Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Navy Buddies

My Navy buddy Jenn hijacked my day by sending me an invite to join a coolie cool website (database? forum? online thingie?) called Together We Served. The point is to connect people who were in the Navy together. I spent the better part of the day avoiding the work I was supposed to be doing (=writing) by filling in the online questionnaires in my profile (=writing). Sadly I don't think my word count for the one translates to the other. On the flip side, I found a couple of long lost buddies on there. I also spent a considerable amount of time staring at the wall remembering those times - those very weird times.

I was 17 when I went to boot camp. I think of Bug who turned 16 a couple of months ago and of Chaos who is fixing to turn 15 in June. Seventeen felt old enough for me to leave home but I can't imagine my sons leaving home so soon. Chaos keeps talking about joining the service (the Army) after he graduates from high school instead of going to college. Can I tell you how much I hate that idea? (Not just the idea of the Army instead of the Navy - but the idea of him serving the Powers That Be at all. I joined for all the right reasons - I was patriotic and couldn't imagine not serving - but the equation is different now it seems. I don't want their precious lives being squandered.) I don't say anything against it - I just let it slide, hoping he changes his mind. I'll support him all the way if it's what he does decide to do (even if I am cringing inside that he wants to be a ground pounder) but you better believe I will be in that recruiter's office with him to make sure he gets the best deal he can.

While my friends were at sorority mixers and keg parties, I was in the Navy learning to say things like "multiple re-entry vehicle" in Russian. (Well that and things like "very pencil" which is the first thing I learned to say in Russian (the week before classes started), but I learned it from a guy who turned out to be an Arab linguist so it doesn't count. It also doesn't make any more sense in Russian in case you were wondering.) But back to the multiple re-entry vehicles...You know how when you learn a language, you usually have lists of vocabulary words? And you know how teachers always make you write sentences using your vocabulary words from the list each week? Do you have any idea how hard it is to write sentences that make even a modicum of sense when your vocabulary lists are generated by the armed services?? There was one module (Mod VII - we called it the "luurve mod") where the nouns were all hardware - submachine gun (automatic weapon), bomb, mine, mortar, gun (heavy weapon), cannon, MRV, etc. Then they gave us one verb - to love. Riiiiight. Our sentences that week were all "I love automatic weapons. You love bombs. He loves mines and mortars. We love heavy weapons. They love multiple re-entry vehicles." I have to say that the whole experience was a bit surreal.

I still have all my old letters and notes and things from that time. (I'm a writer! I never throw away things people have written me.) It's a bit pathetic to have love letters in languages you can't read anymore. I spent most of an hour trying to decipher what turned out to be a note we passed back in forth in class deciding what time we were going to work out at the gym. I used to be able to recognize the words "Wash Me" in about ten languages because I had a '65 Mustang and people thought it was funny to draw in the dust on her door panels. God, I loved that car! I have so many great memories from that time. I also have a dark hole smack in the middle of my memory of that time and PTSD that can be traced straight to that dark hole.

I am still really close with several of the friends I made then - and today (on the site) I saw the profiles of some buddies I'd lost touch with. (I also saw the profile of a guy I dated briefly who once got jealous (and drunk) and shook me so hard up against a brico brick wall in his rage that he gave me a concussion. Jerk. You'd think I'd be over that by now, but you know what? I'm not. Still, he had a nice smile in his profile picture. I hope he grew up to be less of an ass hat.)

This past spring I made a pilgrimage of sorts back to where I was stationed twenty years ago and put to rest some ghosts. I reconnected with my teacher. We had one main teacher - for 8 hours a day, five days a week, for 47 weeks. I had one of the best and it was GREAT to see her after all this time. I'm so glad I made that trip in April because it made today easier. Today I got to think about the great times I had back then without the bad times overshadowing it. I remembered all kinds of fun, little details I'd forgotten about parties and outings. (Egad - there are pictures of me drinking beer out of a funnel/surgical tube contraption. I DO NOT want my sons to see those! Honestly, I don't have any idea what we were even doing. I mean, what was the point? Can, funnel, hose - why not just drink out of the can?) After all the time spent staring at the wall lost in reminisces and shivering in today's 25 degree pre-storm grayness - the strangest realization for me is that how much I want this to be my next triathlon. I think I'm going to try to talk my Navy buddies into doing it with me - even if only as an excuse to try to get us all together back in our old stomping grounds.

PS - School has already been canceled for the rest of the week here so if I don't post tomorrow it's because my children have driven me up a wall and I'm hovering there. Also everyone think good (and contraction-y) thoughts for St. Ann who is due to deliver any day now. What better day to deliver than on the day of the full moon in the middle of a winter storm? Go baby!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fiction Binge

Since I did manage to read 13 - no wait, 15! - new books since court - I thought I'd list them for myself and share some of my insights (aka completely inexpert opinions) with you. (Note - I read a lot of Young Adult Fiction since I have five readers between the ages of 8 and 16. I think it's as (if not more) important to read what the kids are reading as it is to listen to what they are listening to and to watch what they are watching.) After reading fewer than three books from November to January 18 - here's what I managed to consume in the past 10 days:

YA Titles -
  1. Polly by Amy Bryant - was ok. It was interesting in that it was about a girl and her defining relationships with boys as set against the dc punk scene of the 80's. (Actually, I thought that part was a lot of fun and it had me thinking about music I liked then and helped spark some of the conversation that Chaos and I had but other than that it was dark and her relationships were...icky.) Not really my thing.
  2. The Insiders by J. Minter - totally not at all my thing. Supposedly a teen fiction book - it's about a group of boys and their friendships/relationships as set in the wealthy New York scene. Bleck. The boys sounded like jaded and pompous 20 somethings and their interactions were superficial and strange. It was the worst of all worlds - boring lists of the boys' outfits and descriptions of risky, pointless behaviors with no authentic plot or growth happening.
  3. The Clique by Lisi Harrison - the first in a series that is HUGE with the middle school girls. If you can get past the shopping and fashion crap - then the story of what friendships are made of is pretty well done. Young girl moves from Florida and gets forced onto a clique of girls at a private school who wear $600 outfits, strive to earn gossip points with each other, and think being popular is the meaning of life. I think it ends up being a book of mixed messages but the friendship dynamics are intricate enough to be interesting and somewhat possible to relate to. I would hate it if my daughter used ANY of the girls in this book as role models - but it gives us some good fodder for conversations.
  4. Best Friends for Never by Lisi Harrison - second in the above series. Was hoping for a change but sadly, it's more of the same.
  5. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart - FINALLY a good book. Well told story of a Ruby Oliver's sophomore debacles - with great footnotes, more than plausible characters and situations, just enough angst and even better - a therapist who sneakily imparts some great lessons. I immediately put this one on the Ninja Princessa's desk (even though it's a bit old for her.)
  6. The Boyfriend Book by E. Lockhart - The second Ruby Oliver Book - and while I liked the first one better, I certainly liked this one enough to hope there's going to be a third.
  7. Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb - chronicle of British teen girl's zaniness. More believable than (but not quite as laugh out loud funny as) Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson - I liked it.
  8. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot - same author as the Princess Diaries - this book is totally unbelievable in terms of an ordinary girl saving the President's life, falling for the First Son, and being appointed teen ambassador to the UN - but it is fun in it's far-fetchedness.
  9. Kung Fu Princess by Pamela Walker - is much less about shopping/fashion/cliques (thank heavens) and more about a young girl coming into her birthright. Unfortunately for her that birthright is being a princess of two bloodlines destined to face five ancient enemies imprisoned in cursed gold coins. Cassidy Chen is great and exactly on my 12 year old Ninja Princessa's level.
  10. Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood - was a bit worried to buy a book under the MTV imprint. (Um, Music Television has their own book division??) But! Spoiled and conflicted Miranda won me over. She gets sent to a spooky boarding school for delinquents on an island off the coast of Maine. The literature they read starts to play out eerily in real life and Miranda begins to suspect that Bard Academy is not at all what she expected. Spooky without being truly disturbing - fun without being superficial - this book was surprising.
  11. The Scarlett Letterman by Cara Lockwood - second in the Bard Academy novels and I liked it better than the first because Miranda's character becomes more complicated and interesting. I'll read any more of these that come out.
  12. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan - Fantastic book!! Odd, off beat - cross between a Polyanna Utopian high school and the world as it is - this is a sweet and real story about a gay boy who falls for the new boy in school. The gentle romance - the challenge of navigating high school friendships - the way misunderstandings rupture our plans and sometimes our hearts - all of it is quiet, musing, accessible in Paul's story. I absolutely want all of my kids (and my friends) to read this book.
  13. Forever in Blue - the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood - I loved it. It's the perfect conclusion for the Traveling Pants books. If you haven't read the first - you should. If you liked the first three and are waiting for this one to come out in paperback - then I don't know what to say other than I think it was worth every penny of the hardback price.
The only non YA books I've read in the past 10 days
  1. Nylon Angel by Marianne de Pierres - Aussie author I'd never heard of - but I think her Parish Plessis is a fantastic cyber punk heroine. De Pierres is a great new voice in the world of speculative fiction. She uses words and labels in intriguing ways and she creates social conflicts that span race, economic strata, and customs. Gritty and slick at the same time - these books helped me out of my wallow.
  2. Code Noir by Marianne de Pierres - second Parish Plessis novel (paperback as of this past summer). Not a stand alone and ends clearly as if there's a third on the way - but I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first.
So there you have it. This is what I was doing while I was not posting. Well, that and watching ESPN. Did you see Serena Williams spank Maria Sharapova? And if you saw that, did you also see the weird commercial with the writer who had a whole trashcan overflowing with crumpled first drafts who then drinks some energy drink? If you saw that, could you please explain to me how those wadded up papers turning into gremlins who attack the writer so that he has to climb walls and chop them with scissors would make someone want to buy that energy drink?!! I didn't understand that commercial AT ALL. Really it was almost as bad as the commercial for running shoes that features two almost dead pieces of road kill talking to each other. Why would talking a half dead rabbit and a smushed bird saying those shoes were cool make you want to buy them? I begin to realize how NOT the target audience I am.

And finally - need I say that I am excited and also despondent that it is nearly Super Bowl weekend? I LOVE the Super Bowl anyway and this year there is a team I really love in it - GO COLTS!!! But damn - only one more game until August?! Sad. Sad. Sad.


More Pants And A Tailspin

More about the Pants:
The Pants (featured in the previous post) continue to entertain me. I had to convince Chaos that it was time (and perhaps even past time) to wash them. Have you ever washed pants with chains permanently attached to them? It's loud. Have you ever seen a 14 year old boy trying to be cool about the fact that his most favorite possession ever is clanking around in the washer? It's funny. Chaos gave me a list of all of his friends who have pants like his - Nate has ones that have orange stitching, Galen has ones with chains that look like big safety pins, someone else is still waiting for his to come in the mail, and one of the other band guys has some with skulls on them. I said, "Oh, so it's like your band's uniform?" And Chaos (with a totally straight face) said, "Mom, it's not at all like a uniform. We wear them to be different." Ah. Middle school logic: five guys wearing the exact same kind of pants in order to be different. I gather the point is to be identifiable as a group that is different from the other groups.

Chaos ranted for a bit about how disgustingly preppy everyone else at school was. He told me they didn't "get" metal. Have I written about how Chaos has gone from listening exclusively to Eminem to listening mostly to Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Guns N' Roses, etc.? Not just metal - but ancient metal? It cracks me up. I love how much we get to talk about it all. He was under the (very mistaken) impression that this was the kind of music I listened to in school. I had to explain to him that while he was dressing like my crowd* did (chains, piercings, pre-goth black stuff, leather etc) - really our focus was more towards the punk end (Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Dag Nasty) or stuff like Depeche Mode and Violent Femmes. I did once go to a Def Leppard concert (free ticket) and I was friends with a guy who was an Iron Maiden freak - but that was about as much cross over as was possible. Chaos and I talked about how music defines cliques as much as clothes and as a tangent, how music affiliation can dictate fashion choices. When I was in school it was the redneck badboys (and their skanky girlfriends) who listened to metal. The preppy kids listened mostly to Christian "rock". (Gag! I despised it but what do you do when Amy Grant comes to your school's assembly? I will never forget the weekend that the girls were in a huge dither about whether to go to the Michael W. Smith concert or the boys' homecoming dance. I was STUNNED. It took me a whole nanosecond to decide I was skipping them both to go to the B-52's concert. I had such a great time. To this day I love the B-52's. They're not punk or dark - but they are wacky and talented and skewed and FUN!) Even though I grew up in the home of country music - NO ONE (our age) ever admitted to listening to country music back then. It was a sure sign of leprosy. It's interesting to me how some of the cliques have shifted musical allegiances but how the dynamics still feel the same. I told Chaos that I thought it got better in high school because it seemed that the groups were more fluid and dynamic and folks were a bit more live and let live - but I could be wrong.

Chaos told me his father hates the Pants. Thinks they're hideous. That surprises me because Mr. Tapioca Head had major issues with how repressed by his parents he felt as a teenager - but I guess it's good that Chaos has ways to rebel against us both (i.e. the long hair for me and the Pants for his dad.)

Speaking of Mr. Tapioca Head -
I haven't written about court last week because I've been in a flat tailspin since then. In terms of personal process - it actually was good. I managed to control my adrenaline better than I've EVER been able to so I wasn't shaking and trying to talk through chattering teeth. However, that's about all that went well for me. I was prepared to "lose" the child support portion of the hearing. My focus was on the parenting plan part of things - in some ways because that was the only way to offset the child support stuff but mostly because I haven't been able to work through some parenting issues with my ex. (In our original agreement - we compromised and traded out some standard ways of doing things - and since he was undoing our compromises then that was the part where I got to present my "case" and get some of those concessions back.) The problem was that my lawyer completely screwed up. She neglected to file an amendment (or something) to our Answer/Counter petition. After three years of this craziness, I finally get the chance to have my "say" in front of the court - only because my lawyer didn't follow due process - the judge wouldn't hear it. My part of the hearing got thrown out unheard. Completely. Case closed. If I choose to reopen - refile - this time as a petition and not a counter petition, then I could maybe get heard. But otherwise that's it. Years of angst/stress (not to mention thousands of dollars spent) and the result is less than nothing. (In fact it's $700/month less than nothing.) In the interest of fairness - I do have to say that my ex did a totally decent thing in court. The hearing on the parenting plans had been thrown out and the judgment on the child support had been made - and it had been made retroactive to September. Nice. Not only was he getting a huge reduction in child support but he was getting essentially a three thousand dollar credit and wouldn't have to pay ANY child support until the credit was "used up." My ex asked the court if that could be changed so that the new child support order would be ordered as of the day of the judgment and not the day of the original petition for reduction. Mr. Tapioca Head said he didn't think making it retroactive was fair and he wouldn't do that to me. (Um - nothing about any of it was fair to my mind especially that he got the reduction, kept the tax exemptions which should be mine, and didn't have to have the insurance situation analyzed - but hey - it was a magnanimous gesture nonetheless and I appreciated it. He certainly could have just kept his mouth shut and screwed me and the kids just that much more.)

The next day he called me and wanted to talk. Egad. Would it surprise you that he was the very last person I wanted to talk to? But I met with him - and would you believe that we managed to do what I wanted us to do in mediation six months ago??!! We hashed through the parenting plans we had both submitted and made new compromises. Really, I wanted to bash his head in because I don't know why we couldn't have done this in JUNE but what the hell. I guess "winning" made him willing to listen. I don't know.

Sweet Hubby said (by way of consolation) that all my ex "won" in court was money. Custody hadn't changed. Money wasn't a big deal. It's the other parts - the parenting parts - that really affected the kids. He said he'd figure out a way to earn more to make up for the shortfall. He said that when he married me he absolutely pledged to take care of all four of us. That was lovely to hear and he's a fabulous man - but I couldn't help thinking about the whole thing from the single mom's perspective. What if I hadn't been remarried? What if I hadn't had the safety net provided by my new husband or my family or even by my ex's gesture? How would I have managed to feed and clothe and shelter the boys after that judgment? It's hard not to feel like the court process (my asshole lawyer included) let my kids down in a big way. Scary. I think that's where the backlash that threw me into a tailspin came in. I was fine in the moment and for some of the next day - but then I had used up all my coping energy. Really I started spiraling down and ended up totally flat by Wednesday. I didn't want to get out of bed or talk to anyone or care much about anything. I did the bare minimum in the parenting arena (which with our size family is still quite a bit of driving, figuring out of food, and basic cleaning/laundry.) Luckily for me, it just so happened that this past weekend I got to wallow. Sweet Hubby went to a sci-fi , VBGF had lots of plans with her friends and wouldn't be in town, and all the kids went with their other parents for the weekend. It was just me and the dog at home. I thought I would write on Friday or even yesterday - but it turns out that I had a LOT of wallowing to do. I read. I ate popcorn and drank wine and watched Sports Center. Wasabi turns out to be a great wallowing companion. I have a lot of newly read books to show for my tantrum/retreat from everyday life but I'm glad my withdrawal didn't last much longer. I feel a lot better.

Thanks for the emails and well wishes and good court mojo. As my mother says, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"

*Umm, "crowd" - yeah - I was a crowd of one at my school. I had great friends at my all girls, private, southern, college prep school - but none of them would have died their hair purple, worn leather and safety pins on the weekend, or gone to some of the clubs I went to with my friends from other schools. I had the advantage of doing theater around the city and knowing/hanging out with kids from all over. I was also lucky that I got to "try on" lots of different ways of being in the world without getting stuck in just one group with just one look and set of opinions. I had the best of all possible worlds and only truly appreciate it in retrospect. Is that the payoff of being 38 and not 14 anymore?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Trying So Hard To Be Bad

Chaos just got these pants. He said I could take his picture as long as he didn't have to smile. Then he smiled and tried to make me delete the picture. He really is way sweeter than he looks.
He got these pants because he and his friends (who are all in band and play instruments and have some musical talent) have decided to start a garage band. They have regularly scheduled practices that never happen because there isn't a time when they can all be there at the same time due to church, karate, geography club, etc. I asked Chaos what instrument he played. (He is one of the least musical people I know - and he gets it from me. We are born to be great audiences.) Chaos said his friend is teaching him to play bass guitar (b/c as Chaos explained to me that's the one that's the easiest, stands in the back, and doesn't have to sing if he doesn't want to) but until he gets it down the guys want him to play the kazoo. Can you imagine how hard it was NOT to laugh, much less smile at the idea of my aching-to-be-a-bad-boy son playing the KAZOO in a garage band??
By the way, he is actually allowed to wear these pants to school, but he has to take off the two big chains which cross in front - which is a good thing because as he jumped down from this chair (don't ask me why he wanted to stand on it for the picture in the first place) the chains caught and he tripped. Ahhh the price of fashion. These pictures are DEFINITELY going in his rehearsal dinner box.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ray Of Light

It's a good thing I had a fabulous weekend because this week looks to be sent special delivery, postmarked "Hell". I got home last night and we prepared to take the children out to eat only to have Havoc say, "Since I had a fever yesterday and my throat hurts, should I go out in public?" Errr, fever? Turns out my ex did send an email about Havoc being sick - but that wasn't so helpful since I wasn't home to get email.

Fine - my one day this week that looked sort of clear would now involve an unplanned trip to the pediatrician. This morning was a bit rocky and I was in the middle of posting to tell you the full extent of its rockiness, its pebbliness, its very stoniness when my computer hiccuped and disappeared all my words. Now you'll get the soft focus version instead. What can I say about a morning that has one out of three middle schoolers missing the bus? I don't even know how that happens. The Ninja Princessa was ready. She just didn't go out to the bus. But her brothers did. Apparently they didn't think it was at all odd that she ate breakfast with them, appeared healthy and ready for school but then didn't come outside with them. Did they think she'd just up and changed her mind about going to school today??

I took Havoc to the pediatrician at 10. At 10:35 we were still waiting to be seen, which turns out to be a good thing as Mayhem called from the school office saying he felt terrible, could I come get him. Since you can see the middle school from the pediatrician's waiting room, I got permission from the receptionist to run over, grab Mayhem and have both of my boyos seen. I was there and back with him in under five minutes and got them right in. Havoc has strep (for the third time this school year) and - bonus - ear infections. Mayhem's strep test was negative but the doc looked at his throat and said it was only a matter of time. We are now the proud owners of two big bottles of amoxicillin. The bright spot in this was that she cleared Mayhem to keep his appointments tomorrow. I think I might have had to do some railing at the universe if we'd had to reschedule those long awaited appointments. Havoc isn't allowed to go to school but I guess he'll have to come with us to the specialists' offices because what the heck else can I do?

Thursday is court with Mr. Tapioca Head and I'm not even going to give you the ridiculous details of the document the man sent me last week. He is ickiness incarnate. I will, however, share a letter I got from my dear college buddy Ray. (Ray happens to be the same college buddy that introduced me to Mr. Tapioca Head in the first place but we'll just have to forgive him for that - easy to do when I look at my sons and realize that without Mr. Tapioca Head they wouldn't be here.) My friend Ray wrote:

Hey there beautiful.

[See why I've been friends with this guy for 19 years? He called me beautiful. And already, right here before I even let you read the rest of his letter, I have to digress and tell you that Ray fundamentally changed my perception of myself when we were in college. He was telling me about a woman he had just started dating. "A woman? You're dating a WOMAN?" I asked him in amazement. I was 19 and the idea that my good friend had started to date a woman seemed bizarre and worldly to me. He laughed at me. I asked him how old she was and he said she was my age. How the heck do you manage to be a woman at 19? We ended up having a long discussion about the threshold between girlhood/womanhood and boyhood/manhood. Actually, I'm sure that Ray and I never once had a short discussion about anything - but anyway... Somewhere in the middle of our conversation I asked him if he had ever referred to ME as a woman when he was talking with his other friends and he said, "Of course." To Ray I was always a beautiful woman. How can you not like that? And it's a darn good thing I did like him, because he drove me CRAZY in college. I might have had to kill him a time or two if he hadn't been so likeable. Ray is brilliant but absent-minded doesn't even begin to cover it. The boy could explain explain the theory of relativity and time dilation in space travel but he couldn't manage to pick me up on time to get to Les Mis for my birthday. Grrrrrrr. You'd think I'd be over that by now, wouldn't you? To return to our muttons, he continues...]

How are you?

I just read your blog entry from last Wednesday. Ok, let us be honest here. Sarah [=his beautiful new wife who is AMAZING and ORGANIZED and absolutely perfect for him] told me I needed to go look at your blog entry. I could not find the URL. I did a search in her delicious bookmark database. While I was there I saw an article she had tagged about the increase in gobbledegook in press releases in the last year. They had a really neat chart. Then, your blog was still loading. The graphics, I think. The spinny thing was going. So, then I remembered this Apache project I was in the middle of downloading and went back to check on it. Then I realized I was going to need something else to make that work. Then Sarah reminded me to go back to your blog. But then I explained to her about where the name "Apache" came from in the Apache Web Server. It turns out that it used to just be called "the web server" by the people working on it. But there were so many updates, they had to patch the darn thing several times a day. Always with another patch.
Indeed, they decided that it was really "a patch-y web server". Haha.
Then I read your blog entry.....

And hey! I am _ACTUALLY_ writing an e-mail to you.

Did I mention to you, by any chance, that I was diagnosed with ADD? Really, I know. You're shocked. As was I. But it is true. And it is not fatal.

Actually, I even take medication for it. Just a light dose. It did not bring about shocking changes, but then, you know how you might sit down with 5 things to do and sometimes not get to all 5. I actually used to never see the backside of number 3. Ever. Now I do sometimes get to 5. It is really weird.


I'll write more later. Did not want to risk having this e-mail not
get sent....

Love you - ray

ps: Sarah says hello and says there is a magazine that might help
with questions.

Isn't he wonderful? Not only did he write and let me know he was keeping up with me, but he reassured me in the best way possible about Havoc. I had not heard of ADD when I was in college, so I never once thought that Ray might be ADD but upon a nanosecond of reflection I have to say, "Duh." And yet, he has this great life with a fantastic career, wonderful kids and a lovely wife (who sends me great resource information - thank you Sarah!!!!)

What a treasure to hear these words from him/them this week. Aren't friends the bomb diggity?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To The M.D. We Go

Just about the time I thought I'd get to be a "stay home" mom again, it turns out that I'm a "take everyone to the doctor" mom. January sounded pretty freaking far away when I was trying to get appointments with specialists for my kids back in November. Back then I was settling for any appointments I could get and didn't quite notice that my New Year's resolution should have been to win the lottery to cover January's co-pays. Ahem. To return to the part where I am so lovingly and attentively making sure my children's medical/therapeutic needs are being met (and completely ignoring the fact that I already missed one dental follow up - crap - and have had to reschedule that for March)...

This week Chaos finally got in with a counselor whom I adore. (I, being the very smart mom that I am, did NOT tell Chaos how wonderful I thought this therapist was until AFTER Chaos told me he was "okay".) It was a little weird to sit there with Dr. H asking me and Sweet Hubby all about Chaos while Chaos was right there - but that was part of the deal. We told the doctor what we thought Chaos thought and what we thought Chaos felt about this and that. Then Chaos got to meet with the counselor - probably to snicker over how off the mark we were. Chaos was in rare form after the session. He was in a good mood because we weren't making him go back to school. They all get one "mental health day" a semester and Chaos wanted to take his - on what better day than his first session with a mental health professional. It was also the last day before Bug had to go back to California so the two of them had big game playing plans all mapped out. I asked Chaos how he thought the session went - and he said that it was okay. "I mean, it could be worse. You all could make me do all sorts of stuff that would be way worse. I mean, like, I'm glad you're not all uppity-tight and make me go to bible school or something." Uppity-tight? Sweet Hubby and I cracked up. Later Chaos was telling us about a new author he has discovered (Harry Turtledove) who writes alternative historical fiction. Chaos was going on and on about soldiers and the Pot-o-matic. It made no sense. We got him to spell Pot-o-matic and it turns out he was talking about the Potomac. The very next sentence he came out with had the word "beige" in it - maybe describing uniforms? I don't remember exactly because it took us a bit to decipher what "bee juh" meant. We really need to show him how to use the Merriam Webster site that has pronunciation audio files! He was in a great mood all day though and laughed with us about it all.

Then yesterday I took Havoc for an hours long screening for ADD. I have been really reluctant to do this. More than one (or even two or three) teachers have suggested it in the past few years, but I haven't wanted to have my kid labeled and then written off with a Ritalin Rx. Havoc's father (Mr. Tapioca Head) has been even more reluctant. To the point that he told me that not only did he not want me to take Havoc for the screening, but that if Havoc was diagnosed as ADD that he would "forbid" any medication and "insist" on a second opinion with a doctor of his choosing. That totally pissed me off but didn't stop me. I have been about at wit's end with Havoc. We have organized and organized and organized the boy - but no matter how many times we clean out his locker and backpack, no matter how many check lists we make, no matter how much we look at his school planner - every system we come up with falls apart the minute I'm not checking every single step. I hate being a nag - and I particularly despair when I fulfill my role as nagging organizational overseer for months only to think that it's time for Havoc to have internalized some small bit of it and come to find out that once again, no, he's not internalized any of it. The doctor we saw was fantastic. He was so easy to talk to. Havoc did most of the talking - and together they looked at Havoc's hand and checked his eyesight. (We have appointments with specialists for both of those areas of concern next week) and they talked and talked and talked about Havoc's patterns at school and at home. I'd had to fill out this detailed packet that covered lots of ground - the thing started with my pregnancy and his birth! The teacher who has been the most concerned also filled out a packet and sent it in. We'd been there almost two hours and the doctor started telling me about vitamin supplements (zinc and essential fatty acids) that he thought could help out. Then he recommended a book about organizational strategies. I said, "Oh, so you don't think Havoc has ADD?" And the man about choked trying not to laugh at me. He glanced over at Havoc who was busy fiddling with his hands, tapping his feet, and shaking his leg from having to sit and do nothing but talk for so long in a small room. The doctor said, "Oh no. He is definitely ADD. But that's only a way to get a handle on his brain style." He then went on to tell Havoc that human brains are incredibly responsive to human experience. He said that it would probably take Havoc a LOT longer to instill a habit, but that when he did it would stick. He explained that Havoc had very bad paper handling habits and that was what we needed to work on most. He said the supplements would help make some things clearer and they could make it easier for Havoc to stick to the routines - but that Havoc still had to do all the work of finding a routine or system that he thought could work for him and then Havoc had to be the one to do it, consistently for a very long time. The doctor said I did need to help Havoc but he told both me and Havoc what the limits of that help should look like. It was a really great appointment. It just took most of the whole day.

And next week looks to be taken up too. Havoc has two specialist appointments and then on Thursday I'm back in court. I got a notice today that there is a certified letter at the post office for me. I know it's from Mr. Tapioca Head because he's the only one in my whole life who has sent me certified mail - and it's never good. My stomach hurts just thinking about it. I don't have a clue as to what it could actually be - but I'm sure it's about court crap. Bleck.

So my dear internets, my presence in the blogosphere may continue to be spotty through next week, but I'll be back here and at your blogs as soon as I can!! Peace.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Getting On The Same Page

Weeeellll - as much fun as new electronic thingamajiggies are, there is a down side. That downside is that I can't make all my new stuff work! The brain disrupter rays shooting out of the PS3 at all hours of the day hasn't helped me figure it out either. I won't go into my hosting issues as Sweet Hubby seems to have successfully ported us out of the old host's realm and into a new one. I had nothing to do with that. The less than 'tastic service has been a contributing factor - but somebody seems to have figured that out too. No, my real issue now is learning how to use my new stuff to do all the old stuff. I can make my new stuff do new and very cool stuff (which is ever so much fun) but I can't make it do basic things. (Mail! Mail is good, you silly Mac!)

Also (and I may have mentioned this before) but blogging when there are squillions of children in the house is well nigh impossible. We eat, we play games, we eat more, we build forts, we snack, we have music wars (and cologne wars, and Warhammer wars, and nerf gun wars, and popcorn wars and for pity's sake, how many kinds of wars can 10 boys come up with??!!) and then we scrounge for more food - but blogging? We don't do that so much.

We're fixing to get back into the swing of things - what with work and school and Cub Scouts and wrestling and chorus and karate demo team all starting back up yesterday. Egad, I can see why someone invented the day planner! 2007 is a blast so far. Pictures are forthcoming.