April 29, 2012

Shoes and Jazz

They did NOT have pink shoes at the Red Wing store, which so totally bummed me out, because although I'm not a pink kind 'o gal, I really wanted kick a$$ girl shoes. I had totally bought into the idea.

Instead I have these awful white ones that make me look like I'm morphing into the Stay Puff Marshmallow man from the feet up. And they're heavy. They are tennis shoey, but very white. I was looking to not spend the big bucks. As it was they were more than I wanted to spend.

The fitting of the shoes is very odd. This is the first store I've ever gone to where they actually sell wide shoes, which is what I wear. I'm a 7 1/2 Wide, but because I can't get wide shoes, I always wear an 8.

So when the young man brought me my 7 1/2 W shoes, I wondered, "Can I wear a... 7?" I had him bring me out one to try on.

Here's the thing about steel toed shoes. You can't press on the toe to see how much room you really have. And although they felt right, I'm not buying another pair and Son#4's Mom, who came with me, made a good point, I can wear thicker socks with the 7 1/2.

So that's what I have. Screaming WHITE shoes. I'm keeping sandals in my car.

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We had the band banquet last night and it went very well. As a thank you gift, they bought me a beautiful silver bracelet. I absolutely love it... and it warms my heart.

Financially, my kids' school is doing very poorly. There are many reasons, of which I won't go into, other than the repressed economy is not helping, but with the budget deficit, they are letting teachers go or not replacing them.

They let our assistant band director go. She will not be returning next year.

I feel like... I can hear the death rattle in the school.

Unless some big big changes are made, I don't see the school surviving another five years. I just have to get Mr. T out of there in time.

The unfortunate thing is... I know that my kids are getting a damn good education. There are things that piss me off and a couple teachers suck, but I work enough with public school teachers to know that the suckage is higher there than with what we are experiencing.

As I've been known to say, "There is no educational utopia..."

Unlike the public schools that cut the arts first, our school cut the arts LAST. It makes me nervous for next year...

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When we were in NOLA, the kids got a private performance at Preservation Hall.

Let me state up front... I hate Jazz. It does not speak to my soul. I find it meanders and there isn't much of a structure. The only thing I dislike more than Jazz is that Rap/HipHop music.

So I went into the performance with very very low expectations. It was just something on the tour list of things we were to do.

And they blew me away. The music... it didn't touch your soul, it grabbed hold of it and draped itself around it like a warm sweater on a cool night.

The kids were bouncing in their seats. We were clapping and singing. We had the BEST TIME ever.

I was totally blown away. I may still not like Jazz, but I LOVE the Jazz at Preservation Hall. I love New Orleans Jazz. I highly recommend it.

And I had parents come up to me at the band banquet and tell me that their kids were so touched by the performance, they've signed up for Jazz Band next year.

That alone... was worth it.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:13 PM | Comments (6)

April 26, 2012

From Pythagorean to Pink

I'm planning a Band Banquet for 200 for Saturday night. There has been a lot that has gone wrong with it, but it's coming together. We are using the rectangular tables from the cafeteria, pushed together to form a 6 foot x 6 foot square that seats 10.

I called the Party Rental store to get linens and she said, "The most economical way is if we use a round table cloth. We can use the 108" or the 120""

So I promptly broke out my calculator and calculated the diameter of said square and figured out how it would lay and said, "The 120" please..."

The next day I was in the cafeteria with my girlfriend Candy, who is helping me, and who is an accountant, and the caterer who also runs the food at the school.

Caterer: So what are you doing for table coverings? My guy couldn't get you that many linens, besides the quality is not so great.

Me: We're using rounders.

Caterer: Size? You need the diameter of the square table from corner to corner...

Candy starts to grin.

Me: I ordered the 120". I calculated using Pythagoreum's theorm since I had both sides. *Now I'm kind of talking to myself* The square root of 72 is around 8.5 feet if I recall... which is 102 inches.

Caterer: *blink*

Candy: *laughing* Don't mind her. She's the math geek. She's all about the numbers...

Me: What?! It's real life application!

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Speaking of real life application. How things have changed.

I was informed that for my business trip I need steel toed shoes. I'm going to Sears tomorrow to see if I can find them for girls, otherwise I have to go to a specialty store downtown.

It says online they sell them for girls.

I was on the telecon and it came up. I was on the Red Wing site at the time.

Me: Seriously? I didn't need these in the 90s in the shop.

Random male voice: OSHA. It's not the 90s anymore...

Me: sheesh. Dang. These are nasty.

Random male voice: Well its those or we issue you frankenboots.

Me: I'm thinking its the same.

A random GIRL voice: They have them in PINK now!

Me: *silence*

My tech lead: *silence*

Me: Umm. Yeah. I don't see that happening...

We got off the phone and my Tech Lead said, "yeah, someone on that phone call didn't know you. They mentioned pink and I nearly busted out laughing. I'm not sure I've ever seen you in pink..."

Don't get me wrong, pink is a great color, but I've spent too much time trying to blend with the men to do something to make it scream that I'm different. If the guys will wear pink steel toed shoes... then so shall I.

So that's what I'm doing tomorrow, shopping for my first pair of steel toed shoes. This could be interesting.

Sidenote: I did look up the pink shoes. I have to admit... they're pretty frickin' cool. I'd do it just for conversation. It's better than the time I wore a blue shoe and a black shoe to work...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:38 PM | Comments (11)

April 25, 2012

Is This King OR Queen?

Going along with our transgender theme for the Band Trip, we have this photo I took at Mardi Gras world. Mardi Gras world is where they make all the Mardi Gras floats.
IMG_1813.JPG

It amuses me. My husband makes the slide show for the band. I put it in the slideshow, smack in the middle and made it stay up just a little longer than the rest so the Band Director couldn't miss it...

*Patience as I fix the picture if it's sideways when you get her...- Well, I'm on my husband's mac and I can't fix it and I'm catching a cold, so turn your head sideways, m'kay?*

Posted by Boudicca at 08:23 PM | Comments (6)

April 24, 2012

Throw Mama From the Bus

What I found is that if you're the bus driver, you don't necessarily feel the need to do the research to go from Point A to Point B. If you're the bus driver... you're literally... just driving. Navigation is optional.

At least if you're Cecelia and Teamster. If you're Mr. 'Yeats and Single Malt Scotch' and his cerebral sidekick, there is a GPS involved and consultation with the BD or coordinator to ensure everyone is on the same page.

I had mapquested every single destination, every stop, and printed it out complete with map AND directions. I spent hours and hours making sure that my travel Bible was filled with every thing we could possibly need.

So imagine my surprise when Cecelia missed our turn in Pensacola to get off for lunch at the Mall. She had the directions. I'd printed them. Evidently... reading was also optional. She keyed in on one line and decided to follow I-10 to an exit that didn't exist since she never bothered to look at the preceding steps having us get off on I-110 first.

Of course... this was my fault as she shrieked at me and us and everyone around how we were all incompetent... as she made her way through Pensacola, following the other bus driver who had the GPS, to find our way back to the Mall.

When we arrived at the Mall, what had started bad had gotten worse. To top it off, we realized the a/c in the bus didn't work for the last 5 rows, so the back of the bus was 20 degrees warmer than the front. Bundled in jackets and blankets in the front, the kids in the back were on slow roast, covered in a light sheen of sweat.

That was added to my list.

By the time we arrived in NOLA, as I said in the previous post, we were all done with each other. Margot was aghast, trying to smooth things over, when Cecelia went on one of her tirades.

Even Teamster was horrified and this is when he did something that stunned me. He pulled BD and me aside, and said, "Look, I just try to stay on her good side. It's tough. She's married to a woman just like her..."

*blink*

All sorts of questions were running through my mind. Was she a man and became a woman? Was she born a woman, but wanted to be a man? Was she a transvestite? What WAS her DEALIO?

Folks, there is this thing I preach to my kids called, "Know your audience". There are corollaries that go with this such as "If you choose to cuss, don't drop the F bomb at church, school, or around ANY adults within ear shot."

One would assume that the "Know your audience" line is something every good businessman keeps in his arsenal, right? So why would someone send a bus driver like Cecelia to drive for a conservative Christian High School?

Now, I don't give two shakes what anyone's sexual orientation is, but the fact she was partially psychotic did bother me that she would be around teenagers and the fact she had some weird gender thing going does offend some. I think it's pretty safe to say... a Conservative Christian group is not the place she belonged for that gig.

And for Teamster to openly admit her alternative lifestyle just sent me shaking my head at the absurdity of it all.

From Pensacola to NOLA, the kids picked a movie... Hairspray. BD popped it into the bus VCR, sat down, shook his head and said to me and the assistant band director, "I'm sensing a theme to this bus trip..."

When the hotel was booked through the tour agency, we were assured we would all be on two floors, boys and girls separated. They insisted we send them a list of students two weeks in advance.

We arrived and found we were on five floors, some with chaperones, some without, boys and girls on the same floor, and kids' names had been left off the list.

We were officially in the land of Almost Perfect as we scanned the lists to see if kids on floors without chaperones were kids we could trust to be without a chaperone on their floor. Adding to our horror was the fact there were balconies on the floors as well. All the chaperones were reverberating at a low stressful hum as we looked into each other's faces and saw each of us was recounting some newspaper horror story we'd read in years past about teenagers and balconies.

And of course it all worked out or you'd have read about it in the newspaper. Not a way I want to be famous...

And we were lucky, we have great kids. Mr. Yeats and Single Malt Scotch was heard to say to someone on the phone when he didn't realize that there was a chaperone in listening distance, "No, seriously, this is a great gig. These kids... *silence* No. Seriously, there aren't just TWO disciplinarians, there are 12. Every single adult works to keep them in line and they listen!"

We arrived back from our touring on Friday afternoon to find 100 kids in the parking lot. It turns out they'd just arrived from Buffalo that day, something like a 36 hour drive, only for them to discover some of the kids had sneaked alcohol on the trip. Every kid's room was searched, every suitcase, every purse and the kids caught were immediately sent home via Mom and Dad's credit card.

We didn't have those worries.

Breakfast was the worst. It consisted of link sausages, biscuits, stale little pancakes and potatoes. No protein except sausage.

And this would be about the time, the administration and myself decided that next year I plan the entire thing... from start to finish, as we create a lessons learned folder.

I was soon to learn, as long as we were in NOLA, life was good. It was only being cooped up on the bus for an extended period of time did it become our own personal hell.

Teamster warmed up. Cecelia and I had a confrontation when she started to pass our lunch stop on the way home, declaring I'd never told her we were stopping, when I'd not only told her the stop, but gave her directions and she had me call the other bus driver to make sure he knew.

After she wigged out, I heard Teamster say to the other bus during lunch, "She's even on my last nerve now..." and the three bus drivers demanded she come apologize to me.

Funnier still, we were at lunch, shortly after the altercation, and I told Father (we had a priest with us) that I thought I might get thrown from our bus and he might find me on his. He looked at me and grinned and said, "Will this be... Throw Mama From the Bus?", which we decided might be the name of our bus trip movie.

There were some GREAT aspects that I'll get into tomorrow. The horrors were truly only completely evident to the adults as we navigated the crazy personalities and the bus situation. For the most part, the kids appeared oblivious, in their own little worlds of laughter, comraderie, and music. There was a lot of singing.

The three kids in front of me are HUGE political and history buffs and I loved listening to them banter back and forth as they played Risk via cell phone. Son#4 was in that group and it warmed my heart to hear him poking at his friends as they poked back. It was interesting to hear as they conquered Country after Country as they discussed the history and politics of each Country.

I keep getting emails from parents telling me what a great time their kids had.

Tomorrow... cemeteries, Preservation Hall and more...

And yes, I'm already planning next year's trip. I'm thinking Charleston. We just have to have a place we can perform where people will listen. Thoughts?

And I leave you with the song they sang all weekend, the chorus mainly, at the top of their lungs... on our bus. It makes me smile...

Posted by Boudicca at 03:09 PM | Comments (7)

April 23, 2012

What Happens in NOLA, Comes Home

Quite frankly, I'm not even sure where to begin. It started so bat crap crazy that I thought surely it had to be some sort of joke.

The busses arrived at 315AM. As you know, I never bothered to go to sleep. We entered our bus with a decor of what I can only describe as circa 1970's brothel. The chairs were a brown velour and a brown/orange/beige striped carpet ran the length of the ceiling.

Our bus drivers greeted us and I thought we had two men, one was screaming NY Italian (being married to a NJ Italian, I can pick up on it pretty quick) and the other was just a very very unattractive man with the voice of Marge Simpson's sister, gravely from too much smoking and deep... manly gravely nasty deep voice. The hair was longish, blonde stringy, and the nails were vampirish long. That's the best way I can describe it. Creepy would work, but what do I care what the bus driver looks like as long as they drive the bus and we're all safe?

Except... we found out before we took off, that the very unattractive man, think Sam Kinison age 60, no kidding, was actually... a woman, who I will call... Cecelia.

If there was video of the band director's and my faces as we looked at each other upon the realization that he was a she, it would be on youtube with a million hits. We both deadpanned at each other, with the look we give each other that is saying, "You cannot make this crap up..."

But my problem was, I couldn't call her 'her'. For whatever reason, she stuck in my head as a he and whenever I referred to her, I kept saying, "Him" much to the amusement and horror, combined, of the band director, who I will now call BD. He'd shoot me this look and I'd cringe and realize I'd made the mistake...again.

It is a subconscious thing I do when I'm nervous. If I've made a terrible social blunder, and I'm stuck in the situation, my brain can't kick it out. It's like frickin' Groundhog day. I'll do it over and over.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one. Kids were telling me they'd called her 'Sir'. At our stop for breakfast, she put on pink lipstick and it was the visual cue my brain needed to start calling her by she/her.

It was 4AM and other than suspecting we were in a what was once a traveling brothel bus, all seemed fine. The kids stretched out and slept until time for breakfast, around 830 in Gainesville.

But by 0430, Cecelia had started to demonstrate some weird personality traits, like maybe... instability? Combined with OCD? NY Italian was driving (he gets a name later in the story, but I'll save it because it only gets better) and Cecelia is riding shotgun for lack of a better word, and she's starting to reverberate and tell me that this schedule she was provided wasn't going to work because they HAD to be back at our school by Midnight. They HAD to as they had another gig in the Keys.

Over and over she told me this, until I said calmly, "Let me look at the schedule later, see what kind of time we make and then worry about it... but for now, let's just enjoy our trip." She smiled her weird Sam Kenison smile and shook her head and said in her raspy voice, "yes, let's just enjoy it..."

In Gainesville, it started to rain. My son and his buddy had taken in the back bench, knowing there was more room and two walls, so each could lean and sleep. But when it started to rain, a HUGE stream of water flowed through the back window. The brothel bus had a leak... a BIG leak.

The bus drivers assured us it would stop when we started traveling and it did.

Just in time for the kids to notice we had roaches in the bus. Little roaches. Crawling on the floors. In the back of the bus. The boys were squishing them, the girls were horrified, and I was starting to take notes as to what was wrong... so much of it.

The bus was filthy. The brown brothel velour seats when you hit them, gave off a cloud of dust. Immediately our percussion instructor fell into a full blown allergy attack and ended up sleeping the next 15 hours as his body just shut down to the dust.

We arrived in Pensacola for lunch where my parents met us and took scads of pictures, met my kids' friends, and the school admin that was traveling with us. That was a real highlight. I can never see my folks enough.

The relationship with the bus drivers was starting to deteriorate. Cecelia had now started in on BD. The NY Italian was starting to get a bit ugly about their schedule. I'd finally met the two drivers on the other bus and something seemed amiss. I shook the head bus driver's hand and knew, "This is an educated well read man..." His second driver was a very young quiet man, but also very well dressed and well spoken.

How was it that we had Jack and Jill on our bus and we had two extreme professionals on the other? It seems that when the Tour Company called the FL bus company they use, they in turn subbed it out to two distinctly different bus companies, and the professional bus driver who I felt certain had probably read Yeats and drank single malt scotch actually OWNED his bus and kind of did this on the side for fun. Our bus drivers worked for some unknown face in Miami.

We made it to NOLA safely, but now things were strained and the realization that we were going to have to spend three more days with these nut jobs was a problem. Cecelia could hardly control herself, having fits and pretty much psychotic episodes.

We had a Tour Guide waiting for us, an angel sent from the Heavens to save us from Cecelia and her sidekick. When our guide, who I will call Margot, a fifth generation from NOLA, realized what was happening, she stepped in to try to fix it, only to feel the full brunt force of our Jack and Jill... with Jack in her face, informing her that he'd been a member of the Teamsters in NY, working for the head mafia guy up there. We will now call him... Teamster.

Margot was able to smooth things over, as only a woman from NOLA can do, instead of taking him as a threat, asking him where Jimmy Hoffa was buried.

She made phone calls to our Tour Company, I sent emails, we were at a truce basically by keeping Cecelia and Teamster apart. They each had a day off for the next two days in NOLA. But as I said to Margot, "You have no idea how much I appreciate what you've done... but you won't be on our bus ride home..."

Meanwhile, the bus drivers in the other bus were appalled and horrified and did their best to assist, but there was only so much they could do. They didn't work for the same company.

To be continued...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:53 PM | Comments (11)

April 18, 2012

NOLA Bound

It's 12 Midnight and we leave the house at 2:20AM to meet the bus for the trip to New Orleans. I decided not to bother to sleep. I'd have to wake up at 1:45 to get ready and load the car anyway, so I might as well just stay awake, get us to the school, loaded on the bus, and then sleep on the bus.

With 45 teenagers and a baby on one bus.

I've slept through worse and I've NOT slept through less.

The kids are excited and the weather during the performance is supposed to be utter crap. They play at 10:00 Saturday morning at some Gazebo on the river and there is supposed to be rain and scattered thunderstorms.

We have no control over that, besides, I'm all about the Beignets. My eldest asked me if I was going to be the Robert Frost of Beignets.

Aspirations. We all need them.

On the homefront, Bones didn't really understand any of the math FCAT. As he put it when he walked in, "They worded things in ways that my brain didn't understand. It didn't matter how many times I read it, I didn't understand what they were asking for."

To which I replied, "What did you do next?"

And he replied in kind, "I just marked C. Anytime I had to guess, I marked C."

Let us hope that C was the letter of the day.

So Ciao for now as I'll be back around Midnight on Sunday. Unless I can find a computer in the hotel that I can use, I'll not be on. I'm not taking my laptop as there isn't really any time and any time that I could be on... I hope instead to be reading or sleeping.

Anything besides thinking. I hit critical mass this week... I'm pretty fried and I need to be on my game in a few weeks. I'm out in the field and I need to be at 200%... not ragged out and burned.

And on a fun note, on our trip to NOLA tomorrow, we're stopping at the Mall in Pensacola for lunch and my folks are meeting us there! I'm so hoping it works out. Seeing my parents would beat out Beignets for the highlight of the trip.

And we know how big a deal that is... Aspirations and all.

Who knows... I might be able to blog from my phone. We'll see.

Peace.

Posted by Boudicca at 11:12 PM | Comments (9)

April 16, 2012

The Talks You have When Your Mom is a Math Geek

Me: You realize that if you choose to have sex with someone, that if they have had sex before, you're really sleeping with them too?

Ringo: Yes.

Me: I mean from an STD standpoint. So if you sleep with Jane and she's slept with five guys, you've really slept with six people when it comes to STDs.

Ringo: yeah, they have us go to these seminars in school about STDs and sex.

Me: OK. I just wanted to make sure you realized that it could be some kind of exponential equation.

Ringo: Yes.

Me: Like a tree... there is the base and then a few branches and then lots of leaves.

Ringo *looking up from what his reading, being patient*: I do get it.

Me: OK. 'cuz it's more than just if she's on the pill. That's where that whole condom thing comes to play.

Ringo: Got it.

Me: hmmm.

Ringo *looking up again with an eyebrow raised*

Me: I bet some geeky mathematician student at some college has figured out the exponential equation for sex partners...

Ringo: Great.

Me: It's something a geeky mathematician programmer type of person would do...

And with that I told him good night and went to bed. I could see peripherally he was shaking his head as he went back to reading his book.

Heh.

No, he doesn't have a girlfriend. I just keep hoping to head all of this off at the pass. And Mr. T will relate to all of this the same way. Bones... Bones won't ever get it mathematically.

May the Good Lord help me when I start talking to Bones in more depth... it's not even a Mars Venus thing. It's more like I'm on Earth and he's in another far flung Galaxy...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:01 PM | Comments (10)

April 15, 2012

April Randomness

Just some random thoughts...

When you fully embrace that your 7th grader is going to flat out fail the math section of the state standardized test and have to take remedial math, there is no more stress. It is... liberating.

(And no, I still don't find any humor in the fact that he has absolutely NO ability to do math, and that I'm a mathematician. And I don't find it funny, in the least, that he has no linear thinking, and I work as an engineer. I might find it funny if there wasn't so much suffering involved... like worrying that he won't graduate from high school. Yes. That is a real worry. But I'm not embracing that... Last week I had him homeless or living with me forever. We won't go there either. *deep breath*)

Oh and our new strategy, "If you don't know the answer, guess D." I figure if he consistently guesses the same letter every time he doesn't know, he'll have a 20% chance of getting it right... that is beyond narrowing it down. He narrows it down first and if that doesn't work, he'll put 'D'.

Yes. It is that bad...
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The band trip is this week. NOLA. With 80 high school kids. In two busses. For 30 hours, 15 each way.

Did I tell the story of how I'd planned the entire trip, forgetting we had to do Mass being it is a Catholic School and the school priest is with us, and how when I suggested that maybe a hamburger bun could pass for unleavened bread and we could do it on Sunday at McDonald's I was met with a straight face and a, "NO."?

Right.

It'll be a good trip. They had me fill out scads of paperwork to go. In the end, I didn't fill out the paperwork asking for my personal references, querying my work ethic and personality. I was to ask three people who knew me. I decided the fact I've already put in over 100 hours of volunteer time, having put up with some of the most incompetent people I've ever met in my entire life, was enough 'personal reference' and that if asked, I was going to tell them what to do with their paperwork and how I'd just forgo the trip.

They didn't ask. I'm still going.

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They had a sale on cheese danish at Publix today, buy one, get one free. Really? My husband did it. He frickin' brought them into my home.

Danish is the first cousin of doughnuts.

I could write poetry about doughnuts. I could probably write a haiku on danish.

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Cafe Du Monde. It may be the only reason to go to NOLA. I think beignets classify as a doughnut. They may be the high priestess of the doughnut world.

I could probably be the National Poet on beignets...

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With hot chocolate.

Holy crap.

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Evidently the French Navy will be there the same time as we're there. White hats with little red pom poms. Do they still wear those?

I'm afraid if I see one I'm going to laugh. How does one take a man seriously when he is wearing a red pom pom on his head?

Well, maybe if he's holding a gun. I'd take that seriously. But only because I'd be fixated on the gun and not the pom pom...

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I do some public speaking for an organization I'm in. I spoke on Saturday locally and as a thank you gift, they gave me a flag that had flown over the Capitol.

I nearly cried.

I don't cry.

How frickin' cool is that for a gift?!

Posted by Boudicca at 08:18 PM | Comments (10)

Prom 2012

My son attended his first Prom on Saturday night. Threats of staking out the home that was hosting the gathering of the teenagers, pre-Prom, whilst wearing a ghillie suit were not needed.

As my husband and I pulled up, someone was in the cul de sac directing traffic, so many cars with parents were in attendance. Surprise!

We walked in and I saw my son across the room, a mass of teenagers between us but our still able to see each other, my raising an eyebrow to him and his mouthing back, "I didn't know!"

A private photographer had been hired, so pictures of each kid individual, with their date, in groups, with parents, with pretend parents (my husband and I sat in for my son's best friend's parents... that was funny as he motioned us over telling the photographer, "They're my fake parents..."), and as one massive group.

My husband had his camera so he had pictures of nearly every five minutes that transpired. It's not right to show pictures of the other kids. But I will show one of my son...
Ringo Prom.jpg

And one of my favorite pix with his buddy... but I blacked out his face because.
Ringo and friend.jpg

The 40 kids took the 'party bus'. I stepped on with trepidation because someone told me that their friend got on a 'party bus' last year and when he stepped out he said to his wife, "Hunh. The Party Bus comes with a stripper pole...". I took a picture to show my co-worker, not all come with strip pole. Quite frankly, knowing the fathers of my son's female friends, I think they would have single handedly ripped out the stripper pole if it had come with one.

party bus.jpg

As I was standing in the front yard, the Dad of the hosting house said that he told the bus driver, 'You are to drive them to Prom and then drive them directly back to my home..." and the 'hostess' and bus driver said, "But what if one of them wants to have me drop them off somewhere else?" and the dad replied, "You are to drive them to Prom and then drive them directly back to my home. You do not make any stops..."

I told him ,"I love it when someone else is a parent too..."

The deal with the bus... there was no drinking (the bus company wasn't going to get themselves in trouble with that) and with 40 kids, there was no sex. I just didn't see anything that could be wrong with it.

They had a blast...

Posted by Boudicca at 07:34 PM | Comments (5)

April 11, 2012

Rules for Bones

I walked into the kitchen a few weeks ago and found Ringo standing hugging Bones. Bones had his head resting on Ringo's chest and Ringo was patting his back.

We are an affectionate family, but the boys not so much with each other. At any given time, a boy will be hugging on me or have a hand on my shoulder, but amongst themselves, personal space is a big big deal.

So imagine my surprise.

Bones is such a touchy feely kid. If you're around him enough and he's comfortable with you, he'll start touching your arm or your shoulder. This is not with strangers, but his friends know he's like this too. If you're family, he's always in your personal space. His favorite thing is to grab an ear lobe.

It's like living with a puppy.

And here was Ringo, who treasures his privacy, giving a big bear hug to his youngest brother. Was something wrong with Bones? Was his older brother comforting him?

My heart nearly melted.

Thankfully it did not, because...

Not 30 seconds later, Ringo pushed him away and said, "There. That was your weekly hug. Remember the deal. You're not allowed to touch me or get in my personal space for the next week."

And he walked off.

Good feeling gone. Heh.

Posted by Boudicca at 08:41 PM | Comments (7)

April 10, 2012

Alive

We moved swiftly from a little cup of crazy to a big mug of chaos.

There were 11 people in the house for a few days. Every flat surface that could be slept on was. Cooking felt like for a small Army as sometimes there were 15 people for meals, but usually 11. The food was always fantastic as cooking was done by many, the boys spent every waking moment either on the beach, playing baseball in the cul de sac, or football.

It has been proclaimed that Mr. T has the hands. If he'd been a bigger person, he'd be on a football team somewhere. His size has prohibited that and for that I feel blessed.

It is odd to look upon my boys and their cousins now and realize how times have changed. The older cousins range in age from 18-24 and now they bring significant others.

On Easter we were at my brother in law's. He lives on a cul de sac and the kids love to go out and play baseball with a plastic bat and whiffle ball. I pulled up a lawn chair at the end of the driveway and watched.

Before one of us would stand with the batter, holding the plastic bat, showing them how to hit over a home plate.

Now they tower and hold the bat with one hand, hitting the ball to the end of the road.

Before someone had a sippy cup in their hands. Juice boxes would line the road as kids ran in to grap drinks.

Now my nephew stands on the 'pitcher's mound' with a big blue cup filled with cranberry juice and maybe vodka. My sister in law no longer stands behind my niece to teach her how to hit, my niece being 24, but now chides my nephew that since, 'you just walked your SISTER, maybe *I* should pitch because evidently what you're drinking is starting to inhibit your throwing skills!'

I sat back and watched and laughed as the cousins cheered each other on and chided one another.

Even my brother in law's daughter, aged 9, was finally able to join into the fray. She's still learning the game. She was playing first base, but was so excited when someone got a hit, that she decided to run the bases.

We had both ends of the spectrum with the cousins and it was fun.

As I sat there grinning and laughing, my sister in law came up to me and we discussed how daunting it can feel when you have little people, to think of being the parent of an adult. But we both agreed, God doesn't hand you a teenager. God doesn't hand you a 20 year old. (Not typically, anyway...) You take your child from birth through the stages, you grow together, and for the most part, you're always ready because... you're just there.

It was a good Easter. Everyone has left, back to their jobs, college or school. My boys are ready for this school year to be over. I am too, truth be told. It's not that I'm wishing my life away or theirs, for that matter, but we're all tired of this school year and we're ready for it to end.

The band trip to New Orleans is next week. I'm not sure what to think.

I'm taking it one day at a time.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:14 PM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2012

And Then There Were 10... or 11...

My sister in law and her husband and youngest son are here. We're having a GREAT time. No politics (love that) and lots of laughter (love that more). Last night all those with a y-chromosome went to a car show while my sister in law and I ran some errands and went to Moe's.

Relaxing and nice.

My home sleeps eight comfortably. If you throw on the ground the single blow up mattress we have, we push to nine mostly comfortable. I found out last night that my niece and her boyfriend are coming, the long drive down from NJ. (They're very responsible mid 20s kids)

And so tomorrow there will be 10. And there is thought they may swing by UF and pick up her brother who is a Junior there and bring him too, making us 11.

Which has me doing a 'hunh'.

I'm actually kind of excited at the thought. I'm already planning meals and trying to figure out what flat surfaces can be converted to a bed. It should be big Easter Energy, as Easter is a big holiday for all of us, one of our favorites.

Last night, before we knew my nephew might make it as well, in the darkness of our bedroom, in bed, I was animatedly describing my plans for meals and going on about how I finally get to meet my niece's boyfriend of nearly 10 years.

And finally when I was quiet, out of the darkness I heard the lone male voice in our room say, "Bou, it's too many people..." And I laughed because he is the extrovert of the two of us and I'm the one that is excited and planning.

I imagine this is what it feels like when... kids come home for Christmas and bring all the grandkids. Getting ready for the hustle and bustle.

My parents and my grandparents... are both examples of homes that get upped a notch at the prospect of family visiting. My parents have meals planned, Mom has little gifts for the kids, Dad will have already started baking. When we'd go visit my grandparents, my Grandaddy would start grocery shopping a month in advance, so excited was he.

So that's whats going on here. It's a little cup of crazy and I'm kind of excited. We'll see how it goes...

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Meanwhile, on Wednesday night I decided to cook Salmon for dinner. Five pounds of salmon marinating in an herb, soy, olive oil marinade for an hour, along with a lot of vegetables, were the main plan.

The recipe said to grill it and me, trying to become the grilling expert, not so successfully at times, and never being afraid of trying anything at least once, set about to getting this salmon grilled without asking for help.

Because after all, asking the men in the house that grill all the time, my brother in law being a chef and owning his own restaurant, would be doing the unthinkable, yes?

And so I put the fish on the grill, keeping the grill lid open so I could keep an eye, and I left the porch to grab something. All was well, I flipped the fish, and walked back inside... when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my nephew walking over to the grill and kind of peeking through the porch screening.

I looked back over to the grill and one foot flames were shooting out with the fish in the middle. I grabbed a plate and ran back out to rescue our dinner.

I could have asked for help, right? Asking for help of the men that grill wouldn't be unreasonable, right?

Right.

And so, turning off the grill, fighting back the flames, I rescued our dinner and promptly put it in the oven to bake.

I'm guessing it was the olive oil dripping off that set it afire. Any suggestions as to how to prevent that? Seriously, the recipe said to grill it without mentioning any thought that I would have a fish inferno on my hands...

Thoughts on this are welcome.

Bonus for me, this time I got to keep my eyebrows and the front of my hair was not singed. Always looking for the positive, I am...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:07 AM | Comments (13)

April 03, 2012

The Cost Effectivity of Buying a Ghillie Suit...

So it appears that I am going to be at the pick up place when my son goes to Prom.

I'm not sure what it was that caused him to rethink his stance that Dear Old Mom wasn't going to be there. It was either:

1) My threat of showing up in a ghillie suit and staking them out while pretending to be a bush in the girl's front yard.

2) My threat of showing up at the Marriott and taking pictures as they arrived.

3) The rational discussion we had on how every single mother was going to be there; that I was not the only one. And his txting and talking to his friends and realizing... I was right. It's a Mom thing.

I suspect it is #3, although I love to think that #1 came into play. Heh.

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My husband's family is coming tomorrow for Easter. My kids are excited. I like my sister in law very much, but I'm bracing myself.

I don't talk politics much. It's because I'm so horrified by what is going on and I have no control over it, it seems like a terrible way to expend energy.

It is inefficient.

And to get one's self all worked up over something you can't change until you vote, seems pointless. As I said to my husband, "I have too much on my plate stressing me out that I CAN control. I don't have anything left to expend it on something I cannot control."

However, his entire family will argue politics loudly for the entire weekend. I am going to hear it from dawn until dusk until everyone clears out and it stresses me out. I already told my husband that I'm getting anxious just thinking about it.

I may have to leave every now and then and go to the library to read. Just to get away.

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I am wondering if Consumer Reports can guess my profession or ethnicity based on the survey I'm handing in. Every year my Dad gets us a subscription and it's something we all read cover to cover. This is the first year I decided to actually fill out their survey.

The first question was about my car. It is a 2004 Toyota Sienna with 198,571 miles on it. What the survey didn't ask was that my goal is to get it to 250,000. I said to Mr. T the other day, "If I get it to 250, you KNOW I'm going to want to get this sucker to 300,000 just to see if I can!" He replied with an eyeroll and a, 'You know you're allowed to get a new car..."

The follow on questions were about appliances.

Washing machine? 1996
Dryer? 1996
Refrigerator? 1996.

The remaining appliances are three years old, still putting the old ones well over 10 years when bought. The others just were no longer cost efficiently salvagable. Pissed me off...

So I wonder when they go through my survey if someone will think, "Engineering family?" or "Hunh. Wonder if she's a Scot?"

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Posted by Boudicca at 09:34 PM | Comments (8)

April 01, 2012

Prepping for Prom

When I blog, I change all names. Sometimes I keep just the first letter. In this story, I'm keeping the first name of the one girl, but changing her last name.

It appears that my son's buddy, 'David', has a girlfriend who I will call 'Cate'. David is a Junior like my son. Cate is a Senior. Cate and her parents decided to rent a bus for them all to go to Prom. And the way I heard the story was that Cate told David and David was irritated because he didn't want to ride 'the bus', but Cate told him he had to, and had to with she and her girlfriends. (Cate and David have been dating for all of high school. Both are good kids.)

So David got hold of his guy friends, of which Ringo is one, and said, "If I have to 'ride the bus', YOU have to ride it with me."

Now all the boys were going just as a group, none of them having girlfriends. David is the one who has had a steady girlfriend through high school and the rest of them really haven't started to date yet.

Ringo came home saying, "Great. I have to ride the bus now..."

Let me say this about my son. He is as loyal as the day is long. If his friends find themselves in a bad situation, he'll help bail them out. If they need him, he's there. As long as it's not an illegal situation, he's there.

On the flip side, if you do him wrong, he'll turn his back on you... FOREVER.

As my son T said to me about Ringo, "He is his mother's son..."

Well, what Ringo didn't realize is that Cate had decided to find dates for all her girlfriends too. Evidently with all these boys now riding 'the bus', she decided to get them paired off. Or at least this is how it's seems to me.

And this would be how Ringo ended up with a date to Prom.

Of course, getting information from Ringo is like trying to take a bone from a hungry dog; it's just not happening. There is a lot of shoulder shrugging and "I dunno..."

Fortunately I have another son that goes to the same HS and he'll sometimes fill me in.

So this is the conversation as it happened the other night. We'd already been talking about 'the bus' and the pairings off of boys and girls.

Me: So... they have dates? Do... you? Have... a date?

Ringo: Yea.

Me: You do?!

Ringo: Yea.

Me: What's her name?

Ringo: Grace.

Me: OHHHH! That is one of my favorite girl names! I love that name. Grace. Ringo is going to Prom with Grace. I like that... Is she smart?

Ringo: I dunno.

Me: Is she... pretty?

Ringo: *shoulder shrug*

Me: I just want her to be nice. So... what's her last name?

Ringo: MacDonald (note changed last name)

Me: MacDonald! OH! You are going to prom with a CELT!

Ringo: Umm. *weird look on his face* Not really... Hunh.

Me: MacDonald. That's a Celtic name...

Ringo: She's Chinese.

Me: *blink* I'm lost... I thought you said MacDonald. *sorting through my hearing wondering what Chinese name sounds like MacDonald...*

Ringo: She's adopted.

Me: OH! OMG. I love her name even more! Grace! She is their blessing!!

Ringo shook his head and walked out.

So I'm very excited. We keep laughing about Grace the Celt. "Oh! You're going to Prom with a Celt!" "No... she's Chinese..."

Flash forward, I was talking to Mr T in the car.

Me: I heard that Ringo is going to Prom with Grace.

T: Yeah, she's really pretty. She's tiny. Probably not even 5' tall.

Me: Is she smart?

T: *looking at me like I'm stupid* Well... yeaaah. She's in the IB program, Mom.

Me: Hunh. Your brother didn't seem to be able to answer that question for me...

T: *rolling his eyes* whatever.

Me: I hear she's not a Celt. *laughing*

T: Well, not biologically. She might be environmentally. Mom, she is really pretty.

So we'll see how this goes. I just want her to be a nice girl that he can have a nice time with. He got his tux yesterday. She is wearing white, so he's going with a black tux, with black and white shoes, a black shirt and a white vest and tie. I suspect he's going to look very 'vogue'.

I'm trying to convince him that Dear Old Mom and Dad need to be at 'the bus' for pictures. I suspect I'm going to lose that battle. The parents of boys always get the shaft.

I suspect HER parents will be there...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:20 AM | Comments (14)