Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fair and Unbiased Reporting

 I have realized lately that I rarely go on at length about my sons in this diary.

I gush, and post, and even show the warty bits of my daughter, but on the boys, I'm sometimes silent.
I've been evaluating why this is.

Here's the scoops:  First, the boys don't like having their photos taken, so they tend to hide.  Second,  the boys are very much home-bodies that don't like to step out of their comfort zones.  If Skip was asked what he would like to do for summer camp, his response would be "Can I just teach myself stuff on the computer, and call it good?"  Ahem, well, that's not gonna fly, bucko, but you can do some of that.  What about socializing? Do you want to go hang out with your friends?"  His response "only if I have to".

While this has kept him out of trouble on more than one occasion, when people in his sphere of acquaintances (he really doesn't work at cultivating friends, although he is friendly) have gotten in trouble, I do sometimes worry. But then I hear from the parents of these 'acquaintances', and I find out that Skip really is mature and deep, and the fact that he's mostly silent is more about him only saying things that are smart and necessary and not filling the air with dumb stuff.

And while I'm not seeing him step out of his comfort zone here around home, when he goes off to camp, sometimes he does stuff that surprises me.

(photo credit:  *not* me.  The camp he went to has a staff photographer, whose name is eluding me on the web site)

So Skip doesn't do stuff like horseback riding on the beach, which is epicly photogenic. But he does do some other stuff.  He just tries to avoid the camera.

Unlike last night, when he got into it with his cousin, who is visiting from Ireland.

My son.  The Eastern European street fighter.

OK, now that you're all horrified, I will give the back story.  His cousin is a girl.  Not some Irish street thug hooligan.  And when I say 'he got into it', I mean that at youth group at church, they started teasing each other.  And the next thing you know, he MAY have spilled some Coke on her.  And then she MAY have gotten some ketchup on him.  And then he MAY have upended the remainder of his Coke on her.  And then she may have come after him with the Costco-sized ketchup squirter.

And there was much laughter, until the camera came out.  And then he put his game face back on.

Today is the final day of Horse Camp for Kelly and my niece.  They're having a grand time.
Kelly in orange:

Sarah in a t-shirt

See her neck?  It's exposed.  And we may have sunscreened every part of her EXCEPT the back of her neck there.  Whoopsie.  Hooray for Aloe spray.  That's all I'm saying.

Today, I'll be heading back out to the coast with Nate.  We'll dig in the sand, and then take photos of the horses.  Kelly's friend M is doing surfing camp somewhere along the beach, and I'll be hunting for her, to take photos, too.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Surgery and Horses

 I was up at 530 this morning, to take Ken in to the Surgery Center (what?  You can't call it a hospital any more?) so that his knee could be operated on.  Considering that it's been over 6 years since his first knee was fixed up, I think it's pretty good longevity for him to have been tooling around on his last remaining 'original knee' this long.  A lifetime of basketball catching up on him as he approaches 50.  Not so bad.
Of course, you like how I made this all about me?  *I* had to get up at 530.  *I* had to drive to the surgery center.  *I* had to go to the pharmacy to fill his prescription.  Heh.  Boo hoo for me.

Truth be told, I should get up at 530 every day.  I already got so much done!  I still have to switch the bedroom around, so that Ken can sleep on my side of the bed, and be closer to the bathroom.  That entails me moving the mountain of crap from my side of the bed, too.  Now it's time to get the violins out.  Play a sad, sad little hard-knocks-life tune for me.  This is gonna be a mountain of work.  And I'd better get moving.  Looks like he'll be ready to be picked up at 10.

Too bad I won't be able to get him then.  I'll be off to Half Moon Bay, dropping Kelly off at her English Riding lessons.  We found a new place to go.  A friend of mine recommended this Therapy Horse barn, that also does lessons, and it's FANTASTIC!  I took Kelly out there on the weekend for an 'evaluation', and she loved it.  I guess when you sign up for an "Evaluation", it goes both ways.  The program director took Kelly through her paces (such as they were, as she'd never been in an English Saddle before) on a dressage pony, evaluating her skill set, and what she needs to learn, and Kelly (and I) got to evaluate the facility, and decide whether it suited our needs.

It did.


First, they saddled up Bob the Wonder Pony, and Kelly got a lesson in how to measure stirrups.  Apparently, you can get a good idea by making a fist, and when you punch the saddle, the stirrup should hit your armpit.

Then it was up into the saddle, to see if she could walk without falling off.

Good so far.  Let's see what chaos we can breed when we move up to a trot...

I know that the purpose of these lessons is to sell the ranch, and make you feel like if you just invest heavily, you can be the next Olympic hunter-jumper champion, or some such rot, but this woman was SO encouraging, and SO positive about Kelly's abilities.  I don't think Kelly's smile could get any bigger, as she was being praised left and right.

The teacher really put her through the paces.  Walk, trot, canter, and right up to counting the strides in preparation for jumping  (oh, when Kelly was asked 'what your goals are, with riding', her response was "I'd like to be able to jump"  Jump?  What?  Does our insurance cover that, honey?  Are you certain?).

The director took Kelly on a tour of the facility.  Did they walk?   Heck no!  "What?   Dismount?  You came here to ride, right, Kelly?"

It's a great place.  Built onto the side of a hill.

And did I mention the goats?  They're hilarious little ranch managers.

I was impressed.  Enough to ask about vacancies in the summer camps.  I guess they're having really low enrollment this summer because they don't offer full-day camps, just half-day intensive riding lessons, so there's availability in nearly all the weeks.  Including a "Learn to Play Polo" camp.  Hmmm.  The volunteer polo instructors were there when we were talking at the end of the lessons, and they introduced Kelly to their two 'retired polo ponies' that live at the ranch, and encouraged Kelly to step into a new adventure and learn Polo.

Maybe at the end of the summer.  For now, we're just doing a last-minute sign-up for this week of English Riding Camp.

She keeps saying how lucky she is.  How great I am (to which I say "Thank your father.  He's the one paying for it".  Heh), and how much fun this summer is going to be.  And she's plotting to see how she can get all her friends to come to this ranch, too.  A number of her friends take riding lessons, but the places that they go are either (a) more than a 40 minute drive away, and/or (b) freakishly expensive.  I'm hoping that this place will be reasonable, because it took me EIGHT MINUTES to get there yesterday.

They take really good care of their horses, too.  I like to see that.  I kind of wish that the place she goes trail riding had that time of time and commitment to the horses.  Maybe this will encourage her to work for change at that place, too.

It's a great find, nestled into the foggy coastal hills.  Kelly's already ready to go back, and there's still an hour before camp starts today.

Coco says "Y'all come back now, ya hear?"

Friday, June 10, 2011

And Summer Begins...

 School is now officially out for everyone at the Parker House.

Well, it ended for Skip last Thursday, with the final, final exam finishing off just before lunch.  And it was supposed to end for Nate and Kelly today at noon.

But last night, Nate started complaining of a sore neck.  Not one of his usual complaints (oh, I must write about his reputation as a complainer.  Unless I choose to let it go.  Because I am a better person than that, right?)  I thought he'd probably forget about it by morning, but he actually woke up in tears, saying it hurt to move.

Of course, my  mind goes immediately to things like meningitis, and all those childhood freak illnesses where kids are dead within hours.  Fortunately, he didn't have the associated fever and vomiting that would've sent me straight to the ER.  But it did give him a free pass to not attend school today.  So it was just school for Kelly today.

She asked if she could have some friends for a sleep-over, seeing as the last day of school (heck, the last WEEK of school, it seems) is notorious for having no real pressing time constraints or need of attention (and we'd set a dangerous precedent last year when she'd slept over at her friends' house).  So last night we'd collected K&M and brought them back here for a rousing evening of card games with everyone except Skip (who was out with our favourite Starbuck's barrista, going to the midnight showing of 'Super 8').

I woke up early, because Kelly had requested a batch of Beaver Tails to take into the class parties that would be happening this morning.  I really should wake up earlier more often.  The morning sun in the kitchen really is a thing of beauty (although it really does highlight the fact that I am a terrible housekeeper, and need to dust!)

That's my kitchen windowsill.  And the full-resolution photo actually shows the dust more.  This one just highlights the fact that a fly managed to find a cache of cookie crumbs that hadn't been cleaned off (what are cookie crumbs doing on a windowsill?   Egads!)  Also?  This is taken with a 90mm Tamron macro lens that I was borrowing for the week.

Anyways, I am getting sidetracked by a fly's eyeball.

We had a bit of excitement, as M had the good (?) fortune of starting her period over night.  Ah, the joys of Life Changes.  Fortunately, she is not the first of Kelly's friends to be visited, and I had a stash of kid-sized appropriate materials to ensure that her day went smoothly.

Another bit of excitement this morning is that I discovered that I am now being followed on Twitter by Peter Lik.  This marks my first Famous Follower.  What's odd is that we don't follow anyone in common, so I'm trying to figure out why this relatively famous photographer is following my humble tweets.  I mean, I watch his tv show regularly, but I've never tweeted about it.  It's a mystery.

Last weekend was pretty busy and chaotic for us.

Ken and I sang in a production of Don Giovanni.  We got to be servants, and wedding guests, and an angry mob at the end, and Ken got to carry a body off stage.  Pretty exciting stuff.  Or not.

Mostly, it was a lot of being present, and trying not to make any noise backstage while we played many games of Mathdoku on Ken's Xoom.

Saturday was also the day of the graduation party for the boy that I've been tutoring this year in Chemistry.  He managed to get a B as a final grade (up from the D he had when he came to me), which got him into UC Irvine, (he's convinced), and was also able to use what I'd taught him to help his teammate (they were on the school football team) pass Chemistry, so he was able to graduate, as his buddy's diploma was hinging on whether or not he passed Chemistry).  We went there to wish him well, and then went straight up to the theater where Don Giovanni was being staged, to perform.

A funny aside:  The day before our performance, I had commented on a friend's Facebook.

Stacy: At the pool "Hey Soul Sister" was playing and I was singing along. Hailey said, "Stop Mom! You're embarassing me." I said, "Oh, Hailey, this is nothing. Trust me, I will get much, much worse."
Me: ‎"Hey, honey! Have you changed your pad this afternoon? I have an extra in my purse for emergencies, if you need one!" (just giving you some ideas for later...)

Of course, I had no idea how prophetic I was being.  During the Finale of the first act, I suddenly started feeling a bit strange.  Just put it off as stage jitters, and maybe a bit of a touch of heat-stroke, or something.  Nothing to worry about.  And then?  As I'm about to stride onto stage in the Finale of the Second Act... you know, the one where the angry mob of villagers stalks onto stage like a herd of zombies and surrounds Don Giovanni and kills him right there before your eyes, as the stage lights all turn red?  I realized that it wasn't heat stroke, it wasn't jitters.  it was my period.  Arriving early.  So instead of my swagger, I was mincing around, trying to keep my knees together, and instead of thinking "Is it ""voce fera col pol pe" or "vieni che un pol peggior"?"  I was thinking "please, don't let anything show through the black velvet skirt, please don't let anything drip on stage".

So it just goes to show you that you should NEVER mock something that your mother may or may not have said to you in public, as you were about to get onto a bus to go to summer camp...  Co-ed summer camp...  30 years ago.  Unless you want to discover whether your black velvet gown really *is* machine washable.