Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Recap

What a great weekend. I'm sad that it's over.

Here's how I spent it:

Reading (if something ever happens to my Kindle, I will DIE.) I'm currently reading The Stand (Stephen King) for an online book club I'm in, and What is the What (Dave Eggers) for my other book club. I haven't read anything by King in several years, and was hesitant to try this one, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. What is the What is a fictional autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from the Sudanese civil war. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it and it's excellent, although heartbreaking.

Watching football. My Cyclones got HAMMERED. Here's a picture I took of Brother Z and his fiancee that sums up the game:*photo of M 'punching' Z. M is wearing Hawkeye gear and Z is wearing Cyclone attire:
Knock out punch

But at least my Packers pulled off a win. Can I just say that Clay Matthews (linebacker) is a STUD? Sure, the dude needs a hair cut, but he's awesome.

Taking pictures with my new camera. Still trying to figure out how to use it. Here's an awfully sweet one of my mother-in-law with Bumblebee:

Hugs from Vali

The Boy cut his thumb pretty bad on Saturday. He shut it in his friend's car door and yanked it out, slicing the pad of his thumb pretty deep. Poor kid was in a lot of pain, but it'll be ok. He's going to have to take extra care of it in football practice. But it wasn't all bad - he got out of dishes duty for the week!

My favorite part of the weekend was a conversation I had with Hollywood. That kid is growing up, and oh how she makes me proud.

I am blessed indeed.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Race ya!

It's a beautiful September day. Perfect for some outdoor play.

Reggie is part collie, and collies are herding dogs. He loves to herd. The kids will start running around the back yard like this:
*photo of The Boy and Bumblebee running outside:
Running

and Reggie'll go nuts and run as fast as he can in circles in the back yard. He's warming up for a race:
*photo of Reggie running:
Running

Bumblebee is stretching her legs too:
*photo of Bumblebee running:
Running

Ready,

Set,

Go!
*photo of Bumblebee and Reggie running together:
Race ya!

C'mon, Bumblebee, you can do it!
*photo of Reggie taking a slight lead over Bumblebee:
Race ya, 2

Push it! Faster, faster!
*photo of Reggie taking an even bigger lead.
Race ya, 3

Don't let the furball win, Bumblebee! Run FASTER!
*photo: Reggie has an even bigger lead:
Race ya, 4

And it's Reggie for the win! Better luck next time, Bumblebee.
*photo of Reggie way out in front.
Reggie FTW!

What's the matter, pup? Are you wiped out?
*photo of The Boy rubbing Reggie's belly as he's sprawled on the grass:
Jake & Reggie

How about an ear scratch?
*photo of The Boy scratching Reggie's ear:
Scratch behind the ear...

All Reggie wants to do is chill out. He's not even harassing the cat!
*photo of Reggie and Mabel sitting together:
Reggie & Mabel

Or, maybe... A nap sounds better.
*photo of Reggie taking a nap.
Reggie lazing

I agree, Reggie. A nap sounds perfect.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Allegiances

This is the weekend of the annual Iowa/Iowa State football game. It's a huge rivalry around here, and people really get into it.

The workers in my office at Giant Ass Bank are clad in their Hawkeyes or Cyclones wear and departmental food days and team building tailgate parties are underway. There was a group of people having a bean bag toss tournament earlier this morning. (And I wonder why The Husband thinks I have a fluff job and never have to do real work.)

It's a big deal. GO CYCLONES!

The University of Iowa is on Hollywood's short list for college choices. The Husband and I both went to Iowa State University, so while we are incredibly proud of our overachiever daughter, we like to kid her about going over to the enemy. In the past, she's tried to stay neutral and like both teams, but that's tough. I suspect that she's an all out Hawkeye fan by now.

And it hurts! Actually, in Hollywood's case, it's pretty cool. She's growing up, and becoming her own person. I'd like to wrap her up and keep her in my pocket forever, but I can't. So I'll just have to be content with her being "the enemy" this time of year.

But my seven year old isn't supposed to be growing up and asserting HER independence. Not yet, anyway.

Last night, we were talking in the car on the way home from The Boy's first football game of the season. We talked about the fact that the NFL kicked off last night too. The Boy and I were hoping the Saints would pummel the Vikings.

Bumblebee decided to drop this little bomb on us: "Momma. I LIKE the Vikings. Better than the Packers."

Oh HELL NO. I can handle a Hawkeye for a daughter, but a Viking? For real?? Anything but that! Well almost anything. She can't be a Bears fan either. I won't allow it.

When I asked her why, she said it was because 'Vikings' starts with V, just like her first name does.

How can I argue with that logic?

But then... she said that her friend Reagan likes them, so she does too. Oooh, here's my chance to get her back on the side of the green and gold, I thought. I launched into a lecture on being an individual, and liking your own thing. I explained how being different from your friends is good, they'll respect that you have you own ideas and opinions. Blah, blah, and more blah. With a few yadda, yaddas thrown in. I spread it on thick.

Do you see the irony here? I was lecturing her on maintaining her individuality and not allowing others to influence her. Because she likes a different football team than I do.

Oy.

She picked up on it right away.

Bumblebee: "I don't like the Vikings just because Reagan does, Mommy. I told you. They start with a V. And that's cool."

Me: "But... but... It's just not right."

Bumblebee: "And besides, MOM. You like the Packers because you fell in love with Daddy. What kind of individual are you?"

Damn it. She has me there.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Playing Hooky

The Husband and I played hooky on Friday. We took the day off from work to hang out together while the kids were at school. We decided to take the boat out for a while.

It was a beautiful late summer day:
*photo taken from the boat of the lake and a bright blue sky with puffy clouds:
playing hooky

It was pretty windy, though, so we had to go to the smaller lake near our house instead of the big one. But The Husband got some fishing done:
*photo of TH fishing:
fishing

And I got some important reading done with my Kindle:
*photo of my Kindle in a zip lock baggie:
Kindle

After a while, I stretched out on the floor of the boat and put my feet up. It was the perfect time for a nap:
*photo of my feet up on the boat chair with the sky in the background:
relaxing on the boat

We had a relaxed, easy lunch together after the boat ride. Spending the day together was a great way to reconnect, even if only for a few hours.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Back to School

*school bus photo:
Back to school 2010

It's that time of year again. The kids are back to school and things are in full swing.
*photo of the kids on their first day of school:
School 2010

Hollywood has already pulled an 'almost all-nighter.' Earlier this week she had an art project due. It was only the second week of school and she had to stay up until 3 a.m. to finish it. She's taking an ancient civ class for college credit and a bunch of advanced high school classes. She's also in cross country and busy with work, youth group, and an active social life, so we pretty much never see her. The kid's a freaky overachiever.

The Boy is doing well so far in school. He's excited about a reading challenge they are doing in his English class. He's also taking home ec (But they call it family and consumer science or something PC like that now.) In 8th grade, they rotate those classes throughout the year, so he'll have home ec, woodworking, health, etc. He's excited about the cooking part. I'm hoping I have a budding chef on my hands. How cool would that be? He's also out for football, and the coaches are working him hard at practice and making him sleep well at night.

Bumblebee likes second grade. She has a little more homework than last year already, and her spelling words are tough. 'lettuce' was one of them. That's a hard one for a 7 year old! She's not out for a fall sport because I think two sports a year is enough for a kid her age (she does basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.) But a lot of her friends have older siblings who are in the same sports that Hollywood and The Boy are in, so she gets to use those events as her social life.

I've been pretty busy at work, and now with all of this activity starting back up, it's truly a frazzled household. But last night I had a wonderful evening relaxing with my book club gals and today The Husband and I both took vacation time so we can spend a day together while the kids are in school. I'm hoping we can go fishing since it's a nice cool morning, but it might be too windy. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cancer Chronicles: Anxiety and Conflict

flower & green bugs big creek

MJ sounds so weak. She can't complete a sentence without being interrupted by a cough.

It's a deep, thick, strangling cough.

Her words are soft; their message grim. She is in constant physical pain now, but it's the emotional hurt that's bothering her these days: she's having anxiety attacks.

There is tension between my dad and her sons. The blame game is on, one blaming the other for something completely irrelevant to the big picture. Misplaced blame, perhaps. Or not. And then there are the differences of opinion on how to care for MJ. Dad thinks his way is best. Step Brother wants to try something different.

Arguments, snide comments in conversation, opposing ideas all put MJ in the middle of an exhausting tug of war. Until the will of one of them yields to the other, she is stuck.

She finally got to go on her hot air balloon ride on Monday. The view was wonderful, and she enjoyed the freedom of the gentle ride above the land. But getting out of the basket after the ride was a challenge because she is fearful of falling, the tumor in her hip and leg bone leaves little room for error. One wrong move and she could break her femur. The tension between my dad and her sons flared up again because they wanted to try different ways of helping her exit the balloon basket. Bruised and battered egos mixed in with fear, stress, and sadness is a recipe for one hell of a conflict cocktail.

Conflict is excruciating for a people-pleaser like MJ.

She's on anxiety medication. But pills don't fix heated tempers and differing opinions on how to help. Medicine doesn't make the men who love her understand that the weight of their egos is crushing her.

And here I am, 900 miles away, powerless to help. It's not my place to step in and mediate, but my 'let's get to the bottom of this and fix it' mindset is struggling with her troubles. I can only be a shoulder for her to cry on and pray that she feels peace.

I do a lot of praying these days.