Thursday, February 28, 2013

Proverbs Ring True

Pride goeth before a fall, says the adage, and nowhere is that more true than here this week.  I posted earlier this week that I was proud of M1.  Now, I am full of disappointment, and because I blog all my life - the good, the bad, and the ugly - I need somewhere to vent my frustration.

Ahh, the anonymity of a blog and the kindness of readers.  I know (OK, I hope) you'll sympathize, even if you can't really understand.

I discovered yesterday that M1 has been sneaking into my room at night - AGAIN - and stealing the remote - AGAIN - and using it to try to watch TV in the middle of the night.


Now, Oz and I have parental controls set so that the kids can only watch TV during normal, human-functioning hours, so he wasn't able to get anywhere with that, but apparently he spent a good chunk of time learning how to delete game history and playing Wii games.  *sigh*

Then today he asked for his math worksheet.  We use MUS, and I use the 'test' pages as a final review of the material in each lesson.  He asked for the test.  I handed it to him.  Five minutes later, he handed it back, complete and utterly correct, which is UNHEARD of for him, especially since it was neatly written and there was a plethora of difficult multiplication involved (squaring 63, for instance, as part of finding the area of a circle), which I know takes him several minutes to complete by itself.

So I asked him to hand over his scratch paper notebook.  As I flip through it, knowing what I'm going to find, I thought I'd give him a chance to 'fess up.

"You're cheating, aren't you?" I asked.


"M1, there's no way you could finish that work that quickly.  Show me your work."

"It's... all throughout the book.  It's not just on one page."  (This is probably true, as I know he does flip around when working, but I wasn't buying it today.)

"M1, did you come in here in the middle of the night and get the answer book and cheat?"


About that time I found the page.  Numbered neatly 1-18 with all the answers listed next to it, the evidence was staring me in the face.

"M1, what's this?"

"Oh, that's just the answers copied down before I put them on the paper."


"M1, WHY????"

"I dunno..."

I do not punish for bad 'grades.'  It only shows me that we need more practice on a concept.  M1 KNOWS THIS.  So I just don't understand.

I simply don't understand the lying, the cheating, the sneaking, the stealing, the hiding, and - like I said - the lying.  I don't understand how he can want to be treated like an adult and be left alone... and then turn around and act like a toddler who has to be monitored 24/7.  There's pushing boundaries, and then there's this.  This is beyond pushing boundaries.  And I'm lost.

Pass the Bailey's.  I need a stiff'ner.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Procrastination; or, The Phone Is My Enemy

I despise making phone calls.  It's funny, because when I was a teenager, my parents couldn't get me off the phone if they tried, and now my husband can't even get me to call the pizza guy.

Oh, the way things change.

I tell him that when I was a journalist, I used up my phone quota talking to everyone under the sun all day long, but I think the truth is that unless I have a purpose, I just don't care to call people.  When I had to conduct interviews, I had my questions more or less prepared so I knew what I was going to say.  There was a purpose.  And I see no purpose in calling one pizza company when others have online ordering forms available.  I very, very rarely call even my best friends because I worry that either I'll call at a bad time or they'll answer and I'll discover I have nothing to say.  Casual acquaintances don't have a chance.

A month ago, I got an e-mail from my eye doctor saying it was time for my annual check-up.  Early last week I got a reminder card from M1's eye doctor saying he was due for a check-up as well.  I also needed to schedule M2's 8-year well-child check and call an orthodontist for a consultation about M1's teeth.

I would like to suggest that someone develop a program like OpenTable for doctors.  But that's just me.

Anyway, I decided that TODAY IS THE DAY.  At 9 a.m., I set Project Scheduling into motion.  First I called the pediatrician's office, because I know all the front office staff by sight, if not by name.  M2 now has a well-child check scheduled.  Then I called my eye doctor and got to talk to an answering machine, which I don't mind at all because I know what to say to them.  They're predictable.  Third I called M1's eye doctor; he now has an appointment scheduled there.  And I'm about to call an orthodontist who, ironically, does have an online appointment system available, but I'm leery of using it since we're new patients.  Even I can concede that sometimes talking to a real live person is more useful than using the Interwebz, now matter how convenient it may be.

There's still part of me that's squirming inside. If it wasn't in the name of medical necessity, I doubt I'd be doing all this. I'd probably just put it off till tomorrow. Again.

I just have to put on my grown-up pants today. 

Someone tell me to get moving.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Little Moments of Pride

 I absolutely love it when the children surprise me with little things that they do or want to do or are capable of doing.

M2, for example, surprised the heck out of me this week.  We've been discussing the spring violin solo competition with her teacher, and she'd been leaning toward doing a short song that she already knows quite well.  It wouldn't take long to work up, and - like I said - it's short.  She always gets very, very nervous during solo competitions, and so she tends to choose short, easier songs so that she has a little less pressure looming overhead.  

So imagine my shock this week when she changed her mind and insisted that she wants to play the song she's just finished learning.  It's long, first of all, with several repeats as well as a 'DC al fine' to polish it off.  Secondly, she's just finished learning it.  There are only six weeks till the regional competition, and if she does well there, she'll go to state later in the spring with the same piece.  Six weeks sounds like a long time to work up a piece until you realize that at the same time, she's working on two other pieces for the teacher's spring recital AND has selected another piece to learn and play for her solo at the recital (which, unlike the competition piece, doesn't have to be memorized).  And sometime in there, the teacher's likely to have her start refreshing several other pieces for the spring recital as well.  

She'll also take the music theory test for the first time this year.  Her teacher's been handing out worksheets each week, and M2 has taken to them quite nicely.

She's good, my girl, and I'm really proud of her for putting herself out there like this.  I can only hope that she doesn't start freaking out sometime between now and then.

M1 is making me proud, too.  Last night, he made eclairs.  Strawberry eclairs.  I had to teach him how to use a piping bag, but other than that, he did it all himself and cleaned up the kitchen afterward.  I love that part the most, I think, and the eclairs themselves were absolutely delicious.  He wants to try to make blueberry or raspberry eclairs sometime soon.  I'm not about to argue with him.

Then yesterday we got a nasty piece of news.  At one of his swim meets recently, he did very well at breaststroke, which is his favorite stroke.  He won his heat by quite a long shot and had great hopes of winning an overall ribbon.  However, when I got the results and started looking for his name, I discovered that he'd been disqualified.

I was angry at first, but I took a deep breath and texted the coach, who gave me a quick, if somewhat vague, explanation and promised to talk to me about it in person.  Which meant I had to tell M1 what had happened.  I told him over lunch today, and while he teared up initially, he seemed to get past it quickly.  I promised him that the coach would talk to him about it, and he asked if he still got to keep his heat ribbon.  I said yes.  (I didn't know for sure at the time, but they were going to get that back over my dead body.  I didn't have to worry, but still...).  Anyway, we went to practice, and the coach did indeed talk to M1 and me about the problem and helped M1 learn what to do so it wouldn't happen again.  Overall, the coach acknowledged that it's not a normal situation and several kids were dinged for penalties that aren't supposed to exist in our beginner league... but... M1 wasn't upset.  I was set to go all Mama Lion on the judges and league leaders and see if I could get things fixed, but M1 showed me that there was no need.  He's really okay with things. He understands that it isn't fair and that sometimes we have to fight for injustice, but he also knows that there's another meet coming up in a couple of months and he can try again then.  And he let it go.

I'm really stinking proud of my kiddos for pushing their emotional, experiential, and mental limits.  They're acting really grown up this week.

Remind me about this next time I gripe.  Thanks :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013


What is failure, anyway?

Is it active - the inability do something - or passive - the feeling that we didn't accomplish the goals we set out to achieve?  Is it internal - self-acknowledgement of failure - or external - something we're told by someone else?

Or is it just imaginary, a state of mind we only visit when we feel completely hopeless?

By many accounts, yesterday would have been considered an epic failure at our house.  There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and while chores and/or assignments did eventually get accomplished, I don't think there was much of a sense of ownership and pride in getting them done.  They were just things to be ticked off of a list.  And that isn't my goal at all.

Here's the thing, though: I don't really believe in failure.  When M1 was just a tiny wee lad, I had a friend tell me something that's stuck with me ever since.  Her mother-in-law, I believe, told it to her; the wisdom of the ages being passed through the generations.  She said, "You can't screw up a child in one day.  Take everything one minute, one hour, or one day at a time, and let the past go."  I believe in that

When I get up each morning, I never know what that day holds.  I'd like to say that I wake up with never-flagging optimism and greet everyone cheerfully, ready to tackle the problems each new day brings.  It wouldn't be true, though.  I'm not a morning person, and I'm not particularly optimistic in general.  I read a book about correcting negative thinking in children recently, but if I'm honest, I need to utilize the methods as much as I need to teach the children to use them.  It's easy for me to get caught in the downward spiral of pessimism and guilt and ugly thoughts, and I hate to see those reflected in the kids.  Still, even in moments of utter despair, when I think that the kids are never going to manage to reach adulthood with any sense of responsibility and ownership, I think to myself that the next day is a new day.  I believe it was Anne of Green Gables who said that "tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet," but I echo that sentiment to myself when I feel so incredibly down that I wonder if up is even possible.

Yesterday was ugly, yes.  Today had the potential to be just the same.  But it isn't.  And if I carried the mistakes and concerns of yesterday over to today, we'd be stuck in a very nasty place and never feel like we could get out of the hole we'd dug ourselves into.

Maybe that is what failure is - holding onto mistakes and not moving past them.

I'm not doing that.

So maybe, just maybe, I'm a successful parent.

It's a good thought to have.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Week Off

We're taking this week off of school.  It sounds lovely and relaxing, right?


This morning, I got up at 8, which is slightly later than normal but not by much.  Since then, I have:

  • Folded and put away 2 loads of laundry that I sorted and washed last night
  • Made more laundry detergent
  • Cleaned and refilled the litter boxes
  • Trimmed the boy's hag claws, otherwise known as fingernails
  • Discussed personal responsibility with the boy (again) after making a disgusting discovery that I promised him I wouldn't reveal
  • Exercised
  • Called our attorney (well, OK, I called his wife/secretary) to discuss changes to our trust
  • Made sure the girl was properly packed for an overnight trip to Grandma's
  • Made sure the boy was properly packed for his swim meet
  • Taught the children how to repot plants; M1 then repotted his bamboo and set it out front

Now I'm off to change clothes and make myself look decent so I can take M2 to her grandmother's and then go to lunch with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in ages.

Tomorrow is going to be busy, too.  It's Mardi Gras, so I've promised the crew jambalaya.  Even though we aren't doing school lessons, they still have violin and swimming lessons/practice, and I need to clean out the fish tank as well.  I've also promised to take the kids to the aquarium sometime this week, since they both desperately want to see the new sea turtle exhibit, and on Friday we're going to meet with some friends to perform at an assisted living facility for Valentine's Day.  Oh, and Thursday IS Valentine's Day, for which I still have precisely squat in the way of plans.

And to think that I had big dreams of studying German and working on my story all week.

I should know better.  Still, if I can get all this stuff whipped into shape this week, maybe next week won't be so bad... right?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Babies and February

'Tis the season for babies, you know.  Thankfully the only babies around here are of the non-human variety.  I don't even want to think about what my life would be like with an infant.  I barely have time to breathe as it is; fitting a baby into the schedule (and the house, if I'm honest) is a horror story I'm not even going to consider.

Can you tell I'm all done having kids??  No regrets here.

Still, it's fun to see all the babies hatching and growing right now.

The mommy mollie has had two babies so far... that have survived.  They're both swimming happily around the tank with their friends...

... the baby guppies.  This is one of two infants, but we have three 'adolescent' guppy babies as well.  Two of those are male, and one is female.  We don't know which gender the infants are yet.  I'm kind of excited to find out.

My plants are, by and large, growing rapidly as well.  I'm going to have to spend some time this weekend cleaning out the garden patches and getting them ready, as these guys should be ready to thin and transfer to bigger containers sometime in the next week or two, and they'll be ready to put in the garden in about a month, I think, if the weather stays warm like it has been and I can get them hardened off properly.  That's always the part I struggle with the most.

When I was outside the other day, I took my camera with me.  It's too early for tadpoles yet, but I wanted a few pictures of the creek, just for fun.  After all, if we have another summer like the last two years, seeing water in it may be a rarity.

Also... I like birch trees.  They're fun.

Who can believe it's February already?  Anyone else wondering what on earth to do for Valentine's Day?