8th grade. Yes, I am a little angry.
Despite these hurdles, Tyler is still making remarkable progress. I just wish he could see it. He is proud of the progress he'd made, physically. But emotionally and with school, he is deeply frustrated and depressed. He doesn't have confidence in his ability to learn outside a special needs environment. He thinks he's been held back at the pace of "stupid" for too long and has fallen hopelessly behind, academically. I am hopefully that high school will be a fresh start and he can put these awkward middle-school years behind him. He just needs to TRY. I know he can do it!
I love my boys with a white hot motherly passion and want the world for them. These teen years tho...they just may kill me. I am as hands off as I can be with my older boy. He needs to make some mistakes and learn some hard lessons in the coming years. But I'll have his back, when ever he will let me. *grin* Pray for wisdom and strength. We're all going to need it.
Posted by Becky at 1:47 PM
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
John is in California this week, so I am playing single mom. Today I woke at 6:30, made eggs for the boys at 7:15, and got both boys to school more or less on time. I rewarded myself with a hot chocolate and a bagel from D&D and sat at my desk to watch the rest of Silent Running (this is the 1973 sci-fi film, NOT the one about the Jamaican bobsled team - that one is Cool Runnings.)
Why was I watching a little known film from the 70s? It's rather convoluted.
See, Netflix recommended I watch Zathura. When Zathura came out in 2005, besides being busy with a child and a newborn kitten, I was all "Weak! It's just a copycat of Jumanji - cursed board game with a space theme rather than a slightly un-PC African adventure themed board game and a less-than-stellar cast. Feh. Why bother..." Yeah.
But Netflix had a good rating for it and it kept popping up in my recommendations, so...I watched it the other day. And it WAS good. Sure, similar idea to Jumanji, but it held up well with it's own story line. So that got me thinking. Were there other sci-fi movies that I'd passed on that were actually worth viewing? I did a Google search on "underrated sci-fi movies" and found a bunch of articles various people wrote with their recommendations. I breezed through looking for hidden gems. Most of the time I was "Seen it. Seen it. That's not underrated, it's just crap! Seen it. Oh! What's THIS one???" The first of my discoveries was Flight of the Navigator (and strangely, a day after I watched it, 2 people on Facebook mentioned the movie. Weird.)
Now how did I miss Flight of the Navigator?! Sarah Jessica Parker! I love her! Oh...1986? That was a complicated year. Work. College. Boyfriend troubles. Anywho, I watched it. Cute movie. Very much for kids.
Back to the underrated lists... and that's when Silent Running came up. I read the description of the film on Amazon and it totally didn't ring a bell, so I started watching it last night. About 20 minutes in, I remembered seeing it before. Once. On TV. When I was a kid. I hated it then. Time and maturity have improved my appreciation of the film, somewhat, but ugh that Joan Baez soundtrack was awful. No offence intended to fans of her music, it's just not my cup of tea. By the second time she started to sing, I wanted to hurl a shoe at her to stop her caterwauling. Save the trees, oh won't someone think of the children, whine, ugh, shut UP already. I agree with the sentiment, but yikes.
Bruce Dern was amazing as the botanist Freeman Lowell...but I hated the way the movie ended. I would have done it differently. LOL I'm willing to bet it sparked many heated conversations back in the day. Anyone else seen it? Watch it then comment. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
I'm one of those nutty people who goes all out for Halloween. I decorate the house, dress up, give toys, treats AND glow stuff to all the kids...yeah. This is my favorite holiday, by far. Sadly, this year I was sick for 3 weeks leading up to today. House? Not decorated. Toys? Never got around to purchasing goody bags or do-dads. I have some glow stuff left over from last year and hubby ran out yesterday and bought the dregs of the Halloween candy from 2 stores.
I'm feeling a lot better today, but still not 100%. I spent 2 hours cleaning up weeks of accumulated crap out of the living room so that I could GET to the front door to answer it tonight without killing myself on stacks of mail, shoes, leaves, twigs, sand, papers, books, boxes, on and on and on. I've been looking everywhere for the vacuum and just didn't SEE it tucked back in the corner of my bedroom. (I swear, I looked there 4 times!)
I have a costume on, of sorts. I look like a giant pumpkin. Hey, it's a start. I've eaten something, caught my breath, now I'll attack the rest of my to-do list. I may not get everything done before the bell starts ringing, but I'll give it a try.
Meanwhile - Tyler is going OUT for Halloween this year. I repeat! TYLER IS GOING OUT! He hasn't left the house on Halloween in YEARS. He came to me almost 2 weeks ago at the height of my illness to tell me what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. I thought the fever was getting to me. But no, he was serious. He showed me a picture a few days later of a video game character named Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid. I analyzed the picture from a veteran cosplayer's perspective and broke it down into pieces. Grey flight suit. Tactical vest. Long black elbow and knee pads. Thigh holster and assorted canvas/velcro straps. Black all weather boots. Black headband with long ties. Face mask (optional). Easy!
I began looking on Amazon for all the component parts and got excited as the costume took shape. Flight suit? Too expensive. Grey long-johns? That works. I went through dozens of types of knee and elbow pads looking for just the right look and price. Found the PERFECT boots ($50 ugh), thigh holster, straps, amazing vest...then I looked in the cart. Almost $200 in gear. *gasp*
I broke the news to Tyler. If he had his heart set on it, I was ready to break the bank. He was the voice of reason. "It's ok Mom. That's too expensive. What else can I go as?" Ugh. It broke my heart. He was so jazzed! He doesn't get jazzed very often. I suggested we go to a costume shop and have a look around, but he didn't like that idea. I suggested he just wear his usual hoodie and I could get him a scary mask. Nope. Just a balaclava and be a terrorist? Better idea, but nope. Finally his dad suggested a pillowcase with eye holes. He could be a ghost. I think Dad was kidding, but Tyler liked the idea.
So keep your eyes open for a spooky teen ghost out on the streets tonight. Oh, and the Green Lantern. Max is a superhero once again. LOL It's been a different one every year.
Posted by Becky at 4:21 PM
Thursday, October 22, 2015
I was in a very dark and low place in my last entry. Things have improved somewhat since then. Teen boy is still very very unhappy with his school situation. The small space and the addition of some really unruly elements have made things completely intolerable. We are working with his school and the CST and have yet another meeting scheduled next week. Tyler wants to return to the mainstream school system. The special needs therapeutic environment was really helpful in restoring his desire to learn and being supportive of his unique learning style. But the trade-off was being schooled with kids who are very impaired and highly disruptive in the classroom environment. Ty complains about the chaos a lot, but I think being around the differently-abled has also taught him a bit of patience and shown him that things could be worse.
He has matured an amazing amount in the last year or so. Even in the last couple months! It's like someone flipped a switch on and he's gone from being a virtual recluse to just walking out the front door and walking to friends' houses to hang out or to the gas station for a soda. He's been playing a lot of football at recess and after school. His fitness level continues to increase and he's even begun a daily workout routine with floor exercises. He proudly held his arm against my yesterday and said "Look Mom, I have some color!"
He's recently asked for a weight set and a scooter. I like the idea of the scooter. He can coast and kick his way from place to place and it's more light-weight and portable than a bike. The problem we are running into is most scooters are made for little kids (ages 5-11) and very few are made for big kids and teens. I remember these awkward years between 13 and 16. The need for independence kicks in, but you aren't old enough to drive. I rode my bike all over town, but Ty has always been a little unsteady on a bike. I suggested a more sturdy and lower-to-the-ground model like a mountain bike, but he doesn't really get the difference between that type and his 10 speed. I wish the local bike shop hadn't shut down. This is the kind of thing where it's really helpful to see them in person and get a test ride.
I have mixed emotions when I hear that front door slam. We are still working on him letting us know when he is leaving and where he is going. He figures if he has his cell phone on him, we can always just call and ask. LOL Teens. *exasperated sigh* But at the same time, when I heard he'd just up and walked down to QuickChek to buy snacks I was so proud of him. How do I explain the magnitude of that. He went from a boy who never leaves his bedroom to a teen who just walks out the front door and keeps walking all the way into the next town where the convenience store is. And buys stuff. On his own. With his own money. It's terrifying and amazing. I am so proud of him, I cry every time I think about it.
And I'm crying again.
Oh, and have I mentioned that he broke his foot? Yeah. First broken bone. He did it when he was horsing around with some friends. He fell off a rather tall stone wall and landed on his foot funny. Fractured it. And yet, despite the pain, he is still walking ALL OVER THE PLACE and playing football.
I got rather used to him being the introverted shut-in. He was safe and I always knew where he was! And I worried that he wasn't socializing much, other than on-line through his video games... now I worry even more because he's out there, walking, all over town, and breaking bones... ugh, my poor heart.
So proud. And so very terrified. So very much like his mother at that age. He even told his dad that he didn't care if we lost power because he and his mom could just read a book. He loves to read. Just like his mom. *sniffles*
I love you so much, Ty. I love the young man you are becoming. We just need to work on that teen boy attitude toward feminism, gay rights, and the need to mercilessly tease younger brothers. We'll work on it. :) Things WILL get better for you in school. This I vow. I'm ready to start homeschooling tomorrow, if necessary. Just watch me.
Posted by Becky at 5:37 PM
Thursday, September 03, 2015
It's a shame I don't drink. Today I could really use a box of wine (or 2.) It was the first day of school and both boys left the house unhappy and both came home miserable. It's especially worrisome from the teen boy. He hasn't passed judgement on his new 8th grade teacher...yet, but he is VERY unhappy with the classroom move. Apparently the school took away their spacious former home-ec room and stuck his special needs class in a closet (or office). 10 kids, some with sensory issues, crammed in a little room all day. He was ready to kill himself by the time he got home.
No, really. He talks about how much the world sucks, life sucks, our country sucks and nothing is redeemable...certainly not within his lifetime. So why is he alive? He's completely miserable.
Now I remember being completely miserable in 8th grade too. I often thought I'd be better off dead. Heck, the world would be a nicer place without me in it. Hearing the same talk from my newly minted 8th grader is sad and scary. Kids today are a lot more likely to take their own lives than they were when I was this age. The internet is oh so helpful in oh so many horrible ways.
Yes, he has a therapist (in school and out) and a psychiatrist. Yes, we try to be encouraging and supportive every day. We go out of our way to make sure home is his sanctuary and safe place. It's not perfect because he'd rather not have a little brother and he finds the idea of parents rather annoying too...except when he's hungry. We provide food. That's our only redeeming quality.
Food was a source of comfort to me too when I was in jr. high. I wasn't fat, really, just a little over weight. But some of my classmates made sure I felt like a blimp and my parents weren't much better. Tyler put on some weight in 6th and 7th grade, but we are never negative toward him. He decided he wanted to make a change over the summer so we made a couple of suggestions. He cut down on his soda consumption and the quantity of junk food. He ate more egg whites and cheerios. He feels a bit more comfortable now that he's dropped some weight. He's back into a pant size he wore in 6th grade. It was odd going from a men's medium back to a boy's 16-18 when shopping for back-to-school clothes. His eating habits still aren't great, but he is more conscious of the quantity. He looks good. But he's still miserable.
"Have his doctor put him on an anti-depressant!" Yeah. I thought of that. He reminded me today that a former "medication happy" doctor put him on one of those and it made things worse. He is now very anti-anti-depressant. Maybe his new doctor can encourage him to try it again...but he has to be very careful. If he comes off as another "pills will fix everything" type, teen boy won't go back to see him ever again. As it is, the boy barely sees the use of seeing a therapist. "They don't do a damn thing, Mom! It's just a waste of money."
I'm at a loss. He needs a hobby. Something that gets him out of the house now and then. Or friends with a fun hobby would be even better. Or a big brother. Something. OK, internet, if you have any bright or wise suggestions, I am totally open to them.
That last paragraph/cry for help is funny because no one even bothers to comment on my little blog anymore. But I'll put this out there, just in case. You never know where help will come from.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Max brought his extremely full backpack into the family room and proceeded to clean it out (it was packed with junk from the last day of school.) After a couple minutes of pulling things out, one by one, he got frustrated and asked, "Mom? Can I just dump this out on the floor?"
I got as far as "Umm..." (because my brain was busy trying to process the potential repercussions) when he just upended the thing and shook it 5 or 6 times. It was like a classroom exploded. Fragments of broken crayons, pencils, lidless markers, tiny scraps of paper, and crumbs of every size and description went everywhere.
I got an "Oops. I'll clean it up..." when he saw me cringe. After discarding all the larger items, he said "Can I just vacuum up the crumbs and stuff?"
"Sure. But you need to clear off the rug some more so the vacuum can move around. Yep. Gotta move those cords out of the way. Video game stuff goes on the shelf. Mmm hmm...toys can go in that white basket. Dirty socks in the hamper. Hmm, you'll have to pull the rug a bit to flatten it out. Oh wow, look at all those crumbs over there too. Make sure you put those markers away. You can toss those empty boxes downstairs...ok! Ready to vacuum?"
He did the whole room and picked almost everything up and put it away. I was so proud and pleased, I gave him some cash as a reward. When ever he was tempted to half-ass part of the job, I'd gently nudge him with a suggestion. He's such a good kid. And a handy little cleaner! lol
We are almost ready for back-to-school. I just need to fill out all those pesky forms. Every year! Really, why can't they just put this stuff online?
Posted by Becky at 3:11 PM