I'm gonna start by saying that I'm in here against my better judgment. I should NOT have logged in and I should NOT be typing right now because, well, I'm susceptible to eruptions of blabber and blah. But, it's been two weeks and, well, I need to talk and some of you wanna listen, so I'm gonna. I make no promises of elequence or even coherence. I am hormonally and bullybuttonally challenged today (two reasons why I am even physically able and schedually capable of blogging today as opposed to being outside tearing shit up). I had big plans (and was chock full of motivation) to get into town, get some non-garden/woods stuff done and have the ol' Indian-Arrow wound looked at, but I couldn't get an appointment until tomorrow. So, I figured I had no viable excuse not to get my ass in here and splash a little verbal vomit at you guys.
When we last parted, I had a one-holer, non-working sink, a playmate for Ryan and a teenage helper for myself. What you DON'T know is that during the first day of working with the kid, he told me his dad might like to come over and work. I was a little uneasy about that because I didn't want to his dad to think it was MY idea. I didn't want him to be insulted. Just 'cause someone's out of work does not mean they wanna come haul brush in your yard, you know? But the next day, after school, the kid called and said that he wanted to work but that his dad wanted to work, too. So, I went down there and picked them all up.
J (kid in Ryan's class) and Ryan played while Little T (pre-teen helper to whom I'll now refer as LT), Big T (dad to whom I'll now refer to at BT) and myself started hauling brush. It was AWESOME. I paid LT $5 an hour, BT $8 an hour and the fact that they were both out there motivated ME to work, too. BT told me that he was in heating and cooling but had worked in lots of different sectors (including construction, plumbing and tree work) and that he could even come and work during the day while the guys were at school. This was FABULOUS news to me. It meant that I could have someone here all day long to motivate me to work outside. ALL DAY. So, that's what we did. Over the past two weeks, nearly every day that it wasn't raining, we worked. I clipped brush or hacked at the ground cover with hedge trimmers while BT used the hatchet to cut the stuff I could only clip in half. When we both got a lot of stuff chopped down, we hauled. Within just a couple of days, the woods looked like an entirely different place.
All the work was hard on my physically but terribly inspiring mentally. In fact, my eyes were bigger than my... body? I'd put Ryan to bed at night and then collapse into slumber just after--not able to keep up with any of the good shows, yo. I couldn't watch them right then, and since I spent my days in the woods, I couldn't watch them THEN, either, LOL! Let me tell you though, I had plenty of Ellen and Lost to watch when it rained!
That first weekend my friends--The Melissas--came to visit. I'm tempted to keep that whole visit all to myselves and not share one iota with you because it was so personal and therapeutic that it seems I might blush telling about it. On the other hand, it was so joyous and triumphant that I can't rightly keep it to myself, now, can I?
They didn't get here until Saturday afternoon and they only stayed 24 hours, but they rocked my world. Ryan and I had just gotten back from running to town to get strawberries for shortcake when they got here. They came bearing gifts of huge, fluffy pillows (and a good thing, too because I don't have any guest pillows!!!) As they brought in their stuff (including bags of groceries with dinner provisions in them... hello, can I just say how cool it is to have people come over and bring dinner? Is that an American thing I missed the memo on because everyone who has visited has either done it, or OFFERED to do it, or substituted something else in its place with apologies for NOT doing it... I don't remember that being an American thing, but I like it!!! Granted, I'm a leeeetle territorial about my kitchen and the only way said visitors can actually get anything done is if they send me to the showers, ply me with wine or send me outside to work, tee hee hee).
We just hung out for an hour or so and gabbed while I cut up the strawberries and sprinkled them with sugar. Ryan entertained them with his antics and they were such good sports, listening to Ryan and me compete for their attention. He and I were like two puppies in a pound.
After we got dessert started, we got dressed for the woods. The Melissas had already written me and said that they were coming up with the expectations of being "put to work." They came out of their room and were doing the Woodland Work Wardrobe fashion show. "Is this okay?" One Melissa in rubber boots, brimmed hat and sunglasses says, striking a pose. Another Melissa comes out in a visor, tank and gloves. "And this?" We all giggled because we sounded like we were getting ready to go out bar hopping. And we did sorta go hopping... into the woods carrying clippers, shears and rakes.
I'm sure my neighbors were asking themselves what the hell was going on. Three chicks yelling at each other over the sound of tools scratching through dead leaves. It was loud, yo. And we were trying to catch up while working. We did this, clearing a nice area of brush by hand, until the sun was GONE. We went in and though I tried to participate in the cooking of the meal, but they wouldn't let me. After I made the vinaigrette, they made me go take a shower. I can't blame them cuz I was FUNK-Y! When I got out, there were salads, ravioli with marinara, steamed eggplant and zucchini, grilled garlic ciabatta bread and freshly-made bruschetta. We followed that with the strawberry shortcake and though we tried to drink, we only made it through a bottle and a half before we were all sleepy and lazy. We decided to hit the hay and just talk the next day.
We THOUGHT we'd get up, have some joe and French toast and then head out into the woods. We WERE going to work until lunch, have a quick one and then they were gonna head out on the road. What ACTUALLY happened is that we chucked all that--except for the joe and French toast, LOL! First off, it was chilly. Secondly, we wanted to catch up and were having so much fun talking that work seemed miles away. Thirdly, look, we had eaten our weight in cinnamon-raisin brioche-esque bread French toast with Nutella and/or strawberries and whipped cream on them and were rubbing our bellies in satisfaction.
So, we hung out. And without a shred of guilt. Melissa (ha ha haha ha, you don't know which one!) seems to suffer loss right along side of me, in the same way and at the same time, so we started out sharing our stories--something I think we were sort of saving for one another until we got to see each other in person. Several other women I know lost babies at the same time I did and we all seem to relate to each other in different ways. And the way in which Melissa and I relate is pretty fundamental. I'm not gonna go into it because, well, I gotta save SOMETHING for myself, right? Just trust me when I say that I love all of my mamas who make me feel less alone in all the shit I went through and Melissa makes me feel less alone for the shit I'm GOING through. Okay, that's enough.
They gave us presents. Besides the awesome pillows that Melissa gave me, Melissa gave me a pendant with a cardinal on it (remember my pic of the cardinal on the branch back when I was nervously looking for signs of spring? *sigh*) and a print of two cardinals on a branch that I plan to hang in my plant room. Funny thing... while Melissa and I were talking about Aaron, a cardinal came and sat on a branch outside the window. *sigh* Melissa gave Ryan a cool Buzz Lightyear water squirter/bubble blower. He LOVED it and played with it for HOURS on the deck.
While Melissa and I were catching up on stories we'd been saving up for all these months, Melissa played card games with Ryan. I think she might have won once, but he beat her several times. Granted, he seemed to revise the rules CONSTANTLY after her one win, LOL!
For lunch, we had a soup that I had made the day before out of lentils and leftovers--Fridge soup... I just make lentils with garlic and add whatever's in the fridge--in this case, corn, peas, green beans, canned mushrooms and broccoli. We sprinkled on a little parmesean cheese and I made biscuits to go with it. It was yummers. And then... we did NOT work!!! We ......... sat on our ASSES!!!!! It was GREAT. The Melissas lay on the lowered futon accomodating Ryan's need for snuggles while I sat in my tailgate chair hiding under my Indian horse blanket.
Later, Melissa was out on the deck and saw the four-foot Northern Racer snake we had seen when the Melissas were moving in. I grabbed my camera and ran down to get in his face. I picked up a stick and chased him around the yard trying to get the perfect pic. Thankfully, Melissa had HER camera that had a zoom on it, so she actually caught good pix of him even if I was all up in his grill. It was awesome because it was a good illustration to Ryan as to why I'm always asking him to put on his boots before we go into the woods.
As they were leaving, we walked down to the garden so I could show them how the garden wasn't getting its due sun exposure, but the garden made a liar of me because when we got down there, I noticed right away that the BEANS had come up !!!! YAY!!!!
Like I said, they were only here for less than half an hour but it felt like we had had a long, lazy weekend that was just as productive as if we had spent the day out in the woods. And having peeps here working with me motivates me to get back out there again the rest of the week. Which is what I did.
In fact, BT came out on Monday and we worked ALL.DAY.LONG. We worked SO hard that the next morning, my hands refused to open when I woke up. But I went back out there anyway. It was cloudy and gnat-y (HATE those bugs), but I got out there and weedeated (?) the walkways between the rows in the garden. I also planted the rest of the peas and beans (so that they'll ripen at different times). The next day it rained so I had an IMPOSED day off (woo HOO). But the NEXT day, BT worked out in the woods for 4 hours while I worked in the garden planting three more rows. I planted three kinds of mustard, two kinds of lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, radishes, three kinds of onions, beets, arugula, cabbage (baby choi), three different kinds, cilantro, two kinds of basil, parseley, dill and broccoli. Whew!
I had planned on planting the potatoes and rest of the herbs the next day, but instead, BT and I worked outside in the woods for three hours and THEN, we loaded up in the Brute, went to Lowe's, had lunch at a kick ass Mexi food resto (eh, Flavia?), and came back because.... *drum roll* BT fixed my SINK!!!! He took the old one out, cut into the formica so that the new one would fit, put it in there, hooked up all the new pipes and got it working. Get this... he saved me $30 by using the drain in the old sink to go into the new sink. He saved my small drawer which the other plumber told me he would have to cut into. He centered the sink on the drawer underneath which the other plumber told me he wouldn't be able to do. And get this... he charged me HALF of what the other plumber told me he'd HAVE to charge. Can you believe that? I saved over a hundred bux from buying the sink at the ReStore and then I saved $200 by having BT put the sink in. My money stayed in the community and BT got to catch up on his rent. A deep sigh of relief was breathed by all!!!
That evening, I got some good news from and for Ryan.
Let's just go ahead and talk about Ryan for a second. I love Ryan. I love his little quirks. His crazy little ways. But, it's true that he can be a little... Hyper. Yeah, hyper is the polite word. It's the word I grew up using to describe behavior like Ryan's. He's not climbing the walls hyper or anything, but he has a difficult time focusing sometimes. He doesn't always come when you call his name, or even answer when you're standing next to him. He interrupts constantly, talks over you when you're speaking and will even walk away from you while you're talking to him. He makes sound effects for everything and any time he's introduced to something new, he "becomes" it. He sees a lizard, he IS a lizard. He sees a firetruck, he IS a firetruck. He sees a movie, he IS every character, one at a time. I love these things about him and see glimmers of myself in him all the time. I don't want him to change.
I can understand how hard it is to deal with him when put into a classroom full of children trying to concentrate on something. He has a terrible time controlling himself. Outbursts. Just sitting quietly, then all of a sudden, the wall that imprisons his inner monologue falters and an explosion of noise ruptures his silence. He dips back into his own head without any evidence that he knows he has gotten away from himself. That's fine, but the rest of us--those who were not a party to his mind movie--are shaken by the eruption that is Mount Ryan. LOL! Even that doesn't bother me so much. But, I want him to succeed in school.
I know his academics are fine. Look at all that he can do. He learned to read in French and is so used to writing in cursive, I can barely get him to print correctly. And then, he moved here and in the span of a couple of weeks learned the same number of English sight words that his cohorts took six months to learn. He is a whiz at math. He cuts and pastes like a pro. He colors in the lines and draw the most amazingly detailed visual naratives. He turns everything into something else and finds new names for things (and obstinantly defends the new monikers as if it's in is power to do so... you say, "well, that's called a..." and he'll say, "huh. well, *I* call it a ..." and when you say, "well, call it whatever you like, but no one's going to know what you're talking about" it goes in one ear and right out the other).
But we all know that smart does not successful make. What does? Teachers. They are the judges. The assessors. They are the ones who determines who moves forward. Who gets to be line leader. Who sits at the head of the class. And that rarely has to do with how "smart" someone is but rather how manageable one can be. Admittedly, Ryan's current teacher is very understanding and I don't at all doubt her scruples. But I know that not all teachers are created equal. I have to prepare him NOW to be ready to sit in a classroom, raise his hand, answer and talk in turn and basically, control his urges. I don't want to ruin his tendency to be the class clown. But I don't want him to end up a joke either.
I looked up ADHD. I have long suspected that Ryan has it, but I never wanted to label him. I still don't. And I don't want to medicate him either. But exhibits EVERY symptom (and you only need 6 to be diagnosed). Still, I don't believe ANY problem can be solved with a pill. So, I've taken it upon myself to make things easier for Ryan in other ways.
I read that diet and sleep deprivation can play a large role in the behavior of people who are predisposed to hyperactivity and inattentiveness. So, I have scaled Ryan's bedtime back to 7:30pm. I was SURE and certain that he would NOT fall asleep and stay that way. I was wrong. He does just fine, wakes up at 6:30 and seems a thousand times more focused in the morning.
He used to get up several times a night to bug me, beg me to let him climb into my bed and ask me to tuck him back in when I refused. I wondered if he needed some kind of tea or something to help him sleep all night. So, at the advice of a friend (several, actually) I have begun giving him a 1/2 mg chewable tablet of melatonin (google it... it's pretty interesting how it works and is something we all need... some of us obviously more than others) before bed. He sleeps all night, seems very rested and refreshed in the morning and even has no problem getting up to pee and putting himself back to bed afterwards.
Diet-wise, you all know, I used to be so strict when we were in France. But the tendency, when we get back here, is to fall into our old bad habits. I've had to re-educate myself how to live over here. I was already packing Ryan's lunches in order to give him nutrition we KNEW he wasn't going to get from school. But now, I'm finding ways to put more fresh fruit (even if it's not local or organic, it's better than nothing at all and something full of dyes... luckily, summer will be here soon and Ryan can get more seasonal stuff that we'll grow ourselves). I'm also going to encourage him to eat fruit in the morning for breakfast (he's right now in LOVE with whole wheat toast with Nutella or All-fruit spread... it's going to be a hard habit to break, but since he loves grapes, apples, bananas and strawberries--not to mention the temptation of the fresh fruit smoothie--I don't think it'll be too hard to break him of the toast during the week... and he can still eat the toast on the weekend). I need to get back to baking bread. I need to go to town every Wednesday and see what they have at the market in Lynchburg. I've also had a talk with him about staying away from the flavored milks in school.
The other thing is open dialogue. I tell Ryan constantly that these changes we are making are for his own good. That they may have some impact on his behavior. He reads that in the language of "stickers." If he is good at controlling his outbursts during the day, his teacher will give him a sticker for the day on his own personal behavior chart. I've told him that if he gets three, he gets a new Hot Wheels car. If he gets four, we go to Cici's on the weekend. If he gets five, we'll do something AWESOME like mini-golf, the movies or Chuck E. Cheese'.
Well, getting back to last Friday... it was the first time Ryan had gotten four stickers in one week. And four stickers in a row!!! I asked his friend (BT's youngest kid Jd) if he wanted to come with us to celebrate and he said yes (shocker!). We went to Cici's and had pizza. Because they were good, they got to play ONE racing video game. Because they were super duper good, they got to pick ONE toy each from the Dollar Tree. And because they were super duper puper (they liked saying that) good all night as I ran all of my errands, they traded in their promised candy bar for foam swords at Target. It was a blast! We all loved it!
This week, I thought Ryan might actually get all five stickers. We were going to go to a drive-in movie theatre to see How to Train Your Dragon. But I could tell this morning when he got up that he was going to have a rough day. He woke up several times last night and just couldn't seem to focus on controlling himself this morning. I wasn't surprised to see that he didn't get his five stickers. I was sad though because I really wanted him to be able to watch his movie. However, I WILL reward him tomorrow (Saturday) sometime for the four stickers he got this week (four in a row!). And then, we'll try again next week for the movie. I just hope we can succeed while this movie is still playing. *crosses fingers*
ANYhoo, later that night, after our exciting night out, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a knock at the door. My two mommy friends and their two boys (remember the amazing blind boy? them.) and this time their big puppy were standing on my doorstep.
I had already made their bed so that they could come in and crash, but everyone was so excited that no one really seemed tired--other than the grown-ups. We did finally get everyone settled (had to try several different places for Puppy to get comfy, but we did. By then, even I had a difficult time falling asleep.
The next morning, I got up to make pancakes but remembered that C is on a gluten-free diet. I jumped on the internet and looked for breakfast casseroles. All of them seemed to at least have flour in them. I read about this "oats and eggs" idea where you essentially scramble oats into your eggs, but C is allergic to those, too. (And you gotta be crazy allergic to be allergic to OATS, yo!) But I finally put together different ingredients from several different recipes and came up with a sort of spinach, egg and cheese strata thingy. I mixed spinach, cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic and cheese together. I put down a thin layer, covered it in thinly sliced romas and put the other half on top of that. I chucked it in the oven for 45 minutes and when it came out it kicked ass. I also made biscuits real quick just in case the boys didn't want to eat the crustless quiche.
We talked about working, but it was all cloudy and gross, so we just hung out.
They wanted to get one of those thingies to help tie the Puppy up outside so he could be free but not run away. I needed to get a few groceries. So, we all loaded up and hit the road for Rustburg. When we got back, I whipped up some taco salad and we terminated it. Once again, it was a hit. I've never met anyone who didn't like it. We ate strawberry shortcake afterward. *slurp*
C took the kids out running around in the woods while K and I hung out and caught up. She and I connect in a different way than Melissa and I connect but for the same reason. :-( So, we had stuff to say. That, and we just had stories to tell each other about life and stuff.
That night, K and I drank. She made some bean dip out of some black beans I had made earlier, but I just sat and munched on pistachios while we drank. UNFORTUNATELY, after three high-calorie fruity drinks, I had no buzz at all--hazards of loving taco salad and eating a third helping. What I did do was start yawning and could barely stay awake. I couldn't even get up off of the futon to chase down the stink bugs but talked C into doing it for me.
The next morning, I tried to figure out the breakfast dilemma again and decided to try some sort of hashbrown casserole. I shredded a few russets and got them going on the electric griddle. I chopped some onions and some ham I had been meaning to use. I beat about 8 eggs. I shredded some cheese. But a few minutes into it, I wondered if it might not be wiser to just have hashbrowns and eggs. Quicker, I mean. But then, the browns went from light and brown to gray. As much as I like the electric griddle for things like pancakes and french toast, it SUCKS for things like bacon and hash browns. They looked like ass and they tasted flavorless and sorta bitter. So, I went back to my original idea. I put a layer of finished has browns into the bottom of my roasting pan. I put the sauteed onions and ham on there. Then I put another layer of hash browns on top. I beat the eggs nice and good, threw in some shredded cheese and scrambled it all up and poured it over the hash brown strata. I chucked it in the oven and let it cook for almost an hour.
It kicked ass. And it was gluten-free.
Again, C took the kids out running around and playing with the dog while K and I gabbed and cleaned up. But then, about the time we cleaned up, we got everything back out of the fridge and had leftovers for lunch! LOL! It's like all we did was sit around and talk and eat, LOL! I approve!!!
They left a little while after lunch.
The visit went well. It was busy and chaotic and I feel unfairly timed (for them) because I could already hear the crankiness of my monthly hormone surge leaking into my usually happy voice. But K and I got to connect and I think we both needed it. I admit that we are less alike in a lot of ways that I previously thought we were the same, but I think that's GOOD news. It caught me off guard, but it piqued my interest and I like when that happens. Am I being too cryptic? Sorry. I wanna talk about it without revealing too much. Thanks for letting me indulge myself in that. *grin*
So, let's recap. I had a pretty (well at least semi) productive two-week period. I mean, I used hedge-trimming shears to the point of arthritis and ended up going out and buying an electric hedge-trimmer to NEVER EVER again have to cut low-lying growth by hand. BT and I (plus the Melissas, plus Ju, plus S, plus a few kids) have cleared the woods half way to the outbuilding at the bottom of the hill. If we can get the last half done in the next two months, I'll be happy. The Melissas came up with the idea that we need to have a weekend where we invite EVERYONE and ANYONE who is not afraid of work and who loves food... We let them work and we feed them. Like Saturday, we'd get to work about 8 or 9 ... work until noon... eat TACO SALAD... work until about 6 or 7, then grill out, eat stuff and drink beer and wine. That day would be called, The Roast Beast Feast (but with rocking veggie options, too). Then, we'd get up, drink Mimosas and get back to work until noon on Sunday, at which time we'd eat something else yummy and filling and comforting but baked. This day would be called The Rake 'N' Bake. I love the idea. If any of you out there are listening/reading and are interested, please get in touch with me. I'd LOVE to do this before the girls get back from France. I would rock the UNIVERSE if I could knock out a big chunk of this work in one singular weekend. If you bring sleeping bags or air mattresses, a pillow and a towel, I'll feed you and put you to work. It'll be like Woodstock. But instead of smoking weed, we'll just be clipping and hauling them. Instead of making music, we'll be clearing brush. But you know, similar in the way that we'll all be out there sweating for the same purpose. LOL!
I planted a buttload of seeds and they're coming up. That's cool!
I have a two-holer sink and paid half price. That's rocking.
I've connected and healed in lots of ways.
And my beans came up!!!!
That's enough for now, right?
Check some pix:
Rainy "before" esque pictures (just a couple of examples):
Rainy "after" esque pictures:
(In this one, you can see the contrast--the stuff in the background--behind the fallen tree--is the "before" and the stuff in front of the log is "after"):
Brush!!! (just a peek):
Blackberry patches (there are more not pictured):
Grapes (thank you, previous owners!):
Irises out front:
Irises in the yard:
Bird nest (under the deck):
Melissa looks like she's avoiding the paparazzi in our woods (she's a rock star):
Funky, cool moth:
Pretty caterpillar (Ryan played with this thing for hours, feeding it, protecting it from the wind, etc.):
Bottom side of caterpillar:
(picture by Melissa)
(picture by Melissa)
(picture by Melissa)
FRENCH TOAST!!! (picture by Melissa)
(picture by Melissa)
(picture by Melissa)
(picture by Melissa)
Snake Wrangler--in my pyjamas... stick in one hand, camera in the other (picture by Melissa):
Snake on the "run":
Ryan helping me chase down the snake:
(picture by Melissa)
BUBBLES!!!! (pictures by Melissa)
More of my AZALEAS!!! (Can't wait to see you, Uncle Ryan!!!):
There are more pix. C took some picks of the kids and their Puppy and I'll post those when I get 'em.