He fought a tree and the tree won

I mentioned a desperate need to lower the baby’s crib mattress.

We did manage to get that done the very next day.

He wasn’t very happy about it.

And the following weekend, this happened to Billy:

When I picked him up from camping and saw his face, I asked, “What happened to your nose?!?”  The Scoutmaster was right there to give me some details and assure me that my son had been well cared for.

Bill was out of town, and I felt it necessary to email him the picture.  Billy was concerned, saying he didn’t want his dad to “freak out.”  I asked if he thought I had “freaked out” when I saw him.  “Yes,” he said.  Next time, I shall pretend I don’t even notice that my child’s proboscis is twice as big on Sunday morning as it was on Friday night.  I thought my reaction had been rather calm…

We sent the story of the nose along with the photo:

Billy:  We were canoeing down the river.  We had just turned a bend, and we saw a branch sticking out of the water.  I was in the front.  I told Andrew to turn left, and he started to paddle, and it did start to go left, but it wasn’t enough, and the boat went under the log and hit my chest, so I leaned back and it scraped my nose. 

Fritz:  I was in the middle.  After Billy got scraped, I ducked and I grabbed the back of his life jacket and held his head above the water enough that he could get under the branch, and then I lifted him up on top of the branch and held him there because he could not stand.  Then we got him to shore while we got the water-logged boat free.  Matt and Peter brought their canoe over and put Billy in and got him to the end.  We followed.  Once we got to the end, they took off his life jacket, and an adult leader took him to the camp site.

Billy:  There they gave me medical assistance, wiped my nose off, determined it wasn’t broken, and told me to get in dry clothes.  It didn’t hurt that much.

One day, you are lowering their crib mattress so they won’t fall and bust their noses open.  The next day, they’re big kids and off on weekend adventures, busting their noses open.

Wake Up Call

Regarding the telephone, we go through phases in our lives, and I recognize my entry into a new one.

First, as a child, we have little to do with the phone.  Then we hit our adolescence or teens and early twenties, and it becomes a central part of our existence.  It is a connection with friends, fun, opportunity and adventure.  There is a complete disconnect between the hour of the day and the phone call itself – if you (or your friend) want to talk, you call.  You don’t mind, necessarily, a wake-up call at 2 am, especially since you might not have been asleep at 2 am.

Then, hopefully, you grow up a bit, and start to keep more regular hours.  Perhaps you get news of a family member’s illness or death at a bad hour, and you start to discern whom you can call and during what hours without causing alarm.  Calls at 2 am are not ever welcome, unless it is your husband calling from Shannon, Ireland, telling you he’s having his first beer in 6 months and he’ll be home to your arms within a day or two.

Now I am discovering a new phase, one in which I am the parent of teens who use the phone whenever they think of it, regardless of the time of day.


The boys were able to go skiing/snowboarding this weekend.  I didn’t think we’d be able to afford it, but their fundraising through Scouts covered the cost.  Fritz had been sick with some sort of cold virus earlier in the week, and we were happy that he recovered sufficiently to go.  They left Saturday morning, very early, with enough time to check in at the hotel, change into ski clothes, get to the Saturday Vigil Mass, and then hit the slopes for night skiing.  “Call me tonight,” I told them.  I wanted to remind them to use the hotel dryer for the clothes that would get wet.  They had extras in case they forgot anyway.

They didn’t call, of course.

Sunday, 8:30 am, the phone rings.  That’s too early on a Sunday for the phone to ring.  Unless, of course, you have children of a certain age.  Especially boys who feel guilty for not calling their mother the night before.

And, actually, Fritz didn’t feel too guilty about that.  “Sorry, Mom, we were tired.  We went right to bed.”  I had figured as much.  Instead, he was calling to tell me that Billy was sick, having finally succumbed to the virus Fritz had had.  Billy was not going to be hitting the slopes, but would be staying in bed.  I told Fritz to leave the phone with him and tell him to call me if he needed to.  Poor kid, poor adult leaders.  I knew there was one couple who did not plan to ski, and would be available to deal with any injuries or kids who needed a break.  But sore muscles or a sprained ankle are less of a problem than a lethargic, feverish kid.

Later that day, Jenny went down, so I could compare how she was feeling with how Billy was likely feeling.  She spent several hours passed out on the couch and didn’t eat dinner.  She sipped water and watched a movie and went to bed with everyone else.  She looked and felt miserable.

Billy called again during dinner to report on his misery and to say that the adults were going to have someone look at him.  I thought he meant an urgent care center, but I think it was just another mom with medical training.  “Call me later and tell me how you’re doing,” I said.

He didn’t, of course.


This morning, 5:30 am, the phone rings.

I was soundly asleep, which is rare for me at that hour.  But Bill is off for President’s Day, so his alarm and my internal clock were silent.  In an instant, however, that phone had me awake.  I nudged Bill.  “Get the phone!”  And he leaped from the bed.  Momentary panic was quelled by a reminder that I have boys of a certain age.  I was concerned, though, since Billy had been sick.  I couldn’t imagine that he had anything worse than a cold, but you never know.

It was Billy, as I suspected.  They were packing up for the return home.  In that early morning quiet, I could hear clearly from across the room as he asked his father, “Can I watch Star Wars Episode III in the car on the way home?”

“I’m going to kill him,” I groaned as Bill groggily tried to explain that asking permission to watch a PG-13 movie of a parent awakened from a deep sleep at an early hour of the morning was, to put it mildly, poor timing.

But at least he’s an obedient son.

My husband, ever the soldier, went back to bed, and is still there now.  I, on the other hand, have a grocery list to write, a dog to walk, laundry to start, etc etc etc.


Billy is now a Boy Scout.

Bill didn’t get out of work on time, and I was worried he would miss the ceremony.  Sometimes it’s a good thing when people don’t get started on time.  He came in and sat next to me.  The Scoutmaster, who had just been about to begin, noticed him and said, “Oh, NOW we can start…now we have an excuse…”

I’m just glad he made it.

The Boy Scout troop set up a rope bridge for the new Scouts to cross.  They chose Billy to go first.  Billy is afraid of heights.

It was pretty wobbly.

But the Scouts, including Fritz, stood ready to help if needed.
He did fine; he didn’t fall.

Getting his new neckerchief.

New Scout, proud Dad.

It’s a bit emotional to see your child leave one stage of his life and begin another.  I think it was easier with Billy than with Fritz, my first.  I suspect it will be hardest with my youngest children.


Billy received his Arrow of Light this past week.

Waiting for the ceremony to begin.

And still waiting.

It got pretty chilly.

Some didn’t mind waiting so much.

She certainly didn’t.
Small to tall.

My parents’ oldest and youngest grandsons.
Almost 15 and almost 6.
He has pretty intense eyes.

The Boy Scouts helped with the ceremony.
Fritz is blinded by the light.

The fire made the waiting in the freezing cold bearable.
But they had to move when it was time for the ceremony.

The Boy Scouts led the blindfolded Webelos over.

Awaiting their Arrow of Light.
The ceremony was very solemn.

Receiving the Arrow of Light.

Pinning the mother’s pin on.

Proud mama.

Happy Scout.

The den and leaders.

They told us to come early, and then they started late.  The ceremony was about 10 minutes long.  But it was worth it.

In 2 weeks, I will have 2 Boy Scouts and 0 Cub Scouts.  In the fall, we start the Cub Scout journey all over again with Peter.

Many thanks to my sister for taking the pictures.

Same old same old

My almost 11 year old son was showing off his pinewood derby car to the almost 12 year old girl down the street.  Since these two are normally at each other’s throats, I was surprised to hear their conversation be rather pleasant.  The girl was suitably impressed with his artwork and asked if he had done any other painting.  It was all very polite and almost adult…and I began to wonder if my son had turned into a different creature.  Should I begin to worry about how he spends his free time?  Might he be beginning to see girls in a different light that would require closer supervision?  Is this the start of him mooning around moping after girls and wondering why they never pay him any attention?

Then the girl asked, “Want to go jump on the trampoline?”

And his response: “With you?  No.”  And they went outside.

No supervision required.

Random Procrastination from my Chores

Given the long list of things I have to do to prepare for an impending vacation (laundry, putting away Christmas decorations, calling the kennel), it was with amusement that I discovered myself vacuuming the garage.  I’m sure there are many who will think that vacuuming the garage ever is sheer lunacy, but for every one of you, there is someone else nodding her head in agreement.

And for every one of those, there is someone else saying, “What’s the big deal?  I vacuum the garage weekly.”


Another really important task that absolutely had to get done before vacation was dropping off the various bags of items I’ve been assembling to give to Goodwill.  As I furtively loaded the car, I impulsively grabbed the exersaucer and loaded it up too.  I’m not sure if this means I’m (a) admitting I am done having children, (b) thumbing my nose at Murphy and his laws, or (c) sick and tired of the bulky thing taking up space in my garage.  I’m leaning toward the last one.


When I stopped at the recycling center, I learned that they no longer took glass.  I rarely have aluminum cans, but always have some glass to recycle.  When I bemoaned this fact to a long-time resident, her response was, “What recycling center?”  I will never again feel guilty about tossing a cereal box in the trash bin.


I don’t get 9 year old girls.  They are foreign creatures, and I deny ever being one.  Case in point:

“Katie, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

Moan, whine and wail: “But then I have to clean it up!  Why do I always have to clean it up?  I don’t want to play Play-Doh with Mary!”

“OK, then.  Fritz, would you please play Play-Doh with Mary instead of doing your school work?”

“Oh, sure!”  For a 12 year old boy, the choice between Play-Doh and schoolwork is obvious.
Moan, whine and wail: “But I want to play Play-Doh with Mary!  How come I never get to play Play-Doh with Mary?!”
Sorry…I thought “I don’t want to” meant “I don’t want to.” 
My husband has explained to me that this behavior is typical of all females of every age.  When you see him, ask him if he gets a good night’s rest on the couch.
The 3 year old girl is doing her best to exhaust me.  Frequently she interrupts my day to announce, “I have to go potty.”
“Then, GO,” I will say.
She will start to leave, but then will tum back and say, “You’re not coming, Mommy!”  And she’ll wait for me to get up and come.  If I’m not fast enough, she’ll do a little dance to show how urgently I need to move.
When there, I’ll try to help her pull down her pants.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her up on the pot.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  I’ll try to help her wipe.  “I DO IT!”  Fine.  Pulling up her pants, washing and drying her hands: “I DO IT!”  Fine.
But that’s only half the time.  The other times, she needs me to do everything for her, and there’s no telling which mood she’s in.  If I leave her independent self alone in the bathroom, she’ll call me back in.  I’m beginning to think she just wants the company.  Katie and Jenny tend to go to the bathroom together, another behavior I just don’t get.  I generally manage to hit the restrooms without a partner.  Maybe I can get Mary to ask her sisters to tag along instead of me. 
But then I’ll probably hear moaning, whining and wailing.  “I don’t want to!”
It’s been a long time since I had a little 5 year old boy to school.  Peter, who has always charmed me with his brilliance, is nevertheless still just a little boy.  He’s not too happy with school, because I actually want him to sit down and do it.  I watch him squirm and fidget and move up and down and all around, and it drives me nuts.  For the first few months of the school year, I seriously thought there was something wrong with him.  Jenny wasn’t like this; Katie wasn’t like this.  But then I stopped to think.  Jenny isn’t a boy; Katie isn’t a boy.  Billy?  Fritz?  Oh, yeah, wiggles and wriggles big time.
I pity kindergarten teachers.
Fritz had to write a ~700 word essay.  He chose to write about the Greek gods. 
Editing that paper was…painful.
I pity middle school teachers almost as much as I pity kindergarten teachers.
And since I feel bad if I mention only 4 children in a random post, I have to add a few things about my other 2. 
We did a morning chore swap, and now Katie and Jenny are emptying the dishwasher instead of Fritz and Peter.  While I no longer have to help Peter differentiate between the big and small forks (which have different receptacles), I now have to guess in which drawer Jenny decides various utensils belong.
A friend loaned me the complete Harry Potter series, and I’ve worked my way up to the 4th year (I had read books1-3 previously, but I re-read them so I could remember what happened).  Billy discovered the stash and dove right in.  He now disappears for hours on end, and is up to the 3rd book (I need to get moving!).  Unfortunately, I have to hide the book in order to get him to do chores, schoolwork, eat, go to the bathroom, play outside in the sunny, mild weather, etc.  It’s a good thing breathing is an automatic thing.
And now, back to work.