Monday, October 27, 2008

Road Closed

When I was a kid, Driver's Ed was a class at school. Your Sophomore year, they just scheduled it... You sat in the class with everyone else who just turned 15 1/2 (or would in the next 9 weeks) and studied the handbook, watched movies about drunk drivers and most likely, learned about the rules of the road.

In our city, things are not so. Maybe they had to cut out Driver's Ed to make room for more important classes like...Metal Shop, Interpretive Dance, or Remedial English and Math. I'm not saying these things are not important, I'm just saying that "normal" in our society says that 16 year olds will drive.

I know a driver's license is not required and that not everyone gets one. But it is a rite of passage. It is a cultural norm. And while I don't always like (and often speak against) cultural norms, this is one we have chosen to participate in. Am I hypocritical? I don't think so. This will benefit our family. Having another driver in the house will be useful. I guess I'm just angry that I can't teach it myself.

Were was I? Oh yeah, Driver's Ed as a separate, private, expensive institution.

She completed her Drivers Ed course 8 months ago with a thorough knowledge of the laws of driving plus a bonus education in Cheating, Stealing and How To Hide Crack In You Deodorant Bottle. Really great group of kids...their parents should be proud. Oh, and the teacher, he was a doosy himself. Money well spent.

But as it turns out, my 16 year old daughter does not like to drive.

Behind the wheel, she's not confident. In town she does okay, but is in no hurry to take her driving test and get her license.

Last night it was cold, windy and rainy. Perfect experience for a driver-in-training to take a spin on the highway for the first time. We had to travel about 30 miles south for a get-together with friends and I decided she would drive. As long as we would be in town we wanted to find the Pottery Barn store and check it out too, so we left a little early. She did great on the highway only glaring at me once or twice with instructions that I not *yell at her while she is driving.

*It's all subjective, yelling is. I would have called it instruction with an urgent tone.

The boys were all tightly buckled and I clutched the "Jesus handle" the entire way. She experienced windshield wiper usage, learned the meaning of the word "intermittent", discovered the headlights, adjusted her steering to wind sheers under overpasses, managed heavy traffic, handled merging situations, and maneuvered the mall traffic all with great success and confidence. Until we encountered an unbelievable scenario in an intersection the was under construction.

The road we were to be crossing was being expanded from a 2 lane highway to a 6 lane thoroughfare. The far 3 lanes were not yet open and traffic was routed to the 2 lanes directly in front of us. As we waited, first in line, at our red light a huge barricade proceeded to blow forward, sand bags and all, from the far lane on the right and turn perfectly like it was on a hinge to show us it's "ROAD CLOSED" warning. So animated, like it was supposed to do just that at just that time.

I glanced at Hailey's astonished expression as I surveyed the traffic in the lane next to us, she had NO clue what to do and there were cars behind us and next to us as far back as we could see. In her eyes the option of waiting until the oncoming lanes were clear and averting the sign as an experienced driver would do was out, crying and melting into a puddle sounded good.

Me, quick thinking due to the coffee I had ingested earlier, coached her on the whereabouts of the hazard lights and gave calm instruction on the plan formulating in my head.

"When the light turns green, put on your hazards and pull forward to the barricade. Hayden and I will jump out and push the sign back where it belongs. We'll hop back in and be on our way." She had a few moments to process the information. A glance back to Hayden told me he was in agreement. Someone would have to do it, there was no way anyone could get through otherwise.

Initially, the plan worked perfectly. The barricade was heavier than either of us expected and the wind was gusting making the goings very difficult. Hailey pulled ahead as soon as she could get by and Hayden and I jumped back in and we continued our journey. As I was commending her on her calm execution of the plan she stated excitedly that the light had turned red and everyone was honking at her to get out of the way. That's the only reason she did it.

Man, didn't anyone SEE what we were doing? It was so windy we didn't even HEAR any honking when we were outside.

She pulled into the next parking lot and told me she was d-o-n-e driving.

Hayden thought it would've been appropriate for certain gestures to be waved in that situation. I assured him, and I have a feeling that this might become something I have to say again in the future, "It is never alright to flip someone off. Not even on the inside."

His sense of justice was wounded. Since when is a good deed rewarded with seething impatience? Is everyone so preoccupied with what's in front of their noses that they fail to notice the roadblock ahead?

I'm thinking too many people's education ends when the class is over.
I'm thinking too many people are too preoccupied to drive safely.
I'm thinking too many people are not teaching acceptable behavior to their children.

I'm thinking it's going to be hard to get Hailey back in the driver's seat.
I'm thinking Hayden, when he's driving, is going to be a different story all together.

P.S. We never found Pottery Barn, the party was wonderful and I drove home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A New Job Opportunity

I haven't lost hope that some day civility may rule in my household.

Again, last night, I sat them all down for a game of Quiddler. Again, I met resistance, silliness and nerf bullets. There is a time for such, but it shouldn't be all.the.time.

When I asked Sam if he could retrieve the dictionary, he looked at me with shock. "You ALWAYS make me do it!" then, "It's NEVER where I can reach it." I told him I do that on purpose just to irritate him. Because my life would not be complete if I didn't make everyone cry at least once every day.

Then I thought, what I need here is a Statistician. Someone, not unlike the NFL guys , who take every move and record it for posterity. At strategic moments I could blurt out things like:

This is the 3rd time during regular season play that Sam has been asked to retrieve the dictionary. Yes, and Mort, 2 of those times it has been out of his reach.


Do you realize that since the inception of this team, there have been 7, 362 incidents in which inappropriate comments have flown from the mouths of the younger members of this organization while playing at home. It surprises me, Mort, because when they play on the road, they seemingly have much more control.


Can someone verify this for me? I'm thinking, Mort, that I did hear her say "no" 12 times to that specific request. Is the replay ready?


It's a proven fact, Mort, that when The Mom closes her eyes and sighs, 9 of the last 10 times on a Tuesday, someone has been injured on the next play. I don't know how she does it. Amazing foresight.

Yes, that would make me more credible in the eyes of those who think I ALWAYS pick on them and NEVER the other guy...any volunteers?

Monday, October 20, 2008

You Have To Be Home To Homeschool

What do May 12th, July 28 and today have in common?

They are the only 3 days in the last 6 months that I have not had anything on my calendar.

To celebrate I went no where, stayed in my PJ's all day, "did school" with each of my kids, cleared a few paper piles, played a game of Sorry, figured out Matt's MP3 player (not an iPod, for shame), scheduled a weeks worth of the little boy's "independent" work, did laundry, knitted a little, wrote this blog post, made breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it's only 6PM!

I could get used to this.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm not perfect, nor do I expect perfection from others. I do, however, expect people to use common sense. Always.

Making good choices is so important. Knowing when you haven't and making amends runs a close second.

Just think of how many laws/rules have been put in place to protect us from people who make it a habit of making bad choices and/or not admitting their mistakes.

I've decided to create a new label on my blog ...DUH! Here I will document what I find ridiculous. Myself and my own family will not be excluded from scrutiny.

Installment #1

Recently, at my daughter's volleyball game I witnessed this.
I know, it's a little blurry. I didn't have my camera, just my cell phone (bad choice...forgive me?) How's this? A little better?
I just wanted to smack them! I knew that would not be a good choice, so I didn't.
Throughout the day people hung out in front of these signs. There wasn't only one, there were many, taped every 3 feet or so.


Friday, October 10, 2008

One Of Those Days

Yesterday, I was trying to change the atmosphere of my household by foregoing the usual routine. I would like to see something other than blood and broken bones craziness and chaos, if only for a moment. After breakfast, instead of starting the school day off with Whining Math, I decided it would be fun if we played a game instead. My favorite game, Quiddler.

With all the kids tied to at the table and Canon in D playing over and over on the iPod, we started. They say music tames the savage beast. I was willing, at this point, to try anything . Many times I had to tell them to knock it off! "Please straighten the tablecloth", UGH! "Please be nice to your brother.", Hands off! "Let's be encouraging instead of critical." Civility can be learned, yes?

We talked about this being played at several weddings I have attended and then I shared with them the music that I walked down the aisle to. Trumpet Voluntary. We listened to a snippet of that from iTunes before continuing with our game.

Hailey was dreamily planning her wedding concentrating on the hand she was dealt. At one point in the piece she interjected "...And this is where I will start walking down the aisle!" then added wistfully, "I'll have flutes and violins."

Sam looked at her with unbelieving eyes "Flutes and violence.....sweeeeeet!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Door County, Take Me Away!

We went to see Griffin's football game on Saturday and we watched him excel in his new position.

Water Boy.

Afterward, we piled in the bus for a spur of the moment camping trip. Just the kind of thing we were hoping to be able to do with the bus.

We set up camp in just a matter of minutes! What a change from the Ole' Tent Days.

We made lunch and took some pictures before heading out for a hike.

(gotta love the self timer!)

Sam took his role as Map Reader very seriously.

We found a butterfly...

(Don't you love pudgy little boy hands?)

and a beach.

We stopped at the park for some more pictures.

(This is harder than it looks!)
Then we returned to the campsite to relax.

(What is it with little boys and fire?)It got down to about 38 degrees Saturday night but we were toasty in the bus with the heater plugged in.
On the way out of the State Park Sunday morning the scenery was breathtaking.

Somehow, in some way, I think a sign like this would help me out at home.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lamaze. It's Not Just For Childbirth

Innnnhaaaaaaaale through the nose....

Eeeeeexxxxxhaaaaaallllle through the mouth....


Until you can't anymore, then...


Until you can't anymore, then...

Hold your breath 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Breathe

Until you can't anymore, then...

It's over. Usually.

There is pain, there are tears, there are a myriad of emotions that you can't explain to anyone who's not been there.

Lamaze. It's not just for childbirth. It's for raising children.

It is for weeks like last week that Lamaze comes in really handy.

First we'll address the poison ivy. It's getting worse every day (still). We've ditched the scotch tape idea and now have opted for covering his legs with soccer socks. This keeps his pants from constantly rubbing on his legs. Although the insane itching has somewhat subsided from being pumped up with Benedryl his blisters have continued to spread.

He takes awesome naps though!

Have I mentioned lately how much Griffin loves to play football? Or how much we enjoy watching Griffin play football?

Well, it looks like we'll have to find some other way to spend our time this fall.

Good thing his Daddy works for an Orthopedic Surgeon...
I was going to write a funny story about the whole thing, but I haven't yet found the humor.

He's very bummed. And so am I. On so many different levels.