Monday, October 30, 2006

Cub Scout Cuboree 2006

We returned yesterday from the Cub Scout District Campout. We camped overnight Friday, had a full day (really full) of actvities on Saturday, camped out Saturday night and returned home yesterday, which I affectionately dubbed "LaundryFest 2006". Woo Hoo!

The weather was great - low 70's during the day and low to mid 40's at night. If you're new to my blog, Son #2 (age 9) is my cub scout. Son #1 (age 11) is a 1st year Boy Scout. Dear Hubby is the Cub Scout Master.

Here's a photo of Son #2 with his BB target. You can't see it in the picture, but there is a smattering of little holes along the right side of the target.

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Here's a photo of Son #2's archery target. It's hard to tell but there are four arrows there.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

[Posting photos via Blogger still isn't working properly. It's saying the pix have been successfully uploaded, but they're not appearing in my blog. I had to use Photobucket to get these two pix uploaded.]

Son #3, age 4 (too young to be a scout), enjoyed the trip, too. He was enthralled by this large green magnolia leaf that Son #1 found on the ground. Son #3 carried it around all day long like a treasure. He also did a great job of keeping up with all the walking that was required. Unfortunately, after the last activity of the day, after trekking back to the campsite, Son #3 realizes he forgot his leaf on the picnic table at the archery station. He'd been carrying the leaf for 8 hours and now IT'S GONE!!!!!! After grilling him to be sure that's where he left it and preparing him for the fact that it might have blown away/gotten trampled, etc., we embark on yet another hike.

A short way from our campsite we spot a magnolia tree. Big brown leaves all over the ground. Not good enough, though. He wants a green leaf. Unfortunately, every branch was out of our reach - and if you know magnolia trees, green leaves are not easily dislodged from their branches. So onward ho! We arrive at the now-deserted archery station and sure enough on the picnic table, there it was. Son #3 was very happy to be reunited with his precious leaf. (Chalk this up to one of the many idiotic things we do for our kids.)

Here's the kicker. We're not back at the campsite 15 minutes when a few of the younger cub scouts come out of the woods dragging a branch that they found. A branch full of a couple dozen big, green magnolia leaves. God has a sense of humor.

Unfortunately, Blogger is not allowing me to post any photos right now. I'll try again later.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Talk About a Pain in the Neck!


I received the call from the school. Son #2 (age 9) hurt his neck during gym class. Oh, he's moving okay (ruling out major spinal cord injury), no tingling fingers or toes (which usually occurs with a pinched nerve). However, when I arrived at the office, his ear was up to his shoulder and he was in tears. Since he was moving okay - it hurt to do so, but he *could* move - I opted to take him to the doctor's office rather than call for an ambulance.

Good call, fortunately. Turns out he pulled a muscle in his neck (which I suspected) and I could feel it spasming - is that a verb? He's home now and getting around much better. He'll spend the evening relaxing on the recliner with a heating pad instead of playing in his baseball team's tournament game.

He's feeling much better since he took some Motrin. I have a prescription for a muscle relaxant if he seems to need it.

This kid is a very tender fellow. It doesn't take much physical discomfort to move him to tears, but ironically this was his first non-routine visit to the doctor since his first and only ER visit when he was 9 months old.

Knock wood.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The "Time Argument" Revisited

This from an article by John Clark in a homeschooling newsletter I receive:

"First, remember that the "time argument" itself is an invitation to assess what is really important in you life. When you say "I have no time for X", what you are really saying is: "Everything in my life is more important an X." So the next time you are about to say, "I have no time for helping my six-year old daughter with her reading", substitute the words above and say this instead: "Everything in my life is more important than helping my six-year old daughter with reading." You might discover you have more time than you thought."

Ouch. But the man has a point.

A lot of time management gurus use the analogy that time is like currency. Assume that each morning $86,400 is deposited in your bank account. The catch is: you have to spend every penny in order to have the same amount deposited the next day. What would you do? Would you forget about it until the last hours of the day and then attempt to spend it all in one place? Or would you plan and budget in an attempt to use it wisely throughout the day?

Those 86,400 dollars represent the number of seconds in our day. Of course we can't hoard our 'seconds' until 11pm and try spending them all then. So how do we get the most "bang for our buck" (or in this case, our seconds)?

Thoughts, ideas? Feel free to comment.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Live Down the Street From 'The Jerry Springer Show"

If you've been following my blog for awhile, then you already 'know' these folks. If you want details, you can read my August 25, 2005 and August 2, 2006 posts. Otherwise, here's a brief recap:

June '05, Stay Home Dad (he's collecting disablity) and Working Mom move in the house two doors down from ours with their autistic 12 year old son and 8 year old daughter. January '06, Stay Home Dad's 15 year old son from a previous relationship moves in. Stay Home Dad had no contact with 15 year old since he was two. The 15 year old's mom goes to jail and it's either foster care or moving in with biological Stay Home Dad. The dad initially told me he thought his son would be 'better off' in foster care, but a week later, 15 year old son moved in. A neighbor told me that the state 'strongly encouraged' him to take custody of his son, otherwise they would pursue the issue of, oh 13 years back child support.

Shortly after the 15 year old moves in, the Mom (his stepmom) moves out of the house and into her boyfriend's apartment. Mom and boyfriend are evicted from the apartment so they move into the house with her husband, step son and two kids. How cozy. Mom and boyfriend have since found another place to live - a dump of a hotel, according to the 8 year old daughter. (She didn't say it was a dump, but she did tell me the name of the place.)

So here's the latest. I've tried to be friendly with the 15 year old, in part because 1) I know he's had a tough childhood and 2) I feel really, really sorry for him that he's moved into that house. The 15 year old is on probation for breaking and entering. He likes to dress 'hip hop' - normally I'd say to each his own, but c'mon, we have a lot of little girls on the street who do *not* need to be seeing your drawers, thankyouverymuch. He's taken up smoking, stealing his dad's cigs. (Irony: can't afford to pay for your trash collection, but you can afford beer and cigarettes. Nice example, pops.) Dad's reply: "As long as I don't catch him...." PUH-LEEZE.

As for the 8 year old girl (she's probably 9 now), I've always thought she had severe ADHD or a hearing impairment. You tell her something, she'll say 'okay' and if you remind her later, she acts like she's hearing it for the first time. We've learned from her grandmother, that the girl does have a hole in one eardrum (complete hearing loss) and significant hearing loss in the other ear. This explains why she'll ride her bike in the middle of the street and not flinch when a car honks at her. According to Grandma, Stay Home Dad is supposed to take her to the doctor for this, but isn't. The girl is doing very poorly in school - I'm sure the hearing impairment is part of the problem but apparently the school has been sending notes home, but Stay Home Dad never sees them because he doesn't go over her homework or even check her bookbag. Finally the school called the Grandmother, who would like to take the kids, but has no legal right to do so.

There are some other things we've observed: 15 year old son speeding on a four-wheeler down the street when there were at least 6 kids under the age of 8 playing outside (riding a 4-wheeler on the street is illegal in our area), Dad getting behind the wheel of his car and driving away with an open beer bottle (violation of open container laws, among others), 12-year old autistic son left home alone, etc. Neighbors have called the police and social services. The police have been out a few times, but apparently nothing has come of it.

Grandmother bought the house for her daughter and son-in-law, with the agreement that they'd pay a certain amount in rent each month, but she made one crucial mistake. She listed them on the title as 1% owners, and therefore, she cannot legally evict them. Stay Home Dad knows this so where's his incentive to live up to his end of the bargain (he hasn't been, by the way). So now Grandma has to hire an attorney to see if she can get out of this mess.

Hear that sound? That's the sound of our quality of life and property values going down the toilet. Oy vey!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Sofa Saga

It started simply enough. Dear Hubby and I decided to replace our sofa. Our old one was in pretty good shape, but our decor in the living room evolved over time so that it just didn't really "go" anymore. Plus we decided it would be nice to have a fold out sofa bed for guests.

We decided to splurge and order one from our local furniture store. I jotted the dimensions of my old sofa on a piece of paper and took it to the store. The sales lady and I found a style I liked, compared the dimensions of my sofa to the new one we were considering, selected our fabric and placed the order. They said it would take 8-10 weeks (yikes!) so I borrowed a fabric swatch and took it to another store where I ordered a new area rug and selected new paint colors for the living room.

The rug arrived, I painted. We were all set. Just waiting for the sofa. It was delivered to the store earlier than expected and we set a delivery date for this past Friday. The two delivery guys arrive and one of them had the worst attitude from the start. I told him that he might want to take a look to see which way would be the best to bring the sofa in because it would be a tight fit. "Aw man, don't tell me that," was his reply and it went pretty much down hill from there.

The problem is this. My doorway is 35" wide but as you step in to the foyer, you have 51" before you hit the coat closet, so there is an awkward angle. The kitchen doorway (through the garage) was 29" wide, with no awkward angles.

Delivery Guy #1 just kept telling me that it wasn't going to fit. He tried to bring it in the front door at an angle but it wouldn't work. I explained that my old sofa came through that very door and the dimensions were very similar (new sofa is 2" shorter, but 1.5" deeper). I also explained the the previous sofa was angled upward, and his reply was that the sofa-sleeper was "heavier." Well, duh. But that shouldn't be my problem, should it? Okay, I didn't actually say that.

I suggested removing the feet of the sofa and Guy #1 said they didn't come off. Huh? Keep in mind that this sofa was not carved out of a single piece of wood. If someone put the feet on, then of course the feet come off. He persisted in trying to wedge it in at an angle and ended up damaging the fabric (only slightly, it turns out).

Delivery Guy #1 moved the sofa back outside and called the store to tell them that "it won't fit." He also mentioned the damage, which I'm sure he's thinking is my fault because, "it won't fit." I suggested trying to go through the kitchen door. Guy #1 says, "You still want it like that?" (referring to the damage). I replied that of course I wanted it. I have no sofa (we gave our old one the neighbor across the street), and I knew this one would fit. Once it was inside, I explained, I'll call the store owner to discuss restitution (either a discounted price or ordering a new one). He made a half-assed attempt to get it through the kitchen, but started complaining again about the small freezer that I have in my garage (the same freezer I offered to move twice before he even got started).

Finally I had enough and told them to load the sofa back on the truck and take it back to the store. I should point out that the entire time, Delivery Guy #2 was rather quiet. He'd occasionally offer a suggestion but Guy #1 would shoot it down every time.

At this point I was so bummed and stressed and second-guessing my measurements, etc. I tend to do that. Something goes wrong and I tend to scrutinize my own role first. Normally special order items are non-refundable, but the owner said if I wanted to cancel the order, he would refund all but a 15% re-stocking fee. I was satisfied with that, but Dear Hubby said, no, the sofa would fit so we shouldn't have to pay the restocking fee.

That evening Dear Hubby took some PVC pipe that we had laying around the garage and fashioned a frame that was 86" by 37" (the length and depth of the new sofa). We knew that since the height was 31" if you turned it sideways, it would fit in the 35" wide doorway. He and I practiced bringing the frame in through the front door. Essentially, you have to treat it as it you were trying to load it in an elevator. Go in slightly, angle it up sharply, and bring it it on its side. Worked every time with the frame.

The following day, Saturday, Dear Hubby, kids and I returned to the store, armed with my measurements. I explained to the owner what happened. He looked at my measurements, apologized profusely and said that yes, it should indeed fit if it was brought in how we practiced with the PVC pipe (which the delivery guys did not try, by the way). He offered to try deliver it again on Tuesday. We agreed with the stipulation that Delivery Guy #1 (Mr. Negative) would not come.

Dear Hubby wanted to assess the damage for himself so he and the owner walked back in the warehouse. Delivery Guy #1 has the gall to walk up and tell Dear Hubby and Store Owner, "I told her it wouldn't fit." Dear Hubby got very close to Delivery Guy #1 (okay, he got 'in his face') and words were exchanged. Delivery Guy #1 said he wasn't going to be the one to deliver it on Tuesday (fine by me). Dear Hubby apologized to the store owner for almost causing a scene (even though they were in an area where customers do not normally go).

Flash forward to Tuesday. The warehouse manager, Delivery Guy #2, and two other delivery guys arrive in the afternoon. The smaller guy - who looked to be 17 and couldn't weigh more than 130, looks it over and said 'piece of cake.' Dear Hubby is home, because I told him I didn't want to deal with the stress. I said I was going into the bedroom, turning the radio up very loudly so I can't hear anything that's going on, and to please tell me when the sofa is inside. I go to my room, click on the radio, before I can crank up the volume, Dear Hubby tells me, "it's in."

The damage is so minimal that you can't see if unless I point it out. It's a chenille sofa so much of it was just the mashing of the fabric against the door frame. The store folks used a little soft brush to fluff it back up. We're still going to discuss a small discount, which I think all things considered, we're entitled to.

Oh and Delivery Guy #1 no longer works there. Apparently this wasn't the first time they had a problem with him. (I should mention that it's crossed my mind that, uh oh, he knows where we live.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Epilogue (see last post)

There are times when I find myself wishing my older two would just act their ages, for Pete's sake! They're 9 and 11 and it's pretty normal for them to sometimes revert back to their former selves, right?

After re-reading my previous post, and chatting with some of you via 'comments', I've come to the realization that my 4 year old probably could stand a healthy dose of "acting his age." Although, if anything, he's a bit precocious beyond his years. It seems at times that he's growing up too fast.

Let's face it. His playmates are his 9 and 11 year old brothers and the Old Fogeys (his dad and me). To summarize, he was completely overwhelmed at a new friend's birthday party. Those young kids (mostly 4 to 7) were pretty noisy and rambunctious - as 4 to 7 year olds should be.

This isn't the first time I found myself wondering just how, in 2002, I gave birth to a 75-year old little man. Once he and I were at our local library's Story Time. The children's librarian read several books with the space theme. Afterwards, the kids were to do a little craft projects - glue pre-cut contruction paper pieces on an ordinary paper plate to create The Man in the Moon.

The Librarian was explaining to the kids how it works: "Okay, this (holds up paper plate) is the moon." Preschoolers nod. Except Son #4, who dubiously looks at the Librarian and replied, "Uh. No. It's a plate."

He did ultimately use the glue stick to paste on the contruction paper eyes, nose and mouth, but I think he was just going along with it so as not to upset the crazy lady who thinks you can buy a pack of 300 "moons" for a buck and a half at WalMart.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, It Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time...

Son #3 (age 4 1/2) was invited to the birthday party for the grandson of a friend of mine. The birthday boy turned 6. Son #3 was so excited - this was the first time he was invited to the party that was not a family member's party. The party was held at this little karate place where the Birthday Boy takes lessons. I thought Son #3 would love it since he's always jumping and kicking, but...

BUT. I didn't realize just how his sensitivity to loud noises would play out. You see, my youngest son doesn't like loud noises unless he's the one making them.

We arrive, Son #3 gives the Birthday Boy his gift, which he picked out on his own, I might add (a Lego Star Wars set), then Son #3 is invited to take off his shoes and line up with the other guests on the mat. They start with introductions and the instructors show each kid where to stand: on a white "X" on the mat, so that they're far enough from one another so they don't collide. They start with a warm up: running in place, which must have seemed pointless to Son #3 because he wouldn't do it.

Next they were shown how to do a couple of blocks and punches, and taught how to do the karate yells. Son #3 was doing a good job with the movements, but at this point I could see that he was wiping his eyes repeatedly and trying his best to maintain his composure.

I didn't want to be too quick to jump in and rescue him so I watched for a bit. Finally, he walked off the mat, leaving behind his little exposed white "X" and sat in the chair next me. I tried pointing out how much fun the other kids were having, how most of them had never done karate before, how much it was like Power Ranger School. He was having none of it.

He did perk up and rejoin the rest of the kids when the pizza, cake and ice cream was served.

I'm sure his sensitivity to loud sounds is only part of it. A bigger part, I'm sure, is the fact that he's with me all day long and although we do have our fun, we also spend a lot of time running errands and doing other 'grownup stuff.' Finally, doesn't really have much opportunity to spend time with kids his own age. He's much more used to being around his older brothers who, although noisy at times, are past the age where they yell just for the sake of yelling.

I wonder how he'll do when he starts kindergarten next year.