Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer in Retrospect

Summer is officially finished. No more long, lazy days spent chilling out and relaxing ("chillaxing" as my son now says). Having spent a well-planned morning to make the bus on time, schedules have already taken over. It's not all bad. There's Cub Scouts to look forward to (if I can convince him to do it), Halloween, Christmas vacation...

Aw, who am I kidding? I miss him already! Good thing I have my baby at home.

Anyway, here's where we stand, the summer in retrospect:

# of ears of corn growing in the garden: 4

# of sunflowers blooming: 5

# of weeks we washed the car as per my plan to wash the car every week: 1

# of times we tie-dyed as per my plan to introduce my son to the joys of tie-dyeing: 0

# of weeks we had to make an extra trip to the grocery store because we just can't keep food in this house with two growing boys: 11

# of movies seen at the drive-in: 1

# parties attended: 4

# of times I forgot what day it was: 4 or 5 - I actually can't remember.

We did it!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Collapse and Recovery

I don't know how other parents deal with prolonged sleep deprivation. I generally do this: Go, go, go as much as possible, powering through the low energy moments to clean up the house, get to events, see friends, etc. Then, I collapse dramatically, feeling so sick I have to cancel plans at the last minute and clear my schedule completely for more than a week. I thank God for the technical gadgets available to entertain my older son, and focus entire days on the moments when I can close my eyes.

After recovering, I begin scouring the Internet for things to do, places to go, ramping up for another few weeks of powering through. Technical gadgets morph from angelic saviors to evil tools I have to ban and limit, lest they steal my son's brain or turn it to mush.

Having once again reached the recovery stage of one of those cycles, I have learned a few things:

Apparently, I'm not one to pace myself. I thought I was pretty good about this, and maybe I am in my own personal life. But when managing other lives (ie. those of my kids), I'm not pacing myself enough. And I have to be better about it. Thus, the schedule I created today that includes rest time for me.

When it comes to technical gadgets, they're not disproportionately bad (as the American Association of Pediatrics would have you believe, with its unreasonable recommendations for limiting screen time). They're not entirely good either (as I believe when I'm excessively tired). It's all about perspective and balance. Even if the AAP has a point, I have to think that if allowing kids extra screen time actually saves the life of the parent taking care of those kids, then there has to be some wiggle room on this issue.

With these lessons on mind, we begin the last two weeks of summer before school starts.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What I Should Be Doing vs. What I'm Actually Doing

The time is 9 a.m. The baby is napping. I have one hour till I have to leave the house with both kids and lunches packed - plus all the various other things we need for the day (diapers, wipes, extra clothes, etc.). And what am I doing?

Researching meat.

Turns out, Applegate is pretty dedicated to the whole raising farm animals humanely thing. As for Coleman Natural... I think they're doing it. The website isn't actually so clear. And then there's the link to Perdue mentioned on the site... Are they owned by Perdue or something??

This project came about as a result of the online grocery shopping I've been doing since my son was born. Online shopping works for me not only because I don't have to schlep the kids, but also because in the end, the groceries are delivered to me at my house. Amazing.

If this were really the 1970s, no doubt I'd be schlepping all kinds of highly processed, stressed out meat from store to home (by "stressed out meat" I mean the factory farmed chicken, not me in a sorry state after all that work). So are modern times really better? 

I'm happy for the delivery and the humanely raised foods. But I'm definitely running late due to the same time suck that tempts my son, the one I'm supposed to be monitoring as a parent: screens. 

It's 9:17. I've got to go.

Friday, August 9, 2013

And Now It Really Is the 1970s at My House

From what I remember of the '70s, there were certain appliances and gadgets that everyone just didn't have back then. A VCR, for example - or rather, a Betamax. If you missed a T.V. show, you would try to catch a rerun, but might very well never see it at all. An answering machine is another example. If your friend wasn't home, the phone rang and rang (around 25 times, as I recall) and eventually cut you off. And alas, a dishwasher is my third example. If you had a sink full of dishes, you pulled on the rubber gloves and washed them with soap and a sponge.

Which is what I'm doing today, since this particular appliance quit on me yesterday.

I'm not actually sure we didn't have a dishwasher in the '70s... Am I thinking of the '50s (which, of course I can only imagine)? In any case, I do feel I'm learning some throwback lessons today.

1. Washing dishes can be relaxing and therapeutic. There's something rewarding about turning a sink full of dirty dishes into a counter-top overflowing with clean dishes. 

2. There's something pleasant and connecting about drying a freshly hand-washed dish that once belonged to my grandmother, who also raised two boys.

3. When you have two little boys, there's really no such thing as turning an entire sink full of dirty dishes into clean dishes. The boys never stop eating and - I'm now noticing - creating more and more dirty dishes. My sink is not large enough to accommodate them all at any given time. (And the time right now is only 8:30 in the morning.)

4. Washing dishes can be a real pain in the neck. Literally and figuratively. I'm even annoying myself. Why did I just throw that plate in the dirty water when I could have used it again?? And why are we still out of forks when it feels like I've been slaving over this sink for hours??

5. I'm a genius. I just remembered we have a pile of paper plates and box of plastic utensils left over from a recent party. They're coming out today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Summer Quiz

On the last day of school, your kindergartener comes home with a packet entitled, "Summer Practice." This thick stack of papers remains in his backpack, where you leave it when you go searching for the "important" stuff (his report card, teacher assignment and school supplies list for next year, etc.). Halfway through the summer, in a fit of organization, you decide to empty the backpack and you rediscover the packet. You place it on your desk near your computer, thinking vaguely that you'll make sure he gets to it later. You then:

a. get him working on it right away rather than waiting.

b. set a schedule for him to complete the packet.

c. ask your mom what to do.

The answer for me: c. Here's why...

Try as I might, I just can't imagine making my son work on this packet of math and reading dittos during summer vacation. Because working on math and reading dittos is not a vacation. It's school! So what I really asked my mom was the question I thought I knew the answer to: Did I work on "Summer Practice" during my summer vacations as a kid in the '70s?

The answer, as I guessed, was no. Knowing that (and I should admit, knowing my son is actually doing fine academically), I just can't make him do it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Guide to Selling Home-Grown Vegetables

1. Have brainstorm while listening to son enumerate the many toys he wishes to purchase. I know - this kid needs a job! We could plant a garden and sell the vegetables!

2. Congratulate self on brilliance of this plan. My six-year-old will see food he's planted growing from the earth! He'll learn how hard it is to earn money! What a wonderful mother I am to dream up this healthy lesson!

3. Email manager of local farmer's market expressing interest in getting in.

4. Panic when manager emails back requesting photos. Think to yourself, "Of what?"

5. Hit garden center with your son for seed packets. Learn early July is kind of late to start a garden.

6. Realize you do not know how to build a raised bed and you're too weak to dig dirt from the ground to fill it.

7. Request husband's assistance.

8. Supervise kids outside while husband works on garden.

9. Interrupt husband several times to request that he supervise the kids while you run inside to:
                start egg for older son's lunch.
                get sheet to shade baby.
                check egg to see if water is boiling.
                make quick bottle.
                place egg in cool water so you can peel it.

10. Read seed packets and realize you do not understand the word "germinate."

11. Consider looking up "germinate" and other gardening information on Internet.

12. Start planting seeds instead. Read aloud that sunflower seeds should be 18 inches apart. Don't believe it.

13. Toss all seeds in haphazard lines and cover with dirt. Hope gardening can't possibly be an exact science.

14. Allow son to water new garden and see that he has created a large flood, exposing several seeds.

15. Panic and declare with false authority that too much water is "bad for the garden." Then wonder aloud if that's true, since rain probably floods gardens all the time.

16. Hope for the best. Imagine yourself and your son selling vegetables at farmer's market. But don't dare answer that email.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Things That May Happen If You Turn Off Your Cell Phone For Several Hours

1. You will miss a million calls from telemarketers.

2. Your baby will take an extended morning nap.

3. You will magically find the time to clean up the breezeway, packed with items that did not sell at your garage sale weeks ago.

4. You will be energized by your success in the breezeway and decide to bring both kids out the store and to a garage sale.

5. You will miss several calls from your husband.

6. You also will miss several text messages from your husband.

7. And you won't see that you have voicemail.

8. You will watch a little T.V. during your baby's second nap, blissfully unaware that anyone important is trying to reach you.

9. You will feel relaxed and - not remembering your phone is off - you will wonder why.

10. Minutes before your husband arrives home, you will check your phone and see that you have voicemail. And texts.

11. You will feel badly that you did not get back to your husband, a bike commuter, who only wanted to meet for ice cream rather than riding home.

12. You will kiss your husband as he walks in the door.

13. You will go out for ice cream anyway.