Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bug-Eating Bug

Bald Faced Hornet

My Dad, who is a walking nature encyclopedia, taught me not to fear this "bee", when I was a small child. I have passed this knowledge on to my children and anybody else who will listen.

A few days ago, I was outside talking to a friend when a bug buzzed by his ear. He waved the bug away with his hand, then laughed. "I suppose I should have checked to see if that was a bee before I did that." The offending bug returned and my friend jumped back in alarm. "It is a BEE!" I told him not to panic and quickly introduced him to the virtues of the Bald Faced Hornet.

I have often sat outside, playing decoy for this bug-hunting "bee". The BFH will sit patiently on your arm and attack any bug that comes near you. I have learned to recognize the gnip sound that the BFH makes when it nails its prey. I have also been mildly grossed out when a BFH returns to my arm with a large bug and gnips it up in small bites.

Out of curiosity, Z and I decided to do a little research to see how accurate Grandpa's facts were.
The first thing we found out was that the BFH isn't a hornet; it's a member of the Yellow Jacket family. They're common throughout N. America. The BFH lives on a diet of insects and plant nectar. They also build nests similar to the Paper Wasp. My Dad and I mistakenly thought that the BFH didn't sting, as they have pincher jaws rather than a stinger. Wrongo! The BFH has venom, just like bees and yellow jackets. They actually can sting with their little pincher jaws. The difference is that the BFH is actually a peaceable little guy. They only "bite" when their nest is threatened. No problem! I don't know about you, but I tend to stay as far away as possible from any hanging gray "paper" nest, with hundreds of "bees" buzzing out of it.

The next time you see one of these amazing insects, take the time to sit quietly and watch him clear out the flies and mosquitoes for you.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Beauty of Weather

After the Storm

This was taken by L after a thunderstorm rolled through here Thursday night.

Z was extremely agitated by this storm due to a major f***up on the weather site he was viewing. This site showed a line of tornadoes right on top of us. Somebody obviously hit the tornado warning button instead of the tornado watch button. A**holes!!

I took Z outside to "revel" in the beauty of the approaching storm. Unfortunately this coincided with a 50mph blast of wind that hit on the front edge of the storm. Z ran to the house screaming and I was left standing in the driveway, "revelling" on my own. I'm sure that anyone driving by was questioning my sanity. Oh well, won't be the first time.

Z now has another notch in his belt for surviving another storm. I only wish that these statistics would sink into his OCD brain.

Right now, I'm heading outside to tackle some outdoor chores. It's beautiful today. Sunny and not too hot, with a cool breeze blowing. I can't waste a day like this!!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

OK Ben; I'll Play

Since Ben went to all the trouble of researching this game, I'll play. Remember where I live Ben. I'm the only one close enough to get you! LOL

If I had to choose between books, movies or music; I could only have one of these for the rest of my life. . . . What would you choose?
I love my music and movies, but it has to be BOOKS!

Total # of books owned?
I've never counted them, until now. Holy SHIT! Let's see. . . We have 3 bookcases full of hardcovers, so there's around 300 there. Then we have 2 paperback bookshelves, with 8 shelves each and an average of 30 books/shelf. That comes to another 480. Then there's the books in Z's room, plus my "must read" stack, plus a few other stacks squirreled away here and there. So I guess we have between 900-1000 books. I honestly didn't realize the number was that high.

Last book I bought?
Learning Outside the Lines-Two Ivy League students with learning disabilities and ADHD give you the tools for academic success and educational revolution.

Last book I read?
Brain Gym-Teacher's Edition This is a book on kinesiology. It teaches exercises that help a student use both sides of his brain at the same time. (You'd never guess that I was homeschooling an LD kid, would you?) The next book I read WILL be for FUN!

5 books with special meaning to me?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lord of the Flies
The Bert and Ernie Book-We read this book to our kids so many times that they both had it memorized.
Dr. Phil's Relationship Rescue

Honorable Mentions:
Frenchman's Creek
All James Michener and John Jakes
All Robert H. Heinlein
The Harry Potter Series
Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

One Step Forward!

Good news!! We've made a few "baby steps".

We've had a few sunny days. Thank God!
I managed to divide and transplant the Hostas that were around our porch. I didn't want them to get stomped when we start re-siding the porch.
The wet areas of our yard dried enough for L to mow them. Our grass is all the same length now.
Z got all his stuff cleared out of the living room. We can actually see the tops of our end tables now.
I bought a bunch of big plastic boxes so I can organize and empty out all the stuff on the front porch. If I can sort out one shelf a day, we should be able to start working on the porch within a week.
The mosquitoes are still horrible, but the sun has brought out legions of dragonflies. They're my HEROES!!
Z saw the flying squirrel in our bird feeder the other night.

In one month we've seen the worst and the best that summer has to offer. Right now I'm just appreciating the small things and COUNTING MY BLESSINGS!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

We're Not Saints

Thanks everyone for all your kind comments on my last post. You'll never know how much your moral support means to us!

I need to clarify a few things. The other night was a Kodak moment because the three of us aren't always on the same page when it comes to emotions. I'm a lone perimenopausal women, trapped in the land of testosterone. It wasn't always like this. For 14 years, our daughter, S, and I tormented my poor husband with our mood swings. When Z was born, I told S that she couldn't leave home until Z was 18. Unfortunately, S grew up, fell in love, and moved 1100 miles away.

My first Kodak moment with our two kids together, happened the first time S held her baby brother. S looked into Z's innocent baby eyes and said: "You're gonna grow up to be a sensitive man if it kills you!". This began our mission to raise Z to be a caring, thoughtful, not afraid of his emotions man. When Z was diagnosed with TS, it became even more important for him to share his fears and emotions. So far he is doing quite well, for a teenaged guy that is.

The first time I met my husband, I recognized his sweet, sensitive soul. L also came with a LOT of baggage! He spent the first 11 yrs of his life in foster homes. The next 5 yrs were spent with his schizophrenic mother, who cared more about partying and whoring around, than caring for her 3 young sons. L spent the next 12 yrs of his life trying to find the right person to love him. Unfortunately, every time L would bare his soul to a woman, it would come back and bite him in horrible ways. The last 28 yrs have been a one-sided battle to get L to bare his soul to ME! He refused to examine the painful parts of his life. L preferred pulling himself into his shell of insecurity. He loves me and the kids, but he always kept a part of himself aloof from us. He was terrified of being hurt again! We finally had a major breakthrough last winter, thanks to Dr. Phil's Relationship Rescue. L now realizes how hurtful his shell has been to me. We're making great strides, but there's ALWAYS setbacks.

So you see, I don't want my readers to beat themselves up, thinking that we're some well-oiled emotional machine. We're not! We deal with the same male-female-teenaged troubles the rest of you have. BUT, every once in a while, we have that awesome KODAK MOMENT. That's what keeps us hanging in there!

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all you wonderful Dads out there!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tears & Frustrations

Last night was one of those Kodak moments. It wasn't necessarily a moment that I'd want to commemorate with a picture, but it will be etched in my mind forever.

Z's frustrations got the better of him last night. He sat down on the couch and started sobbing. Dad didn't get it; he tried words of cheer. It was time for Mom to take over. I sat next to Z, put my arm around him, and laid my head against his. All Z's fears and frustrations came flowing out of him in one continuous sentence. I kissed the top of his head and responded with all of my fears and frustrations. Surprisingly, many of them were similar. We shared the burden of feeling so overwhelmed when chores and responsibilities pile up and we just don't know where to start. Then we slide into the pitfall of doing nothing, because we KNOW we don't have the time to accomplish anything significant. What's the point in trying?

Z and I agreed that we will BOTH start taking things ONE STEP AT A TIME. We will accomplish something every day, no matter how small. We will be proud of ourselves and each other for our accomplishments. We will nudge each other when we see the other falling into the quagmire of self-pity. At this point Dad joined in and agreed that if we took enough "baby steps" we could actually finish a lot of our projects.
We ALL went to bed with smiles on our faces and the knowledge that we make a fantastic team! We'll get through this the way we always have; TOGETHER!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Specialization Is For Insects

I need to be three places at once! Obviously, I have to work, so there goes 8 exhausting hours a day.

I should be outside working on our house and yard, but this abominable rain prevents this from happening. Yes folks, we do our own carpentry and landscape work. We had a nightmare experience with a contractor 9 yrs ago, and we've been trying to fix the mistakes ever since . This summer's project list includes; residing and reroofing our front porch, painting the front porch, back porch and shed, trying to figure a way to get the friggin' paint to stick to certain areas of the house so we can get a second coat of paint on, and building new doors for the shed and garbage shed. We seriously need to rototill and add fill to certain areas of our yard. Northern MN winters can wreak havoc on your landscape. Areas that were once high, are low, and vice versa. This causes water to accumulate in areas it shouldn't.

The third place I need to be is in the house. Homeschooling is obviously the #1 priority. It seems that this and daily, necessity chores, is all that I accomplish anymore. I guess age is catching up to me. We bought new vinyl tile for our bathrooms 2 yrs ago. We want to paint the bathrooms first, so we don't mess up the new tile. We also need to paint, wainscott, and recarpet the hall. This requires moving 2 floor to ceiling bookcases full of paperback books. The 18 yr old carpet in the living room HAS TO GO! Our entertainment center needs to be reinforced, as it sways from side to side when we dust it. We need a new front door, but they don't make them the right length for our doorway. This means we either buy a prebuilt wood door and cut it off, or build one ourselves; neither option appeals to me. I bought new living room drapes last year, but I haven't had time to shorten them. I also have 2 laundry baskets full of mending. I should cut both Z and L's hair within the next couple of days.

I know that we have the ability to complete all these projects. I also know that we don't have the money to hire any of them done. We've already wasted money once, on hiring it done; no more! All we require is ambition, more time and NO MORE RAIN!! I know that "specialization is for insects", but sometimes I wonder just what kind of bug I'd be.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Once again our wonderful, local school system has failed to recognize that Z is homeschooled!
Keep in mind that this grade 7-12 school has less than 400 students and 6 full-time secretaries.

We pulled Z out of school at the end of 1st semester as he had failed all his classes. This was the end of January. We submitted all the proper paperwork, in person, to the supt. of schools. We expected some confusion the first week. Every day we would get a phone call from the office saying that Z had been marked absent and that we hadn't called the school to explain his absence. Each time we would explain that we were now homeschooling Z. The secretary would say that she didn't have any paperwork on this. We told her that the supt had all the paperwork.

In March I got a recorded phone call saying that Z had missed his afternoon classes. L, laughingly swore that Z was home for morning classes, and wondered who was impersonating Z during roll call in his 3 morning classes. Two weeks later another recorded phone call said that Z hadn't served his detention for missing his afternoon classes, and would be suspended from school if he didn't serve the detention within 3 days. Alrighty then!
From that time until now we've received several recorded phone calls and mailings informing us about parent teacher conferences and school vacations.

Today we received notification, in the mail, that Z would not receive his final report card for the year until he returned his English and History books. Z's final day of class was the day we met with the supt., at the end of January. The supt. told us that Z's special ed teacher would help Z empty out his locker. The special ed teacher was responsible for inventorying and returning the books. The books were ALL accounted for at this time! In addition to the lost book SNAFU, we were informed that Z still hadn't done his detention and that "It is important that this matter be cleared so that grade reports can be issued. Failure to complete the detention will result in suspension and parent conference the beginning of the next school year." Oh yeah? BRING IT ON!!
Does this mean that we won't have to submit a 4th quarter report card to the school? Does anybody wonder why I mail all paperwork to the school registered, with return receipt requested? WE have a paper trail; trust NOTHING to the incompetent!

How did they ever know when Z was in class when he was actually attending their school?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Peak?

Z's schooling has not been going well, the last couple of months. Research says that TS peaks between the ages of 9-13. We're praying that this is the peak!

On the bright side, Z's 2 yr throat clearing tic has disappeared. He's also getting a lot better at recognising overreactive behavior in himself. The down side is that he now has a severe eye-rolling/blinking tic that interferes with his reading. This leads to frustration, which leads to an overreaction storm, which leads to regrets over his behavior, which leads to apathy. We need to break this chain, without being overbearing, as this leads to frustration, overreaction. . . . . .

Our shitty, rainy spring has done little to help anybody's mindset. Z spends his time checking the rain clouds and the Weather Channel. Frustration and worry have triggered Z's stomach problems, which gives him another thing to obsess over. L and I spend our time bitching about the flood in our backyard "jungle" and how the rain is stalling our efforts to complete our housepainting project. On the few nice days we've had, our outdoor chores are hindered by hordes of enormous mosquitoes and gnats!(At least SOMETHING is thriving in this weather) Our indoor spider population has also increased. This is actually turning into a good thing as Z is starting to obsess LESS about spiders. There have been so many spiders that he has actually started observing them and appreciating them for the beautiful creatures they are. Thank God for small miracles!

The last couple of years, we've been trying to organize Z's life. Not just his schoolwork, but his surroundings as well. Educators say that structure is one of the keys in conquering ADD. Right now I feel like a miserable failure in this regard. Z's room is once again in chaos, he forgets to check the lists of daily and weekly routines I have printed for him. In short, EVERYTHING seems to be falling apart!

Depression is settling over our household like a plague. We all have to physically PUSH ourselves to accomplish ANYTHING! Pulling ourselves up is our first priority.

Homeschooling would be soooo easy if Z was a "normal" child! Don't get me wrong; I don't wish to change him, TS is part of WHO he is. It's just that so much of our time is tied up riding herd on Z's short attention span. Kids his age SHOULD be able to help guide themselves through their education. Z very much wants to take control of his education, but he can't. We're hoping that his TS will start slowly sliding back to the level it was 4 yrs ago. We could handle this. Research says that by the time Z is 18, most TS behaviors will have leveled off to where they'll be for the rest of his life.

I apologize for this whiny, self-absorbed post, but you know what? Just venting here has made me feel a little better about our situation. I'd better go start the laundry, before I lose the little ambition I've just gained.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Words to Live By

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


The whole blogging experience has been more enriching than I ever imagined. I have made new friends. I have had personal glimpses into other's lives. I have seen how other's worship their God(or choose not to). I've read the opinions of right-wing and left-wing. I've commented to people all over the world and others have commented here. It's been GREAT! Now it's time for a little info on ME.

I've NEVER been a black and white person. I always see the "shades of gray" and can argue both sides of practically any subject. My husband is this way and more. We've raised our children to always look at both sides(much to my parents dismay).

I am a Christian. I was raised in the Lutheran church, as was our daughter. My husband was raised Catholic, sort of. We now live our lives without the benefit? of any organized religion. Why? There's a lot of reasons. We don't like the way all churches divide the family. Women go to their meetings and groups, while the men and children do likewise. You're never together, as everybody's different group, retreat, meeting, etc, is on a different night. What do all these groups and meetings accomplish? NOTHING; it's just a bunch of like-minded people gathering together and patting each other on the back. It's all glorified "busy work" that does nothing to make the world a better place to live.

Our second gripe with organized religion is the money. For example; the Lutheran church requires that Xamount of dollars be handed over to the synod, each year, for every confirmed member of the congregation. What is this money spent on? One year the synod spent $2,000,000 on a laser light show at their annual convention! In addition, all religions are getting carried away on their buildings. A local evangelical church recently built a $1,500,000 meeting hall/gymnasium. The purpose; a place for after church coffee, wedding receptions, baby showers, etc. Whatever happened to "wherever two or more are gathered in my name"? How are they possibly making the lives of their neighbors better with these expenditures? We, now, personally choose where our charitable donations go. We fervently hope that our money goes to better use than a light show!

Our biggest gripe with organized religion, is the religious right. I find it offensive when someone demands that I be "born again". Why? I've never lost my faith. The only "born again" experience I plan on having, is when I die. I also can't stand their stance on EVERY WORD in the Bible coming straight out of God's mouth. Yes, I see the Old Testament as a history of the people of God, passed down for generations, by word of mouth, before it was ever written. The Old Testament is these ancient people's documentation of what God said to the select few. You need to read it as a whole, in the historical scheme of things, and not pick individual verses to live by. The New Testament is the story of Jesus' life, and the events following his death, as seen by his followers. Why do you think there are 4 Gospels? So we can see how each of these people witnessed these events and reacted to them. This leads me to another one of my gripes: Who made certain church leaders God, and let THEM choose which Gospels would be included in the Bible? There are many more books to the Bible that "God's editors" decided to leave out of the finished product. I resent this!

Our family embraces all religions. How do we know that God didn't appear to different cultures at different times in many different ways? Maybe he did this because he knew that other cultures would only understand him on their terms. I personally like the idea of reincarnation. I don't think it's right that someone like Ted Bundy, who found God at the end of his life, should be able to shoot straight to heaven with someone like my Grandma, whose faith never faltered. Maybe God uses things like reincarnation, maybe he doesn't. We don't know. I don't have an inside track to God and neither does ANYONE else! That's where FAITH comes into play.

I don't know how God created the earth. Maybe it was the Big Bang, maybe it was evolution, maybe he zapped everything here, as is. Does it really matter HOW he did it? Have FAITH that God created the world as he saw fit. Why is science so threatening to the religious right? God created all the marvels of science and gave certain people the ability to "discover" his gifts.

Why do so many fanatics create hate in God's name? God is about LOVE!! I don't need to concentrate on fire and brimstone and the depths of hell. I'm not going there, I have FAITH. My mission from God is not to prosletyze and cram my beliefs down people's throats. My mission is to raise my children in the LOVE and FORGIVENESS of God. My mission is to TRY to live by the example of what LOVE and PEACE can be found through God.

I respect everyone's beliefs. If you find comfort in going to church every Sunday, good for you. If you believe that you have an inside track to God and that you'll get your own planet when you die, good for you. If you think you won't go to heaven if you celebrate religious holidays or birthdays, good for you. All I ask, is that you respect my beliefs, and don't try to convert me to yours, cuz it ain't gonna work!