Thursday, November 29, 2012

The twisty Frito episode

Let's just say all rationality flew out the window yesterday afternoon when G awoke from his nap.  One would think a nap would make a child more calm and reasonable, but that is not what happened when he asked for a snack of twisty Fritos, and I told him we didn't have any more.

(Twisty Fritos were purchased, like most not-fit-for-consumption-foods that I purchase, while I had a child in the grocery with me.  I will purchase 1 item to be shared by the family as a means of getting my sh*t done.)

What followed was something I think might happen often in an actual insane asylum:

"I want twisty Fritos!!!!!," screamed G.

"We ate them all and there aren't any more," I replied.

"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.

"We don't have any more in the house and I can't get anymore right this instant," I replied.  (N was soon to arrive home from the bus, and M was still napping, but even if they hadn't been I wouldn't have dropped everything to run to Kroger to purchase twisty Fritos.)

"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
G is flailing on the floor, kicking at me.  Getting up and following me around as I try to find a safe place to hide as I try to ignore him.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
G is crying, slobbering, snorting, whimpering.  I'm about ready to go lock myself in my car.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
"I WANT TWISTY FRITOS!!!!!," screamed G.
I may have used some highly inappropriate words with my son because I thought I was gonna effing lose my mind if he didn't shut the hell up immediately.

After he had calmed down, I tried to explain to him that it really frustrates me when he continues to 1.) scream in my ear and 2.) carry on about something I can do nothing about at that moment.  I asked him if he would become frustrated if I demanded he turn into a girl, if I screamed at him over and over, "G, turn into a girl RIGHT THIS SECOND!!!!!!"

I would be curious to know if there are studies on how effed up stay-at-home mothers' heads are after dealing with these sorts of behaviors ad nauseum.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A day in which I did a lot but it appears I did mostly nothing

Most of the time I like to be out-and-about, but some days it is good to have nothing planned and just do an errand, do house chores, putz around with the boys a bit.

The problem for a highly motivated, goal-setting person like me is that on these days it is difficult for me to recognize that I accomplished anything.  I guess this is the rub of being a full-time mom whose main workload is within the confines of my home.  Much of what I do is behind closet doors or in the freezer, or it is a work-in-progress that won't be completed for awhile.

For example, today I stripped all the beds and put new sheets on.  Since I make the beds pretty much every day, it looks like I did nothing out of the ordinary.

I soaked red beans in water for tomorrow's dinner.

I cooked a chicken, cut all the meat off to freeze and made my own chicken stock.

Other things I did today that fly under the radar of accomplishment:

*bathed the boys (ok, I let them paint with soap paint so after they'd been in the soapy water for 35 minutes I figured they at least smelled clean.  I didn't actually take a washcloth to most of their bodies.)

*cleaned the kids' toilet.

*hung N's clothes and put them in her closet.

* mailed a package at the post office and bought stamps to send our Christmas letters.

*bought N a birthday gift (The beauty of her February birthday is that I can grab holiday deals and just hold them for her).

*worked on 3 different holiday gift craft projects.

And this was in addition to feeding the boys and myself lunch, playing with them, reading to them, getting them down for nap, folding bedsheets, washing more laundry, fixing supper, helping N with homework, coloring with G, practicing piano, helping N practice piano, and assisting N after her shower.

After almost 9 years, I have certainly adjusted to life as a stay-at-home mom, but it is the system of accolades and promotions with which I still have issues.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh how glad I am to be middle-aged

More and more I realize that I am a grown-up.  Yeah, graduating from college and owning a home and having three children should have clued me in, but somehow I'm really starting to feel it.

And it's not all bad.  It's mostly very good.

I like feeling comfortable in my skin, being okay with who I am.  Honing my strengths and not being scared to take on new stuff because I might fail.  Age helps you understand the great importance of failures.

I like having decades-long relationships with my husband and my best friend from high school.  They've stuck around in spite of my bad habit of sharing TMI.  They've known me long enough to have perspective on me when I am unable and to share it lovingly.

I like understanding my mom and dad better.  No longer thinking so much about my childhood was unfair or not as I would have preferred.  It is nice "getting" my parents, accepting their baggage as their own issue and appreciating the choices they made for me.

I like feeling that everything is not really the end of the world.

Of course, there are some blerg aspects of aging, the effects of gravity being the worst.

There are the occasional bouts of crotchetiness, which are often the result of listening to too many songs by young 20-something singers.  Hearing Justin Bieber mewl, "We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke, as long as you love me," completely sets me off.  Clearly the thoughts of a bazillionaire 19-year-old.  It takes someone with a little life under her belt to know just how unrealistic and asinine this is.  Or reading Taylor Swift's profound thoughts on love, love, love.

And there are the uncertainties of parenting, but fortunately the accrued wisdom of the years and understanding of my parents' choices help in this regard.

As I look ahead to 2013 and turning 40, I hope I can continue to appreciate and gracefully accept the benefits of treading more ground on this planet.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things for which I am thankful

I like doing the Facebook "Every day of November thankful" list, but I try not to write the I am thankful for my family.  If I'm going to mention my family, it is to write of things they do or say that reminds me why I love them.  The funny or the silly or the just plain weird.

And I especially like to think of things that most of the time I really never even consider because I'm too focused on the big picture.  

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving and to rid my blog of the oh-so-serious posts I have been writing, I shall list some obscure things for which I am thankful.

I am thankful for----

1. Fingernail clippers (because chronic nail pickers like me need to be able to snip those picked at nails).

2. Bread machines (because it makes me feel all Suzie Homemaker without actually kneading bread myself).

3. Kinnect (because I am getting a moment's peace while my children improve their manual dexterity).

4. Hand-me-down clothes from my brother's kids.

5. The knowledge that this is my last rodeo enduring the tantrums of a 3-year-old.  

6. Yoga pants

7. Sensitive skin products

8. Good neighbors

9. Being able to look back at pictures of adventures I've had in my life.

10. The smooth surface of a newly opened peanut butter jar.

11. Cooking a recipe that my husband really likes instead of just tolerates.

12. Children's vitamins (and the anxieties they alleviate).

13. The fact that there are no actual penalties for not following through with New Year's resolutions.

14. My ability to write and have a sense of humor (sometimes).

15. Being a boyly-girl instead of a girly-girl. (Because who needs all that makeup and frou-frou clothing and purses and jewelry).  

16. M's belly laughs when I pull the wagon over the curb and he falls from his seat into the middle on his butt.  

17. The fact that G takes after his dad by getting so tickled remembering something funny that he just laughs his head off and talks unintelligibly when he tries to explain what he is remembering.  

18. N's good nature and general kindness.  

19. Short hairstyles

20. Watching my children shake their groove things.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My own personal miserliness and my last (as in previous) post

(My friend KB commented on my last post, which spurred me to reflect even more on my thoughts about Christmas, the poor and government.  I wasn't completely done with my thoughts about spending and frugality, as I'd been mulling them over in the wee hours of this morning after G awakened me.  Reading her comments this afternoon kinda brought some ideas together for me.)

I generally think of myself as pretty darn frugal, but I probably wouldn't be too far off the mark to say I'm miserly.  I take care of my own, but I am not what anyone in their right mind would call generous, particularly with money.

We don't attend church so tithing is not part of our life.  We occasionally donate to organizations, like public television or public radio or our local zoo, but there isn't any one thing we make a point to donate lots of money too.  I sometimes purchase items to donate to local shelters, but it is not with any regularity.  Every year when I do our taxes I am embarrassed by how little we donate to charitable organizations, and I tell myself that next year we will do better.

With this in mind, I wonder whether other people are similar.  I don't see everyone's budgets or checkbooks, so I have no idea what the average person contributes to charity.  I guess I could probably Google it.

I feel miserly a bit, and so it makes me feel better to know that off the top of whatever D makes, some of it goes into government programs to help people less fortunate.  Like D's 401(k), taxes mean we never see the money so there is never anything to miss.

Since I am stingy with giving money, I automatically assume/think/feel/suspect that the majority of other people feel similarly.  I ask myself whether people would give to the less fortunate in great amounts if government wasn't doing it for them, making them do it?

KB made a great point that Jesus would say a person should take care of the poor, not because government makes them or tells them to, but because that is the right thing to do, and I think she is right.  But I don't believe enough in the goodness of people (especially in such an excessively consumeristic society as ours) to think this would happen if government didn't make us.  We are motivated by self-interest.

I remember in college, studying economics and hearing about Adam Smith.  Learning about how the invisible hand makes people work in their own self-interest, which ends up inadvertently doing public good.  But the individual is not planning, hoping or intending to help others; he is only concerned with doing what is best for himself.  It just happens that something beneficial to others might come out of it.

Some might think I hate the rich.  I do not.  I think it is great that some people have worked their butts off and been blessed with tremendous wealth.  It inspires others to live out their dreams.  (For all intents and purposes, since no one but me, D and our financial advisor knows our net worth, we could be the millionaire next door.  And compared to a vast majority of the world's population, D and I are truly rich beyond belief.)

What I despise is excess, and I see this manifested in the rich as well as the middle class, but it is more glaring in the rich (and the lower classes try to imitate).  I find it disgusting when people have closets larger than my living room full to the brim with clothes and shoes and purses.  I find it disgusting when people have so much stuff they have to rent storage space because they don't have enough room in their homes.  I find it disgusting when people get rid of their perfectly good furniture just because they buy a new house.

I don't find the people who do these things disgusting.  I simply have a very difficult time reconciling myself to their choices.  But they have the right to their choices.  And I have the right to my opinion.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I do not have a problem with government taxes taking care of the elderly and the disabled and the people who can't afford health care even though they work full-time at Wal-Mart.  (Of course, I think this has turned into one long ramble so I'm not even sure I explained anything satisfactorily.)

(As I was reading a bit about what Adam Smith has to say about government intervention and the poor, I happened upon this interesting article, which I think sorta derails the arguments I hear about how the poor have cell phones but they still need government assistance and isn't that so wrong.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What do I expect of my kids?

I talk a good game a lot of the time.  So much so that I start believing it.  And then.....reality.

I tell myself that I really don't care what my kids end up doing with their lives in terms of careers so long as they work hard, do their best and get as much education within their chosen profession as they possibly can, whether it is as a nurse or a judge or a hairstylist or a carpenter.

And I do believe this, but it is easy for me to be loosey-goosey in what I expect and hope for their careers because I can't really wrap my head around it.

But then I talk to parents whose kids are different from mine....maybe not as fast of a learner as N is, not as good of a reader.  And I freeze in my tracks because I realize that I expect my kids to be advanced, to be in the upper echelon of students.

What worries me is how I will react if they aren't.

I don't know what G and M will be like as students within the setting of full-time school.  I don't know yet how they learn.  How quickly they will pick things up.  How self-motivated they will be when it comes to classwork and homework.  How receptive they will be to me helping them at home.

When I look myself and D, I think we're pretty darn smart....compared to the masses, anyway.  We read and stay on top of current events and have thoughtful insights (I didn't say correct....just thoughtful).  And I expect that the kids will fall in line with this.

But what if they don't?

I hate it when I remember that I'm an intelligence snob. 

My newest reason for disliking Christmas

I have disliked Christmas for a long time but for many different reasons.

It was around the time when I stopped receiving toys that I decided I didn't like Christmas.  The magic was over, I guess.

I also didn't like life not being normal.  I didn't like being stuck at home, unable to talk to my friends, who were celebrating Christmas with their families.  Unable to get out and do anything (back in the day when most everything was actually closed on Christmas).  Unable to watch anything other than televised sports (in my memory, all that was ever on television in our house when I was a kid was sports....I'm sure this is not actually the case, but that is how I remember it).

When I was old enough that I had responsibility for purchasing presents, I didn't like Christmas because I had to 1.) browse and then 2.) spend.  And these are two of my most unfavorite things to do.

Once I had my children, Christmas was redeemed a bit.  Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is truly magical.

Unfortunately, this year I am really feeling my grinch, and I think it has to do with what I perceive as one of the main problems with US society.  These feelings have only deepened during and immediately after the presidential election.

I do not subscribe to the belief that if everyone just picked themselves up by their bootstraps, we could all have success and wealth.  I don't believe this for the same reason I think expecting all kids to be able to test to the same level is absolutely ridiculous.  Some people are supremely bright, highly motivated, obsessively focused.  Some people are higher than average, and some are middling.  Some people, for various reasons, will never, ever, ever have the ability to do anything more than menial labor.  This doesn't make them lazy or uninspired or worthless.

I'm no biblical scholar, but I seem to remember a certain revolutionary saying something on the order of, "The poor will always be with you."  What I find ironic is that many of the people who blame the problems of society and the economy on the low-income "deadbeat" folks are the same ones who profess to stand with Christ.  If Jesus was as radical as I suspect he was, I think he would lambast them.

There has always been and will always be the haves and have-nots, but it seems that what has happened, perhaps because of the 20th century notions that "every generation should always and in every case do better than their parents" and that "you can have it all" (which are both exceptional pieces of malarkey in my opinion), is that people chase their tails to have whatever is new.  I think the US is the epitome of "maybe this will make me happy," and it never does.  The US, as a whole, is in serious need of some therapy.

I realize that consumer spending is necessary and an important part of an economy.  But people in every social class have gotten all out of whack with their priorities and spending, and it makes the divide between the haves and have-nots so much more pronounced.

The iPhone craze is a perfect example of this.  Plenty of people have perfectly fine cell phones that work and do everything they were intended to do, but they get rid of them to get the newest iPhone.  Not only do they spend their money on cell phones, they then spend all their time on their cell phones, playing with the gadgets, noodling around.  I can't tell you the number of moms I see dorking around on their phones or chatting on their phones or texting someone with their phones instead of talking with their children at the park or the store.  Half the reason I am bat-shit bonkers by the end of the day is that I didn't use the distraction of my cell phone to ignore my children and preserve some of my sanity.

I think what wears me out, and Christmas personifies this, is the excess in society.  We have so much and we aren't even aware of it, myself included.  I fret over money as if I didn't have two pennies to rub together, when I am far better off than most people.

Although feeling guilt when I buy something certainly does not make for fun shopping, there is something good about questioning what I buy, how much I spend and whether what I'm getting is worth it.  I know that whatever I'm getting is not going to make me really happy, or if it does make me happy, the feeling won't last very long (because it never has).

Christmas it the epitome of everything I don't believe in.  Spending money on stuff.  Getting stuff when all your other stuff is perfectly fine and usable.  Worrying about pleasing people with stuff you get them.  Saving money for the entire year just to buy stuff.  (I know I'm starting to sound like a George Carlin routine.)

And what I find most disheartening is to hear so many people talk about the reason for the season, the babe in the manger from the lowest strata of society, and then blame the people in the lowest strata of US society for everything that is bad with the US.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I guess I'm that weird extended nursing mom

Almost 20 years ago, a guy I was dating and I went to New York to visit his sister.  I distinctly recall attending an event where he and I witnessed a young male child, probably age 3, walk up to his mother, ask her to nurse and then proceed to nurse.  

Oh, how I cringed and grimaced and thought that was about the weirdest thing I'd ever seen.  

Karma laughs at me.....

Actually she guffaws when M, who turned 3 in October, walks up to me and says, "Mommy...ursey milk on the couch."  

Or when he is nursing and stops to inform me, "I yike chocolate ice cream and I yike chocolate cookies."  

It is weird.  
But a little bit sweet too.  
And I tell myself that surely, SURELY he will be done soon.  

My general parenting m.o. has been, "They will give things up when they are ready, and it's better when it is on their terms rather than mine."  It worked....eventually with N and the pacifier.  It will work with G who, like his sister, hides it when friends come over and talks about when he is going to give it up.  It worked with both of them when it came to potty-training.  Eventually M will decide he is done with ursey.  

And, lawd, will I have plenty of fodder for embarrassing my boy at his wedding toast.  

My Brownie "husband"

I have never understood the interest in polygamy.  Perhaps my opinion would differ if I had a penis and had the prospect of multiple sex-partners before me.  But as a woman, I just.don'

Which is why my Brownie "husband" makes me want to tear my hair out.

My daughter's Brownie troop is very small, and one of the girls lives with her dad.  I have known her family since 2007 when she and N were in preschool together.  The past five years have been ones of turmoil for this girl, although she seems to handle it remarkably well.  Suffice it to say, her mother abruptly left her father and due to a whole slew of soap-opera like circumstances, he has full custody of the kids.

Now I know of plenty of single mothers.  I don't for a minute think these women have it easy, but I also know that women are generally more "with the program" than our male counterparts.  Men can do great things, but given their evolutionary history as hunters, they are simply ill-equipped to handle the multitudinous tasks that a "mom" generally oversees.  Honestly, how many men do I witness in the grocery story calling their wives/girlfriends for assistance?  I don't see this same thing amongst the female shoppers.

I digress.

This dad, I believe, does the best he can given the hand he was dealt.  He tries really hard.  And so I try to be charitable, to help out within the parameters of troop leader as I can because I think he does appreciate it, and I think his daughter needs as much stability and follow-through as she can get.

But it sometimes feels like I have another man to nag (in addition to D) without the benefit of a paycheck being brought home, honey-do things being done, a warm body in bed at night.

Just someone else to text and remind, "Be there at 7:30" or "Be sure to bring the vest."
Someone else to wait on while they are running late.
Someone else to shake my head at and wonder, "Why did he do that???"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Absence makes you realize how loud your children really are

D and I had a lovely weekend away from the children and all parenting responsibilities for the first time in almost 9 years.

(Ok, technically, I have had 48+ hours away from my children, but it was only because I was having more children (and in those cases I had major abdominal surgeries as the means of delivering those children) so that totally doesn't count.)

I slept in until 8:00 am.  I worked out.  I was able to relieve myself without an audience.  I was able to read uninterrupted in the middle of the afternoon.  I did not have to fix anyone a snack.  The only butt- and nose-wiping I had to do was my own.

It was glorious!!

D and I did not run out of things to discuss, although the ride home was quiet.  That could have been a state of mutual depression at returning to "real" life, though.

The only downside of this trip is that our children, who are notoriously loud, seem even louder.

Warning:  Photo Dump

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's only November, and I'm ready to say good-bye to 2012

If our family can make it to Dec 31, 2012 without someone having surgery, it will be the first time since 2006 that no one in our house has required surgery.

You'd think we'd have oodles of extra cash sitting around, but that has not been the case in 2012.

I think I might call 2012 "The Year of the Money Hemorrhage."  It has been a nonstop bleed of funds.

Early in the year I had to get 3 new tires for the minivan, even though the tires on the van were only 2-3 years old.

We had some painting done....which didn't have to be done but 3 kids in a house does not make for paint that weathers time well.  There are some expenses I just chalk up to 1.) basic maintenance/improvement on a house to keep it from looking too terribly dated and 2.) me having OCD.

Then we bought new appliances since the microwave and dishwasher hadn't been working well for years.  The fridge was 15 years old, and we didn't figure it would last too much longer.  Screws were falling out of it.  Appliances ain't cheap.  That was a major, major bleed.

The sliding door on the minivan broke a coil, which meant if we were on the slightest of inclines the door would start to close on us.  As much as I hated to spend more money on the van, I knew the expense was significantly less than an emergency room visit.

Now D's car is having much-needed work the tune of around $1000, and that's not even all the work they recommend he get done.  D's car is 12 years old and has like, 56,000 miles on it.  He drives it 4.58 miles to work and 4.58 miles back every day, and that is basically it.  With such low mileage, we're gonna drive that sucker into the ground, but I know we have to do something to it occasionally to keep it from dying prematurely.

As always, I am glad we have (and had) money saved to pay for all of these things.  But it sometimes makes me feel like I am chasing my tail.  Transferring money into an account only to transfer it back out in 3 weeks' time.

Savings accounts are where money is supposed to go to die.  At least according to me (and my parents who raised me in their image).

So, my goal for 2013 is to really, really kick it into high-gear on saving.  If we do anything to the house, it will be to paint our bedroom, and that I can do myself (or with D's help if he is so inclined).

And probably I'll need money saved to pay for a surgery.  

Elections and kids

Ah, another presidential election!

G's class had a vote between the Chiquita banana and Honeycrisp apple in preparation for the "big" presidential election amongst the 4- and 5-year-olds.  I'm not sure who won the battle of the fruits.  At first G would not tell me his vote (eventually he spilled that he voted for the banana, which I find funny given his love of applesauce).  He did tell me that he was gonna vote for Barack Obama in the next day's preschool election.

When Barack Obama didn't win in G's class, his teachers told me he was a little upset by the election results.  I told them that while G is insane, he's at least making voting selections I can stomach.

Unlike his young Republican.

I had almost forgotten this when G's recent election discussions at preschool brought it back to my recollection (with the help of D reminding me too).

When G was telling D about the vote at school, N chimed in that she would vote for Mitt Romney.



Despite my comment to G's preschool teacher (who also taught N) that my young Republican N is clearly being raised by wolves given her political leanings, I do want my children to decide for themselves what they think politically and spiritually.   I don't want them to think what I think if they don't agree with it.  I want them to question, be informed, and be open-minded to research and data.  None of what I personally think or write on this here blog gets said aloud to the kids.  (Ok, I probably do say, "What is WRONG with you??????" to G pretty regularly.)

I generally try not to discuss politics and religion around my children.  We never have the news on, mostly because my children have tendencies towards anxiety so I think it is best not to stir that pot with stories of war, child abductions and vehicular homicide.  The news is such a bummer.

Plus, television news doesn't really tell you much of anything.  It's a bunch of sound-bites that signify nothing.

When I asked N the other day why she would vote for Mitt Romney she said, "Because maybe he could make the world a better place."  I responded that he might, but she should probably know some things about what he would actually do to make the world better, rather than just assuming he would.

Today, on the way to vote, she told me that she would vote for Barack Obama, which raised all kinds of red flags for me.  When I asked her why, she said, "Because Mamaw said Mitt Romney is crazy."

I told her that she shouldn't base her decision on whom to vote for on what Mamaw says or how Mamaw or Daddy or me or anyone else is voting.  She should read about Mitt Romney and listen to him and decide for herself whether he is crazy.

As much as I disagree with Romney's platform, it would bother me more if my daughter voted for Barack Obama only because someone she knows voted for him and not because she really understood and believed in his platform.

Monday, November 5, 2012

(What will fill the silence?)

D and I will have a celebratory weekend away soon to celebrate 15 years of wedded togetherness, and I have to admit I'm a little nervous.

I mean.....what in the heck are we gonna talk about for over 48 hours without interruption?

We'll jaw about the kids a bit, wonder what they are doing, whether the grandparents have left them at an orphanage.  Depending on the election results and how long that takes to settle out, we may have that to discuss.  Christmas plans and shopping?  Vacation ideas for 2013?

When I think back to all the trips we took in our life before children, I don't know what we discussed.  Maybe we didn't talk much at all.  Who can remember given the past 9 years of torturous sleep-deprivation?

I don't like talking about the future much.  I think I'm too practical, hence my inability to write anything requiring an ounce of imagination.  I can't foresee what I'll be fixing for supper tonight, so dreaming about what we might do one day when the kids are gone is a bit of a challenge.

Despite my anxiety about conversation, it will be fun to visit someplace with some historic features in a natural setting that isn't a beach or a Disney theme park.  It will be fun to have a grown-up meal, to not be woken up multiple times a night for two nights in a row.

Maybe I should be concerned that I'll never come back.