This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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It’s not about not judging, it’s about not giving a $h!t #MommyWars

wpid-wp-1416081794192.jpegOh, I’m gonna piss folks off with this one, aren’t I? I guess I’ll be accused of some sort of participation in the Mommy Wars, but I’m still not even clear what that means. I think it means expressing some sort of opinion on how other Mommies are Mommy-ing. Here’s the thing about that, though. See, we’re all starting these Mommy Blogs so we can spout off about stuff we’re thinking about. We want to write about how we feel about life as a Mommy, or a woman, or a wife, or a person, or a citizen, or a drinker of wine, or an eater of salads, or whatever. We all want to write stuff to “brain dump” it, but anybody who says they don’t care if folks are reading is lying. But offending folks means nobody will read anymore, or that you’ll go viral, depending how offensive you are and to which side. We can’t write anything too controversial, because we might offend. We can’t write anything specific about our own opinions, because that might be considered offensive to those who have an opposing opinion. We can’t write about how Breast is Best because that might make the formula feeders feel bad. We can’t say staying home with our kids has been a super awesome thing, even though it’s crazy hard, because that might make those who have to work to pay the bills feel bad. And we can’t write about being glad to send the kids to daycare so we can go have grown up time in the office because that means you’re shaming those Mommies not living up to their male-equal potential.

But the prevailing opinion that we should stop “Mommy-shaming,” that we can write about. We CAN write about how everyone’s choices are valid, we all have to do what’s best for our own family, and “judging” each other is only causing more harm. What the hell does that even mean!? Are you seriously telling me that you think that the mom who has a college degree but feels so strongly about being at home with her kids that she spends hours clipping coupons and figuring out how to feed her three kids on 50% of the household income they had before kids is  NOT going to have ANY opinion on the mom who works full time just so they can afford designer clothes? NO OPINION at all? Come on, that’s just not realistic. Whether or not she expresses that opinion is her call. Whether the working mom CARES about that opinion, now that’s another thing. That’s realistic to expect someone to control. SAHMom has no right to stop WOHMom at the Back-To-School Open House and spout her opinion, but if she puts it on her blog (not calling WOHMom out by name, duh), and WOHMom reads it, SO WHAT? If she’s offended that’s WOHMom’s problem. And if WOHMom wants to write a book about how gratified she is by her work and how she can’t imagine being stuck home all day with the laundry and the kids, how is that offensive to SAHMom? For crying out loud, if we all have to make the choices that are best for our own family, why do we spend so much time justifying them in the form of rants about how nobody’s choices deserve judging.

What’s your point, Bird? I don’t know. I’m just tired of being told not to judge. That’s ridiculous. Humans judge. We just do. Obviously I think that the choices I’ve made are the best, or at least I did when I made them. Yes, by “best” I mean that they were/are best for MY family, based on available information and my own beliefs and values. Yes, if you make a different choice based on the same information, I think it’s the wrong choice. Doesn’t mean ANYTHING TO ANYONE! NOTHING, nada, zip, zilch, zero. I thought MY choice was right. I will do you the courtesy of believing that you, like me, think YOUR choice is right. And besides I am sometimes wrong. Wrong about my own choices, wrong about what I think of yours. Catch me on a good day and I might even admit it. Don’t count on it, but SO WHAT? The only thing that is offensive about me believing MY choice is right would be if I felt compelled to somehow force my choice on you and your family.

Just so you know, none of the moms I know in real life EVER talk about how wrong someone else’s choices are, especially with regard to the have a job or stay home question. It just doesn’t happen. So, despite all the blogs, media articles, books, whatever about these “Mommy Wars” and the tension between them, it’s a made up thing. If you are getting your self worth, or letting it be stolen from you, by somebody else’s book or blog, you might need to rethink how you made your choice to begin with.

Maybe instead of the Mommy Wars devolving into a bunch of high powered CEO moms, blogger moms, and playground moms all patting each other on the back congratulating each other for making choices, any choices, whatever the choices, with no judgement about any choice ever, how about we accept that we don’t agree with everyone’s choices and we stop being so darned sensitive to the idea that someone might disagree with our choices. You’re probably judging me right now for that crazy run-on sentence.

That’s okay. I can take it!

 

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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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Jumping back in…

More than two months have passed since I’ve found the time to sit down and write a full length post. I’ve got a few drafts sitting neglected and growing more stale by the day. I’m sitting down with a blank page now and thinking about all the things I’ve meant to write about this spring. I am all over the place. I have thoughts to share on politics and current events, the graduations in my circle of friends and family, end of life issues as I watch the last of my children’s great grandparents live out their lives, food and diet thoughts, observations on my children and the wrap up of their school year, even a few insights on library school and all the great experience I’m gaining volunteering at the seminary. And the weather.

But it’s too much. I am having trouble boiling it down. Not an uncommon problem for me. And this time, I’ve let it snowball to a problem so big, I’m truly unable to figure out where to begin. I think the best solution is to just start writing and see how it goes. Tonight I’ll start with school stuff. Not because it’s biggest in my mind, or because there’s the most to talk about, but because I hope I’m wrapping it up for a few weeks.

I finished the rare book class and got my grades for that and the special library class. A and A-, respectively. I was so upset about the first A-, but I guess it hurts less the more you get. I’m thrilled to have not gotten a B, yet. That rare books class was such an amazing ride. It’s the longest class I’ve taken so far in the MLIS program, and it was by far the most intense. I learned an amazing amount. I fell more deeply in love with books, as objects. At the same time, I became even more ready to accept whatever path this career is going to take, whether I actually get to work with old books or archives, or end up doing something completely different. As long as I’m working with helping people somewhere find answers, I think I’ll be okay. Surprisingly, I found out more about my ability to do research in that rare book class than I had anticipated. Perhaps that is because the professor wasn’t just looking to teach us about old books, but how to find answers. I got into this field because I am that person, that know-nothing know-it-all who loves to find the answer for you. I’m thrilled when I can give you real answers to whatever question you have. It took me until I was forty to find out that there is actually a field for that, and that it’s not about being right because I’m not wrong, rather because I really truly found the answer and I’m right!

So, that class ended on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The next class started on the Tuesday after. In effect, I’ve been in school with no break since right after Christmas. Not so tough, I guess, if school is the main event in your life, but it was wearing thin for me. There’s still a week to go in this class, but then I’m done for the summer. A couple pass/fail workshops, but I think the pressure is off until fall. I need the break. I need the break bad. The kids need the break. The HOUSE needs the break. Oh, good Lord, my house is a wreck.

summer21We’ve got big plans for the summer around here. I’m gonna get this house clean for real. Stop laughing, it could happen. We’re going to spend lots of time at the pool and I’m going to read. For FUN! We’re going to go to the zoo. It’s gonna be a good summer, I think. The kids are playing ball, and going to a couple Vacation Bible School weeks, but that’s about it. The big kids can ride bikes to a few friends in the neighborhood and the park. The little one can swim more independently in the kiddie pool. The three of them can be way more mobile than they have been in summers past. I am hoping that they can experience some of the extra freedom and unstructured time that marked summers of most childhood for most of my generation. Wish me luck.

So, maybe tomorrow I can tell you more about all that other crap going on in my head. Today, I guess that’s enough. It’s something, anyway.

 


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“My New Year’s Resolutions” or “Why I won’t make resolutions”

I HATE New Year’s Resolutions. I’m all for taking stock and rethinking one’s plan of attack for getting through each day. I’m on board with the concept of looking over the last year and deciding what worked for you and what didn’t, for consciously making decisions to try and adapt habits that improve one’s life and the lives of those around you. I think the New Year gives most people a great opportunity to mark the passage of another year by doing just that and then making a list of the things they resolve to do in the next calendar year. I also think it’s an invitation for failure and I screw up enough all the time without spelling out the ways I will fail at the beginning of the year.

I try to spend time contemplating how to improve my habits. Sometimes I even try to grab hold of a new plan and make new, better habits. I do this all the time. I am sometimes successful and sometimes not so successful. I don’t spend enough time evaluating, and often I just keep on doing the same old thing because that’s easiest. If I have just one real, honest, improve-my-life resolution, it’s to spend more time and effort evaluating what’s working and what isn’t and to ditch the less than productive habits and actively search out and attempt to ingrain more productive habits. There. That vague enough for you? I mean I do mean to do this. But I have specifically worded it in such a way that there is not measurable criteria to ascertain my success or failure in keeping this resolution.

I was thinking about this whole resolution thing as I checked in on Facebook this morning and came across a post by a friend and fellow blogger. Stacey is a full-time pastor, mom, wife, doctoral student, and crazy productive crafter whose handknits look lovely and often make me drool over her posts. She decided to post her Whimsolutions for 2014, and they’re awesome. Why do “resolutions” HAVE to be about losing weight and eating better, being more organized and frugal, or spending more time on my homework. I knew I should be doing that stuff in October, what makes it easier to accomplish in January? The whimsolutions are just fun. They’re still about improving my quality of life, and that of my family. I am totally stealing this idea, okay not really stealing since I gave her credit, but I’m absolutely copying her.

My Whimsolutions for 2014

1. Learn to knit.

I don’t have to finish some great project or learn a bunch of different methods. I don’t have to make any Christmas gifts for next year or any other such thing. I just want to knit something scarf-like. YouTube tutorials, here I come!

2. Take my daughter shopping more.

She still trusts Grandma and Mommy to dress her and though she has opinions about the things in her closet, she’s mostly happy to let us buy her clothes without her and dress her up. That’s fine, but the time spent together sorting through the clothing racks is excellent girlie bonding time. I think we could be chatting about things we might not talk about at the kitchen table or when I tuck her in at night. I always want to press that you-can-talk-to-me-about-anything vibe and shopping seems to be ideal. Plus, it’s fun.

puzzle3. Do a big jigsaw puzzle with Middle Bird.

I think we might be able to get some of that same bonding time that shopping would afford Girlie and me. And I LOVE jigsaw puzzles. I think he will love them, too.

4. Take Baby Bird to the zoo more often.

We have a membership and we use it, but we could go more. He’ll be in school full time soon enough and I’ll miss the time we could have gone. The dishes can wait.

5. Bake more cookies.

Cookies are the perfect treat. You don’t have to eat a ton of them, and they can even be healthy, though I’m not necessarily committing to baking healthy cookies. This is a WHIMsolution you know. Maybe use this blog post (also recommended by Stacey) to perfect a chocolate chip cookie recipe that this family will love.

6. Buy and wear more fun socks.

I’m in a sock rut. I have five or six pairs of black, and five or six pairs of athletic ankle socks, and a handful of blah brown or black trouser type socks. I see people wearing bright socks and they look like fun. How can it not be?

7. Get manicures and pedicures.

Not all the time, I can’t afford an addiction. But once in a while pay someone else to groom my nails. I’m always happy when I do it, but I haven’t in years.

 

I guess I didn’t really land on a theme, but over all I want to spend more energy on bonding with my kids and doing things that aren’t strictly necessary but that improve our quality of life. Wish me luck?


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“Too much of a good thing” or “Time keeps on ticking, ticking…”

I just read a friend’s Facebook status that got me thinking. She posted, in part, “It’s been the loveliest of holiday seasons, but I’m excessed out. Welcoming January and austerity in all things.” Hadn’t thought of it until then, but that’s exactly how I feel.

raw-veggie-and-hummus1If you’ve read anything I’ve written in the last few months you know that I adore the holidays. From Halloween right through to Epiphany, I just love it all. The anticipation of November, the chaos and parties of December, even this last week of the year that feels a little like limbo. I love it. I’m really excited about New Year’s Eve and the fun we’ll have with neighbors tomorrow night. But something about my friend’s status knocked me out. I AM ready for some austerity. I am craving simplicity in lots of ways. I want simple foods like toast and raw veggies. I want to drink water, maybe juices. I want to wear nothing but pajamas or jeans and sneakers for a week straight. I want to go to church and worship with predictable, liturgical services.

I wonder why we do this. Is it a human thing, or something our modern culture has taken to the next level? We don’t have to feast to increase our fat reserves while the food is plentiful, before the long bleak winter. I have had such a wonderful Christmas season, but I’m ready for there not to be any cookies or chocolates on my kitchen counter. I’m ready to have simple meals that clean up quickly and let me just sit with the kids. School will resume for me soon enough, too, and I’ll be missing that mental down time.

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Competitive Hat Stackers Party, complete with trash talking

Not that we haven’t enjoyed some simple pleasures over the last few weeks. There have been lots of board games played. The grown ups watched all of the first season of “House of Cards.” (I highly recommend it! Kevin Spacey is phenomenally bad!) I’ve experimented with cooking some of the venison from my husband’s successful hunt back in November. Several mornings I got to actually sleep in without getting up just because a kid was awake. I scraped a few things off our plates this season so we wouldn’t be too stressed, and it worked, but it’s still, well, excessive. Despite our best efforts, the kids haven’t slept quite as much as they should. Meals have been irregular, and usually consist of at least 50% cookies. The house is a wreck, every room strewn with leftover bits of wrapping paper and ribbon. There are shrink wrapped boxes of science experiments and LEGO kits, shirt boxes with tissue paper still inside, and the tree is dropping needles on top of it all. Christmas just seems tired.

This is why I have to live where there are seasons. I was so excited for this season and now I’m excited for it to be over. I will enjoy winter for a bit longer, hoping for more snow with each weather forecast, and then I’ll be done with that, and ready for spring. I’ll watch for green shoots and blooms and enjoy having the windows open, then I’ll hate putting the air conditioner on but will revel in taking the kids to the pool each day of the heat. I’ll be SO ready for fall to arrive and the kids to go back to school. I NEED this constant change and turnover. I can’t say why, but I do. I need lots of external stimuli to give me constant feedback on the progression of time. And looking back over the past, particularly since my children were born, knowing what season it was has helped me place so many memories on the timeline. I can remember that Girlie was just about two when she said that funny thing that one time when everyone laughed because it was really cold out, lots of snow. And Middle Bird was just about three when he got so dirty that one time and dirtied up everything because he wearing shorts, but long sleeves, so it must have been spring, not far from his late March birthday.

Time and it’s passage is becoming a recurring theme for me, huh?

 


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Standing at the door…

Here it is! The holidays are HERE! It’s not pre-holidays. It’s not almost the holidays. It’s here! Tomorrow I go to the grocery for all the stuff I need to make my part of Thanksgiving dinner. Today I will tackle the house. Toilets, vacuuming, laundry, oh dear God, the laundry. But right at this morning tears are streaming down my face as I contemplate my blessings.Thanksgiving-dinner2-760380

I have avoided the Month of Thankfulness that so many of my friends participate in. I love seeing what my friends are thankful for. Often it’s loved ones, or material blessings, or just living in this wonderful country. Sometimes it’s little things like a good cup of coffee, or a few minutes to sit down. A few weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook about how she couldn’t bring herself to participate because she was conflicted about it all. If she posts that she’s thankful for her wonderful husband, won’t that make a newly widowed friend feel bad? Maybe that’s why I couldn’t post? Or if I post about how thankful I am for my husband’s good job that affords me the chance to live in this house in this neighborhood, will that bum out my friends who are struggling with unemployment and just want keep their home out of foreclosure? I thought about this a lot for a few days. In the end, I decided no. Not, my posts wouldn’t, or shouldn’t make anyone feel bad. Well, probably not. So I didn’t participate. Doesn’t mean I’m not grateful. I’m so thankful from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. I’m grateful for my family, my parents, my brother, my husband, my beautiful children. NOBODY on this planet is more blessed with good people in their lives. My heart could pop. And I’m thankful for the material blessings I enjoy. My home, my warm bed, my stocked pantry, my reliable transportation, even the fabulous coffee maker that just brewed up a pot of go-juice for the afternoon. And so much more. Doesn’t mean my life is perfect, just that I’ll keep my own problems, given the choice.

I’ve written before about how I know this time will pass. Someday someone I love will get sick, or be taken from me without warning. There will be job stress for my husband or myself, I do plan to re-enter the workforce soon. Sometime each of my children will disappoint me with a decision or direction. I’m not unprepared for that, though nobody is ever really prepared. But just like I know exactly WHO I am grateful TO, I know where I’ll get the strength to get through those things, too.

Now I’ve got all these lovely blessings to be thankful and we’re standing in the doorway ready to walk into the holidays. I LOVE the holidays. I’m sure not every year will be as lovely as this one promises to be, but I pray I’m never any less aware of how lovely it all is.

I’ve got to get back to my job today. It’s weird being in this between terms thing. I only had a short break between Summer and Fall, so being out of classes so long is a little unnerving. Might help if that one prof would go ahead and post gradeStill, today I am Mom, plain and simple. Mom who cleans toilets. Mom who does laundry. Mom who prepares for Thanksgiving, a gameday party on Saturday (Go BUCKS!), and Christmas. Good thing I love being Mom.

 


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I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter…

And make believe… It’s all the homework due this weekend!

If you don’t have the earworm, we have very different taste in music.

I really don’t have much to say except WHOA! I’m pretty behind. I mean, I’m gonna get it done. I’m not afraid it won’t all happen, but I am going to be running my butt off, well, the rest of the year!

20130920_222112School is crazy. I’m so behind in reading, I’m skinning by. Sorry, Stephanie, my friend from college who always had a knack for kicking me in the pants when I needed it, academically. I’ll catch up, I swear, and I’m not blowing stuff off. Well, maybe at the moment while I write this I am, but really, I’m moving all day long. There’s just a lot to pack into those waking hours! And those kids want to eat and wear clean clothes every day!

Oh, and that brings me to my sad house. It’s a mess. I’ve been limping along cleaning toilets when they need it, and keeping the laundry going, and even running the dishwasher every day, but nothing else is getting done. The kitchen floor is in such a need for a sweep it’s sad. And the living/dining room areas are full of folded laundry and kids’ clothes and shoes in flux between seasons. I wrote about the whole season change chaos in the spring. That same thing is going on for fall now, and with the exception that now Baby can wear some of the stuff Middle wore a couple years ago, it’s the same process. What to do with what, and pondering my blessings.

So, yup, I’m swimming upstream. And it just occurred to me this evening that it isn’t going to get any better. I’m in class until November 3rd. The following weekend I have a two day workshop for school. The Monday after THAT I begin my annual week plus of solo parenting. Immediately after THAT is Thanksgiving! That’s it, folks, we’re smack dab in the holiday season then! And between now and the end of classes, life is crazy, too. Daddy Bird is Popcorn Kernel for Middle’s Cub Scout pack. There’s a camp-out for for Daddy, Girlie, and Middle. There’s numerous short assignments and papers, plus the usual round of school stuff, Middle’s fall baseball season, piano lessons, church and choir practice.

No, I’m no busier than any other typical (whatever the hell that is) suburban mom. Life is tough. Suck it up, right? Right. I will. I just looked down the timeline and had a bit of a panic attack tonight. It will all be alright. Really. But I feel a little like I did at the beginning of the summer. Here it comes. It’s gonna be a fun ride, but a ride, nonetheless!

Oh, and a couple other things, while you’re reading. Middle caught a pop fly in tonight’s game. He was proud of himself and I was proud of him, too. Then he ran off the field with the rest of his team and they all congratulated him and patted him on the back like teammates will, and I swear his head was about to explode he was so proud. I got all teary eyed watching him beam like that. He needed that.

And Baby is potty trained. That’s right. I’m calling it. The kid does his business in the potty. Yeah, we have some accidents from time to time, and sometimes he’s not happy about being made to sit on the potty. Still, he does his business and moves on. It’s all good. 🙂 Now this family wants a puppy. You know because there’s not much else going on around here. :


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Just to share a bit…

In my attempt to remember all the things I think I want to write about, maybe I’ll just share some of the things that have inspired me this week. There have been several smart blog posts by cool women I don’t actually know, but some are friends of friends. You should read them, too.

Why I am the perfect mother, by Emily Willingham. Because we moms are ridiculously hard on ourselves, even when we’re not, and then we’re even harder on other moms.

So Sorry, by Koz. Because I’m sick of the non-apology, too.

Worst End of Year Mom Ever, by Jen Hatmaker.  Okay, this one is from last spring, but I rolled so much reading it that I had to reread it this week. It’s good to remind me where we’re headed. But for now, it’s fall and I’m still a rock star.

 

There were some news articles I was going to share, but we’ve got such a nice theme going here, I think I’ll leave it at that. Really, you should read these. Very cool, and very entertaining.
Later,

Bird


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Fall Cleaning!

Who needs spring cleaning? Fall makes much more sense to me! This is the week my kids really hate. School starts next Wednesday for them, but this last full week of vacation is the one with the  most whining. This week I will make everyone deep clean their rooms, with my oversight and assistance, and readjust everyone’s sleep schedule. The only thing they hate more than cleaning their rooms is when Mom “helps” and makes them do it right. And beyond that, the only thing they hate more is a reasonable bedtime.

I tend to be very lax about bedtime in the summer. When I see everyone getting crazy overtired and whiny again, I back it up to 8:00 again, but for the most part, the big kids are allowed to stay up as late as they like, but only if they’re reading in bed by 9:00. It works out well for all of us. We have to watch the Girlie Bird, though. She’s been known to still be reading at midnight. Middle Bird almost always has the light out by 10:00, but a solid hour of reading each night, for a boy as dedicated as he is to his video games is a good thing!

20130812_091158 (1)The rooms are a mess. They look okay when you first step in, there are plenty of areas to walk, and I regularly yell at them about dirty clothes, since I still do everyone’s laundry. It’s the desks that are a primary issue. Talking about fourth grade with several other moms in the neighborhood who have been through it, I’ve learned that it’s the heaviest load of homework. Since my girl can already take 20 minutes of homework and turn it into three hours, we have got to have a strategy! Step one is to turn that desk into an actual work zone. Won’t hurt to tackle the big boy’s desk, either. Might as well get a better handle on his homework habits, too.

Okay, so looking at Girlie’s, it’s not too bad. It’s not homework ready, either. I’ve promised to buy a desk calendar, and Grandma is on board to buy some kind of pencil cup and paper stacker. Making it feel like a real work space is the goal. So there’s that.

20130812_091316The boy’s desk is just full. Having a real book shelf over it has made it more difficult. The books are now spilling off and onto the work surface. Cleaning that out and making it a work surface is the goal. He’s much less impressed with office supplies, so we should be able to just clean it up and make him work there. Fingers crossed. Last year I often found him working on his knees at his old train table, now used mostly for LEGO play. It’s better than lying on his back on the bed, but still not ideal.

Then it’s on to bathroom cleaning. All the bathrooms are filthy. I wipe down the toilets with Clorox wipes regularly, but the amount of hair on the floor in the master bathroom is astonishing. My dear husband managed to make an offer I can’t refuse (and to do it in a totally non-offensive accusatory you-should-have-done-it-already manner, I might add). I will get the counters and toilets cleaned, and he’ll do the floors. Deal. This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now, if you follow me on Facebook you already know, but we spent a good portion of the week working on the family room. Before pictures didn’t really come out well, but the walls are painted paneling. The color was just dirty white. I think they were going for a sort of beige, but it just came out dirty and flat. There was a large spot, five feet tall by maybe two feet wide, on one wall that had never been painted after the paneling was primered. They just hadn’t moved the bookshelf with the TV on it when they painted. UGH! Of course, we’d lived here for over four years and never fixed it, so double UGH! I chose a pale French blue and started on Monday. I’m a pretty good painter, I must say, so I move along fairly quickly. I don’t bother with taping, so I knocked out the walls between dinner and bedtime. That just left the brick monstrosity of the far wall.

20130806_173044Posting this picture on Facebook and announcing my plans to paint the whole thing white, I was shocked that so many people tried to stop me. I guess it just doesn’t translate well to pictures so you’re all going to have to just take my word for it. This wall sucks. Being a room that’s so lacking in natural light, it needs lightening up anyway, but the dark blob at the end of the room, stretching from end to end, really gives the illusion of making the room shorter. When you walk in there, it feels like the ceiling is coming down on your head! The bricks themselves are not attractive. In discussions with a master mason who did some repair work on the outside of our house, we determined that the most likely source for these recycled bricks was a building in German Village. In the late 60s, as that area underwent a lot of revitalization, some buildings were torn down, and the bricks just left in piles. Builders were sometimes invited to take what they liked. This house was built in 1971. The bricks weren’t fit for structural building, but as decorative bricks they were fine. Today, though, they are crumbling. I’m not thrilled about the 70s vibe that the shape of the fireplace gives off anyway, so by giving them a clean, white paint job, I will drag this room into the 21st century. There are still curtains to make and pictures to hang, but I’m thrilled with the results. Between primer coats and actual painting, it took a full four days to get it done, but at last it is done!

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In another week or two, I’ll be able to put things on that tiny mantle. The room feels much better, though it may smell like Killz fumes for months!

We also got the basement cleaned out yesterday, making my husband a happy bird. He stresses about that sort of thing. I’ll spare you the pictures, but it is better. Back to school mode in full swing around here!


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Sorry, Mom

My mother says I have the children I deserve.  She says this a lot, actually.  I always tell her the same thing:  I love them anyway.  It’s true, though, I do deserve them.  Let’s talk about the Girlie Bird.  She’s the only girl I’ve got, so I don’t know how much of it is being the first born, the first born girl, the only girl, or just A girl, but oh, dear Lord, that one is going to be the death of me.  She isn’t the loudest, or the most defiant of my children.  She isn’t the most likely to be in trouble at any given moment.  But when she IS in trouble and I confront her, or when I have to give her a lecture about something, or if she knows she’s screwed up, I can almost hear her thoughts.  I can read on her face exactly what she’s thinking.  I am transported back to being the nine-year-old facing my mother.

1226_10151246528404748_1574069305_n - EditedI was an enigma to my mother, though.  She was as confused by me as I am by Middle Bird.  So, I’ve already told my mom in person, but let me just put it out there in cyberspace.  I’m sorry, Mom.  It turns out, it isn’t any easier if you can figure out what the kid is thinking.  It’s no less frustrating when she spends the afternoon blowing off her homework to read her current favorite book, or when she tries to explain that she has it all figured out how she can skip piano practice today and still fit six practices in for the week, or even why it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that she should have her dirty clothes from the last three days laying on the floor between the door to her room and the closet.  Understanding how she arrived at all these conclusions doesn’t make you want to shake her any less.  It turns out, it’s JUST as completely frustrating when she stares at you blankly while you explain her offenses.  So, I’m sorry.