Thursday, January 29, 2015

Busier than ever with a graduate class

I'm a little overwhelmed at the moment, and while I should be utilizing my time to get actual work done, I'm going to blog.  Decompression is a necessity at the moment.

First, let me say that I am very thankful my husband is not one of those guys who makes snide comments all the time about wanting me to work full-time.  I think he sometimes wonders why our house is as messy as it is since I don't work full-time, but he keeps his lip zipped.  I do have two part-time paying jobs, after all, and a host of volunteer commitments for which I should be paid (if it were up to me in my own perfect world).  For the next 7 weeks I also have a graduate class.

Second, let me say that I don't understand how some folks work full-time, have children and take graduate classes on top of that.  They have my admiration.

I am only one week into the graduate course, and I'm already thinking that perhaps a person who refuses to get a smartphone is not the best candidate to take a class on mobile learning.  I just couldn't take another literature in the classroom course, and I would like to learn about some cool apps and sites that I can bring to use in the cottage school instruction/assignments.

With that being said, I am finding the course reading more dull than most of my craft knives.  With only 7(ish) days under my belt, I am not yet to the stage when I feel confident that I will be able to handle the class without too much angst.

Last week N was sick and only went to school on Friday.  It was at once monotonous and awesome.  Last week was also new basement floor installation so I was limited on what things I could get done around the house.

As a result of our confinement to the house, this week has felt and actually been crazy busy.  On Monday I dropped off over 200 items at the big kids' consignment sale.  Tuesday afternoon (and this afternoon) are the GEMS Club I've been coordinating with the elementary school's learning lab teacher.  Tuesday night was piano.  Last night was a Girl Scout meeting.  Today has been prep for tomorrow's teaching.  I've been burning the 10:45 oil working on the graduate class instead of reading for fun in bed.

I've also been working on a freelance article that involved numerous telephone interviews.

Burning the candle at all ends much?

It makes me think back to the days of the kids' infancies and toddlerhoods when my days were less busy but also so mentally boring I thought I would die.  I felt like so much depended on me being such a great, enthusiastic, be-all-for-my-kids mom that I couldn't relax, and I felt such guilt because I was often so terribly bored.

Blessedly, I am now relaxed around my kids, and I'm not worried about getting it all done in stellar fashion.  If I can get it all done at all, I think I'll feel pretty content.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jimmy crack corn, turned in middle school application, and I don't care

I wanted to get N's middle school application thingie off my mind.  It wasn't taking up much space, but my graduate class starts next week, so I will need all my reserves.

She was feeling punky this weekend (we now know she has a mild case of the flu) although she had a brief interlude of "not-as-catatonic" on Monday afternoon during which time I had her sit and go over her essay.

The profound topic for her consideration:  "Why I Want to Go to CroMS."
Gah.
I'm not sure if the point of this essay is a way for CroMS to get its jollies (they want me so badly) or a way for N to blather about how wonderful she is.  Either way, I think these essay topics are seriously lacking in originality.

I tried to stay as true to my word as possible in terms of having her "own it."  She completed the application in her 5th grade handwriting/printing.  Other than my signature, there is no indication I did anything.  She typed the essay, and I only very, very lightly edited.  It sounds like a 5th grader wrote it.  She completed the teacher recommendation form and took it into her teacher.  My contribution to that endeavor was filling out the envelope and putting a stamp on it.

I did run it into the building, but my motivation is just, as mentioned, to get it off my desk and out of my head.  It is done, and I really don't give a fig what happens.

I did have borderline crazy thoughts like, "What if they don't accept physically-turned in applications since the instruction form said to send to Blah-blah-blah?," but then I decided that if they throw out applications over stupid stuff like that then I really don't want N going there anyway.

So I guess sometime in May we'll find out something.  I'm good with whatever happens, and that isn't at all a bad place to be.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My kid gets on my nerves......until I'm around your kid

I really need to make that blog title into a t-shirt.

Being a parent can make a person pretty myopic.  You are used to what your kid is like, what your kid does.  If you are like me, you tend to imagine that other people's kids are somehow better, nicer, smarter.  They are the 6-Million-Dollar-Man version of children.

I imagine that other people's kids don't drone on and on in an endless earworm-like loop about Skylanders, Minecraft or American Girl this-and-that.  That other people's children are more regular hand-washers or teeth-brushers or vegetable-eaters.

But then I volunteer at my kids' school or I attend a Girl Scout event with my daughter and I see, quite clearly, that there are MORE ANNOYING children on the planet than my own offspring.

Although G talks nonstop about video games from the time his eyes open in the morning until the time he slips into the great and silent unconscious at night, although he has the ability to grate on every.single.nerve throughout my body at the exact same time, I find him far LESS irritating than other first graders in his class.  G has taken over 7 years to aggravate me as much as he does now; some of these kids seal the deal in under 5 minutes.

Give me sulky, moody middle schoolers any day of the week!  This past week when I volunteered, I was surrounded by whiney, needy, can't-keep-their-fingers-to-themselves children.  It brings out my ticks after so long.

Today, N and I went to a GS activity.  Sometimes I look at her and think, "She is so weird."  Not as weird and gawky as I was at a similar age, but weird and gawky in her own right.  But then I saw and had to listen to other girls who didn't have that gawkiness, who had, in my estimation, an over-abundance of self-esteem.  They talked as if everyone cared what they had to say, and they continued talking, completely oblivious to the fact that they were hogging the show and, perhaps, making the other girls who were new to the situation feel like complete morons.

Basically, they acted the way N does when we are at our little troop meetings, when it takes every fiber of my restraint to not knock her upside the head and tell her, "Quit trying to be a show-off.  You look like an ignorant ass!"

After listening to these girls, I was ever so thankful that my kid is gawky and awkward and the type of kid who limits her show-offy-ness to when her mother is troop leader every other week at meetings.

My kids don't have friends over terribly often but I've found that the kids they do hang-out with and have hung-out with generally don't get on my nerves.  But then, those kids are very much like my own kids.

In addition to making me feel less annoyed by my own children, being around other people's annoying children makes me less likely to fall into the "those other kids are awesome" trap to begin with.  When I do meet kids who seem too good to be true, I have to remember that they too have annoying attributes.  There is something they do that I'm just not privy to at the moment that would make my blood boil or make me roll my eyes or suffer various unpleasant responses.

It is nice to stand in my own pasture, recognizing that as much cow sh*t as there is here, there is as much, more or just different smelling stuff in the pastures next door and behind me.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

The OT continues...

G had his 1-year reevaluation for occupational therapy.  He will continue once a week sessions for at least another 6 months, although I'm anticipating another 12 to 18 months although he did improve in 4 of 6 categories.

He is now age-appropriate for fine motor integration and bilateral coordination which is great.  He remains weak in upper-limb coordination and balance although his therapist said balance is one of the last categories to see improvement so I shouldn't be worried about it.

He shows no issues at school.  He is reading at a beginning of 2nd grade level and has scored distinguished on both math and science assessments.  He loves to learn.

His teacher commented on his report card, "I'm looking forward to seeing his progress the second half of the year."  When I saw her in the hall I said, "I'm looking forward to meeting this G kid who is an angel at school because he ain't one at home."  

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping we could cease with OT.  In addition to being expensive, it is a job that falls on my shoulders, both taking him there and seeing that he does the at-home work.  But at the same time, knowing how much it has helped him, I think I would be a bit frightened to stop it.  Would the tantrums return?  I'm sure no matter when we stop, I will wonder if he will revert back somehow.

I find it always difficult to project to the future, to think of what he might be at age 10 or 12, to anticipate whether some of these developmental things will "catch-up" in time, although on a longer time continuum than other kids.  I try to remind myself that his issues are, all things considered, quite minor.

So we shall keep plugging along and see what another 6 months of therapy and maturity bring.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Going out as a 19-year-old versus going out as a 41-year-old

Last night I conducted a sociological study of sorts that was immensely interesting.  I conducted many of these in my late teens and early twenties.  Although I am a vastly different person than I was 20-odd years ago, I am a thinker, a reflector, and so I am pondering last night's events with as great of zeal as I did in the "good ole days."

The content of the reflections is markedly different.

When I was young, I went out partying to meet someone, with the hopes that I'd find some good-looking, smart, trustworthy, great-dancer of a guy who would fall in love with me and be with me forever.  The thought in my head was always, "What do these guys think of me?  Does anyone find me attractive?  Am I good enough?"

As a 41-year-old, married for 17 years with 3 kids gal, I went in looking to have fun with my mom-friends, with the intention of dancing.  A lot.  The thought in my head was, "I am so awesome and so much better looking than so many of these people.  For a mom of 3 kids, I am smokin' hot."

The reality is....I'm not smokin' hot.  I don't wear make-up.  I have short hair, which most men find a turn-off.  I wear glasses and look like a nerd.  But what I have now that I didn't have at 19 is a deep appreciation for myself as.I.am.  I'm sure of myself much of the time, and when I'm unsure I'm ok with admitting that.  If you don't like me....well, I really don't care.

I looked at the crowd differently, too.

My first impression was, "Dang, these guys here are old."  Lots of gray hair and facial wrinkles.  And then I remembered that my own face has lines that weren't in existence twenty years ago.  Oh, yeah.  I'm an old(er) fart as well.

The women in the crowd weren't competition as they would have been when I was younger.  I looked at them with less critical eyes.  Feeling sure of myself make me appreciate that I have nothing to fear from them.

It still had the feel of a meat market a bit and made me glad that I'm not 41-years-old and active in the dating scene.  Even though I feel more secure in myself, I'm sure a chunk of that comes from knowing I have someone at home who loves me, whom I don't think is going anywhere (mostly because he disliked dating even more than I did when he was younger).

There were a couple occasions when some dudes tried to start conversations or dance nearer to one of us than we'd like.  These gentlemen were probably very nice, but as I told my friends, "If anyone is gonna make me momentarily forget my wedding vows he is going to have to be  hunky as heck and a GREAT dancer."  And these guys were neither.

That sort of made me feel badly, made me feel as if I were back in middle school or something.  Using body language to let them know, "Um, guy, you should step off or back or something."

I danced and moved parts that haven't been sufficiently exercised in far too long, causing me to wake up this morning with a kink in my hips and a dire need for ibuprofen.  As a younger person, I seem to recall taking medication the morning after for a hangover, but that wasn't the case now.  Muscle atrophy is a bigger problem in mid-life, although I'm sure some of the people there tied one on pretty well.

I arrived home at 1:00 am and was woken up by both boys during the night and for the day at 6:15(ish).  At 8:00 am, I returned to my bed and slept until 11:15, causing me to be almost an hour late to pick N up from her sleepover.   The managing of children certainly wasn't an issue long ago.

My goal was to work on painting the basement today, but that plan has been revised.  My duff is sitting, drinking hot tea and trying to recover from a night of long-overdue fun with friends.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Yet another......graduation (a discussion of sentiment and semantics)

I have attended my children's preschool and kindergarten graduations.  This spring I will attend N's 5th grade graduation.  I have always been happy to see them sing or read or enjoy the feeling of having met a milestone--a year or two of work and learning.

But I have to balk at today's "graduation:"  N and her fellow 5th grade peers "graduated" from a drug & alcohol education class that lasted 10 weeks and was taught by local police.

Now this is not a criticism of N's school or teachers.  I love them.  Nor is it a criticism of drug & alcohol education programs.  Those are worthwhile.  Nor it is a criticism of police or local government, who sponsor the program.

It is a criticism of holding a graduation for a 10-week-long once-a-week class to which parents were invited and at which students received certificates and small trophies.

It was absurd.

I went to the "graduation" because parents were invited, and I would feel like a complete cad if I hadn't.  But I went grudgingly.  I didn't take my camera.  I didn't buy N a new outfit.  I didn't change out of my jeans.  I didn't buy her flowers (I did see one child who was given flowers).  I complained to at least 2 other parents about how goofy it was to be at this thing.

It wasn't a milestone, nor was it monumental.  I don't think 10 weeks' worth of anything is worth celebrating, especially not with a "graduation."

If they had called it a "completion ceremony," maybe my hackles wouldn't be up.  Maybe my issue is not with the thing as much as with what we call the thing?   There just can't be, nor should there be, so many dang graduations from things.

Of course, I'm peevish about graduations, in general.  I wore my "Liberal Arts Graduate:  Will Think For Food" t-shirt with jeans when I got my bachelor's degree because I was all grungy and angst-ridden about life in general.  I didn't even go through commencement ceremonies for my master's degree because I didn't care about the pomp and circumstance.  I had worked hard and it didn't matter if anyone knew it.  I KNEW it.  I had a paper diploma to prove it.  I didn't need to hear my name called and pay some ridiculous fee.

Even N said tonight, "That music they played was pretty weird, right?"
Smells like sentimentality to me.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

My problem with salespeople (Don't make me become an a$$)

My general rule of thumb is that if one person keeps having the same issue repeatedly with different people (like someone being married 4 times and repeatedly divorcing), then the common denominator person is the one with the problem.

Hi, I'm Carrie, and I have problems with salespeople.

It ain't a fun job to deal with me.  There is a very fine balance I expect, and I wrongly assume that salespeople are good enough "people readers" to understand me.  They don't.  If they do, they have my loyalty for life.

When D and I wanted to get rid of our first floor carpet, I called a local flooring company where the builder got the hardwood in our foyer.  I wanted to match all the flooring to that.  So I called and got Dennis.  He just happened to be the salesperson who answered the phone, and he handled all of that process.  He was ok.  I was very clear with him that we pay cash (no 6 months, same as cash stuff).

He referred to me as a "bean counter," which I am.  And this reference wouldn't have bothered me if he didn't, at six month intervals from them on out, email me about the status of my "bean pile" and whether I was ready to purchase more flooring.

"Is your bean pile big enough?"  he asked.

When I was ready to buy a remnant and have it made into a rug, I emailed him and went to the showroom.  But then he rubbed me the wrong way when he fussed at M for climbing on the rolls of carpet.  (Mind you, I have zero problem with someone else correcting my child if they are doing something they aren't supposed to do.  But it was the way he corrected M, who was 3 at the time.)

The combination of the bean emails and the gruff correction made me say "goodbye" to Dennis.

So when D and I wanted to look at laminate tile a few weeks ago we went to the same flooring company, but a different location.  I didn't want to deal with a Home Depot or Lowe's because our experience has been if you go asking specific questions and wanting actual informed explanation, you are gonna get dull stares at big box home supply stores (been there, done that with appliances).

Better to stick with specialists who know a little bit about the product.

So we got R who was very nice and helpful.  We took two samples home and within 36 hours I had emailed him and left a message on his cell phone about what we wanted.  Didn't hear anything.  So I called the store the following business day and got him.  He said he would come measure in 2 days.  On the day he was supposed to measure, a Friday, he emailed and said he was sick and could we tentatively reschedule for Monday.  No problem.

Monday came, and I emailed him about how he was feeling.  He said he was still sick and he'd call me soon.  Four days passed, and I heard nothing from him, which wouldn't be an issue except for the fact that the sale, which took $2 off per square foot, ended on Dec 31.  It was now Jan 2.

He had told me he could get the sales price, but he told me this on Dec 26.  I had nothing in writing showing that the sales price was locked in.

Is he dead?  Is he hospitalized?  Why can't he just touch base with me and let me know "Hey,  I'm still sick, but the sale price will be honored even though it will be into January before I can get there.  I will call you on X date."

So yesterday, I emailed him and said I was going to return the floor samples.  I also left a message on his work voice mail about returning the samples and YES, we want the floor if we can get the sales price.  Heard nothing.

When I returned the floor samples, the sales guy who was there, named Jim, asked, "So did you pick one?" to which I replied, "Yes, I know what I want, but I can't get the guy to come measure my floor."  The sales manager came over.  I explained that I hadn't heard from R in four days, and I was concerned because the sale ended Dec 31.  I explained that I knew R had been sick, but I had first took the floor sample home on Dec 21 and emailed him on the morning of Dec 23, and here it is Jan 2, and I'd like to put this baby to bed.  I said, "I know somebody wants my business, but I don't know if it is you," to which the sales manager replied, "Oh, we want your business."

This morning, at 7:50, I got an email from R asking if he could come measure today.  At 8:53, I got a phone call asking if he could come over in 15 minutes.  By 9:45 he had measured and was on his way into the office.

So I keep going over this:
Was I wrong for returning the samples and ultimately getting the sales manager involved even though that wasn't my intention?
Was this overreacting on my part?
I didn't march in with the samples, seek out the manager and lodge a complaint against R.
I was just going to return the samples and be on my way, leaving the onus on R to contact me and potentially lose the sale if he couldn't get the sales price.  But when asked a direct question, "Did you pick one?  Do you know what you want?"  I answered in my dissatisfied way because I was dissatisfied.

Basically, my desires for a salesperson are the same as my desires for a spouse.  I want someone responsive but not clingy and annoying.  I want someone who will give me specific dates and times for rendezvous and hold to them.  I want someone to make a commitment, put it in writing, and get 'er done in a timely manner.

(As D and I neared our 1-year dating anniversary, I was preparing to give him the "Either this is leading to marriage or I'm outta here" talk.  He proposed before I could give it.)

That isn't too much to ask for, is it?