This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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This Spring

I let all of March go by without a post. Not sure how that happened, but it probably had something to do with our even busier than usual schedule. My two hardest classes ever wrapped up in the middle of the month, a week after an extra workshop with one of my favorite professors. I was single parenting while the Daddy was traveling for work for a total of two weeks, and there are two more three-day trips to go. The kids had spring breaks (separately, since the preschool follows another district’s schedule), and then there was all the usual busy three-kid-household stuff going on.

So, there were big things and little things that happened in the last several weeks. Big things first, right?

The biggest news: Girlie took her First Communion on Thursday night. She was so excited. I was so proud of her. The instruction given at the church was pretty minimal, but she went through all the materials and then came to me with all her questions. She felt like the materials she was given were written for a bit younger audience, and I agreed, so we went right to the Luther’s Small Catechism. She read what Luther had to say and we discussed it at length. I am so proud of her blossoming faith. I am so thrilled to be able to share mine with her. She’s so smart and sweet. She works out her questions so carefully. Sometimes I can’t give her an answer, but she accepts that maybe sometimes the idea is to explore the question rather than find the definitive answer. When she stepped up and knelt at the Lord’s Table, surely no more humble or earnest heart has ever received the sacrament.

bThat Middle Kid is TEN! It’s astonishing to me how fast it’s going. Everyone said it would, you know it will, but there is no real preparation for the speed at which they grow. He was just a toddler and now he’s pushing his way toward teenhood. He makes me absolutely batty sometimes, but he’s the neatest ten-year-old I know and I can’t believe I get to be his mom.

Also of note, as mentioned above, I finished my hardest semester to date. Digital Preservation and Cataloging I. I knew they would both be rough, and that taking them together would be an enormous challenge, but waiting to take one of them might have postponed graduation up to a year. Had to be done. I got an A- in Cataloging, but the grades are still pending in Digital Preservation. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There were a lot of points left to be awarded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a B, though it would be disappointing. However it turns out, I made some good friends in the group project work, which I didn’t expect. I hate group projects with a passion, but I got lucky this time. All three other members worked hard and got along well together.

So, that leaves an internship this summer and just one class (Foundations of Archives) in the fall. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in the middle of December. It’s so odd to think of being done. It will have been a full three years of work, but it seems like it’s all I’ve ever done. The Baby Bird doesn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. Then, of course, it will be time to get a job!

The littlest kid is all registered for all-day kindergarten. Here in Worthington, half-day kindergarten is free, but full-day is available for a pretty reasonable fee. The curriculum is not expanded, but they get more time to spend on each learning target. The fee is by far the best value in childcare around here, and having him at the school with his big brother and sister is well worth it. The idea is that I’ll have a little more flexibility to get a job and work out additional childcare with him in full-day. It’s awarded by lottery, though, so it wasn’t a done deal until they drew names but we made the cut.

In lesser news, both big kids read and loved Harry Potter this winter. The girl is off on the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series) and trying to get me to read it. I want to, but discretionary reading hours are so precious, you know? And the Middle kid passed along a series he read in school, Brian’s Saga, that I never read. I’m most of the way through the first one and it is a quick read, but I almost never sit down. I will get through them all, kids. I promise. Having more reading given to you by your kids is a problem I’m happy to have.

So, tomorrow is Easter. I want to write about Good Friday. I’m so filled with emotion every Good Friday, and I always feel the need to write about it. It doesn’t seem right to tack it onto the end of a catch-up kind of post, though, and I haven’t really worked out exactly what I’m trying to say this year. I just read this post, a sermon by a friend of Nadia Boltz-Weber, and it’s good. It’s really good. I gasped several times at the sheer truth it contains. It’s painful. Good Friday must be painful.

For today, I’ll get back to deviling eggs and layering pudding and bananas. There are clothes to be ironed and kids to be bathed. We cut the Baby’s curls off yesterday. They can grow back, but for a while I’ve been thinking that he looked like a big boy with a baby’s haircut. No more. One haircut and he looks like he grew up by two years. I can’t wait to get everyone all dressed up tomorrow and take their picture.

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The Sweet Spot

It doesn’t feel like a sweet spot. I’m swamped with homework, and laundry, and meal prep, and more daily drudgery than pre-Mom me thought was possible. These days, with all of that, are still a bit of a sweet spot.

Today, in 2015, we have no babies, no teenagers, and no aging parents requiring our care.

I registered the Baby Bird for kindergarten today. It’s the end of an era. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming, bit it’s still something to make me think. I’ve known it was coming, this whole Master’s Degree saga is a direct result of my knowing that it was coming. In the fall my baby will start school and I’ll complete my degree in December. Then I’ll have to get a real job.

So the last decade has been full of pregnancies and diapers, ABCs and 123s, learning to throw a ball and ride a bike, constant supervision, and minute-to-minute-in-the-trenches parenting. The next decade will bring a whole new set of challenges. Working mom life, learning to drive, teenagers, college choices, and more and more letting go. Our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives will all look pretty different in the next decade.

But it’s all good. I wouldn’t change it. It’s going fast and I just want to take a minute to look around and take it in. I want to remember that this IS a sweet spot.

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#NaBloPoMo experiment FAIL! And other December reflections.

Yeah, I tried the post-a-day project for November pushed by BlogHer called NaBloPoMo. I tried, I really did. I failed. Spectacularly, I think. And as any good scientist will tell you, a failed experiment is still very valuable. I leaned some important things. First, I have NO BUSINESS trying to write a post every day. It’s obnoxious to me, to my family, to my readers (those who stayed), and just generally silly. I just don’t have that much interesting to say and that’s okay. It was never the intent of this blog to document in excruciating detail the operation that is running this house and raising this family and trying to record SOMETHING every single day just makes the things I do post feel forced, or boring, or whatever. I mean this blog to record our lives as my kids grow up, that’s true, but no more than any generation before the blog, I don’t have to remember everything, and it’s okay for some days to just pass in anonymous blurs. If I try the experiment again (and at the moment it’s not looking likely), I’d choose some kind of theme and just stick to that. Post a description of a single moment of each day, or one thing I’m thankful for each day (though, I have issues with that I wrote about here), or a genealogy tidbit, or maybe just a fashion question each day. Anyway, the open “write something” thing just didn’t work for me.

Second, I learned that a few folks WILL check in everyday if I write everyday. Not a huge following, but a few folks will read whatever I write and I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

And lastly, I need to let things brew a while before I try to write about them. With the possible exception of the lists of things I want my children to learn and not learn from me, and maybe the Thanksgiving Eve poem, I don’t think I wrote anything of much value during the challenge. I’m not saying that lots of my posts before the challenge were super excellent, but I’m at least a little proud of some of them. Not so much during the challenge. As one regular reader told me recently, I’m never gonna win a Pulitzer, but still, it should be at least a little interesting.

Moving on from the NaBloPoMo, IT’S THE HOLIDAYS! December slipped up on me in the same way it does every year. Suddenly, it was Thanksgiving and BAM! time to put up the tree, shop, bake, decorate, fill up the calendar, blah, blah, blah. And then I blinked and December was sliding by in a hurry and it feels like I’ve been getting ready for the holidays for weeks on end and they’re almost over. I suppose part of it is because of the tree.

Ah, the tree. Maybe you remember when I wrote a completely self indulgent, lengthy but loving, post about MY Christmas tree last year. My tree means a lot to me. I invest a lot of emotional energy in that tree each year. I attach a lot, maybe too much, emotion and Christmas spirit to my tree. In short, I REALLY love my tree.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.21.29.jpg.jpegWe put our tree up as usual this year, purchasing it on the first Saturday in December, which was a little late this year, December 7th. We declined the vendor’s offer to put a fresh cut on the trunk, took it home and cut six inches off the bottom to make it just the right height. The tree seemed unstable when we got it in the usual stand, so thinking that the 15 year old stand had just seen better days, we used another stand we happened to have on hand. There was a weird trunk split about a third of the way down that caused the center of gravity to be slightly off, but carefully secured in the stand, everything seemed normal and stable. Off I went on my annual light extravaganza! I strung some SIXTEEN strands of light on that sucker, including an addition this year of three strands of C4 sized LED Phillips Warm White 60 count lights. I can’t afford to make the switch to LED in one leap, but I think the colors have come a long way and I thought I’d add some depth to the tree by adding some of the larger lights. It was magical. The camera doesn’t really capture the complete beauty, but it was as pretty a tree as I’d ever had. Once again, I felt like I’d captured some magic for my family and put it on display in the living room.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.27.03.jpg.jpegWe went on with the month of December and all it’s craziness. The second week of December is the last week of preschool, including the funny, silly program of preschoolers singing the same funny songs in all their sweet, frilly glory. There really isn’t anything cuter, unless it’s the one who doesn’t want to sing rubbing his belly. Sorry I didn’t get a better picture.

I worked my butt off on Friday to FINALLY get all the decorating remnants cleaned up and everything dusted and vacuumed and ready for company and parties over the weekend. I was thrilled to have gotten it all done on Friday evening, including haircuts for everyone! Saturday came and we packed the kids off to the grandparents and headed off to not one, but TWO parties with friends, and then even had dinner together with completely adult conversation before making it home for a decent bedtime on Saturday night.

We came home to a dark house and since we didn’t plan to stay up, we didn’t light the tree, or even wander through the front room on the way up to bed. The husband was snoring pretty quickly, but I wanted just one more cookie (that will teach me) so I wandered downstairs and just happened to glance into the dark living room on my way up the stairs.

wpid-2014-12-17-10.41.40.jpg.jpegwpid-20141214_151118.jpgThat’s when my heart sank. There it was, like a big fat dead body in on the living room carpet. My beautiful, wonderful, much loved tree had just dropped while we were out. Fell, fainted, collapsed, prostrated itself, DOWN! I woke the husband, who calls me hysterical when he tells the story. I maintain that I was simply upset, but I can see how it might have LOOKED like I was hysterical. There was glass EVERYWHERE. I was certain that every ornament I’d held dear was broken, that they were all gone. As it turned out there were only a few precious ones lost, most of the broken ornaments were just cheap glass ones I’d picked up over the years to fill it up. The wedding gift egg was the most precious and I might be able to glue it. Still, a sad loss.

But we have to go on, right? Christmas is still coming! When I stopped crying and got a good night’s sleep, we examined the tree and decided it was not salvageable. It was completely dried out. I thought I’d kept it watered enough, but the water had been low, so maybe I didn’t add enough. Maybe it had just been cut too long ago. Whatever the cause, the needles were dropping like it was mid-January and I couldn’t see rehanging my most loved ornaments on this traitor tree. I also couldn’t see buying a new real tree, unstringing the stupid amount of lights I like, and restringing them on the new one. The final solution was to get that awful, evil tree out of my house, and borrow an extra little tabletop model that Mom and Dad had in the basement. It isn’t ideal, but it works. I rode a roller coaster of emotions as I took out the old tree, but I could feel my Christmas spirit rebuilding as I decorated this little dear tree. In years to come, I’m sure my children will remember the “Year of The Tiny Tree” and I hope it’s a happy memory, though it will always be bittersweet to me.

So, the upshot of the whole story is that I have been getting READY for Christmas forever. And now it feels like BAM, it’s almost over. It isn’t, but I know how fast these next two weeks will fly by. We will have “Christmas” with two different sections of the family this weekend and a dinner for a nephew graduating from college (Congrats, Alec!). Plus a bonus piano recital! And then the kids will be out of school next week. Thankfully, their father is off all week between Christmas and New Year’s this year. I look forward to some quite family time, though we’ll probably spend most of it cleaning out the basement and preparing to have friends over for New Year’s Eve.

Through all, I just want to remember that life is so good, I am so blessed.

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Twas the day before Thanksgiving…

Yeah, this is what I come up with when I don’t want to be writing for school. Here’s a little dream I had this Thanksgiving Eve. Enjoy!

Twas the day ‘fore Thanksgiving
And all through the land,
The people were scurrying to come up with a plan.
The news was on non-stop, crying violence and pain;
In hopes that folks could find victims to blame.
The stores were all busy, and tempers flew hot;
While visions appeared of deals to be got!
And kiddies in their pjs and I in my sweats;
Had just sipped the cocoa, as good as it gets!
When down in the basement arose such a ruckus,
I sprang from the couch to see what fuss is.
Off to the staircase I flew like a goof,
The kids were sure fighting and now I had proof!
The toys and the junk in the unfinished space,
Gave the illusion of mayhem, not a thing in its place!
When what to my screen weary eyes did appear?
But a clean little corner of holiday cheer.
With a sweet little cherub, so funny and cute,
And his brother and sister, both smart and astute.
They stood up and picked up and gathered the stuff,
The dolls and the robots, the cars; all enough!
To donate, to sell, to throw away, or just pitch,
They want it cleaned out and they just don’t care which!
To the top of the bookshelf, to the back of the trunk!
Now clean it up, sweep it up, pick up the junk!
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky;
So to the job, these children now turned,
With the dusting and sorting, oh my, they had learned!
And then in a twinkling, I felt such great joy.
They’d each like to donate a favorite toy!
As I sucked in my breath and felt ready to praise
Up the staircase they hurried, these children I’d raised.
They were dressed all in fleece, from their head to their feet
And the oldest’s top and bottom would just not quite meet.
A bin full of toys they were pulling behind,
And they looked like sweet elves, but still didn’t mind.
Their eyes, how they twinkled, their giggles, how funny!
They squeals were like music, their smiles so sunny!
The sweet little creatures moved as quick as the light
And they cleaned out the basement so nicely that night!
The piles of their toys that they knew they’d not need
Were just sitting and ready to be their good deed.
They’d sorted them carefully, marking by age
The dollies, the puzzles, that Minecraft game rage.
They were jolly and sleepy and sweetly alive
And I teared up when I saw them and tried not to cry.
A rub of their eyes, and a twist of their heads,
Soon gave me to know it was near time for beds.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work
I loaded the toys, they’d worked hard, I can’t shirk!
And driving to Goodwill as fast as I could,
I thought how I’d never believed that they would
Realize all their blessings and give something back.
But I must remember and not give them flack!
And I heard them but whisper as they started to doze:
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom!”
They’re good kids, I suppose!

 


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The truth about the OUR Family Christmas pictures

I wrote the bulk of this post for LiveJournal in 2007. I’ve been stressing about Christmas cards pretty much every year since I started having children. Some people have cooperative children and get lovely Christmas shots every year. Me? Not so much. These kids are all related to Chandler Bing.

I thought I’d share the stress I found just a few years in and then share a bit of what I’ve learned since. Enjoy.

I have been sending Christmas cards pretty regularly for a couple years now.  Since Annie was born, anyway.  (So, get me your address if you’re one of those old friends I’ve recently reconnected with!)  I love the opportunity to send people I only speak with once or twice a year, a picture of my beautiful children.  I imagine them admiring their sweet faces and placing the card on the fridge where it will gather dust until July or so and then be tossed out with the expired pizza coupons they were covering up.  I know, I know.  Many of these cards end up in the trash within minutes of opening.  Now that’s a sin, don’t you think?  Those beautiful faces in the trash?  I won’t think of it.  And some stay in the Christmas card pile to be thrown out en masse.  I can live with that.  They didn’t look right at my children’s faces and toss them in with the eggshells, or empty milk carton if they recycle. 

I love having my own cards printed.  It seems so personal, but finished.  A big picture of my child(ren), but a message I thought out myself.  Still, I cannot bring myself to have our names printed inside.  I feel the need to sign each and every individual card with a short, but personal message, and my actual name written in my own hand.  Nevermind that I also sign for my children and husband.  To me (and there’s no offense meant to those who send me these cards each year), sending those pre-signed cards with no message says, “Hey, I thought of you for 2.8 seconds this year while I put the stamp on this envelope.”  Especially because most of the time, these cards come with a computer printed label with my address.  In that case, the sender may not even be aware that he HAS sent me a card!  I’ve sent out batches of résumés with more personal thought.

Annie’s first Christmas, the only one for which she was the only subject of the photography session, was so much fun.  My mother helped me get the shot when she was visiting for Thanksgiving.  We dressed my sweet 10 month old in a lovely red corduroy dress with the sweetest matching tam.  We sat her on a white sheet and surrounded her with little colored lights, greenery, and some not-too-breakable tree ornaments.  She was so enthralled with this stuff.  She seemed to know instinctively that it was a pile of stuff she wouldn’t normally be allowed to touch.  She drew the lights up over her head, then down in her lap.  She pointed with her tiny finger at a blue one and starred right at it.  Snap!  Got the shot.  The card was perfect with the caption, “May the wonder of the season stay with you throughout the New Year.”  Sweet, cheery, pretty.  Done.

  

The next year, I started trying for the elusive Card Picture around the first of November.  I wanted to get it all done and printed so that I could take my time signing and addressing, by hand of course.  I chose some sweet holiday-ish outfits for the kids.  Annie, now 22 months, in a sweet flannel Stausburg dress of blue checks, and Sammy, at 7 months or so, in his holiday snowman sweater with the sleeves rolled up.  For our first session, I dressed the kids and put them on our red couch, gave them each a giant jingle bell and starting shooting.  Thank heaven for the digital camera.  I would have ruined a lot of film!  They grabbed the bells from each other.  Sammy put them in his mouth.  Annie grabbed Sam’s cheek so hard, she left red marks.  Session over.

  

  

Session Two came up by accident.  I realized one day that Sammy had on a dark green and red plaid one piece thing, and Annie was wearing a black sweater with a big pink snowflake on the front.  The session went about as well as the first, but in the end, I think the picture we used came from this day.  There were several more “sessions” of chaos, but nothing I want to remember.  Why does a seven month old child get SO upset when you aim a camera at him and want him to sit next to his sister for .8 seconds?  And WHY must a 22 month old girl hug the STUFFING out of her little brother just because you picked up the camera?  Around the second week of December, in desperation, I ordered 50 copies of the best snapshot in the bunch and stuck them on some of those photo cards you can get at Target.

  

Last year, I got smart.  I began dressing the kids in outfits that looked good photographed together on a regular basis.  I always had the camera at the ready.  I snapped HUNDREDS of pictures of them together in an attempt to get that one Card Picture.  Anytime they were even close to each other, I’d try to get them both looking at the camera.  There are files and files on my hard drive of pictures where their hair is sticking up, they’ve food on their faces, or the background is a baby gate or something equally as attractive.  Eventually, I got a semi-decent shot.  I ordered beautiful cards in two patterns from Vistaprint.com and I loved them.  Great, huh? 

Except now the bar is set.  The pressure is on.  It’s not even Halloween and I’m OBSESSING about these damn pictures already.  Like I have NOTHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT!  Somebody, please talk me back from the edge!

Those were just the first THREE years! The next couple years didn’t go much better. The next year these were the best of the bunch.

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In 2009 we moved to a new house with a big fire place and hearth. I was sure that I could get a wonderful shot in front of the stockings and poinsettias.  HA! I dressed them up and stood them there. After an hour or so of frustration and tears, both mine and theirs, I gave up. In the end, I sent a photo collage with a whole lot of laughable out take shots.

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In 2010 we had new a new baby. In the fall, we hired a photography student to take family portraits of our family, including my parents and my brother. I put together a card with some of those images, and I was fairly pleased with the result. Easiest year of all, I guess, but I can’t afford even a student EVERY year. And even she had trouble getting a great shot of all three of them! (She’s working as a professional now, and I’m happy to send her some business. Her name is Ashley West, and I don’t even get a kickback.)2010 card

2011 came and I snapped this shot on Thanksgiving. I printed wallets of this and each of the kids’ school pictures and put them in small cards. Done. Call it a punt.

2011 card

2012 we went to Disney and since they make it so easy to have pictures taken with your whole family, I sent wallets of one of the shots the Mouse took. Again, punt.

Animal Kingdom pass

2013 I felt like I needed to step up my game, so I went back to the folly of trying to get a great shot of all three. I tried for weeks. We hadn’t spent real money on cards in several years so I was willing to order nice cardstock  prints this year, I just needed to get the right shot. Dozens of tries. Gave up. Fine, I’ll just put separate shots of the kids on the card. Again, no luck. Finally, I drug them out in the yard before school and told them to smile. I got lucky, I guess. I ordered them THAT DAY!Fullscreen capture 11182014 10841 PM.bmp

 

This year, I’m not willing to spend a fortune since I did last year. But of course, I got great shots in the leaves a couple weeks ago. Yeah, it’s more fall than winter. Yeah, you’ve all already seen them. I don’t care! They are great shots and they are going on the cards!

 


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What I DON’T want my children to learn from me…

And I'm not even all that good at keeping up with the laundry!

And I’m not even all that good at keeping up with the laundry!

So, to follow up my Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me, I wanted to list a couple things I hope they DON’T learn. We’re all passing on our best and worst to our kids, but I hope being aware of these is helpful. I’m still convinced we’re all messing our kids up in some way. I just hope that they can overcome my parenting shortfalls and turn out to be successful, happy citizens despite them. I’m sure there are more if I thought long enough, but these are the things that pop into my head often. Dear Children, please don’t learn these things:

  1. Procrastinating is a reasonable life habit. We all put the unpleasant off from time to time, but cramming all night for a test, or waiting until your lease is up to look for another apartment, or just waiting until you’re hungry to think about preparing a meal, will not serve you well. There is an argument to be made that an approaching deadline can get your creative juices going and make you perform better. It’s a good argument, I get it, I’ve felt it. But do it to yourself. Set your own deadlines ahead of time. If you have six pages to write by the 20th, tell yourself you must have all resources gathered by the 5th, a rough draft by the 10th, editing by the 15th, and final formatting by the 20th. Or whatever. Respect your own deadlines as much as the instructors, or your bosses, or the cable company’s! If I’d learned that by the time I graduated from high school instead of only after I’d birthed children, I would have avoided a great deal of stress in my life. That black cloud of dread hanging over your shoulder stinks, and it can be avoided.
  2. You don’t need a budget, credit is easy, and there’s always time to save later. Again, I finally learned this lesson, but not until I’d married your dad. My parents knew it, and tried to teach me, but I just didn’t get it. Just like number one, if I’d learned this earlier, I’d have saved myself a whole lot of stress. Your dad may be a little too neurotic the other way, but we balance each other nicely. Don’t count on meeting a mate that balances you, though. There are too many other things on the must-have list for a mate. Take care of your own money because it’s smart. Set a budget, stick to it. Don’t take unnecessary credit, and pay what you do take on time as agreed. And always, always, always save something for the future.
  3. Girls must stay home and cook meals, do all the laundry, care for the kids, and never mow the lawn or perform car maintenance. Now, you might think this one is obvious, but it is what your mother does, at least for now. As much as I spout equality for men and women, I stay home, cook ALL the meals in our home, do all the laundry, provide nearly all primary care for the children, and I’ve never ever run the lawn mower. But you have to understand that this was a choice. Your father and I have divided our family and household chores in the way that works best for us. I LIKE to cook, he barely likes to eat! It does not have to be this way, it’s just the way it is at OUR house. And your dad can, and has, pitched in cheerfully to do laundry, and frankly would do more of it if I weren’t sort of a freak about how it gets done. That’s my own issue, maybe I’ll talk more about that another day. It’s best to find a mate who compliments your interests. If you hate to cook, it’s great to find a mate who loves to, but if you don’t be sure you both agree on what the best take-out is.
  4. Cursing is an acceptable method of communicating. I’m working on it. I know I let the naughty words fly more than I should, and I know you’re listening and repeating it. I know. I promise to try harder. It’s not cute, it’s not even funny. Other people are judging me based on what comes out of my mouth, and they will you, too. And that’s fair because we are all in control of our own mouths!
  5. Smoking for a while when you’re young is no big deal, you can quit later. I hate to use the word “regret” because I wouldn’t change anything that would change the place in life I find myself, with this family, in this place, at this time. If your father and I weren’t smokers, or if only one of us had been, our initial social interactions might have been different and who knows if we’d be together. That said, my only real regret in life is picking up that first cigarette. I really wish neither of your parents had ever been a smoker. You see that I am not a smoker today and maybe you think it was just a thing I used to do and you could try it, too. Please, please, please don’t. Quitting was enormously difficult. I am extremely proud that I accomplished it, but it’s not a project I would wish on anyone. Ever.
  6. You must always make your point. I know you (and probably most of the readers) think I actually believe this one. I don’t, I just have trouble remembering it. As much as I enjoy a good disagreement, and believe it necessary for a healthy relationship, sometimes you have to just let it go. You cannot have a healthy long-term relationship if you can’t sometimes just let the point go. Sometimes making the point isn’t necessary, sometimes it isn’t advisable, and sometimes it’s just too much effort for no pay off. Choose your battles.


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Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me. Yeah, it’s a list!

Have you noticed all the lists on blogs lately? Like, “12 Things Every Girl Should Know Before Entering Eighth Grade” or “8 Things I Learned Being a Parent of a Super Awesome Kid” or “25 Things I Wish I’d Told My First Grade Teacher” or maybe even “17 Things I Might Do If I Have Blue Eyed Children.” Everybody has a list. Some of them are wonderful! Some of them are ridiculous. And some of them just piss me off. Then I think about my children, or my relationship with my parents, or how college kids today know nothing just like I knew nothing but I thought I knew all the stuff, and I think, HEY! I should make one of those lists. But the rational part of my brain takes over and tells that other part to shut up! Don’t be ridiculous, there are too darn many lists out there already! But sometimes the obnoxious part wins. So, I present to you Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me.fall 26

  1. Go to church. Yes, Jesus loves you and yes, the bible tells you so. We have gone to great lengths to teach you what we believe, and though we don’t agree on every aspect of religion, we share some common core beliefs. Many people advocate letting children figure out for themselves what they believe and not “forcing” religion on them. I couldn’t disagree more with that approach. You can and should figure out what you believe for yourself, but I’ll be making sure you know what I believe, as I do with any other topic. Why would religion be different? We’ll keep taking you to church, not in an effort to brainwash you, but because only there can you learn how deeply we believe these things. Only there can you hear God’s word proclaimed every time you walk in the door, and explained by different people, maybe one of which will make the most sense to you. And only there can you experience the community of believers that is special and different from a social club. If you find yourself in a church that doesn’t feel like that to you, find a different one. If you find that you don’t believe the things being taught by the particular church you find yourself in, find a different one, but go to church.
  2. Vote. Every time there is an election in your precinct, for any issue, any office, any levy, educate yourself on the question or candidates and pick a side. Then go vote. The whole system runs better when people are engaged in the process. Not just because the people actually chose the winners, but because it makes you a more educated citizen, increases your awareness of the issues that affect not just the nation, but your little piece of it.
  3. Pick a mate who has other long term relationships and a good relationship with at least one parent. If he or she has never had long term friendships, why would you assume this person is capable of a long term romantic relationship? And assuming his parents are living, does he WANT to have a good relationship with them? Now, obviously sometimes we meet perfectly nice people who have crazy people for parents. Fair enough. But assuming sanity on all parties, does she try to keep a good relationship with her parents? That tells you a lot about a person, don’t you think?
  4. Don’t eat crap. Well, not much, anyway. Okay, eat crap if you want to, but don’t let it take over your diet. My generation was raised on Twinkies and Wonder Bread, Tang and Hawaiian Punch. It hasn’t killed us all, but Lord knows we’ve shown over and over that this is not a good basis for a diet. So, don’t worry too much about a particular diet, but eat whole foods when you can and try to steer clear of these over processed things. You’ll feel better, and you won’t crave that garbage.
  5. Do things for other people that you don’t have to do. Maybe that means volunteering somewhere like a food pantry or homeless shelter. Maybe that means just raking the leaves of an elderly neighbor. Maybe it’s just reading to a little kid. It feels good, and it’s okay to feel good about it. Feeling good for doing good is not a bad thing and you should not feel guilt for wanting to feel that! So, make meals for neighbors with they’re sick or have a baby. Donate items to the charity of your choice, you probably have too much stuff in your closet at any given moment. Participate in fund raisers and public awareness campaigns.
  6. Don’t let people tear you down. I could go on for days about society’s effect on our girls and body image issues, or boys and the macho thing, or bullies on the playground, on and on. But in the end, decide that you are a good person and act on that. Then if others don’t agree, don’t hang out with them. You don’t have to TELL those folks they’ve been cut from your life, just don’t make any more plans with them. People either build you up, or tear you down. If you aren’t being built up by someone, find someone else to hang out with. In the end, all they have to do to build you up is NOT tear you down.
  7. Take care of your skin. From adolescence to the end of your life, your skin is worth caring for. This is one I’m not so good at, and my skin shows it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, the main thing is to be consistent. Wash, tone, moisturize. Moisturize your whole body. Even when you’re in a hurry, or tired, or whatever. Even when you think your skin is perfect, it won’t always be. Stay on top of it.
  8. Don’t chose a mate based on the high at the beginning of a relationship. Sure, we all know folks that met in high school, fell instantly in loved, and lived together happily ever after, married for 60 or 70 years. But of all the people you know, how many fall into that category? Most people who make a life-long commitment based on those new love feelings are not prepared to spend a lifetime together, even if they think they are. Yeah, you’re in love, you are sure it will last forever, and maybe it will. What’s the rush? Give it a few months, a year, maybe a bit more. Get into a routine, maybe (*gasp*) cohabitate. Have a big fight. Still think this is the person for you? Great. Invite me to the wedding. I love weddings.
  9. Live your values. If you believe it, don’t sit on it. You don’t have to PREACH it if you demonstrate it. Everyone has to figure that one out for himself, but if you feel like something you’re doing isn’t living up to what you believe, you should stop doing that!


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This moment…

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“We have tons of these like this, Mom.”

“I know, but I want to remember this one time, when we watched that one show, and you came over and put your head on my shoulder.”

“Whatever, Mom. You’re silly.”

Sigh. When did I stop being “Mommy” and become “Mom?” Seems too soon.


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All Saints’ Sunday

So much I thought I’d write about today, and I’m not feeling any of it.

I used the leaf blower to gather up all the leaves in the back yard so my husband could drag them to the street for the city to collect, but naturally the kids couldn’t help a romp in the pile first. I grabbed the camera and captured some of the fun. I’m going to be blogging every day, so I can tell you how the apple fig butter turned out later. (Spoiler: IT ROCKED!) For now I just want to share some pictures of my kids. I’m not the best photographer, despite swearing I was going to learn how to use the great camera I’ve got. Eh, if you click enough, sometimes you get lucky.

 

fall 1 fall 3 fall 8 fall 10 fall 11 fall 12 fall 14 fall 15 fall 16 fall 18 fall 19 fall 20 fall 23 fall 24 fall 26

 


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#NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month

Okay, BlogHer, I’m in!

What a great month for National Blog Posting Month! November is a little crazy, but not crazy like December. There’s so much to talk about in November, well, for me anyway. I love this little semi-pause between chaos of back to school through Halloween, and the holidays. The weather is firmly NOT summer, and I feel like I’m fully into the most productive season of my year.

Can I do it? Can I actually blog every day for a month? That’s the challenge I’m setting for myself. I always feel like I have so much to say but I shouldn’t bother until it’s all put together in some totally rational (well, okay, semi-rational) form. Maybe I’ll get better at that if I do it every day for a month. Maybe I’ll just ramble and run off all my followers, few as they are. I guess we’ll see, won’t we.

So, it being November 1, All Saints’ Day, I’d like to start by telling you about the wonderful, healthy, nutritious breakfast my children ate this morning. I’d like to, but I cannot. Not one person under age of 11 has eaten anything but candy so far today, and it’s almost noon. AND, they’re all glued to the screens in the basement. PlayStation, Kindle, and PC are all going strong. But, after a few weeks of video game ban, and my refusal to buy Halloween candy in advance because it gets eaten, I suppose they deserve their little party. Daddy will be enforcing a basement clean up party in the afternoon, anyway.

Halloween was a success, and even this Grinch had a good time. Girlie and her friends had a ball. Pending approval of the other parents, I’ll share a picture at some point. Middle Bird had a lot of fun trick-or-treating, especially after they ditched the little guy and Daddy showed him how to really cover ground. I think the total candy haul in this house is a little ridiculous. The Baby Bird headed out as Buzz Lightyear, but ditched the wings this time. There was just no talking him into it. He still did quite well with his candy haul. I’m not doing a lot of candy monitoring around here. Frankly, I’m hoping they will either burn out, or get rid of it quickly! Myself, I’ve had my fill. I was a bit gluttonous last night and this morning’s sprouted wheat toast with hard boiled egg and sliced tomato was just what my body was screaming for!

wpid-20141101_115000.jpgGiven that the house is bursting with candy, it’s naturally time for me to get back to eating a little better, right? Yeah. The Paleo Experiment of last winter was very successful, and though I don’t think I need to be quite so strict about it, I think I’ll be leaning that way for a while. I felt really good, and I want some more of that! I finally got around to replacing the food processor attachment to the Cuisinart, and I invested in a mandolin slicer and a spiral slicer. The plan is to cut out almost all grain, sprouted wheat being one exception, a lot of dairy, most sugar, and generally avoid all processed foods. It’s not a diet, just a style shift in what I eat. I’m not going to beat myself up if I decide that I just HAVE to have one of the fabulous apple cookies my mother only makes at this time of year. For now, I’m off to the store for more jars. I’m going to roast a chicken to day and get the broth going, plus I want to give a shot to making fig apple butter in the crock pot. Surely I’ll be blogging about that tomorrow, right?