Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Late Night Miscellany

I have a number of Facebook-size things to say, but too many of them to inundate my FB friends, who are already reeling from the FB re-design foolishness this week, with that many "status updates". So a series of mini posts condensed into one blog post sounds like a good idea.

• How is it normal that I am wandering around the house after 10pm on a Saturday night, picking up messes, folding laundry and washing dishes, and that I find nothing strange about this condition? When did this happen, and how did I fail to notice?

• Speaking of laundry, I am still in some state of disbelief about that fact that I have soccer uniforms and practice gear to deal with that cannot go in the dryer. All of this fancy "dri-fit" stuff, and what does it say? Line dry. So among my work clothes and unmentionables on the drying rack are someone else's soccer shorts and jerseys. I look forward to making Two dig through my stuff to find his clothes some day; the embarrassment will make this worth it.

• One's team won again in football today, making their record 3-0. This was a hard-fought win against some pretty tough defense. They came from behind (13-6) and went on to win (20-13). It was their first real taste of adversity on the field and they handled it really well. At least once they got over the shock, that is. Here they come in at the win, celebrating as they make their way back to the sidelines. A sweet victory.

Do you like the flag in the center of the picture? Wow, I sure know how to set up a shot on the fly, that's for sure. I also know how to crop pictures afterwards to make it look like I have that skill. ;)

• Two has become addicted to Monopoly. Except he doesn't know how to say it. He calls it mon-o-pol-eee. That lone "o" is long, by the way. I don't have the heart to correct him; it sounds too cute for words. He became furious today when One bankrupted me and pushed me out of the game; he was still stewing on it hours later. I'd like to think he's chivalrous, but it might just be that he hates to see his brother win.

• Finally, Two's soccer "career" is off to a great start: his team is 2-0 so far, and have yet to allow more than 1 goal to be scored on them. I have to admit that Two's contributions to the team are still on the small side, but he is learning the game, and for a first-time player is doing pretty well. Some of the boys on his team? I am almost certain that a team of those 3rd and 4th grade boys could easily beat the high school team on which I played, were they able to travel back in time to do so. That is not as much of a victory as you might think: that was, after all, a team that let me play on it. But they really are phenomenal; they are a joy to watch. Even Knight, who is trying desperately to get accepted as the team mascot, thinks so.

Goodnight, all.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I just received an email from One's football coach about this week's practices and Saturday's game, and in it he talks about the handing out of stickers tonight. Be on time to practice, we're handing out helmet stickers: stickers are important.

And they are, aren't they? I thought we were done with stickers, but apparently we're not. All of us handed them out - Dora or Thomas, depending on gender - when we potty trained our children. Then from pre-school on, teachers put stickers on our children's work. Smiley faces, "Good Job!", "Way to Go!" - all the little marks of encouragement that have meaning to our kids.

Finally just when you think they've outgrown the need for such things, someone comes along a puts a sticker on your son's football helmet for a win. Or for a touchdown, or a tackle, or for whatever he's done that we're proud of. You know he wants that sticker more than anything, even if he tells you otherwise. He wants tangible evidence of this good thing he's done, something to show the world, something that can never be taken off, never taken away from him. He did it, he was a part of it. He owns this good thing.

And so we clumsy adults resort again to stickers. Because they say tangibly those words I hope we utter but sometimes we forget: "I'm proud of you son. You did a good job out there today."

One, you did a good job out there on Saturday, and we're proud of you. I'm proud of you every day, actually. I don't think they make a sticker for that, but it's true just the same. Every day you put on your game face and go out and get it done - at school, at football, at life. No mom could be prouder than me if she tried. Good job, young man. Good job.

*One is #44 is the second picture.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Together and Apart

For the past three years, the boys have been practically inseperable. They were close since Two was old enough to follow One around "I pwayin', mom - we're sojers. Bang!" but the past three years they have done almost everything the same, at the same time. They woke up at the same time, ate the same breakfast, rode with Dad to the same school, rode home in the afternoon with me, played and did homework together, went to taekwondo, ate dinner, showered together, and went to bed at the same time. Every day for three years, like shadows of one another, their days matched up almost exactly.

And now, everything is different. It's weird, and it's working, but it's completely different. Now, One wakes up before Two, eats on his own, and rides to middle school with me. I wake Two up before we leave so we can say goodbye, but he waits for his Dad to take him to elementary school. They are at different schools again (obviously) and in the afternoon first I pick up one and then the other - the order varies by the day. When we get home they spend some time together, but then one heads to sports while the other heads for homework; Two's soccer practices are on different days than One's football practices. On the days that each boy doesn't have his team sport, he heads off to taekwondo alone - something we've never done before. Even showering (which they stopped doing at the same time last fall, actually) is a one night on/one off kind of thing; frequently one boy desperately needs a shower on the night that his brother isn't really so bad (and we're all about conserving water and not showering every day - either that or its that I can't stand having the "yes you ARE dirty" argument every.single.night. A girl can only take so much.). Even bedtime is frequently different; on football nights, I have Two in bed before One even gets home, since his practice rarely ends before 9pm.

Of all the things we're adjusting to this fall - new school, new sports - this lack of teamwork was what I worried about the most. I knew it had to happen: looking just at school, they will not be in the same building together again until One is a senior in high school and Two is a freshman. And that's assuming they even go to the same high school, which is a big assumption in itself. But they are suddenly so far apart in all their activities, suddenly so much less of a team.

Except, they aren't less of a team. At least they don't act like it. They act the same towards one another as they always have: a little bickering, a whole lot of support and love. That "support and love" comes in all kinds of boy forms, from wrestling with one another, chasing each other around the house screaming, watching waaay to much TV together (Harry Potter IV: how many times can they stand it?), to Two insisting on carrying One's water to football practice and One sharing his favorite books with his little brother. The bond they have built through so much shared activity is so strong, it appears to be surviving this miniature separation completely intact. And since they will one day be fully separate, each on his own, grown-up and away from here, I am glad that they have a chance to first practice keeping that bond together even when not physically close. Maybe this is just another skill they will learn on their way out the door: to keep the team of two together, regardless of how much distance and different lives separate them. That is why God gave them to one another, after all.

"Let a friend be with you on every occasion, And let brethren be useful in necessities, For they are begotten for this reason." - Proverbs 17:19 (Orthodox Study Bible)

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Have A Winnah

Last year One won a prize for creative writing at our Diocese's yearly Parish Life Conference. This year it was Two's turn: he won third prize for his grade for Creative Arts with a drawing of the cross circled around with the words of the Lord's Prayer. Yesterday was the first day of Sunday School at church, and the awards were handed out before the priests blessed the children and teachers at the start of the new school year.

Here is the proud prize winner with his certificate:

Congratulations, sweet Two.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Time to Remember

Ten years. Does it feel like 10 years, more, or much less? I think for all of us it is different depending on the day. Today it feels much closer for me. Today we are sharing the Naudet brothers' movie with One for the first time, and that will bring it closer still. He was 20 months old when the attacks came; he's cruising towards 12 years old now at light speed. He's ready to know more. And so time passes.

I really don't have anything to say on this day - nothing that means anything important or imparts any wisdom. That isn't surprising to me; I do hope it's not surprising to you, either. All I have are some quotes, some links to people much more eloquent than I, a picture, and not much else. It should be a day of fewer words than tears, perhaps. Less chatter, more resolve.

From James Lileks, September 21, 2001:

"I’m tired tonight. I’m tired of people who can watch 5,000 people from 62 nations burned alive and crushed to death, and think: well, you know you had this coming. I’m tired of people who presume I am ignorant of history because I hang a flag. No: Not tired. Annoyed. Annoyed like I was while walking Jasper Dog tonight, and passed the great high school football field at the end of the block. It was lit like noon, with huge banks of lights lluminating the field, blaring through the thick autumn fog. Grunts and shouts and whistles blowing. As natural and ordinary a September sight as you’ll see, and all I could think of were the lights hoisted over the site of the World Trade Center, casting flat dead light over men who pulled the arms and legs of people from the rubble.

It angered me that this ordinary sight had been soiled - then I thought: That’s where we are now. Think of it. Think of it when you turn the corner and the lights fade. Never forget.


Lileks again, from September 5, 2002.

The Mudville Gazette's story about Rick Rescorla, a hero among heroes on that day. I think Greyhawk's leading quote on Mudville is even more appropriate today than it is on all other days: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

And finally, and not as out-of-place as it sounds at first, a Budweiser commercial that Kate posted on Facebook yesterday:

UPDATED: More Lileks.

"O Lord, Who blessest those who bless Thee, and sanctifiest those who put their trust in Thee, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance ... Grant peace to Thy world, to Thy Churches, to the Priests, to our Civil Authorities, to the Armed Forces and to all Thy people ... Now and for ever, and unto ages of ages."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Soccer Boy

Two has taken up soccer this fall. He has never played before, but he was thrilled to try and so far absolutely loves going to practice. It will be a bit of a challenge when he plays his first game and people are (gasp!) watching and cheering, but with a bit of coaching from mom and dad we're pretty positive he'll make it through. No, I'm not being sarcastic here. Two hates being watched, especially by people he doesn't know in places he's not used to.

Here he is at his second practice. So far, you can see how much he likes it. And how much he likes his AC Milano jersey I bought him to practice in.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Friday Night (and no, I did not just get paid)

In fact, I have nothing to do but provide you with links. I have an exciting life, I know.

If you ever wonder why I own a gun, you just need to look at the news to get your longed-for answer. Because those professionals out there who you're sure will protect you? Sometimes they can't hit the broad side of a barn. "Eight officers returned fire — in two distinct volleys — firing 73 bullets and striking Mr. Webster twice, in his chest and hip." I don't believe I've ever missed a target at the gun range. I doubt sincerely my aim would be as good as 100% in a real life, dangerous situation, but I promise I'm better than 2.7%.

In political news, Chris Matthews briefly channeled Rick Perry the other day on Social Security. My explanation? Everyone can get busy and forget to fill their meds prescription now and again. That might also explain the leg tingle he had a few years ago, come to think of it.

I was feeling a little embarrassed about picking on Mormons the other day and revealing the secret of their underwear and all, but then a fellow mom blogger confessed that she struggled with the desire to burn Mormons at the stake for their heresies, so now I am feeling quite a lot better about the whole underwear thing. Thank goodness for the ability to compare yourself to others and feel self-righteous after doing so! Where would I be without it?

Our former priest, author and blogger Fr. Joseph Honeycutt, has a piece in which he confesses to some adolescent trouble with the Boys in Blue. He writes: "It didn’t help that there was a light as bright as the sun shining on my back and a police megaphone piercing the night with a voice that said..." Doesn't it make you feel so good about your own youthful run-ins with the law, knowing that your priest, too, made similar mistakes? Me too.

James Lileks writes a great post today on the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor, the name of which I will not repeat here. He is (understandably, in my opinion) upset about the name and attendant marketing campaign. "Just a small interval of childhood unpunctured by leering sexual puns in the dessert aisle- a small thing, I grant. Hardly worth defending." What he said. He's also starting to write about 9/11 a bit, as you can see at the beginning of today's post. Look back in on him on Monday; I'm thinking he'll have something well-worth reading on it.

Pound Pup Legacy is asking for nominations for their 5th annual "Demons of Adoption" award. And no, before you ask, I am not against adoption. I am against abuses of the system, dishonest people who make money off the process without counting the cost on the birth families, adoptive families and children, and a lack of proper oversight that allows all of that to happen. So there.

Finally, if you've never checked out one of the most interesting sites on the internet, don't waste another minute and head right over to Retronaut now. See the past. Be the past, Danny.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Football Practice

One's team had their last practice tonight before their first game this Saturday. Wheeee! The boys are really excited - at least, going by One's reaction, they all must be excited, because he is on the moon. I am the "official" team photographer, so last night while the boys were practicing I practiced too - with my camera. I've always used the idiot settings on it, and while they get good results in many situations they do not adequately cover motion shots, especially in lower light. I did some manual-reading and some googling about camera settings, and went out to play with ISO, f-stop and shutter speed for the first time. I think I had as much fun as the boys did - at least while the light held.

Huddling up:

I'm trying to see how much motion I can capture, so I take some of the drills at the beginning.

The light is starting to go, or at least my camera skills are failing me:

Aha! I open the apeture a little more and voila! More light! Just like the internet said there would be. Again, trying to see how much motion I can capture, and what looks blurry when I zoom in and what doesn't. So legs: not so bad. Feet: blurry.

Now they're getting into the drills One likes best: running into things.

Best of all: running into one another:

And now the light is really gone as it gets to be 8pm, so Two and I head home, leaving One to finish out practice and ride home with Dad. They always come in the front door laughing, so I think they like that arrangement most of all.

Let's hope I can pull it off on Saturday. I know the boys can. Go team!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Links for the Week

I've been finding out a lot of random things lately; isn't that what the internet is for? As usual, I can't help but share some of them with you. Some fall in the "interesting and nice to know" category; some are a little stranger than that.

Youth football is not the most dangerous thing in the world. Yes, that word "not" is in there on purpose. As one of the MDs interviewed in the article says "The thing is, the little kids simply don't move that fast. And they're made of rubber." Anything that makes this mama feel better - we'll go with that, okay?

On the "much stranger" side of things: did you know that Mormons wear special, blessed underwear? Really, how there can be so many of them when this is what they look like under their clothes? If you know the answer to that question, please don't share. This was more than enough for me.

And then the scary side: Britain is going farther down the road to totalitarianism by trying to take away four overweight children from their overweight parents. George Orwell, call your office. Really, read the whole article: it's beyond disturbing. For three years a social worker been present at the family's mealtimes, taking notes on what they consume. That hasn't had the desired result, so the children are to be taken away and given up for adoption, with no parent contact allowed. I don't like seeing fat kids any more than the next person, but this is such an obvious violation of both the parents' and the children's human rights, it's ridiculous. Who will they come for next, I wonder?

I've actually caught Drudge in a mistake! Well, not a mistake per se, but one of his links this past weekend read: NEW PILL TO 'STOP STROKES'... and linked to this story from the UK. But ... the same drug has been approved for the same use in the same group of patients for close to a year in the US... so, news? No, not so much.

In general I never write about the industry in which I work, but this is an interesting story, and not one that I've seen in the US press. Cisco is being sued for allegedly helping the Chinese government develop a system to crack down on dissidents who use the internet to express their views. The claim, filed by Human Rights Law Foundation, alleges that there is evidence, in part in the form of a 2002 Cisco proposal, that "reveals how [Cisco's] products can address China's goals of “maintaining stability”, “stop the network-related crimes” and “combat 'Falun Gong' evil religion and other hostiles”." Oy.

Five links seem more than enough for a four-day work week. Cheers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to School

We've had two weeks of school now, and overall third and sixth grade each seem to be a rousing success. Two is, of course, still at the same school, so his adjustment time has been minimal. He should have increased work this year and a push towards more independence in getting his work done, organizing himself, and so on - which he needs and which I hope he is ready for. He's quite capable of being ready for such things if he cares to be; whether he will put in the effort to care is all that remains to be seen. He is thrilled to have a number of good friends in his class, and he seems very well-matched with his teacher. He's added art club at school to compensate for missing classes at Glassell this semester, and he's trying out soccer for the first time. Busy? Yes, he's busy. But so far he loves soccer and there's no way he'll have anything but a positive reaction to art club, since art has always been one of his favorite subjects. I think he's set to have a good year, and to grow even more independent as he navigates the school building without his brother there for the first time in a while.

One is having a typical tween's reaction to middle school. He loves it, it's wonderful, he loves his teachers, he wants to learn, everyone is nice. And then he stresses out: he knows his work will fall short of perfect, he's worried he's not making friends fast enough, what if he's tardy and gets a lunch detention, and so on and so forth... As I said: a perfect tween reaction to middle school. He started down the path this afternoon while finishing up his homework (which has been blessedly light for the first two weeks) by telling me "but when I get this done, there will just be more assigned tomorrow, and then the day after that, and every week there will be work, and I don't how I can make it all year long." Followed by a loud sob. And so I rubbed his back and told him gently that, yes, Virginia, there is a lifetime of work ahead of him, and then at 80 he will retire. And that no one in their right mind looks at all of it at once, dangling out there in the future, waiting. He needs to learn - he is learning - to focus on the task at hand and to take small bites of the work that is to come. He'll figure it out - but why I was surprised that he came to me with the "I'll work and never stop" idea so soon, I don't know. This is the child who kept me in his room for a full hour past bedtime when he was four: "I don't want to die! Death comes for everyone someday and it will come for me and I'm scared and I don't want to die." At four. My friend Jenny calls it "existential angst", and One has it in spades, unfortunately. But he also has a lot of resiliency, which is why (I guess) I haven't heard a whole lot about the fear of death in the past seven years. And so I tell myself: this too shall pass. And it shall, and hopefully the joy and optimism remain. They have before, and so they will again.

As the top of the blog says: all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. Rinse. Repeat.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More North Country Links UPDATED

A great article by the Plattsburgh Press Republican and a slide show from their site (page down a bit - it looks like it's a video but it's a series of photos).

The Wall Street Journal writes about Santa's Workshop.

Advice on where to hike (and where not to) post-Irene.

NCPR talks about the science behind the storm (and has a cool picture of the riverbed that used to be where Route 73 is now. Or where it was, maybe, before the storm...). Hit "download audio" and it comes up immediately.


New York Times coverage on Keene, NY.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane in the Mountains UPDATED

When I first started hearing reports about Hurricane Irene, I have to say I was a little Gulf Coast Smug about it. The pictures of Manhattanites queuing up at Whole Foods for last-minute necessities, then the ones of them out walking in the actual storm, did cause my Smugometer to go up a bit. Where were the piles of broken glass in the streets from the skyscrapers, where was all the damage? As it turns out, I was looking in exactly the wrong place. As it turns out, one of the places I needed to look was the most unlikely I could have thought: the place where I was raised.

This probably isn't surprising to y'all who have seen what Irene did to southern and central Vermont, but Irene whacked the heck out a number of small towns near and dear to my heart, hidden away in the Adirondack Park. These are small towns full of people who have seen more than their fair share of blizzards, ice storms, economic hard times, and the like - and who have even seen seasonal flooding from their small and swift rivers. But they have never seen flooding like that which Irene brought with her. Not ever - not on this scale. The damage is heart-breaking. Homes were thrown off their foundations, blacktop peeled off the surface of the roads, three fire stations were destroyed, and something like 70 bridges were wiped out or damaged. People whose homes had never flooded had 4'-6' of water in their homes (yes, that's feet, not inches). Water raced down the main street of the town my father grew up in, and it poured through the windows of the wooden covered bridge I crossed at least two times a day for the first 15 years of my life. It was, to say the least, a catastrophic event.

If you want to see pictures, learn the news, find out how you can help, there are some links to check out below. A number of people have come into the area to help, and of course the residents themselves have been taking care of each other very well, as they always do. I have always worn the 1,500 miles of distance between me and my childhood home very lightly; many, many times, I needed those miles. But for the past few days those miles have been far too many; I am too far away to be of any help, and I am finding out that that hurts more than I ever would have expected.

God bless all y'all back home. I'm proud to be from the place y'all care about and care for so deeply and so well. You are all in my prayers.


The beautiful Wells Library in Upper Jay flooded and lost all but 5 of its children's books. Here is how you can help.

Some news and pictures at this blog.

Lots of really good coverage from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

And best of all, how you can help, from North Country Public Radio.


Reuters picks up the story, and

The local Fox affiliate posts a story.