August 30, 2010

How Far Base Am I?

A discussion happened at work... making me wonder how off base I may be.

The discussion was MIT.

I said, "I'd work 3 jobs to put my kid through MIT if he got accepted."

One of my coworkers, a female, said, "No way in hell. If my kid wants to go to a school like that, they can take out loans and do it themselves. In state schools are good enough."

To which I said, "Yeah... but we're talking M.I.T. What a chance. You have to really have your act together and be so smart!" and she replied, "NOPE. No way."

There was silence in the room and quietly my Tech Lead chimed in, "I'd sleep in my car for my son to go to MIT."

She seemed surprised and said, "You're KIDDING?" to which he said, "No. I'm really not..."

Now my Tech Lead went to a very good engineering school in the North East. And we both think that not all engineering schools are created equal... neither in education nor opportunity, but mostly in... connections.

MIT has great connections.

So. Would you make serious sacrifices for your kid to go to MIT if they were accepted and motivated?

Just wondering.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:14 PM | Comments (22)

August 28, 2010

Time and Energy

The talk at work has been the series of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic: Danielle, Earl... and the upcoming Fiona.

On a sidenote, Bones is exceedingly upset that once again, the hurricane center did NOT pick his name for this season's naming list. Perhaps this is a 'hurricane country' thing for kids, waiting to see if every season your name is selected? I dunno...

Anyway, I told them all not to worry. We won't take a hit because I don't have the time or the energy.

There was a resounding, "Oh, of course. Why didn't we think of that? We can ALL sleep easy now. Bou doesn't have the time or energy, so we're all safe."

Amen.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:47 PM | Comments (9)

August 27, 2010

Survival of the Fittest?

At 10PM tonight, my doorbell rang. That is NOT a common occurence in this household.

I opened the door to find four 11 year olds beckoning for Bones to come out and play Manhunt. They were decked out, from head to toe in black.

I had them all in while Bones got his shoes on and changed into black, telling them of course he could play for an hour or so. The boys love playing Manhunt. They love it more in the winter when it gets dark earlier and it's cooler... they can play for longer.

As the crew stood in my family room I looked at them and said, "Did you boys ride your bikes here?"

They all nodded to the affirmative.

"Hmm," I continued. "Do you have... lights on your bikes?"

They all shook their heads no.

Looking at the boy whose house they were spending the night I said, "Does your MOTHER know you are here?"

He shook his head yes, "Yes she does!"

I took a deep breath and said, "So let me get this straight. You all rode your bikes to my home, in the dark, at 10PM at night, wearing black, with nothing more than a reflector or two on your bikes?"

I was met with silence.

The one boy replied, "Wow. I'd not ever thought of that..." and he stripped down to a lime green undershirt he had on under his black tshirt.

Bones was ready and I said to the group collectively, "I tell you what. I'm going to DRIVE Bones to your home and I'm going to follow slowly behind all of you with my lights on, so everyone will see you."

And I did... and realized to my utter horror... that not one of them was wearing a helmet either.

A big no no in our home.

Bones had a good time, but I'm just left shaking my head. What the heck?

Posted by Boudicca at 10:21 PM | Comments (6)

August 26, 2010

Open Houses

We've had open houses all week. So this is randomness of open houses and... Bones. He's always good for a story.

I went to Ringo's Open House this evening, while my husband went to Bones', the new 'art' school he's attending. After meeting the teachers, my husband and I have decided that at a school with quirkly little kids, so will you find a certain kind of teacher that gravitates towards said personalities.

'nuff said.

We think it's a great fit.

--------------------------------------

I know most of Ringo's teachers already. Going to a small parochial college prep high school, you get to know most of the teachers fairly quickly. Its a very hands on school.

His Morality and Ethics teacher... I had yet to have the opportunity to REALLY meet. I'd met her last year, but in passing.

A side note here, Son#4 is in nearly every one of Ringo's classes, so at Open House, his Mom, my gf, who is also Bones' Godmother, was in attendance as well. We sat near each other.

And so we walked into the class and the teacher started talking... and... I swear on the sweet souls of my three sons, I have NEVER been in a classroom with so much energy eminating from a body.

I mean... she was REVERBERATING. I was scared there was going to be some sort of cellular explosion.

She is about 15 years older than I, and energy, and thick Mississippi accent, and she talks fast... and... and...

Within 30 seconds I could start feeling myself have an anxiety attack. I can't absorb that much energy. And I think that is the root of my problem with a lot of serious extroverts... it's so much energy, it fills me up and then I get anxious.

For instance, Bones will come home and carry on, in my face, all big energy, and I have this urge to run. I tell my husband, "I can't do this. I'm fried. He extroverted all over me." That's what I call it, like being slimed.

Anyway, so the teacher is doing her schpiel, and the classroom is closing in on me... and... I had to go to a safe place in my head.

Next class, Son#4s Mom was sitting next to me and she looked at me and laughed, "What did you think of that Religion teacher? She's like Bones."

Me: I know. I know.

S4M: If Bones were to go into teaching, he'd be like that.

Me: I know! I thought the same thing. It was too much for me. All I kept thinking was, "I can't escape it!" Between her and Bones...

S4M: I looked over at you, and you were starting to shut down.

Folks, dang. I can't explain it. It is unbridled chaotic energy... crazy, all over the road, loud energy.

I'm stressing just thinking about it. Holy crap.

-------------------------------

I dressed up tonight, somewhat. I wore make up and heels with my jeans. This was a conversation with another Mom gf:

GF: Look at you! You're in heels!

Me: I know. I had to try to clean up tonight...

GF: Wow!

Me: I had to make an impression. It's open house and I pissed off the head of the science department in May and now she's Ringo's Chem teacher. I wanted to look presentable so I'd not look like the dirtbag she probably thinks I am...

GF: Did it work?

Me: She's not here. It was for naught...

GF: Bwahahhahahaha!

Only me.
-------------------------------

When Bones chose to go vocal over theater, I thought he was making a mistake, but followed his lead. I sat there thinking, "This kid is uncontrolled funny energy. He belongs in acting..." but he kept telling me that he wanted to sing, and not Broadway singing, but... operatic singing.

And so our voyage went into singing. He will never be a pro, but he's learning to use his voice like an instrument, something that he can use forever, whether in church choirs, or barbershop quartets, or... myriad things.

And the bonus about voice? It travels.

He got in for voice and although I wondered still if it was the right choice, I was happy. He needed to be with his kind.

He was moved into 7th grade boys choir for a couple reasons, one being he's advanced enough for it and the other being... his voice is starting to change, according to his voice teacher. They can pick these things out, whereas to me he sounds like a little boy still, his voice teacher is already hearing the onset of puberty.

Still, it is a good change, and although the basses don't want to speak to him because he's a tenor, which he still thinks is a riot, he's very happy. Very happy.

And the male voice teacher is fantastic.

But I knew the right choice was made yesterday when he said the following thing to me:

"Mom, I love being in choir, and all the tenors, basses, and baritones are singing their note... and it's so peaceful. It makes me feel so quiet inside."

I wanted to cry.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:08 PM | Comments (8)

August 24, 2010

School Daze

It's too crazy busy here to blog.

Not that things are not worthwhile to put in print... just time issues.

Everyone and their cousin schedules everything for the 2nd week of school. Every flippin' open house, sports try outs, meetings to organize. All of it.

This week.

Shoot me.

Or not.

On tomorrow. Maybe.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

August 22, 2010

Math Irritants

I'm going to rant here for a minute on how some folks should NOT be allowed to teach math.

Let me state first... that I've run into more GREAT teachers than poor. The problem is, the poor teachers are so piss poor they stand out like poop in snow.

If a kid has signed up for 'regular math', it does not mean he does not deserve to learn as much as possible through the school year. If you are teaching 'regular math' then it is up to you to determine what skills those kids are REALLY going to need to know for the next year's math.

Case in point, because you are teaching 'regular algebra II' does not mean that your students DO NOT NEED to know the rules of exponents. Skip matrices. I get that. And you can skip circles. Under NO circumstances do you skip things like... roots and rules of exponents.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, help me.

I had a student call me last week that is in Pre-Cal. She's really bright and last year signed up for 'regular Alg II'. She signed up for it... not because she couldn't do Honors, but because she was REALLY worried about the tough schedule she was taking.

Bright kid... all year long I was like, "You don't belong in this class.." and I'd teach her stuff her teacher left out. Things like... The rules of exponents.

So now she's in Pre-Calc and all the other kids from her 'regular class' were taken off the 'college prep math' band wagon and relegated to some kiddy stats class. Her Mom stood up and said, NO, had her put in Pre-Calc and one of her girlfriends followed.

Both of them had me help them this week. I nearly stroked.

Her gf looked at me in the beginning and said, "I can't factor. I'm not good at it..."

I got a case of the vapors. A mild case, but it was definitely there.

Trying to act like I hear this every day I said, "It's cool. I'll teach you..." (Come to find out, someone had never bothered to teach her the tricks. I was seeing spots. As soon as I taught her, she was a factoring fiend.)

We progressed to graphing x^2/3 which reads, the cube root of x squared.

She looked at it and said, "I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like that in my LIFE."

Now I'm fanning myself, searching for air. No! No! NO!

I gave her a quick lesson in roots and my student from last year said to me, "Bou, I'd not know any of this if you hadn't made me learn it. Remember? You'd flip through the book and say, "I don't care if she's skipping this, you're learning it...""

Dang.

I spent today with the new girl teaching her basics. She's a great kid and I do think she'll do fine. I do. The fact she didn't know that x^1/5 was the fifth root of x or that she'd never even HEARD of the cube root or fourth root of anything, absolutely... blew me away.

But I'm really pissed because taking 'the regular class' doesn't mean you shouldn't learn the real math. It just means a slower pace.

Meanwhile, the girl's mother is pissed and is going to the school to chew them out. This girl pulled a B PLUS IN ALG II last year and she doesn't know the rules of exponents?

This year could eat her lunch... Good Grief.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:54 PM | Comments (7)

August 20, 2010

Daddy Sang Bass, Mama Sang Tenor

In this world, there is a hierarchy no matter where you go. It cannot be avoided.

It is human nature.

In preschool it's the kids who can pee in the potty vs. the kids who still wear diapers.

In elementary school it's anything from what reading group you're in to how athletic you are.

As adults it can be anything... car you drive, jobs you hold or have held, where you live... there is always something.

That old adage of keeping up with the Jones' comes from it.

Imagine my surprise when we moved Pop to assisted living and on the first day we saw it... the hierarchy. "Who lived in Independent Living vs. Assisted".

"Those assisted living people keep coming into the main dining hall," she said to me snidely. "They have their own little eating rooms on their floors. THEY should eat THERE."

I rolled my eyes realizing that it is... everywhere.

So you can imagine my surprise when Bones told us the funniest story last night about his Voice class, the Boys' Choir.

Laughing he said, "... and they moved me into my new voice class. We were all standing around talking and these two boys came up to me and wanted to be my friend. They were all about getting to know me... until..."

Poking his fork for emphasis as he is apt to do, he continued, laughing, "... they found out I was a tenor. They are both basses. So as soon as they found out *I* was a tenor, they didn't want anything to do with me. I can't quit laughing..."

And so there you go. In the Boys' Choir in middle school, if you're a tenor, you can't be hanging out with those bass voices.

You just can't avoid those Star Bellied Sneeches...

At least he's laughing at the absurdity of it all.

That said... here is last year's again, this is a different angle of my favorite song they sang... go to Minute 6:30. You can see my two favorite boys who have solos. There are some seriously low voices for 8th grade!

Posted by Boudicca at 10:25 PM | Comments (2)

Planet IT

I found myself in a bit of an 'IT' bind today at work. I needed access to a different company's systems and I had no idea how to make this happen. Previous permissions had already been granted, through far more paperwork than even President Obama was required to provide to run this country.

After exchanging some dang funny email with our newest IT guy, he told me I needed to come up to his place for him to fix it. I don't go to the 'IT' grounds much. I stick in my little cube of heaven on the first floor.

Stay close to home. No good can come from going to the third floor... HR is up there as well as the big boss. I'll stay grounded.

Folks, I am here to tell you, the folks who work in IT live a different life than the rest of us and it always makes me laugh.

If you go into my cube, I have a formal picture of Ringo in a tux, with his double bass, a drawing of Sponge Bob by Bones (it looks like a square piece of olive pizza to be honest), a picture of my three boys in NYC, and... a Chik-fil-A cow calendar. On the shelf I have a Castle Argghhh! coffee mug I keep all my pens, pencils, and whatnot in, a pink monkey holding a heart that says "Kiss me" (a gift from Bones) and a pink heart chocolate box (empty). Funnier still as I don't do pink, but there is a lot of pink in my cube.

If you were to lift open the credenza, you'd find stashed away my Alice in Wonderland mug (a gift from a gf who swears I have an amazing knack for falling down rabbit holes), my bowl and utensils, a box of raisins, a container of almonds, two boxes of hot tea (don't do the blueberry... it tastes funky and I think it turns my teeth bluish... that's attractive), and my lysol wipes.

That's my cube. If I could take a picture, if it were legal, I would. It is spartan, clean, and... has pieces of my life. Oh! And there is a round Run! Girl! Run! sticker from my marathon days. (I need something in my cube to remind me of that brief moment of freaky insanity...)

But my cube is like the others within my small office. My Tech Lead's has a great picture of his sleeping in his marital bed with his two kids playing all over him as if they are lion and cubs, a drawing of a princess, a picture of his son (a gift I believe), and a picture of he and some guys we know fishing.

My boss? Pictures of his grandkids, one of his wife, a big plant that The Greek takes care of, and a picture of Air Force One signed by the then President (my boss used to be on AF1's crew).

My gf across from me has pinned to her wall a pencil picture cut out of a woman holding a long blade, as if she's a warrior, courtesy of Bones. He even put blood on the blade. He said it's showing how she has to get with the rest of us to keep us in line. (She does... have to keep the rest of us in line.) Pictures of her kids (grown), her dog, a crystal clock, and flowers (The Greek brings her tiny weeds flowers and she sometimes puts them in a pill bottle on her desk.)

We are nothing but thoughtful class in my group.

In all honesty... we are a big family... there are 7 of us and we're a whacky, laughing, dysfunctional group. We're also known to be hard working and have our own reputations. My reputation is a bit more hard a$$ed than everyone else's. Surprise. I've heard our blade wielding coworker warn someone off once, "Someone already pissed her off today. Watch your step!" But we take on the big projects. We are the big stress. Everyone knows it.

Our cubes are a bit of an extension of our personalities... bits of home we've been able to eek out into the most stressful 8-10 hours we live. We ALL know each others families, children, spouses. We are a big family.

So now you have the picture.

IT guys... dang. It doesn't matter where you go, this is what I've found.

So I walk into Jim Cantore's cube (his nickname here because he looks like Jim) and it's a big double cube he shares with another IT guy.

Jim is on one of those wireless phone headsets that all IT folks have. I have an old fashioned phone... thankfully not dial. I don't even have caller ID, which I KNOW the IT gurus have because not one of them ever say, "Hello?" they always answer with a knowing "Hey" when I call. (I've not decided if that's a good thing or not yet...)

Anyway, so he's on the wireless headset, talking to some IT guy at the other company that I'm trying to get hooked to, and I pull up a seat and start to look around.

No personal pictures at all. NONE.

I start looking for little plastic people. IT folks are notorious for having little crazy plastic cartoon characters on their monitors. I know what their cubes look like.

No personal effects.

It's all... pieces of old computers, hard drives, fans, computer crap I don't recognize, a big plastic bin with some old phones that look like mine, stacks and stacks of paper, books on computer languages and systems and rules, coffee mugs that give some inkling as to their favorite past time, like fishing, that look as if they need to be washed, and yellow sticky post it notes and half sheets of paper with notes to themselves scattered all over.

In essence... going into the cubes if our IT guys is a combination of walking into some sort of cyber mechanic's garage and the absent minded professor's office.

And it ALWAYS... absolutely ALWAYS... cracks me up.

Broad strokes with that brush... I know... but this is pretty much what I know.

They're always on their phone or out fixing something at someone else's desk and dang if their cubes don't reflect it.

Posted by Boudicca at 07:27 PM | Comments (7)

August 18, 2010

Bones First Week

There has been a lot going on, so I'll limit this post to Bones:

I was worried. I was worried. Why. I was worried because the last two years have absolutely sucked sewage laden pond water for him. I'm not sure where I would begin with all that was wrong.

Mostly, it was my star shaped peg son not belonging in a round peg environment and teachers he had not wanting to deal with anything but round pegs. In the last two years, three of the four teachers couldn't stand him. The one teacher who could work with him, 4th grade, pulled me aside and said, "He doesn't belong here. He's a great kid. He's smart, but this is not a good place for him."

She was right.

It's a great school... just not for him.

But if it didn't work at this new 'art' school with all the zany personalities, then it meant... we'd never make it work. This school is my Hail Mary Pass.

Needless to say, I feel like I have a lot riding on this.

So.

If the first day of school didn't go well, we were in deep doo doo.

BONES FIRST DAY

Bones was insistent on being a kid who rode the bus and although I was nervous, trying to figure out how it was going to fit with kids flung to the three of four winds this school year, I realized he was right.

Tuesday he bounced off the school bus, my waiting nervously in my car, praying, hoping, it was a good first day.

Into the asexual Mom-mobile he jumped and I said with the perfect Mom smile and sweet Mom Happy Energy, "SO! How... WAS... YOUR FIRST DAY?"

And my fluff headed blue eyed Calvin said, "GREAT! Mom! Mom! Mom! They serve Pina Coladas there for a dollar at lunch!!!"

*blink* (virgin of course...)

I replied, "Wow! Anything else?"

He smiled bigger and said, "Yeah, it was great, but can you believe it? I bought one. One dollar. It was FANTASTIC!"

Some things don't change. It's all about the snacks.

He loves his classes.

He has been insistent that he have a key to the house... "Mom, I'll feel more like an adult if I have a house key." On some mornings we lock his bike up to a tree so he can ride it home after school.

He swears he has a lot of friends. I'm a little concerned because he has SO MANY friends. Bones is trusting... too trusting.

But he's happy.

He did tell my husband last night, 'You know what I miss about my old school? I was so different I stood out. Everyone knew me because of me... now... everyone is like me. Everyone is extroverted and funny. Now... I'm just a grain of sand on a beautiful beach."

I'm still nervous that he's going to blow this. I don't think I'll ever expect the best. I will always hope, but with him... I always expect the phone call along the lines of:

"Mrs. L, come get your son. He just drove a tractor through the school gym..."

Posted by Boudicca at 05:52 PM | Comments (14)

August 17, 2010

Holy Crap... 43

Happy Birthday to my bro, TN who turned 43 today.

Good Grief.

Not to make it all about me, but that means *I* am turning 45 this year. Cripes!

Happy Birthday, Bro!

Posted by Boudicca at 09:16 PM | Comments (10)

August 16, 2010

Looking for the Positive!

School starts tomorrow. Big stress here... big stress.

We accidentally figured out how to get a teenager out of the shower. When we were out shopping for a sling for Ringo, he found this latex bag that he could slip over his cast and not worry about it getting wet. The latex bag has this 2 inch rubber... band that clings to the arm or leg.

Me: What time do you want me to get you up in the morning.

Ringo: 6:15. My shower won't be that long. It's that bag I have to wear...

Me: It starts to leak?

Ringo: No! It starts to cut off the circulation to my arm!

So there you have it... short showers... we just had to break an arm to do it!

Posted by Boudicca at 10:10 PM | Comments (4)

August 14, 2010

When the Kids Just Say No

Ringo broke his arm skim boarding. A minor detail I forgot to put in last night's post. Hence his being covered in sand from head to toe; he took a spill the wrong way and his wrist dislocated, snapping the radial.

What has been interesting is the 'drug fight'. When we got there, he wasn't in pain, and immediately they wanted to put him on morphine. I kept saying, "Are you sure...?" and finally the PA said, "Did you see his wrist? It's going to start hurting soon." I explained that I'd just had a full on experience with morphine in Hospice and I was a bit drug shy... she promised me not to give him Hospice sized morphine doses.

Which evidently they didn't because the pain did set in and he swears the morphine didn't touch it.

Flash forward to his arm being set and our getting ready to leave. The ER doc said he was giving us a script for Loratab. That's some pretty heavy duty stuff for those of you not in the know.

The look on my face was pretty indicative of how I felt about that drug in my son's body.

He started out by telling us all the AWFUL things that could happen to him taking this drug so young, the awful side effects on young people and then ended with, 'But he's going to need it. He's going to be in BIG PAIN the next couple days. I'm giving you 15 of them..."

We spoke of ibuprofen, but he went on about how he was REALLY GOING TO NEED this drug.

Fine.

The nurse came in, the one who had been tending him all day, and she informed us that Ringo was going to be in a heaping lot of pain and that Loratab was going to be his friend and that we didn't want him suffering through the night... he needed the drug.

I kept saying, "Are you sure? It seems that as soon as you popped it back in place, he should feel MUCH better..." and she said, "No, no... he needs this."

6PM, my son ate a sandwich and I said, "Hospital scale, happy face =1, frowny crying face =10, where are you?" He said, "Eh... a four. Can I have some advil?"

So I gave him three with a bunch of water and he went back to sleep.

Midnight, I stayed up until 1AM because I had some stuff to do with his cast throughout the night, he said to me, "Mom, I'm a 4 pushing a 5. Straight face. Can I have some Advil?"

I gave him 3 more.

6AM: I was up to do his cast adjustment. He woke up, wiggled his fingers for 10 minutes and fell back to sleep. I never said a word about meds.

9AM this morning: I get "Mom, I'm a 5." I gave him 3 Advil and 30 minutes later he said, "That's great. I'm back down to a 2..." and he fell back to sleep.

6PM TONIGHT, he said, "I need to eat. I need Advil... I'm pushing a five again..."

AND, I have a house full of teenage boys and other than his hand having to be elevated... this is a non-event to him. As a matter of fact, he's out seeing SALT right now with his buddies.

Folks, what is up with the drug pushers? Seriously, I LOVED the staff... LOVED THEM, and I am glad we had it as back up, but they were all over about how he was going to be a suffering fool wanting to slit his throat in pain last night and the kid has had FOUR doses of Advil in 24 hours.

10:1 says we're fine until tomorrow and we'll probably drop to a lower dose.

But seriously... what's that about?

(I do have the picture and will post it in an extended entry later in the week with fair warning.)

Posted by Boudicca at 09:01 PM | Comments (14)

August 13, 2010

I Hate Fridays

Four points are a trend.

Four Fridays ago we got the call from an ER at 5:15AM that Pop was there.

Three Fridays ago we called Hospice.

Last Friday we had the Funeral.

Today I spent the day in the Jupiter Hospital ER with my eldest who snapped a bone in his wrist. (Any of you linked to him on FB have seen the nasty picture by now, I am sure.)

I still don't do FB.

And so the tale goes...

I took him to the beach to meet some friends. I turned back into town to pick up my two other boys who were with their Dad, when 10 minutes short of my destination, my son called and said, "Mom, come get me. I messed up my wrist bad. It's broken or dislocated and you need to take me to the ER."

I love that.

And so I reassured him I'd be there ASAP, turned my car around, called him back to make sure he really was OK and knew where to meet me when I finally asked, 'Son, which arm did you break?"

His reply? Dork that he is.... "I got lucky, Mom. It's the right one. I pick with my left!" (Said the bass player...)

Said I, "Ringo, you WRITE with your RIGHT HAND" to which I got a "Oh. Right."

I told him not to sweat it. We have wondered as of late if he is really a lefty who has been forced to write right and now we shall explore this for the next 6 weeks.

So I arrive at the parking lot and there he is... gimp arm and all and all I kept thinking was, "Don't vomit. Don't vomit. Don't vomit".

It wasn't a compound, thankfully, but his hand was completely dislocated from his arm and there was a bone broken. Joints aren't supposed to bend that way. No. I don't have pictures. I'm struggling to get it out of my head as it is.

His buddies placed him in the car and I drove off as he said, "It doesn't hurt. I'm just really thirsty. And maybe I might vomit..." and I realized he was in shock.

I drove right up to the doors, and this is what transpired:

Ringo is in board shorts, flip flops and no shirt, covered head to toe in sand. I'm looking rather Mommish, and we walked in, to find a young 15 year old volunteer, blonde haired blue eyed and sweet, sitting next to a paramedic/nurse just outside triage.

They looked at us like, "Can we help you?" because we looked like we were there to visit. At that point I said, "I think he broke his wrist" as Ringo lifted his bendy disjointed arm/hand and the sweet blonde went nearly translucent and the paramedic jumped up and said, "OH... I got this..." and quickly got him into the back.

Morphine helps even if you don't want to die in Hospice.

They got it all put back together around 5PM... a dislocated wrist and a broken radius. I'm staying awake all night sleeping in his room tonight to keep the four hour tabs on him.

The kid... he never frickin' flinched. The pain got pretty bad and occasionally you'd see a grimace, but he never complained. The staff told me it hurt like an SOB, but the kid... never really gave any inclination that it had to hurt like it did.

At the end of the night, the paramedic/nurse said to me, "I have grown men come in here with that same injury or less screaming and carrying on. The two of you walk in big as day, you say, "I think he broke his arm..." and he holds it up like this happens every single day..."

I'd like to think we're an understated crew...

My son said to me, "Mom, I got sand all over this place. Every bed, every chair I sat in, every place I stepped, I left a trail of sand."

I smiled and said, "Perspective, son. It's better it's sand than blood..."

We have a good stash of drugs for him should he need it, but as of now, he only wants Advil. I'm sure that will change... but hell, who knows. Even his buddies on the beach keep talking about how he just kept staring at his arm, never saying a word.

Of course, being friends, and having cell phones... they snapped a picture.

Blech.

Maybe this was all a big sign that... it's time for summer to end.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:41 PM | Comments (15)

August 12, 2010

Random Thoughts on Summer

I find myself in an odd mood tonight as I reflect upon this past summer and this coming school year.

Three kids, three different schools. Bones is taking the school bus, which is fine, except most of the times we'll be dropping him to the bus stop, moving on to take other kids to school... so we have to depend that he'll actually MAKE IT to school. He informed me yesterday that, 'I need a house key, Mom. I'll feel like more of an adult if I have one and I WANT to walk home from the bus stop."

Except the bus stop is about 1.5 miles away and there is no way in hell Bones would EVER take the shortest route/straight line approach.

He just wants an excuse to have a house key because his brothers don't have one. "I'll get a house key before Ringo, and he's 15."

Ringo has just never needed one.

So I'll get Bones a house key, just so he feels all grown up and that he's beat his brothers at something... ANYTHING... even if it's as trivial as hearing him taunt them over supper, "I have a house key and YOU don't", while his brothers look at each other with a 'like we give a crap' look... something he has yet to catch on to.

I'm not looking forward to school. I've been damaged by too many bad years to look forward to this one.

Some whacked out Mom PTSD, perhaps. The anxiety attacks are coming, something I had grown more prone to last year. I'm trying desperately to keep them at bay this year.

This summer didn't help.

I'm angry over something that happened on Pop's deathbed.

I need to get past it.

It's not helping anyone, but tormenting me. I think I am not the same because of it... I don't think I'll ever be the same.

My kids are growing up. I'm OK with it. I know some folks struggle, but this is my job, to raise my children to be functional members of society and the closure of that chapter is coming closer and closer. When it comes, I'll be ready.

More than ready.

I feel certain.

My husband does not.

I said to him the other day, "The 0 years are not good for you. You lost your Mom at 40, your Dad at 50... who is left to lose at 60? Me?" A look of horror crossed his face. 'You better not..."

Interesting thought, however. Either way, I'm not looking forward to his 60th year.

Every night... Bones has a routine he goes through. He goes into bed and yells, "Come in now!" and we close his closet, turn on his overhead fan, kiss him and turn off his light. Sometimes it is late when he goes to bed and he's on his own. The summers... he goes to bed later than me at times.

The other night, I was sitting at the kitchen table reading when he yelled, "Come in!" Lost in my book... I forgot.

Fifteen minutes passed and I realized I'd forgotten. I looked up to find Ringo coming out of his bedroom.

"Did you... just tuck him in?" I asked.

He looked a bit struck and said, "Umm... no. I just closed his closet, turned on his fan and turned off his light..."

I replied, "You did that?"

He stood there looking at me blankly and finally said, "Yeah, Mom, I do that every night you and Dad can't come in..."

And I said to him softly, "You tuck him in..." and I quietly turned away.

My 15 year old son tucks in his 11 year old brother when Mom and Dad are in bed or are too busy.

I never knew...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:56 PM | Comments (7)

August 11, 2010

Morning Conversations

Me: Did you see this obit? Is it screaming MOB! or what?
(Sidenote: Mob as in Mafia)

Hunhead: Why do you say that?

Me: First, it's about $1000 worth of obit, with picture which is $110. Second, he owned Waste Management companies in NEW JERSEY

Hunhead: (taking the paper from me) OK, I see that, but don't you think you're being a bit stereotypical of Italian Americans?
(Sidenote: My husband is 100% Italian.)

I finished eating and without looking up I said: Right, baby. Get to the bottom where his family intermarried with the Capones...

Hunhead: Wow. Sheesh. You think that restaurant was a front?

Me: Ya think?

We keep laughing about it.

Posted by Boudicca at 08:56 PM | Comments (6)

August 10, 2010

Thinking of the Thereafter

In lieu of my last post, and Pop getting his nose job by the morticians, I have made the following decision:

I want to be buried wearing knits.

I don't wear knits. Knits make me look lumpy. Nothing screams, "OH LOOK! She had three kids!" like my wearing a knit ensemble.

So I don't.

But I decided, if I can get hold of the morticians before I die and give them my wishes, maybe I can have them cut away all the tummy fat that makes me look mommish, and give me the flat stomach I really never had. A good push up bra and I could have one helluva body.

A dead body... but still.

So, that's my current mindset. Let the morticians fix my body and bury me in a knit ensemble.

Of course I've not passed any of this by my ever lovin' husband. I think I'd get the... eye roll.

Right.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:11 AM | Comments (8)

August 07, 2010

When I Die, Give me a Tummy Tuck

And so we had the viewing.

And so Pop looked perfectly AWFUL.

Seriously, though, why do we expect them to NOT... look awful, that is. They are dead, afterall, yet we expect them to look 'good'.

It was open only for the family for the first hour, to be closed directly after. My husband walked up, looked in, and said, "Close it. He looks terrible."

Someone else walked up and said, "Who is this? What did they do? This doesn't even look like him."

My husband reiterated, "Close it."

I said, "No, you can't. This is the FAMILY viewing and everyone gets the CHOICE to see. You can close it when everyone says they're finished."

Too much time has been spent discussing WHY Pop looked so bad. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't blue or ghoulish. He was just... seriously... someone else's Dad and grandfather.

Its like too much fluid had been drained from his hands and they looked like vampire claws.

His face? Good grief. We have been over it and over it and the best we can decide is... they tried to fix his features and should have left them alone.

I get the lips. His face had hung open at such an odd angle for so long, when they closed it and sewed it shut it gave a pinched look. The skin stretched across his teeth so you could see the outline of his jaw.

However, that wasn't bad enough, and something my husband and I contend was probably unavoidable. What WAS avoidable was the nose job they gave him. His nose was broken THREE times in his lifetime, the last time five years ago when he hit face first when hit by a car that was backing out but never bothered to check behind.

And allow me to inform you as well, my husband's dear friend is an ENT, and when Pop went to see said friend about the nose to make sure it was all 'liveable' I guess, our friend said he could fix his nose and Pop said No.

He said No.

I know, you're thinking, "Big deal... he said no..." except you didn't see his nose. It was broken to the side and FLAT. His nose was pushed to one side and flat and he said to one of the finest surgeons in the area, someone who would have COMPLETELY taken care of him as if he were his own father, "No".

We all shook our heads and laughed. I mean, his glasses didn't even fit right anymore. You'd have thought he'd get it fixed for functionality alone... but NO.

And to add to it, the last couple months Pop was prone to more and more anxiety attacks and so we were trying to teach him breathing to get through the tough spots. We'd hold him, speak to him quietly and gently, and invariably, my brother in law would say, "Dad... now close your mouth and breathe innnnnnn through your nose..."

This went on for weeks and weeks and weeks until a couple days before he died, I said when it was just he and I, "Pop, can you EVEN breathe through your nose?"

He looked at me dryly and deadpanned, "NO."

I laughed as he'd been humoring everyone for all those weeks. "Breathe in through your nose" was the equivalent of 'Hold your breath..."

Anyway, where was I going with this? The mortician guys fixed his nose. Someone obviously was bothered by the horrific lack of symmetry in his face, the jaw hanging open at a cock eyed angle and the nose flat to one side... so they closed his jaw straight and straightened his nose!!!

And in giving him the nose job, they flattened it a bit so his nostrils flared. He looked... dead, drawn and PISSED.

And this was going to be my niece's introduction to the dead? It actually worked out perfectly.

Livey made the choice of going forward to the casket. Everyone spoke to her about it and so we realized that to not let her was going to be worse in the long run. And as you might expect, 'twas I that had 'concrete question duty'.

Livey: It doesn't look like him, Aunt Bou.

Me, aghast at how 'pissed' he looked: You're right. You know what this shows you, Livey? This shows you that the man you loved is NOT here. He's not. This was just his mortal shell. The man you hugged and who used to hug you is not here.

Livey: He's not here. This doesn't look like him at all.

Me: Nope. Life made him the man you loved. This isn't him.

She went on to ask if she could touch him, to which I said, 'of course', and she commented on how cold he was, to which I said the warmth was the part no longer with us. The love and warmth go hand in hand.

She brushed his jacket accidentally and said, "Is there paper under there?"

I opened his sleeve so she could look in and I said, "Nope. Just his jacket. His skin is hard like clay now, so when things brush up against it, it doesn't sound like our skin."

She played with his jacket arm for awhile, continued to comment on how it didn't look like him and then... the entire reason I knew she needed her questions answered, occurred. If she had not asked, if I had not answered, she'd have created answers herself, ghoulish and incorrect answers that would haunt her for a long time.

The casket has that little cloth at the waist so you can't see beyond the waist. You can't look down into the depths of the casket to his feet.

Livey *big big pause*: Aunt Bou *in a whisper* Did they... cut him in half?

She thought he was some rendition of the magician's "Watch me as I saw my assistant in half!".

Me: No, no, no, that cloth is there just to block seeing his ENTIRE body. It's cool. It's all there.

Livey: Why do they want to cover it? *big whisper again* Is he... naked? Is he wearing... pants?

Me: YES! Your aunts brought ALL his clothes. He has underwear, socks, shoes, pants and a belt. It's all there.

Livey: Whew.

And that was that. We shut it just a bit thereafter.

I think if we had to do it again, we'd have supplied them with a picture with directions to not fix his nose.

Good grief. Can you imagine? All your physical imperfections can be fixed at death. Can't afford plastic surgery when alive? No worries, if you're lucky, you'll get it in death.

Blech.

Finally got his nose fixed and now there was no way in hell air was going to move through it. Sheesh.

BTW, you can just imagine how much I laughed at Peggy and Carl in the comments of THIS post. Holy crap. Carl's family is going to have to INSIST on one of those waist cloths on the casket...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:28 PM | Comments (5)

Funeral Detail

I will never walk through the caulking section of Home Depot and just think of... caulk. And it is official, there are myriad uses for duct tape, uses of which you and I would never dream... story at the end of this post.

The funeral was nice, as nice as a funeral can be deemed. As I said to my one sister in law, "Father gives good Funeral." He knows our family personally, having baptized my niece, performed pre-marital counseling for my husband and me before we wed, performed First Reconciliations to all three of my boys along with First Holy Communion, and Confirmation for my eldest, the Pastor of the school when my brother in law attended.

Father is entrenched in our family. I have said often, not even being Catholic, if I needed something spiritually, it is Father I would seek.

I cried on my way down the aisle, not for sadness that my father in law no longer resides in his mortal body, but for my children who grieve at the loss. Their first cognizant loss this was... Mr. T in particular struggled. As we followed the casket, I walked behind my three sons, their father a pall bearer, and rubbed their shoulders, stroked their necks, trying to keep them all close to me, an impossibility in space now as two of them are my size are bigger.

If I could have wrapped all three of them in my arms and held them close to my chest, and carried them down the aisle, I would have. I could tell Mr. T was distraught and in turn, I felt the tears burning down my face, unable to stop the watershed... my heart breaking for my sons.

My husband eulogized his father in the most appropriate and moving way. My father in law was no saint by any stretch and there were no rose colored glasses during the eulogy. It was honest, forthright, and from the heart. He was able to keep himself composed, pushing down the grief as he spoke.

We left and went to the internment where we were greeted by the funeral detail from the United States Navy. And until then, other than walking with my grieving children, a tear not was shed from me. As I said, there is a void, I'm sad for my children, but I'm at peace with the end. So there had been no real emotion on my part during the entire ceremony...

...until we got to the military part. A special thanks to my girlfriend JD, a retired Navy Commander, who saw me lost at the mausoleum wondering what to do as I looked for my husband. Not thinking correctly, I had forgotten that as a pallbearer he was part of the assist to move the 300+ lb casket from hearse to rollaway. So there I stood, looking, wondering, when she took me by the shoulders, clarified that it was in fact my husband that was to receive the flag, and, led me to the front seats and said, "Sit" and she took care of everything else. Until she snapped me out of it... I felt bewildered.

And then the Navy brought Pop in and I started to cry, and my husband joined me, Taps was played, flag folded, and although I had cried before, the presentation to my husband... is something I will NEVER forget. The sailor who presented it... so heartfelt and warm. I thought I might cry an ocean, not for Pop leaving, but for all the Veterans and what it means to lose someone who has served our country.

I think that's what it boiled down to for me... we lost yet another American who had served their country.

And then... it was at the internment that it became funny and bizarre.

I have NO IDEA what I expected... except perhaps something similar to my mother in law's internment, where Father blessed the hole in the wall, said a few prayers and her coffin was shoved in the wall, with the marble closure placed.

We got there and the fabric 'curtain' was removed to make way for the casket. Bones immediately jumped forward so he could look in the hole to see Granny's casket. It was an urge every single adult was fighting, so many of us took him aside later and asked, "Bones! What did you see?"

His reply was, "It was too dark. It was dark in the hole. I couldn't see ANYTHING."

Dang.

And father threw some water in the hole. He said a few prayers and... they put the casket on this plastic thing and pushed it in. They attached a plastic bracelet thing to the handle of the casket, saying who was inside the box.

I kept thinking, "Good idea in case we end up in a New Orleans type scenario. We'll know who's in there!"

And then...

...a gravedigger came up, knelt down at the hole, whipped out a caulking gun, placed a clear caulk in it, and squirted a thin line of caulk around the edge of the hole. He took a steel plate and pushed it in place and then caulked and recaulked, sealing said plate in place.

I leaned over to my husband and whispered, 'I'm never going to look at the caulk section of Home Depot the same... ever again.' He raised his eyebrows and said, "No kidding..."

And the guy worked and caulked and I looked around and everyone seemed a bit surprised that we were watching the ACTUAL event... when...

... when... he pulled out a roll of black duct tape and measured each piece, tearing it off, and finished sealing the steel plate in place with duct tape.

I think we all just stood there mesmerized. I can't say it was the horror of it all... but dang if there wasn't surprise everywhere. It was THE talk in EVERYONE'S car as we left.

Then the gravediggers/mausoleum fillers/caulkers/duct tapers/jack of all funerial trades put the marble slab over the hole and screwed it down.

Now my husband's theory is they really have to seal it so that there isn't any grave robbery. We decided it's much easier to break into a mausoleum than a grave.

That could be. I suspect there are some laws involved as well concerning air tight, keep the decomposing smell in etc.

Seriously, when you witness something as we did, you don't leave there saying, "That was such a great funeral..." you leave saying, "Dang. Clear caulk and black duct tape?"

As my girlfriend JD told me later, "You only need an exacto knife to escape!" Of course she and I both know it's more complicated than that, but Sheesh, that's sure what it felt like!

Anyway, a special shout out as well to Son#4's Mom, who jumped in my kitchen and helped me reheat food, and looked after the emotional well being of my boys, since she's like a second Mom.

And a special shout out to VW, who was hellbent on coming to the viewing, even though she had just had surgery. She wanted to check on my husband and my boys as well... and she showed up stoned out of her mind on some seriously good drugs. (Her husband drove her...) It was dang funny.

Which reminds me, when she came she wanted to say hello to my boys and I couldn't find them. There sat all their cousins. No Bou-Boys. I looked around, looked outside... no Bou-Boys.

They had been sitting in the back of the viewing with a deck of cards and were starting to hustle I think. Unbeknownst to me, their 2nd cousin, my husband's age, grabbed them up and took them to 7-11 for a drink and a walk.

So I'm wandering around looking and I had fully decided they had escaped and were poking around the funeral home, on a fact finding mission.

Ringo said to me later, "Mom. We're not like that. Geez." To which I replied, "Look, you weren't in the funeral home viewing area, you weren't outside, all three of you were together... what in the heck was I SUPPOSED TO THINK?"

I figured they were looking for bodies.

They're all creeped out by the thought.

Tomorrow's post: The viewing/closed casket and... more concrete questions. I know you can hardly wait...

Posted by Boudicca at 12:16 PM | Comments (6)

August 04, 2010

I'll Take Concrete Questions for $500.

It's the little decisions at times that are the most difficult, things like, 'What do we do with Dad's glasses?" My husband standing there, twirling them in his hands, wondering... what do we do?

My vote is to put them on him and just leave it alone. No decision if they're on him... of course they can be donated as well. That could be the case.

There was some odd sense of urgency today from the Funeral Home that they HAD to have his clothes by 3:00 this afternoon.

My sisters in law were running out to get them to them in time. I shook my head and said, "Really. What's going to happen if you don't get them there by 3:00? Is he going to... die? Please. Spontaneously combust? Hardly. Look, if they get all pissy, I'll dress him. It can't be worse than some of the other stuff I did at the end..." They thought that was hysterical and didn't seem so stressed as they left after that.

Perspective. Please.

Children's perspectives are even more different. Where we may contemplate the deep discussions of death, is there a soul, is there not? Is there a heaven or a hell? What exactly happens? And on and on one may ask one's self.

The bluntness of children is wonderful. My niece, as crazy as she can be, one of the things I love about her most his out in your face and blunt she can be, no sugar coating... it is what it is.

Livey: Aunt Bou, where is he?

Me *thinking crap, what does she mean?*: Where is Pop?

Livey: YES. Where IS he?

Me: Umm... well... *thinking, I'm not the one to ask the questions about souls, death, where heaven is actually LOCATED*

Livey *acting as if she were GRABBING someone with both hands at the bicep*: HIM. Where is HE. His body. Where is it?

Me *relieved at the concrete question*: OH! Well, he's at a funeral home. There are people whose business is death. Like some people become lawyers or plumbers or doctors, some people work with the dead and preparing them.

Livey: Is it a building?

Me *suddenly aware my sister in law is watching and listening closely*: Yup. We'll see the building Thursday night. They take him from the hospital, clean him up, brush his hair, get him in clothes we picked out and get him in the casket. That's their job.

Livey: So then does his skin come off?

Me: *blink*

Livey: Dad says his skin will just... fall off. (she made motions of his skin falling off in hunks)

Me *realizing darn well that no way my brother in law said it like that*: Well... that is called rotting, decaying or decomposing. No, not yet. They're going to put this medicine type stuff in his body to keep from doing that. People struggle with thinking that someone they loved is rotting.

Livey: So is Granny all bones yet?

Me: I think it takes longer than 10 years. I need to look... I'll research it and get back with you.

I got in the car and one of my sisters in law said "Yeah, I'm curious now..."

Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see Livey's take tomorrow. It is a closed casket viewing except for family, and I'm sure she's going to have a ton of questions. I think it could be pretty interesting...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:49 PM | Comments (17)

August 03, 2010

Oct 16, 1925-Aug 2, 2010

Blogging will be light as the funeral is Friday and what feels like the entire State of New Jersey is spilling into my house this week.

Arrangements have been made. My obit is being used. I caught last night that I had forgotten to put down his date of death. Oddly... his life seemed so important as I told his story, that his death didn't make my radar.

I'm having a tough time getting through all my email. I am going to answer and if I have not, it is not because I'm not appreciating! I'm just overloaded and treading water.

The normal grieving is going on... it comes in waves. All have settled into acceptance, of course, as there will be no resurrection. Death is so very... final.

My husband left for work this morning while I was still in bed. I can tell he's struggling again this morning... he being the one with Pop while he died, something I found fitting. My husband is the one that looked after him the last 10 years, it was right that he be the one as he took his last breath.

Anyway, I lay in bed when I felt his hand upon my forehead to tell me he was leaving. Through blurry eyes, I said, "Take your shoes off, crawl back in bed with me. Let's just... be." He shook his head and said he had things to clear up at the office. So he's sorting through and will take the rest of the week off.

But that overwhelming temptation is there... just crawl back in bed, pull the sheets over our heads and maybe the world will just... go away.

It would be nice.

Posted by Boudicca at 07:05 AM | Comments (31)

August 01, 2010

Oh The Places We'll Go

I think often of traveling to Great Britain. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, England... all seem to hold something different and I want to see it all.

I want to go to Scotland and see Kinlochaline Castle. It has been refurbished and is privately owned, but I'd like to just see it... even from a distance.

I want to hike Hadrian's Wall.

And I want to go to London and see Highgate Cemetery and Postman's Park, the Wall of Heros.

I'm thinking about that a lot lately...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:32 PM | Comments (3)