Tuesday, June 30, 2009
We were up there mainly to attend the Cambodia Tomorrow board meeting, but got lots of good social time in, so that was great. It was fun for the kids to be around other adoptees (although George the Younger lamented his status as the "only Vietnamese" kid there). George the Elder and I do not spend much energy or importance on lets-talk-about-our-adoptee-status at home with the boys, but it's fun for them to be able to meet these other folks. Mostly, the kids just played outside, went to the pool and headed off to see Transformers during the weekend. It's not like we had them sit and round table about their "feelings" of being adopted. Mostly they round tabled about how to get more marshmallows for s'mores or about how everyone was yelling at them simultaneously to keep the frickin soccer ball out of the baby lavender. Pretty normal stuff.
In the picture are most of the board members of the ngo - they are easily identified as the "white folk" in the photo. We had a great meeting (it was my first) and I have to admit I was getting a bit of a thrill out of thinking and acting like I had a job again (mission statements, visions, personal goals and action steps). It was nice to take those skills out of the bag and dust them off for a change. Today I am back to home management (laundry mostly), but perhaps being on this board will give me the little of "I am NOT JUST a mom" back that I am craving.
In other news, we actually are home owners, although I haven't been over to the house yet. After some ado about an environmental somethingorother, we went "on record" sometime on Thursday while I was in the air between SF and Seattle - mainly reflecting on how the death of the king of pop was affecting travelers (i.e. when we were in SF folks were getting off the plane trying to confirm the "rumor" that they had heard while they were in the air. Others were just noticing on the large screen TVs and shouting out to one another - - weird). George finally got over there on Sunday, so at least one of us has visited the place. It's odd, since we're both excited about getting the place - - but are in a place in the process where we own it, but don't need to really use it, but need to plan for it, but don't need it's physical presence yet.
I suspect I will walk over there this afternoon to check it out and use the key (just for fun). I also have to meet with a new neighbor who I am trying to woo with my unparalleled cooperation so that I can get her pay-back partisanship in the short future. My plan is to seem unbelievably convivial about trimming back a tree for her (that is on our property). My expectation is that when we present her with the plans to do-whack-a-do to our place that she will feel the need to reciprocate and give us her immediate blessing. This is the plan any way. We will see.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
- Setting a table properly (without the use of paper napkins thrown on the middle of the table)
- Washing dishes (where indeed, there a complete absence of food shrapnel or grease residue)
- Loading a dishwasher in a logical manner (It's like a puzzle people. Think about it, there's a way to get it all in there and if it's in there correctly and logically it's easier to get it out!)
- Cooking something edible for dinner. Cooking one special "date" dinner just in case too.
- Doing the laundry in color coordinated loads and folding said clean laundry so as not to render the actual washing of it an utter waste of time.
- Making a bed the right way
- Learning to dust and vacuum in the right order
I am sure that there are others - washing windows comes to mind - but I think that that is just the OC cleaning part of me coming out. And, there in lies the rub for my guys. I want them to know how to do all these things. It is IMPORTANT that they know all these things. But, the kicker is that they just happen to have this slightly OC person for a mom. It's going to take some fortitude to let them do it their way and then find a way for me to secretly do it again "the right way" without them knowing it. Hmmm, that seems wrong. Perhaps I am going to have to learn that sometimes it's just better that they do it their own entirely and utterly ineffective way and I am going to have to...well, I'm just going to have to "RELEASE". If George the Elder is reading this - - he is l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g. Ha Ha Snort Snort guffaw guffaw. Sure. Like that's gonna happen...
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
But, on Tuesday afternoon, what I thought was going to be one of those things (a little over the top) turned out to be quite an endearing end of the year tradition at the SFSchool. Last Day Hugs.
Thanks to my friend, Goldie, I was brought in to the loop on this unpublicized, but annual event. We headed over to the school, camera in hand, to capture the group hugging.
The kids were all still crammed in the all-purpose room finishing up the business end of things - have a great summer, remember to be a life-time-learner, embrace curiosity, remember to be kind to the earth, recycle, give back, yadda yadda yadda and then the final gong was sounded indicating the official end of the year. And yes, they really have a gong - it is also rung at the beginning of the school year. Bong, Bong, Bong. Now we symbolically begin. Now we symbolically end.
The teachers file out first followed by the graduating 8th graders who are the first through the line. Each teacher hugs each student. Then the 8th graders join the line and get to hug everyone else in the school.
As you can imagine, I'm initially thinking - - what a load of new age feel-good bunk is this - - but I confess that it didn't take long for me to well up at the scene. There I was having to throw my cynical views to the wind while watching these kids really connecting with their teachers.
What's was so great about it was that each teacher took the time to say something to each and every child. They were pretty much basted and marinated in uplifting, confidence building sauce for about twenty solid minutes as they heard from a line of 20 or so people that they were s-u-p-e-r!! I nearly got in line myself. Let's all drink that kool-aid...
And for those that remain unconvinced at the power of educators who truly care about their students, I submit the following. The first picture of George the Younger shows him being squashed and squeezed by his PE teacher - aka "Coach". Those who know him know that this is not surprising. Where the proof is in the pudding is photo #2. That's George the Younger in the embracing warmth of none other than the - - wait for it..... Music teacher. Now that's the SF School. Hug away.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
In the end, the Roti food was fabulous, and over all it was a first-rate event. I mean, where else can you go to eat a wide variety of sumptuous victuals, get complimentary hoola hoops, witness your kids inhale enough cotton candy to sugar-hype even the most sugar resistant kid AND actually pet the cutest darn little hedge hog you ever did see?? All for the low low cost of ... Nothing.
The zoo was empty for the most part, so it was especially nice letting the boys run around (and between the three families we had 6 boys under 13 and one lone, but very capable girl!) without having to worry about running in to people or getting lost.
(A blog Aside: For those of you who have read my blog from the beginning, you may recall that I have a "thing" about people who take pictures of animals at the zoo. I would like to stake out a little exemption here. A little zoo-photography-exception-to-the-rule if you will....
Zoo Photography Deviation: Should you, or any member of your family be in the composed photo, especially if they are feeding said animal, this photo is acceptable. Also, should the animal in the zoo get close enough to your own face that you are able to determine either the number of hairs on his nose or make an informed decision that maybe some minty chewy biscuits are in order - you may take the photo. End of Blog Aside.)
Friday, June 5, 2009
George the Elder and I have been known to do some truly absurd things. Moving our family from country to country to country ranks right up there with people who would hardly move their kids in to a new neighborhood let alone transfer them to foreign shores. Three times.
Some would consider (and have commented aloud) that adopting two infants when one already has a perfectly normal 16 year old daughter at home ("perfectly normal" translates to highly volatile and hormonal, but generally self managing and a scant two years from heading off to college) as somewhat nonsensical. I believe that one comment was more on the lines of "Did you Lose your MIND or something??" And yes, there are days when I do wonder "why DID this make sense at the time?" But there are many more days when I don't entertain the wonderment at all. Those are the days when they boys have been perfect children and clean their rooms and don't mouth off and don't poke at each other or me and... Okay, maybe that's more like 50/50 split. (just joking! You know I LOVE my boys...)
But, as batty things go - - I think that this next one is going to take the proverbial cake for us. We are nearing closure on what I have recently and, I feel aptly, named "The Project". The question for George the Elder and I is this... We have been married for 16 years. We have worked together in the same office for more than 15 years. We have moved to three different countries. We are generally opposites in all things, but manage to overcome that. BUT can our relationship survive a mid-century-modern home renovation??? I fear that this is where the rubber will meet the road in our relationship. I am nervous.
Things are still in the works with contracts and contractors. We are interviewing and getting advice from architects and excavators and all manner of other professional do-things-to-homes people. We are excited and petrified at the same time. It's a lot of work. It means moving there and then finishing the designs and plans. Then moving again while the plans are being carried out. It means planning boards and HOAs and sewer lines and asbestos containment (just a wee bit). It means that George the Elder and I will be in constant negotiations about sink sizes and window fittings. We may likely harm each other over something as simple as a hall light fixture. He has IDEAS and I have IDEAS. Sometimes they are not the same. We are both stubborn. Who knew??
We are still not 100% "GO" - i.e. we still have a contingency left on the contract and we are working with loan processor who seemingly has not mastered the art of either making nor returning phone calls. He also appears to have difficulty with email. It's cranking me up. Luckily he's in NJ. He does have a really nice voice mail message that tells me how important I am to him and how XYZ Company is founded on customer service and partnership. I haven't yet left him a very long voice mail myself which would contradict everything that is in his voice mail message - - but that sh*t storm might come sooner rather than later if "Bunn" doesn't return my call. And yes, his real name in "Bunn" - - ah the possibilities there....
In the meantime, as George the Elder and I navigate the new waters of being potential home owners again in nearly a decade, as we ponder the beauty and overall "coolness" of a mid-century modern renovation, as we swim in the murky waters of "will we close or won't we close?", I will leave you with this last image.
This is one of the bathrooms in the house. Assuming we move forward with the plan I will need to use this bathroom in this state for approximately 5-6 months. I think that I will need to wear some sort of eye protection for the duration in this room. I am ordering a sign that warns users of potential seizure activity if exposed to this wall paper over periods greater than 10 minutes. Oh and this picture does not even come close to truly capturing the florescent boldness of the room. It has the ability to just SLAP you upon entering. Talk about the impact of a room.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I am a bona fide staunch believer in the concept of year-round school. It's not that I don't like having my kids around - - cause I sure do. I postulate (with a higher than average degree of certainty) that I'm far from alone in this. In individual conversations with friends, we lament the same thing secretly together. We all love our children. We just have an issue with having them around for ELEVEN SEEMINGLY ENDLESS CONSECUTIVE weeks in a row. What is the US school system thinking? I pay my school taxes and yet, I am punished. Not fair. I am sorely missing the European / International school schedule that we had become accustomed to. While it is not technically year-round (which I have to believe is the capital standard of all learning curriculum) - it does have a much nicer (meaning longer) school year. Start in late August. Finish in late June.
This does not mean that the kids go to school any more days than they do here. It's just that the breaks are more frequent and spaced out over the year. Believe me you, it is FAR easier to plan something to keep them occupied during a two week break than it is to navigate the quilt work of summer camps and special programs that are necessarily woven together for most families to easily navigate ELEVEN WEEKS of summer.
Now lest someone I know call me on the carpet for this post, I willingly confess that I send my boys to camp for 5 of those weeks. Yes, I pack them up and ship them off to the wilds of New Hampshire from mid July to mid August. They have a great time. I have a great time. I write to them. They occasionally write to me. I get pictures of them every day. I miss them. They miss me. But over all, it is an exceptional experience for both parent and child. Given that they are gone for the lion's share of those ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS - what's all the whinging about?
Hmmm. That's easy math. There's still SIX WEEKS left to fill. Part of me thinks that I should just let them be. Sort of a return to the 1960s where kids just hung around the neighborhood and planned things like hellacious water balloon fights and extended games of hide and seek that usually meant that you were just trying to get away from the crazy wall-eyed kid who lived three houses over and always smelled like pureed cauliflower.
But, the thing is, it's not the 1960s. Every other kid I know is scheduled up the wazoo with things like robot camp and tennis camp and band camp. And besides, thanks to the SF school system, even public school kids don't live in the same neighborhood as their friends. The backwash of this is that kids just don't leave their homes before lunch and come home before dinner to head out and hang with their buddies any more. There isn't anyone to hang out with. So, leaving them be for those 6 weeks is paramount to the following:
- Copious amounts of TV watching
- Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop watching said TV
- Copious amounts of Wii and Computer time
- Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop playing the Wii or the Computer
- Dragging, pleading, whining and stomping when asked to PLEASE read something on the summer reading list
- The planning and executing of play dates with those friends who are in between robot building, tennis playing and instrument instruction
- Plentiful (more than plentiful) whining and grousing between and among two boys as a result of them just being brothers. Even the friendliest of animals are likely to bite each other when they are in captivity for too long.
- The necessary patchwork of day trips to keep them busy. Idle hands ARE the devil's playthings. There can be no doubt about that.
In the end, who knows what I will end up doing with them. Rent them out to neighbors? Use our "members" pass to the Science Academy and the Exploratorium several times in a week? Wish upon wish that I had thought ahead and bought those season passes to Six Flags or Great America? Convince George the Elder that a summer mini-vacation to somewhere cheap with a pool would be the most generous gift he could give his family? Even if he isn't, say, actually able to accompany us? I'm scratching my head here.
If anyone has any perfect suggestions as to how they keep one mischievous 1o year old and one almost teenager (including the requisite frequent attacks of teenage ennui) could you please buy me a clue? It would be much appreciated.