Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring Me

It’s official: I am sick of winter.

I’m sick of snow. I’m sick of ice. I’m sick of cold.

I’m sick of snowplows and salt trucks and sanders and snowblowers and shovels.

I’m sick of mopping up dirty, salt-filled puddles of melted snow from my kitchen floor. I’m sick of starting to get ready for any trip 15 minutes sooner than usual so I can pack the kids into their mittens and hats and boots. I’m sick of scraping the ice off my car. I’m sick of worrying that my kids will fall on the ice. I’m sick of waiting anxiously for my husband to make it home from work during a snowstorm.

I’m sick of winter. I’m ready for spring.

It doesn’t help that many of my wiser friends are currently in warmer climes, whether for a well-timed vacation or because they were smart enough to move out of the snow belt. And it doesn’t help that they are posting photos of lovely tropical scenes involving palm trees, beaches, swimming pools, people wearing bathing suits and shorts, and NO SNOW.

Somebody spring me.

I need to see some crocuses and snowdrops poking their noses through a snowbank. I need lovesick chickadees calling to each other and cardinals warbling to their lady loves and robins chasing worms. I need daffodil buds and fuzzy pussy willows and forsythias exploding with golden blossoms.

But since I’m not expecting to see any of those outside my window any time soon, I guess I’ll have to settle for some virtual spring. 

Whew. I feel better now. Guess I’ve been sprung!

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Am I Cool or Am I Being Stalked?

Technology confuses me. Most of the time, I “get” technology just enough to stumble along, figuring out the functions that I need to make it useful to me. But sometimes, modern technology just stymies me. Let’s take Pinterest, for example. I love Pinterest. I’m not so obsessed that I spend eleventy-billion hours on it, but I do spend a few minutes nearly every night exploring strangers’ boards, wading through collections of what some random human being somewhere on the face of earth thinks is funny, or fashionable, or interesting, or delicious. I follow the boards of some woman I’ve never met named Kathy, simply because Pinterest told me I should follow some people and her recipes looked interesting. And now that I’ve become a fairly avid pinner, every once in a while, I get a message that some stranger is now following me.

But here’s the problem: I can’t decide whether having someone I don’t know “following” me is totally cool, or if it’s horrifically creepy and stalkerish. On the one hand, it’s flattering that someone out there who has never met me agrees with my taste in clothes or home d├ęcor or children’s craft ideas or humor or whatever enough that they want to know every time I find something in that category that I like. But on the other hand, it’s quite weird and more than a little disconcerting that someone out there who has never met me wants to know every time I find something that I think is cool or interesting or noteworthy.

Somewhere out there strangers are watching my every move. They know when I find a quote that I think is worth remembering. They know when I see an outfit that I wish I were wearing. They know when I find a craft that I think would be fun to do with my kids. They know when I’ve made a particular recipe for dinner and liked it (or not). They know when something makes me laugh. They know when something makes me shake my head. They know the kind of furniture and decorations I wish I had in my house.

That’s weird.

But then, I’m the one who put that information out there for everyone to see. Maybe I’m secretly a reverse voyeur, hoping that people will watch me. Maybe I’m flattered that perhaps someone out there wants to be like me. Maybe deep in my heart of hearts, it makes me feel like a worthwhile person that someone who’s never even met me cares about what I think, about what speaks to me.

About what I’ve stalked other people for.

Other people – they’re really the source of all my pins. Everything about Pinterest is second-hand. Maybe these people who are following me aren’t really stalking me; maybe they’re just using me to get to the people whose stuff I’ve been pinning. Maybe I should let Kathy know that there are people watching her.

Nah, I bet she already knows. 

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reasons My Kids Are Laughing

Yesterday I posted a list of reasons my kids cry – or, more accurately, nonsensical reasons my kids cry. Fortunately, my kids are generally very happy, contented children, and they find as many nonsensical reasons to laugh as they do to cry. They laugh not only at things that tickle their fancy for whatever reason, but sometimes just for pure joy and happiness. So in the spirit of fairness, here are some of the things that have made them laugh in the past 24 hours or so.
  •         She found her purple truck behind the couch.
  •         I sang “Peter Peter Penguin” with him.
  •         She got to jump on the trampoline.
  •         I gave him an English muffin with his name spelled out in honey.
  •         She woke up from her nap.
  •         I put on an episode of “Team Umizoomi.”
  •         We listened to “Frog Trouble” on CD.
  •         We listened to “Broken Piano” on CD.
  •         We sang along to “The Heartache Song” on CD.
  •         I let him wear his Iron Man sneakers.
  •         I let her take off her own shoes.
  •         I let him take off his pants.
  •         I let her take off her pants.
  •         I let her wear her “sparkly coat.”
  •         I took off her “sparkly coat.”
  •         We had ice cream for lunch.
  •         We “skated” on the ice on the front steps.
  •         I let him kick a snowbank the entire length of the front walkway.
  •         I gave her another cup of apple juice.
  •         He gave her back the toy she wanted to play with.
  •         She brought him the toy he wanted to play with.
  •         They whacked each other with the toys they were playing with.
  •         I gave her a blue glittery sticker.
  •         She found Sock Monkey.
  •         We listened to Bach AND Beethoven.
  •         I let her have two pillows.
  •         He wrote his name without any help.
  •         I let them play with scotch tape.
  •         She stuck a crayon between her toes.
  •         I let them draw with markers.
  •         I let her have a Hershey’s kiss.
  •         He squished a moth on the wall.
  •         It’s Playdate Day.
  •         I let her get a clean spoon from the drawer by herself.
  •         I let her lick the table.
  •         I got him another gummy worm.

Now, if you compare this list to yesterday’s list, you’ll note a significant similarity. Almost everything that made them cry at one time made them laugh at another, or at least everything that made them cry was remedied in a way that made them laugh. The lost was found, treats that had been denied were allowed, they got what they wanted, or for whatever reason they were decided that what they had was a good thing, after all.

Maybe this is why my kids’ sadness is so transitory and short-lived: either a little bit of patience or a small change in attitude is all they need to turn sadness into joy. I should take a lesson from my wise children.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reasons My Kids Are Crying

By now, I’m sure everyone with access to the internet has seen the multitude of essays and photos titled some variation of “Reasons My Kid Is Crying.” The posts are ubiquitous because the phenomenon is ubiquitous. And since I have two pre-schoolers, I have a long list of nonsensical reasons that my kids cry. Let me share a few of these with you, so that those of you with small children can commiserate, those of you with no children can laugh innocently (and suspect that I’m exaggerating), and those of you with grown children can laugh knowingly (because you know I’m not exaggerating).
  •         She dropped her purple truck behind the couch.
  •         He didn’t want to go to singing time.
  •         She didn’t want to get on the trampoline.
  •         She didn’t want to get off the trampoline.
  •         He didn’t want an English muffin pizza for supper.
  •         She didn’t want to take a nap.
  •         I turned on the wrong episode of “Team Umizoomi.”
  •         She wanted to listen to “Frog Trouble” on CD, not “Broken Piano.”
  •         He wanted to listen to “Broken Piano” on CD, not “Frog Trouble.”
  •         Neither one of them wanted to listen to “The Heartache Song” on CD, even though I wasn’t actually playing it at the time.
  •         He didn’t want to put his shoes on.
  •         He didn’t want to take his shoes off.
  •         He didn’t want to wear pants.
  •         She didn’t want to wear pants.
  •         I put on her coat.
  •         I took off her coat.
  •         She finished her ice cream.
  •         There was ice on the front steps.
  •         He had snow on his shoes (from deliberately kicking a snowbank the entire length of the front walkway).
  •         She couldn’t find her cup of apple juice (which was in plain sight about 18 inches away from her face).
  •         He took the toy she wanted to play with.
  •         He looked at the toy she wanted to play with.
  •         He thought about the toy she wanted to play with.
  •         He whacked her with the toy she wanted to play with. (Okay, that one has some degree of legitimacy.)
  •         I gave her a blue glittery sticker instead of a purple glittery sticker.
  •         She couldn’t find Sock Monkey (he was hidden behind Pink Monkey, Santa Monkey, Big Monkey, Rainbow Monkey, and a family of giraffes).
  •         He wanted to listen to Bach, not Beethoven.
  •         She wanted a different pillow.
  •         The letter “Y” he made was crooked.
  •         The scotch tape got tangled.
  •         She couldn’t get the crayon to stay between her toes.
  •         She got the crayon stuck between her toes.
  •         She couldn’t see the drawing she was making on white paper with a white crayon.
  •         I wouldn’t let her have a third Hershey’s kiss.
  •         There was a moth on the wall.
  •         It wasn’t Playdate Day.
  •         I made her get a clean spoon after she dropped hers on the floor.
  •         I wouldn’t let her lick another kid’s backpack.
  •         I wouldn’t let him eat a gummy worm he found on the floor of the restaurant.

I kid you not, every single one of these things happened within the past 24 hours and made one or both of my kids cry. So if you ever wonder why parents of small children are continually stressed out, re-read this list and you won’t wonder any more.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

First World Problems: Some Perspective from Sochi

With the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics scheduled for tomorrow evening, it's no surprise that news reports are full of descriptions of the venues and the conditions. What is a surprise is what those venues look like and what those conditions are. Most years the Olympic Village where the athletes stay consists of beautiful hotels with nice dining areas. The accommodations might feel dorm-like for many of the American athletes, but probably some of the athletes from less wealthy countries have never stayed in such luxurious places. Sochi, however, is not fitting into that mold. The news reports, like this one from ABC News and this one from the Washington Post, use words like "horrors, "dangerous," "ick factor," "tainted,"  "appalling," and "gross." Reporters are tweeting images of yellow water; toilets bearing signs warning not to flush toilet paper; lobbies still under construction; stray dogs wandering around inside; lack of working doorknobs, heat, curtain rods, locks, electrical outlets, and light bulbs; and open manholes in the middle of sidewalks.

The reporters are horrified and disgusted at being asked to stay in such primitive conditions. But how many of the athletes competing in the games have lived in circumstances like these for part or all of their lives without blinking an eye? How many of the people watching the Olympic Games around the world live in a place where drinkable water coming from taps is not a guarantee? Where flush toilets, both those that can and those that cannot handle toilet paper, are not in every home? Where staying in a hotel, even an unfinished one, is not something that everyone expects to do in their lifetime as a matter of course? Where there is not an expectation of working heat, of light bulbs, of electrical outlets, of hot and cold running water? Where there IS an expectation that the government will overspend its budget by multiples and still not get things done?

We as Americans complain about the latter often, but maybe seeing it from a Sochi perspective will help us to realize that we're not as bad off as we sometimes think. So thank you, Sochi, for reminding us of the truly international nature of the Olympic Games. Thank you for reminding us just how much privilege we in the first world enjoy. Thank you for letting us see what second- and third-world problems are really like.

Maybe then we can get beyond some of our own first world problems.

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What to Do, What to Do?

It’s not quite 11 o’clock in the morning, and so far today I have:

·        Shoveled my car out from under over a foot of snow
·        Dressed my less-than-cooperative 2-1/2 year old
·        Dressed myself in such a way that everything that should match matches (mostly)
·        Emptied the dishwasher
·        Folded a load of laundry
·        Moved a load of laundry into the dryer and started another one
·        Successfully removed some stains from a white jacket
·        Caught up on my email
·        Started packing for a weekend trip
·        Removed and reinstalled my bathtub drain

So why is it that I feel I haven’t gotten anything done today? Perhaps it’s because of everything else that is still staring at me from my “To Do” list:

·        Finish packing for a weekend trip
·        Fold another load of laundry
·        Move another load of laundry into the dryer
·        Put away the multiple loads of laundry that are still stacked on the stairs
·        Remove some stains from a white bathrobe (why I thought it was a good idea to wear that particular robe while I was coloring my hair, I have no idea)
·        Dig up the scraps of white terrycloth I’m certain are somewhere in my rag bag and make a belt to replace the missing belt from the above bathrobe
·        Design a pattern for a bellboy hat
·        Buy the fabric and trim to make three bellboy hats
·        Make three bellboy hats
·        Pick up my son from pre-school
·        Pack both kids into the car and go pick up rental costumes
·        Make lunch
·        Make dinner
·        Print out multiple costume charts
·        Go to rehearsal
·        Catch up on email again
·        Shave my legs (this has been on the “To Do” list for long enough that it’s becoming a major priority)
·        Buy more diapers before we leave for the weekend
·        Figure out what urgent items should be on this list that I’ve completely forgotten about

Really, is it any wonder I feel like I’ve hardly made a dent in the list? I think I should add a few more things to the “done” list, just so I can even up the done:to do ratio a little bit. How about these?

·       ·        Made and drank an entire cup of coffee
·        Convinced 4 year old to get in the car by himself
·        Prevented 2-1/2 year old from jumping off the back of the couch
·        Brushed my teeth
·        Brushed my hair – oh wait, haven’t done that one yet
·        Peed without an audience (if you don’t consider this an accomplishment worthy of crossing off the to-do list, you’ve never lived with small children)
·        Found my car keys (see above)
·        Remembered to put my phone in my purse
·        Successfully prevented 2-1/2 year old from stuffing an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet

Yeah, I guess that makes it look a little better. Oh, hey – I can add “write and publish blog entry” on my done list! Hmm, I can even make that two separate items. I guess I’m getting more done today than I thought!

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Best of Intentions

When it comes to doing cool projects with my kids, I always have the best of intentions but it doesn’t always work out the way I’ve hoped. Sometimes I come up with great ideas but when we do them, they either fizzle or the kids aren’t interested even if they seem cool to me. Sometimes I come up with great ideas but don’t ever get around to actually doing them, whether it’s because I don’t have the supplies on hand, or because I can’t catch the kids in the right mood, or because I can’t catch myself in the right mood. And sometimes, I just draw a blank.

Great ideas that kind of fizzled have included my infamous crayon-melting experiment (progress was too slow for short attention spans, not to mention that the final result was not nearly as spectacular as it was promised to be), making homemade Play-Doh (they didn’t want to help mix in the color because the dough was too hot), and snow painting with food coloring (the snow kept sticking to the paint brush).

Great ideas that I never quite got around to executing include freezing colored water in water balloons to decorate the front walk (the water balloons I got were too small and I haven’t gotten to the store to get better ones), making sugar-on-snow with real maple syrup (I keep forgetting to look for directions on line), and making glowing glitter jars from glow sticks (I have some glow sticks and glitter but believe it or not I don’t have a single clear jar with a tight-fitting lid anywhere in the house).

And as for drawing a blank, today I’m snowed inside the house with two small children (and a husband working from home who’d prefer I keep the children reasonably quiet and, if possible, in the kitchen and out of the playroom adjacent to the office) and essentially zero ideas. I’ve been scrolling through Pinterest, checking out projects in back issues of High Five magazine (remember those Highlights you used to read at the dentist’s office? This is the preschool version), and just generally staring out the window hoping for inspiration to strike. So far, inspiration consists of decorating sugar cookies (I have some premade dough in the fridge), making English muffin pizzas, and…well, that’s it, actually.

Fortunately, my kids are self-sufficient enough that they’ll come up with some ideas of their own. My best of intentions are likely to be trumped by my son’s suggestions of playing “Battle” or “Sword Explosion Robot War” or “Monster Truck Wrestling Ball” (rules of these games are created spontaneously and subject to change without notice), and by my daughter’s suggestions of…well, come to think of it, running in circles shrieking at the top of our lungs is pretty much her only suggestion.

Wait! I think I’ve just been struck with inspiration!!! I’ll just let my kids play whatever they want while I sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy letting them just be kids. Yeah, that’s a pretty good intention. And I bet I’ll have no problems following through on that one. 

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