Just Another Manic Monday

Daily Foglifter:  More than 1/3 of all sick days occur on a Monday.

It’s Monday.  It’s raining and I have a cold.  My son missed the bus, but luckily (for me), my husband was home sick so he could get the other three kids to the bus while I drove my son to school.  Fighting the car rider line in the rain is a nightmare.  Traffic wasn’t any better on the way home fighting the elementary school crowd.  As I drove up the driveway, my husband was racing to the end of the street, just  as the bus was pulling up.  I thought, “Oh no, she won’t recognize his truck.”  Fortunately, he was flashing his lights so she’d stop.  They barely made it. 

Oh Monday, why do you have to live up to your reputation?

I was going to write about books today, but I’m too tired to do the subject justice.  So how about something more fun?  How about games? 

Games are an excellent way to get your brain working.  Some great examples are word games, trivia, Sudoku, or crossword puzzles.  If you’re looking for a challenge, Cryptic or British Crosswords will give your brain a workout.  These are not easy to find in book form, but there are many websites that carry them.  The site I use is http://thinks.com/crosswords/cryptic/cryptic.htm . ( Hint:  This site has a solve option.  I suggest using this the first couple of times to get an idea of how they work.  It takes a while to get the hang of it, but when you complete your first one, you’ll feel wicked smart!)

My favorite game site is www.pogo.com.  It’s free and has a wide variety of games.  My favorites are Crossword Cove, Trivial Pursuit, and Word Whomp.

I also love Variety Puzzle Books.  These can be purchased in the magazine section of most grocery stores.  The website is https://www.pennydellpuzzles.com/subcategory.aspx?c=variety.  These books include Sudoku, crosswords, cryptograms, word jumbles, and much more.  

If you seriously want to rev up the brain power, you could use a site like Lumosity. Lumosity is a “brain training” program designed by scientists.  The games are categorized by skill, and results are tracked and graded.  It is a paid service, but the site does offer a two-week free trial, no strings attached.  I’ve done it myself, and seriously considered subscribing.  The games are challenging but fun.  The website is  http://www.lumosity.com/.

I must warn you that games can be addictive, particularly the on-line versions.  Considering that, it’s probably not a good idea to do them while at work.  Even at home, it’s easy to keep saying, “Just one more round,” until it’s 4:00, the dishes are still in the sink, the laundry is unfolded on the couch, and the dinner roast is still rock-solid in the freezer.  My solution is to do my “gaming” while having my morning coffee or eating my lunch. 

Well, Anna is dumping out the salt shaker onto the floor so I better end this. When did she get tall enough to reach the countertop?  Nothing passes the time faster than a growing baby!  

Happy Gaming!

“Our whole life is solving puzzles.” Erno Rubik 

                                                                                                                 

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Saturday Stew

Daily Foglifter:  There are 53 Saturdays in 2011. 

 

Saturday.  It’s the one day of the week that I don’t have to get up early.  In fact, I have a 9:00 rule for Saturdays.  My kids are not allowed to wake me up before 9:00 am, unless there’s an emergency.  My kids are perfectly capable of feeding and entertaining themselves until then.  If my husband is home (and awake), I get to sleep even longer.  I live for the Saturday sleep-in.  The rest of the day?  Ah, there’s the rub.

Saturdays are loud.  It’s the day of adjusting to everyone being in the same house, all day, with no break.  The kids are letting loose after a week of school, where they have to be quiet, attentive, and well-behaved.  This “letting loose” primarily consists of arguing, whining, yelling, crying and fighting. 

Saturdays are also the preparation for Sunday.  That means cleaning the house, finishing the laundry, and doing any last-minute grocery shopping.  There must be easy snacks that require no more than a quick turn in the microwave.  There must be clothes for church and to change into after church.  There must be a relatively clean house.  Having these things in order makes it possible for me to take an After Church Nap with no guilt.  (Note:  I don’t sleep my life away.  I use the weekend to catch up on the sleep I’ve lost during the week.)

Saturdays are, quite possibly, the busiest day of my week.  They are, by far, the most stressful.  I suspect this is true for most moms.  I combat it by setting aside at least an hour of “me time.”  I spend this time reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, or, lately, by writing a blog.  It makes the day a little more bearable.  

So, start a Saturday tradition.  Schedule one hour for “quiet time.”  Send the kids to their rooms to read or draw.  Grab a cup of coffee and curl up on the couch with a good book.  It’ll be good for you and the kids.

“Every man has a right to a Saturday night bath.”    ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Trial and Error

Daily Foglifter:  There are 137 words that begin with the letter x. 

 x-ray, xylophone, xenophobia, xerox…um, I’m pretty sure there’s only 4.

 

What a week it’s been.  I started a blog, gave up home schooling, sent my son to middle school, caught a cold, and learned a new language (techie).  Well, I may be exaggerating on that last one.  I think I’m in the ma-ma/da-da stage of that one.  Point is, I feel good today.

I looked over the posts for this week and I did write a lot about the family.  A lot of typical momblog stuff, but I still feel good about it.  Most of my time was spent learning the basics of blog building, and it was tough!  To say I’m not computer savvy is an understatement.  Five months ago, when I got the internet for the first time, I had to ask at least three different people how to use Facebook.  Last week, I had to ask my husband how to get downloaded songs from my computer to a CD or an MP3 player.  Seriously.

As hard as the technical stuff is for me, the actual blog is worse.  The idea of opening myself up for the whole world to see and to judge is my Hell on Earth.  I considered using an alias.  (If everyone thinks Millicent Millpot is an idiot, it wouldn’t hurt so much.)  Then I decided to stop being a coward.  Besides, I was overdramatizing it.  There are thousands upon thousands of blogs out there, so what’s one more?  If people read it, great!  If not, I still win because I get to write a little every day, which is why I started a blog  in the first place.

I am closing the first week of my blog.  The traffic has been respectable, considering I only had family and friends to depend upon.  The feedback could be better (hint, hint).  I welcome criticism, but try to be constructive.  In case you don’t know the difference, “You suck,” may be accurate, but it’s not exactly helpful.  Tell me why I suck, please.

I added another page called “Express Yourself!” I included some links to websites that may be helpful in finding something creative to do.  So, if you want a hobby, I hope it will be useful.  Another thing to keep in mind:  Some people have been able to turn their hobbies into part-time or full-time jobs.  You’ll never know until you try.

I’m taking the weekend to learn more about blogs.  It’s going to be a loooong weekend.

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Growing Pains

Daily Foglifter:  Espresso has 1/3 of the caffeine of a regular coffee.  Triple shot, anyone? 

Today was the day I took my 11-year-old son to his first day of middle school.  He was excited and nervous.  Mostly nervous.

In his mind, he saw towering 8th graders, intent on finding a helpless 6th grader to beat the crap out of, at every turn.  He saw himself wandering the vast halls, tightly clutching the schedule printout that screams, “I’m new!” in his sweaty hands, having no idea where to go.  His humiliation doubled by having to ask a teacher to take him to his next class (late) where 30 pairs of judging eyes follow him to the lonely seat in the back of the classroom.  He doesn’t know a single soul in any of his classes and is destined to be that “weird, new, home school kid.”  I remember the home school kids and that’s what everybody said about them–including me, though I’m not proud of it.

Maybe that’s not what went through his mind at all.  But it definitely went through mine.

Fortunately, none of these things is very likely.  When we got to the middle school, classes were changing and there were no gigantic 8th graders.  Everyone looked just like Aidan.  The classrooms are all clearly marked with huge signs hanging from the ceiling.  I felt some of the tension leave my body.

It got better when we got in the counselor’s office.  He was resuming his place in the gifted program with the same kids he went to school with last year.  It is a military town, so there might be some slight differences, but not much.  The schedule was normal.  Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Health,  and…gym.

Oh no.

Now, Aidan loves gym.  He loves to play baseball, football, kickball, whatever.  So what’s the problem?

Dressing out.

The term itself makes me shiver.  There is nothing so embarrassing as taking your clothes off in front of a bunch of strangers.  Especially at the age where you don’t know what your body is going to look like from one day to the next.   You might be saying, “Well, you’re a girl.  It’s different for a girl.”  If you are saying that, you don’t know Aidan.

Aidan has always been extremely private about his body.  He’s shut the door to the bathroom when bathing and his room when dressing since he was about three.  He wouldn’t even change from his T-shirt into the new T-ball jersey in the dugout where everyone could see.  It’s just his way.

I know that he is probably like this because he has so many siblings.  His next youngest brother is only 15 months behind him.  His body is the only thing that inherently belongs to him and I don’t blame him for wanting to keep it to himself.

Maybe you think  it’s my fault he is so private because of some weird shame I’ve instilled into his subconscious.  I can assure you this is not the case, as my other four children have no problem running around the house stark naked.  You tell them to change clothes, they drop trou wherever they happen to be standing.  In fact, it may be time for me to start shaming them a little bit.  I’m sorry.  I mean teach them some modesty.

So, back to Aidan.  The counselor begins to explain this most horrid of requirements for gym and I watch his face closely.  It’s passive at first.  But then, dawn begins to break.  As the realization of what she’s saying makes its way into his brain, his face starts to change.  His eyes widen and his nose starts to do that little thing it does when he’s embarrassed or uncomfortable.  It kind of elongates and the nostrils flare a little bit, causing little creases to appear at the corners of his nose.   It passes quickly, however, and I relax.  He’s accepted it, as all kids must, and he will be fine.

The counselor stands up, shakes my hand, and leads Aidan into his adolescence.  I hang back for a few minutes so I won’t embarrass him and say a little prayer for a good first day.   It occurs to me that I will have to endure this four more times and I am suddenly very tired.

Today was confusing.  On one hand, I was relieved that everything was fine.  On the other, I was a little hurt that it was so easy.  I couldn’t  understand how a person can feel two completely opposite emotions at the same time about the same situation.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  The emotions come from two different places.

The first place is the rational mind.  Here, it’s a good thing when a child is able to grow and adapt to his environment.  It’s the mark of a confident, able, and well-adjusted child.

The second place is the mom mind.  Therein lies the images of the 11-year-old as a newborn, depending on his mother for everything. In the mom mind, that child is always going to be the baby who needed her kisses to fix the boo-boos, her hugs to keep the nightmares away, and her songs to lull him to sleep.  She’s the one who protected him from the dangers of the world.

So both minds exist in one brain–forever.  Nothing can separate them.  Not middle school, high school, college, marriage, grandchildren, or middle age.  He is my baby, my first, and he always will be.

                     

“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What’s that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”     ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

A Day In the Life

Daily Foglifter:  An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. 

 In an effort to avoid the awkward and trying time that is middle school, my husband and I decided that it would be best to home school our sixth grade son.  So we enrolled in the program, got the materials, downloaded the necessary software, and dug right in.  Well, we started scratching in the dirt anyway.

A typical morning would go something like this:

  • 8:00 am–Tell Aidan to get up when I get Anna out of bed to change her diaper, feed her, and find something to occupy her time while I make my coffee.
  • 8:30 am–Get Anna out of the bathroom and tell Aidan to get up while I remove the toilet paper, sippy cup, and toothbrush from the toilet.
  • 9:00-10:30 am–Yell at Aidan every 15 minutes to get up while I clean the coffee grounds Anna got out of the garbage can off the floor, reshelve every book she flung off the bookshelf, re-fold all the laundry she removed from the laundry basket, and chase her down to get the cat food she got from the bag out of her mouth.  At least she took care of her own snack.
  • 10:45 am–Drag Aidan out of the bed by his feet or his head (whichever happens to be hanging off the bed) and sit him in front of the computer to get started on school.
  • 10:45-12:00pm–Get some laundry and dishes done while chasing Anna around the house, cleaning up the DVDs she threw on the floor, sopping up the coffee she spilled on the carpet (suddenly she’s tall enough to reach the tabletop), and periodically remove the perfectly sized choking hazards she’s found and put in her mouth.  All this is done while Aidan makes the sound that only pre-teens and teenagers can make.  The groan/sigh that says, “This is stupid.  I’m bored.  I’m a pain in the butt.”  It’s perfectly tuned to set off explosions in a mom’s head.
  • 12:00-1:00 pm–  Feed Anna her lunch, attempt to rock her to sleep while she does what all babies do–cry, lay her head down, close her eyes, jerk her eyes open and her head up, go rigid or flop (depending on her mood) and make that horrible grunting noise that says, “I’m not going to sleep.  I’m frustrated.  You are going to pay.”  The sigh/groan from Aidan continues.
  • 1:00 pm–I react.  Anna goes in the bed to scream or sleep as she will.  Aidan gets threatened with all manner of horrible things.  It’s not until I threaten to tell his daddy that anything gets done.   The sheer injustice of this makes me want to throw him through a wall.
  • 1:00-3:00 pm–Anna is asleep.  Aidan completes his work and is in his room playing his DS or reading and I’m trying to will myself to do something–anything.
  • 4:00 pm—  Anna wakes up and the other three kids get home from school and Act II begins.

I don’t have the time to go into a day when I have to go to the grocery store, one of the other kids is home sick, or I have a doctor’s appointment.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Well, long story short (all together now!  TOO LATE),  this has gone on for 5 months and now it’s over.  Aidan is going back to school this week.  It’s not only because I fear for his safety if he stays home with me, but also because he really misses his friends.  So, that’s it.  I surrender.

I’m happy with the decision, but I am feeling a little guilty.  I saw things working out differently. I saw a happy kid.  I saw a confident mom/teacher.  I saw a lot of things.

But sometimes, a mom’s eye is bigger than her brain.

                                                                                               

A Little Shakespeare or The Price Is Right?

  

Today’s post is dedicated to my daughter Anna Grace.  This fabulous 15-month-old gave me a gift last week.  She was playing with the remote and kept changing the channel from “The Price Is Right” to the movie Hamlet, starring Laurence Olivier.  After the third time, I got interested and watched the whole movie.  And it was actually very good. 

What does it say about me when my 15-month-old has more refined tastes than I?

Anna is pictured above reading one of my favorite books, Anne of Green Gables

Out On a Limb

I know what you’re thinking.  Does the world really need another momblog?   Maybe not, but it’s getting one.

I decided to start a blog while looking for work from home opportunities.  Nearly every prospect listed “being an experienced blogger” as an asset.  Well, as someone who didn’t even have the internet in her home until 5 months ago, I knew I was at a disadvantage.  I had no idea how to start a blog so I did what everyone does when they want to know how to do something.  I Googled it.  Yikes.

While reading through countless articles, I got the basic idea.  Find a platform.  Find and research a  niche.  Start blogging.  Finding a platform was easy.  It had to be free.  It had to be designed so that a first grader could use it.  Mission accomplished.

Find a niche.  A no-brainer, right?  I’m a stay-at-home-mom and have been for 10 years, hence, a momblog.  So I Googled momblog and my computer nearly caught on fire.  There are momblogs for everything!  There are momblogs dedicated to parenting methods, green living, baby products, and terrible twos.  Some moms prefer to create online scrapbooks to share with the world.  Other moms concentrate on the trials of raising children with disabilities.  Still more moms use their blogs as a platform to simply vent their frustrations.  I was overwhelmed!  What was I supposed to do?  What else is there for a mom to write about?  EVERYTHING has been hashed and rehashed.

And then it came to me.  I had momfog.

What is momfog?

Momfog is the condition of a mother’s brain after countless hours of WonderPets, Spongebob Squarepants, and Yo Gabba Gabba!  It’s the result of being slobbered on, puked on, and peed on.  It’s the state of mind that says, “I have a free night! I think I’ll get caught up on laundry, playdate schedules, and rearranging the kids’ closet” and being HAPPY about it.

Do you remember when you had outside interests?  When your social life didn’t depend on ballet class or football practice?  It’s in there.  It’s just lost in the fog.

I’m not suggesting that life can ever be what it was before children.  Why would we want that anyway?  Children are awesome.  My children are who I am and it is my pleasure (most of the time) to go out of my way for them.  They define my life.  BUT, there is room in our lives for serious books, adult themed movies or theater, or ridiculously priced lattes in pretentious coffee shops.

I’m hoping this blog will be a place to discuss these things, ALONG WITH the crazy stories of motherhood and the unbelievable lengths our children will go to undermine our efforts to “branch out.”

So that’s momfog in a nutshell–a big coco de mer nutshell.  Future posts will be more the almond-sized variety.

FYI, the coco de mer nut is considered the largest nut in the world.  It can weigh up to 65 lbs.  See?  We’re already lifting the fog.

coco de mer nut                                  almond

http://www.slashfood.com/2006/11/20/worlds-largest-nuts/