musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “my daughter Toots”

spiders and bugs and shrooms, oh my

I’m not certain I’ll ever get used to south coastal Virginia seasons. We have long stretches of no rain, but threatening rain, but nope, still no rain, and just when we give up and water the garden after all, rain. For days and days and then muggy muggy muggy still in the 80s, and it’s fall.

I’m from New England: I just want a dreary rainy day, a bright day, a chill breeze, a sweater and trees full of yellow, orange, red and purple right about…..now.
So, in the past week or so, there has been a lot of drizzle then sun then drizzle drizzle when there was supposed to be major storm. The local news is giddy about all the mushrooms and no, people, please do not eat those mushrooms in your yard, even if they do look like gourmet chanterelles or oyster shrooms. 
It’s also a big spider season. Grandma says there are tons of tiny black spiders in her room. I am finding big orb weavers and other strange large spiders and – things on the deck, on the front of the house and in my gardens. A silverfish strode cockily across my desk this morning, too.
One day, a couple of weeks ago, we had a big yellow and black garden spider building a web on our deck. Toots misses her. I do, too. Then, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a giant orb weaver a pace away from the other’s web, building a gorgeous enormous structure. After I yelled, “Holy Crap!” to my friend over the phone, I checked it out pretty well, then later, it disappeared before I could get a picture. 
We still have at least remnants of both webs on our deck.  I love spiders and their handiwork, so I haven’t removed them. They are big. Toots joined me on the deck briefly as she ran around the yard with her preschool class frog, Freddie, who is visiting this week. She looked up at the webs, and said very sadly, 
“Oohhh, where did our spiders go?”
She was quite forlorn. 
So was I.
But I wasn’t when I saw a giant Giger art looking bug on my garage the other day. After some unsuccessful googling, a friend sent me a link to Wheel Bugs. Bingo. 
And today, I went out to do some gardening maintenance to discover where that giant orb weaver took up residence: right between my bean poles that I wanted to remove. She was very active and pretty ticked off that I watching her work. She ran at me, and Mom didn’t raise a fool, I ran, too – away. 
So we’ve entered the season of creepy crawlies and mysterious mushrooms, and I may just grow to like it down here pretty soon because of this…but the leaves will never be like in Massachusetts. 

1st day of school

Yesterday was the first day of Mr. Cynic’s Junior year and Captain Comic in seventh grade.

Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.

But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.


When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.

Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”

And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.

Which one is Captain Comic? Look at the socks.


I checked in via email with his case manager and he had a great first day, even with a homeroom teacher change. 
Mr. Cynic is excited to have friends in most of his classes, and is excited to be taking Music Theory with most of his band mates. Keep in mind, they have not rehearsed all together once as of yet, so band mates is still a relatively loose term.
In the meantime, Grandma took Toots with her to her morning pool exercises, and after three weeks without even cracking the manuscript with all the mayhem here, I had an excellent edit session at the local library. I dove into the creative river, doused myself and completely rewrote two chapters really well! The session exceeded my expectations, especially since I felt so lost as I opened the document.
Honey, post-surgery, went back to work yesterday, even though I felt it was too early, but I can’t keep him from work. It’s his thing. It’s hard to see that he loves it sometimes, but deep down, I think this is his creative drive, even when used for others’ purposes and under crushing deadlines. 
So we have returned to the usual mayhem, and having a routine for it that’s a little stiffer than summertime benefits us all, especially after this area has been hit by Mother Nature with smoke from the great Dismal Swamp fires for weeks now, and an earthquake and hurricane last week. The ten to fifteen inches of rain that came with Irene did not douse the swamp fires. Yesterday afternoon, we had a good bit of buckets full rain while Captain Comic was walking Lucy, and with them came Tornado Warnings. And still there is smoke in the air. But we go on, relatively unscathed, unlike many of my friends and family all over the East Coast and inland. Some are still waiting for power after the Hurricane while others in Texas droughts and fire fields, are now without well water. 
I feel very blessed that we are back to our normal. Almost – Toots starts preschool next week.

time out

I have a lot to do.

I have a lot on my mind.

So this morning, Toots and I took a breather, and just played in the sunshine. I think it helped me to not obsess quite so much, sort things out a bit.

It’s also our last day of Toots only. Tomorrow, we retrieve Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Mayhem will return to its usual full capacity.

“Don’t take my picture, Mommy!”

“I said, stop taking my picture.”

So for now, some quiet girl time.

a few highlights, low key

Pretty low key weekend, but we found a watermelon growing in the cukes.

 Toots had a haircut on Friday, but with the humidity, you would never know. Many women in the salon pleaded for a head of hair with her natural caramel highlights and those curls. Of course, they don’t have to comb them out three times a day. I do, or dreadlocks.

 It was too hot to even blow bubbles, but we did.

 “”But I done wanna yook at you, Mommy. I’m busy here.”

I walked Lucy, also known as The Goo, Goose, Goosie, Lucy Goose. We sat by the lake for a bit. It was cooler than it has been, a few clouds rolled in and spit on us today. I wouldn’t exactly call it rain, but it made things about fifteen degrees cooler. Again, poor cellphone camera capture, but that lump on that branch on the tree across the inlet? That’s a great blue heron. He was magnificent in person. I know, bad tease. I’ll try to remember a better camera next time.

Mostly, this weekend was spent wandering in a big box store, watching a three year old who has been full of beans lately, and reading Sookie
I have come to the conclusion, that I like the books better than the show. The show mucks with perfectly good material way too much. They need to leave a good thing well enough alone. Although, I do love the show, too, but now that I’m well-ensconced in the books, I love it just a little less.
I’m really ready for the boys to come home.

innovation by kids

We planned on the kids playing SlipnSlide.

 They waited pretty patiently for my friend to blow it up. In the oppressive heat, it eventually dawned on us to use the bike pump, but it didn’t work so well.

Then we discovered, by the two older girls’ turns that playing SlipnSlide the way it was intended could be very painful.

And that’s where toddler and dog innovation came in.

And then the school aged girls figured out the physics of squeezing the tube on the side, making a sprinkler.

Pardon the Adirondack block. Come on now, it was hawt! Cut me some slack. I’d already done a bit of yard work and all I wanted to do was sleep right about when I took this shot.

Something else proved much more fun, as the toddler and preschooler initiated a new game.

I was just happy to be sitting in in the shady yard. Shady was nice, but I still melted into a my very own puddle.

mountain adventure

I arrived home with West Virginia mountain soil ground into my skin, everything smelling slightly musky and very smokey from rain and campfire and feeling more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. Hot, sore, soaked, dirty, smelly and utterly alive.

Honey and I have this little thing. When we’re in sync about something, any little thing, we have kind of a slide-five, confirmation of everything right between us. We did that a lot more this trip than we have for a long time.

I had dreams, amazing dreams of people far away but near to my heart, as I slept with my head in a Civil War trench on a hilltop, in a damp tent, surrounded by RV city. One friend currently working, far from his family and friends, in Argentina. Others in a far off land…I think it’s called Wisconsin. 😉

This is who I am. I am of the land, mountains, rivers, sea and sky and night fires. This is where I am happiest, most content, completely myself.

And I haven’t been camping in over 20 years. Now, I know why I feel such discontent. It’s not the suburbs. It’s not my family circumstances, or other minute aggravations of the day in day out or the lack of writing time to myself.

It’s that I haven’t fed my soul the way it loves to be fed most in such a long long time. A lifetime. A roasted marshmallow soul under the moon and stars soul. A sun on my skin, rain on my hat, kid in a backpack on my back soul. A dog leash carabiner’ed to the backpack soul.

This is the seven year old Cathy, who when my family couldn’t call me in from dinner so easily, my mother sent my brothers out to look up the nearest tree for me.

But I seem to be starting at the end here, rather than the beginning. and this is probably going to be a very long blog with lots of pictures. So maybe I will leave the end here, at the beginning, and give you the beginning to the end tomorrow, and maybe the day after, and again, after that.

I am happy, my family is safe. I love my spouse, and my daughter camped for the first time. Her favorite part was ‘camping’. Parental translation: sleeping in the tent with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.

“Can you see the real me, doctor, doctor?”

Honey and Toots at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

I obviously need to do this more. The boys are coming next month.  Life is good, go for hike. Roast a marshmallow over an open fire, under the moon.

new paint

Toots and I had a wonderful time with some new paint I picked up on Friday, 
while birds twittered in the trees

I think I like the palette cleaning tissue the best.

first real beach day

At the beach, the world is bright, the waves lull, even when there is a strong riptide, and everything that has gotten under my skin for the past year rolls off of me in the breeze off of mother ocean.

And Captain Comic stops talking when he hits the water, for hours at a stretch, or when he’s buried in the sand. His synapses reset from the sensory input he gets from being wholly contained over most of the surface of his skin, whether sand or water. Sensory ReIntegration. I think he and I are alike in that manner, he’s just more so, to the nth degree. Other than when he sleeps, the beach is the one environment in which he does not talk endlessly.

I loved the beach for a lifetime before he was born, but for him, I love it even more. At one point, he and I took a walk on the pier to see the fishermen’s catch. Toward the end of the pier, one young man had caught a skate! That was really cool for us to see. As we talked with him, he said in the past week, a couple of sharks had been caught at this pier. You should have seen Capt. Comic’s eyes bug out when I said, “Right where you were swimming in the same waters!”

It is a struggle to get him to put on sunscreen before he hits the surf. In front of the woman in the white top from right to left is Captain Comic, Mr. Cynic and Mr. Cynic’s new gf. She’s cute and very nice, also very blonde, hence she is now known as Goldilocks. They had to move away from the pier zone by 200 feet, partly due to riptide, partly the fisherman’s lost hooks. We kept the encampment by the pier, so it was a little walk to the swim zone. Toots decided she didn’t like the ocean after it hit her in the face when she was with Honey. But I got her there a couple times later to rinse a ton of sand off and to cool down. We got hit with a good sized wave, too, But when I laughed about it, she laughed about it, too. She still would rather go to Water Country.

Here is the gang of youngins all helping out to bury Capt. Comic in the sand. Goldilocks was a good sport in entertaining him, and Toots, who is completely enamored with her.

He emerges to rinse off:

 Honey, soaking up the sun. looking up the pier. It’s nice to see him relax. It’s not nice to see how easily he sunburns, even with 45SPF.

Toots, when we first arrived planted herself in the sand and proceeded to swim in it and douse herself with it.

After a couple of hours, and Captain Comic and my walk on the pier, we discovered a playground near the parking lot.

Toots kept up with the teens, fearlessly. I swear she is a girl after my own heart. There was a time I rock climbed, before I totally wrecked my back, shoulder, etc. Captain Comic, after some initial Parkur moves in preparation for making his ninja movie, decided the puddle between the bathroom and play space was the most attractive place to be. Yuck.

 Play is very serious business for a three year old.

All in all, it was a perfect beach day. Life is good. Wear sunscreen.

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?

saturday morning convo

Grandma, Honey and I volunteer for the Virginia Arts Festival. Last night in Williamsburg, we ushered for a concert of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Absolutely outstanding show, I was mesmerized. So was Honey. These are giants of jazz, for those who don’t know. Honey and I had to educate a few of the other volunteers a little bit about who these musicians were. I forget sometimes that while there are some people who are absolutely fanatical about jazz – like one guy I saw keeping set lists, there are many more who have never dipped their toes in that syncopated water. Honey and I fall somewhere between those extremes, a little closer to the fanatics.

So while all three adults of the house were in Williamsburg, Mr. Cynic babysat. Babysitting largely comprised of viewings of Kung Fu Panda, expected, and apparently Captain Comic added Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius.  


This morning, after our late night arrival home, Toots wanted to wake us – twice. The second time, she climbed into our bed with the Jimmy Neutron DVD case in hand.

Toots (points to the picture on the cover): Das Jimmy Neutron.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Carl.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Jimmy Neutron’s dog, Tonnor.
Mom: I don’t think Jimmy Neutron’s dog’s name is Connor. Daddy, isn’t it something like Einstein?
Honey (slowly rouses from sleep): …………………………………………Goddard.
Mom: Oh yea, the dog is named after a famous scientist, Goddard.
Toots: We sing dat in pweschool.
Mom:  What?
Toots: Goddard.
Mom: What?
Toots: We sing Goddard in pweschool, before we eat.
Mom (light slowly dawns): OH!
Toots (sings): Goddard fadder, Goddard fadder, we thank you, we thank you…..
Mom (chuckles): That’s God our Father, not Goddard, silly!
Toots: Oh.

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