Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Something very important in a marriage

A FB friend posted an update about meeting an elderly couple at an airport who have been married 56 years.  She said couples from back in the day knew how to do it, and couples nowadays don't.

On some levels, I agree.

We have long been a disposable society.  Get one plastic fork for the entree, use it, toss it, and then get another plastic fork for dessert.  But we are also a "next best thing" society.  I mean, one must get a new cell phone even if the current cell phone one has works fine.  Or maybe works 93% fine.  We are in a constant loop of replacing stuff we have even if what we have doesn't have holes in it or hasn't completely stopped working and really, truly does need to be replaced.

D and I will celebrate 14 years of marriage in the fall, and I think part of the reason we stay together is because I am a "It's not better than what I have" person, and he is a "I like to eat Raisin Bran person."

Whenever I feel frustrated with him or marriage in general, I remind myself that if I didn't have him, I would likely have someone else who would do things that would irritate me and likely in ways that irritate me far worse than the ways in which D irritates me.  If you live with another human being every day for years upon years, they are gonna irritate you.  If I didn't have D, I might have someone who watches sports constantly.  Or demands sex 3 times a week.  Or harasses me to work full-time and bring in some more money.

If D didn't have me, he might have someone who expects him to go shopping with her.  Or wants to work full-time outside the home and expects him to pick up the slack.  Or talks and talks in an endless chatter that never stops.

I'll keep what I have, thank you very much.

D stays with me because he has to be absolutely, utterly stinking miserable for him to make changes in his life.  He likes routine (even more than me, I think).  Anyone who only recently requested granola for breakfast after having eaten Raisin Bran every morning for years is not going to ditch his wife.  (At least he better not.)

My parents will celebrate 40 years of marriage this fall.  Before D's dad died in 2004, he and my MIL had been married 37 years.  So D and I learned something from them.

And one thing I think both of us learned is to keep our mouths shut.  Sure, D and I get frustrated with each other.  We both mumble very, very quietly under our breath at times.  But yammering about how annoying the other person is doesn't engender affection or loyalty or love.  Complaining to each other about each other doesn't change each other.  It just pisses each other off.

Sure, I could say to D every time I do laundry, "You never fling your socks all the way out after you take them off so they end up in a bunch and stay wet longer."  But who cares?  I can fling them out myself.  Or they can stay bunched up and perhaps never get fully clean at the toes.  They aren't my socks, after all.  After doing his laundry for almost 14 years, I should know by now that this is the way he takes off his socks, and he's not going to change.

And is it really worth having a discussion about anyway?
(I end up flinging food particles on our bathroom mirror when I floss my teeth and he doesn't say anything about that.  That's just the way I floss my teeth, and after 14+ years he knows that isn't going to change either.)

Being content with what (and who) you have.  
Keeping your pie hole shut.

Secrets to a long, mostly happy marriage. 

Being who you are is not a disorder

I read this line in Mary Karr's memoir Lit, but it is originally from Franz Wright's Pediatric Suicide.  This line resonates with me.  While most of the time I have what I think is a very strong sense of self and high esteem, there are times when I feel very uncertain of myself.

Right now, I've got a couple things going on in which I am planning activities....making phone calls, sending in paperwork, selecting options. And I am having to touch base with folks to keep them apprised as well as ask for their input.  Because I stay-at-home with the kids, I am able to do this on and off throughout the day---shoot people emails, research stuff online, make phone calls.

On highly productive days (and by this I mean when both boys nap), I am a whirlwind of activity and accomplishment.  But I find myself almost apologizing for my productivity.  I find that the people with whom I'm dealing, who work full-time outside the home and have kids, seem mostly annoyed with what I am doing.  When I call to update them or get their opinions, I seem to get this tone of "I work a REAL JOB and don't have time to dither with your little 'projects,' Carrie."

And yes, they are projects.....for the kids, mostly, but for other folks as well.  They are extras.  Doing them doesn't put food on the table or money in the bank.  I get that. (Which is why I primarily send emails so that I'm not interrupting people's real lives.)

But that is why I stay home.  So I have time to do all the things that make life immensely better for most people.  I mean, if everyone who volunteers stopped volunteering the world would be a far suckier place.  School volunteers and Girl Scout volunteers and library volunteers and Meals on Wheels volunteers???

I hate feeling apologetic for doing what I do.  Because it does matter.  And it is important.  And I do what I do very well.  I am "on it," just as I was when I worked full-time outside the home and was what was considered in economic statistics to be a "legitimate" contributor to society.

Maybe my persistence in getting things done, checking things off my list, staying on top of things, reminds me somehow of when I was a kid and a neighbor's granddaughter said she would teach me how to do a backbend.  She told me if I did it, she would give me a prize.  So I kept working on it, but I also kept asking over and over again if she was really going to get me a prize.  (I see this same OCD persistence in G, who seems to get on a loop of thought and cannot let it go.)

In the end, she didn't get me a prize because she said I bugged her too much about it.  At almost 40 years old, I still carry this around with me and am reminded of it at times like these, when I feel I am being annoying to others.  Not because I am intentionally trying to bug them.  But because I am being who I am.

I need a refreshing jolt of "They are just jealous" to heave myself out of this low self-esteem moment.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Entitlements aren't just for the poor

I seem to hear a lot of grousing about entitlements and socialism and Barack Obama.  As I've mentioned before, I do strongly believe in personal fiscal responsibility---living within your means, not buying on credit unless you can pay for it within the month, paying oneself first via savings.

But I also think the term "entitlements" is used very, very loosely by most people.  Basically in the current lingo, an entitlement is only a benefit that someone else gets that you don't.  And that someone is necessarily lazy or poor or stupid because he or she gets said entitlement.

For example, if someone qualifies to get a free cell phone (this is my favorite "example" thrown around of how Obama is a socialist), this is an entitlement.  (Mind you, the person who qualifies has to be at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines, which for a family of 4 would be $30,173).  But if someone is able to deduct the mortgage interest on their home loan, that is not an entitlement.

Or at least this is the argument I hear.

An entitlement according to Meriam Webster is a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group.

Could the argument be made, then, that the IRS is providing a financial benefit to members of a specified group, i.e, homeowners?
Why sure.
Oh but I forgot.  An entitlement is only an entitlement if it's not your entitlement.

I recently had a discussion with a friend that somehow got us discussing how our local library system has been making upgrades to libraries in some of the "poorer" neighborhoods in the metro area.  My friend didn't think this was fair.  I understood her point, but I politely (or at least I hope I was polite) disagreed.

There are libraries in the wealthier sections of the city, and while they are slated to be redone eventually, I do think the older, poorer libraries need to refurbished first.  Because people in the poorer sections of town rely on their libraries far more than the people in wealthier sections rely on theirs.  I could decide NEVER to take my kids to the library ever again, and they would still have internet access at home and tons of books.  I take my kids to the library for variety, not necessity.

If a person is upper middle class, at least where I live, there generally seems to be the mindset that "I want a safe neighborhood to live in, where everyone maintains their home and property values go up every single year and everyone pays their homeowners dues and there is a Kroger or Whole Foods within a 10-mile drive and my children do not ever have to get on a bus and be sent to a school that is 45 minutes away."

I am certainly guilty of having this thought (particularly the home maintenance part).

But that is an entitled feeling.  Feeling that you, because you have a degree or make a certain amount of money or work hard or were born on a full moon, deserve something from the government or the school system or life in general.

If I were working right now, based on my master's degree and teaching experience, I would make a little over $49,000 a year.  Even if I were a single mom with 3 kids, I wouldn't qualify for a free cell phone per the federal guidelines.  But I have a master's degree, so 6 YEARS of higher education.

Let's say, then, that someone who dropped out of college and got their GED works full-time as an aide at a nursing home.  A difficult job and certainly one that is greatly needed.  That person would likely make $20,000 a year if he/she was certified.  Someone working in dietary would make around $16,000.

I'm sorry, but someone raising a couple kids on his/her own (or hell, even NOT on his/her own but with a spouse who has similar employment) can't do a whole lot of anything on under $22,350 a year (which is the federal poverty guideline for 2011 for a family of 4.)

And this is what a whole lot of people forget when they get into this entitlement argument.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let's not forget the girl

Because I was gonna go to bed after posting about the boys, but I felt pangs of guilt about not writing about N.....and lord knows it ain't good to lay in bed with guilt in one's heart.

When N was little, she was reserved and clung to my legs at every new situation and person.  It drove me bonkers.

Now, at age 7 (or almost 7-and-a-half, as she likes to remind me), she talks to everyone and anyone and runs her mouth a zillion miles a minute.  About what?  I have absolutely no clue, but she is yappin' nonetheless.

When she was little I called her Bug.  She recently asked if I would start calling her that again, and I told her I would, although I thought "Mouth" or "Fidget" would be more appropriate given her chattiness and her ability to not sit still for even 3 minutes at mealtimes.

My big girl and first baby started second grade this past week.
I feel like I should just go ahead and pull out my wedding dress for her to try on.
Time is flying, especially when you have a 2nd grader jawin' at ya constantly.

The other insane boy in the house

By 7:30 a.m. yesterday morning, I had posted on Facebook that I had to use tweezers to fish G's Singulair tablet from his nostril.

By 1:30 p.m., I had to whisk him out of Hancock Fabrics and back home due to core meltdown.   Once I got him settled in bed he fell asleep in exactly six minutes.  Nevermind that he had adamantly refused to take a nap just 45 minutes prior.

Yesterday he also pushed M off the couch so hard that we all heard M's head smack against the floor.  That was the worst of the abuse M got at G's hands yesterday, but it wasn't the first or the last time M came running to me crying in that 24-hour period known as August 20th.

G will begin preschool in a little over 3 weeks, which elates me and terrifies me at the exact same time.  Lord knows I need a break from his mischievousness, but I simply don't know what to expect from him in a preschool setting.  D said we should consider giving his preschool teacher a goodie basket of headache medicine, bourbon and a massage gift certificate on the first day of school.

I fear that I don't give G enough credit for being a reasonable little boy when he is around others.  At swim lessons the other day, I was working on some paperwork and not paying a whole lot of attention to what G was doing while with his instructor.  A little girl in his group of 3 got up and walked to her mother with a very perturbed look on her face, and I just KNEW G had done something to her.  When class was over I asked G if he had done anything to her, and he said no.

Of course, if I have learned anything in getting two of my three children to almost age 4 it's that "you don't listen to or believe the 3-year-old" (****) so I asked the mom of this little girl if G had done anything.  The little girl's band-aid had come off and she was upset about that, so G had been telling the truth, but I told the mom G tends to be a pesky kid and I was concerned that he may have bothered her.

Immediately afterwards I felt terribly guilty for 1. thinking G did the worst, and 2. not believing him, but experience has shown me that with G I sorta have to keep my guard up.

I will be very, very interested to see what his teacher has to say about G and his behavior in preschool.  And I will be hoping that military school doesn't cost too much.

**** In my experience, you can ask a 3-year-old what you think is a simple question with a simple true answer, and yet the answer that child gives will almost never be correct, truthful or even coherent.  My husband is notorious for saying to me, "But G said you went to the zoo/playground/Swiss Alps today"  when in fact we stayed home from sunup til sundown and never even set foot on the front porch.  Or I'll ask G what he wants for a snack and he'll say "yogurt with sprinkles," yet when I have the requested food on the table he insists that he asked for graham cracker and milk.

3-year-olds are just effin' insane, even when they are THIS close to being 4 years old.

Le petite porn star

Boy babies play with their junk.  Alot. 

But recently my 22-month-old has ramped up "alot" to "freak level."  I wouldn't have cared except that he was pushing his diaper down (and perhaps getting his stuff out in the process) which was resulting in sopping wet bed sheets every single night AND at every single daytime nap.  

There is only so much laundry momma is willing to do before she looks for a solution.

The initial solution was duct tape around the top of the diaper in an attempt to keep his hands from being able to go down the front.  This worked for about a day until he figured out that he could gain access from the sides between his legs.  

Everyone knows that duct tape holds the world together, so I was at a complete loss as to what to try next.  I didn't want to put him in footed sleepers as some friends had suggested because it is just too darn hot for that (since designers haven't figured out how to make short-sleeve sleepers, at least in my neck of the woods).  

But then I remembered that I had some short-sleeve onesies in the closet.  I had stopped using them in the spring when it got warmer, and I didn't need an extra layer under M's pajamas anymore.  

Still, given M's persistence in getting to his boys made it imperative that I make it as difficult as possible for him to gain access.  Which resulted in this look for sleepwear:

Pajama bottoms, with onesie over top, with pajama top over onesie.  

The sheets have been dry ever since.  
I'm putting a onesie over his shorts during his daytime nap as well which looks really stupid, but in my world, practical trumps fashionable any day.

Of course, last week when I took M and G to a local playground/splash park, M pooped his first swim diaper and swim trunks, leaving only swim diapers for him to wear the remainder of our visit.  Boy, did he feel free.  He was digging around in there, having a grand old time.  At one point I looked down and saw his penis just peeking out over the top of his swim diaper.  

One of my mom friends asked, "What did the pediatrician say?," and I had to laugh because I haven't even considered taking him to the doctor for this.  He is uncircumcised, but there is nothing bulging, red, yeasty or otherwise unusual about his penis.  

I suspect the doctor would say to me, "He's a boy.  He's a horndog.  Let him be."  

And so I shall.

M in his bedroom before bed, dancing around and taking the bull by the horn, so to speak.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You can tell a lot about a person by the way she.....

Keeps her yard ---
I like to think of my yard as a mullet----business in the front, party in the back.  The front yard is trimmed and kept well-manicured and wears mostly evergreen plants like a suit.  The backyard has all manner of colorful perennials growing and is in a constant state of flux.  I am forever digging holes, moving stuff around, adding new things.  Wanting to make it increasingly wild and funky, with neat crafty objects around.  Whimsical.

The newly painted duck.  

Wears her pajamas ---
I hate to wear matchy-matchy pajamas.  I own pajamas that match, but I opt to wear the plaid bottoms with a tank top or the plaid button up top over a mu-mu like nightgown.  I actually get a sense of claustrophobia when I put on coordinating pajama sets.  But I like to buy coordinating pajamas because I think they look really cute in the store.

Uses her furniture ---
I have a dining room table in a dining room separate from the kitchen and it's eating area.  And that table acts as "Craft Central."  It is where I paint my outdoor knickknacks and redo my front door wreaths and scrapbook.

Misuses her clothing ---
I only make clothes "work clothes" when I get so much paint or stain or bleach or glue on them that they truly cannot be worn out of the house without me looking like a peddler from the early 1800s.  Virtually any item of clothing I own has an equal chance of participating in whatever cleaning or craft or exercise or shopping excursion or adventure I choose on any given day.  I don't get "fixed" up to do much of anything.  (Exceptions are made only for very, very important stuff like this.)

Refuses to paint her fingernails ---
I purchase nail polish primarily for N, and sometimes I get a hankering to paint my toenails.  But I never, ever paint my fingernails.  Not even clear.  If I paint my nails, I worry about chipping the paint, and that is a pretty dumb thing to worry about, so I just don't go there.

Doesn't own "good" china ---
When D and I married we did not register for china.  I had some 3 small dish sets I liked, and I don't think D had an opinion one way or the other.  Plus, my family is cheap, so I knew I wouldn't get any expensive stuff anyway.  Finally, I knew even back at age 24 that I did not like to entertain and would never be hosting hoity-toity parties.  A few years back, though, I did donate my mismatched sets of dishes and purchase an inexpensive matching set of dishes.  A set for 12 people.....which I needed since my brother and I now both have 3 kids apiece.

Doesn't match the set of dishes with coffee cups ---
Despite the dishes set for 12, I do not ever use the matching coffee cups. I don't think it is a good idea for coffee cups to match plates.  It's a little dull, I think.  

Is particular about the decor of her house ---
I have friends who have designers stage their homes, and their homes look amazing!  Just beautiful.  Straight out of a magazine.  The stuff in my house is a hodge-podge.  My dining room is my travel room---items that either D and I have purchased when traveling or that friends have given me after their adventures.

My neighbor's daughter went to India, and I asked if she would bring me back something since I doubt I will ever go there.

A painting D and I brought home from Iceland.

 Items my parents and mother-in-law have brought back for our home.

The rest of the stuff in my house is either 1.) stuff I have REALLY liked and was willing to spend more than I usually would since I liked it so much or 2.) stuff that was REALLY cheap since I figured if I didn't pay too much for it I wouldn't feel too much guilt switching it out later on, or 3.) a combination of something I REALLY liked that also miraculously happened to be REALLY cheap.  A picture in my living room cost $40, and I haven't tired of it yet (see below).

I can't remember if this picture cost $4.99 or $7.99. 

This was a more expensive buy at an art fair.  I don't know how much I spent on it, but probably upwards of $40, which for a vase and for me is pricey.  

It's kind of neat what you can understand about a person from how she molds and creates her environment.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How dumb am I?

This is a rhetorical question.

My friend K remarked recently that I didn't whine, bitch and moan (at least on my blog) nearly as much as I have in summers past, which suggests that I might be hitting a nice little groove with the kids during extended periods of time spent together.

Nevertheless, I was looking forward to the start of school.  I always have.  As a kid, I was happy when summer break was upon me, but by the end of July I was ready once again to have my brain fully occupied by school.  I was ready for a routine that didn't involve watching Remington Steele.

And as a mom, that feeling is no different.  N going to school (and soon G going to preschool) gives me things to talk about with her, ways to stay involved, active, in-tune with the world outside my home.  I felt tremendous relief when I finally realized that it is simply impossible for me to meet all her needs. It is far healthier for her to get out among other kids and other adults and establish herself for who she is, without me being with her constantly.  She's not going to stay under my wings forever.

My angst at school being canceled Monday and today made me worry though that maybe N was reading my frustration as "I want N to get the hell away from me," which is not the case.  Yes, having 1 less child underfoot will be a vacation of sorts......I can't lie.  Having one less person making messes from sun-up until sun-down, or asking for snacks every 30 minutes or saying, "Mom, watch this!" is easier.  

But N is the most sensible one of the 3 kids, so if I was gonna really want a break from someone (due to the child just being highly irritating and exasperating) it certainly wouldn't be her.  (I don't think I need to mention by name whom it would be.)

I tried to explain to her why I was so frustrated about school being canceled the first two days.  I explained how when we went to Disney World in June we had bought new clothes and packed and made reservations and bought park tickets.  And I asked her how she would have felt if the day before we left, we would have told her, "Nope.  We're not leaving tomorrow."  Would she have felt frustrated, and she said, with eyes wide, an emphatic, "YES!"  And then I asked if she would be even more frustrated if the next day we said to her, "Well, we're not leaving tomorrow either, and we don't know when we're going to leave."

I think the school cancellation caused me to experience what amounts to anticipatory blue balls.

So why, with me desperate for the school routine, am I now feeling a little sad that the summer is over and school will be back in session tomorrow?

Even though I yearn for the break that school gives me (and her), I know the year will pass ever so quickly and she will be even more grown-up, needing even less from me than she does now.  And while that is the ultimate goal, it makes me sad that time marches on.

How can I want and need time away from my kids and want and need my kids to stay little and cling to me and stay by my side at the exact same time?

The mental gymnastics of motherhood are exhausting.  

The hounds of hell or "What happens to my mood during PMS"

I started my monthly cycle at age 10.  From what I understand, some girls start their periods and may wait months before another one comes around.  This was never my problem.  From the get-go, I had a period every.single.month.  It took pregnancy and breastfeeding to give me a reprieve.

I think I was a pretty normal child prior to menstruating, but I really believe all the hormone fluctuations are what turned on the anxiety, the OCD, the premenstrual insane moodiness that made my mother hate my guts every third week of the month.

Birth control pill usage in my twenties seemed to level me out.  I still had the anxiety and OCD, but not the raging, the outbursts, the feeling that I simply could not control my emotions.

When I became pregnant with M while on birth control pills, D said he'd never trust them again, and I was all too happy not to be in charge of birth control.  Who needs the expense?  Plus, the pill has the ability to turn my normally pathetic libido into a pathetically nonexistent libido.

Yesterday, though, I experienced the "light switch affect," which is when my mood literally feels like someone hit the switch and I went from feeling relatively normal to feeling like a feral cat with rabies.  Sure, the district calling off school AGAIN didn't help.  Sure, it didn't help that G hadn't napped and was more or less a ramped up version of his normal wild thing.  But it is plum scary when I can almost feel the chemical shift inside my head and the fallout from it.

So I am wondering if perhaps I should consider going on the pill for strictly mental health reasons.  Because I really, really don't want my children to remember me as a raving bitch.  Or I may wait and speak to my psychiatrist about this at my next visit since I've heard that taking a slight increase in one's AD during PMS week can also minimize the wild mood swings.  

Thump. Thump. Ow.

That's the sound of me banging my head against a wall.

Monday was supposed to be the first day of elementary school, but due to storms this weekend resulting in downed trees and power lines, school was canceled.  Today was supposed to be the second day of school, but that too is canceled.


G really needs about an hour-long nap every day to not be completely psychotic at 4:45.  He didn't nap today (Monday, 8/15).


I think I am about 7 days out from my monthly visitor, which means my mood has the potential to go from perfectly ok to wolverine-like with the drop of a hat (or the cancelation of school.)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crafty Cretaceous Period

G has become fascinated with dinosaurs.  Given my "inch wide, mile deep" philosophy, I have tried to immerse him in dinosaur books from the library.  He and I have watched some of the BBC documentary "Walking With Dinosaurs," and I even found a CD of dinosaur songs.  

One of the books I reserved from the library was this one.  

G begged me to make some of the backgrounds, and so with my Michael's 40% off coupon for display board, old paintbrushes and half-dried up acrylic paint, I set to work.  

The book's version

My version.

The book's version.

My version.  

My final commission is a dinosaur egg nest background, but that will have to wait until I get a few other to-do items off my list. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stepping back into schools and finding a piece of myself

Perhaps it is just the dregs of summer, but I have been feeling a little burnt out of late.  I have been doing this stay-at-home mothering thing for 7-and-a-half years now, and while I don't really want to work full-time or even part-time, I sometimes yearn desperately for an escape for my mind that is more substantial than Facebook.

A friend and former education colleague asked me to help with some editing work, and so this afternoon I was able to visit the school at which he works.  I had the same buzz of excitement there that I get whenever I set foot in N's elementary school.  Being in a school feels empowering and natural to me.  Like a second home.  Like a second skin.

I have to admit, though, that I also felt a little "dumb-ass-ish" because of being out of the education loop for so long.  The lingo escapes me now.  Because I'm not living it daily, I feel like I have little to contribute.  I know that if and when I'm ever back in the trenches, it will all come back to me, but the old noggin feels a little rusty having to think about things that aren't related to mothering someone.  I can talk all day long about duct-taping M's diaper at night to keep him from pulling his johnson out and peeing all over himself, but I am at a loss sometimes when I have to speak about things that don't involve my children's excretory habits.

I feel like I need to make a confession about a habit I have that I find annoying and a little pathetic related to my experience teaching.  Whenever I meet one of N or G's teachers/administrators/etc, I am always quick to let them know that I was a teacher.  Of course, I follow it up immediately with an almost apologetic "but it was only for 4 years because I got my MAT late, and I've been a SAHM since N was born."

On the one hand, I think it is important that the kids' teachers/administrators know this if for no other reason than to explain my perhaps freakish interest in what the kids learn in school (it's not just for their benefit so I can reinforce it at home; it is also because I just like learning and knowing what is going on in the classroom since I don't have my own).  Yes, I am one of those parents who emails teachers and asks lots of questions and gets entirely too excited by letters home explaining what curriculum is being taught.

I also want them to understand that I know where they are coming from and support them.  Lord knows, I think teachers are grossly undervalued and need all the cheerleaders they can get.  I guess it is my "been there, done that" shout out, as it were.

At the same time, I also feel like by mentioning my life as a former teacher, I am trying to "hang with the big dogs" or make myself out to be something more than what I am.  And what I am is a former teacher with limited classroom experience who keeps her certificate up-to-date.  Just in case.

Stepping into this school today also reinforced to me how insulated and isolated so many people I know are in our little suburban enclave.  The school I visited was in a part of town that most everyone I know would have no clue how to get to and would probably hire armed guards if they were forced to drive there.  (I exaggerate but only slightly.)

Because friends know I was a teacher in the district, I am forever being asked which schools are good.  I hate this line of questioning for multiple reasons.  Mainly I think this question is dumb because the people I know who ask it are the types of parents who read to their kids and provide their kids adequate nutrition and take them to regular doctor visits and offer them stable childhoods and are not poor, and because of all of these things, their children will probably do fine no matter where they go to school.

I think we in suburbia are exceptionally good at working ourselves into a veritable tizzy over test scores (that don't usually tell me a hell of a lot of anything worthwhile).

Am I the only person who finds it ironic that we worry so much about test scores and yet we have a tremendously undereducated society?  (And I hope my SAHM brain isn't so addled that I'm using ironic in an incorrect Alanis Morrisette kind of way.)

Secondly, I hate this question because just because a school was good or bad years ago doesn't mean that it is still that way or will be that way by the time your kid goes to school.  I know of schools that have breezed by solely on their good reputation (when it wasn't fully deserved) and schools that have bad reps that are completely unjustified.

I'd like to be able to tie all this rambling up in a neat little bow, but I can't.  It is nice to have these little reminders that aside from parenting my children, my second true passion is teaching others.  I simply feel at home anywhere educating is in play.


I keep a small notebook in my car where I jot down ideas.  I also keep a notebook and pencil back where N sits in the minivan so that I can dictate things to her.  If I am alone or N is not with me, I usually wait until I am at a full stop before jotting.  But there are times when I can't wait around for a red light or stop sign to get my idea down on paper.  I wish my need to write these ideas down immediately was because they are effin' brilliant.  Rather it is because if I don't get them somewhere other than my gray matter, it will be gone forever, lost in the confusion of my life outside my mind.  
For posterity's sake, here is what remains in my notebook that hasn't already been blogged or journaled about.....
* The kids and I are branching beyond Maynard Moose now, although we still get great pleasure from hearing "Socklops."  It occurred to me, though, that indulging so heavily in fractured fairy tales might not be such a good thing for the boys.  With N, I first immersed her in the original tales and once she knew those stories well then I moved along to the revisionist tales.  I will not be at all surprised if G and M get in trouble or fail tests for their Maynard Moose-inspired interpretations of The Three Little Pigs, whereby the mother pig kicks her piglets over the hedge like tiny footballs and then the Third Piggy moves back in with his mom because he was too scared to seek his fortune.  
*While I don't think about the future with the kids much, I do have to say that one of the things I do look forward to when they are little older is berry picking.  The last time I went berry picking was LONG before N was even a twinkle in D's eye.  I seem to recall contracting a weird fungal infection on my hand as a result of picking, but despite this, I do think it will be fun to do such things when the kids are older.  My enthusiasm for picking my own produce is unmatched; I wish my enthusiasm for growing my own produce was significantly greater.  
*I believe I lamented at some point on this here blog about D's GPS iPhone app that is so helpful as to give us directions on how to get out of our driveway.  Equally annoying is, which I use to help track our spending.  I set budgets on Mint for things like haircuts and auto fuel and D's lunches, but occasionally it will send me a message about an unusually high expense.  I received some of these in June when I was planning and paying expenses for my 20th high school reunion.  The message always say something like this:
"In the past 7 days, you have been $870 on reunion expenses.  Normally you spend $4.56." 
Messages like this are truly helpful for things like fuel expenses and diapers that I purchase over and over again.  But the thing is, there is no "normal" spending for a 20-year reunion.  Normally I spend NOTHING for a 20-year high school reunion.  And I won’t normally spend anything on a 20-year high school reunion ever again.

Just a second ago, I got an email saying I went over budget on clothing.  When I checked, it said something was purchased at Macy's for $54 on August 10.  When I clicked on the transaction, it was really ABC Mail PharMACY'S (for D's nose spray).  
Technology reminds me of myself.  Smart enough only to be highly annoying.  

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Art cars

Yesterday, D and I took the kids downtown to see an art car show.  I had been wanting to do this for awhile and it seemed like N, G and M might be at ages where we could go without too much hassle.  (No more than Disney World, for sure.)

Fortunately, it was cloudy so the temperature stayed in the low eighties, which was a blessed reprieve from normal August weather. 

The first thing the kids did was make their own "art cars."

With a little help from mom.

The artist also known as G.

N with her finished product.  

Checking out cars and talking to the artists.

Now wait just a minute, here.  What's up with this vehicle?

Art that you can touch is great!

After seeing the cars, we stopped into a museum/hotel and were actually able to see some cool art (because the kids did not act like a pack of wild dogs).   They loved the glow-in-the-dark velvet walls of this installation.  

Summer in review

Now that there is only one week left before school begins (for N, anyway), I have been thinking about the summer, trying to remember what we did.  Of course the stand-outs are DisneyWorld and tonsillectomy, but as I peruse my photos, I hope I will find that we did at least a couple other fun things as well.

We did some crafts, including about 4 free summer craft sessions at Michael's.

We moved out of toddler beds and into big-boy twin beds.  

We swam in the blowup pool in the backyard and cut flowers from momma's garden.

We played ball with cousins.

And had fun on the swing set with cousins.

We enjoyed nights when big sis had sleepovers with the grandparents because we had BOY TIME!

We did some pretend play, including decorating ourselves like aliens.  

We took baths.  (Not very often, but enough to get the first layer of grime off.)

We played at the newest local splash park (which often "counted" as a bath.)

We did an engineering camp at our elementary school. 

We........well we......fought with each other and made messes and stuck balls up our shirts.  

I guess this summer wasn't half bad.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My house is just like my kids----

None listen to a word I say.

After D and I had the roof built over our deck in June and spent $150 to clean & stain it ourselves in July, I decided (as bill payer and savings strategist) that we were going on a house-spending sabbatical.  We have dropped a load on the house in the past two years between the roof and the new hardwood flooring, so it is time to cut back and save up once again.

Unfortunately, the house decided that I (and my plans) can suck it.

Last week, I noticed a 6-inch wide ring of mildew (or mold?) encircling the exhaust fan over the toilet in the basement.  It looked exactly like the black stuff that gets on the basement toilet seat every summer when it is so humid.  I have been able to quickly clean the toilet seat and move on with my life, but I cannot ignore a big ring of black on my ceiling.  It wasn't wet, thank goodness, but I knew we needed to do something.  Dousing it with straight bleach repeatedly was my first step.  The second step was going to Home Depot and purchasing a new plastic toilet seat and a dehumidifier.  We didn't get a huge dehumidifier but it set us back $178.

Our kitchen faucet has been leaking a bit for awhile, and I had contemplated fixing it myself.  Unfortunately, Monday night I noticed that water was leaking from underneath the faucet as well, making the shelf under the sink even more funky and warped than it already was.  The plumber was called.  Today I instructed him to just fix the faucet, not replace it.  It wasn't too long before he showed me that two screws are completely stripped making it impossible for him to get it off the base without, I don't know, sawing the fucking thing off.  And after he took apart what he was able to and put it back together again, the leak was way worse, meaning he had to shut off the water to the kitchen sink.

D and I attempted to take the kids to Fazoli's for supper, but they kind of went a little ape-shit in the car, so we canned that and told them we were having cheese sandwiches for dinner.

After putting the kids to bed, I spent the rest of the early evening at Home Depot selecting a new kitchen faucet.

The faucet was $198.
The installation tomorrow is gonna run around $150.

I am still waiting for the microwave to completely die.  It made a valiant recovery recently, but I see it slipping back into its old pattern of working/not working again.  The dishwasher is 10 years old and the refrigerator is 14 years old, so it is only a matter of time before those guys drop dead.

What exactly are the benefits of homeownership?

Monday, August 1, 2011



N completed her final summer reading list.  For 3 out of the 4 programs, she had to write titles she read herself, which means 28 books.  She finally finished books she was given for her birthday (Ivy + Bean and Judy Moody Is In a Mood) and now we are working on Ramona the Brave.  (She and I sit together and read silently on the couch.)  I have also been reading Junie B. books to her and G before bed so we've wrapped up Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus and Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine over the past couple nights.  Junie B. is a kick!

I feel slightly guilty that I did not do very much math with her.  I bought some workbooks at Target's Dollar Spot, but she just wasn't into them.  And with Disney and tonsillectomy sandwiched there mid-summer, it was hard to get into a routine of workbooks/math practice.  Reading is easy to "force" since we read at rest-time and at bedtime.  A little extra reading doesn't seem difficult to fit in since we do it all the time anyway.

She is taking an Engineering Camp at her school this week, and was very chatty about what she learned when she got in the car today.  I learned about Rube Goldberg from her, and we spent some time watching the YouTube video of Ok Go's Rube Goldberg Machine.   Her enthusiasm is evidence that she will be glad to be back into the swing of school.  Having down time is great, but learning new stuff and meeting new friends and seeing old friends is pretty great too.

The oldest BOY:

G is so used to me saying "Let's write it on the list" for summer reading that he now says, "Mommy, I wan put dis on my list," which means he wants me to stack his newest, most favorite books (whatever they happen to be at the moment) beside his bed, rather than in the library book bin or on the bookshelf. Tonight's books that went on the list were two nonfiction titles:  one about poison dart frogs and the other about reptiles.

I am nearly desperate for preschool to begin for him because I think we have reached maximum Mom frustration.  I need a break from him, and he needs to start taking direction from people other than me.  He needs to regularly be around other kids near his age in a learning environment.  

The youngest BOY:

Tonight while nursing M, he detached and hollered, "Cool Toe!"  I'm not sure if he intended for these two words to actually go together and mean something, but it was funny nonetheless.

He now says, "Hey Bu-eeee" (Hey Buddy), which is what I say to him whenever I go into his room in the morning or after nap to get him out of his crib.  The cute part is that he makes his voice go even higher than normal so he is super squeaky.  Evidently, it is not enough to repeat mommy; he has to mimic my octaves as well.