Sunday, July 27, 2014

Blowing Off the Dust

Wow, it's been quite a while since I've been here.  I mean to get back but it life gets busy.  Anyway, I'll post some pics and try to catch up.  Here's one of my favorites I took this summer.  Jess loves the beach.

Highlights since the last time I was on:
  • We celebrated our 7th Gotcha Day anniversary.  This year, instead of New Tokyo, we went to Fridays.
  • Jason has been playing soccer since last fall both at school (fall season) and during the rest of the year through a local rec club.  He runs track in the spring.  
  • Jason started working at his first job last week.  He's a lifeguard at pool in a town about 15 minutes from home.  
  • Jess started acro classes in the fall and the studio owner approached her this spring about joining her new team.  She tried ballet over the summer to make sure she liked it and she's hooked.  So, in the fall Jess will be taking ballet, jazz, and company (team).  She has 1 competition and a recital. She had her first recital this spring for her acro class and had a blast.
  • Jess auditioned for the South Shore Conservatory Children's Chorus and was accepted.  She'll be going to weekly practices and has 3 concerts.  She'll be singing at the Plymouth Philharmonic holiday concert and with the African Children's Choir in April.  She's going to be a busy girl!
  • We went to visit family this summer in PA and we visited a monument in Gettysburg with my great grandfather's name.  It was a great time.  

Saturday, November 02, 2013


I love Halloween.  I like the pumpkins, the dressing up, the music, the haunted houses...all of it.  This year I was a bit behind.  I wanted to do things but I found it hard to get my act together; its been kind of like that since my mom died.  Anyway, even though I didn't do everything I'd hoped, we did have fun.

Jess as a flapper ready to go trick or treating at the mall.
A quick costume change and ready to hit the neighborhood.

Haunted Hallways at Jess's school
Jess's zumba class

September/October 2013

Sports players have to dress up for away games.  There was an away game the first day of school so I got a nice picture of Jason in a shirt and tie.  I wish I'd planned better and had taken it outside like I did Jess's but at 6:30 I was lucky I was awake enough to focus the camera.

Jess picked out her first day of school outfit from Justice.  I miss Gymboree but she's definitely a Justice girl now.

Jason went to the Homecoming dance with Jordan, the same girl he's been dating since the end of 8th grade.  He was supposed to go with Jordan to her friend's house so we could get pictures but unfortunately she had a track meet that day and it went late.  She got home just in time to grab a quick shower and get to the dance.  I dropped Jason at the dance at the same time she got there.  I was disappointed not to get pics of the two of them but at least I got a nice one of him.

The Worst Feeling So Far as a Parent

In my last post, I wrote about not knowing where Jason was one day at soccer.  I was so scared something happened to him.  While I know he is 15 and that the chances of something horrible happening are very slim, there's the knowledge that horrible things do happen and even at 15, he's still my little boy (okay, considering I hate to look up at him, maybe not so little but you know what I mean).

Last Saturday I went to a scrapbooking crop.  Jason was home with Jess.  I told Jess not to go outside without telling Jason.  About 11, I get a text from Jason asking where Jess is.  I call him and ask what does he mean, where is she?  He said when he came downstairs, the backdoor was wide open and she wasn't in the house.  He checked the cellar where her playroom is - not there, checked the backyard - not there, checked the house 3 houses away where her friends live - not there.  I was home in 5 minutes (crop was only about 2 miles away).  I called the neighbor behind me and no one answered.  I went to the house diagonal from me and they said Jess wasn't there.  I was hysterical at this time.  As I was cutting back across the back neighbor's yard, my neighbor came out and asked what was wrong.  I told her I couldn't find Jess as I was bawling.  Jess was in her basement playroom.  She hadn't answered the phone because they didn't hear it ring and it hadn't looked like they were home because one car was gone and the shades were all down.  Jess came upstairs and I was so mad.  I told her to go home.  She said she'd told woken Jason up and told him that she wanted to go out but that he fell back asleep and didn't remember (that's entirely possible).  Once I was calm, we talked about it and said next time leave a note as well as telling us where she's going.  I charged her cellphone (yes my 8 year old has a cellphone but it is a very basic phone - no internet). That night I found a note she wrote after she'd come home to me telling me how sorry she was she scared me and how God must be mad at her.  Ouch.  I reassured her God wasn't mad and neither was I, that I'd just been very scared when I couldn't find her (when the neighbor came out as I was cutting across her yard, I was on my way home to call the police).  Having no idea where your child is....definitely the worst feeling ever.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Soccer - Caution -- major vent ahead.

Jason loves sports.  Me?  Not so much.  I like that he's busy with something healthy.  I like that he enjoys the camaraderie of a team.  What don't I like?  The coach's expectation that sports top everything; that everyone in the family should put their lives on hold for the sport.  Wrestling hasn't been so bad in this respect.  Jason's wrestled for 4 years so far and is planning on wrestling again this year.  He ran track last year, sort of.  Due to his wrestling injury and the lack of exercise he did during that recovery, he quickly injured his knee and was unable to run for a bit.  This fall he decided to try soccer for the first time.  We got the spiel from the coach - please pick your kid up on time; coaches can't leave until all kids are gone; please get your child to the practices and games - they're on the schedule so you know when they're coming.  Okay, sounds good, right?  Wrong.  First of all, practices and games change and it is expected that you will drop whatever you have planned for that time so that soccer can be attended to.  The kids will do charity work - noble yes but again, not on the calendar at the beginning of the season so you know its coming but you don't know when....and its mandatory so if you had plans for that weekend that supposedly had no soccer commitments, you had better cancel them.   As for the "please make sure you pick your kid up on time....", yes they want you there on time but the coaches will show absolutely no regard for your time.  They decide practice should go an extra half hour then its going to go an extra half hour.  Your other child has to be at dance?  Too bad.   If a child is doing poorly in a class and needs extra help, then you can pay for a tutor because your child should not be taking advantage of the extra help the teachers offer after school because that will interfere with practice.  I do get that you make a commitment to sports but if my child's grades are suffering, that takes precedence.  Soccer, wrestling, track are not going to help him pass the SATs.  If he had to miss multiple practices, then one should rethink whether sports should be in the mix but one practice to figure out one area of a class that is confusing...yeah, being late to that one practice is worth it.  Wrestling and track both start half an hour after school ends so that the kids can meet with teachers for that half hour.  Soccer?  Right when school ends.  

I'm angry with the coach but I can't really say anything without Jason being penalized so I'm venting safe place.  Today Jason texted me that he'd be done with practice at 4 at Forges Field (local field  a few miles from school; a bus takes them there).  I told him I had to pick up Jess first and I got there about 4:10.  No Jason.  No kids from his team anywhere.  Jess and I walk around the field and all we see is the girls soccer team.  Go back to the truck and drive to the other entrance which he doesn't usually use but just in kids.  Again we go back.  It's getting later; I'm starting to get freaked out. By this time its 4:30.  Half an hour later than Jason told me he'd be.  I don't know where my child is.  I'm looking through my emails to find one of the soccer mom's phone numbers when he calls me at 4:40.  My reply as I answer the phone...."Where the hell are you?!"  He said he was running late and would be out in a middle.  I asked again where he actually was and he said "the far field".  Apparently there's another field in this complex of fields that can't be seen through the trees and which, in the entire time we've lived in Plymouth and the many activities Jason's had at Forges, he's never used so I didn't know it existed.  I was livid.  I am supposed to be sure I am there to pick my kid up on time but you keep him 40 minutes extra and don't have the kids let the parents know?  And you're in an area you usually aren't in so anyone who doesn't know the field wouldn't know their kid is there?  I am counting the days until the end of soccer. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Starting with the happy stuff

I've been stuck.  I wanted to post about my mom's funeral and about the stress of this spring with Jess's cardiology appointment but I couldn't find the words so I didn't and since I couldn't blog about those, I didn't blog about anything else.  I decided that I'm going to blog tonight about Jason's birthday party.  Something happy, light, and nonstressful.  In 2 hours and 20 minutes, my baby boy will turn 15.  It's hard to believe!

July 3, 1998   1:47 AM    8 lbs 10 oz  20.5 inches


Since family lives at least an hour away, we had his birthday party last Saturday.  Due to Blizzard Nemo and Hurricane Sandy, the kids didn't get out of school until Wednesday.  My last day at work was Friday since we had to go in for an inservice.  That made getting ready for the party a little tougher.  We were really worried about the weather.  I wanted the party outside but the weather report said there was going to be thunderstorms so we figured we'd set up everything inside.  By the time our first guests came, it was warm and partly sunny so we set up chairs outside to enjoy the fresh air. I went with an ocean theme.  Jason would have been just as happy to go themeless but I saw a cookie cutter I wanted to use and so I planned the party around that.  Being a teenager, the best present comes in envelopes.  His big present from us and from his grandparents is two weeks at Camp Calumet; this is what he's asked for for the past few years.  He also got money and a gift certificate to a local scuba store.  He wants to buy a regulator for when he goes diving on our cruise.  Jason hung out with the adults as usual (we don't allow sitting in a corner playing electronics during family parties). Jess enjoyed playing with her cousins, Shannon and Alison.  The little girl who lives kitty corner behind us came through the fence to visit.  

The cookies that set the theme.
 Food - chicken pineapple bites, caprese salad on a stick, flip flop cake, and for my non cake eating birthday boy, a giant chocolate chip cookie
flip flop cake with chocolate shells

 The girls hanging out
 Who's taller?
 Miss Mary Mack (apparently Miss Mary Mack has experienced inflation.  When I was little it cost her 15 cents to jump the fence; now it costs 50 cents.

In other happy news, Jess got her report card.  All E's in reading (meeting grade level expectations at an exceptional level) and the rest was E's and M's (meeting grade level expectations).  She got a Citizenship Award for being kind and helpful; the para from the ASD program nominated her for the award.  She also got a Super Student Award for reading.  For doing so well, Jess got 2 new outfits from Justice, her new favorite store.  There was a huge sale on or she wouldn't have been able to score 2 outfits as the place comes with a bit of sticker shock when looking at the price tags.
Jess with her awards
One of her Justice outfits.  My little sports fan!
Her other Justice outfit
The school Jessica goes to houses our town's Autism Spectrum Disorders program.  Some of the children in the program are entirely mainstreamed and her class was the one the mainstreamed first graders went to.  Jess participated in a social skills group as a peer sometimes at lunch.  She asked me if she could go to their summer program as a peer role model.  The kids in the ASD program go to school for 5 hours, 3 days a week.  Jess will join them for 3 hours in the morning and then go home at lunch time.  They'll have cooking, do crafts, and play games.  She's excited.  She wanted to take the bus until we found out how long it would take.  There's 1 bus for the whole town during the summer.  Our town is 100 square miles.  The school the summer program is being held at is in the southern part of town.  Her bus ride would take one hour and 20 minutes.  If I drive her, it will take 20-30 minutes.  I'm driving her.  

We haven't gotten Jason's report card yet.  Finals went up until the last day and high school report cards are mailed out, not brought home in backpacks like elementary school.  Jason's schedule has him in honors classes though so I'm assuming he did well.  He'll be taking all honors courses - history, ELA, algebra 2, science, engineering 3 (for some reason, they're letting him skip engineering 2), and spanish 3.  Very proud of my smart and motivated boy.  Motivated because the history teacher wanted him to go on to 10th grade CP1 (college prep course, right under honors; he did 9th grade CP1 this year) but Jason apparently had me sign (I was sick and don't remember this at all) the form to override the teacher's recommendation and take honors level.  

Well, this is the happy stuff that's going on.  At some point I will find the words I want to blog about the funeral but I'm not sure when that will be.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How do I tell her?

Today my sister and I made a decision that was the right one but still one that hurt so badly.  My mom has not been healthy in a long, long time.  She's had her good days and her bad days and then it went to having good moments and bad moments.  She went in for kidney stone surgery yesterday.  Surgery lasted longer than they thought.  There was more damage inside than they thought there'd be.  She had a build up of CO2 so they put in a breathing tube expecting to take it out today.  Today came.  She was worse.  Nonresponsive, unable to breathe on her own.  My sister walked into the hospital room today with my mom hooked up to all types of machines.  Hospital said all a DNR meant was that they wouldn't use the paddles to bring her back and that if we didn't want her kept alive by machine we had to request she only get comfort care. My mom had made it clear all of her life she did not want to be kept alive by machine ever.  Patricia called me and Mike and I left for the hospital. I'd been sick so I hadn't been around here yet but I was coming now.  Jason was home in case Jess came home from the friend's she was at plus I did not want this to be his last memory of his grandmother.  I called Pastor and he said he'd meeet us there.  We got there, Pastor got there, we prayed, and then we went to the waiting room while they removed the machines.  We went back to the room and stayed with her while she breathed her last.  That was incredibly hard watching life slip from her.  I know she's in a better place now; she's with all of our loved ones who went on before - my father, her parents, her in-laws, her sister. She's free of pain and whole of mind.  The pain belongs to those of us still on earth.  Jess still isn't home.  How am I going to tell my baby girl that her beloved Nana is gone?

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Rules for the cellphone

A somewhat local woman gave her 13 year old son an IPhone for Christmas.  Her story has been all over the local news and actually made notice as far away as Australia (yet another crazy American story).    I do agree with a lot of her points but there are some that I think are way off.

1. It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest? Nice.  Isn't the point of getting a present it's yours?  As a mom, I have no problem whatsoever in taking something of my children's for a period of time if behavior requires it; doesn't make the object mine.  In my possession, yes but mine? Not really.
 2.  I will always know the password.  One of the top rules in my house.
 3.   If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”.  Not ever. We agree with two in a row; we're on a roll.  
 4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm.  It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected. Disagree.  If there were issues with my son's usage perhaps I'd agree but Jason's old enough to talk on the phone after 7:30.  If I found him texting at 2 am and not sleeping on a schoolnight, yes then there'd be an issue.
5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.  Disagree.  Yes, I do expect my son to talk to people rather than text them when he's with them but should he need to tell me he's staying late, needs money for lunch account (I pay over the internet), etc, I want him to be able to contact me; texting me is the quickest way.  
6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.Agree
7.  Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire. Agree
8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person. Agree
9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself. Agree
10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father. Agree
11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that. Definitely agree.  This is HUMONGOUS pet peeve of mine and it's frequently not teenagers who are guilty.  I don't allow the phone at the table or family parties.    
12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation. Agree.
13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity. Absolutely disagree. Yes, live your experiences but there is nothing wrong with taking pictures and documenting them.  I wish I had taken more pics during my school years.  Nothing is stored for eternity unless this woman happens to be part elephant.
14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out. Disagree.  Feel safe and secure in not using the phone to check facebook or your email but I expect my son to have his phone with him and on so that I can reach him.  
15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons. I don't really feel one way or the other about this. 
16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then. Agree.
17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without googling. Agree, not so sure about the talking to the stranger part though.  Its hard for me to really say anything on this one; I used to walk from Kendall Sq station to Draper Lab every day reading a book while I walked.  Probably not all that different.
18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You & I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together. Agree.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 2012

December was a very busy month.  Amazingly, I was able to get everything done that I wanted even though it seemed like I'd be short on time.  I had a tubal ligation and they checked for uterine cancer on the 10th.  I was out of work for a week; I did a little shopping but a lot of lying on the couch and relaxing.  I got tired very quickly.  We made fatigmon.  I'm glad that although Jason doesn't like to eat the cookies, he enjoys making them.  My grandmother Alma Papamarcos taught my mom (her dil) to make them, my mom taught me and I'm teaching my kids.  They're time intensive but so worth it.

Jason frying the fatigmon

                                                     Jess cutting the dough.
Friends invited Jess and me to the fairy Christmas at the Hedge House, a historic house in Plymouth.  It was a lot of fun and great to see friends we don't get to see very often.  Jess went to kindergarten with Corin in Carver.
 After decorating the tree, Mike posed with Jack.  This is a rare photo opportunity as Mike pretends he doesn't like the cats.
 While I was on  leave for the week, I found that I'd lost the Christmas cards I'd ordered.  I needed to make a new one and decided to include the cats so I had a cat photoshoot.  Any catlover can imagine how that went!  Jack and JJ were very understanding of my limitations and didn't run away since I couldn't have chased them.  They let me put ribbons on them and pose them in different areas.

                                                     Here's one of many shots I didn't use.
Here's the shot we went with.
 Jess was an angel in the pageant.  There originally weren't any angels in the story they were doing (it was about the animals in the manger) but Jess and another little girl wanted to be angels and hadn't gotten to be them last year
Jess and Nana Pat at the Radisson.  We took her to see the pageant and then went to brunch at the Radisson.  Every year they put this sleigh up in the lobby area.

                                             Usually we stay at the Hyatt on Christmas night after visiting Mike's parents.  Mike had to work this year so we decided to go away the weekend before to the Cape Codder instead.  Jess sat on Santa's lap.  He said she looked like a peppermint stick and called her Pepper.
                                     Roasting marshmallows at the Cape Codder.
                                              Wave pool time
Visting the Elms in Newport.  My mom used to take me to Newport all the time.  I love being able to share that experience with Jess.
 We went to Jordan's Furniture to see the Polar Express 4D, the Christmas carol lite show, and the enchanted village.  I went to the enchanted village as a child at Jordan Marsh with my mom.
                                                     Christmas Eve at church
                                                         New Christmas nightgown
                  Since Mike had to work Christmas, we opened the family presents Christmas Eve.
                                                   Jason's favorite snack
                                         Elfie left reindeer food for Jess to sprinkle on the lawn.
                                         Cookies and milk for Santa
                                             Kitties get presents too.
                                           Stockings galore!  Jason said the stocking is his favorite part.
                                               Jason and his IPod
                                              Jess and her hairstyling head.  She wants to learn how to frenchbraid.
Jess was very sad to see Elfie go but he left her an ornament to remember him by until next year.
                                                   Merida's shoes from Brave
  On the way home from Ruth & Chuck's the kids and I detoured through Millis to see the Winter Wonderland.  Their entire farm is set up with lights and Christmas scenes - very cool!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!