Monthly Archives: May 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Big Doins

Big doins in Happy Volley!

It’s the first day of a big holiday weekend! My daughter Tory and I will be travelling to her brother’s Big Ten College so she can play in a huge East Coast volleyball tournament. She will be playing with her volleyball club’s 16s team. The team may get beat up a little bit, but the experience will be great. And the girls will get to meet and greet the number one women’s college volleyball players in the nation. That’s big!

State Sectional Final game today.

First, though, Tory’s high school softball team will be playing in the State Sectional championship game this afternoon at 4pm. Wish them luck! Good thing (for me anyway) is that Tory’s team will travel to the other team’s field and said field is about 45 minutes west of us. Anything west of us is good since as soon as the last softball is hit and the last out is made, Tory and I will be driving into the sunset toward volleyball land.

My Aunt Shirley and Uncle Chester will be meeting us at Big Ten College. I’m really excited to see them!! I will be staying in the dorms, and I’ve read that I won’t have internet access as it’s password protected.  If I don’t talk to you I hope you have fun, stay safe and are happy this weekend!

Where would we be without our veterans?

Hug a Veteran.

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Random Drug Testing of High School Athletes

Has  Your High School Athlete Been Chosen?

My daughter Tory’s high school softball team played another “States” sectional game on Tuesday. Last Friday, her coach told the team to report to the Athletic Director’s (AD) office on Monday morning. Tory told me that when she arrived two officials from the state athletic association were in the AD’s office along with the rest of the varsity team. After the officials explained what the gathering was about, they took out a piece of paper and called out the names of six players on the varsity roster; these six would have to submit to the random drug testing. No parents were notified ahead of time or up until this blog posting that their daughters might be/were drug tested.

As background, please know that at the beginning of their athletic season players and parents are required to sign a form giving permission to have a random drug test performed on the athlete if the team makes it to a State tournament game. If you don’t sign the form, your athlete is not allowed to play, at all, in any high school game.

“NJSIAA STEROID TESTING POLICY CONSENT TO RANDOM TESTING

“In Executive Order 72, issued December 20, 2005, Governor Richard Codey directed the New Jersey Department of Education to work in conjunction with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to develop and implement a program of random testing for steroids, of teams and individuals qualifying for championship games.

“Any student-athlete who possesses, distributes, ingests or otherwise uses any of the banned substances on the attached page, without written prescription by a fully-licensed physician, as recognized by the American Medical Association, to treat a medical condition, violates the NJSIAA’s sportsmanship rule, and is subject to NJSIAA penalties, including ineligibility from competition. The NJSIAA will test certain randomly selected individuals and teams that qualify for a state championship tournament or state championship competition for banned substances. The results of all tests shall be considered confidential and shall only be disclosed to the student, his or her parents and his or her school. No student may participate in NJSIAA competition unless the student and the student’s parent/guardian consent to random testing. (my emphasis here)

“By signing below, we consent to random testing in accordance with the NJSIAA steroid testing policy. We understand that, if the student or the student’s team qualifies for a state championship tournament or state championship competition, the student may be subject to testing for banned substances.

Signature of Student-Athlete                  Print Student-Athlete’s Name                  Date

Signature of Parent/Guardian                  Print Parent/Guardian’s Name                  Date

June, 2008”

Okay, I understand that. And I signed the form, as did Tory.  We didn’t think too much about it, and when Tory heard “rumors” last Friday that a drug test might be performed on Monday, she shrugged it off and went about her life. Guess what? She was one of six athletes chosen to be tested.

The six athletes chosen included two newly “pulled up” freshman players,  a sophomore, one junior and two seniors. Of the players chosen two are “starting varsity team” players. I have since learned that “random” refers to the timing of the test, not how the athletes are chosen.

According to Tory, the players were escorted by a female high school security guard and a female official from the NJSIAA one by one down the main hall of the high school to the girls’ bathroom. The official entered the bathroom with each girl while the guard locked the door and remained outside. The official put some blue dye in the toilet (to prevent the player from diluting her urine with toilet water) and asked that the stall door not be locked while the player peed in a beaker. The player then capped the beaker and carried her urine back down the main hall of the high school to the room where the other selected players and male NJSIAA official were waiting. Once back in the room the player was told to open the beaker, then the male official divided her urine into two beakers and immediately tested one beaker of urine for specific gravity, temperature, and the hydration level of the athlete. After that he took the untested beaker of urine, put it into a box and asked the athlete to seal it. The last athlete of the six got to watch this process for the five athletes who got tested before her and then herself.

Tory doesn’t rattle easily, nor is she quick to anger.  She called me after the process was completed and said, “That was the most humiliating thing I’ve ever had to do. I had to walk through the main hall of my high school carrying my urine and escorted by a high school security guard and an official from the NJSIAA.”

She said students stared at her. She said the news spread very quickly. Tory said when she attended her afternoon classes she was asked by friends and acquaintances why she was being tested for drugs. The students had either seen or heard about the escorts, has either seen or heard about the urine samples and were generally curious.

I guess it’s okay though since

The results of all tests shall be considered confidential and shall only be disclosed to the student, his or her parents and his or her school.

Many adults would shrug off the urine carrying part of this story as no big deal. Let me tell you, though, that some female teenagers don’t. They don’t like being made into a public spectacle. They don’t like looking “guilty.” A large portion of the student population either saw or heard about the six being tested.  Some of the athletes walked the hall during class changes.

Is this process really "confidential?"

If random drug testing is an important part of playing in “States,” then these athletes should have been given what I would consider true confidentiality.

Strike 1: The AD and NJSIAA officials should not have had the entire team present when they called out the names of the six to be tested. The athletes should have been called in individually, told individually, and either tested or released individually.  That’s confidential, at least to me.

Strike 2: Being escorted by a high school security guard and an NJSIAA to use the public toilet located at the opposite end of a very long main high school hallway is not very confidential. A private bathroom should have been secured or at least a closer “holding room” to the public toilet to avoid the main hall walk for each athlete. The nurse’s office has a private toilet. Other areas of the high school do too. And the AD knew last Friday that the testing would occur.

Strike 3: What if? What if one or more of the athletes tested has a banned substance in her body? Is this when the “confidentiality” part of the agreement kicks in? After you’ve been named in front of the rest of your team? After you’ve been escorted through your high school hallways carrying your urine and accompanied by state and local officials? After many students in the general population of your school know which six athletes were tested?

What is “confidential?” And is this process handled the same “confidential” way at other high schools?

P.S. Tory’s team beat a very good opponent in the semifinals on Tuesday and will advance to sectional finals play on Friday. The random drug test results will be available in two weeks.

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Mulch

Lots and LOTS of Mulch

The only mulch we use. It doesn't have weed seeds or fungus.

This past weekend my husband Mike and I mulched. Well, actually, I would drive and get the mulch and Mike would spread it around, and around, and around.  It’s an annual rite in our family: Springtime is mulch time. Our teenagers, based on their past experiences with mulch, extreme filth and extreme odor, made themselves scarce this year; they worked elsewhere, for cash.

We picked up 55 bags of mulch on Friday. My son Max and I went to a local garden center and loaded 25 bags into Mike’s old Ford Explorer and 30 bags into my Honda Pilot. Max, in his usual fashion, went speeding down the road, no problem. I, on the other hand, swayed my way home like a hula skirt gone wild on the hips of a talented island maiden.  After arriving home safely Max and I figured I came thisclose to blowing the tires on the Pilot after reading the vehicle’s maximum weight load on the inside of the driver’s side door.

On Saturday, I weeded and weeded. Then I Preened and Preened. (No, I didn’t stand in front of a mirror admiring myself like parrots do. Preen is a pre-emergent herbicide that I spread around after I weed, but before Mike mulches; it cuts down on weeds. Corn gluten is the organic alternative, but try to find that stuff in urban Northern New Jersey.)

Once Mike arrived home after his Saturday morning race (for those interested, he came in second in his age group.), we drove back to the garden center and picked up 30 more bags of mulch. We drove home, unloaded them and drove back to the garden center. We bought 30 more bags, drove home and unloaded them too.

A mere fraction of the mulch being used.

At this point Mike the Mulch Man began to mulch in earnest. He mulched around the driveway beds. He mulched the two front beds next to the house. He mulched his way around the huge oak tree. He mulched around the hollies to the east. He mulched around the hollies to the west. He fell over tired after about 5 hours.

The mulching man begins.

On Sunday, after church we hopped in the old Explorer and drove back to the garden center. We bought 30 more bags of mulch, drove home and unloaded them, then made one more trip for another 30 bags. Are you tired yet? I was exhausted by that time!

Mike the Mulch Man continued on his mission to mulch until no bare dirt remained to be seen. Or until he caught up to where I finished weeding. He mulched like a madman. And he fell over tired after about 5 hours. I put a beer in his cramped, filthy right hand in a vain attempt to revive him.

Squatting for hours. It's a tedious job, but someone has to do it.

I still have weeding to do and Mike still has mulching to do. I will weed today if the rain holds off. Mike will have to wait until Saturday to mulch again.

By the way, my advice is to never use your ‘good’ vehicle to transport mulch. Some of the mulch we transported in the Pilot was wet. The stinky juice oozed out of the bags, and settled in the carpeting in the back seat. The stench in my vehicle can only be likened to dog poop. . . from a very BIG, very SICK dog! And this is after mopping it up with a roll of paper towels and half a can of Lysol.

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Another Article on More.com!

It’s a Three-peat!

This is exciting news that I want to share!

Remember my March 3rd and 13th posts about “Riding Shotgun” and “Bumpin’ Down the Road” with my daughter Tory in her beloved VW Bug Sunny? Well, I reworked them into an article and sent it in to  More magazine’s on-line magazine for consideration. I just received an email that More.com has published the article!

http://www.more.com/2051/15586-why-my-daughter-s-driving-scares

It’s pretty exciting for me to see iterations of three of my blog posts reprinted on More’s web site as articles! I hope you share in my excitement!!

Happy Friday, my friends!

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It’s Peony Season

An Olfactory Celebration

We have to get up now?

Brutus and T-Rex, my Siamese bed buddies, and I had another good night’s sleep last night, and when we woke up this morning, the sun was shining brightly, lighting the bedroom with a golden glow.

“Time to weed,” I thought, hopping out of bed and into my gardening clothes: old jeans, long-sleeved shirt and baseball hat. The cats stared at me, unused to seeing rapid movement from me so early in the morning.

I walked outside, stretched, and inhaled. And a grin spread across my face. I inhaled again.

“Yes! “I thought. “They’re blooming!”

Gorgeous large puffy white blooms!

The peonies are blooming. Their spicy, peppery, sort of sweet scent is filling the air around our house. Following my nose, I walked over to some pink Sara Bernhard’s, stooped low and sniffed a big sniff. Then I walked a little further and stooped again; this time to inhale the fragrance of the white Festiva Maxima. I sniffed the bright pink single peony whose name I can’t remember offhand.

I walked on to the iron fence where I sniffed and clipped, and sniffed and clipped big fluffy white peony blooms for vases in the bathroom and kitchen.

I can't remember her name. Help, anyone?

After my peony sniff fest I got down to the work of the day: I weeded and raked around the roses — most also now in bloom –on the east side of the house. I had plenty of company, although no peonies!

The Siamese alternately napped and talked to me from their open window.

My lovely friend Constance Spry, an old-fashioned charmer who blooms only once a year, said, “It’s good to be back.”

Constance Spry is an old rose that looks a lot like a peony to me!

The Baby Blanket climbing roses around the arbor, not quite in bloom, whispered softly, “Almost. Almost.”

The four pink tree roses, one of whom suffered severely from the harsh winter winds and cold, murmured, “It was a tough winter, but we think we made it.”

The Ladies in Waiting, all peachy, orangey and fluffy, didn’t speak, but they did twirl their petals at the slightest wind.

I weeded, pruned and raked for more than four hours surrounded by my old friends.

All the ladies are pruned and happy now. Gotta work on the lavender next!

Bliss.

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Sleep

How Much Is Enough?

How Much Sleep Do YOU Get?

Sleep. Most times when I say the word “sleep” out loud I want to go upstairs and crawl right into my bed. I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. My eyes are gritty. My smile is sagging. And my body aches. Perhaps I need some uninterrupted, wake-up-without-an-alarm sleep.

<sigh>

Trying to lasso my daughter Tory’s ever-changing schedule is a challenge. Rarely, I get to stay home for an entire evening. Mostly, I drive (or supervise her driving) from place to place or event to event until after 9 pm.

Last night with “nothing to do,” I crawled into bed at 8:15 pm.  I flipped through a catalog for all of 3 minutes before I turned out the light. As if by magic our two faithful Siamese, Brutus and T-Rex, appeared and hopped onto the bed with me.

Standing on my chest, eye to eye, Brutus stared at me. He sniffed my nose, licked it lightly, then settled in the crook of my arm for what I am sure he hoped would be a long night’s sleep.

Brutus comes running whenever I arrive home. His hobby is sleeping with me.

T-Rex, not to be left out, hopped on my chest, yawned in my face, then plastered himself along my other side, from chest to knee.

My other faithful friend. Of course, he's always looking for food so maybe that's why he hangs out with me.

They had spoken.

It was bedtime.

So we slept.

Soundly.

P.S. In “My World and Welcome to It” (to your right) I uploaded a video of T-Rex you might find amusing. Every morning I put my vitamins on a napkin on the kitchen island and every morning he tries to hunt down and eat my cod liver oil capsule.

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Barney’s Cleanup Song?

Uh, That’s So Not Me, But I Was Singing Anyway

I was happy to see the last of Barney.

I remember Barney the purple dinosaur singing, “Clean up. Clean up. Everybody. Everywhere. Clean up. Clean up. Everybody do your share.

That ‘s so not my world anymore, but the song played in an endless loop in my head as my husband Mike and I unloaded my Honda Pilot on Saturday late afternoon.

One Honda Pilot loaded to the gills with leftovers* to put away from the high school volleyball car wash I supervised:

2 long hoses (emptied of dribbles)

5 bottles of car cleanser (packed away for the next(!!) time)

3 bottles of half-used Windex and a gallon of backup supply (you didn’t think I planned for heavy Windex usage?!)

4 double rolls of Bounty towels (hey, we only used 3)

4 filthy tire scrubbers (scrubbed clean and stored)

9 filthy sponges (scrubbed clean and stored)

6 buckets (scrubbed clean and stored—see a pattern here?)

1 large trash bag

10 posters advertising said car wash (stored for the next(!!) time)

1 permit from the local Board of Ed

18 filthy towels (bleached, washed and stored for the next(!!) time)

Then I put away:

2 now-broken hose nozzles

1 card table

3 folding chairs

1 cooler

2 volleyballs

1 roll double-sided tape,

1 pir of scissors

1 slightly used can of suntan lotion

2 empty pans of brownies

2 empty gallon containers of homemade lemonade

* Please note that I did all the washing up, cleaning up, drying out, putting away, and any other manual labor.

It’s what Moms do, right?

Right?

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