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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nine

Nine.  It's hard for me to believe that my son is now nine years old.  After all, it seems like only a few days ago when I was painting a bedroom blue and trying to figure out how on earth it was possible that I was a mother... and now I find it impossible to be the mother of a child who, legally, is halfway to adulthood!

I'm quite resistant to change, but thankfully, some things haven't.


For example....


... he still loves his mama and puts up with her silly antics.


He still has a great grin...



... even when he's studiously ignoring me.


He still loves to play all sorts of games with vehicles...



... even if he now builds the vehicles himself.


Most importantly, he's still not driving the car...


... even if he doesn't really fit in the seat any more.

Happy Birthday, M1!  I can only hope to be worthy to be your mother!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday is my Friday

Today is my Friday.  This isn't usually the case, of course, though it often seems like Friday is incredibly easy when compared to the rest of the week.  The fact that I typically don't have to go anywhere on Fridays and can indulge my hermit-ness makes me a happy camper.

But today is my Friday because... there's no school tomorrow!  Or all of next week!

I do enjoy a good week off.

I also enjoy zombie references.

So when I saw this "news" story today, I thought of you all and decided to share:

Zombies on Highway

Happy "Friday," everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why My Friends Rock

OK, OK, I was all about starting this post off with a serious tone, and then I went and read Pioneer Woman Homeschooling today.  I am mentioned.  I fell over.  After I recovered, I had to share.  My grammar-related pet peeves are shared by others, and this makes me happy on a primal level.  I know that it's me because I'm comment #10 on this post from last week.  Otherwise I would never presume that out of the thousands upon thousands of Pioneer Woman readers that I would ever, EVER be mentioned.

I am not that special.

However, my friends ARE.  And I'll tell you why.

I'm sure most of you have heard all the hoopla surrounding Facebook lately, with the new format, the new feed, the new lists, the new profile/Timeline feature, etc.  I can't say I've been happy with it, either, but I will concede that since it IS free, I don't get the right to gripe.  If I don't like it, I don't have to use it.  But I'm extremely resistant to change, so over the past week, I've been making major changes in order to continue having Facebook work the way I want it... and in so doing, I tightened up my security measures exponentially.  One of the things I did was created a list - I can't delete it anyway - of "Close Friends."  As I was making this list, it hit me that I have quite the amazing group of friends and that while some of them may be as different from one another as night to day, there are still a few qualities that I am proud to say they all share.

1.  They are all loyal.  No backstabbing.  This provides me with an amazing sense of relief.  I really, really enjoy not having to worry about someone poisoning my friends behind my back.  Gripe about me?  That's fine.  Everyone needs to have a rant about other folks sometimes, even friends, and I'm sure I'm the occasional topic.  I get that.  If they need a break from talking to me/dealing with me for a while?  Go right ahead... I'm here if and when they're ready to hang out again... and if that day never comes, I wish them all the best.  No hard feelings and all that.  But those things are very different in my mind than going around spreading rumors or just plain being malicious.  Frustration and confusion over a friend's actions do not equal being spiteful and horrid.  They equal patience, kindness, forgiveness... all the good stuff that true friendship is made of.

2.  They are all truthful.  Nobody makes up stories.  If you ask a question and they think you won't like the answer, they'll generally try to be as nice as possible, but they'll still tell you the truth.  Don't ever ask if your butt looks big in a certain outfit unless you can handle the answer, "Uh... well... yes."  By the same token, don't ever ask if you're making the right decision unless you can handle, "Well, it's not what I would do in your situation, but I'm not in your shoes," because that's what you'll get.  Truth.  Even if it ain't purdy.

3.  They all love a good joke.  Whether it's a prank or just a stupid Internet meme, we all love to laugh at something and happily call one another to share the idiotic moments of our day, even at our own expense.  (That's another thing about my friends... I will answer the phone when they call!)

4.  They all love holidays.  I think.  This one I'm not entirely sure about all my friends, but I think most of them enjoy holidays, even if it just means taking a day off from the regular shenanigans to deal with holiday shenanigans.

5.  The clincher for me and why my friends truly are the best people I've ever met is... THEY ARE TOLERANT.  I have friends in my life from various religions (from atheist to Anglican priest), various political backgrounds (uber-conservative to reasonably liberal... don't think I have any diehard liberal friends, but I don't discuss politics, so I could be wrong), various family situations, various educational agendas (homeschool, private school, public school), and they are ALL awesome.  They listen to other views and don't attack.  They educate themselves about different topics and draw their own conclusions and aren't afraid to stand up for what they choose to believe but they don't force their beliefs down anyone else's throat.  They like to step out of their comfort zone occasionally (even if they then retreat back into it for a few months afterward).  They really try hard never to judge a situation until they know all the details... and if details aren't available, they step back and let it go.  They are accepting. 

My friends - and this includes my spouse and kids - are what make my world go 'round, and I'm so, so happy to have them in my life.  Thanks for being there and putting up with my quirks.  I truly appreciate it!