Interstellar Adventures

December 10, 2008

Still Kickin’ It

I’m sure this place barely has a pulse. And this is probably a lame attempt at CPR. But, nonetheless, here I am. My friend Ben decided to check up on me and pushed me just enough to get me to post. I like it when people care. 🙂

Since we moved, Pop passed away, the kids started new schools, Nick went back to school, and work started kicking my ass, I haven’t been inspired to post much. Many of my thoughts made me sound like a whiney-ass bitch, and though I am, I still don’t want to sound like it.

Elle’s birthday came and went and we had a slumber party with 10+ 9-10 year olds. I realized several things that night. First, Elle has some serious bossiness issues, and I (privately) told her she was acting like a brat at her own party. Second, I wanted to tell about 5 other girls at the parties that I thought they were being bratty, but they were not my kids, so I just reminded them to play nice. Thirdly, I wished I could tell 5 other parents that their preshus babees are brats, but they are soccer parents and we have to play nice. Fourth, I hoped that Elle never acts the way these girls did when I’m not around. Fifth, it will be a long time before I have another slumber party for little girls.

Zed nearly failed algebra (8th grade honors math) last six weeks. This was the first time I’ve ever really had to ride him about his grades. He has taken on a lot more school work this year, with 3 honors classes, and he has been involved in athletics, which takes extra time. But he also lazes around a lot. Mostly he’s been a great teenager though. So far. Knock on wood. He picked it up, and we haven’t had any issues since. I know it will make you all jealous, but the worst problem I have with him is that he leaves his bike in the driveway. I know, I know. He’s too good!

Nick has been having some health issues, and near the end of the summer was diagnosed with Hemochromatosis. Basically my baby is Iron Man. Literally. He retains high levels of iron in his blood, which is extremely toxic, and can cause life-threatening side effects and diseases if not treated. Fortuately his diagnosis was made very early (I can be very persuasive) and tests revealed no damage to organs commonly affected. He has visisted a stream of doctors as a result, and we are still trying to get everything into balance through regular treatment. But he is still plagued by some of the side effects of the disorder, but is actually getting better, though some days it doesn’t seem that way. He has also gone back to school, and is working on finishing his associates before transferring to a four-year program.

And I have been working my tail off. And staying at very nice hotels when traveling. And meeting really cool people while I’m on the road. I’ve been sticking my neck out into some uncomfortable territory, creating a role, and lining myself up to be promoted into it. Which, as brave as I appear to be on the outside, I am really a scared little chicken-shit on the inside. The first time I gave my pitch I finished with a very wet shirt back and waistband. I hate it when I get all nervous and my voice wavers and my hands shake. I can do this dammit!

My birthday has come and gone as well. I’m now in my “mid-thirties” and I think I’m starting to show my age. Seems like the skin on the cheeks isn’t as smooth and shiney as it used to be. And my hands are starting to look old too. I’m moisturizing like a mad woman, trying to get back that baby smooth feel.

So all in all, yes Ben, I’m OK. Just busy living, turning my new house into a home, trying to bring home more bacon, and loving my family more and more every day. I’ll try to do a better job of being around. Things are staring to get interesting again, and I’m feeling pretty good after this post. Mwah!

April 23, 2008

Future Professional Soccer Player

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 9:07 pm

Elle’s 13th soccer season (in less than 4 years, 15 if you count the club team as separate seasons) ended last night. Starting in Kindergarden, shortly after we moved here, we joined up and were placed on a team. When I bought her jersey, it came down to her wrists. She’s still wearing the same jersey. Only now it doesn’t even cover her elbows. She’s gone from staring at the ball before kicking the ball six inches to being a tough goalie that can punt the ball to midfield. Ever since she started soccer, when you ask her what she’s going to be when she grows up, she smiles and responds with “A Professional Soccer Player!”.

At the end of regular season play, we were second in the league. The first place team had only had two goals scored on them all season. We scored one of them. We had a first round bye, playing our first game Saturday in mid-80 degree temps and winning 2-0. Our second game Sunday went into OTs, with us prevailing 3-1. Last night it was the Championship Game for all the marbles. Against the Number 1 team.

Elle was in goal the entire game. Usually she’s 1st half goalie, 2nd half mid-fielder or forward. The first half proceeded with some very physical (too physical IMO) play from the other team. Elle was going to have a busy night. Save after save after save.

And then I jinxed it. Saying something to another parent about not making mistakes in the goalie box. A rogue bounce that resulted in a handball. Inside the penalty area. Resulting in a penalty kick. i.e. One on One. Elle blocked the shot, which then rebounded off the goal post and into the goal. 1-0.

Shortly thereafter, we got a breakaway and scored ourselves. Elle made more saves. I lost count. Then there was a very bad decisions to ‘clear’ the ball directly in front of the goal, which allowed the other team to score. A few minutes later, our defense wandered up to midfield while 2 opposing team members dribbled the ball in tandem toward Elle. Another bad deflection landed in the goal. 3-1 at the end of the first half.

She was greatly upset after the second goal. The third one put her over the edge. Elle was devastated. During the half I gave her a pep talk. She is a great goalie. No one else on the team was willing to take the position she was in. But she wasn’t alone. Her defense had to do their job too. And they hadn’t done their job in the first half. She had done her best, and now the rest of the team had to step up.

The second half started with us dominating the play. We had several scoring opportunities that just missed. And then I guess we just pooped out. After several more saves, the defense disappeared again and left Elle all alone. Another 2-on-1 situation resulted in the 4th and final goal.

After the game there was no consoling her. She felt she had let her team down. She took the entire loss onto her shoulders. All of her team mates hugged her, patted her on the back. Other parents hugged her and took the time to tell her how well she played. It was the hardest game all season. On our way home our coach called and gave her more reassurances. He told her there was no one else he would ever want in goal but her.

Second in the league isn’t bad. The girls played their hearts out and gave their best effort. And everyone has to learn to win and lose. Its part of life.

I think this is going to be the last season for our rec team. We’ve played non-stop soccer since the Fall of ’05, with a few short breaks in between. Last summer we started with the club team, which has practice 3 times per week, plus games. Adding in the rec league, we cut one club practice and attended rec practice, plus games. Last night we actually had a conflict with Finals for the rec team and Semi-Finals for the club team. Its getting to be too much for her and us. And after 3rd grade, it’s hard to find a rec team. Most kids decide to either go select or give it up.

Although its the end of one era, we started another, and will continue down that road.

April 16, 2008

Green N’ Spring

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Interstellar Casa,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 10:41 pm

Despite the frequent storms we’ve had, overall its been a lovely spring.

A couple of weeks ago we sodded our back yard. No grass has existed in mass quantity in that back yard in quite some time. (That was a lot of in’s!) Part of it is the big tree, part of it was the dogs, part of it was that the yard is 35 years old. So Nick rented a tiller (which I know he enjoyed…using semi-heavy equipment), tilled up the dirt, we evened it out (mostely), and then ordered 1800 sq ft of Bermuda sod.

Then it rained. And rained some more. And we had a swamp. And then it dried out a little. So we laid some sod. All by ourselves. Nick, me, Zed & Elle. Yes, even Elle helped as much as she could. Zed was the hero though. That boy worked! I was super proud. The four of us laid the sod in about 5 hours. And we crashed.

We’ve been watering it religiously, and the yard is now GREEN! And beautiful! And soft! The grass is knitting together nicely, and we’ve even had to mow it already.

We have also de-leafed our yard (although the high winds and storms have put a lot back), planted some new annuals – pansies, marigolds, vinca, and something else I can’t remember, and my hostas and lillies are coming back in. I think the hostas doubled in size from last year. Sadly, the lillies aren’t coming back even. My bulbs on one side of the bed are doing much better than the other side. I can’t feed the small side enough to counteract the side that has the sewer cleanout though.

Our crown is in, our baseboards are down, trim is painted. A few touch-ups and a good house-cleaning and I’m ready to sign the listing papers. I’m soooo tired of spending money on this house (although it was the sales tax paid on all the building materials that pushed us into the refund category on our taxes – we’re getting $12 back – don’t everyone expect me to pick up the tab at once).

By next Tuesday the Spring soccer season will be over. Elle’s rec team is 7-1. I think we’re about even on wins and losses for our club team. Our rec team will most likely get 2nd place (again – the 1st place team has had 2 goals allowed on them all season long, 1 scored by us). Then, after a couple of weeks break, we’ll jump back into Summer Indoor soccer.

Zed’s new basketball team is 3-0. He’s learning a lot, and is finally being ‘coached’. His last team lost frequently (i.e. won 1 game) and lost big. After his first win on the new team, I asked him how he liked winning. He said ‘It’s better than losing!’. I’m super proud of him, because he’s practicing and playing hard. He wants to make the school team this fall, and is putting the effort forward.

48 days until I lose my baby boy and gain a teenager. Every day my heart breaks a little more…

April 11, 2008

Showering Sweet Raehan

Filed under: Family & Friends,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 6:00 am

It’s a baby shower for the eternally radiant Raehan! Along with Leanne, Kimberly, Vicki, Aka Monty, and Angie, we here invite you to drop by Ms. Raehan, admire her beautiful belly, and give her well-wishes on her new bundle of joy.

For those of you that don’t know Raehan, she is my idea of the essence of motherhood. Her two girls, Rachel and Hannah are two angels waiting to welcome their new sibling. They are both intelligent and happy girls. They say the funniest and most profound things for such young girls. And that can only come from a mother that encourages their creativity and playfulness.

In just a matter of weeks, their family of four becomes a family of five. The beaming glow of pregnancy will transition to the beaming glow of new motherhood. And I can think of no one better suited to that honor than Raehan.

So pop over to see her! Now, Go!

And if you would like to contribute to a gift for her sweet Baby #3, please go donate over at Petroville.

March 13, 2008


Filed under: Elle & Zed,Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,Mom Life,Mr. Wonderful — by InterstellarLass @ 2:10 am

There’s all kinds of progress going on around here.

Pop is making good progress with his therapy. He has a couple of ladies come a couple of times a week. One works his arms, the other works his legs. He’s more steady on his feet now, and can walk a little further than he could before.

Elle is making progress at school – with her new testing accommodations. A test that was administered in January was readministered in a more isolated setting just a few weeks later, and she increased her score by 20 points. TAKS scores come back week after next. Hopefully there was progress there too.

Elle is also making progress in soccer. She’s playing goalie fairly consistently, and improving her skills there. According to her team manager, she made many tough saves in last weekend’s indoor championship game, helping her team win. Friday night she and I are going to a district match between two of the area’s top high school girl’s teams.

Zed is making progress – growing up. Every day he looks more like a teenager. His grades remain great, he’s doing well in band, and he’s even making progress in athletics. He’s increasing his weight-lifting poundage capacity.

Zed is also making progress in the fantastic kid category. Of course, I’ve always thought he was fantastic. Most of the time. But he’s becoming more responsible and more helpful. And his dad finally noticed. For which I am glad, but I also throw huge kudos to Nick. He’s an amazing step-dad to my kids.

Nick is making progress on de-cluttering the house. The man is truly great at laundry, and when he sets his mind to it, he can clear a room in a matter of minutes.

Nick and I are both making progress on the house. After this weekend, we hope to have the house listed and a sign in the yard by Monday or Tuesday. Nope, I can’t belive we finally made it either. In the triangle of project management there are three keys – scope, cost, and time. They all impact each other in some way when one or another becomes a constraint. Don’t have the time? Better have lots of money and a little scope. Our constraint was cost. Therefore timeline extended. Ah well. Can’t change physics or the space-time continuum. It is what it is.

I’m making progress at work – when I’m not being pulled in four different directions. I’m finally loving my  job again. It’s keeping me busy, and even when I get a breath, new network configurations keep me from visting anyone that doesn’t have their own domain. Sigh.

And, despite my lack of updates, I’m making progress in the workout arena. Last week I was down 4 lbs. A drop in the bucket, but progress where I was seeing none, despite my effort.

Hopefully after we list I’ll have time to make progress and come around and visit a few people soon.

March 5, 2008

High Anxiety

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 1:24 pm

For those of you outside the great state of Texas, today is TAKS Day. The day when all 3rd grad students are subjected to the tortures rigors of the Reading TAKS test. Both Elle and I have been dreading this day for months.

I’ve mentioned before the differences in my two children. Like snowflakes, no two children are alike. I have one that is academically gifted, and one that struggles on a daily basis. One for whom A’s and Honors classes are the norm, and one for whom C’s are celebrated, B’s are miraculous victories and Title I and tutoring are the norm. The 100 on her science project is still on the refrigerator door, and will remain indefinitely.

Her first Practice Reading TAKS came home with a parent signature line, a requirement that she make ‘margin memos’ and a big, ugly 44 at the top of the paper. I was dumbfounded as to why Elle chose some of the answers she did. With no evidence to support 66% of her responses, I wondered if she read the questions at all. And if she did, did she not understand, give up, and hope that her stab-in-the-dark was right. We went over the questions, found the supporting evidence in the reading passages, and corrected her mistakes.

I went to the book store and found several home workbooks for her and I to do together in the evenings. Read the passages, note the paragraph numbers, read the questions, refer back to the passage, find the evidence, underline the evidence, find the answer. Lather, rinse, repeat. At least 3 nights a week we did this for the last 6 weeks.

Her last Practice Reading TAKS came home with a much sunnier prospect. An 89 was circled and WONDERFUL! was emblazoned in a slant across the upper left corner of the paper. How the teacher got to an 89 when no answers were marked wrong, I don’t know. I had to figure out the incorrect responses on my own. And even I, a lifetime reader, owner of a Bachelors degree in English, furrowed my brow and flipped from question to passage to question to passage several times before figuring out where they were going with a question.

The TAKS test in the state of Texas is a remnant of our former Govenor GWB, now President GWB, and his wreck reign over our state education system, springboarding his way to wreck reign over our national education system (among other mishaps as well). Everyone knows the term “Teaching to the test”. Texas has, for years, exemplified this in our daily, weekly, monthly, yearly cycle of this thing we call ‘education’. GWB’s Student Success Initiative and his No Child Left Behind act have left us at the mercy of this mad testing vortex in which our children are trapped. The results were so bad from the first year the TAKS was administered, they were completely discarded and the children that year were ‘exempted’ by the TEA, calling it a trial run and ignoring the deficiencies of the test. So they revised how the teach the test. And while results have improved, actual learning has sunk further into a black hole.

My daughter is not stupid. She does not have a low IQ. Her ability to grasp concepts in the real world and the daily intelligence she displays belie the fact that she has failed math for two successive 9-week grading periods, and barely passed all of her other subjects. I see the worksheets that come home (in which I find errors on a frequent basis). She does, I believe, have some kind of learning issue, and is slow in book learning. Combine that with ‘new math’, the mixed-whole/phonics reading method, being taught how to pass a single test, and teachers that can’t dare step outside of a rigid curriculum, and we get where we are today.

A bright, energetic, happy, outgoing child, reduced to tears the night before her test, worried at the outcome. And a mom, hurting on the inside for her child, who she sees trying her hardest, and still not succeeding. I’ve pushed for extra help – she’s in two kinds of reading and math tutoring, and we work at home, and still she struggles. GWB promised me that No Child would be left Behind. And yet I look at my 9-year old, barely holding on, facing possible retention if she fails And my options? Limited. Not able to afford private school, not able to home school. There are Charter Schools, themselves caught up in controversy, and the closest 20+ minutes from my house. Our school is rated Academically Acceptable, and our in-district transfer policy is not guaranteed. Rock and a hard place anyone?

This morning Elle seemed better than she was last night. She had her oatmeal, and probably a second breakfast at school courtesy of the TAKS test. She has some testing accommodations – small testing group, frequent breaks. My heart is still pounding for her. I’m sending her all the good karma I can muster. Whatever happens, I can guarantee you I won’t be leaving her behind.

February 10, 2008


Filed under: Elle & Zed,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 12:35 am

When I go to the gym, I usually try to go by myself. Sometimes I try to drag Nick, but usually that’s more trouble than it’s worth. I think I’ve wasted a few hundred dollars on gym fees for him, but I hope one day…

Zed will go with me every now and then. I kind of fibbed to the gym manager that Zed was 12 when he was really 11.5. But now he really is 12, so it’s all good. I was glad they didn’t ask for ID. But poor Elle has to make a visit to the gym daycare, at $2 per visit. She always wants to work out with me, but sadly it’s against the rules. And it’s not like she couldn’t do it. Every day she reports to me “I ran 35 laps in the gym today without stopping during after-school.” Next week she’s shooting for 50 laps without stopping. I have no clue how far it is around the gym, but I imagine than many laps is a fair distance.

When I saw the gym advertising the special Valentine’s couple’s yoga, and that the ‘couple’ could be husband/wife, friends, parents/children*, AND that *children must be at least 9, I knew who I wanted to take with me.

So Friday night, Elle and I went to yoga together. Everyone else in the class was husband and wife, even the instructor and her husband. But Elle didn’t get intimidated, and was really enjoying the class. We did individual poses, but also several poses that required the both of us to work together and communicate with each other. It was her first yoga class, so I had to help her with a few of the individual poses in addition to our ‘couples’ poses. The only pose we couldn’t really complete was the “Lizard Sitting On Rock”. Had I been the lizard, I would have squished my rock. We also had some difficulty with the Boat. We managed one leg, but not two. We did really well with the Tree pose, as well as a few others requiring us to balance.

The part I liked most though was at the end. The instructor came around with some hand oil, and we rubbed each other’s hands. Then we sat and looked into each others eyes as we held hands, and really reconnected. It was some of the best time she and I have spent together in a long time. I hugged her and told her thank you for coming with me. It was nice to be able to put the stress of the daily ‘find the backpack, sign the homework, get to soccer practice, feed me dinner’ grind on-hold and just enjoy each other.

January 29, 2008

King Solo

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:47 pm

Zed had his Winter Concert tonight, and he had a major solo in one of the pieces. Alright, so I exaggerate. A little. OK, a lot. But he did have a solo.

Thankfully we didn’t have to listen to the Beginner band. That torture was enforced last year when Zed was in Beginner band. I think they take pity on us and don’t require us to listen except at the Spring Concert. It was the ‘Performing bands’ tonight. Concert I, Concert II and Symphonic. I think the word ‘performing’ should be used a little less loosely for some of these kids. *cough* Concert I *cough*. They tried. I know.

Concert II and Symphonic bands were much better. The band directors are a hoot. The Symphonic director looks like George Carlin and takes band directing very seriously. The Concert I/II director is younger, nerdier, and related an awkward story about one of the pieces and a Simpson’s episode.

Zed’s solo came in a piece called “A Day In Space”. A flute lead in, Zed’s clarinet solo, followed by a trumpet, low horns, then the whole band. I couldn’t have been more proud. I’m sure I grinned stupidly the entire time, based on the weird look Nick gave me. At the end of the piece, all the soloists were recognized, and when Zed stood up, he grinned nervously. Poor kid hates attention.

I tried not to take too many pictures or clap too loudly. He is 12 now. Close to 13. Can’t embarass him. But I am so proud!

January 25, 2008

For Children Lost ~ An Appeal to Mothers

Filed under: Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:09 pm

Ms. Indigo dropped by with a link to her site and an appeal to post a message to get the word out about a project a Milwaukee artist has designed. The project sounds like a worthy cause. Read on.

I was reading a book called The Secret Life of Bees.  Fantastic book, you should read it if you haven’t already!  In it, one of the main characters began to build a wailing wall, a place in which she would leave all of her pain.  I immediately felt a connection with this idea and I haven’t been able to let go of it.  I feel this need to make one… and a need to build it for all mothers who have lost a child, regardless of how or how old they were.

I am an artist and mother of two. I have not lost a child, but it is my biggest fear, one that is always there in the back of my mind, and continuously shows up in my work. I could never have imagined that I would feel this kind of need to create such as open, community work based on that fear. Yet, I feel the need to create a place for mothers to go and leave their prayers, pain and fears … and all others who share that pain with them.

I am appealing to mothers who have lost a child of any age. If you or someone you know would be interested in having a space on this wall, please contact me. I will need to have contact information from you, the child’s first name and dates of life. The wall is to be constructed of molded rocks from Lake Michigan, found on the shores of Milwaukee. Each rock will be reconstructed out of clay with the name and dates of each child. Every rock fits in the palm of your hand. I hope to be able to hang the wall at the Cardinal Stritch Art Gallery in May (Cardinal Stritch University). As to what will be done with the wall after the gallery event, I am not sure. I would love to donate the wall to a public space we can all visit … and add more to the wall. Any suggestions are welcomed! Otherwise I would like to return each individual rock from the wall to the mothers that participate.

I can be contaced through email at: If you would like to participate, please contact me there first. Then if you would like to have a written prayer or letter to the child included in the wall, you can send that to: Wailing Wall, c/o Teri Wagner – Art Department, 6801 N. Yates Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53217.

I need to have many mothers respond to make this wall possible. Please tell everyone you know about the wall and how to become a part of it. Responses will be accepted through February 29, 2008.

Thank you,

Julie P., Milwaukee Artist 

January 12, 2008

If this is

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Family & Friends,Mom Life — by InterstellarLass @ 12:04 am

If this is what the year has in store for me, I’m in trouble. I took off the weeks of Christmas and New Years, and so Monday was my first day back. The last five days have felt like a month. Why I’m not consuming mass quantities of alcohol right now, I don’t know. I should be.

Elle got her palate expander on Thursday. It looks like this. The key turns the wheel rod and pushes the plates outward. I have to turn the rod once a day. Check out this creepy video that shows what it does! And it hurts her every time I turn the rod. Which if I don’t turn completely, will get stuck and we’ll have to go to the ortho to get it unstuck.

My poor baby cried when they put it in. She has a sensitive gag reflex and between the choking, and the crying and the tightness of the expander, she was quite upset once it was done. Since she’s on soft foods, she ate mac’n’cheese for dinner. But the macaroni noodles kept getting caught between her palate and the expander. And she broke down crying, asking me to take it out. She’s also having great difficultly talking and being understood, which is frustrating, and she also gets excessive buildup of saliva due to this device, so she’s slurping and drooling. Supposedly she’ll get used to it. I hope so. It’s going to help her tremendously in the future, and that’s what I keep telling her.

This weekend I get to (unexpectedly) go help my grandparents pack to move. My grandmother’s heart condition has gotten worse, and under doctor’s orders she and my grandfather have to move out of their 2-story condo. They bought a single story house, and rather than moving at the end of the month, the guy who owns their condo (that they’ve lived in for 17 years) gave them til the 16th to move out. A couple of 70-somethings, one with a bad heart, and one with diabetes, and they have less than two weeks to pack and move. Not what I wanted to do with my weekend.

And to top it off, the fantastic dinner I had planned tonight went all to hell. The crab cakes burned, the salmon didn’t cook right, the glazed parsnips caramelized to the pan, and my spinach cheese puff wouldn’t set.

Time for me to take a deep breath and hope that next week brings brighter news and events.

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