Friday, June 30, 2006

Captiva = Catie . . . blessed memory

Two years ago, The Mom from Tidewater and her DH came down to SW Florida to celebrate their 20th anniversary on Captiva Island. She asked that Radio Mom (who lives nearby in SW Florida), her DH, I and Wine Guy join them for dinner at The Bubble Room one night. Tidewater Mom loved that restaurant when our circle of Internet friends had dinner there during our reunion weekend 2002. Although it was an hour ++ drive for us, I agreed. We had a great evening, eating, drinking, laughing, talking about everything under the sun. We took pictures and parted company.

The next morning I get an urgent phone call from Connecticut Mom saying Tidewater Mom has been frantically trying to reach me. I reach Tidewater Mom on her cell phone, and she tells me her daughter, Catie, overdosed on Tylenol the prior evening. OMG, Tidewater Mom needed to speak with Wine Guy ASAP. He's a liver specialist. Tylenol overdoses cause liver poisoning. Catie tried to end her own life. She hung on for 2 or 3 days, and then she passed away. Gone from this world, forever 19 and beautiful.

Like Catie, Captiva is now gone for me. I left my memories there in the sand. I send my thoughts and prayers to Tidewater Mom and her family. May Catie's memory be forever blessed.

Fiction Is Stronger Than Truth

Wizard was grounded from camp this week. He also lost all computer and TV privileges. He is really ticked off b/c of the injustice of it all. That is the price of dishonesty.

What did he do? Stole and ate an entire box of Belgian chocolates Wine Guy bought for me last week. Handmade, intricately-designed, premium-quality chocolates, individually chosen by Wine Guy. When I went to take a piece of chocolate late Sunday morning, I couldn't find the box. I asked everyone whether they'd seen it. Wine Guy said no. Wizard said no. Wild Thing said no. Moose said no.

We asked the boys repeatedly, and reiterated the values of honesty and integrity for hours. WT tried to fess up, but his story didn't bear out. Moose tried to fess up, claiming he climbed the shelves to get the box. His story didn't make sense either. The original and most likely culprit was Wizard. We let WT and Moose off the hook. Wizard denied and denied and denied culpability for hours. He spent most of the day outside on the front porch. We would go out occasionally to ask him if he had anything to say.

Wizard stubbornly refused to speak until it was thundering and nearly lightning outside. Only then did he finally admit he took the chocolates and snarfed them all down 2 days before. It was just pitiful. He stuck to his lies and let his brothers take the fall for him. Utterly despicable. He really ruined our entire day, my entire week, and our trust in him. We've had problems with him lying egregiously all year. He keeps saying how he can be trusted, yet he keeps repeating this bonehead behavior. I guess it's part of a boy being 10.

He needs to learn this lesson now. Otherwise, he'll never make it to his 11th birthday.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Music of the Night

We drove over to Fort Lauderdale yesterday to visit with the grandparents and imbibe a little ethnic cuisine. We ended up driving back home well after dark, and we stopped at the Micosukee Indian Reservation for gas on the way back.

The Everglades night was black and thick with life. As I walked across the parking lot, I had a serenade of crickets and an escort of frogs and mosquitoes. Insect song filled the night.

Today, we had heavy rainstorms all afternoon. When the rains stopped this evening, nature began its chorus again. Crickets sang soprano to the bullfrogs' deep baritone. Tree frogs filled in the harmonies. And, in some tree a lone bird chirped her alto solo.

Play on.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Impressive Tantrum

Wild Thing threw an impressive tantrum last night. It lasted more than an hour and a half.

We sent him upstairs to bed at 8:00 p.m. to brush his teeth and get in pajamas. Wine Guy went up a few minutes later to tuck him in bed, and that's when the fireworks started. I heard increasingly loud screeches coming down the stairs: Wine Guy was dragging WT downstairs. Why? B/c WT had stripped the sheets off his bed. Despite all affirmations to the contrary, WT had also not done one iota to clean his trashed room.

The punishment was to sleep on the floor of the room, on top of all the crap and clothes. WT would have none of that. Nor would he lie down to sleep on the playroom floor, either. This kid screamed and punched and flailed and kicked until 9:45 p.m. He finally gave up and conked out on the playroom floor, only after extracting concessions for sofa cushions and his stuffed puppy, Stinky.

Wild Thing woke up bright and early at 6:00 a.m. He woke us up, complaining about something or another. He also tried to negotiate some half-assed deal so he could go to camp today. I could feel Wine Guy starting to give in, so I growled, "NO CAMP!" from the depths of my pillow.

Wizard barely managed to get up and ready on time today b/c he was up late listening to the tantrum. It's a shame b/c today is his 10th birthday. Moose got up on time, but, true to form, he and WT were playing and fooling around for 2 hours. I threw Moose and WT in the car and drove Moose to camp. He had no shoes or socks on. He was wearing an impressive pout, however. So much so he got a big hug from the camp director. I told her to put him down b/c he was in big trouble.

The great task of my day is to excavate Wild Thing's room with him. O, joy!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Tale of the Headless Chicken

Today I ran around like a chicken without a head. From 6:20 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. My head is still spinning, but then again I could just be tired. Ya think?

The day started with stumbling out of bed and into the kitchen to prepare Wizard's lunch for camp. While I was at it, I prepared Wild Thing's and Moose's lunches, too. I reminded Wizard that I'd be picking him and the neighbor kid up after camp today. This reminder was prophetic ... more on that later. The neighbor picked Wizard up at 7:00 for camp, and I sat down to read the paper.

Three lines below the fold I hear the rest of the herd coming down the stairs. On time, dressed, and teeth brushed for a change. I was encouraged it would be a good day, esp. since a new housekeeper was starting. Fed WT and Moose their breakfast and leisurely got dressed. Drove WT to camp. When he arrived, the kids were already running out to the field for warm-ups. The coach later chided him (and me) for being late. Moose and I went off to Starbucks for a Grande Half-Caf Mocha, my fave. Then I drove Moose to camp.

I raced home, intending to beat the housekeeper (let's call her HK), who was supposed to be there at 10:00 a.m. I arrived at 9:45, and she was already there, ready to work. A good sign. Amen! We went in the house, and I showed her around. As I walked around my own house, I realized how messy and filthy it was. Not just 2 weeks w/o a housekeeper, but piles of crap in every corner, on every counter, and stuff that had been sitting there for too long.

We went upstairs, where the boys' rooms are, and had to completely ignore WT's and Moose's rooms. Moose hasn't picked up a toy or a piece of laundry in longer than I'm willing to admit. Some floor was visible in his room. WT took every last piece of laundry I did for him last weekend – probably 9 loads' worth – and dropped it on the floor. He didn't put a stitch of it away, even though I gave him small loads to hang up and put in drawers. There were 16 layers of crap on Wild Thing's floor. I couldn't even see the floor, let alone walk on a planar surface. Ugh. I told HK not to go in those rooms at all.

Wizard's room, much to my chagrin, embarrassment and humiliation was little better. His floor was clear. His bed had sheets approximately on it. His closet was piled with clothes and G-d only knows what else. There were food wrappers stuffed in corners, dirty clothes and yuck stuffed under the bed. And this was after, he swore he cleaned his room. I should mention that before the 9 loads of WT's laundry last weekend, I did about 12 loads of Wizard's laundry. One doesn't need to bring down laundry on a regular schedule; one should bring it down only when one has run out of clean clothes and worn every piece of clothing at least twice. Ewwwww. HK agreed to clean Wizard's room and collect all food wrappers, etc. She piled the other flotsam and jetsam on his chair and in his closet.

I left HK to her own devices and spent the remaining (and only) free 55 minutes of my day straightening the kitchen and picking up small messes around the house.

Left home at 11:50 to pick Wild Thing up from baseball camp. He ate his lunch in the car as I ran errands. First to the library, then to get gas, to AAA, then to BBB to get yet another mattress pad and vinyl sheet for Wizard's bed. WT convinced (read "conned") me into buying him all new hangers for his closet and a shoe organizer. Then to the bank and then over to pick up Moose from camp.

I drove back home again. I should have had about 2 hours to oversee summer homework, etc. Nope. The cable co. called to say the tech – the 3rd in a week – was on his way to fix a new problem with the phone service. Cable guy shows up, reviews everything, and tells me I don't need an electrician to fix the problem. I need a small adapter from the hardware store. I agree to run down to Lowe's to get the adapter, if he'll come back later in the day to install it. Some 25 minutes after I walked in the door, Moose, WT and I were back in the car on the way to Lowe's. I found the part and brought it back home.

Meanwhile, HK is still cleaning the house, some 5+ hours later. Every room she walked into needed far more work than either she or I expected. Apparently, the overpriced Brazilian woman who had been taking my money weekly for the last 6 months, was just an actress. Grrrr.

As I am walking out the door to pick up Wizard from the camp bus, my cell phone rings. It's the camp director asking me where I was. "Home, on my way to pick Wizard up from the bus." Camp Lady ( a college professor of economics) says Wizard is standing there at the university, 15 miles away, thinking I was coming up to the camp. NO! Camp Lady, er Professor Camp Lady, says she won't allow Wizard to ride down to our area with another camp advisor. A liability problem. I agree, but I am PISSED. I couldn't just go get Wizard b/c my carpool share was to bring the kids home in the afternoon. Now, I had to get the neighbor kid, bring him home, go back to the highway, in rush hour traffic, and go fetch my kid.

Think quick: I called The other Mom in Southwest Florida and begged her to pick up Wizard. His camp is right near her office. She couldn't b/c she was picking her own kids up from camp clear on the other side of that town. Then, I called the neighbor to see if I could bring her kid back to the camp with me. She said not to bother but to drop the kid at the salon around the corner from the bus stop. She was on her way over to get her hair cut. Woo hoo, a small break! Drop the kid at the salon, call Prof. Camp Lady to tell her I'm on my way, and get on the highway.

Amazingly enough, there was light traffic and no back-up on the way. I got to camp in 20 minutes. I pulled up to the arena, and there was no sign of Wizard. Of course not, he was sitting in the air-conditioned lobby with his back to the parking lot. Prof. Camp Lady brought him (and her 3 children and husband) out. I told Wizard to apologize to them all, and he did.

Wizard was reluctant to get in the car. He expected me to "rip his ears off," as I am wont to do. I didn't. I spoke to him rationally. He admitted he screwed up. I specifically told him what the exact carpool plans are for the next 2 weeks. I hope he heard me.

We stopped off at McDonald's for dinner. Wizard took his brothers inside to the bathroom while I went through the drive-through. He brought them out as I asked, but he let them run, unattended, through the driveway to the car. [The common sense of a flea that boy has.] We all ate dinner in the car on the ride back home.

Home ... where HK was still working at 5:30 p.m. I had left her money and a key for next week. I finally shooed her out the door so I could have some peace and quiet. The 3 boys played and stayed away from me for about an hour, while I conked out on the couch.

Wine Guy came home late from work, whereupon I regaled him with this misbegotten tale. At bedtime, Wine Guy once again shirked his "put-them-to-bed" duty, for the nth time in months b/c he didn't feel like it. [Our long-standing agreement was that I was off-duty at bedtime. That was his responsibility. He's blown it off for months, and it shows in the boys' behavior and sleep habits. Bad daddy.]

Sooooooo, I haul my tush out of the chair and escort Winken, Blinken and Nod upstairs. I discovered that Wizard had already trashed his room. It hadn't even been clean for 2 hours: clothes on the floor, books all over, bed unmade, crap everywhere. 3-2-1, prepare for explosion! I kept my cool and told him to make it spotless and to sort the mess in his closet. I also discovered that neither Wild Thing nor Moose had picked up a scrap in the 30 minutes they were supposed to devote to cleaning their rooms this afternoon. I yelled a bit at that point, revoking everyone's TV and computer privileges until their rooms were clean. I get WT and Moose into their beds, one with sheets and one without, and drag myself back downstairs.

Wine Guy and I had a brief discussion about his abdicating bedtime responsibilities and upstairs oversight. I was calm; I didn't scream or accuse. We're going to work out a new schedule: he'll still have to put the boys to bed, but he won't have to supervise room-cleaning at that hour.

And now, it's tomorrow. I need some rest. Whoever thought summer vacation would be anything but?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Cast of Characters

Me: 40-something; Ivy-League educated woman; non-practicing lawyer licensed in 2 states and 4 Federal courts; mother of three boys; married to a wonderful man; both parents still living.

Wine Guy: my husband; late 40s; a brilliant physician; a good father; makes me laugh, and challenges my thinking. Alternately endearing and enfuriating, but aren't all men.

Wizard: My oldest son, age 10; a very, very smart boy who reads the local paper and the NYT daily; a lazy and manipulative child; loves Harry Potter; loves to read, read, read; nearly as tall as me now.

Wild Thing: My middle son, age 7; the classic middle child; absolutely adorable and funny, too; very musical; has a big stubborn streak; wonderful zest for life; as much street- smarts as book-smarts; a real fighter.

The Moose: my youngest son, age 4; my sugar and my heart; full of wonder and attitude; as physically able as his older brothers; a force to be reckoned (not reasoned) with; nearly reading now; the smartest of the bunch.

The Moms: My circle of Internet friends whom I've known since 1995. They are The Oracle, The Source of Wisdom. They keep me sane.

Mourning Morning

Last night ended around 1:00 a.m. This morning started at 5:45 a.m., about 30 minutes earlier than had intended. I made lunches for the three boys, got them ready for their separate camps, and then managed to throw myself together before running out the door at 7:00 a.m.

I'm sure you're thinking, "What camp starts at 7:00 a.m.?" Camp doesn't, but the bus arrives at 7:20 a.m. to transport the kids to the local university. I had no intentions of being late, and thankfully so. The bus arrived about 2 minutes after I pulled in. Wizard hopped on the bus and checked himself in. The best thing about arriving early was finding a neighbor waiting to put her kid on the same bus. We quickly set up a carpool schedule for the next 2 weeks. She'll drive the morning shift, and I'll pick up in the afternoon. Thank G-d! Getting three little kids ready to leave the house at 7:00 a.m. was awful.

I was left with about 40 minutes before Wild Thing had to be at camp. So, Wild Thing, Moose and I went home and watched television for a few minutes before leaving again. Dropped Wild Thing at baseball camp. He was a little nervous and excited b/c he has never played baseball, although he understands the game. We checked in, found his friends, and listened to the coach's orientation. WT was fine after a few minutes, so Moose and I headed out to pre-school camp. We were early, but they let us in anyway.

And then I went home to enjoy the 90 free minutes I would have all day. I charged my new Palm PDA and tried, in vain, to master it in that short time. It's going to take a lot more time and exploring to get it set up and sync it with my phone. It will be worth it in the long run.

The afternoon was a reverse of the morning: pick up WT, have lunch, pick up Moose, come home and crash. Take out food for dinner and turn everything on before I left to pick up Wizard. I'm here in the few free minutes while dinner is cooking.

Next post: introductions all around.

Starting Over (again)

Not long ago, some friends suggested I should blog. I said, "I have nothing important to say. I lead a suburban life with three kids in tow. Who would want to read such drivel?" They said, "We do." So, I made a half-assed attempt at this online-journaling stuff. It was about as successful as any diet I've ever been on: great progress at first and then nothing, or worse, complete regression.

Life is stable. I need to get my act together. Start blogging (again), start Weight Watchers (again), start being organized and scheduled (again) ... and let's see how long it lasts. I bought myself a Palm PDA 2 weeks ago. Maybe I should charge it and learn how to use it.

I must be crazy committing to one more thing this week. My kids have been out of school for 3 weeks, and they're all in camp. Last week, the older 2 attended the same camp; the youngest was at his pre-school's camp. Two drop-offs, two pick-ups. No sweat. [Pun fully intended here in SW Florida.] This week, three boys are in three different camps. Three drop-offs, three pick-ups, plenty of sweat and gasoline. I may just lose my mind. My replacement crock-pot better show up soon, otherwise we'll be eating soup and sandwiches every night.

My oldest is a smart and needy PITA. My middle child is such a middle child, but he's too cute. My youngest is my sugar but too smart for his own good. Must remind myself: intelligence is a blessing.