Blogging Wishes and Momfog Dreams

Daily Foglifter:   If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. 

Friday was a very exciting day for me.  I reached a goal.  While I’m sure people reach goals all the time, it’s not that common for me.  I am an expert goal-setter, but for whatever reason, I rarely get past the planning stage.  Ok, I know the reasons. 

  1.  I’m too ambitious.  All laundry washed, folded, and put away?  Sparkling clean house?  Trading pajamas for actual clothes EVERY day? 
  2.  I’m easily distracted.  By TV, books, shiny things.
  3. I’m tired.  All the time.  Some might say I’m lazy.  Po-ta-to, Po-tah-to.

Momfog is part of a master plan.  I want a job.  I have not worked in over 10 years because I was too busy having babies.  Financially and philosophically, daycare was not an option, so I’ve been home with all five of my children.  It’s been great, but also very stressful.  It’s lonely.  It’s boring.  Every day is exactly the same.  I needed to talk to adults.  I needed to DO something.  I needed a job.  It was an idea, but not ideal.  What would I do with my baby?  What kind of job would make it possible for me to be home when the other kids got home?  What about the summer?  The solution, of course, was to work from home, which wouldn’t solve the problem of socialization, but I would be doing something.  The only problems with that were my non-existent computer skills and aversion to telemarketing.  What was I qualified to do?  I looked into elance.com and got excited about the idea of being a “freelance writer.”  Sounds impressive, right?  It’s not.  The jobs paid next to nothing and were unethical, to say the least.  Rewriting other people’s articles, generating fake positive reviews of products and companies (usernames provided), and pretending to be a blogger and answering his e-mails and blog comments aren’t exactly things to be proud of.  The few legitimate jobs required blog experience.  I cringed at the word “blog.”  It sounded so ostentatious.  The Urban Dictionary explains it particularly well:

Short for weblog.
A meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as “homework sucks” and “I slept until noon today.”

Did I really want to be part of that?  What could I add to the millions of blogs already out there?  Would it be worth the time and effort?

I researched blogs and was surprised by the number of people who make money doing it.  I was also surprised that many publications accepted blog entries as “published” writing samples.  I’ve dreamt of being a writer for most of my life.  Of course, I had envisioned being a great novelist, but since I’m already 33 and haven’t written word one of a novel (the ramblings of my 16-year-old self doesn’t count), maybe it was time to focus on a local newspaper or magazine.  Start a blog, get some writing done everyday and bide my time until I wrote the one article that would be suitable for publication.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.

After much planning and trepidation I posted my first blog entry.  It went well.  36 views.  I was concerned about returning visitors, but I’ve managed to keep an average of 38 views a day.  Some entries logged as many as 71 views.  I was encouraged so decided to set some short-term blogging goals.

  1. Write every weekday.  This is really hard.  I find myself distracted throughout the day, trying to think of something to write about.  Luckily, life with 5 children is loaded with material.  Maybe not very interesting material, but enough to keep the grandparents checking in, anyway.
  2. Commit to 3 months.  If, at the end of three months, it was just my husband and parents reading, that would be it.
  3. Get 100 views in a single day. 

I’ve done number one and am working toward number 2.  Big deal.  Those had everything to do with me.  Now, number two, that would be something.  It requires outside participation and shameless self-promotion (aka creative marketing).  On Friday, exactly one month after starting Momfog, I met the goal with 113 views.  Granted, I bugged all of Facebook for the hits, but only after I reached 88 and could taste victory.  I also have a very supportive cousin who missed her calling in the PR field.  (Thanks Steph).  

So I actually reached a goal, albeit a goal within a larger goal surrounded by more important goals.  I still don’t have a job, my house is a mess, I’m in my nightgown at noon, and I’m literally counting the minutes until Anna goes down for a nap so I can join her, but that’s okay.  Tomorrow is another day. 

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.
~Mark Twain
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Things Moms Say

Daily Foglifter:  Ernest Vincent Wright wrote the novel “Gadsby,” a story of over 50,000 words, without using the letter “E.”

Before I was a mother, I knew what things I would never say when I became one.  I knew I would never say them because when my mom said them, I felt like screaming.  I would be nicer to my kids than my mom was to me.  I would be a cool mom who explained everything to her kids.  Here’s a short list of things I swore I would never say:

  • Because I’m your mother.
  • You’re not old enough.
  • Life isn’t fair.  Get used to it.
  • We’ll see.
  • When you’re a parent, you’ll understand.
  • As long as you live under my roof, you’ll follow my rules.
  • Sammich. (I’m not sure why this bothers me so much, but it drives me up the wall.  Oddly enough, my husband uses the word sammich.  I can only chalk it up to God’s attempt to cure me of such a silly pet peeve or maybe He’s just having a laugh at my expense.)
  • Because I said so.  (The absolute WORST phrase in the history of the English language.)

I thought these were horrible, awful things to say to kids.  (With the possible exception of sammich).  I thought they were what lazy parents said when they didn’t feel like chauffeuring their kids all over the place or taking the time to explain things in terms kids can understand.  I was right.  I know I was right because I say these things at least 10 times a day for those very reasons.

I have 5 children.  Between trips to the grocery store, church, and gymnastics I spend half my life in the car as it is.  I cannot run to the store because Billy has a sudden hankering for goldfish.  I cannot go to the redbox just because they’re bored.  There are logical reasons for this, but no matter what I say the kids will hear, “Because I said so.”  I save myself the time it would take to explain that gas costs money, I don’t have time, and it’s not good for kids to get whatever they want as soon as they ask for it, because this creates spoiled rotten brats with a skewed sense of entitlement, and just say, “Because I said so.”  Then when they say, “It’s not fair!” I say, “Life isn’t fair.  Get used to it.”

Aside from laziness and not creating spoiled brats, there are even better reasons for using these phrases.  When my son asks if he can ride his bike down the road, I say no.  He asks why and I say, “Because I said so” or “You’re not old enough.”  He’s 11, which is plenty old enough to ride your bike down a country road.  IF that country road didn’t have a crazy man who stumbled up and down it, mumbling to himself.  IF that road wasn’t the place where a dead body was dumped last summer.  IF that country road wasn’t a popular sunning spot for 5 foot rattlesnakes.  “Because I said so” is kinder and less scary than “Because that guy could be a child molester or deranged homicidal maniac” or “you might get bitten by a monstrous venomous snake.”

Of the things I swore I would never say, the only one I kept my word on is “sammich.”  I guess I’m not a cool mom.  Of course, there is no such thing as a cool mom.  There is only mean, embarrassing old mom who has no idea what it’s like to be a kid.  As far as my kids are concerned, I am old, have always been old, and always will be old.  I realized this when my son, Billy, asked me to pour him a glass of tea.  When I didn’t do it as fast as he thought I should, he said, “Where’s my tea, old lady?”  This was a blow to my ego as both a parent and a woman.  I am trying so hard to raise non-brats, and he calls me that incredibly rude (and untrue) name.  I’m 32, for heaven’s sake.  That is not even close to old.  Not to mention that “Where’s my tea, _____?” is no way to ask for something to drink, even if he had filled in the blank with “my cool, beautiful, sweet mother.”

Normal “momisms” aren’t the only unbelievable things coming out of my mouth.  Sometimes I say something and my immediate thought is, “Did I really just say that?!”  Some recent examples include:

  • Don’t eat coffee grounds out of the garbage can.
  • Don’t rub pizza on your feet.
  • Don’t eat styrofoam.
  • Put down that metal bar.  Find something else to sword fight with.
  • Don’t touch the cat’s butt.

While all this is really good advice, I hardly think it will be included in any parenting magazines.  Seriously, though, why do kids want to eat and touch disgusting things, play with their food, and hit each other with deadly weapons?  I can’t believe I told  my son to find something ELSE to sword fight with.  Shouldn’t I have said, “Let’s not sword fight.”  If I recall correctly, that particular game ended with crying and the swelling of some body part, as “innocent” games between five kids always do.

I look back to my pre-kid conceptions of the perfect mom and sigh.  I was right in my convictions.  Perfect moms should take the time to make their children understand why they aren’t allowed to do certain things.  The only problem is that I’m not perfect.  I don’t have the time.  More importantly, I don’t have the heart.  I want to keep the ugliness of the world from tainting my children as long as possible.  Until I’m ready for my kids to view the world with the wary eye of good vs. evil, I’m content with being the bad guy.  That’s a position all moms are willing to take.  If you don’t have kids yet, trust me, “When you’re a parent, you’ll understand.”

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they’re going to catch you in next.
Franklin P. Jones

Kids Are Annoying

Daily Foglifter:  Animal Species that eat their own young:  polar bears, burying beetles, hamsters, wolf spiders, and Mormon crickets.

Today’s Foglifter was inspired by my friend Becky, who occasionally posts as her status on Facebook, “I know why some animal species eat their own young….”  Becky has a pre-teen daughter.  I have a son the same age and I know exactly how she feels.  He’s moody, mean to his siblings, and gets angry for no apparent reason.  He’s annoying.  Sometimes his moods can ruin my whole day.  It’s not just him or his age.  Kids always annoy their parents.

Newborns.  This is by far my favorite age.  The newborn is tiny, cute, and can’t speak or move.  I am in complete control of what the newborn does.  I make the newborn happy simply by holding her close to me.  The newborn smells fantastic and makes my heart want to explode with the love I feel for this tiny miracle.  Until it’s 3:00 in the morning and the newborn is wide awake, screaming, unable to tell me what is wrong, and I am tired and still sore from childbirth, and realizing the newborn will only be happy if I walk her, for hours, in a clockwise direction. 

Crawling babies.  Still a great age.  Crawlers are mobile but limited in their scope.  It’s easy to keep up with the crawling baby and easy to keep potential hazards out of their way, since they can’t stand or reach very high.  Crawlers do super cute things like babble and point and play peek-a-boo.  They also actively and loudly fight sleep, probably because we’ve taught them that they or we disappear whenever they close their eyes (peek-a-boo is really kind of cruel.)  They develop separation anxiety.  The degree of this affliction varies.  Some babies are content to remain within visual or vocal range, making it possible for the parent to leave the room for a second or even bathe, so long as baby is in the bathroom in a bouncy seat or exer-saucer.  More often, the baby isn’t content unless planted firmly in mommy’s grasp.  This is the point when mommy’s back pain develops, as the mom’s body is now in a constant semi-bend at the waist, supporting baby on the hip.  This is also the point when mom learns what is possible with only one arm–cooking, cleaning, going to the bathroom. 

Toddlers/Terrible Twos.  It’s an exciting age.  The toddler is walking, learning to talk, and developing quite a personality.  Every day brings a new experience.  This is when moms start bragging incessantly on their babies to anyone who will even half listen.  It’s understandable.  The toddler starts saying words, contorting their little mouths around new sounds, delighting parents and grandparents with their intelligence and overall cuteness.  Inevitably, the first word a toddler masters is “no.”   They use it when they don’t want to eat, to sleep, to listen, to sit, or to be bothered.  They also learn to destroy things and to test boundaries.  When they get “in trouble” they poke out their little lips and do the fake cry.  If the toddler is truly gifted, she brings out the dances, the faces, and the giggles parents find irresistible to escape correction, thereby gaining control over the entire household.  They become tyrants– little, cute, angel-faced tyrants. 

 

Pre-School/Kindergarten:  Kids at this age are incredibly smart.  They have a unique outlook on life and surprise everyone with their revelations.  (My 5-year-old son, Billy:  I know why antibiotics taste gross.  An-ti-bi-ot-ICK!  Get it?  ICK?)  It’s especially endearing when they mix metaphors or misuse grown-up expressions.  Kids this age are also smart-mouthed.  They lie to stay out of trouble.  They learn to be pests to their siblings.  They are picky eaters and don’t like anything their mom cooks for dinner, unless it’s macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, or chocolate cake.  “This is gross!” is how they usually start a dinner conversation.

Elementary School:  It’s fun to talk to kids this age.  They are interested in everything and ask lots of questions.  They are slightly in awe of their parents’ knowledge of things like the names of  all the state capitals and knowing who invented the light bulb.  They discover love and popular music.  There’s nothing cuter than an 8 8-year-old girl singing Taylor Swift songs along with the radio in the backseat of a minivan.  There is, however, nothing more maddening than that same 8-year-old rolling her eyes whenever she’s told to do anything.  This is when the phrases, “I’m bored” and “It’s not FAIR!” are used about 50 times a day.  It’s also the dawn of the drama queen. 

Pre-Teens/Teenagers:   Occasionally, this particular age group can be sweet, surprisingly astute, and  fun.  Most of the time they are moody, taciturn, smart-mouthed, eye-rolling, sighing, and lazy humanoids who think their parents are the dumbest creatures on earth.

College/20’s:   Pretty much identical to the teenager but more eloquent.  They think that college or living “independently” has given them some credibility.  They are cynical, whiny, and convinced of their own superior intellect.  They still think their parents are stupid and express this openly with rancor and contempt. 

Late 20s/30s:  Slightly less “in your face” since the pressures of a job and a family have brought them down to earth a little bit.  Still believe they are smarter than their parents, particularly in their parenting skills.  Loud, philosophical arguments have been replaced with smug looks and condescending remarks.

40s and beyond:  Still think they are smarter than their parents.  They’re concerned about their parents’ eating habits, driving ability, sleep patterns, and social life.  They look for signs of incompetence or insanity.  Condescension has become an art form.

Kids, from the moment they are born, test the psychological and emotional limits of their parents.  Parents, in a mysterious and miraculous way that only God can be given credit for, relish every moment of it.  My kids annoy me, horribly.  They also amaze, delight, and humble me.  It’s a trade-off I’m honored to make.

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.
Erma Bombeck

My Tech-Free Day

Daily Foglifter:  People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

I did it.  24 hours with absolutely no computer use.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  Normally, I do my “computer stuff” when I have my morning coffee.  That’s usually when I check e-mail and Facebook or play a couple of games on pogo.com.  Since I usually write my blog late the night before I’m ready to post it, this is also a good time to read it over and make sure I didn’t make any major spelling or grammatical errors to make sure that what I wrote at 1:00 in the morning made any sense and wouldn’t unnecessarily offend or embarrass anyone.  Yesterday, it was me , my coffee, and maddening morning news shows.  My Lord, those people are entirely too perky in the morning!

I got a lot done, but not as much as I wanted.  There was no piano playing yesterday.  There was a considerable amount of cleaning, but the house isn’t sparkling this morning.  I blame that on tech support (again).  I spent a little over an hour on the phone, in three-minute increments in which time I was placed on hold so the very nice and pleasant man I talked to “updated his system.”  It ended with agreeing to a new cell phone number.  I figured the hassle of telling everyone our new number paled in comparison to the nightmare that is customer support.  Once I agreed to this, it took approximately a minute and a half to get the dumb cell phone working.  I don’t know why, but there it is.

The main reason my house isn’t clean is because I have a 16-month-old daughter whose new obsessions include emptying the trash can on the floor, the DVDs and books off the shelves, and seeking out any cosmetics, cups, or boxes that happen to be within her ever-expanding grasp and emptying the contents on the floor.  I don’t know what makes toddlers want to “empty” things.  She takes all the utensils out of the kitchen drawers, her clothes out of her dresser, and the baby wipes out of the container.  I couldn’t get one mess cleaned up before she was making another one.  When she threw the freshly folded laundry on the floor, I decided it was nap time.  I sat down to rock her and she fell asleep pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, so did I.

I did get some reading done yesterday.  I have not read in over a week and that is very unusual for me.  I think it had more to do with what I was trying to read than any computer activity.  I’m still working on The Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of the Twentieth Century and Radcliffe’s List as well.  I’ve read some really good books from both these lists, but there have been some tedious, boring (Invisible Man), and just plain nonsensical books as well.  (The Unbearable Lightness of Being is one of the most self-indulgent and awful books I have ever read.)  The current book was “White Fang.”  It’s not terrible, but it’s just not for me.  I put it aside and started reading some Percy Jackson, at my son’s request, and something I wanted to read.  The lists aren’t going anywhere and I don’t have a set date of completion anyway.

My time away from the computer had its drawbacks.  When I checked my e-mail today I had 48 messages in my inbox and 78 in my spam folder.  I have to at least look at the spam contents because sometimes mass mailings from the kids’ schools gets sent there.  I wanted to make a phone call yesterday and instead of just looking up the number on-line I had to look through two phone books.  The phone books here are awful.  Every town has its own phone book and nothing is listed where it logically should be.

I will not be taking any more computer holidays.  It’s too late to go back to the pre-Internet days for me.  I have too many balls up in the air, and the internet is the easiest way to manage the chaos.  It’ easier to order things from Amazon than to go to a million different stores.  It’s easier to set up appointments and correspond with the kids’ teachers via e-mail.  It’s easier to stay in contact with friends and family back home through Facebook.  Like anything else, I have to be aware of the amount of time I spend using it and adjust accordingly.  After yesterday, I have decided to set a time aside for Facebook, instead of compulsively checking it every hour or so.  Twice a day is sufficient.  The e-mail I still check since that’s how Chris and I communicate while he’s at work.  How else will I know to get him soap at the grocery store or what he thinks we should have for dinner since I’ve run out of ideas after 12 years of marriage, which is approximately 4,380 menu decisions?

I challenge you to take one full day away from your computer.  I’d be interested in hearing what you missed most or were able to accomplish with the extra time.

 
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent.
Ambrose Bierce,

Springtime, Bleach, and a Piano.

I’m writing this post Monday night because I have made a resolution.  There will be absolutely no computer activity for the entire day on Tuesday.  No Facebook, e-mail, obsessive blog checking, on-line crosswords or games of any kind.  I’m going off-line and devoting my time to all the things I’ve been neglecting over the last three weeks, paying special attention to housework and time at the piano.  I’m appalled at the amount of time I’ve spent in front of this dumb computer screen lately.  Mostly it’s been to stay in contact with tech support so that I can have a working cell phone again.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of waiting time and I spend that posting on Facebook, clearing out the never-ending stream of spam from my e-mail, and looking up stupid crap on Google.  As of now, at 10:45 pm on Monday night, all I have to show for it is a mile-high pile of laundry, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, and unbelievable rage and frustration in my heart and mind. 

Normal people would’ve just checked in periodically to see if tech support had left a message.  Did I mention that I’m not normal?  I’m obsessive compulsive, but about all the wrong things.  Maybe it’s more accurate to say I have a crusade mentality.  When I decide that something is going to happen, it’s got to happen before anything else gets done.  Period.  This could work to my advantage if I had this mentality about housework or organizing my closet.  It doesn’t work that way.  The current subject is a cell phone.  Past obsessions include cross-stitching, alphabetizing books or DVDs, or cleaning out the flower bed.  These are great things to get done, but not when there are no clean spoons or socks in the house.  It’s time to prioritize.

Right here, right now, I am making a vow to get the house clean on Tuesday.  This includes the dishes, the laundry (folded AND put away), the bathrooms, and the dusting and vacuuming.  The windows will be open and when Chris gets home the house will smell of springtime and bleach. If I get that done in time, I also vow to spend at least an hour at the piano.  I have not sat at the piano for at least a month.  With my limited ability, I can’t afford to miss that much practice.  Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. 

So there it is, for all the world to see.  I have to do it now.  I may go into withdrawals from the computer, but I’ll be able to sit down and devote my full attention to momfog on Wednesday, with absolutely no guilt.  What a feeling that will be.

Technology Sucks

I’m colossally ticked off.  I have spent the last three or four days of my life waiting on tech support.  After living comfortably in the 1990’s era of technology, I foolishly decided it was time to upgrade my life.  I was tired of having a cell phone that only (gasp) made phone calls.  I wanted to be able to tell my Facebook friends I was eating a pizza at my local pizzeria and post a picture to prove it.  Facebook friends are supremely interested in this kind of information.  I wanted to be able to check my e-mail from anywhere.  What if I missed out on an exciting new diet pill or a great deal on car insurance? I wanted to be able to take candid pictures of my children doing something crazy or cute.   The final straw came when I was at my daughter’s gymnastics class and the coach kept telling everyone to take lots of pictures because this was a priceless memory we would want to keep for a lifetime.  Every parent pulls out their phones and starts snapping away.  I looked at my impotent cell phone and immediately felt like a failure.  Enough was enough.  I had to have  a new cell phone.

We don’t use the cell phone very often so we have a prepaid plan.  We’ve had it for years and it’s great.  We keep the minutes we buy and it only costs $15 a month to keep it active.  We’ve accumulated 1500 minutes and I thought a phone with web access and a camera would be a good way to use up some of those minutes.  It would also assuage the mom guilt I feel every time I miss one of my children’s  funny/embarrassing/poignant photo ops.   So I bought a new phone on Thursday.  Today is Monday, and it still doesn’t work.  The service won’t transfer.  They managed to transfer my minutes and my time to the new phone, but I can’t make or receive phone calls.  It’s a nightmare.

My first idea was to call tech support.  What a joke.  I got a lady from Techsupportistan who led me through a thousand lines of code, which took about an hour since I could barely understand her.  When the code didn’t work she gave me the highly technical advice of turning the phone off and on, removing the battery, entering a code, and trying to do all this outside where signal would be stronger.  She suggested I do all these things every hour until it worked.  Perfect.  I contacted tech support on Facebook and at least got some new instructions without the hassle of translation issues.  I thought I was actually getting somewhere.  That was two days ago and still no phone.  I’m currently in a new Facebook conversation with tech “support” and trying really hard not to use obscene or disrespectful language.   Repeating to myself, “You are a Christian” is helping with that.  For now.

Technology is supposed to make life easier.  What a load of crap.  In the past couple of weeks, we have been upgrading TVs, computers, video recorders, and cell phones.  I’ve spent most of my time waiting on people to call or come to my house to fix these devices.  These BRAND NEW devices.  Is it unreasonable to expect things to work right out of the box?  All I want is to push the “on” or “send” button and get power or make a call.  When I’m paying for DSL, I want to get on-line and have my phone work at the same time.  I’m not interested in how things work.  I’m not interested in troubleshooting, especially on something I just bought.  There shouldn’t be any trouble to shoot.

I am not a gadget girl.  I don’t want or need iPhone 19 and I absolutely hate the idea of an eReader.  (Bulky books with musty, dog-eared pages are crucial elements in the joy of reading.)  I just want a phone and a camera in one convenient, pocket-sized device.  Every “upgrade” has cost me time, money, and a little of my sanity.  Every new service I subscribe to distracts me from important things I should be doing.  My housework, my bible study, my reading, and my piano playing have all been neglected.  What was once a hectic life is now a frustrating, maddening life wasted in turning devices on and off, removing their batteries again and again, and entering long strings of numbers and symbols, clicking OK, only to have a giant red x beside the message, “Programming Failed” pop up on the screen.  I’m sick of it. 

Technology sucks.

Three Weeks of momfog, by the numbers.

Today completes my third week of momfog.  I thought I’d share my site stats with you. 

Those are the numbers.  Are they good, bad, or average?  I have no earthly idea.  I admit I have Googled “How many views is good for a new blog?”  I couldn’t nail down a number.  I’m more interested in what people read most anyway.  I find the subjects of the highest viewed days hilarious.  It seems I get more hits when I’m making fun of something or just being unpleasant.  Growing Pains redeems me (and you guys) a little.  It is by far my most gooey offering. 

It’s difficult to write every day.  It’s hard to come up with new subjects and even harder to make them interesting.  I’m going to keep doing it, though.  If you visit one day and find a detailed description of my living room wallpaper, ignore it.  Hopefully I will have recovered by the next time you visit. 

I need your help with a couple of things.  First,  I would love to reach the magic number of 100 visits for a single day.  Please share the blog with anyone who might find it mildly entertaining.  If there’s one particular entry you know someone would enjoy, copy that specific link, and send it directly.   I would love to see that 100 on my stat sheet.

Second, I need your opinion on the Daily Foglifter.  I’m thinking of nixing it.  Please take the time to answer the poll question.  It’s just one little bitty mouse click and it would help me a lot.  Thanks and have a great weekend!