The Learning Curve

Things may be different at your house, but around here new skills are learned in roughly the same pattern every time. It’s a lot of fun….

Stage One:

Child is trying to do something on their own, like put on pants, or shoes. This is a new thing for them. 2.8 seconds after they start trying said new skill they begin to whine in a high pitched voice that gets increasingly higher, and culminates with

“I CAN’T DO IIIIIIITTTTT!!!!”

Now, you know this is a new thing for them, and it’s hard to put pants on sometimes, and you are proud of their initiative to do something on their own, so you calmly respond:

“It’s OK, it’s OK. Here (squatting down) let’s do it together. I bet if we work as a team we can fix this problem.”

Pants go on, high fives are given all around, small child skips away happy, and in pants.

Stage Two:

We do this scenario a bunch of times, with the adult giving less and less help each time. Everyone is proud and happy with this new wonderful ability.

The child is eager to prove that they can do it “ALL BY THEMSELVES!!” initially, and they launch themselves into genuinely trying to fit their whole bodies into a single pant leg. Hilarity ensues!

Stage Three:

The laughter stops. They get pissed that they can’t actually fit their whole bodies into one pant leg, or that it doesn’t feel good to have shoes on the wrong feet. It’s around this point where they realize that by learning this new (now suspect) skill, that this is one less thing that we do for them.

It dawns on them that maybe…just maybe… this “Big Kid” stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And then we return full circle to the beginning. After realizing that we now have the chance to take TWO sips of coffee uninterrupted they spontaneously lose all knowledge of previous skill set and DESPERATELY need our help.                                
Once again the cries of “I CAN’T DOOOOOO IIIIIIIITTTT!!!!” fill the house.

 

Maybe it’s different in your house, but around here that’s the way we roll.

All over the floor having a massive tantrum.

Without any pants.

(And that’s where my short-lived decision to take a night off from wine goes flying out the window, ‘cause that’s how I roll…)

For the love of Downton

I need to take the time now to talk about something serious, something important, something heart wrenching. I am, of course, referring to Downton Abbey.

Now, if you haven’t seen the episode from last night, (Season 3 finale/Christmas episode for those in the UK), STOP READING NOW!!

 

Still here? OK.

 

WTF????!!!!??? Really?? I cannot believe that after all that has gone on, that is how they get Matthew.

 

Let me back up and tell you my Downton story.

When it first came out, I had heard about it, but did not get into it. Then I kept hearing more. Then the second season happened, then the start of the third. At that point it was too far in for me to start watching – although I desperately wanted to because just about everyone I knew had said something along the lines of:

“YOU don’t watch Downton Abbey??? You would LOVE it!!!”

Then my mom let me borrow her DVD’s of Seasons 1 & 2. I watch one episode during naptime. After the first opening credits I knew I was in trouble. After the first 5 minutes I was totally hooked. After the first episode I was obsessed. So obsessed that I actually watched every episode of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 over a period of 7-8 days. I stayed up waaaaayyyy too late every night, used every spare minute of naptime every day and watched that show like it was my job. I got totally sucked in to their world and the story. I started talking like them; I got all formal with the kids and my husband. My posture was better.

To say the least, I was invested in the show.

Which is why I am so mad about Sunday!!! I mean, c’mon!! We went through like 8 (show) years with a ‘will they/won’t they’ story, a WAR, and then BOOM! Gone.

Not cool, Dan Stevens, NOT COOL.

I read an article today wondering if this move would put him along the path of becoming like George Clooney post E.R. (successful charismatic movie star), or if he would end up like David Caruso after NYPD Blue (movie career fizzling out before it even starts/ending up ‘that guy who left that great show’). I’m not sure which way he’ll go. I understand that he needs to strike while the iron is hot, but at the same time, shows like this don’t come around that often and even if the story lines weren’t that awesome this season, you are still part of a great show with an extremely loyal fan base. A fan base that is pissed right now. Perhaps not such a great choice, Dan.

(Side note: Hey Dan – maybe your story/lines would have been better this season if you hadn’t given notice before it even started. Not much motivation for the writers to work hard at giving you good stuff if you’re just going to walk away…Just sayin’…)

So. Where will we go from here? I’m not sure what will happen next season. I’ll be tuning in to find out what happens to Mary (and Tom), but I’m not sure how invested I am in Edith and Rose, so they had better give us some new blood to get interested in.

For now I’ll just mourn the loss of another Crawley. A bedroom eyed, smooth talking, super cute Crawley. Sorry to see you go, Matthew, really, really sorry.

Getting Back on the Horse

I’ve been working really hard on being positive, finding the good, trying not to get bogged down in sad or angry thoughts, but holy crap can that be tiring.

To be really honest it’s been a truly shitty few months. Actually, this year has been rough. I was hoping that 2013 would change things up a bit, but my sinuses seem to have a different agenda than I do.

Lots of change this year. Change can be (and usually is) good, but change is hard no matter how awesome it is.

Kids love change. Oh, WAIT, my bad! Kids TOTALLY HATE CHANGE. You change their schedule and they will make you pay for months. MONTHS. They won’t even know they’re still doin’ it, but they will make you rue the day you changed anything.

So, just to be fun, we thought it would be awesome to have one child start kindergarten, one child start preschool, and Husband/Daddy start a new job that has a different schedule that doesn’t allow him to be home for dinner or many bedtimes. Super Awesome Fun Times!!

During this super awesome fun time called Autumn 2012, we lost the third family member of the year. Already we had mourned for two others, and now we had to do so for a third.

 

An aside here: Losing someone you love is heartbreaking, no matter how expected or even welcomed it may be. I truly believe that we can still speak and send our love to those who are gone, but that doesn’t ease the pain when all you want is to do is hold their hand or hear them laugh or say your name. When someone is lost unexpectedly that heartbreak is magnified and mangled. Like I said, this was a really hard year. If you still have the chance, tell those you love that you love them. Tell them that the world values them and needs them. Show them through your own life that they made a difference – that they are still making a difference. Don’t lose this chance – just do it, OK?

 

So, in the midst of all this, there was some drama. I’m not going to go into it, but sometimes it’s hard to get back up on the horse when you know someone has been fucking with your horse. Hence the radio silence from this end. Just when I felt a smidgen better about it, the unthinkable happened right here, just the next town over.

After December 14th, I kind of went into hibernation. I stopped calling people, emailing, writing. I holed up at home with my family and played Christmas music nonstop.

Since Newtown I have been making a conscious effort to be more positive, to see the joy and the good in situations as much as possible. It’s really hard to do that while having nightmares, while hearing ridiculous people spout hateful things about the situation, while feeling the urge to yell about anything and everything. I started to write a number of times about gun control and what to do next, but when the essay went over three pages and I wasn’t nearly done yet, I knew it wouldn’t work.

So here I am. I didn’t start this blog to be serious all of the time. I just wanted to be able to talk to other adults about the things that were happening in my life and all around the world. You know, the big three: Kids, Poop, and Life. Well, times have changed. We are dealing with a new “normal”.

As a mother it is my job to make sure that my kids are safe and healthy. It’s my job to try and give them the best chance to grow up and be happy, productive adults. Which means it’s my job to fight for their rights.

Their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If I don’t speak up for them now, how will I ever teach them that their voices count? Fear and Hope can motivate a person equally.

2012 was rough. 2013 will be probably have its moments, too, but I still have a chance to speak up, so I have to take it, no matter how big or small the audience.

 

(PS- this doesn’t mean I’m going to turn this blog into a crusade, or that every post will be about gun control or the like…I’m hoping I can get back to the fun, silly stuff that I actually intended to write about in the first place. I’m hoping that Balance will be a bigger part of 2013 than it was in 2012. Much love to you and yours!)

(PPS- I just want you to recognize HOW HARD it was to NOT throw in a Beastie Boys reference above….)

 

 

 

Easy Art Projects for Kids!

Around here the days are starting to get darker a lot earlier and the weather is colder. This means that I am looking for easy ways to fill the time with the kids. Ways that they can be creative without it costing a fortune in supplies and having the entire house covered in glue and glitter. Here are two easy projects that we have done recently-I hope you like them!

Project 1:

Pipe Cleaner Decorations!

Start with pipe cleaners. I found some red, green, and silver sparkly ones at the craft store for Christmas. Blue and silver could be used for Chanukah. You could also do this for any other holiday/time of year.

Start with pipe cleaners. I found some red, green, and silver sparkly ones at the craft store for Christmas. Blue and silver could be used for Chanukah. You could also do this for any other holiday/time of year.

Cut them into thirds. The more you use for each bunch the fuller the ornament/decorative piece will be. Notice the tomato soup I forgot to clean off of the stove. Move onto the next step.

Cut them into thirds. The more you use for each bunch the fuller the ornament/decorative piece will be. Notice the tomato soup I forgot to clean off of the stove. Move onto the next step.

Have your child choose one piece.

Have your child choose one piece.

Take the chosen piece and lay the rest across it. Then use the single strip to twist around the whole bunch. The tighter the better. The kids can help, but adults may want to double check to make sure it's really tightly twisted.

Take the chosen piece and lay the rest across it. Then use the single strip to twist around the whole bunch. The tighter the better. The kids can help, but adults may want to double check to make sure it’s really tightly twisted.

Have the kids separate the strands out so it looks like a star, snowflake, etc.


Have the kids separate the strands out so it looks like a star, snowflake, etc.

More pieces make for a fuller ornament.

More pieces make for a fuller ornament.

Place in a vase, bowl, candle holder, etc! We are keeping ours in a vase on the table as our centerpiece, but you could also hang them from an archway/doorway, or on the tree-really anywhere. Super easy to prep, do with the kids, almost no clean up. Give it a try-have fun!

Place in a vase, bowl, candle holder, etc! We are keeping ours in a vase on the table as our centerpiece, but you could also hang them from an archway/doorway, or on the tree-really anywhere. Super easy to prep, do with the kids, almost no clean up. Give it a try-have fun!

Project 2:

Crinkle Paper Cut Outs

I don’t have any action shots, but the directions should be pretty self-explanatory.

Step 1: Have your child/children cut smallish sized pieces of paper. Any shape they want to. We did this around Thanksgiving, hence the orange, red, yellow, and brown paper, but any colors would work.

Step 2: Have the kids crinkle up the pieces of paper-the crinklier the better. After they have been properly squished place the pieces in a large bowl.

Step 3: When the kids have decided they have enough, have them mix all the pieces up in the big bowl with their hands.

Step 4: Fill a bowl, vase, or other clear container and enjoy!! We used ours as a centerpiece around Thanksgiving and during the fall and my 3 year old really loved that she had made this all by herself.

View of the finished project from the front. This a great project because the kids are pretty much in charge the whole time-they choose what shapes to cut, what colors to use more/less of, they get to mix it all up, and they can do as much or as little as they want. Extra bonus for parents? No glue, glitter, or big clean ups after! And yes, that is our Cookie Chicken in the background.

View of the finished project from the front. This a great project because the kids are pretty much in charge the whole time-they choose what shapes to cut, what colors to use more/less of, they get to mix it all up, and they can do as much or as little as they want. Extra bonus for parents? No glue, glitter, or big clean ups after! And yes, that is our Cookie Chicken in the background.

View from the top. The crinklier the paper scraps the fluffier it is. I got this idea for Fall/Thanksgiving because I thought the crinkled paper would look like leaves. Give it a try for Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice!!

View from the top. The crinklier the paper scraps the fluffier it is. I got this idea for Fall/Thanksgiving because I thought the crinkled paper would look like leaves. Give it a try for Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice!!

I hope you guys have as much fun with this as we did!

The Season of Giving

Children will change your understanding of many things. They look at the world differently and can give you a deeper meaning to ideas, feelings, all sorts of stuff. One thing my children have changed for me is the idea of giving. I love Christmas, birthdays, really any excuse to give a little something to others-and I love getting presents, too. I used to love hearing the words “I have something for you!”

Well, not anymore.

Now if someone ‘has’ something for me it’s usually a giant booger perched on an outstretched finger.

Or it’s an empty container of something.

Or it’s poop.

 

I am now suspicious of ‘presents’. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they have just wonderful drawings for me, or projects from school-and those are great.

But most of the time it’s a giant booger.

So now, as we enter flu season we also enter a slightly different Season of Giving. Hopefully, we’ll soon enter the Season of Jewelry. (HAHAHA!!! Just kidding!! Still on a budget over here!! …*sigh*…someday…)

Have a great day!

How We Deal With Crap,Version 4-the way it should have been

Note from me: Part of this was originally posted last week, but it needed to be edited. Holding onto negatives only breeds more negativity and I don’t want to do that. So these are my somewhat edited thoughts on the crap that can happen to us sometimes. I hope that this more positive approach to dealing with ‘crap’ connects in a better way with those who read it.

We all know that life isn’t fair, and that crap happens to everyone. Sometimes some people get big loads of crap dumped on them, sometimes it’s just little nuggets of crap-but for the most part we can’t control that. Maybe some choices could lessen the size of the crap delivery, but for the most part it’s out of our hands. I don’t know who or what controls the shovel, but it’s not me, it’s not you.

What we can control is how we react to the crap. We can choose to let the crap just sit on us and make us really stinky to be around. We can try to shake off as much of the crap as we can right away and then over time tackle the little nuggets that can get stuck in those hard to reach places. We can ask for help getting the crap off.

And then we get to decide what to do with the crap.

If you have decided to stay stinky, well, there you go. No seriously, go – you’re stinky and it’s not nice to be around you. You can decide to take some of the crap and throw it at others as a way to get rid of it. The problem is that when you do that you just get crap on your hands, it gets all smeared around and then you (A) don’t get rid of as much as you want, (B) you still have crap on you and in hard to clean places like under your nails, and (C) people will not want to be around someone who stinks and throws crap. People are not as cute as monkeys-this will not end well as a choice.

Or…we can choose to do something productive with the crap. We can shake it off, mix it with all the good stuff that gets thrown at us in life. We can, well, compost it all together and make a garden. We can grow from the crap.

Yeah, yeah, I know – a cheesy metaphor in a mostly flippant post. Whatever – it’s true. Gardens are constantly evolving-some go through dormant phases then big bursts of growth. There are disappointments, successes, and surprises. Our gardens can be fulfilling and provide us with some great stuff, or they can be left empty.

I know what I want to do with the crap dealt to me, but lately I haven’t been following my own advice. I wasn’t making the best out of what I was given; I was dwelling on it, letting the negative outweigh the positive. Worse, I was trying to get rid of it by throwing it at others instead of accepting that it was my turn for a delivery, dealing with it, and then mixing it up with the blessed amount of good I have in my life.

And it was really, really bugging me that I was doing that. Hence this edit. This is my attempt to fix that.

All the best to you and yours.

Don’t Muck With My Joy

It must have been fate that I read a handful of great things yesterday. Little snippets about trying to find balance between work/family (which is a struggle at times whether you are a SAHM, work from home or work outside the home), about making choices that are best for your family, and-this one was the biggie fate wise-about finding and keeping your personal happiness and joy.

A friend from college posted this yesterday:

I have come to realize that happiness is not something I can find, for something found can be lost. Happiness is something I am intrinsically and it is always there for me to draw upon.” *

 

In response, a wise friend of hers posted this:

“I believe the same of joy. It is something that is not acquired but it is something attached that sometimes gets covered by the muck and mire of the world. It is up to us to keep stuff off of it in order for us to radiate within which will cause our spirit to shine on through.” **

 

Both of those statements stayed with me yesterday. All day they were in the back of my mind. Which was helpful when someone deliberately and maliciously tried (and for a while succeeded) in mucking up my intrinsic joy and happiness.

 

I consider myself to be a pretty likable person. I try to be kind to others as much as possible. As much as I joke about it, I am trying my hardest to raise my children to be kind, thoughtful, intelligent, open minded people. And to be really honest, I want people to like me. Really, who doesn’t?

 

So when you are confronted head on by written proof that someone really doesn’t like you-borderline hate it seems-it’s hard to take.

 

When someone attacks your mothering skills, your value as a wife, your value as a basic human being it is hurtful. I don’t know who wouldn’t be hurt.

 

I let it hurt me. I knew they were wrong, but the words still hurt. But then I started realizing that by letting them hurt me I was letting them win.

 

No way.

 

So I’m changing the game. You can spew all the hate and hurt you want but instead of letting it weigh me down, I am going to use that to remind me of all the joy, love, and happiness that I have in my life.

 

And just to rub it in, I’m making a list.

Your anger, your bullying, your insults remind me that I am so lucky/blessed/grateful/thankful to have:

 

My wonderful, loving, supportive husband

My wonderful caring friends

My three wonderful children who drive me (and others) nuts at times but are mine and wonderful nonetheless

The love and support of family

My health and the health of my family

Good, healthy food

A warm, clean, safe home

A heart that can feel hurt, but that is strong enough to go back to love

A spirit that is soft enough to know hurt, but that is strong enough to know the truth and go back to light

 

I am so lucky/blessed/grateful/thankful to know great happiness in my life and at times know amazing moments of pure unfiltered joy.

 

Thanks for reminding me.

 

Quotes: They’re pretty awesome, so if you use them yourself make sure you give these ladies the proper credit:

*Heather A. Lord

**Nancy D. Tolson