Friday, June 29, 2007

further notes

I'm having trouble posting photos to the blog from my mother's computer. I'm not sure what the trouble is, but it is really frustrating!

I love having my little rental car. It's a Chevy Cobalt, and the most stripped-down car ever. The windows are manual, the door locks are manual -- there isn't even a "lock all doors" button, which means I have to remind the kids to lock their doors all the time. That's OK, we all fit, and it has a zippy little engine, handling highway speeds without a shudder or hesitation. Of course, highway speeds in MA means 65-75 mph, as opposed to Phoenix where highway speeds are 75-85 mph, but the car is in New England and it's suiting me just fine.

What is not suiting me at all, it turns out, is this haircut. I have to spend at least 20 minutes straightening it to get it to look somewhat decent, as in the pictures below -- but on beach days, it's all crazy-curly, to the point that even DD comments, "Mom, your hair looks wild." The problem is, the back is too short to control (after a month of growing out, it's barely two inches in some places with all the layering), even though the front is finally long enough to pin back. I will just have to put up with it until it grows out -- but I'm officially warning myself here never to get my hair cut that short again unless I am willing to commit myself to it being curly.


I think I say the same thing every summer, but it really has all been rushing by. So let me hit the high points so far for sometime this winter when I will be tired of drab and dry and gray and brown...

We went east much earlier this year for Mom's 80th birthday celebration. Here I am with the birthday girl:

And here's nearly everyone (save for the brother who took this shot) who assembled for the momentous occasion:

Here's a nice picture of the family:

After the party, things start to become fuzzy. The weather has been fantastic, but cool. So we went to the Zooquarium one day, and to the beach another -- actually two beaches that day, and my niece found a whelk which, post cooking and bleaching, makes a beautiful addition to her shell collection:

We made our annual pilgrimmage to Beebe Woods (nearly dead link, there), the beautiful conservation land up behind the Falmouth branch of the Cape Cod Conservatory, on the most perfect day imaginable -- clear blue sky, no humidity, not a mosquito in sight (although I insisted on insect repellent for everyone, remembering previous trips into these woods.) It's not so much a hike as an enjoyable ramble, with a snack at the Punch Bowl, the little kettle pond at the end of the mostly-easy path.

The way back was more nature-walkish, as I was finally able to get the kids to slow down enough to look at the dessicated lady slippers, the wild pink orchids formerly impossible to find, but seemingly everywhere this year. We saw indian pipes and smelled sassafras leaves and roots, found nests in trees and avoided poison ivy.

The weather warmed up a bit and we went to Good Will Park, where the kids can both swim and exhaust themselves on the playground equipment.

Road trip! We all -- Mom included -- piled into two cars and drove up to the New England Aquarium, where we saw Deep Sea 3D at the IMAX (you wouldn't think there would be much difference from theater to theater, given the IMAX format, but there is, and the NEA's IMAX is awesome), then wandered around the aquarium for a while, had a snack, plundered the gift shop, and then braved the rush hour traffic to head to my brother's house for dinner. That was a day... if I thought I would ever forget the details of its myriad stresses, I'd write them all out, but no one should have to endure such things, even second hand. Gorgeous things to look at in the aquarium, though:

Back on the Cape, the weather continued to warm up and so we tried out Wood Neck beach -- a great beach for combing, but not for the kind of play the kids like, and so back we went to our favorite, Chapoquoit, where we all had a blast jumping in the humongous waves. I was, in fact, in the water having fun myself, and so have no pictures to show for it.

And now I'm here, finally having a chance to blog. This summer things are very different at my Mom's because my sister-in-law is there with her two kids. The positives far outweigh the negatives, namely that my brother and his wife permit their kids to do all manner of things I forbid or strongly discourage in my own. I wondered how that would go, but it's been great because my sis-in-law doesn't expect me to keep my mouth shut when her kids get uppity, and she has taken many pages from my book (nearly literally -- I printed out a copy of Mrs. H's class rules for her, and she loves them).

It's fantastic having another grown-up around, too, as neither me nor my sis-in-law wants to burden Mom with anything, so it's great to have someone who can watch the kids while one of us runs an errand or something -- and it's just very nice to have someone around to have a cup of tea with in the evening after the kids are in bed, to review the day and just chat. This living arrangement gives me a good idea of what living in a traditional extended family must have been like. I'm sure it could be hellish if the wrong people were involved, but when we're talking about someone as nice as my sister-in-law, it's pretty awesome.


I'm home, the kids are with the in-laws, and it's very, very odd. And wonderful.

This is the longest time DH and I have ever been away from the kids, other than when I was in Houston at M. D. Anderson having my neck dissection surgery -- and that doesn't count, because I wasn't conscious for a lot of that time, and it certainly wasn't romantic.

But this is. It's important to remember that we were a couple before we were parents.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


We relented today and took the kids to the beach, knowing full well it was going to be 1) too cold and 2) too windy to enjoy it. Of course, we were right, but they all went into the ocean anyway, and the larger ones stayed in for the better part of an hour, jumping in the huge waves. The smaller ones had to give up sooner, because the waves were so big they were knocking them over. DD got a nasty scrape on her knee when she tumbled into some rocks. When all four of the younger ones were huddled under their towels, trying to shield themselves from the thousands of tiny needles of the blowing sand, we finally called the older ones in and called it quits, packing up and carting everything back to the car.

That's when I found them, one on the walkway, one in the parking lot, and one actually being blown along the sand of the beach itself: three little mouse-babies, about an inch and a half long, utterly unable to cope with the impossible wind.

I noticed the one at the edge of the boardwalk first, and we all exclaimed over how cute it was, but it was clearly lost. I scooped it up with a shovel and put it near the wall of big rocks so it could find some shelter, but the first thing it did was climb out and head for the parking lot. We steered it towards the walkway and eventually it went beneath, out of the wind.

On the way back from the car to get more stuff, I noticed the poor wind-swept one on the beach. Every time the wind blew he tried to flatten himself out, but since the sand itself was blowing, the pathetic little thing couldn't get a hold on anything, and ended up being tumbled. I scooped him up and brought him up to the walkway, where he could get some shelter and some companionship. He was clearly dazed and even more loopy than the first mouseling had been. He had so much sand in his fur he was probably carrying twice his normal body weight, but that didn't stop him from trying to get somewhere... anywhere. He was literally going in (very small) circles.

The last mouse was lying flat in the parking lot, clinging for dear life as the wind whipped over him. I scooped him up with some difficulty as he was much more lively than either of his brothers, and he did end up scampering over my hand while I moved him to the walkway. He seemed to have his wits about him, though, and dived right under. His poor sand-covered brother was still shivering at the edge of the walkway.

Of course during all this time the kids were exclaiming over the cuteness of the little mice, and we all felt very sorry for them. Obviously they'd lost their mom; they just seemed too clueless to be running around the beach on their own like that. One thought just occurred to me, which is that they may have been nesting in our car (the beach and parking lot were nearly deserted), which would explain how they got to the beach/parking lot in the first place. Oh, no!

The odds that the mouselings will survive is very low, and I knew it was a futile effort to try and save them -- but I had to do it anyway. I suppose it would have been better (and kinder to the mice, too) if I had just scooped them up and tossed them in the trashcan. They would've been out of the wind entirely there, most likely with a supply of food as well. But that just seemed heartless, and as silly as it sounds, I wanted to give them a chance. There are far too many hungry gulls and a huge nest of ospreys near that beach for such tasty little mice snacks to last long in the open. What does it say about me that I can be realistic to the point of callousness about such things -- those mice aren't long for this world -- but that I still made the effort to make their likely final hours a little less unpleasant? Being wind blown to death just seems like such a dreadful, useless way to die.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

the same, only different

So, here we are again in Falmouth and adjusting to our summer life.

I remembered yesterday -- too late! -- that the delightful-sounding Coffee Toffee sundae at Friendly's has more candy than ice cream; the same thing happened last year. But when a whole year elapses before you see it on a menu again, you forget. Well, I did, anyway.

Today we all piled into two cars and visited the Zooquarium in West Yarmouth, where we learned to our dismay that the two sea lions had died last August. They both led long and happy lives, so it's difficult to be sad for them, but we were disappointed that we wouldn't see the show. We were nevertheless charmed by the two animal presentations we did see, one of a pot-bellied pig, and one of a pygmy African hedgehog, which has to be among the cutest animals in existence. The sneeze-bark sound is hysterical.

I'm trying to keep the kids on track with things like eating, sleeping, and not turning into snide, disrespectful jerks, with moderate success on all counts... it's a constant battle.

We've made a good beginning.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

time to go!

Actually, I still have about 7 hours or so.

Somehow, everything got done today -- the errands, the haircuts for the boys, the cleaning, the additional laundry, the packing. And with the exception of one long linen dress eaten by the washing machine, everything came together without a hitch. (Including being able to reschedule DS1's 8:30AM missed allergist appointment -- we all overslept -- for 4PM this afternoon. That never happens!)

Our bedroom was covered from one end to the other with stuff to be packed. I spent the entire day spiraling up and down the stairs, in and out of various rooms to assemble everything, so after we put the kids to bed, all we had to do was pile it into the various suitcases and duffle bags, and that was done shortly after 9PM, which must be some sort of record.

Now I'm second-guessing some of my packing decisions, but there's no point in doing anything about it now. Off to bed -- tomorrow will be a very, very long day.


We're leaving Friday and will be gone for, oh, approximately 7 weeks. Haven't started packing yet, either.

What have I been doing? Hmmm, let me see -- we purged the bookcases, the playroom, and DD's room, and got rid of a huge amount outgrown books and toys, not to mention trash. That took a whole day.

Today was laundry day, plus getting our new cat caretaker acquainted with the kitties and their routine, plus doing stuff I should've done weeks ago -- loading the photos onto the digital photo frame we got for Mom's birthday, and doing the pages for her scrapbook.

Now I'm thinking that I need an entire extra suitcase for things I want to bring (like my knitting) that are not made for travel. But I'm going to be gone long enough that I want them with me. Maybe I'll pack them up and ship them? We'll see.

Oddly, I'm not panicked yet, because I have all day tomorrow, and the laundry is already finished, and now it's just a question of pulling things together. I'm off to check the long-range forecast to see how cold it will be, to help in the decision on how much cold-weather clothes we need to bring.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


DS2 came down with a stomach virus a few days ago, but bounced back quickly the next day. I was hit by the same horror yesterday, and after a day in bed doing my best not to puke, I'm better, but still pretty far along on the Ick scale. At least I don't feel like puking anymore.

I missed the Red Sox-Diamondbacks game yesterday, and I'm not fit to do anything today, either. I'm just hoping that I'll get better quickly, because Friday we're flying out.

When DS2 was sick he perfectly described the fear that always accompanies that kind of misery: I'm never going to get better! I don't know why he would say that -- yeah, he has had a couple of longer-running illnesses, but nothing you could categorize as chronic -- but I sympathized. I mean, I have conditions that won't ever get better, and right now I'm praying that what I'm going through really is temporary, and not some new manifestation of the interesting ways in which a body can break down without actually killing you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

that's better

I did finally get moving and managed to do just about everything I wanted to do today, but now I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm not used to manual labor, and loading up a van full of furniture definitely qualifies. Given the state of the van's floors prior to my cleaning them, I'm pretty sure vacuuming qualifies as manual labor, also.

The kids are all spun up, having only one and a half days left of school. DS1 checked his grades online today and rejoiced at having pulled out all A's, announcing, "I've got all A's and nothing can happen to change that now!" He was so happy. I was so happy because it was his accomplishment, not mine. Very minimal nagging happened in this last quarter of school.

Tomorrow: grocery shopping, laundry, and the last of the clean-up. I want to be able to enjoy Wednesday with the kids, and Thursday, late morning, my in-laws arrive for their long weekend here. Whee!


I've been up for two hours, and what have I done? Made breakfast for the kids, made lunches for the kids to take to school, read a number of blogs, posted comments on a few, made a few phone calls. Not much to show, and I haven't even eaten breakfast yet.

Meanwhile, my in-laws arrive on Thursday and the house is an absolute disaster. Partly because the guest room had become the "junk room" after my Mom left last winter, and I had been accumulating stuff to go to charity in there, all of which needs to be inventoried, packed up, and delivered to the donation center.

But more than that, there's furniture and bedding where it doesn't belong, also. Looking over the guest room Saturday morning, DH and I once again discussed how the over-sized furniture in there made it difficult to move around, and for the Nth time talked about getting some smaller, sleeker furniture which could be arranged to leave more floor space. We had a big cherry sleigh bed in there:
Along with two matching night stands that were more the size of end tables, and a humongous 6-drawer double-length dresser. All of this furniture is beautiful, but approached dysfunctional in the smallish guest room.

So yesterday we hauled the entire family off to Ikea and replaced the gorgeous solid wood cherry-stained furniture with way cheaper stuff, and DH spent most of the rest of the day putting it together. (I helped, but it was mostly him, so I'm not going to take any credit). We got this bed, these nightstands, and this dresser, which will fit in the walk-in closet. The double dresser was too big, and has been moved into an upstairs closet for now, which resulted in another large pile of stuff that needs to be sorted through and mostly disposed of, one way or another.

Furniture assembly is not yet complete, and that's another thing I could be working on, but really, I have to get rid of the stuff that's just haphazardly piled up all over the place. It's just too much! Maybe if I have some breakfast, it won't seem so bad...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

a delightful day

The ultrasound was negative -- they didn't see anything unusual at all. I learned this news about 10AM, when the PA from my doctor's office called me. She was happy about the ultrasound, but with my history, she wanted to follow up with a CAT scan. I was able to talk her out of it very quickly, though -- I noted I can't have anything done with contrast, because I have a whole body scan scheduled for August, and the iodine would not have cleared my system by then. She seemed pleased that the WBS was already scheduled, and was satisfied to leave it at that. So, another expensive medical test was averted, at least for today.

In other news, my TSH is still too high (0.188) and my Tg is 0.6. I shall work on my endo to give my Levoxyl another uptick, and proceed with my life as planned. (whew!)

I spent the day engaged mostly in laundry and reading, for the first time, the delightful Pride and Prejudice. Having seen the mini-series and the newest movie countless times, I was very curious to see how much of the book each version had excised, and whether or not I would enjoy the book as much as I had the films.

Save for a minor irritation at Austen's propensity for italics in her dialog, I loved it. I'm amazed at the economy of her descriptions, which remain powerful nonetheless. I suspect my own electronic scribbles here will suffer from unconsciously imitating her style for some days, but then again, I've always written weirdly. At least I don't use as many semi-colons as Austen does. (usually!)