Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lessons in Waste Reduction

The other night I was looking on a website called Zero Waste Home. This family of 4 fits all of their garbage for a year into a single mason jar! I know we could never do that. As my friend Annalee said, "Don't they floss?" But I do know that we could do a whole heckava lot better than we do with just a few changes around the place. For instance, I'm routinely finding things in the garbage upstairs that are low-hanging-fruit recyclable just because we are apparently too lazy to walk downstairs and put them in the recycling. When I point these out to Vaughn he will sometimes indignantly and exasperatedly say, "Mom, I go to the environmental school" - as though this somehow gives him diplomatic immunity to not have to do as much as other people because he already goes to a school that has chickens.

I think the hippie environmental vibe of Sunnyside has worn a little thin for Vaughn and he's ready to transition. Right before Winter Break, they had the ability to sign up for special "mini-classes" and poor Vaughn didn't get any of the ones he selected (one of which uses the entire school for a massive game of Hide-And-Seek). I asked him what he did get and he glumly replied, "Making protest signs." You really can't make this up. So I can see how the school has him kind of burnt him out on the thrill of being an environmentalist. For my part - I put a paper bag upstairs for recycling.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

She Wants to Lead - The Glamorous Life

When I was in first or second grade, I bought my parents the best, most valuable, anniversary present I could imagine - a hunk of fur. Actually, I think it was a whole pelt from a small rabbit. I bought it on the black top market from a skinny blonde kid named Blake in my class for $2. God only knows where he got and even more of a mystery is what my parents must have thought receiving it. Disappointingly, they don't seem to recall.

Fast forward two years and my Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous preconceptions were still going strong; so when I saw a real, kid-sized rabbit fur coat at the local J.C. Penny, I could hardly imagine such luxury was within reach. I remember running my hands over it and taking in every bit of its heavenly softness.

Needless to say, receiving it for Christmas that year, blew my mind. Check out how I'm posed in this Christmas morning picture - that sassy hip and head tilt really conveys the glamor and the attitude. It says, "I'm in a weedy back yard right now with my aunt but I could easily be on a yacht." (Also check out my poor dopey brother - so happy and content with his random car watch).

Unfortunately, while it may have made me a starlet in my mind, the fur coat made me a pariah on the playground. Not many third graders are wearing fur coats and they especially weren't wearing them in rural Gilroy. In addition to the snotty comments, I also had to run constantly at recess or risk having some jealous brat pull out a chunk of my fur. Screaming, "Stop! This is very expensive!" didn't seem to help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scrabble Is For Lovers

WordFeud is basically online Scrabble that you can play with friends or strangers. For years, Jacob has had an account and at times he'll have 8 - 10 games going at a time. Sometimes he and the random opponent will engage in chit chat, mostly just to compliment each other on a word well played. But there is a bizarre phenomenon in the WordFeud world and it is "Gay Sexting Guy." Numerous (I'm not exaggerating - NUMEROUS) times Jacob's been boldly proposition by gentlemen who are clearly interested in taking your grandmother's Scrabble to the next level. What I find most bizarre is that these propositions is that they are based off of a thumbnail picture that is literally the size of my index fingernail.
Could Jacob have accidentally set his profile to indicate that in addition to playing Scrabble, he's also willing to drive across the country to have sex with anyone? This would make sense to me if these were all players from Portland but the players are paired at random and could live anywhere.

Last night we met a new archetype: "Guy Who Does Speed and then Plays Scrabble." Listed below is the transcript of their chat. The tension and frustration in his opponent's chats is palpable! Keep in mind that a player has up to three days in WordFeud to play a word before the game is forfeited. As of this writing, Jacob had still not taken his turn.

6:32 Guy: playing
6:50 Guy: playing
6:51 Jacob: what did that mean? am I going too slow?
6:52 Guy: making sure you are still playing that all...
6:52 Jacob: Oh, okay. I'm a little slow sometimes.
6:54 Guy: wooooo nice...
6:54 Guy: big time
6:54 Jacob: TY
7:24 Guy: Playing
7:37 Guy: go
8:26 Guy:giving considered. Losing
8:35 Guy: Go man....give up I win
8:37 Guy: Do a pass...
8:39 Guy: Go....go
8:40 Guy: Okay...I won...If you don't have a word...pass then
8:41 Guy: I have a word...if not I won
8:42 Guy: Technically. I win if you can't claim a word
8:44  Guy: Ok...thank you for the good game..I won

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lately Vaughn has been super into American Ninja Warrior, a show that is basically just people competing to best each other's time in obstacle courses of varying degrees of difficulty. You have to be 21 years old to be on the show, but that hasn't stopped Vaughn from starting early training and he gets frustrated when we won't construct a replica of the 16 foot 'warped wall' or other elements featured on the courses.

Enter parkour. Although it's been around for a while and, like our Instagram accounts, we're several years behind the peak, I thought this might be a way to get him to stop literally climbing our walls and hanging off his door.

Vaughn makes it look easy
Revolution Parkour in Beaverton offered a sweet 'free class for new students' deal so I signed all three of us up for a beginning parkour class on Saturday morning. As we pulled into the parking lot and saw groups of kids getting dropped off by parents in mini-vans it hit me -we could potentially be the only adults in the class. I shared this with Jacob who said, "Yeah, and the best part will be all the other parents will be sitting and watching us."

As it turned out, we WERE the only adults among the kids - 17 kids in fact - ranging in age from about 9 to 12. The only other female in the class was probably 11 and she sidled up to me about ten minutes in and decided that we were going to stick together the entire time until I found myself actively trying to lose her. She and a "almost 13" year old boy seemed to take turns stalking me with alternating praise and constructive criticism. My own child was off doing his thing but I had been adopted by these two who turned me into their pet project. After she helpfully corrected Jacob he whispered to me, "How did she go from cute to annoying so fast?"

After 10 minutes of stretching, we learned basic forward/side/and back rolls (which aren't easy if you're trying to undo a lifetime of doing somersaults in a particular way) and then plodded through a changing course of blocks, tires, and balance beams. Due to the number of kids in the class, we weren't moving very fast so I was surprised to find myself sweating. Vaughn had so much fun that he asked if he could stay for the next segment and is angling to go back next weekend. I'm not sure I'll go back and do the class again but it was fun to try something new.


Clown make-up is harder than I thought!
I had the day off last Friday so I decided to go out to try and find the pieces of Vaughn's Halloween costume, since it was just one week away. I knew we wouldn't be topping last year's Blaze costume but I figured I could put my own flair on the 'Scary Clown' choice. I started out at Goodwill and discovered that, while Goodwill is normally an excellent place to get Halloween gear, a week before you are pretty much down to Super Mario Bros. costumes (children's sizes 4-6). If you wanted to be Luigi, you're in luck, they have 7 left. I didn't fair any better at Buffalo Exchange so I ended up plunking down $72 at Lippman's Party Supply since Jacob wasn't biting on my hint that it would probably be 'so easy' to sew pieces of a clown outfit (as the one who doesn't sew, it's always easy). Anyway, I kind of felt like a failure since it was all so pre-packaged but Vaughn loved it so I guess that is all that matters.

We went over to the Moyer's house and Sten and Vaughn got to run around Trick-or-Treating by themselves. It hit me a couple weeks ago that they had definitely gotten old enough to do this and there was no reason I should subject myself to standing out on the sidewalk in the cold calling out "Did you remember to say 'thank you'?" Interestingly, they came home after about 45 minutes since they knew there were large bowls of candy right at home. Maybe Halloween is one of those things kids naturally wean from.

About 30 minutes after we all went to bed, a wired Vaughn came to our door proclaiming he couldn't sleep and asking if he could sleep with us. "Vaughn," I wearily mumbled as he lumbered in between us, "You're way too old for this." "I know," he replied, "But it's fun."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

He's Up All Night To Eat Candy

Vaughn posted this pic of his gangsta's paradise
(12 year old style) to Instagram
Jacob has always said he wants to be the house that the kids hang out at. After Vaughn's slumber party, we may be rethinking that idea or, at the very least, be down for sharing the wealth. Vaughn had four of his friends spend the night after the Harvest Fair at school and on the way home they were already talking about how they were planning on staying up all night. We thought we had arranged a pretty decent compromise with a 12:30 "lights out" and 1am "no more talking" rule. What we didn't count on was that, in addition to a bounty of chips and candy, they also smuggled in a 2 liter jug of Dr. Pepper which they, somewhat bizarrely, passed around and chugged in the downstairs bathroom. For kids who are never allowed to drink soda with caffeine, this pretty much sealed the deal on being up all night. It also meant that Jacob and I didn't sleep particularly well, especially after one poor kiddo puked at 4 am. It was hard to be mad though - they drew on each other when one would drift off to sleep, texted girls, and generally had a blast. I'm not sure all the other parents were thrilled with the situation when we had to fess up to the debauchery at pick up this morning.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Office

Vaughn is twelve and a half and he is texting, Instagramming, pre-teen but I'm happy to say he's still down for a good cuddle. In Hawaii, we started watching The Office together on Netflix and it's kind of become our thing to watch a couple episodes a night while munching on junk food together.  It definitely feels like we are in the waning days of him hanging out with us so I'm going to ride this train as long as possible.
Snuggle time in Maui