Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Its a Tuesday, What Do You Want From Me?

Ok, I've been attempting to post something for the past half hour to hour now. Anything that I come up with comes out formal and stiff (this is where someone would throw in a That's What She Said joke). I am an idiot to think this would just come back to me like I'd never stopped. Writing is hard. This sucks.

I don't know why I'm surprised - aside from life getting busier, this is why I stopped. I didn't have the energy, the time, the dedication to take my writing further. Or that was the excuse I threw out. Yet I know a handful of people who do everything I do in my daily life (not exactly, but the same routines such as a job, family, house, cleaning, etc) and MORE and still devote time to writing or painting or playing/writing music. In some cases, they have busier lives but still make time for speaking engagements or a regular band schedule all across the area, their weekends ending when some of us are getting up for work.

So why do I let this excuse hold me back? Duh. It's been easier to just give up than to be scared and go somewhere unknown. The biggest fear? Just plain sucking at something I love(?) to do and having it amount to nothing. So I didn't even try. And here I am years later, still having flashes of inspiration here and there, only to get stuck at some point and stop. Overthinking, not enough doing.

I came to a conclusion the other day that I'm tired of being scared. My dream isn't to write for a national magazine or write The Great American Novel that will be published in 22 countries and in different languages and eventually be the subject of a TMZ article. My dream has always been to just write. To create stories, to capture a moment or a feeling in a poem, to be able to remember things for the future through writing. But I let myself get intimidated and think, "Hey. None of this is permanent. None of it will matter in the long run." How do I know? Maybe whatever I leave behind will inspire someone in the future. Or maybe my family will read what I had to say at certain times and they will be excited to know what our family was like at this time.

So I contacted a friend of mine, Jenny - we were classmates in high school in an online writing class - and we decided to be writing partners. Support for writer's block, easygoing but honest criticism for stories, someone to sound off with for ideas. We are on Day 3. This has been great so far - feeling like I have an outlet, really thinking about what I want to write. It's been great to see someone else have the same struggles and want to work on something they enjoy, too. Our current goal - to make it on a regular schedule for a month to start. I think we're making good progress so far. Thanks for reading my beginner, rambling crap and wish us luck. Smiley face.


The 8-year-old and The Cell Phone

The other day, we bought our daughter her first cell phone. Belle is 8 1/2 - she's becoming more independent. Yes, I hear the various grumblings - I got them from my MIL as well. "She's too young! What 8-year-old needs a cell phone?"

Look, we discussed and bemoaned the entire thing. Neither Tom nor I really wanted her to have one. We drive her practically everywhere - she's with her grandmother when we're at work, not a day care - if she's with friends or the dive team, we know she is with trustworthy people. But we also have to be realistic - Belle is growing up. She's learning more responsibility and we are learning to give her more trust as she earns it. We also live in an area where you can't reasonably walk to a lot of places. If she's at a dive meet and her ride needs to leave for whatever reason and she can't get another person we know to bring her home, I want her to be able to contact us. I will be the first to admit it - I am anxious and overprotective. So, while I'm trying my best to loosen up, I still have my limits.

So, despite AT&T's best attempts to buy our daughter a smartphone (she wanted an iPhone - my husband and I just laughed), we found the most basic phone possible. It makes calls - it can send text messages (no phone out there is without that) and we can limit who can call her. We've set up basic boundaries - she can call or text myself, Tom or Grandma - and that's all its for. No games, no internet and definitely no Facebook (of which she doesn't have an account). Also, don't lose it. Unfortunately, Belle has inherited my absent-mindedness. Sad face.

Guess who has become a texting fiend? Wow. I get the appeal and its cute - remember when walkie-talkies were the coolest thing? You wished they could reach as far as the next block or down the street, so your best best friend and you could talk to each other when you were supposed to be asleep? Same thrill. Belle sends me messages at work and in the evening, she checks up on her grandmother.

I realize I've created the monster - I realize that this is the decision we made - but underneath the grumbling, I just can't help but laugh. Belle is so cute - she's growing up way too quickly. I already asked her to slow down - she grew two shoe sizes in response. Little butthead.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Afternoon at the ER


Last night was the first Saturday evening that our family was able to really enjoy in 2 weeks. 2 weeks prior, Tom was recovering from pneumonia and a week after that, I was recuperating from bronchitis. So everyone, especially our poor kids, was looking forward to having fun. We made plans with 3 other families we know from the kids’ martial arts classes – bowling at the local AMF lanes and dinner. Everyone had a blast – the adults making fun of each other’s scores, cheering on the kids when they got strikes and eating bad (but delicious) food. The blacklight bowling started at 9, a DJ started playing music and we finally left at 10:30. Everyone slept in, which means it was a really good time (no matter what, Baz usually wakes up between 6 and 7 am on the weekends). We were all looking forward to a quiet afternoon.

So after sleeping late and making breakfast (coffee!), we all started in on our household chores. The kids started their laundry and began cleaning their rooms (which is more like rearranging their stuff in different places to make it look like they cleaned). Tom was changing the sheets on everyone’s beds – I was in the kitchen. I’m in the middle of steam-mopping the kitchen floor when I heard a crash and a cry. Trying not to panic, I walked out to the living room. Baz was standing, bent over at the waist, in the glass portion of the coffee table. It looked like he was leaning his weight on the glass, trying to fix this toy train crane that he plays with and the glass broke beneath him (he is not a little boy in size).Taking a look at his arm after I freed him from the glass, he was already bleeding profusely. Thankfully, he was fairly calm – crying, but not hysterically. Baz kept telling me he was sorry for breaking the table. I got him into the bathroom to clean him up and knew right away he was going to need stitches. So after bandaging up his hand, we were on our way to the ER. Thankfully we don’t live far away.

We were taken to the pediatric ER and looked at fairly quickly. Baz was great – except for the shot to numb the laceration around his thumb, he was very cooperative and in a good mood. We talked, played a train game on my iPad and watched “Despicable Me” while waiting. The stitches were quick (he blew bubbles with a wonderful nurse throughout the process, as you can see above) and we were on our way shortly after that.

Maybe this is something I need to get used to. We were at the ER back in May for a case of croup Baz developed – Baz, myself and Belle at 2:30 in the morning – and the doctor who saw Baz then remembered him today. Good thing he’s a tough kid – but he’ll have plenty of opportunity with martial arts class 3 times a week.

Happy Sunday to you all.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reading to My Kids

I am a reader - I have been for as long as I can remember. As soon as I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I started planning the books I would read to my child. I was very ambitious, in that eyes-wide-shut way to actual parenting life. I will read to my kids every night, no exceptions! Well, real life has bit me in the ass and laughed at me more than a few times. So while we haven't read every night for every bedtime of my kids' existence, there are also very few periods in between where it doesn't happen.

The book choices have run the gamut from reading the same book over and over for at least a week to a month - to asking them if we could read a particular storybook that I really enjoy and having it rejected. Sad face. We have discovered books that looked sketchy at first and turned out to be HI-LARIOUS (that's high-larious, for everyone outside the household) and other books with wonderful pictures that turned out to be weird or confusing. Mostly it has just been fun, silly cuddle time. Thankfully, I'm still Mommy; they appreciate and even laugh hysterically when I make silly voices or act out wild and crazy story climaxes.

This summer, with Baz learning to read and Belle well into chapter books, I decided we were going to do more than read our regular stack of picture books. I usually let them both choose one book and that's what I read before bed. Belle and I have read chapter books together, but Baz was never interested in sitting down for a chapter or two before now. So, going over all the possibilities we had, I asked them to pick out a longer chapter book that we would read before bed this summer. They chose "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone." I have read the series more than a few times and greatly enjoy it - so much that, I bought a set just for the kids because my own were so dog-eared.

It has been wonderful. We talk about what I read the night before to refresh our memories, I ask them questions, like what they think about Harry's aunt and uncle - "Harry's cousin turned into a pig?!?" - and they always want to know if I can read an extra chapter when I'm done. I have managed to interpret and bring out Hagrid's brogue (which my husband finds incredibly amusing), Professor McGonagall's strict tone and Hermione's shrill, bossy squeal. What's more astonishing is that they love it. They love it when I read to them. I was afraid this was something I would be forcing on them, that reading a book Mommy loves before bed would be boring. But even my puppy-in-boy-form Baz loves to lie down, snuggled up with his long-suffering stuffed dog Scooter and listen to me tell Harry's tale. I love it so so much.

I wish it were this easy to work with them both on reading practice. Anabelle is off the charts in reading at school, but doesn't like our help with talking about books or essays and questions for school. Baz is interested in learning to read, but is easily discouraged - he loves books, especially about trains, but would rather make up his own stories than read the words when they get difficult. I think the trick may be asking Baz to read to me.

I have a reading list a mile long for them - I hope they stay as excited as I am.