musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “holidays”

he’s a teen

It’s hard to believe sometimes that 12:31am thirteen years ago and today are part of the same lifetime.

But it is, and constitutes the whole life so far of one of the most interesting, funniest and challenging people I have ever known.

At 1, 2.5, and with his brother at 1.5 years old.
Mom: Smile.
Capt. Comic: I don’t want to smile. At least I’ve got a thumbsup.

Mom: Don’t you dare laugh.
Capt. Comic: Pbbpbpb!

Capt. Comic: C’mon, Mom, I don’t want to smile. I can do what I want now that I’m a teen.
Mom: Pikachu!

Seriously, Mom. Just take the picture.
Mom: Then give me an old movie star smile, like Clark Gable.

I love this kid.

I usually post a birthday blog in which I list a number of things about the kid whose birthday it is equal to their age. This time, it took three days to get Captain Comic to come up with a list himself, and in the end he drew it in about 10 minutes. Click to zoom, they’re fun drawings.

Just in case you can’t tell what he is representing:

1. Making movies.
2. Godzilla.
3. Drawing.
4. Making people laugh.
5. If you don’t know, you’re lucky. (oops, mom’s commentary) Pokemon.
6. Other people singing hurts my ears, “it’s like my Kryptonite.”
7. Videogames.
8. Star Wars
9. Need I say more? (mom again)
10. Pugs are my latest obsession.
11. The Hill (really a berm at the back of our neighborhood baseball field)
12. Jaws
13. I like fights in movies, like Jackie Chan.

Captain Comic is becoming a teen.

I wonder if that’s why Mother Nature is bringing this epic Hurricane Irene?

He’s a great kid. He’s big, he’s loud, he’s talented, he’s an original and the next handful of years of my life will be epic indeed. I love him.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo.

independence day

We spent the Fourth with my in-laws – eating, eating, thunderstorm and eating s’more. badabumching!
It took me a while to figure out what to make to please everyone, since I needed something veggie besides tofu dogs – I am very weary of them. Corn and potatoes were being grilled to go with the pulled pork sandwiches, so that scratched my ideas for a black bean and corn salad and a potato salad. It finally occurred to me to make a cannelini Tuscan type salad: 
It’s the easiest bean for those with veg protein sensitivities(pretty common on that side of the family), and the basic balsamic, olive oil and lemon juice dressing over parsley, tomato, garlic and red onion went over well with the Italian side of the family. And, just because I generally must go off-recipe (like off-roading, but in the kitchen), I added a little cucumber. 
Originally, since the boys are typically with their father for the Fourth, I wanted to take them to the local fireworks. But I let that go pretty easily (Captain Comic and crowds are not a good mix, esp with loud noise, add my ankle) when the picnic plans were made. I was happy we didn’t attempt that when the thunderstorm hit. We picnicked inside and ended up roasting marshmallows over sterno on the kitchen table. Poor Uncle L got soaked manning the grill at one point. But secretly, I think he enjoyed it. 
Toots had not napped and ran circles around their open floor plan gleefully screaming, “You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” No one was chasing her. She must have run a marathon’s worth of miles around that house.
She slept til almost eight thirty this morning. Twelve hours. 
We enjoyed watching a run of that History Channel show, How the States Got Their Shapes and some of the marathon on SyFy of old Twilight Zone episodes. Of course, we gabbed and reminisced about old folks and middle aged folks free childhoods outside as opposed to today’s kids, on constant watch and playing videogames, etc. The older kids played a game called Fact or Crap. I even joined in at one point. 
All in all, a pretty relaxing and stuffed way to spend the day we declared our Independence from the British, 235 years ago. The only firework seen was lightning, including a bolt hitting the Poquoson River outside the kitchen windows. I think I was the only one who saw that when it happened. But everyone heard the boom.

five

photo: j. gallo

That’s my guy, Honey and me, five years ago today. I think this was taken right before our first married kiss.

Everyone should be so in love and able to do this. Sure, marriage isn’t all happiness and light, contrary to what fairytales would have us believe, but it is worth the work it takes when you love your partner and can be recognized fully in that, no matter how that love is packaged.

stuff

I did it again. I overloaded a weekend and its lead up, and paid the price physically. And then I woke up with a cold this morning. I did more yard work last week than one somewhat broken down (back, shoulder, ankle) middle-aged person should ever attempt on one’s own. I think I amassed fourteen hours on Wednesday and Thursday alone, of serious manual labor. 

But Captain Comic slept in for the first time in his life well past six o’clock this morning. He made a premeditated decision to do so, and it worked. This makes me extraordinarily happy.  Ask me another day if he kept up his plan to sleep in this summer for more that one morning. It’s been a long childhood of pre-dawn waking. 
Friday night we had a big cookout with a bunch of families with young kids. Mr. Cynic invited Goldilocks. I totally forgot to break out a camera. Must have been having too much fun. It rained briefly and Honey saw a rainbow while he was grilling.  The kids were all over the trampoline, swings, house, dog…and poppers and snaps: 
I think most of the adult males had more fun with these than their kids. 
Father’s Day, the boys thanked Honey for providing and Toots woke up a very sleepy Daddy with hugs and kisses and a card. And then we left him the house to himself for several hours. I had a very busy Sunday at our fellowship. Poor kids had to stick around for a choir rehearsal and two services. There was a cookout scheduled, too, but I had church burnout. Captain Comic had it much worse than I did, so we came home to spend the afternoon with our resident Dad. Honey grilled again and Toots was excited about “Wayermelyen!” 
Or did I take this shot on Saturday evening? I can’t remember anymore. 
At some point this weekend, I looked out our front window and discovered I had grown a sea horse in my driveway:
I am sort of collapsing this week, and have a gazillion doctor appointments lined up. No new worries, just back on the specialists wheel I hopped off of about a year ago re: old stuff.  It is exhausting and expensive, even with insurance going to one after another only to have them tell me to go see yet another. But hopefully I will start to get some real answers. However, I just found out a new bellydancing class is starting tonight and I really want to join it. I need to do something about my belly, and why not have fun getting it into shape?
The weather is kicking into high gear as I type this up. I hope it doesn’t get too bad, coming in from the Midwest….but we sure can use the rain.

blur

Some weekend soon, I need to stop this hustle bustle and just take the kids to the beach, so that we can do nothing but watch them in the water and sit back, somewhat relax. My weekends have gotten out of control – scheduled, but just too much. At least one, and upwards of three events per diem is too much for anyone, let alone bad back and bad ankle me. I need to recognized this better and take care of myself in less of an after the fact manner.

In the meantime, Memorial Day weekend was a blur, and only two events did I have the kids involved. Otherwise, Mr. Cynic pretty much spent the long weekend babysitting. I already mentioned Friday night in the my last post, and Sunday night included two seatings for a Lynda Carter show at the Virginia Arts Festival. She had a great band filled with Hall of Fame musicians, including Blue Lou Marini, the sax player who has played with everyone and who Jim Henson modeled his Muppet sax player after. Wonder Woman can sing, but to be honest, while the show was enjoyable, she took a lot of old favorite songs of a generation or three and turned them all into mid-tempo cabaret numbers. Not quite my cup of tea for an entire show. I need more variance. But, I will say, she is still absofrigginlutely gorgeous. and you can tell she hasn’t had a ton of outside help with it. She was also very down to earth, even while on stage.

Mr. Cynic would have babysat for one more event, but I decided to risk Captain Comic’s ability to cope with a crowd and a live orchestra. It didn’t go particularly well and we skipped the orchestra in the end.

Here is some photographic excerpts from a couple of things this weekend, camera battery died, so it’s all via cell shots:

The neighborhood pool opened for the season! Sorry about my finger. just think Kids in the Hall – “I’m crushing your head!” It also looks like I sunscreened  the lens.

 I only saw Captain Comic at this lifeguard break, for three solid hours of pool time. Mr. Cynic invited his latest girlfriend. He’s turned into a teen serial monogamist, four girlfriends in three years. At least he’s not a playah. To be fair, these past nine months or so of dating his prior gf, it was difficult for them to see each other outside of school.

 When I had a chance to water the gardens and yard at some point, I discovered a few things growing, some intentional, some not, like this birch under the wisteria covered slide platform.

 And this oak sprig under the trampoline.

 I discovered my first snap pea pods, and Toots and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Pea pods barely make it to mouth by way of table. usually, I just eat them straight from the plant.

 Watermelon from seeds I planted earlier this week!

 And squash, too! It must be that good dirt I planted them in.

We made it to the pool again briefly between things on Monday.

 Then we headed to the Arts Festival Picnic for the Volunteers in Norfolk, which was too hot and crowded, and Captain Comic coped by chowing down multiple hot dogs and sodas and bags of chips. I couldn’t stop him for anything. There’s a little issue with impulse control with our aspergian brethren. Captain Comic has particular difficulty in this aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome.

The great thing about the event is that the local PBS station’s tent was next to ours, so Toots got to meet Buddy from Dinosaur Train! And I rode home with a pocketful of excavated little dinosaurs. This was the better picture until the invasion of the elbow.

 This one was very off-kilter because the glare off the water behind them made it impossible to see where they were in the frame of the shot.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played, but not until after we left. We were so overheated, the crowd was unbearable for Captain Comic and me, some people have no concept of personal space or basic common courtesy aand I was hurting, and tired of trying to keep tabs on two of my kids running in opposite directions while the eldest kept whining about when we would leave.

As much as he can be extremely trying at times ( a large portion of this weekend he was non-stop and confrontational noise), how can anyone, let alone me, not love this boy? Here he is watching the Youtube video Kitten vs Scary Thing for the about the 412th time in  about 2 days. I caught him giggling away during a little downtime on Monday morning.

I wish I could tap into joy so easily, so unreservedly, so utterly and so often. With Captain Comic’s help, I will learn one day to just completely let go in laughter over something as simple as a kitten encountering a tennis ball. (Yes that is my messy desk and crammed bookshelves.)

So my weekend was crammed with mayhem, once again, and with an extra day of it added. How was yours?

excerpts from both ends of a candle

Friday:
Teen Lock-in in Richmond.
Good youth, good combined fellowships
games, conference, identity discussion, chaperoned
yes I’m crazy and incredibly sleep deprived.

Saturday:
Commute back to Hampton Roads,
drop off someone else’s young person,
home to empty house, worn out teen and me.
Shower, near tears tired,
buy present, go to housewarming,
hug people, leave before utter collapse.
amuse friends with wild hair and falling out eyeballs.
home, old twilight episodes viewed through napping ears,
odd dream narrated by Rod Serling
rest of family returns from Busch Gardens,
Honey and I have a date night,
Eight years since our first date.

Dinner out, epic fail, every point of service missed,
given wrong food, missed romantic comedy showing
so we watched a later showing of 3D Thor instead, fun
home, collapse, 6 hours later:

Sunday:
mother’s day begun in annoyance, I was first up
except Mr. 6am – Captain Comic.
All three kids, highly uncooperative.
Child Dedication service for Toots

tears, weepy from 3 weeks of sleep deprivation.
Thank goodness I didn’t have to sing with the choir.
Go to Lowes, find potted plants for grandma and rose bush for me to plant
Mr. Cynic helped while Honey waited in car with other two who were NOT
getting along.
Catch up with friends and driiiiiive to go
strawberry picking –
perfect, beautiful afternoon, sunripe strawberries
bursting with flavor, friends, kids, homemade strawberry ice cream
Captain Comic hurdled the rows of groundling berries,
Toots ran and ran and ran,
Mr. Cynic ate the best strawberry of his entire life
mutant, twoheaded thing he picked,
kids still arguing on car ride home.
It had been a long ride to Surrey.
Long ride home.

Captain Comic swore he was not going to pick any, do you hear me, mom? None. ha. 

There was more, I just can’t recall it all. My brain has leaked out of my ears. And today is my second day of dental work this week. I am not a fan.

But yesterday?  My muse let me grab a comet by the tail. It was a surprising and excellent ride. Gave depth to a critical scene in the manuscript. Yea me!

There’s more, plenty more, including gardening and job prospects, but I’m still trying to recover from weeks of go go go. Maybe tonight I’ll go to bed early. Please remind me.

welcome the jungle

Whoa is me, I’ve had an emotional week, a lack of sleep throughout it and my weekend, once again, is packed to the gills.

Wah, Wah, Wah, I hate whining.

Mr. Cynic’s concert was incredible. His Jazz Choir is better even than my bragging about it. Toots bounced around her seat and between Honey’s lap and mine. Captain Comic had a sensory issue as the audience began to fill the front section around us. An old man kept looking at me like “Why can’t you discipline your kid?” So after a few attempts, I decided to let Capt. Comic do what his instincts dictated, and let him have a seat all the way in the back center of the auditorium rather than fight it. I went up to blackmail inspire him to not move from his chosen seat with a threat that if he did so, he would lose all access to screens for a solid week. He stayed put. I turned around to check periodically throughout all three choirs’ numbers. As long as I saw his knees hanging over the seat in front of him, all was good. Mr. Cynic’s Jazz Choir was on last. During the second to last number – after the Hanna- Barbera Spiderman theme, of course – I felt a tap on my shoulder. and a whisper right in my ear:

Captain Comic: Mom. I need a drink.
Mom:  Go.

The choices we mothers make. I went with finish watching one son as he excels and trust the one to worry about will be okay on his own to find a drinking fountain and not get into trouble. And guess what?  It worked out. I sent Honey to collect him while I took Toots with me to go find Mr. Sparkly Red Vest. It only took a moment before I spotted Honey with Captain Comic in the hall with all of the singers before I even had a chance to hug my singer. Captain Comic beat me to it, literally, with a not so stealth pounce and grab knockdown tackle hug that took down all three siblings, and nearly me as well, as I had nearly reached hug contact with my eldest when he was hug attacked.

Honey took this phone pic of a mom and her progeny after the attack hug. It’s really the perfect shot of us all, exhausted and proud mom with her eyes closed, sleepy Toots, grinning from his performance Mr. Cynic, and goofball Captain Comic.

Life is good. Hug your kids, if you’ve got ’em. Happy Mother’s Day.

sixteen

My first born turns sixteen today.

Fall 1996, Gaga & Papa’s house in Ct.

Tears start now.

Not because I’m sad, not because so much of my life has passed in that time, not because I mourn the passing of his childhood.

But because I am very proud of the child becoming a man before my eyes, as only a mother can know. Love keeps cracking me open to my own vulnerabilities and strengths that I discovered through growing him inside sixteen years ago and watching him grow, as best as I can without interfering with his fully realizing himself.

16 on 16:

1. He’s a very old soul, and a very old soul is he.
2. He sneezes a lot.
3. He plays a mean electric bass.
4. He’s teaching himself guitar.
5. He smirks, always.
6. He sings, really really well, competitively well.
7. He writes songs.
8. He writes books, has since he was in kindergarten.
9. He’s fragile, in good ways.
10. He’s strong, of spirit, not so much in body.
11. He is very very protective of those he loves.
12. He oozes into furniture, merges, becomes one.
13. He’s kind of a space cadet.
14. He has a very dry wit. (Hence calling him Mr. Cynic here)
15. He has good hair.
16. The girls think he’s cute, kind of like a pocket rock star.

I love him very much, and I like him, too. He’s pretty darn cool. And speaking as his mother, I’m kind of glad he’s still a pipsqueak.

Valentine’s Day 2011, He let me do this.

I love you, K-Bear, Happy Birthday. 

easter aftermath


Have you ever tried to get three families’ worth of kids of varying ages to pose together for a holiday shot? This was one of a handful of choices, all fell into the category of close enough. My favorite high school English teacher always said,”that only works in horseshoes and hand grenades,” but I believe it’s apt for group shots, too. 

We gathered at friends’ new home, seriously, they moved in Saturday, and we tried to help but showed up a bit late because it took me that long to empty and clean out my van. So I showed up in a dress with all of my kids and Honey, on Easter morning, and promptly decided I would move their bookcases into a different room. We were there for an Easter egg hunt. 

To back up a bit, we had a weekend full of family, my in-laws galore, not just the ones down the street, we hosted visiting aunt and uncle. Also in Grandma’s generation, was a vacationing cousin and all of his nine teenage granddaughters, his daughter, and his wife who were staying in Virginia Beach. So when I joke about the in-law invasion, there’s a bit of truth to it, at least in sheer numbers. Thankfully, I was lucky enough not to get the full dose of the nine teenage granddaughters. I managed to only meet two. I can’t say the same for Grandma and Toots who got a full dose with a botched and whiny trip to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg. It’ll remain in family lore for generations, I am sure. 

There was also a 50th birthday party for a friend this weekend, which was packed with cake and pies and Easter breads and a potluck, maybe two. I’ve lost count. And of course Easter baskets galore. I hopped on the scale this morning – hopped is a loose term, it was more of a floorboards creaked trepidacious step – and I have gained five pounds this weekend – even with helping with the move!

Toots love her twirly dress and enjoyed modeling it. Pardon the blur, I wasn’t awake yet. I don’t think the camera was either.


A lot of sugar was eaten, and not much else especially by a couple of my kids who would have done better to get some more protein and veggies in them over the weekend, and maybe a bit less candy and pies. There was some major sugar fallout this morning. Not that I should say anything, see confession above about gaining five pounds. 

But a weekend full of friends, family, food, fun and sunshine is worth a five pound gain. 

It occurs to me that with the amount of cookie posts, etc., I should have a food tag, shouldn’t I? Someday, I’ll backtrack and find all the baking and cooking posts and add them to it, but the food tag starts now. 🙂

I regret I did not get a pie picture. Grandma and her sisters really outdid themselves with the Easter pies this year, and I believe that is mostly to blame for culinary lapse of reason. Auntie B’s homemade lasagna may have had a smidge to do with it, too. And the vat of pasta a fagioli I made Friday night, and, and, and……peeps for one. 

Time to get back into an new exercise routine….

three ring birthday mayhem

In this Ring: Cake Mayhem

You know, I really have done a lot of work on calming my life and myself down quite a bit since I was in college, and those of you who knew me then can probably attest to my rather spastic hyperreactive nature back then…

But I think I truly just have to face the fact, that the calmer I try to make it all, the more chaotic it gets.

Take for instance, this whole baking thing. I love to bake. I bake multiple batches of cookies, I bake multiple cakes for my kids’ birthdays, etc. It’s something you’d think I had a good handle on by now, but lately I just can’t seem to measure out the ingredients and mix them properly to save my life.

Friday my cakes went volcanic in the oven after a run to my neighbor’s for more sugar, which turned out to be too much sugar because I just flubbed the doubling.

So after my mil came home and declared, first, oh dear, then just bake a little longer and they should be fine, more like a sponge cake, then my next fb status looked like this:

could anymore mayhem happen today? why yes of course. our minister arrived to give toots a birthday card, captain comic came to the door and stated ‘i think the british are still angry over, you know that revolution thing back in the 1700s (rev. andrew has a lovely accent) and the barky dog got out at the same time, which was also when i was attempting to get the cakes, such as they are out of the oven…


evidence:

After it was determined there was no salvaging them, or two of the pans, I abandoned the fancy Kitchenaid mixer and hand mixed – by spatula – the new batter, in single batches. Family celebration cake was moved to a bundt pan. It turned out beautifully.

I added homemade blue (by special request since Christmas) pomegranate frosting. Everyone loved it.

 At the Kid party on Saturday, the special request was for orange frosting. I flavored that tangerine, but apparently my volume was a bit slim, hence the bare spots…However, even the parents were oooing and aahing. One dad, who had stayed with his kids, prodded his wife and mother-in-law to have a piece when they arrived after their dog’s vet appointment. Rave reviews of fluffy and moist. 
I may not make the prettiest baked goods, but they sure taste good when I get it right.
Speaking of getting it right, a while back, I think I spoke of completely messing up cookie dough by miscounting too much flour into the doubling batch. I need more sleep and less family members speaking to me while I try to add ingredients to batters and doughs. So the cookie dough I finally fixed finally became butterfly cookies for Toots to celebrate in preschool.  This past week was crazy with dental appointments, etc so in the end, Grandma and Toots  rolled out, cut baked and decorated the cookies. The kids loved them! so did our family. Yum!  
In the Center Ring: Celebration
Family Friday night
booty

 “Silly Daddy!”
Silly Daddy and his young cousin E.

\
 Argh!
Surprise!

Um, I just liked my hair in this shot. More cousins.

 Friends, Saturday: Theme: Princess Baseball, baseball got rained out as I demo’d the game in the sun shower afternoon. Most of the party was had inside, Her new Princess Car was the hit of the party.

We played pin the tail on the unicorn, we painted it. 

How many little kids can we fit on an old trampoline? 
The alternate game when baseball was rained out became freeze dance, and was only a little successful.
Then we opened presents and Toots thanked all her friends with big hugs.
This is my friend Amilicious’s son. He’s a big flirt like his dad who shares a name with an astronaut.
So, when my friend Amilicious walked in the door with her kid, I thought great and crazy minds think alike. I drafted Honey to take a shot of the couple of Witchypoos (anyone old enough to remember HR Puffnstuff?).  I just wish he warned me of the angle for my belly’s sake. Time to start working out again! She and I are quite nutty, especially when we’re together.

And in the final Ring: Circus!
After Toots’s party, she had a good nap, and then we headed to Picadilly Circus at Hampton University.
They had a few acrobatic acts that were impressive.
 Captain Comic was a very serious audience member. I forgot to bring earplugs for him. His favorite was the Boxing Kangaroo. He cracked up at the clowns, especially when one appeared to be farting smoke around the ring.
 Toots and I got up close and personal with the elephant at intermission.
It was a bit tough to get pictures during the circus, but we had fun and the animal handlers seemed to treat their friends with kindness and love. I have mixed feelings about circuses because of the wild animals in acts business. But they really seemed alright. All in all, from Thursday at preschool with the cookies, all through family and friends and circus fun, Toots had a stupendous birthday celebration!

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