Sunday, December 25, 2011

Can I Blame Gary Chapman?

Christmas Day is over.  Christmas itself, of course, is never over, because even after all the gifts have been opened, the carols have been sung, the family has been visited, the meals have been eaten (and eaten... and eaten... and re-eaten as sandwiches for the next three days), and the general bloating has subsided, there are still wonderful memories to cherish... and if you're lucky, new toys to play with.  But today, 12/25/11 (or 25/12/11, if you don't live in the USA), is pretty well over.

The kids made out like bandits.  They always do.  Oz and I spoiled each other rotten, as we always do.

We visited the apartment shared by two of my brothers-in-law for dinner today.  They and my mother-in-law cooked dinner, and we all stuffed ourselves silly.  After dinner came the visiting, the gifts, more visiting, dessert, more visiting, and finally the good-byes before we packed up and headed over to my dad's house for yet another round of family get-togetherness.

By the time we got home around 8:45 tonight, we were all tired.  Exhausted.  Worn the heck out.

Oh, except for M2.

She was still as chipper as the moment that we left the house at 11:30 this morning, if not more so.  And after great deliberation, I have worked out why Christmas is so wonderful for her and an actual pain in the [insert body part here... Oz has a sore lower back and legs, I have a sore back and neck, and M1 has a headache] for the rest of us.

1.  She's an extrovert.  M1, Oz and I are introverts.

2.  Her love language is quality time.

When I read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, it cleared up a lot of things for me, but sometimes I still have to go back and say to myself, "OH!  DUH!  That's why this is hard for me but easy for so-and-so." In our household, everyone has a different love language.  M2 loves quality time (with a secondary language of physical touch).  M1 loves words of affirmation (secondary quality time or gifts... I haven't quite decided yet).  Oz loves physical touch (secondary quality time).  And me?  Well, like I said, I'm an acts-of-service kind of girl (secondary words of affirmation... and quality time, if I can get it).  I think many moms are acts-of-service types. And these folks know that Christmas is a logistical nightmare. It's the toughest time I face every year, bar none.

Christmas is an extremely stressful time for everyone.  I know that.  It's incredibly busy, and there are so many stressors that can cause this whole merry season to turn sour, but I honestly believe that those who have acts of service as their primary love language have it the toughest.  This could be a skewed perspective, I realize, but if I leave even one person unsatisfied, then I haven't done my job, and I feel it.  I feel incredible guilt until I can do something nice for that person to make the guilt go away.  Not to mention I feel pressured to find the perfect gift for everyone, do all the holiday traditions, make sure that everyone else's holiday needs are fulfilled before mine, and just generally make the holiday season bright for all those around me.

I'll be honest... I'm really not sure how many more years I can keep it up.  As it is, I start stressing about Christmas sometime around August!  In my head, I'm supposed to be doing something every minute of every day.  It's almost impossible for me to slow down this time of year.  This is why when I arrived at the apartment today, it took all of 10 minutes for me to invite myself into the kitchen and help with the last of the meal preparations.  That's how I show love.  I do.  I hate buying gifts, because I'm absolutely horrible at picking things out for people and gifts are tied for dead last on my love language list.  My idea of a gift is cleaning someone else's house or taking them out to dinner because I'm doing something for them, not just handing them something and wandering off.  I buy gifts because I want to participate in the tradition, but shopping is not fun for me.  I give hugs to those who want them because some people really dig the whole physical touch thing and I try to cater to their needs, too.  I sit down and chat with those who love quality time because I know that's important to them, and I really do love a good chat.  I'm not great at words of affirmation (poor M1), but I try to at least write little notes in the Christmas cards that I send out.

So, this Christmas, I hope that everyone's needs were met.  And if they weren't?  I apologize.  Hopefully I'll make it up to you sometime during 2012! (Let's do lunch.  My treat.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reverb Days... Whatever

Since I've skipped about a week, I'm only going to pick a couple here today:

1.  What was your best "nature" moment this year?
This is my blog, so my definitions apply, and I'm going to assume that this 'nature' definition doesn't involve The Great Outdoors.  I've had some major discoveries about the natures of both children this year.  My first big discovery was that M2 isn't anything like M1.  In a way I knew this, but in another way, I didn't.  I've always known that M1 would work in a field of science someday.  There's not a single shred of doubt in my mind that one day he'll work in research (or R&D) somewhere and love, love, love his job.  M2?  I don't know.  She doesn't know.  And because her nature isn't like M1's, she's okay with that.  And I have to accept that she'll work it out on her own someday.  Because she will.

My other favorite 'nature' moment was discovering that M1 has a quiet streak.  You'd think I would have known this, but I didn't.  When he's not medicated, he can't NOT talk.  His mouth is flapping 24/7.  And there are days when it still does, even on meds, but the meds give him the ability to shut up once in a while.  I find this lovely.


2.  Did you discover that someone in your family has a talent that had previously gone unnoticed?
M2 definitely has a talent for making people feel better.  I don't think I should discount this talent at all, just as I don't discount M1's talent for riling up a room full of kids just by walking into it.  People feel better after talking to M2.  She can even take adults under her wing and comfort them.  I have to be careful about when and where she uses this talent, though, because she tends to internalize a lot of the pain and cry about it later.


3.  Did you retire any favorite curricula, books or toys this year?
Ahh... yes.  Yes, we did.  M1 got rid of the last of his plastic bugs and Hot Wheels just this past weekend.  M2 gave her Legos to M1 because she realized that she didn't really care for them.  All of the 'easy' puzzles have disappeared from the house (with the one exception of a Winnie the Pooh puzzle) along with most of the 'easy' books.  They wanted to retire all the Dr. Seuss books, but I put the kibosh on that.  Just because the kids are growing up doesn't mean Dr. Seuss will ever disappear.  Some things have to stay forever!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Chain Gang

Every year, the kids look forward to making the Christmas chain.  It's just your typical countdown chain made out of paper, but I make sure to write a little something to do on each and every link.  Some days, like today, the link will read, "Watch Christmas movies" (they selected Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer today, though M2 had a secondary vote for Santa Claus is Coming to Town) or "Sing Christmas carols."  Some days we do big stuff like driving around town to see Christmas lights.  

No matter what's written, though, the kids really look forward to getting up in the morning and checking the chain.


They especially look forward to days where they can do the day's deed in their pajamas.


So when day 1 was "Drink hot cocoa on the porch," M1 insisted on being in pajamas.


My toothless little girl was still in her school clothes, though.


It was good cocoa.  Marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkles always make it even better.


On day 2, we put up the tree.  M1 can put the star on top all by himself now.  It's a big leap away from the little guy who had to be lifted up and helped only a few years ago.


Day 3?  M2 had her violin recital.  She screwed up!  And didn't melt!  This is huge.


One day this last week, the kids and I made pinecone bird feeders to hang on our tree outside.  They really enjoy doing this.  They love mixing the shortening and peanut butter and schmearing it on the pinecones that they have selected all by themselves from the pine trees outside (notice the pajamas have returned?).


They love rolling it in the birdseed...


... and really enjoy trying to hold on to the ribbon with their oily little fingers as they make the mad dash across the living room to the front door.

The birds have appreciated the 'gifts,' and most of the treats have disappeared already.  I think next week we might pick up some apples and cranberries and make a string of those to hang on the tree.

The best part of the chain for me is seeing their delighted faces each morning.  It's one of those things that I can hold onto forever, knowing that we're making some awesome memories together.  Their childhood really does fly by too quickly.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Poetry

As much as I love reading and writing prose, I'm not nearly as much a fan of poetry.  It may have something to do with my only real exposure to the genre being my sophomore high school English teacher, who was a rabid Emily Dickinson fan.  Seriously.  She dressed up.

Anyway, with her leading the charge, we parsed and analyzed poems within mere inches of our lives.  Some days it was touch and go.  I should also add that much of this analysis had to happen while on a charter bus to and from Arizona because the poetry unit landed square in the middle of Fiesta Bowl season, and assignment due dates waited for no band member.

It got ugly.

Because I'm trying to master my own Poetry PTSD and don't want to pass it along to my kids, M1 and I spent several days this week playing with poems.  The first thing that I did was print off these poetic/literary device cards.  Yay for DOING something from Pinterest!  Then I determined what kinds of poems that M1 and I were going to look at this week.  Kathimitchell.com was a major help to me in that regard.  Some of the 'poetry' made me kinda go, "Ka-wha...???" but some of them I found to be helpful.

First, M1 and I talked about alliteration and imagery.  We discussed how poems typically describe things, not narrate.  We talked a little bit about rhyme and a little bit about rhythm, and then I pulled out an acrostic poem sheet.  I asked M1 if he could make his own poem and use alliteration in it somewhere.  Obligingly, he wrote this:

GHOSTS
Glowing brightly with white light,
Hapless me they give a fright
Opening doors closer to me and 
Slamming them with a bang,
Toppling towering toys with glee.
Safely I go back to my bed (to wake up next morning with that ghost in my head).

He may also have been proud of his use of onomatopoeia, which was another term we touched upon.

After he finished his acrostic poem, I brought out a page about haiku, which we did together.  I asked him to try to keep it about nature, and he chose clouds as his subject.

The sky is clouded.
They are sinister and dark.
Rain is on the way.

The following day, we reviewed the definitions and added 'idiom' and 'personification' to his literary device vocabulary.  Then he wrote a cinquain.  I asked him to try to personify something with his poem, and he happily wrote this:

Snowman
Funny, happy,
Likes falling over.
Cold hands, warm heart.
Friend.

For the final day of our poetry unit (he was having way too much fun at this point, and I'd saved what I considered the best for last), I pulled out the limerick.  He had a little bit of trouble at first because of the rhythm, but once we got it down (and with a little bit of help from another web site), he made his own limerick.  I quite like it myself.

There once was a Corgi named Bump
Who liked to sit in a lump.
He jumped to his feet
For a piece of meat
And fell to the floor with a thump.

With that, our poetry unit ended.  He had fun.  He doesn't hate poetry.  WIN!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Not Cured, But...

I'm in a much better mood than I was yesterday.  For one thing, my head isn't threatening to explode.  For another, I've released myself from the expectation that M1 is going to function.  It's nearly 10 a.m., and he's just begun writing.  He's crouched behind the coffee table, manically twisting his hair, rocking, and going, "SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH. SHH," over... and over... and over.  Oh, wait, we just got an answering squawk to a cat howling at the back door to be let out.  Perhaps I should release the obnoxious cat and see if that red-tailed hawk which has been eyeing the chickens...

Never mind.

At this rate, M1 will get done with school sometime around 3 p.m., which doesn't work when he has a swimming lesson at noon and swim team practice at 2 and I really, really need to try to fit in a couple of errands in between.

I hereby absolve myself of any educational responsibility for the rest of the day.

There.  That feels better.

I got 10.5 hours of sleep last night, more or less, which probably has a lot to do with my New and Improved Mood.  Both kids were conked clean out by 7:30, despite their protestations of "I'm NOT tired!" and "Mom, I can't go to sleep."  I sipped a mug of warm apple cider, read a few chapters of a book, and put myself to bed at 8.  It was glorious.  Poor DH got home around 12:30 a.m. and was out the door by 6:30 a.m., so I missed him both ways, which I hate, but I think the sleep was worth it.  I still have the potential for a major grump-fest lurking in my system, but I don't quite feel like I'm perched on the edge of a cliff waiting for someone to show up so I can shove them off.

This is probably a good thing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let's Play!

Today's post is brought to you by my really crappy mood.  Hang on, folks... it's rant time.

Have you ever... had one of those days where you know you got up on the right side of the bed, because your spouse was taking up his 2/3 of the bed and you couldn't possibly have gotten out on the wrong side anyway... and yet the day decides to frisk and molest you like a rogue TSA agent with a power trip and a boner?

Have you ever... watched three people walk straight by the pile of cat urp on the carpet because clearly it's invisible to every being in the house except you and the old cat, and the old cat thinks you left it there as a delectable breakfast?

Have you ever... wished you could sink through the floor when your son starts making some of his infamous noises... right behind a person who clearly has some psychological/developmental issues of their own and is also making noises... and who gives you a look that says, plain as day, 'STOP YOUR KID FROM MAKING FUN OF ME...' but you're stuck there because it's the vet's office and kind of have to pay before you can bail and you somehow know that an explanation is NOT going to make things better?

Have you ever... watched your son hop through the house like a deranged lemur, realized that no good school is gonna happen, proposed the cessation of said school, and then watched Deranged Lemur Boy go off half-cocked because OMG YOU PROPOSED SOMETHING THAT WASN'T ON THE SCHEDULE?

Have you ever... realized you should have listened to your instincts rather than picking up the other child early from school because you're sick and tired of the phone calls from the front office informing you that your child has come in (yet again) complaining of a sore throat and cough and sniffles... but when you arrive, there's no fever and she's grinning like a Cheshire cat?

Have you ever... tried to run errands with an impending migraine and two kids on a December afternoon when one of them claims to feel ill and wants to climb you like a tree and the other has the maturity and mental stability of a honey badger on PCP?

Have you ever... ordered pizza at 4 p.m. because maybe the instigation of the dinner/bedtime routine will make it all stop?

I think I quit now.  Someone tell me when it's January.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reverb Days 4, 5, and 6

So I'm not keeping up with this very well.  Daily blogging ain't happening during December, no matter how much I try.  There's just too much to keep up with!  I'll be posting a bunch of photos later this week, but for now, REVERB 2011:

Question #4:  What was your family's biggest blessing in 2011?


Answer:  No surgery.  It sounds ridiculous, but that's a big one.  In 2003, when M1 was three months old, he had his first surgery.  In 2005, I had M2 (not really surgery, but it still involved a hospital stay) and M1 had another surgery.  In 2006, M2 had surgery; in 2007, it was M1's turn again.  We skipped a couple of years after that, and I thought we were done when the children inflicted the Infamous Earberry Incident upon us last year.  The fact that we've gone more than 12 months without surgery is a wonderful blessing.  It meant we got to take a family vacation, which was long overdue!


Question #5:  What was the best science experiment you did in 2011?


M1, who is the guru of all things science in this house, isn't entirely sure, but I know he really liked making red cabbage juice and playing with it (and discovering that boiling cabbage releases sulfur, too).  His favorite experiments, though, probably have to do with his snap circuits and other electrical sets.  He loves building things out of them to see if or how they work.

Question #6:  What was your or your children's favorite Art project from the 2011 homeschool year?


M1 LOVED learning how to use a grid to draw things to a larger or smaller scale.  That makes perfect sense to me and to him, because he got to use his analytical brain to provide him with a framework for his art.  I'll admit, too, that the finished product was one of his better projects.  And it's always good to know that somewhere deep down, he does like art.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reverb 2011, Days 2 and 3

OK, so life tends to get in the way of me doing this every day, but let's see if I can answer days 2 and 3 in one post and not make a novel out of it:

Reverb Question #2:  What was the best new resource that you found in 2011? Book, website, local support group, or other? How did it help in your homeschooling journey?


Hmmm... this is a hard one.  I really, really like our new science curriculum, Elemental Science, but I think my best new 'resource' isn't even a resource.  For writing this year, I've more or less been making my own curriculum, and I couldn't be happier.  Now, I'm still using a workbook for some parts of writing - some of the basics - but I've been doing a lot of the instruction on my own, basing it simply on experience, 'what he needs to know,' and his desires.  This week, for instance, we're working on comma usage.  Then we're going to do a poetry unit.  Using this... can I even call it a method?... I think he's absorbing so much, and I'm thrilled at my own ability and confidence to create this subject in a way that he and I can both enjoy it.

All that being said, having some good homeschooling friends is one of the best things ever, and I'm grateful for them, too!


Reverb Question #3:  If you could have one moment  that you could do differently in 2011, what would that moment be?


Y'know, I'm not quite sure how to answer this.  If I look at it from a homeschooling aspect, I would probably have started our current math book earlier and left him work through the end of the old one in between other lessons.  The way Math-U-See is structured, there are some really tough lessons one after another at the end of the book followed by several really easy lessons at the beginning of the next; a good mix would have been a better fit.

I could also answer this from a general perspective.  In that case, I know I've stuck my foot in my mouth several times and wish that I could go back and keep my mouth shut!

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Hope everyone is staying warm and dry.  I'm still grateful for the rain, because it's definitely better than a drought, but gosh it is making for a drab, gray weekend.  Off to avoid Bedlam and read a good book!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reverb 2011, Day One

I didn't do the 'I'm thankful for X' leading up to Thanksgiving.  I personally believe that being thankful is something that happens year-round and doesn't need extra attention just because of an impending holiday.  I know it means a lot to a lot of people to verbalize all their blessings, and I have enjoyed reading their posts, but I think that living with graciousness and gratitude goes a lot farther than posting a daily announcement somewhere.

My opinion.  I have one.  It may not be yours.  I'm thankful for that.

Anyway, despite my aversion to this November tradition, I do enjoy the idea of wrapping up the year in December.  To that end, when I read Rebel Homeschool's idea for wrapping up 2011, I thought, "Ya know... it's so crazy it just might work!"

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REVERB 2011, DAY ONE:

The question:  Did you have a turning point in 2011? A point where homeschooling became easier, or conversely, more difficult? 

Did your circumstances, your mindset or your child/children's mindset suddenly click into a new groove with a certain subject or with your homeschooling routine? 
Did unexpected life circumstances throw up new obstacles? Maybe you and yours had more than one turning point. . .

The answer:

I think the turning point for us came prior to that, back when we restarted ADHD medications for M1.  Prior to that, I had been constantly having to rethink school - how it was being done, whether this was something I could do, whether it was something even M1 could do.  Once we started the medication, it all just got so much easier!  He was able to articulate the problems, understand things better, and even initiate changes for himself.  He also loves his schedule that he created (by the way, we talked, and the only change he really wants is to add some computer-based math games to the agenda now and then) and it's made our schedule much easier to handle.

It's been a good year of homeschooling in this aspect.  Can't wait to see what the Reverb will be for tomorrow!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The November Doldrums

If you take a look at the school year, there are two times each year that teachers and students dread equally - November and February.  These are the 'in between' months.  In November, you're in between fall break and Christmas, and the little break at Thanksgiving only serves to whet the appetite for the longer break ahead.  In February, you've been back at the books for a month and still have another month to go before Spring Break.  In either case, it's cold, often dreary, and not really good weather for going outside (unless it snows, and then all bets are off).

Usually *I* am the one who experiences burnout during these winter months.  This year, though, M1 is the one who is totally done with school and anything to do with it.

I can't say I'm really surprised.  At the beginning of the school year, he insisted that I write down his daily plans in his agenda, and he helped 'design' the school day.  He said he wanted to do the same schedule every single day of school.  I wondered at the time how long that would last, because even I, with my seriously Type A personality, couldn't handle that.

So it came as no surprise when he announced the other day that he doesn't like school any more.  He doesn't want to go to another school; he just wants some changes.  Specifically he wants "more projects."

I'm going to have to have a good ol' chat with him about this, because honestly I'm not sure what I can do that isn't already being done.  We do weekly projects in history, science, art, and writing.  We do biweekly projects in Spanish.  Projects aren't really gonna happen with spelling, grammar, math, or piano.  I'm going to propose doing some unit studies with him between now and Christmas, but when I proposed those last year he shot me down and I honestly suspect he'll do so again.  I don't think he really wants change.  I think he just wants a break.

Guess we'll see what happens.  Anyone know of any good unit studies that I can get my hands on ASAP, on the off chance he says yes?

November.  It's a sneaky bastard.  One way or another, it gets ya.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Which I Propose a New Tradition

Well, the Thanksgiving meal has come and gone.  Mostly gone.  There are a few leftovers.  Most of them were left at my grandmother's house for her to nosh on over the next week, but I did come home with some ham, the remainder of the pies (apple and pumpkin), and some cherry tomatoes.

When we got home, the children promptly announced that they were hungry and each ate a small ham sandwich and some of the tomatoes.  I want that sort of self-control and metabolism back.

We had a lovely dinner.  My grandmother belongs more to the Norman Rockwell genre than the paper-plates-in-front-of-the-TV genre, so we ate off the china plates and out of the crystal bowls and drank from the crystal wine glasses.  Even the children got to do this (except for the wine glass part, of course) because my two are the only ones in the family.  They wouldn't even know what to do with a kids' table!

We had turkey, ham, and all the fixin's.  Of course we all had to have a little of everything to start with and seconds of some things, and even though I really truly did pace myself, didn't overflow my plate and only had seconds of one dish, I'm still stuffed to the brim.

I'm sure I'm not alone here.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to propose a new tradition:  The Thanksgiving Weekend Fast.  The rules are simple:  Food is verboten until such time as you actually feel hunger again.  At the rate I'm going, I suspect it'll be Saturday, perhaps Sunday, before this happens.

For now, I'm going to sit in a food- and travel-induced haze and be thankful that I have such a wonderful family and that we're blessed with such abundance.

Hope everyone had a wonderful, drama-free Thanksgiving (and if you didn't, I hope you at least got some good stories out of the deal)!  :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Marches On

As if I needed more ways to prove that each day I am getting older and each day the kids are getting bigger, M2 decided to remind me:


She has four gaps in her mouth now.  She already has two adult teeth on the bottom, but now she officially can't eat apples or corn unless they're in pie/applesauce or on the cob because girl can't bite.  (In other news, this is fantastic because when she throws her raging fits, she can't bite.)

She's been running around the house singing "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH" in her footy pajamas.  It's adorable.

The kids decided to ring in fall without me this year:


They raked all the leaves, without me asking, all by themselves, into a pile...


... then called me outside just to take the pictures while they jumped in it.


I have no place in their leaf-pile-jumping tradition any more other than to wield the camera, and I'm willing to bet that my place there is tenuous at best, too.  One day they'll just take pictures of each other, I'm sure.


That pile also looks a lot smaller compared to the children than it used to.

*sigh*

Another sign that winter is right around the corner showed up at one of our bird feeders this week:



It's a pretty little woodpecker, and it isn't the pileated type that we normally get.  I've enjoyed watching it come to feed.  More and more birds have been showing up, which means the colder weather is on the way.

Between all this and the constant pain in my knees (I'm sure I'm 'coming down' with arthritis), winter is definitely on its way.  Again.  Who said another year could go by so quickly??

Thursday, November 17, 2011

School Update!

Since this is supposedly a blog about things educational (although I'll admit, more often than not, any education that happens around here is mine rather than the kids'), I thought it was time to take a break and talk about some of the school-y stuff that actually does happen.  Warning:  Likely bragging ahead.

M1 has made great strides in writing this year.  He has a fairly good handle on writing paragraphs and I assigned him his first "research project" this week.  His goal was to name and describe the four types of essays.  I don't have a copy of the final draft yet, but what I've seen so far is wonderful.  We read about primary vs. secondary sources, fact vs. opinion, and how to find reliable sources on the Internet before we started.  Then he researched the topic, made notes, created an outline and a rough draft, and is in the midst of typing up his final version.  The final 'essay' won't even be half a page long, typed, but really, he's 9... who cares? I'm simply impressed that he knows the process.  I told him I didn't expect a rough draft, but he wanted to make one, anyway.  Who am I to argue?

He has finished up Math-U-See Gamma and is a quarter of the way through Delta already.  So far, he likes division.  He also enjoys the cursive writing we've been practicing, and he likes the Spanish and art projects that we've been doing.  At first he thought the Spanish songs were stupid, but he sees their usefulness now and doesn't mind humming along now and then.  In art, he's finally coming around and putting some effort into the projects.  He really liked making a bas-relief the other day, and I keep finding the finished product sitting on a chair rail somewhere in my house.  He likes to display his work.

In science, he's taken over all the experiments and does them independently.  Recently, though, one of the suggested assignments was to study the scientist Marie Curie and write a report.  I decided a report was boring, so I bought some poster board and told him to create a visual report instead.  Of course he wanted parameters, so I told him it had to include 10 facts as well as photos.  A week later, he obliged me with this:


I know the photo is kind of small here, but I think it gets bigger if you click on it.  I helped him find and print the photos as well as play with the documents to get the fonts the right size and shape, but he did all the manual labor and typing.

In history, we're still using Story of the World.  This week, we studied Peter the Great.  Since it had been a long time since I'd made a meal based on history, I thought it was time for a Russian dinner.


This recipe was entitled Tefteli Meatballs, and it was SO good.  Everyone requested that I put the recipe into our family recipe book.  The basic recipe is ground beef, pork sausage, and half-cooked rice made into meatballs and stewed in a tomato sauce.  Delicious.

To go with our meatballs, we ate some dark rye bread and this:


I know it looks fairly unappetizing, but it's called Khalva, and it's walnuts covered in a custardy syrup and then baked.  To be perfectly honest, it wasn't everyone's favorite.  M2 and I liked it, but M2 will eat anything that resembles carbs and I realized later that it reminded me of the batter for hot buttered rum... and I do love me some hot buttered rum!

Tomorrow we're taking it easy because it's the Friday before Thanksgiving break, and we are taking the entire week off for the holiday.  I've got some lovely fall pictures to share, so hopefully I'll find the time to put them up tomorrow.  Stay warm, everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Girl Needs a Sugar Daddy

Oh, not me.  M2.  LE DIVA EXTRAORDINAIRE.


A week or so ago, M1 and Oz went to get haircuts from the hairdresser who performs her magic on everyone in the family.  She's begun selling purses on the side and asked Oz if I was a purse person... hint, hint, Christmas is coming hint hint.  He said I was very much not a purse person (this is true... for most of my adult life, I have not carried a purse.  I only have one now to carry M1's inhaler and EpiPen).

Well.

M2 overheard Oz telling me about this exchange and announced, "Well, Mommy might not be a purse person, but her daughter is!"

Then, while M2 was folding and putting away her laundry today, she launched into THIS:

video


May the Lord have mercy on my wallet.  I love this child and I'm sure she'll get a fantastic job and learn how to budget someday, but good grief... the drama just oozes from her pores!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Productivity ROCKS

Today was not the day I had planned, but it was awesome nonetheless.

Here's why:

  • The chicken coop is mucked out.  Fresh straw is in place.  The birds are happy.
  • The crape myrtles are no longer 75% dead and 25% living; all the cutaway pieces are in the burn pile.
  • The leaf pile the kids made in the front yard yesterday is also part of the burn pile.
  • The garage door works... first time, every time.  No more fiddling with the button to get the door to close!
  • The Halloween gear is finally stowed in the attic.
  • My van is parked in the garage.
  • The gerbil cage is clean.
  • M2 got her weekend reading assignment finished.
  • The trim between the carpet and the linoleum in the laundry room is retacked.
  • The door frame around the front door no longer has visible scratch marks.
  • The kids have made brownies.  I can smell them.
M2 and I didn't go to the local youth symphony concert that we had planned to attend; her mood was not amenable to being around people today.  However, even though things didn't necessarily go as planned, there are enough positives for me to be completely happy with this weekend.  Did I mention it's currently 76 degrees outside?  I'm thrilled that winter hasn't officially arrived.  If the nasty cold can hold off just until we get the Christmas lights up, I'll be a happy camper.

I hope everyone else had a good weekend, too :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude

Dear Everyone:

For the kind words of encouragement regarding my educational dilemma with M2...

For reading this blog despite my tendency to be wordy and completely random...

For sharing tidbits about your own lives through your own blogs (leave me a link if I'm not already following you!)...


Signed,

Sarah

Monday, November 7, 2011

Being the Parent Sucks!

I really hate making decisions that affect my kids' lives.  OK, let me rethink and rephrase that: I hate making decisions about the kids'  lives when there is no way of knowing what the long-term effects will be.

One might argue that there's no way for me to predict how any decision, no matter how small, could affect them 15 years down the road, but I don't think that's entirely true.  I'm quite sure that feeding the kids a wide variety of healthful foods (tonight we had a dish called boerenkool... it had been suggested by a friend, and it was delicious!) is the right choice, just like homeschooling M1 is the right decision.  As much as I fought against it, medicating his ADHD has been a good thing for him, too.  Sometimes the pros very obviously outweigh the cons.

But those... well, they weren't easy decisions, but hindsight is 20/20.

(Typing pause for earthquake... during a tornado watch... because Oklahoma is WINNING.  Thank you for your patience.)

Right... so back to it.  Pros, cons, and decision-making.  I've mentioned before that my schedule is somewhat out of control.  Some days aren't so bad, but at least two days per week I'm pushed to, if not beyond, my limit.  Errands are getting pushed off to evenings or weekends because I simply don't have time to do them during the days any more.  School days with M1 are taking longer the older he gets, plus we have swim, allergy shots, events to attend... and somehow I'm supposed to keep the house in livable shape, too!  I feel like I'm not able to give M2 her fair share of attention, either, because when she gets home I'm still trying to catch up from the day, then she has violin practice or lesson, homework, sometimes therapy, and then I'm off to fix supper.  After supper the kids take their showers and brush their teeth, clamber onto the couch so I can read them a chapter out of the latest book, and then it's time for melatonin and bed so we can get up bright and early the next morning to do it all over again!

It's exhausting just typing about it, and I'm tired.  M1 is holding up all right because he gets the odd downtime in the car or on the odd days where we don't have anywhere to go.  I think M2 is suffering, though... either that or she's headed back into a depressive state... or both.  It's kind of hard to tell.

I've been considering bringing M2 home next year (she's been asking for sooner, but there are lots of complications there and it's doubtful that early withdrawal is a viable option).  The problem is that I'm not entirely sure it's the best decision for her.  For me?  You betcha.  It would change the dynamics of the day, but at least I would be able to control scheduling so I didn't have to be two or three places at once.  More on this later.  Would it work for M1?  He claims not to care although I'm sure it would affect him in more ways than he has considered yet.  M2 is a Chatty Cathy worker; he prefers working in silence.

I've been trying to compile a list of pros and cons of bringing her home.  Here's what I've got so far, and I have hope that you guys will be able to help me add to either side of the list.

PROS:

  1. I would be in control of the schedule.  Though my schedule definitely wouldn't be any emptier, it would would mean later wake-up times and probably later bedtimes and I could leave enough time in between events to keep me from dashing across town at speeds that aren't exactly legal.
  2. I would save money on tuition.  It might not be a ton, because I'd probably let M2 enroll in yoga or swim and would have to purchase extra curriculum, but it'd be something.  Given the fact that we want to move (and like wouldn't move any closer to M2's current school than we are currently), this would allow for a little extra savings.
  3. No fundraising.  No PTA meetings.  No missing out on field trips due to scheduling conflicts.  We could participate in volunteering opportunities around town, too, which I feel gives back a lot more than raising money for an individual school.
  4. The kids would get more time together.  They miss each other during the school day, and I'm blessed to know quite a few homeschooling families that have kids close to their ages so they shouldn't get too lonely.
CONS:
  1. M2 would miss her friends.  She claims she wouldn't, but she would, and I'll be honest... I'm not very good at getting in touch with other parents and scheduling get-togethers.  Plus when she's depressed, I don't want her to think that hibernating at home is an acceptable solution.
  2. M2 enjoys competition.  If she's at home, she can't be the "top" of her class because the only person to compete with is M1, and she hates, hates, HATES feeling like she's second best.  
  3. She does well at school, and the teachers do their very best to try to push her when they see that she's working ahead.  They currently have her working a grade ahead in reading, and the teacher sent home extra math pages last week because M2 insisted that she wanted them.
  4. M2's learning style is quite different than M1's.  He is thriving on a fairly classical education.  He loves schedule and structure and likes doing (more or less) the same thing each day.  M2 would get bored.  There will be days where she will want to do nothing but math... and then not touch math again for a week.  Maybe not initially, but eventually, she'll fight me like M1 never has.  I'm not quite sure I'm up for that.  I'm a little too Type A.
Of course, there's Option #3, which is to transfer her to a decent public school.  It would have a different schedule, thus saving me tuition and swim day chaos, and I wouldn't have to worry about the religion issue that I didn't even touch on (her current private school is Catholic, which our family is not).  But I'm not sure that's the answer, either.  With so many schools being taken on and off the "Needs Improvement" list, who can even tell what schools are really worth the effort any more?  And I would miss our week off in October, which is when we would take our family vacations!

I don't know.  I thought typing it out might help, but it hasn't clarified anything for me.  Thoughts?  Anyone?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Really Do Get Everything Here

For anyone thinking about moving to Oklahoma, please consider that our state is home to the following:

Horrible allergies.

Wildfires.

Blizzards.

Tropical storms.

Deadly heat waves.

Drought.

Floods.

Tornadoes.

Never-ending construction zones.

And now, earthquakes.

Consider this your public service announcement of the day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When Meds Quit

M1.

He's a FABULOUS kid.  He's smart, funny, thoughtful, sweet, and just generally great to be around... when he's medicated.

This isn't to say he can't be all those things when he's not medicated, but they don't come naturally; they are masked by all the overwhelming difficulties that he has to even function on a simple level.  Lately, whether it's due to an impending growth spurt, sinus issues, hormone issues, or a combination of all of the above, M1 has been even more difficult to handle than usual once the medication wears off... and it seems to be wearing off earlier and earlier.

Because I really need to get it out of my system, I'm going to share some shining examples:

-----

Wednesday is library day.  Wednesday is ALWAYS library day.  The routine doesn't change.  The librarians don't change.  The lighting, book placement, and even most of the flyers on the door don't really change.  We arrive a minute or two after we pick M2 up from school because the library is just down the street.  We find our requested books from the arrival shelf first.  Then I walk around with M2 while M1 selects his books; we join back up, check out and leave.  Simple enough, right?

You'd think.

This Wednesday, M1 lost it.  He "went stupid," to use the phrase that Oz and I use after the kids are down for the night.  We're not trying to imply that he's stupid but merely that his brain ceases to process ANY social norms at all and basically shuts down to the outside (i.e. real) world.  We walked up to the checkout counter and placed our books down for the librarian to check out.  I looked down and noticed that M1 had a shoe untied, and I asked him to tie it.  He squatted down, tied it... and didn't come back up.  He stayed in a squatting position.  The librarian had finished checking out M1's books, so I asked him to stand up to get them.  M1 paused, stared at me blankly, and then - I swear - bounced up and played peek-a-boo with the librarian before ducking back down behind the counter.  The librarian kind of gave me a funny look, but he's seen us around enough to know that sometimes my kids can be a bit... er... difficult.  (For whatever reason, the library is one of M2's favorite places to have meltdowns.)  Anyway, I asked M1 again if he would get his books.  I don't think he heard me, so I said his name.

Word to the Wise:  Never, ever call an ASD child's name in a public place unless you want a violent reaction. Triple this if they're zoned out.


M1 shot to his feet with an extremely loud shriek/squawk, flinched when I tried to touch him so I could try to bring him back to reality, grabbed his books, and made a dash for the door.  In the meantime, all I really wanted in that moment was a T-shirt that read, "With ADHD and Asperger's, life is never dull."  The people using the computers nearby were amused; I think the librarian was a little scared.

-----

M1's lack of impulse control is scary, too.  Just tonight, we had major battles over the following:

1.  The (mis)use of balloons.

2.  The (mis)placement of metallic, foot-eating scientific objects like wires and alligator clips.

3.  The (surreptitious, post-teeth-brushing, post-bedtime) eating of candy... and the lying that comes with getting caught.

4.  The closing (slamming) of doors.

5.  Admission of guilt to ANY of the above... because clearly he's entirely innocent and just the victim of his own malfunctioning brain. (To which I say yes, he is, but that's not an excuse to act like a giant equine posterior.)

-----

Now, please contrast all of the above to the following anecdote:

M1 and I dropped by Target and Hobby Lobby in between a swim lesson and swim team practice.

In Target, he helped me find some carrots and potatoes so I could make beef stew for dinner.  He double-checked every slot in the coffee creamer section because I *still* haven't been able to locate any peppermint mocha.  I know it's out there; I'm just not that lucky.  He used every ounce of his 9-year-old male fashion sense to help me pick a winter hat and gloves because I haven't had either of those in about 11 years.  He helped me pick out two sweatshirts and a gorgeous red sweater dress for M2 and asked if he could have another pair of sweatpants for swim days when I ask him to throw warm clothes on over his cold, wet jammers so we can haul bootie to the car and get to M2's school on time.

At Hobby Lobby, he was amazing, too.  We had used the last of our green gel icing dye for Halloween cookies and needed to get some more before Christmas because HELLO... Christmas cookies gotta have green.  It was such a fun trip!  We wandered into the scrapbooking aisle to look at stickers to see if there were any that M2 might want for her art supply stash.  He helped me pick out the best green dye for Christmas cookies and then requested black and gold decorating gels with the logical argument that if we bought them, I wouldn't have to mix those particular colors but they could still make things like gold stars or Santa's boots.  He helped me find and look at a couple of items that I've been considering as gifts for various people.

Throughout both stores, we laughed.  He let me hold his hand and pretended to be embarrassed when I hugged him in public.  He waited (fairly) patiently in line when we were ready to check out.  He picked up the bag(s) and carried it (them) out to the car for me after we were done.

-----

Like I said, he's an amazing kid.  It simply astounds me that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde really can exist in this one small boy's body.  I would love to get a look at his brain.  So if anyone out there wants to run an fMRI for research purposes, sign us up!  As long as he's medicated, I'm sure he'd be quite amenable.

And if he's off the meds?

Well, all bets are off.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I am Zombiewoman

I bet you wondered if I was going to EVER post Halloween photos!

OK, not really, but I'm going to share them anyway.  It is required by my sense of blogging propriety to subject you, once again, to cutesy photos of my holiday doings.  (How was that for writing in the passive voice?)

First, we have the cookies, decorated by my kiddos:



Then we have the dinner plates, decorated by me.  I wanted to accompany these plates with a good ol' nostalgic viewing of the Great Pumpkin movie but got voted down by my Rowan Atkinson-loving kiddos. So "Johnny English" (the first) it was.



Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without getting together with friends...


... carving pumpkins...


... and, last but definitely not least, the Wearing of the Costumes to go trick-or-treating.


My little flapper and my wise-guy gangster had a blast.

In the midst of all this, my nearly-5-year-old laptop finally bit the big one and had to be replaced, Oz got sick (and better again), and I've seen the dark side of 1 a.m. more nights than I care to recount.

Christmas is in 52 days, y'all.  Better get crackin'!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Purging

I.  Hate.  Clutter.

But in a house with four people, all of whom have several interests, we accumulate things.  Things like a make-your-own-homebrew kit.  Or a jewelry rack that isn't large enough any more.  Or a dozen binders of various colors and sizes.

I usually give the house a thorough spring cleaning, but I didn't do it this year.  There was no real reason why I didn't do it, but I didn't.  It was probably a combination of A) hating exercises in futility, B) laziness and C) the fact that I'm just plain busy.  It could also be that I enjoy making excuses for myself when the real root of the problem is that I didn't want to face all the mess.

It's not even that my house is all that messy, to be honest.  I'm a firm believer in a place for everything and everything in its place (my children hate me for this), so if you ask me where to find something in the house, odds are good that I can tell you.  However, I have my mother's genes, and she's one overstuffed cabinet shy of being a hoarder.  She's also a neatnik, so her home is tidier than mine will ever be and you'd never, EVER know how much stuff she has in her house (until you try to fit it all in a UHaul).  Anyway, I have a tendency to hang on to things.  Oz doesn't see messes (this is also a genetic trait, I think, though it could be chromosomal), so he doesn't get rid of things, either.  Eventually, all these little bits and pieces that have been stashed away become more than just little bits and pieces.  They become, for lack of a better word, JUNK.

About this time of year, every year, I get my nose bent out of joint about all the junk.  It could be that the holidays are coming and I start wondering where I'm going to put everything.  It could be that the garden is dead, the grass is dying, the birds are gone, and I have to focus on what's left.  It could be seasonal affective disorder.  It could be a combination of all of the above.  I dunno what causes it, but I do know that my poor spouse and children have to put up with me going through every cabinet, drawer, nook, cranny, and niche that rooting out all the superfluous goods that have multiplied and divided over the last year or so.

So, to my long-suffering Oz and my darling M1 and M2, I apologize in advance for what I'm about to do to you.  I'm going to plunder and pillage your rooms for anything and everything that can be taken.  Hang on to your hats.  I'm coming.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Brand of Magic

This post could be subtitled, "Or, The Quickest Way to a Headache."

Swim days are crazy days for our family.  Besides the drive (clear across town) to and from the swim school and the hour in the water, the team practices end precisely 10 minutes before M2 gets out of school. It takes me 17 minutes (on a good day) to get across town.  It takes at least 5 minutes for M1 to get out of the water, dry off, claim a dressing room, change, and get out of the locker room... and that's assuming that he doesn't get involved in a game of snap-towel with some of the other boys.

(By the way, what IS it with boys and locker rooms?!?  I simply do not understand why it takes them at least twice as long as the girls to get dressed... and the girls come out looking neat and clean and the boys come out looking like... well, like they just got out of some sort of cage brawl.  It drives me crazy.)

Anyway, so team practice ends, I wait the 5-7 minutes for M1 to get changed, and we get in the car.  By the time we hit highway #1, M2 is already out of school, which means I'm racing the clock to pick her up before the teachers who have car line duty take her back into the school for aftercare.

*IF* M1 gets dressed in a timely manner, I can make it in plenty of time.  This has been hit-and-miss, but I think I finally instilled a sense of urgency into the boy by threatening to make him pay for aftercare every time she has to go ($2.50 a pop).  So after practice earlier this week, he busted his butt and was out in two minutes flat.  I was thrilled!  We got in the car, made the left onto the onramp to get onto the highway... and stopped.  Dead stop.  Then I noticed the pretty red and blue lights on the highway where traffic was narrowing down to one lane from three because someone had changed lanes into the back of another car and spun it out.  Fantastic PIT maneuver, I'll grant, but it's not really one you do on the highway unless you ARE the cop and you ARE administering justice.  I don't think that was what happened here.

Anyway, I was late getting M2.

*headwall*

Then we had another swim practice.  I thought to myself, "There's no way it'll be backed up two sessions in a row," so I decided to go the same way.  The same way I always go.  Again, M1 busted his backside and escaped the locker room quickly.

And again, I got onto the onramp just in time to see that - AGAIN - the traffic was at a full stop.  And this time, the wreck wasn't visible because it was two miles away.

Un-freaking-believable.  I do believe this is the definition of winning, isn't it??

Next week, I'll test traffic and see what I can jack up by going a different direction.  After all, it isn't fair for me to condemn the same people to traffic jams all the time.  Gotta spread the love.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Schroedinger's cat and kids (specifically my son)

So my husband really should know better than to show me anything related to particle, theoretical, or ANY sort of physics after midnight.  After all, I've told him at least ONE WHOLE TIME that watching things like "Through the Wormhole" during the witching hour will leave me up for several more while I contemplate things that probably aren't even theoretically possible.

He doesn't listen, though, and last night he introduced me to the Minute Physics Channel on Youtube.

This did not bode well for my sleeping habits, especially when I simply *HAD* to understand the idea that  2+4+8+16... = -1,  Don't ask, though you should of course feel free to click the link and make your mind explode.  However, in my little world of not thoroughly understanding anything related to physics, theoretical or otherwise, it all boils down to Schroedinger's cat.  And at 12-something a.m., I began to relate Schroedinger's cat and my son.

Here's how it works:

Schroedinger's cat either is or is not, right?  K.  And right now, as far as M1 is concerned, there are no boundaries on what he can and cannot accomplish.  This morning, for instance, he marched up to me with a math worksheet and announced he was done.  Nothing was written out, not even on problems like 1,357x23.  There were simply answers.  And they were all correct.  Given his history of cheating, I may have flipped out a little bit.  I may have had him park his butt back in his chair, given him the same problems again, and ordered him to do them mentally.

And he may have come back with the same, absolutely correct answers.

I stand chastised and corrected... and somewhat jealous of his mathematical capabilities.

As another example, yesterday he announced to me that he had a plan to build a warp engine... but he'd need to build a nuclear reactor and the end result would have to be several times larger than the actual life-size USS Enterprise.  I told him to let me know when he found some plutonium and was ready to start construction.

I'm sure I could go on, but the point is that he really doesn't know what can and cannot happen, what is and is not theoretically or actually possible, and what has or has not been tried already.  So until such time as someone disenchants him of the possibilities, he believes it can all be done.

In other words, the outside influence will create the outcome.  And I think this is true of all children.  The boundaries that we put on them, the restrictions that we share from our own experiences, have repercussions that we can't even begin to imagine.  It's amazing.

Schroedinger's cat.  My son.  So many possibilities, I don't even want to open the box.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DAGNABIT (Bucket List rant)

One of the things I want to do at some point in my life is see the aurora borealis.  Had I gotten off my lazy duff and gone OUTSIDE last night, I could have done that.  But did I?  Did I?  Of course not!

*grump*

There should be alerts for those kinds of things.

That is all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

One for the Big Bang Theory Fans

We love the show Big Bang Theory at our house.  I missed the first couple seasons, but then I paid a visit to my sister and she introduced me to the show.  I fell instantly and deeply in love.  Now I never miss an episode.  The one this week had me rolling particularly hard because...

I am raising Sheldon.

I'm not a die-hard religious, politically incorrect Texan, but whenever Sheldon's mother appears on the show, I laugh myself to the verge of tears.  So this week's episode got me and got me good.

This morning the kids, Oz and I went out to First Watch for breakfast.  M1 ordered their eggs & bacon kids' meal.  M2 ordered the kids' French toast meal.  When M2 got her plate, the French toast was arranged in the shape of a face with whipped topping, fruit, and her sausage link.  M1's plate... was not.  So he made his own face.  In the process, he put his bacon next to his egg, which then "leaked" onto the bacon when he cut into it (eggs over medium are the norm for our family).  So since the eggs had leaked onto the bacon *and* the bacon was "too crunchy," M1 decided not to eat it.

Oz told him that the bacon would be delicious dipped in the egg, and I butted in.  "C'mon, Dad... you know he doesn't like to have his food touching.  He is Shelly, after all."

M1 eyed me suspiciously.  "Are you calling me Shelly?"

"No," I lied.  "I would never call you Shelly or any other name, because I know that you are completely unique and would never, ever be like anyone else... right?"

"Right," M1 replied, somewhat mollified.

Then... then, I simply couldn't resist.

"Are you the type of mind that comes along once, maybe twice in a generation?"

"Yes," M1 proclaimed.

"And you love your mama's fried chicken and pie?"

"Yes... like the stuff you made the other night."

(I did, in fact, make fried chicken the other night and have pie on the menu for later this week.)

It's all I can do when M1 pulls a Sheldon to not giggle uncontrollably and make Big Bang Theory references... but oh, he gets SO mad.  He can't bear to consider the fact that someone else on this earth might be like him.

I still haven't decided whether or not to take him to Houston, though :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Feel Pretty!

I am not a happenin' person.  I happen to know that.  I can't be trendy if I try (tried once, wound up looking incredibly stupid, vowed to never let that particular fiasco happen again).  So imagine my surprise and delight when I opened up my inbox yesterday to find this:


Along with it came this message from Resa from Rebel Homeschool:

Hi there, I'm not sure if you read Educating April blog. She gave me the "Stylish Blogger" thing, which seems to be a little compliment and a "7 things about me" game. If you don't want to do the 7 things, that's fine. I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your blog. Your posts come through with a heartfelt honesty that never fails to impress me. Thanks for being a wonderful homeschool blogger.

Best Wishes,

Resa

I'm touched.  I'm flattered!  Thank you so much!  And I can totally play along, especially since it's Friday and I went to the doctor this morning and I discovered I've lost 14 lbs. and he told me I'm in "perfect health."  It's just a great day, isn't it?

1.  I have had gray in my hair since I was 14.  The first time I found one, I pulled it out just to see if it really, truly was attached to my head.  It was.  I cried.  Then I kept discovering more.  Now I dye my hair.  It all works out.

2.  I have ridden in a hot air balloon.  I hate flying in airplanes, but I love hot air balloons.  They are so quiet and peaceful.  They let you drink champagne on board and/or afterward.  Best of all, I understand the physics!

3.  I am genetically missing four teeth.  Two of them are wisdom teeth, which is great because it saves me the surgery.  The other two are the two that are supposed to be on either side of my top front teeth.  My mom is missing the same two, and I think M1 is as well.  Don't know about M2 yet. 

4.  I want to visit New York City.  Here's what I want to do:  Arrive first thing in the morning.  Get in a cab.  Explore (i.e. drive or walk around) for the next four hours.  Take a bajillion pictures.  Go to a museum.  Spend one night in a plush hotel.  Eat indulgent meals.  Visit Central Park and maybe one more museum.  Get on a plane and leave.  I think that's about all I could take.  City girl, I am NOT.

5.  I took tap, ballet, and gymnastics lessons as a youngster... all from the same teacher.  Her name was Patty Pasek.  I also played soccer.  The coach was the mom of one of my classmates.  I loved all of it.  Then we moved to Oklahoma and my mom got depressed and I didn't get to participate in a single extracurricular activity until I joined the high school band.  It makes me sad, but it also makes me who I am.  No regrets.

6.  I cannot see the book Sarah, Plain and Tall without shuddering.  Imagine being the new girl in fourth grade.  Imagine being Sarah, plain and tall, when that book is read aloud to your fourth grade class.  Imagine the taunting. 

7.  I am too cheap to purchase real art for my walls.  Instead, I've been trying to find cross-stitch patterns of the same things so I can spend a year stitching them and then have to spend as much money on framing as it would have cost me to purchase the art in the first place.  Someone talk me out of this idea!

Thanks again for reading this blog, everyone.  I'm passing my award on to Toni at This Simple Life.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Night & Day

I love that my kids are good friends.  I know I've mentioned that my sister and I weren't close growing up, but I knew that many of my classmates were, in fact, very close friends with their siblings.  I always had the notion that I would give birth to two boys who would be best friends.  They would share bunk beds and a closet and a love of team sports.  When I got a boy (who couldn't care less about sports except swimming) and a girl, I was worried.  I thought they wouldn't get along, that they'd have nothing in common, and that they'd spend a good chunk of their waking hours at each other's throat.

I got that partially right.  They do have sibling spats, and I have actually seen one child grab the other by the throat on occasion.  But in general, they do get along.

They also have absolutely nothing in common.

It's gotten to the point where I don't dare ask a question with two options and ask them to choose one together.  I don't think it's possible for them to agree.  Mexican or Chinese food, museum or zoo, stay home or go out, milk or water, black or white... it doesn't matter.  An argument will ensue.

To some degree, I get it.  Neither of them wants to be seen 'copying' the other.  They are highly individualized little beings living in a highly individualized little world, and they are both desperate to be unique.  They're both stubborn.  They both want what they want and neither is willing to give an inch to the other because to concede defeat would be the ultimate sacrifice, and despite all my talk about taking turns and sharing, the idea of "being the bigger person" has definitely not kicked in.

So now, since I'm me and I worry about things over which I have absolutely no control, I worry about whether they'll get along as adults.  It's already becoming an issue of fundamental beliefs.  Yesterday, M2 was sitting on the couch before bed and declared, "Mom, M1 told me that God isn't real because you can't prove it, and I don't believe him because I think God *IS* real... how can I prove it?"

All I could think to tell her was Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  I explained the best I could, but really, my mind was a blur and I'm not sure that I made any sense.  M2 seemed contented, though, and I assured her that her belief in God was just fine, no matter what her brother said... and today I had to have a chat with M1 about faith systems and the fact that no matter what he believes, he can't prove HE'S right any more than SHE can and that above all things, I expect him to respect others' beliefs.  And that means if his sister or a friend or anyone takes it into their head to believe in anything he considers odd - for example, Zeus or Amun-Ra or the Wizard of Oz - he will respect it and shut up about it, period, end of statement.

He told me he still believes there has to be a god, but it frustrates him that nobody can prove it.  I quoted the above Bible verse to him, too, and told him I didn't care what he believed as long as he truly believed it... but that he might as well be familiar with the Bible anyway, because somewhere, someday, he's going to run across references and people who take verses out of context and he's going to need to know how to refute it all.

I think he got it.

I must admit I expected to have this conversation with him at some point, but I thought it would be closer to the age of 19, not 9.  It proves to me that he really is a scientist at heart, after all, and in his mind if it can't be proven, it must not be real.  (This had already led to an argument with his good friends about the existence or non-existence of Bigfoot; now we're just upping the ante, so to speak.)

Anyway, even though these two kids have been living with the same two parents since birth and had very little in the way of different experiences in upbringing, I think nature sometimes does win out over nurture.  I just hope their equally loving, passionate little natures bring them closer as adults instead of pushing them apart!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Revelation


The end of the world is coming.  I know.  I have seen the signs.




Did you see the signs, too?  They're all over M1's room.  The way his closet's contents have begun to ooze out of the door... the way underwear and socks are peeking out his nightstand drawer that's supposed to contain only magazines... the way his toy bins, half of them completely empty two months ago, have managed fill and overflow to the dresser.  And don't even get me started on the full hamper that I asked him to bring me this morning when I did the rest of the laundy.

The signs are there.  They are unmistakeable.  They all point clearly to the fact that...

MY SON IS NINE.  AND HE IS JUST. LIKE. ME.

In 2-3 years, his floor will no longer be a floor.  It will be a foot-deep pile of rubbish that occasionally gets picked up but not necessarily vacuumed.  Clothes will strew themselves with abandon across all possible surfaces.  I'll be incredibly tempted to call the show "Hoarders" to deal with the crap my son leaves when he moves out.

I know this because I did it.  I was the messy child.  My mess never extended through the rest of the house, but for several years, my room had ONE path through it... and I use the word 'path' with trepidation, because really, it was more like a randomized hopscotch grid.  I still don't know how I never lost my homework.  My room became like this because I was largely sentenced to it from the age of about 9 until I was about 16, at which time I gained a car and pseudo-independence, and even then I only came out of my uber-cluttered hermitage to go to school, my job(s), and my extracurricular activities.

The problem is, the boy has a sass-mouth just like his mama, too, which is what caused her to be sentenced to her bedroom in the first place.  I can still hear the admonition, "... and close the door, and don't come out until you can act like a civilized human being again!"  Now?  I find myself biting my lip to keep from saying the very same thing, because I swore up and down that if I ever had kids I'd never do that, and I like to think I'm not quite so hypocritical.

But geez it's hard!

As a parent, part of me feels like it's my responsibility to make sure that he keeps his room clean; on the other hand, I can already feel my authority slipping away, and it *is* his room.  I guess I'll have to pick my battles.  Because I can either nip the sass in the bud (which I will) or I can have him keep his room clean (which I'd like), but I imagine, after remembering my own teenage years, that there's no way I'm getting both.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Temporary Reprieve

Since we hadn't taken a vacation in a couple of years, we were WAY overdue.  So a few months ago, I booked a trip to one of the Great Wolf Lodge locations and told the kids they would finally, finally get to stay in a hotel again.  They were beside themselves with excitement.  They couldn't wait for their week off from school so we could get away and go someplace new.



Never mind the grimace.  He's excited, I promise.  The sun was just in his eyes (though we actually saw RAIN in Texas while we were there!). 

Even though we were only there for two nights, getting there one day, spending one full day there, and then leaving on the next, we filled the time to the brim.


The kids totally loved their little 'Kid Kamp' that featured bunk beds and a separate TV in a nook that was out of a direct line of sight from the bed that Oz and I shared.


We spent hours upon hours in the water...


and I'm still amazed that we didn't turn into actual prunes.


When we weren't in the water, the kids filled the time playing MagiQuest...


which meant that Oz and I got our fill of the staircase (i.e. the Hidden Stairway) tramping up and down all eight floors... repeatedly.


And when we got tired or cranky or just plain done, there was always TV...


... as well as a nice walk through the nearby downtown/arts district, where we ate lunch and window shopped.  I came home with more stuff for my Department 56 Halloween village, because you can never have enough Halloween decor.

OK, *I* can never have enough Halloween decor.

All in all, it was a fabulous escape.  Now the kids want to go to all the other locations, just because.  Oz and I had fun, too, and would love to indulge them.  Of course, we want to stay longer so that we can spend a couple days at Great Wolf and then spend a couple of days really enjoying the surrounding areas, but I'll take whatever getaway we can manage!  This had been a long, LONG time coming.