musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “mayhem”

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.


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…


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

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


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!


Still working on upstairs, mostly my room. I swear I am not a hoarder.  Where did all this effluvia come from?

Boys’ room is now disaster of their making. They are forces of chaos each that when combined, react much like a baking soda and vinegar volcano – instant production of mess exponentially increasing by the second. But less wet and frothy. I knew there was a good reason why I separated them five years ago. Besides the fighting.

Toots is loving her new room. It is now the least crammed with furniture room in the house. She can wunawound and wunwound and wunawound! She has also discovered the long hidden Marble Run Game. We must build interesting towers of Rube Goldberg proportions. She must drop a gazillion marbles through them. It’s fun. But there is more to life, like my room reconfiguration being completed, making dinner, making Irish soda bread for St. Pat’s and how about some pesto pizza to go with that? Of course, and laundry – my name is Sissyphus.

Mr. Cynic has a bit part in his high school’s musical, Urinetown. Opening night was last night. He is in the back and cursed with two sets of short genes. He is invisible on stage. But I can hear his singing.  He’s good.  Mom is proud of her invisible son.

Give me a minute.  Captain Comic said something yesterday that fell into the interesting things Captain Comic says realm.  I’m exhausted. I have been moving furniture, cleaning out furniture and closets for over a week.  I’m not cut out for this. Okay, I’ve got it now:

Captain Comic looked at me in an examining fashion yesterday.  I waited for what he was obviously considering may be an inappropriate thing to say, which is a step up from his prior lack of awareness regarding blurting out a perfectly innocent and factual observation that may hurt someone else’s feelings.

Mom: What’s on your mind?
Capt. Comic: Mom…..I think you should dye your hair again.  You wouldn’t look so old.
Mom: Well, how about I stay true to myself and how I was made, instead of changing myself to please others in a societal expectation of women not aging gracefully? Besides, it gets expensive to keep up the pretense.
Captain Comic: Uh-huh.
Mom: [Capt. Comic] honey, would you want to make yourself different from how you really are, just to please someone else?
Capt. Comic: Oh. No. I see. Okay, you don’t have to dye your hair.

None of us is adjusting well to Daylight Savings.

I did manage to squeeze in some good and effective writing time on Wednesday amid this week’s extraordinary mayhem. 

Go out and get a good look at this extraordinary Super Moon this weekend. It’s closer to the Earth than it has been in about twenty years.  Last night, she was gorgeous.

Also, everywhere around me, the trees are blooming: pear blossoms, cherry blossoms, forsythia, you name it.  I must say, though I miss New England burst of spring awakening a lot, these long extended and rolling blooming springs of southern Virginia are truly stupendous. When I can leave my house for more than quick errands and kid shuttling, I will get some photos, especially of the cherry trees along Canon Blvd.

homework whoas

So, I go to check Captain Comic’s agenda and homework and find this:

Oh the woes of the sixth grader.

of cookies, valentines and a dingbat

First, we made cookies for Toots’s preschool Valentine Party. She helped.

Before oven
So, now I will conceed to being a dingbat. Funny, I have spent much of my adult life teaching organizational skills to students, yet, apparently they don’t apply to me.
All the way back in September, I signed something saying I would do something for the preschool class for Valentine’s Day. I thought I would bake cookies.
Many months passed, and when I dropped Toots off for preschool on Tuesday morning, I had a passing thought, “Hm, I haven’t seen a sign up sheet for the Valentine’s Day Party. I thought I was baking cookies.”
Tuesday afternoon, Grandma picked up Toots and her teacher mentioned, “Does Cathy know she’s throwing the Valentine Party on Thursday?”
And then I came home from writing group, got the message, sent a vaguely panicked email to the school’s ‘principal’ because I apparently don’t have the teacher’s email saved, and caused a last minute ruckus among parents and school saying something like no wonder I didn’t see a sign up sheet, I was supposed to be the one to put it out? While I didn’t hear back from anyone on Tuesday, I decided, after a few things I had going on Wednesday morning out of the house, to go ahead and pick everything up for the party and it was doable because the class is small. 
Then I got home to see a flurry of email requests, etc. to parents to please bring something for the party….
Oy. Anyway, here’s what I brought and set up.  Then batches of store bought and homemade cupcakes and cookies arrived, and one mom came in the door saying, “who wants chicken?!” So it turned into a veritable feast.
Not such a bad thing after all, except for the embarrassment and parental flurries.  There was also a predicted case of snow that was likely to cancel school.  We got some flurries and a light dusting overnight, but in the end, there was school, and therefore party.
They’re a very good class and waited patiently for other parents to arrive after we were all set up with their Valentine art cards and hugs. And there was more than enough food to go around for the adults, too.
Maybe I  can chalk this up to an awkwardly unintentional Stone Soup moment. Yea, that’s the ticket!

a long week and dreamers’ dreams

It’s exam week for Mr. Cynic, which means it’s half school days for Captain Comic, too.  It’s going to be a long week.

Toots woke up very crabby this morning.  She has been pushing bedtime to the outer outer limits of the night owl-ism and boy is she cranky in the morning. This is the absolute opposite of both the boys, who have always been early to bed and dawn risers. Captain Comic had early childhood sleep issues galore, but since we solidified a routine, he has stuck with it, pretty well, since he was three.  Mr. Cynic is going to bed later these days, but still is the first one up and out of the house thanks to the ridiculously early start to the high school day.

This morning, Toots wanted her hair in a ponytail. I put it in a ponytail.  She wailed and whined, “No not that ponytail, I want the other kind a ponytail!” Not that I could understand her through the whine with two fingers in her mouth, until about the forty-seventh time. I tried to put it in piggie tails, she screamed and whined, through that as well.

After the third attempt to put her hair up, finally I just gave up and said, “fine, wear your hair down, I’m done until you can speak to me in a nicer voice.” She still doesn’t have any ponytail and her hair is flopped over her face as she watches Sesame Street. Periodically she brushes it back, using her entire arm.

It’s going to be a long week.

Thank goodness for writing group on Tuesday.  I think that may be my only chance for escape.

Saturday, after a failed attempt to take a highly resistant Mr. Cynic out for driving practice, Honey and I had a ‘date’ at Lowe’s.  I know, exciting and romantic, right?  Actually it was for us, because we started planning the lumber and tool needs to make a loft for one of the boys, so we could move the boys in together and move Toots out of our bedroom and into one of her own.  This will seriously cut down on household clutter, since all her toddler and preschoolness is spread out in the office and family room, and drifts into the living room and dining room, even the bathrooms. We actually planned a bunch of other outdoor projects as well, the broken railing on our porch from the Christmas light incident; some fence mending and building a new ramp for the shed; resetting the raised gardens higher and shrinking the plot size to more manageable for my back and for the vegs that will grow to grow better.

We found ourselves standing in the miter saw department, sketching room redesigns on the backs of paint samples. We get so caught up in the daily business of things at times, so it was a fun little dreamer’s escape for when the tax return comes in.  So yes, it was fun and romantic for us, since it means, in a couple of months, we’ll have a room to ourselves again after three years. Won’t that be nice?


“Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” – Henry James

I went on the retreat.

I got excited about shredding my manuscript and puzzling it back together better.

I worked eight hours a day, solidly, for three days – during which, I doubted everything about it, then got back to work.

Then got felled big time by a stomach bug.

Then came home and laid in bed for another two days, on yak prevention duty.

Then I felt better. Then I got excited again, but didn’t have the time and space to get back on the horse – er – manuscript.

I paid attention to my kids. This made me happy, if slightly distracted because I wanted to write. But when with them, I was with them.

I cleaned my desk.

I got excited again.

This morning I had two hours to myself. I spread out the manuscript critiques. I opened the document to where I left off.  I went back to the beginning and started reading what I did during the retreat. I didn’t finish. I was distracted eventhough no one else is here. I have about forty-five minutes left and feel like I failed.

But then I remembered how my writing process works. Fits and starts. And I know I haven’t failed, but it’s frustrating to want to work well and not be in alignment yet with what I need to do. And this is what takes me so long to write. I work internally, while I might seem like I’m doing nothing, or I’m complaining about not having the time and space, I am working on it all the time. Just not on paper, until I do. Then I work solidly for three days, a week, whatever, and then I crash.

And then I pull the start string on the lawnmower that is my mind about seventeen times before the ignition engages on paper or screen and then I am off and running again.  And as long I recognize this is my pattern, I’m okay. Somewhat dissatified, but Okay.

Besides, I can feel it bubbling below the surface which just means, maybe this afternoon, maybe tomorrow…maybe I will shoo everyone away from me when they are all back in the house, and I will write, even amidst the mayhem.

weekword prompt: synesthesia

Joye at Joyefulart chose this week’s prompt: synesthesia:‘the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.• the poetic description of a sense impression in terms of another sense, as in “a loud perfume” or “an icy voice.”

My initial thought was yay!  Perfect for a poem, which is my first love in writing, and the second was, holy crap what a week I have lined up, and then other things threw themselves into it, but still others dropped away.

Isn’t it something how the Universe can so easily realign according to need?  Well, I still need it to line up a bit lighter. The cold I have been ignoring/battling since mid last week has hit me full force.  I am at the end of anything resembling inspiration.  Still, I want to take a stab at synesthesia, because it is what informs my sensibility as a writer.  Get it?  Sense-ibility.

a tortured luncheon screams from my schedule
as my throat chafes.
my sinuses blanket a mask in my face
too close for comfort, it strangles my eyeballs.
The wintery air crisps my fingers
and the grasses grow furry frost.

Eh, not so great, but better than nothing. Not sure I really got that sense of the opposing sense in my descriptions.  Okay, time for me to steam out my head in hot shower. But that’s my result after being too busy and my health crashing because of it.

Please click on the link at Joyefulart at the top of this post to see many more wonderful participants’ tasty arts.

new favorite thing

Please forgive me if my sentences make no sense today. I had a cahrazy weekend, which included Honey’s birthday, on which I barely saw him.  It was a good weekend, a celebratory weekend, but I have been having a cold coming on for a few days, and I think it hit me full force today, when I can finally rest, while catching up and critiquing two manuscripts for tomorrow’s writing group, that is. How’s that for a run-on?

Oh, and for some unknown reason, Captain Comic has decided that somewhere between 3am and 4:30am is primo wakeup and run back and forth with lights on and doors slamming time.

Anyway, in time for the December challenge, one of my old writing friends from my Boston days turned me on to a new writing tool. It works like Julie Cameron’s Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way, but it’s online. It’s typed.  It’s private, and you can let your mind wander for 750 words, the equivalent of three pages. And you don’t have to find that notebook or pen. I think most of us are sitting in front of a screen these days anyway, right? And it gives me a community of people who are also writing, whether or not I make any more of a connection beyond just knowing they are out there somewhere doing the same thing.

I am a horrible typist.  It takes me about twenty minutes per day to meet the 750, averaging about 35-40 words a minute. all typos are left in place.  I try not to go back and correct. I don’t think about what I’m writing, I just let the garbage fall out of my brain through my fingers tips and up onto the screen.

Usually about three quarters of the way in, I hit my stride and there’s at least a phrase if not an idea that I like or that I can work with in something else, later.

Here’s the thing:

When the boys were younger, and I was single and working three part time jobs to support them, when I woke up in the morning, I put the baby gate across the kitchen doorway of our little condo, got the coffee started, and while it brewed, I started my morning pages with pen and notebook amidst the dulcet tones of Captain Comic hanging on the opposite side of the gate, rattling it and screaming for my attention, Mr. Cynic momming me, and the themes of Blues Clues or Bob the Builder running from the tv in the background.  After a few months, they got that I was not going to give them the time of day during “Mommy’s morning pages”

And that’s when I started writing my almost finished editing this draft manuscript – later in the day, somewhere between job number one and the first school bus arrival, I had thirty minutes  in which I wrote the first thirty or so pages of this book. But I was only productive on that if I had been productive earlier by getting through the mess of my daily concerns to hit the subconscious, where the better writing sprung from, like an underground spring of fresh water.  First I had to clear away the mud.

So why have I not been writing or editing what I really want to be working on lately?

I think the key is in these morning pages. I think it’s in getting the garbage out of my head. It only takes me twenty minutes, so why not?  Here I am, doing it online.  And this site has some interesting tools to help you see what mood you’re writing in, for instance.  Or what words you repeat, or what senses you are using, and how dominantly you write in one over another. It also has a healthy dose of competition that fuels some of us to write. For me it’s much needed accountability.

I highly recommend it.

C’mon….you know you want to.

a few for fri. including weekword

Weekword: November

Carola Bartz chose this week’s Weekword. For many more responses and where to go to see them, please click on her name.  I am trying to remember (i am terrible at it) to seek out the next week’s prompter, and so far this will be my second week in a row participating.  I think I managed about that much at some point during the summer, too. Of course, I remembered this morning!  So here’s some bright morning sun through my office window, and some Virginia tree color beyond.

I like the shadow lines extending from the window framing.  Well, I took a small moment to consider the beauty this had to offer, even if I didn’t capture it so well.  I love the morning light of late autumn.  It seems rebellious. If the night must be long, the sun wakes up to take charge of the day. 



I haven’t done much Nanowrimo, speaking of November. The week has been full.  Toots has had a very stuffy nose, I am still coughing, Captain Comic is starting the stuffy, funny enough, while we were at his wellness appointment yesterday….This weekend will not be giving rest to the weary, either.  Too many things going on. 

Asperger’s Central

Speaking of Captain Comic, holy moley.  It’s a good thing I love him so much and a good thing he is so funny.  Wednesday, I received a call from his guidance counselor in which she cheerfully requested that I come in right away.  When I asked what it was about she singsonged loudly, “Oh great, then I will see you shortly and we can talk about it then, Okay? Bye-bye!” click.

This was not going to be good.  My imagination ran wild on the ride over, but did not run to what occurred.

I walked in, and the first words out of her mouth were, “First, I have to bless you, because you obviously work very hard!”

Okay, I felt validated. This means, she gets it – and it must have been extreme, because whatever happens, Captain Comic does it in the extreme.

In the meeting, she explained to me that she had already discussed with him some examples of his announcement in his English class that I beat him.  She had notes to refer to.  Her favorite was the description of how I duct taped dynamite to him and lit the fuse.  There were others, for instance I tasered him, and he demonstrated to her how he spastically fell to the ground and shook with electric shock. 

She recapped that a lot of what he said was so funny, they were both laughing, but he really dug his heels in about the ‘truth’ of these cartoon episodes of abuse.  She assured me that she understood something else was going on that upset him, and he was trying to deal with it the best way he knows how, but that legally she had to address the allegations.  “Don’t worry, I won’t be calling Child Services.” What a relief.

She met with him again after our meeting and explained about how you may think your mom is mean, but she’s just setting boundaries to keep you safe. She used a Hoberman ball:

to demonstrate the idea that when he was a baby, I protected him by keeping him close to me and his area of freedom was this small – closed position on right.  Then she pulled it open all the way to show him, “when you are an adult, you will have this much freedom.  But right now, you are here.” and she squished it back down to a halfway point.
It was a brilliant way to let him know that even if he didn’t like the rules I set and enforce, that they were in place for a good reason.  Visual aid was a bonanza hit for his Asperger’s Syndrome style of understanding.  She talked with him about how, when and where it is appropriate to express his frustration with me. And how, when and where it isn’t and just how serious that is. 
I talked with him again when he came home.  He showed me how he understood what he did was wrong, and that he was sorry he lied about my beating him. 
Baby steps, people.  It takes baby steps.  He gave me a big hug, too.  But first he had to walk the dog before he was ready to apologize. 
Everyday, he is showing how he can make better choices now, and that he is still learning as he goes.  He’s come such a long way in his twelve years.  It’s tough much of the time, but he also makes everyone he comes in contact with laugh everyday, with him.  He has so much love and heart, that all the rest is forgivable and dealable.  I’m a lucky mom.  How many twelve year old boys still hug their moms with the affection and intensity of a three year old?  I believe I am in very exclusive company.  And it’s very good company to keep.


Girl’s night out
Speaking of good company to keep: a good friend, Ms. Bubbly who recently moved up to my old Boston, called as I was getting in the van to take Captain Comic to the pediatrician, to say she was half an hour out of town…here and she wanted to get together.  Our other good friend, Amilicious – we typically had girl’s night out about every other week last summer – was due to head out of town for a retreat.  Anyway, Ms. Bubbly showed up at our chorUUs rehearsal to say hello, and then she and I were going to grab a drink, but we stopped by Amilicious & G-man’s house to drop off a book, even if we couldn’t see Amilicious.  Poor G-man,  he was stunned that his doorbell rang.  He had just dozed off with their three year old during bedtime cuddles. He invited us in, poured us a glass of wine, hugs all around. Then he announced Amilicious and her friend who had just flown in from NY were out stocking up on groceries for their retreat and should be home any second.  Woo-hoo!
Well, it turns out, when they walked in the door, that the NY friend and I hit it off beautifully, as she did with Ms. Bubbly, too.  And the wonderful thing I realized is we all headed straight into uproarious laughter while also discussing very real stuff going on in our lives, etc.  It was a true blessing to be in the company of these women and the G-man, too.  I pointed out that most people do not generally talk like this.  There was literally no small talk, and plenty of gabbing going around.  I must have called a Cinderella moment umpteen times, until finally, Ms. Bubbly called Cinderella time for consideration of the friends she was actually staying with.
I haven’t had that much easy fun in a while.  It was hard to leave, even after G-man headed off to bed because he had to get up and go to work.
Life is good, wear a sweater.

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