Tuesday, April 30, 2013

what's been going on?

Spring is finally here in Central Virginia, complete with the azaleas, lilacs, rain and pollen and some sort of stomach bug. Usually I dont associate spring with illness, alas having kids means that illness knows no season.

Having a child with anxiety means that testing season introduces a whole new level of illness-the fake or psychosomatic illness. What a delight that has been. He insists it is not testing, but the thought of being separated from his class in the event of a fire drill. I agree that could be nerve wracking but this is the first time this year he has worried about it.

David mowed the lawn mostly by himself last week. I mowed the lawn frequently when I was growing up (after we moved to a house when I was 13). I have fond memories of mowing the lawn. I still enjoy mowing the lawn.

I keep thinking David will be 10 soon. TEN, 10! TEN!!! I am not ready. His birthday is more than a month away- but still 10. It seems like a big deal. He will be on a bike ride on his birthday with his uncle and father, which I think it is a great way to celebrate such a milestone. At what point do we stop doing birthday parties? A lot of his friends have had parties, and I am happy to have one, but I do wonder when the birthday party madness stops.

The School Board had a retreat on Friday and Saturday of last week. The  Board did some hard work, including an evaluation of ourselves. This week we have our monthly meeting, along with a meeting with Piedmont Virginia Community College. I am looking forward to the meeting with PVCC. The school system is working with PVCC on some fantastic Associates Degree programs, I want to discuss nursing as one of those programs.

Our house has been more chaotic than usual. We had the roof replaced, Chris put the gutters back up (they have been off of the house for at least four years), Chris is replacing the front sidewalk so our front yard is a mud pit. He built a wall where a makeshift wall stood. He is doing a lot of work. I find it amusing that even as things are improving incrementally the whole house looks awful.

On Monday, I am going to my third hearing of the Vendor Appeal's Board. This is a City board, I am appointed, as are the other three members. A vendor who disputes the City regarding a contract or change order, can appeal the City's decision to us, then if they dont like that, to the Circuit Court (but they have to go through us first). I have been on this board for years and this is only the third hearing. But this is a doozy of a hearing (apparently 11 separate change orders are in dispute) and may need two days to be heard. I am fortunate that I am not working, every time something like this comes up, I have to find child care. One other member is retired, the other is an attorney, and the other owns a restaurant. We are all performing our civic duty happily, we just hope it doesnt take too long. 

Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Busy, busy or not busy doing important things

I have very good friends. On Facebook one of them posted this article on How to Escape the Cult of "Busy". You may have heard of it,  I definitely suffer from it. I even joke that I do not know how I had time to work since I remain so busy after several months of not working. My to do list is not getting any shorter but the mean girl voice in my head does get sharper.

I think in some ways, I answer this way because people expect me to answer this way. Sometimes as I think about how I am doing, someone will say "busy" with a knowing glance. I nod because my mind remains blank as to how I am doing. I am smart, but sometimes my mind works slowly. I do not have a quick response for everything (unless it is sarcastic, I always have a quip ready).

The author gives a number of reasons why people constantly say they are busy. I think I suffer from all of them.

I matter
I am super important
I am giving you an easy excuse
I am afraid
I feel guilty

I am not sure how relevant the first two are- but to be honest I am sure there is some of that going into my "I am so busy" mantra. But the last three are the ones that hit home.

The reality is chasing a two year old around all day and caring for a houshold of a husband and two older boys does keep me very busy. BUT there is time, I spend most of it on Twitter and Facebook and generally wasting the time. So while my time is full, it is not fulfilling.  Dont get me wrong, I love Twitter, I appreciate all of the people I follow and let me keep up with their lives, but it is not actually living to do so.

I could try to stop being afraid and guilty and worried about doing something half assed. I could be more silent. Perhaps I should try small increments.

Today I will start with twenty minutes of quiet during Ryan's nap time. I will put the phone away, turn the tv off and read one of the three books on the side of my bed (Bible, Breaking Free, or Lean In). Baby steps for a big change, I can do it. Then of course I will nap, because a mother should always sleep when her baby (toddler) is sleeping. :)  I am joining my friend who said "wont you join me?" in her effort to escape the cult of busy.

You can be sure I am busy, just as I am sure you are busy, but when I ask you how you are, let me know if I can help or let me know how you are for real.

We are gifts to this world, we dont need to listen to the ugly voice in our head.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Sometimes I find it better to be quiet. Last week was one of those times. The only post I felt compelled to write was about my 8 year old in honor of Martin Richard, the adorable 8 year old killed at the Boston Marathon.

Sometimes I do not write because I have no topics. However, the week before I had actually written a list of about five topics to write about for last week. The adage about making plans and God laughing remains true for me.

One of my favorite tweets of the week came on Saturday morning. Someone (I apologize for not having attribution, I didnt retweet it so I dont know who said it) tweeted the relief he felt when there were no news alert messages on his phone when he woke up on Saturday morning. The news last week was devastating and relentless. Even when away from my tv, computer, phone, the tension was palpable all around.

I barely watched the news last week, preferring to sift through twitter for the news. Sift because one has to be judicious about what to believe when looking at Twitter. I did watch the news on Friday for a little while. I was watching NBC because of Pete Williams. He became sort of a hero last week when he refused to report that the suspects had been caught. What really became clear as I watched the news was how marginalized the Texas disaster had become. I will grant you that the news of "shelter in place" for the whole city of Boston is dramatic news and was very important on Friday.

However,  I am hoping that as we move on from last week that we remember the victims of the Texas disaster and try to prevent such a tragedy just as fervently as we try to prevent a repeat of the Boston Marathon bombings.

As you all know since you are mostly my family, Chris is a volunteer firefighter.  The first responders, of course, were fighting the fire, trying to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby nursing home and the surrounding neighborhood, when the explosion occurred. The explosion registered as a 2.1 earthquake. At least 14 people were killed, 11 of them first responders. This article about the emergency crews responding to the incident explains the bonds of a volunteer firefighting/EMS community. This is not a news story that should be forgotten, this is a community devastated, needing to feel the support of all of us as they literally sift through the wreckage, bury their dead and try to move forward.

I hope to soon get back to light, fluffy posts about baseball, two year olds and other items of interest to mostly me. I also hope that those impacted by the news of last week are able to find solace and healing soon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ode to 8

I call all of my children "my babies", so excuse me when I say, one of my babies is 8. I wont sugarcoat it, he is a handful, as anyone who has been around when we are trying to leave someplace where he is having fun, will attest.

He is super sweet to his little brother. He is super competitive with his older brother.  He hates the idea of going to school, but always has a good day and does well in school. He hates homework and loves dessert. 

Although he is a good pitcher, he is not "great at pitching" as he tells some folks. He refuses to bat in most baseball games because he is afraid he will get hit by the ball (a reasonable fear).  He will play all day with his friends. He is ravenous. His pants are too short because he is growing like a weed. He has worn out the tire on his scooter. He is courageous, but not foolish (unless it comes to his defiance).

If he does get a hit, my 8 year old is so fun to watch run around the bases. He loves to slide into the base. If he knows he has a hit or a steal or a run, he raises his hands and cheers for himself. Everyone in the stands claps and cheers his enthusiasm.

He still tells his mother some secrets, fears, and hopes. He doesnt enjoy a particular game at recess because he is not as good of a runner as his friends, so he spends the time hiding behind a wall so he doesnt get caught. He hates losing more than anything. He wants to go to the fireworks, but is so scared when he is watching them.

He is dirty, he leaves clothes, dishes and papers everywhere. He lets his older brother do all of the chores.
He reads everything. He loves DS, Wii and computer. He is anxious and defiant. He thrives in routine. He wants to learn everything and be better at anything his older brother is doing. I have virtually no photos of my 8 year old alone. He is always with his friends, family, or his father.

He would like this photo because he is about to beat both of his brothers with a snowball. Ah, to be 8.

I am so grateful for my children. Today, I celebrate my 8 year old.
Protect all children from senseless violence and other harms. Give us strength to overcome evil with good in the name of those who could not protect themselves.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Green of Spring

Lots of sad things happen in the world. I can be overwhelmed by the stories and sorrow. I only know one thing to do: pray. I have been doing a lot of that for my family and friends and strangers who I encounter on the twitter.

Back in the day I had a great friend. Unfortunately, we are not close any longer. But I still hold a sacred place for her and her family in my heart. Her father passed away shortly before the summer that we both were to be married.

Her father was an amazing man. He had this great accent and often had wise things to say based on his vast experience. He built things and planted things, traveled the world, and raised four children. Also, he had this sense of beauty that one would not ascertain by looking at him.

Before he passed on May 8th almost 11 years ago, he told his daughter he was glad to have seen another spring. He told her that the green of early spring is something to behold after a long winter. His regret was he would miss that green next year. Coming so close to his death, the comments made a significant impression on me.

Whenever I see the early green of spring, it is a different green than the green of late spring, I think of him, and remind myself to be grateful to be able to see the color again. The early spring green fades quickly and these photos do not do justice to the brightness of the color, but the photos remind me of him and gratitude for another season.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

David's intro to 5th grade

 What is going on in our world? David and I went to Walker Upper Elementary School's Open House last night. Two 6th grade students led our little group of four around the school. The students were great tour guides. I had the benefit of a tour with the principal at the beginning of October, so I felt comfortable. Alas, this tour was not about me, it was about David, my almost ten year old.

I did check in with David several times throughout the tour. He asked great questions all the while looking forward to the cookies (1 per student) and lemonade at the end of the tour. My favorite question that David asked "do the students ever take a field trip to Crowe pool next door?" The P.E. teachers explained  they have tried to start up an aquatics program, but they have encountered some difficulties in implementing it (schedules etc.). I loved that he asked that question since I receive that question all the time as a school board member.

This morning David woke up and was ready to go a half hour before the bus. Usually when he is ready to go super early he wants to play DS or Wii before school, so Chris asked him "why are you ready so early?" David, in his chipper 9 year old way, described in some detail that he assumes he will be riding his bike to school when he goes to Walker, and it will take about 15 minutes to ride to the school, lock his bike and walk up the stairs to class, so he wanted to see what it was like to be ready by that time. Instead of playing Wii or DS, David read for the 1/2 hour before the bus.

I told him to have a good day as he walked out the door and he said "not likely." This is not a usual David response. He further explained that the 4th graders have math SOL simulations or term assessments (he is not sure which) today and he is not looking forward to it.   I will be thinking of him today, hoping that he is lifted in surprising ways and the test is mere item checked off in is day.