November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We are here in Pensacola and it's been pretty chilly. My boys have spent most of their time outside playing badminton. Bones found a set in my folks' garage and I bought more birdies for it... and they've literally spent hours hitting back and forth while the girls ran around in the backyard.

My Mom cooked an amazing meal. We cook our turkeys now in butter in white wine and they always come out moist. I'm at the point where I don't overeat. I eat just enough and don't walk away feeling ill.

There are some big changes coming in the next 18 months. I'm cherishing all I can with what we have RIGHT NOW because things can change on a dime and... life is about change.

That truly is the only constant.

The boys are loving playing with their cousins. So much laughter.

There has been much discussion about the shopping that is now on Thanksgiving. I've read both sides... "If cops, ERs, and blah blah blah have to work..." and the "I can't believe corporate greed is going to make these people work on Thanksgiving..."

And this is what it boils down to for me.

A deep sadness.

Christmas has become more and more commercialized. Everyone cries about it, everyone is incensed by it, but it is all talk. Nobody truly cares.

There are groups of people that would always have to work on Thanksgiving. They are a part of our societal infrastructure. Medical personnel, military, power and water people, cab drivers, airline pilots, and on and on I can go with the groups I know that work.

Most I know don't love working on a holiday that is affiliated with family, but it is something that has always been.

But the stores are opening because... the people WANT it.

We scream and shout about hating how Christmas is becoming so commercial, yet we demand the stores be open, earlier and earlier... and earlier, until the only day left was just to open on the holiday that is supposed to be about family and giving thanks.

It was just a matter of time before Thanksgiving was overtaken. With Christmas decorations coming out before Halloween, and Christmas music coming before Thanksgiving, it was a matter of time before all that was sacred about the November holiday was lost.

Christmas has truly become about the shopping, the gifts, the good deals. It is no longer for the birth of our Savior. It is not a Celebration in the recognition of his birth.

Don't kid yourself.

If it was, people wouldn't be shopping today. The stores would keep their doors shut because it wouldn't be worthwhile for them to be open.

It wouldn't be cost effective.

But it is, so they are, and that is the true issue... and where the sadness comes in.

It is not the corporate greed.

It is the materialistic people who have lost their way.

I am thankful for my family. I am thankful I have a job when so many don't. I am thankful that my kids listen (mostly) and like me (mostly) and still want to hang with me.

I'm thankful that my eldest son calls from college to ask for advice and that he's solving his own problems. I'm thankful that my second son is so full of hope for his future. I'm thankful for Bones and all he brings to our lives.

I'm thankful that I am close to my siblings and that I married into a family where I like the siblings of my spouse.

I'm thankful for my sister's new family.

I'm thankful that I've been married 22 years as of a couple weeks ago, and we'd do it again.

I'm thankful for my parents and their good health and that after 48 years, I know for sure they are my best friends.

I have much to be thankful for... and I didn't even have to think.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you have much to be thankful for... and not have to think hard to remember it.

May you remember... the reason for the season.

And I will end with a picture of the 16th generation descendants of Mayflower passenger George Soule. I wonder what he would think of our world...

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Posted by Boudicca at 09:19 PM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2013

Closing in on the Holidays

We leave for my parents' home tomorrow afternoon around 4. The weather promises to be ugly. I'm just glad to be going out of town.

It's starting to suck at work. My counterpart in the great White North for the last 2 years just got promoted out of her job. She's the one that pretty much keeps me employed.

Company X is severely understaffed and had to do some real shell shuffling to find a replacement for her. And her replacement... is probably going to keep everything as close as they can. There are trust issues, I am sure. I'm far more experienced and therefore more of a threat. I know the system, I know the players, and better still... I know the hardware.

I could be wrong, but I suspect I am not, so I've already filled my boss in that maybe he needs to find me more work. I may be going in a direction with my career I really wasn't interested in. I actually liked what I did.

So I suspect that this year will see an end to my doing something I really enjoyed, being thrust into something I probably won't, but really just doing it all because I have kids to put through college.

I'll be the average American, plugging the clock because of what is going on their real life.

Kinda sucks. But I've been there before and I can do it again. Afterall, I have a job and in the end, that's all that counts.

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Bones did well on his Jury. He made a few mistakes, but I told him it's how he handles the mistakes in life that will see him through. Nobody is perfect and you have to just press on.

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While I'm at my parents' home, my husband's family is coming down and staying in my home. So I've been scrambling to clean the house, the fridge, wash sheets and make beds for everyone.

I found something in the back of my fridge so moldy, that I threw it away in the container for fear of whatever was growing becoming airborne.

It was something Bones made on some cooking binge. Ugh. I need to look in the back of my fridge more often.

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I am a creature of habit and sometimes that is inefficient.

A new library was built west of me about a year ago. But I always travel east, so when I go to the library, I go to the one to the east, which is 20 minutes away.

Tonight, realizing I might not have books at my parents' home (a terrifying thought to not have a book or two or ten), I decided to check out the library west, just because.

That sucker is 11 minutes from my home. Why in the hell I've been driving 20 minutes away, I'll never know.

And it's nice.

And the librarians were funny as hell.

West I will drive...

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Since my sister in law is coming with her family, I took out a stack of beach towels, five of them, to use when they get here.

I keep finding them put away. I've taken them out three times.

Finally I heard my husband say to my son, "Who keeps taking these beach towels out?"

I was evidently making him just as nuts as he was making me.

Goal!

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We pick up my son from college on my way to my folks. He called me at work today and said, 'Ma, since we're not supposed to get in until 1AM and I don't go to bed before 4AM, I think I should just drive from 11PM until we get there. I'm awake anyway... just let me do that part of the driving.'

To which I replied, "YES!"


Posted by Boudicca at 10:42 PM | Comments (6)

November 21, 2013

Getting Ready for Jury #1

Bones has his first Jury tomorrow. He's learned three songs in Italian and tomorrow he performs whichever one she chooses.

He's a wreck.

This always blows me away. He is so extroverted and confident, but when he has to do something like this... he comes apart.

We spent a lot of time talking about it tonight as I tried to talk him off the ledge.

This video is just a part of it... 3/4 of the way through, he decided he'd messed up too many times and he was fried. I told him it was good that he see the video so he could see how nicely his voice is coming in. He didn't realize his fingers fidget, but watching the video made him realize how he looks when he sings.

It's not a bad thing... just an awareness.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:58 PM | Comments (6)

November 17, 2013

Little and Big Engineers

On Thursday, I met with probably one of the most brilliant people I will ever meet... ever. I spent most of my time studying him during our meeting and realizing it was a once in a lifetime event for me.

Those who know him well, think nothing of it. But I don't know him well, so I am in awe.

We had a presentation to give on a big project we've been working on. My boss asked me to give it, but I deferred. I was there to answer any questions that were thrown our way, but as far as I was concerned, this was my boss's show. He needs for people to see how dang smart and together he is. I care not what they think of me.

And what I left with was... the most brilliant man in our industry knows what we do, has heard of us, and fully appreciates what we do. I am hoping that the others in the room were listening, for what I do for a living is considered a low job in the engineering field.

Working logistics is considered... an insignificant job to engineers who design. Structures, designers, test, that's where the 'glory' is. What I do is considered a necessary evil.

But it is a job *I* personally love and am damn good at. My boss is even better. And according to the brilliant man we met with, HE completely got it and spent an hour going on about what we do, how we do it, and how the other engineers in the beginning of the product didn't understand how our jobs were so dang important, and if there was doubt, do go out and talk to our customer in the field... the guy using our product, and they get it.

So it was a great meeting. He's amazing. And not just because he'd heard of us and knew what we did... but because... he just.is.

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Saturday was spent with the Boy Scouts, teaching DC Circuits to 200-300 4th grade Cub Scouts. From 8AM-4:30PM... I was teaching.

I came home beat last night and had to force myself to stay awake to an reasonable hour. Going to bed at 7PM was going to be a death knell for the next day.

A couple things that I experienced for the first time:

If you ask 100 4th graders who invented the lightbulb:

30% will answer Thomas Edison.

30% will answer Benjamin Franklin.

30%-1 will answer Albert Einstein.

The 1 child will combine the two wrong answers of Franklin and Einstein and come up with Frankenstein. And will shout it loudly.

The other 10% will stare blankly at you because they either don't know what a light bulb is or they have NO CLUE who invented it.

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We have circuit boards that were made for each kid to play with. It's just a bunch of parts I bought at Radio Shack that we hot glued to peg board.

It is comprised of a switch, a battery pack (2AA) and a lightbulb. I explain closed and open circuits. After I'm done, I let them play with them, moving the alligator clips (attached to wires) around to created different closed and open circuits.

I go around individually to make sure every kid understands the concept and why things do or don't work, trouble shooting when the light didn't go on, but they think it should.

We have nails, paperclips, straws and toothpicks, explaining and allowing them to experiment with what will and will not conduct electricity.

And so I stood with my circuit board with the switch and as I gave my 1 minute schpiel I said, "OK, so let's talk about the light switch in your bedroom..."

And a young man raised his hand and said "I don't have a light switch..."

Me: *blink* I'm sorry. You don't have a light switch?

Cub Scout: No.

Me: What do you do, just wander around in the dark?

Cub Scout: No... I clap my hands and the lights go on. I clap them twice and they go off.

Me: *blink* Really. I'm going to say, you win. I've been doing this for five years and I've just never had anyone tell me that before.

Cub Scout: Yup. I live with my grandparents.

Me: Well, I'm just going to have to do some research on how clapping opens and closes that circuit behind the walls. Now I have some research to do.

All the parents and I just looked at each other. Wow.

So I'm researching the clapper.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:57 PM | Comments (10)

November 13, 2013

Greetings

Tomorrow I am supposed to go with my boss and meet with a gentleman who is probably considered the father of modern jet propulsion. We are presenting a project we're working on.

It doesn't really mean anything to anyone else, but I'm just a little blow away that I get to meet him.

Just a little.

Blown away.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:41 PM | Comments (6)

November 12, 2013

Classic Conversation in Our Home...

... Otherwise known as, 'You can't make this stuff up."

Me: Hey. Do you want to go to dinner Saturday?

Hunhead: With who?

Me: Us. I think it's our anniversary *counting on my fingers*

Hunhead: Oh sh--. It snuck up on us didn't it?

Me: Yeah.

22 years. And they said it wouldn't last... ;-)

Posted by Boudicca at 08:43 PM | Comments (3)

November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

Today was the dedication of a local Veterans Memorial Park. T's Boy Scout Troop was asked to assist, handing out lapel pins and fliers, helping Veterans get seated, and handing out coins to the Veterans when their era was called out.

I have never in my life been so proud of our boys. Our Scout Master had hand picked the boys that he knew would come dressed, ready to engage, make eye to eye contact, and would be appreciative of the veterans.

And they arrived, pressed, fresh hair cuts, smiles, graciousness and... all that you want from a Boy Scout.

The Scout Master divided them up into Patrols, created Patrol leaders, explained to each leader what was needed and then stepped away. The Patrol leaders made it happen, with our Scout Master stepping in whenever he saw a bit of tweaking that needed to be done.

But the boys did it and they were awesome. It was wonderful to see them with the Veterans, shaking their hands, helping them get seated.

I think it was the best Veterans Day I've ever had. It was better than a parade. We were shoulder to shoulder with men and women that served our Country.

It was a great day.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:31 PM | Comments (3)

November 08, 2013

Settling Into Math

Bones, who should be a theatre major and not a vocal major, said through choked voice, flinging his math book on the table, 'And I can't do it! It's hard. I don't understand any of it!'

To which I quietly replied, "When have I ever not been able to get through? It may not stick, but with time, you always get it. Now open your book so I can see what is so miserably difficult that you're in near hysterics."

I'm picturing y=mx+b. Graphing equations and manipulating the equations gets the kids every time and I've been dreading it with him.

But he flips open his book and I *blink*.

Set theory.

They don't teach set theory and venn diagrams anymore in elementary school. He had never in his life seen them, yet I remember them from a workbook when I was FIVE YEARS OLD.

I remember we were stationed in Mayport, Florida and we lived in a trailer temporarily or something. And I had this workbook sent home with me and there were sets, braces, with kittens and puppies and then some with kittens and puppies and we had to show which was the union and what was the intersection.

I remember where I was sitting as I went through all the sets, circling the correct answers.

How sick is this that I remember where I was when I learned all my math from age 5 and up? From where I sat in classrooms, to who my teachers were, or where my Dad sat at the table, or what the book looked like or the page number or how it was explained?

From set theory to negative numbers to Dad showing me the beauty of factorials the minute I learned to multiply? From long division in fourth grade, plowing through reams of paper to where I sat when I learned synthetic division in Algebra 2, still being able to picture the chalk board to the point that when Ringo needed to learn it I said, "Oh... wait... let me think for a minute..." and I went over Mrs. Fischer explaining it, in my head, and my sitting down with my best friend Kristi the next year (she was a year younger) and explaining it to her one morning before school... and then I remembered it all and taught him.

And it is this way with my kids now. I remember teaching them every single damn lesson they've had since Kindergarten.

I look at Bones" book and said, "Dude. It's set theory..." and I got quiet and said, "For the love of God, they've never taught you any of this before... and you're in 9th grade..."

And he said through choked tears, 'NO! I'd remember this Mom! I would!"

And I said, "Baby, I would too. You've never seen this..." and I grinned and said, "And I promise you... this will be the most fun lesson you've ever had..."

And with that, I went into the pantry and pulled out fistfuls of candy from halloween and chocolate footballs from Easter (still not eaten, what is wrong with my family?) and I threw them on the table and said, "Sit. I'm going to teach you sets using candy."

Two minutes later he looked at me and said, "Are you KIDDING ME?! This is it? This is all this union, intersection, venn crap is? WHY DO THEY MAKE IT SO CONFUSING IN SCHOOL?!"

I shrugged and said, "I don't get it. It's the easiest stuff you'll ever do this year. It's all visual."

With that, he breezed through his homework in less than 5 minutes (I'm not joking) got it all correct and shook his head and said, "I think my teacher might suck..."

And then we ate ice cream.

All in all... a good night was had by all.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:49 PM | Comments (8)

November 06, 2013

More Thoughts from Bones

I asked Bones what he thought of the singer John Mayer. He said, "I like his voice. It's nice, but yuck. He just seems dirty to me..."

I asked him if he meant as in vulgar. He replied, "No, like he needs... a bath."

I think he drilled down to my root feelings about the singer. I just couldn't figure it out...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:56 PM | Comments (4)

November 04, 2013

When Things Don't Make Sense

It's been a tough week here. The mother of a girl in Mr. T's homeroom was murdered last week. The father murdered her. He's dead now as well.

The whole thing is gruesome and awful. We're angry. We're sickened. We're sad.

I'm angry that the local press has put so much out there about what happened... the state of the body etc. The mother had been the school nurse at Bones' school last year, so Bones actually knew her.

And liked her.

So that means all the kids from the middle school are following the news. All the classmates of the daughter are following the news.

And we've lost the modicum of civility, the gory details are being played out in front of our children as it's become personal to them.

And we try to shelter, try to talk to them as they try to make sense of something of which nothing can be made sense.

There are things you never expect to have to talk to your children about.

I'm angry at the attorneys. It was a nasty divorce and you can't convince me that they weren't a catalyst to the acrimony... adding fuel to ugly bad feelings.

There was a paycheck involved to them. "She's a bitch, we won't let her take you for what she thinks she's entitled to..." and "He's just a real bastard. You deserve it all..."

You can hear it, can't you?

But there were children involved... some grown, one not, but there were offspring.

And now both parents are dead, there is probably not any money left, the girls are left reeling and devastated... and we're struggling to watch it, praying for them, donating, hoping that they can make it through...

... but not seeing how because we don't know how we would... and we're the adults.

Tough week for so many people. And I'm just a spectator.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:19 PM | Comments (11)

November 01, 2013

Of Ex's and Colored Toilet Seats

Bones broke up with his girlfriend today. He's fine with it... reflective. She got really drunk this weekend and then kinda sorta made out with a boy from a party.

He was hurt and horrified and just told her he was done.

And it was the right thing to do, on many fronts. He was so... philosophical. "Mom, if she is getting that trashed at parties at 14, what's she going to be doing at 18? And it's EVERY weekend. EVERY Single Weekend. There is something wrong. I don't think I need to be part of that."

Evidently he told her up front before they go together, "Be honest with me. If you're one of these people that gets drunk or does drugs, let me know now, because I don't and I don't want to hang with someone who does..."

This was the discussion we had during dinner tonight when we all went out.

My husband and I hung back as T and Bones walked to the car and my husband said to me, "Hun, I think we might be doing something right..."

I pray.

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Bones informed us at dinner tonight that he has noticed that every building at school has a different color toilet seat.

So for instance, the bathrooms in the gym have a white base with a black toilet seat.

The bathrooms in the building where he takes human geography have a white base and a green seat.

It is this way throughout the school... as if each building is color coded, yellow, red, black, green...

He has decided its so if a toilet seat gets stolen and is found, the janitors will know what building it goes into.

I think perhaps... the reason is not quite so... nefarious...

Posted by Boudicca at 08:29 PM | Comments (6)