This is the first Thanksgiving in some 30 years that I spent without Laura.  She’s away with Bethany and her Mom at a Rideout family reunion in Phoenix.  We miss her!  My parents took care of me and the boys – God knows we’d probably starve otherwise!  Only five more days to fend for myself.

The day started with the annual Grace Church Thanksgiving Service, this year next door at Mt. Zion AME.  (We’ve been out of our sanctuary since September due to damage from the 8/23 earthquake, which caused the clerestory walls to separate and be judged as potentially unstable.)  We had a small choir today, 15 compared to our normal 30, but sounded good.  It was nice to sing from the front of the church instead of the rear balcony, as we have been over at St. Mary’s the last couple months.  Church politics in the “Episcopal” Diocese of SC have been really irritating lately, so it was good to have a quiet, positive service.

The next few weeks are one of our busy seasons at Grace.  Advent Lessons and Carols are Sunday night at St. Matthew’s Church.  I really look forward to singing with Scott Bennett playing a full-size organ again.

We got to my parent’s house in Mt. Pleasant around noon, armed with Dunkin’ Donuts.  I for one am pleased that some businesses choose to be open this year on Thanksgiving.  Mom prepared a great feast, even appropriately sized for the 6 of us (Mom, Dad, Grandma H, Alex, Ben, me).  Mom usually cooks for 20, even when it’s just the 3 of them!

We watched football, CofC Basketball (lost to UCF in the Bahamas), and then Dirty Harry.  A fine holiday film, you might think!   I needed my boys to understand the reference “You’ve got to be asking yourself, ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, Punk?”

I finally gave in to Ben’s frequent calls to return home (which started on the steps before we entered the house at 12!)  I’ve been catching up with a much more prolific friend (see Limeguy’s blog), and realized what a slacker I’ve been here.  I usually rely on Facebook and an occasional Foursquare post to communicate, and haven’t had much to say.  Sorry.

There have been lots of things going on here in beautiful Charleston.  You should come and visit sometime.  Before we kick out those cruise ships ruining the view near the waterfront on the peninsula.  (I really like seeing them.)

I’ve been taking my second course at the College of Charleston, Object-Oriented Programming with Java.  The last time I programmed full-time was nearly 20 years ago, back before most of this technology existed. I’m finally getting to a place where I don’t feel like a complete idiot with the language – just a rank amateur.  Hopefully I’ll feel a touch more accomplished after I finish coding the windows for my semester project by Tuesday night, and pass the final on Thursday.

Fortunately, my load at the College is starting to lighten a little.  We hired on a new supervisor for me, and a new account administrator as well.  Both are working out well, allowing me to breathe a bit.  They even pledged to take the inevitable support calls this weekend – first time in years!

I have plenty swirling around my little head thanks to work, school, the kids, figuring out how to get through the next few days, church politics, continuing inner conflict about internet piracy, etc.  Since I probably lost you in the first paragraph or so, I’ll save that for another time.

Should I be mad / life

As I took a quick breakfast break this morning, I pondered:
– I got angry last night thanks to a misunderstanding with my daughter. She attended a school function (30 minutes away from home). When I got home at 7:15, my wife told me Bethany would need a pickup at 8:00 at school, but that she (Laura) would get up and go. At 7:50, I learned that the pickup would now be from a friend’s house (at least 20 minutes away) at 8:30. When we got to the friend’s house at 8:25, we learned that Bethany hadn’t even left school yet (20 minutes from that spot.) We told her to call when she left, and started driving. Her call came 5 minutes before we arrived at the school, and we told her to stay put. By this point, Laura and I were both unhappy. Bethany’s first words “is everyone happy?” did not get the response she wanted. She felt I was unreasonable for not calling her before we left for the friend’s house.
– The young girls are in full bloom here in Charleston. If you like attractive young women, this can be a real job benefit or curse here. I just remember, “I’m old; I’m married; I love my wife!” I feel like there’s practically nothing appealing about this nearly 50 year-old, pudgy gray-haired guy, but Laura says she finds me appealing. I try, unsuccessfully more often than I’d like, to avoid oggling. Damn, why couldn’t I be gay for a few moments? (CofC is 66% female, and I think most of the guys look like slobs.) Anyway, most of these young women are not fully cooked yet – most would run away upon viewing a drum corps show, a church choral performance, or my empty bank account! My wife wouldn’t, except maybe from the empty checkbook …
– Services for the disabled and poor. As I walked over to church Wednesday, I passed a person with a severely disabled child in a motorized wheelchair. The child (I think it was a young person) was grunting or yelping. I wanted to stop, but felt it would be an intrusion. I realized a couple minutes later that they were here to protest our governor’s town hall meeting, since she is strongly in favor of balancing our budget by cutting medicaid and services for the disabled, not to mention education at all levels. I couldn’t help but feel sad – if you have a disabled child, you understand the continuous challenge of life and advocacy for your child. But it seems like if you don’t, and/or you are a Republican, that challenge is too bad, but not your problem. (We know many caring people who don’t hold that view.) This whole budget cutting madness brings out the worst in people. “Hard choices”, “spending beyond our means”, “just because we started this program doesn’t mean it should stay forever” are all just some of the refrains. The cutting always seems to be driven by people who want to protect their money. I could go on a rant here, but am on the losing side. Ultimately it’s people like that child and my son that get hurt.

That’s enough for now. Anyone care?

Time flies

It’s been nearly a year since I posted anything in the blog section of this space – hard for me to believe.  I have put up a couple photo albums since then, and I’ve also been playing with other sites like Facebook and MySpace.  Not to mention being a little busy with life as usual …
I just posted photos of Bethany’s SAIL class presentation – "Electric City", the culmination of a months-long project to learn about the architecture of Charleston.  Bethany built a scale model from scratch of the Heyward-Washington House, a historic home on Church Street in Charleston that George Washington stayed at briefly in 1791.  They learned about architecture, took a field trip to the sites (the class also did the Hibernian Hall, French Hugonot Church, Powder Magazine, Rainbow Row and an original pink colonial house near the river,) then designed and built the models to scale.  They also installed electric lighting inside each model!
I also posted pictures from Alex’s first Prom.  The 2007 School of the Arts Prom was held in late April at the SC Aquarium.  Alex was invited by Lynne, a slightly older theater major in his class.  In the process, we’ve actually witnessed Alex taking and making phone calls and having conversations!  "Social Interaction" has been a battle cry all year for Alex, and was actually one of his goals for the year.

Lowcountry Live picture

As part of the big push to sell Girl Scout Cookies in the Charleston area, my daughter Bethany’s troop was invited to attend a broadcast of Lowcountry Live, a morning news and variety show on WCIV-TV, the local ABC affiliate.  I had a blast, watching half of the program in the studio and half from the control room, plus I got to see the master control room and talk with the operator about how they handle HDTV.  We took this picture after the show, which they do in the same studio as their newscasts (on the other side of the studio).

Waking up

Has this ever happened to you?
Laura woke up to the sound of the radio, and yelled for the kids to get up to get ready for their school buses.  Usually this is my thing in the morning – the alarm goes off at 6:30; I trot over to each room to wake the children, who ignore me and stay asleep;  I let the dog out, and then go back to bed until the next alarm at 6:45.  With that alarm, I push harder, and the kids still ignore me.  The drop-dead departure time for Bethany’s bus is 6:55 – any later and it roars by without stopping – so we usually need to drive her in, which she prefers anyway.  We have to be on the road by 7:00 to make Alex’s bus, which leaves from a store parking lot 10 minutes away at 7:10.  We’ve had to drive him the full 1/2 hour to school too many times, because he nearly always drags out actual movement and preparation until the last second.

Anyway, I got up, let the dog and cat out, and woke the kids, telling them that it was :39 and they needed to get up right away, leaving all of the lights on.  Then, I came back to my room, where I checked the time:  2:41 AM !  I quickly told the kids to go back to sleep, killed the lights, and went back to bed.

What happened?  Our other cat, Rebecca, has gotten into the initially cute habit of resting on top of the clock-radio.  She frequently hits the on and off buttons, although hadn’t done so early in the morning like this before.  Laura heard the music, but didn’t look at the time before waking us.

39, wait, 40 …

Laura tackled the kitchen on Saturday, and found 40, count-em, 40 boxes (and boxless bags) of open cereal!  Some of this stuff was old, maybe pre-2002.  This doesn’t count unopened boxes, which are both in the kitchen and in the garage.  How did this happen?  Children … (and their parents …)  No wonder we haven’t had room in the cabinets for legitimate food.

Schroeder family trip to L.A.

My brother Mark sent pictures from the family’s recent trek to see my brother Steve in Los Angeles, CA, over the Memorial Day weekend.  Mom & Dad went for the first time (he’s only been there about 10 years!).  I couldn’t make it due to fiscal constraints and concert performances scheduled (since canceled due to another trip), and my brother David also couldn’t come out.  Still, it was a great trip for them.  I’ve attached a few for your perusal.

BTW, the thin connection with Mr. Cruise is that Tom Mapother graduated from my alma mater, Glen Ridge High School, Glen Ridge NJ in my brother Mark’s class of 1980.  My wife worked out in the school weight room with him occasionally.  He may have even played roller hockey on our tennis court at some point.  I doubt he would recognize any of us now, but Steve frequently cites Tom’s story as his inspiration for his acting career.