I came to a realization this year as I threaded the lights onto the tree. My method is like a sewing machine. I wind the string of lights around my leg, up my back, over my shoulder to my left hand, then to my right. This keeps the tension how I like it. I’m an overachieving Christmas light-sewing maniac.
This year . . . the amount of lights is nuts. This has gotta stop. I have got to find a way to do less. How do I do less?!
And so, I present to you The Tree, 2019:
I am moving slowly, so the kids’ trees aren’t yet set up.
Number of lights on the tree: 5,050.
(I wish I was kidding. I am not kidding.)
Times cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0
Ornaments broken: 2
Trips taken to Lowe’s to buy more lights: 2
Amount of lights purchased: 800
Percentage of lights that still worked from last year: 100%!
Interventions threatened: 2
October 14, 2019
by Carrie Comments Off on long sleeves
“Sam, are you looking forward to drums later?” I ask.
“Yes!” Sam replies. “I am really excited about wearing long sleeved clothes!” He steps forward to reveal his outfit: a grey long-sleeve shirt with orange stripes matched with a tight pair of blue and neon green long pants.
“Baby, you can’t wear those pants out. They’re loungy pants.”
“No they’re not!”
“They are, Baby.”
Well . . . then I officially declare them OUTSIDE PANTS.”
“Honey, they’re long underwear. They’re not meant as outside pants.”
“Long underwear? What the heck is long underwear?”
“It’s like underwear, Baby, but long sleeves. Look, it has this little hole here,” I gesture and show him the weird little hole slot thing that I’ve never known a guy to use, yet here we are.
Sam stares at me, incredulous. “WHY WOULD ANYONE MAKE LONG-SLEEVED UNDERWEAR?!”
July 9, 2019
by Carrie Comments Off on eleven year old taco
Eleven years old, but this taco is still just as crispy as ever!
Some days we all end up getting crispy on the soccer fields!
So . . . eleven. After the past few years of huge changes, I feel like this year has slowed down some. No big transformations in appearance or personality. No upheavals in schoolwork or extracurricular activities. Lydia has had a smooth, steady eleventh year.
The jury is still out on whether this is the new normal or the upcoming jumps to 12 (and 13!) will be a wild ride. Guns at the ready.
So let’s start with school. Fifth grade is now done and in the books, and that is it for elementary school! Still homeschooling? Yup. Still loving history and science? Absolutely. Still reading all the Warriors books she can get her hands on? Of course.
Science was back to Life Science, which we last studied in first grade. This version of Life Science was basically sixth grade work: a lot of vocabulary, as much labs as we could find time for, and a fair amount of writing. We invested in a fantastic compound microscope for this class, and Lydia put it to good use.
If Lydia wasn’t working on school or reading in her room, she most likely was at soccer practice. This year she played soccer through BUSA’s Academy program, which is a step above recreational but not quite competitive. She had to step up her game to keep up with her teammates. By the Spring season, she was quite the soccer player! I have been very impressed with how much she has improved.
Thankfully, the higher training level didn’t intimidate Lydia much. She still loves all things soccer and is already counting down the weeks until Fall season starts.
Just this past week we watched the Women’s World Cup together. What a great tournament! Lydia has already spent her birthday money on a Rapinoe soccer jersey. Hopefully it will be delivered later this week.
Last fall during the midst of soccer, school, and all other Things of Life, Lydia’s Uncle Kevin got married! Stephanie fits in perfectly with our family. She even joins in with some of our school science experiments! Both kids had a blast as part of the wedding party, and I am super pleased with all the lovely pictures!
We were able to fit a few trips into our busy schedules. Barely a week after the wedding, we were off to the beach. We stayed in a truly fantabulous condo this year, and Grandma and Papa also came! With an entire week at the beach, we had a lot of time for crab hunting, pool swimming, sand digging, and we even took a day trip to Pensacola! Sam still remembers this as the Best Beach Trip Ever.
Last spring we took a long road trip up the east coast through Virginia, then further north to Pittsburgh to visit friends. While in Virginia we visited Monticello and Mount Vernon, two places Lydia has been wanting to see for years. She is Mommy’s Little History Buff.
Don’t let Sam’s face fool you. He’s perfectly fine to smile for pictures but he really didn’t care whose house it was.
At Mount Vernon I think her favorite thing was the cows.
We also managed to get a rare family portrait on George Washington’s front porch.
While in Pittsburgh, we wandered around town with Ken and Lisa to check out the sights. Lydia was most impressed with the Natural History Museum and the Aviary (birds birds birds!).
I was mainly impressed with how well the kids handled the 12-hour drive back home!
If you ask Lydia what she wants to be when she grows up, right now she will tell you “an ecologist, but one that just helps animals . . . not plants.” She plans to travel all over the world, helping animals in their environment and combating the scourge of pollution and climate change. However, once every four years she will have to take a break from ecology so she can play in the World Cup.
For Christmas she got a set of metal reusable straws. When I pack her a lunch I have to use her reusable ziplock bag things. She is quick to point out when I am not paying attention and accidentally throw something away that should go in the recycling bin. She is saving the earth, one plastic straw at a time.
Her eleventh birthday, like Sam’s, fell on a Sunday this year so we went out for her Special Day the Friday before. Most of the day was spent at the bowling alley . . . which has turned into way more than a bowling alley! Of course, the day must be started off with some doughnuts.
After we bowled a few games (Lydia beat us in two out of three) we had some fun in their arcade and zip line room.
And we must have a crazy milkshake! Another Special Day tradition.
Lydia still has a thing for horses, so we must make sure she stays well-supplied.
Speaking of horses . . .
And now we are in the middle of summer. It is hot outside, y’all.
Soon enough though, we will be getting ready for the beach again. And after that . . . October!
Then perhaps we will enjoy a few cooler days. We will need them — soccer season will be upon us again!
Then good lord! Christmas!
Then before I know it, it will be spring and the birthdays will come around again, faster than I always expect them to be.
And that’s just the stuff that I know is going to happen. Just think about all the surprises that wait in store! Ohh, the suspense!
June 20, 2019
by Carrie Comments Off on sputnik; 108 months in orbit
A few weeks ago, our very own Samwise turned 9 years old. Nine!!!
Okay, so have y’all watched The Good Place? It’s a great show; watch it if you haven’t. Anyway, there’s a character on that show named Jason Mendoza. At first blush, Jason seems like the ultimate space cadet. He is not paying attention, he blurts out the most random stuff imaginable, he seems to have no clue what is going on, and he gets excited by the most simple things in life. But then he will suddenly surprise the other characters by contributing the most thoughtful, astute, heartwarming lines on the show.
You guys. It’s Sam.
And that is why Jason Mendoza is my favorite character on The Good Place. He’s my Sam.
Sam can seem to be in his own little world for much of the time. He plays with Godzillas in his room for hours while he hums whatever tune is in his head. He could play in the pool (or the bath, or the hose) all day if I would let him. You think he is not paying attention to you or what you’re doing, then seemingly out of nowhere he will pipe up with some Sam-centric words of wisdom. Either that or something innocently inappropriate.
Sam finished up third grade at the end of May. School . . . well, it went. Usually. Sam can read, but if he has the slightest sense it is for ‘learning,’ he has absolutely no interest. He is great at math . . . when he wants to think about math. Science? Astrophysics or GTFO. Sam’s philosophy when it comes to history is “if it is behind you, it does not matter.” When you combine all this with his anxiety and ADHD, well, any day when we get a bit of schoolwork done is a marvelous day.
And yet . . . Sam can be amazingly intelligent. For example, somehow he learned about exponents, so he now refers to Books-a-Million as Books-a-ten-to-the-power-of-six.
Sam is much more keen on the fun things in life, and there was a lot of that to go around, including vacations, weddings, and holidays. In September, Uncle Kevin got married! Stephanie has been part of the family for a while, but it was nice to see it become official. Both kids (and Steven, for that matter) were part of the wedding party, and ohhhhh, my Lord, this boy can wear a tux. Oh, my stars.
A week after the wedding, we were beach-bound. We changed things up again for our beach trip: we went with Grandma and Papa . . . and we stayed for an entire week!
After we got back from the beach, it was Holiday Time! Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas! Halloween is still Sam’s favorite, and this year I caved in to pressure and we got many tacky blow-up decorations for the yard. The kids were thrilled. Ohh, the tackiness!
For about a year Sam talked about going as Furious Destroyer for Halloween. For those not in the know (like I was), Furious Destroyer is a popular YouTuber’s Minecraft character. In other words, you won’t find this costume in Target. Thank goodness for tutorials on the internet and a patient Dad! Sam ended up winning a costume contest at a party with this one.
Christmas always goes by in a whirlwind, a constant stream of amazing food, family get-togethers, and Sam’s stream-of-consciousness narrations.
Sam is still taking drum lessons with Mr. Wes. It is an amazing thing to watch Sam rocking out on a drum set. He will be playing a complicated drum pattern while looking all over his surroundings — yet he is never looking at the drums he is hitting. I’m not quite sure how he does it. He completed a drummers’ rite of passage this spring by breaking his first drumstick. I’m honestly surprised it took him that long. He’s very good at breaking everything else.
Sam also started something new this year: workouts. He has been fascinated with lifting weights and getting strong muscles for a while, and we finally found a place that provided that for kids. So a few times a week we drive over the mountain to Blackwatch so Sam can “train” with other kids his own age. Now, he’s not really lifting weights, per se, but he does work against his own body weight and also does running and coordination exercises.
In April we took a vacation up to the Northeast to visit Ken and Lisa (who are now in Pittsburgh). I think of this one as an Education Vacation since we all learned a lot, including how the Pennsylvania Turnpike works.
We elected to drive up to Pittsburgh and back so we could see some sights along the way, including Monticello and Mount Vernon. Overall, Lydia was way more interested in the history stuff than her brother (“if it is behind you, it does not matter”), but Sam did survive the educational portion of our trip. He was much more thrilled to see what Ken and Lisa’s new house looked like.
At the end of the movie and the screen began to roll the credits, Sam jumped up out of his seat and yelled, “Best! Movie! Ever!”
Afterwards, we found out that Sam’s bottomless pit does indeed have a bottom.
So another year, another Godzilla party, with the Avengers and the Ninjago crew also in attendance. The more the merrier.
And another year begins. Next year will be a big one . . . ten. Well, at least we’ve got a whole year ahead of us before then. An entire year — anything can happen. And I mean anything. So to prepare, let us say the Invocation of Sam:
May the fires he starts be contained.
May the furniture in his room stay strong.
May his balls stay inflated and bouncy.
May his mood stay positive.
And above all, may his tux-wearing opportunities abound.
May 26, 2019
by Carrie Comments Off on i know what i’m doing
We are quickly arriving to the June birthday gauntlet in this house. Just one week until Sam turns nine! For this birthday, Sam’s main present is a brand new bed. And not just any bed . . . a handmade, Sam-proof loft bed! Steven is currently fighting with the painting spray machine outside which keeps choking on the primer.
I’ve been painting too, but not beds — my job has been to touch up and repaint the walls in Sam’s room. Nine years of Sam can put a lot of dents in the wall. After I finished spackling all the dents, dings, and outright holes I could find, I realized I would be repainting entire walls.
Nine years was a long time ago, and I had no clue exactly what paint color we had used. Those paint cans were chunked a long time ago. Steven cut some paint chips out of the wall for me (more spackling), and off to Lowe’s I went.
Lowe’s had already started their Memorial Day Extravaganza sale and the paint counter was super busy. Everybody must be in Project Mode. Finally the guy gets to me and I hand him the paint chips. “One quart of each color, eggshell finish, please.”
He looks at my paint chip sample. “Hmm, this looks like flat finish.”
“It’s definitely eggshell; I would never buy flat. It’s nine years old and is showing its age is all.”
“Hmm, well let me scan it in.”
He scanned, and he mixed, and he sampled, and he frowned, then scanned and mixed again. He fiddled with the paint color for 40 minutes, muttered about eggshells, flats, and hues of purple. He finally was satisfied enough to hand the paint over to me. “This is as close as I can get, but I don’t think it’s quite right. I think that paint is flat finish.”
“Oh it’s definitely eggshell,” I reply. Why would I ever buy flat paint? What nerve!
So I figured I’d start with the dark blue since I would only be doing spot treatments with a brush. Heaven forbid I have to paint over the dinosaurs and spaceships. So splat splat splat I hit all the sparkled places with my newly mixed paint and was met with a disaster. The paint almost matched, but only almost. It was slightly more purple and definitely shinier. Who knew eggshell paint could get so dull over nine years? Hmm.
The light blue colored wall wasn’t as big a deal. The color also did not exactly match but I knew I would be repainting that entire wall. No one would know the wall was originally a slightly different color.
But the splotches on the dark blue wall . . . ugh.
I had a few options:
1. Ignore the splotchiness. It is Sam’s room after all. More holes and dents will follow.
2. Repaint all three dark blue walls, losing the dinosaur spaceships in the process. My heart wasn’t ready for that yet.
3. It’s space themed! What if . . . what if I grabbed a bunch of different colors and kind of sponge painted all around the blotches and make it be like a galaxy? Yeah? Yeah! YEAH!!!
Sam liked option #3, so back down to the basement I went to see what paint we had in stock. I started pulling out cans of paint . . . I had some pink and purple from Lydia’s desk, there was some glossy white trim paint, a good blue color from downstairs, some gray from the downstairs bathroom, and . . . what’s this?
The original cans of paint from Sam’s room. The ones I thought we had chunked years ago.
And guess what.
I think I owe an apology to the Lowe’s paint guy. Dude knew his paints.
May 16, 2019
by Carrie Comments Off on lessons in autism
This dinner is already not going well because Manwich saw fit to make a Bourbon Barbeque version of their Sloppy Joe mix in an uncannily similar package. Why would you do that to me, Manwich?? This exotic flavor is summarily rejected by the kids.
“Oh hey, I forgot to tell you,” I mention to Steven, “over at the four way intersection by the neighborhood there was a state trooper sitting there.”
Steven replies,”Hmm, that’s weird. Do you think it had anything to do with the Murder House?”
See, a while ago, there was a house close to the neighborhood where a dude was murdered. There were news trucks out there for a few days. At the time when the kids asked about all the news trucks and cop cars, we said someone got hurt but they’re going to be okay. Little white lies, people.
Now we’re back to . . .
“Do you think it had anything to do with the Murder House?”
Steven pauses. I pause. Wait. Maybe it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe Lydia didn’t hear. I look at Steven. He looks at me, deer in the headlights.
I hear a gasp.
“Murder House?!” exclaims Lydia.
Nuts. She heard.
December 25, 2018
by Carrie Comments Off on christmas eve update