Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Well, hello there Autumn. It's been awhile, but I'm happy to see you again. 

Monday, September 22, 2014


I drove down to the rental house to clean today. 

These people lived like animals. 

Well, not quite like animals, but I'm sure they must have all been sick a lot. 

The evicted tenants have three young children. By young, I mean under 5. Like the youngest was born in January. 

The house smells like you're rolling around in an ashtray.  Like your head's stuffed in a plastic bag full of cigarette smoke. They must have smoked nonstop all the time. Just puffing black grossness into their babies' lungs. Awesome. 

The black tar had to compete with all the dust for lung real estate. Who doesn't at some point dust their ceiling fans (below) or the tops of their window and door frames?!?!?

After I tackled the "easy" dusting, I moved on to the kitchen. The cabinets have never been wiped out, I'm sure. Between loose spaghetti noodles, crushed up crackers and a lot of Toast-Chee peanut cracker bits (below), I could've made myself lunch. 

I tried to clean the wall behind the stove, but none of the products I had with me had sufficient grease-busting capacity. I'm buying a new bottle of something before I return on Thursday, so I can get this wall clean:

I finally gave up and came home when I ran out of Windex and my multipurpose cleaner. Thursday's a new day. 

In the meantime, I've decided if this is how even a fraction of Americans live and manage to stay relatively healthy, we can start eating on my bathroom floor right by the toilet because I know it's cleaner than what I saw today. 


Last night we all went to the fall kickoff of our church's junior youth group, the aptly named Club 6/7 since 6th and 7th graders make up the membership. 

I'm not going to lie. None of us really wanted to go. Jimmy was afraid it would interfere with the Carolina football game (it didn't; we were home about 10 minutes after the game started). Mac was afraid he wouldn't have fun (he did; he left us about 3 minutes after we got in the door and we never saw him again until it was time to go). And I felt like it was pulling teeth to get everybody to agree to go so I was just waiting for both of them to be unhappy (which, of course, they weren't). 

The group meets a couple Friday evenings a month, and the meetings end with a Nerf war that takes place all over the 3-story church complex. 

Today, during the church service, Jimmy caught Mac looking around and scoping out the sanctuary. Totally not paying attention to the preacher. Jimmy correctly guessed that Mac was planning his Nerf war strategy. 

Boys will be boys, church or not. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Mac learned how to make French toast in his Home Ec class this week so guess what we had for breakfast this morning?

The best part (after, of course, being served a homemade breakfast)?  It was really good so we didn't even have to pretend to love it!


Another baseball game for the Lugnuts and another shellacking. Ouch! 

The only consolation is that the opposing team is reportedly the Commissioner's hand-picked team. Don't even get me started on how ridiculous and unfair I think that is...

Friday, September 19, 2014

9-18-14 Back to School Night

Tonight was middle school Back to School Night.  Jimmy got home from Panama and we all ate dinner early and quickly. Jimmy took Mac off to football practice, and I went back to school.

I really am trying very hard to back off as a helicopter parent.  I know we're at a critical point where Mac has got to be responsible for his work and himself.  (Plus I saw that Maria Shriver special on the Today Show this week where those teenagers said that their helicopter parents were an ENORMOUS source of anxiety for them.  I do not want Mac to go on national tv in a few years talking about what a stressor I was.)  So since school started, I haven't asked a lot of questions. I read and signed all the syllabi (how you ever heard of syllabi in the 6th grade?  Did we even get those in high school 25 years ago?) and I know Mac's been doing his homework.  He even has decided that he now likes Math.  Why in the world would I ask too many questions about school and what he's doing when we're not fighting over Math homework everyday because he now likes it?  I'll remind you that I am the Queen of the Path of Least Resistance.

All I can say after Back to School Night is, "Holy Moley."

For starters, my car almost got towed.  I parked in the wrong across-the-street church parking lot.  Even though I got there early enough to get a great spot on the street or even in the right church parking lot, I screwed up.  Middle school rookie mistake.  So when they announced over the loudspeaker that the church was getting ready to start towing cars from the wrong parking lot, I, along with a parking lot full of other parents, took off running to move my car.

There was nary a tow truck in sight.  (The church may have been bluffing.  Why did they need that small parking lot empty at 7:30 on a Thursday night?)

So instead of having a primo parking spot, I ended up having to park in the next county, run back (uphill) to school, and show up late to a presentation-in-progress.  It's so awesome to be that mom when you're first meeting your child's teacher.

Secondly, everything is electronic, and we know how great I am electronically.  Homework assignments are on the internet.  Grades are on the internet.  Missing assignments are on the internet.  The textbooks, for crying out loud, are on the internet. Within the next month or so, all sixth graders in the county will receive iPads for use this year.  The students will do their work on an iPad.  I can't even hardly type on my iPad but Mac's going to write papers on it.  And then there's a function by which he and the teacher can access the documents at the same time so they can real-time edit together. What?  There are passwords for Blackboard and ParentVue and Apple ID and Google Docs.  And the teachers all have Twitter accounts that we're meant to follow.  I don't tweet, but I guess I'll be a follower.  Do these teachers know how much all this internet-accessing and Twittering are going to impact my Facebook-checking time??

Thirdly, even though I attended all the presentations last night (well except for the few minutes I missed to avoid towing) and am better informed, I am overwhelmed by 6th grade and what they're doing.  For instance, I found out I can ask for Max's Lexile Measure.  Don't know what that is?  I'd never heard of it until last night.  I still don't really know what it is except that it can help us help him choose the right books, which I'm pretty sure aren't the ones he likes to read.  And this Lexile Measure will come in handy since they're doing the 40-Book Challenge this year.  Yes, each child is supposed to read 40 - FORTY, as in 10x4 - books this school year.  That's about one book a week.  This would be great and doable if he could read the James Patterson books for kids every week.  But they require them to cover all genres, so I foresee a lot of struggles coming.  Oh yes, there's going to be a lot of literary stress in my future and the Lexile Measure won't help one bit with that.  Another example:  Social Studies is no longer just plain old Social Studies.  This year, they've added Civics and Economics to it.  That's all well and good because they really are intertwined.  The only issue I have is that there's no SOL test for 6th Social Studies.  Instead, they're going to be tested on it at the end of 7th grade.  So they are making an Archives Binder throughout the year, which they'll take with them to 7th grade.  At some point they'll study it again (at school? on their own at home? I have no idea?) to be tested late next school year.  And since Arlington County is SOL-obsessed, I hate to think what happens if you bomb the 6th grade Social Studies SOL test because you took it a year late. 

I loved school.  I loved studying and doing homework and making good grades. I'm not sure I'd be nearly as successful if I were a middle school student now.  PE and Art, my least favorite classes when I was actually in middle school, might just be my most favorite now simply because they'd represent an escape from all this high-tech, advanced learning that's required in every other class.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read the booklet handed out by the 6th grade counselor titled "H.E.L.P.: How to Enjoy Living with a Preadolescent". 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Today was a great improvement over yesterday. 

My incredibly smart sister, a very dedicated medical doctor, is attending a sickle cell conference at the NIH in Bethesda. She took advantage of a break in the schedule to come to Arlington to hang out with Mac and me. We took a nice walk around the neighborhood, caught up on life and had dinner together. 

She also got the chance to love on Leo. Doesn't she look cute?