Thursday, May 7, 2015

Welcome to Tween-Town, USA!

Yup, it's happening. My kids are both officially tweens. And I can already see the rifts growing between us. Talking or hanging out with Mom or Dad is not so cool these days. And the merest suggestions that one might consider showering, or brushing one's hair, is tantamount to a gauntlet being thrown to the ground.

"You're so over-protective!" (I am; I'm working on it)

"I know that, Mom!" (Said to just about everything I say to my daughter.)

"Hi Honey, how was your day?" "Monosyllabic grunt" in response.

We have a tradition in our family at dinner time of taking turns telling about our individual days. Normally this conversation spills over past dessert, there is so much to be said.

But last night? We were done before we'd barely begun eating. The kids invoked their "No Comment" rights and whoosh, we were done talking. They can't wait to get out of their seats and go outside and play with their friends. This is a good and developmentally appropriate response, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when they say "Potato soup, again? Didn't we have that two weeks ago?"

In the culinary realm I am way out of my depth. My food is usually too bland due to my fear of learning about spices. And besides, it's my husband's baileywick, to be the executive chef. I'm a sous chef at BEST. And that's being charitable.

Both kids' rooms are full of mess: clothing, mostly, inexplicable and disturbing crumbs and gum wrappers. It's enough to drive you mad. I want to keep going into their rooms and cleaning them up, but that's not a lesson I want them to learn. Plus, my husband and I are both pretty messy, too, so glass houses, you know. We have no leverage.

We do have a weekly "Cleaning Day" which works somewhat well. My daughter takes to her chores with more zeal (cleaning mirrors and cupboards) while my son does a half-assed job lackadaisically mopping the floors. I don't know how clean anything really gets, but so far we are still all on board with Cleaning Day. So at least that's something. We all have a common goal.

This tween business is going to get ugly, I fear. And that's totally normal. I just need to wrap my head around it and develop a MUCH thicker skin. Any ideas out there on that score?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Comment: Tidying Up

Just got my copy of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kendo from the library. I'd been waiting a couple of months for an available copy,

And while I'm about a third through the book, I've already got the bug. Kendo's premise is you should only have things in your life that "spark joy". This means a lot of crap should exit your home. I worked on my clothes today, but modified it a bit. She says to take every article of clothing from every drawer and closet in the entire house and dump it in front of you and pick up each article and ask, "Does this spark joy?" I've addended another:"Do I wear this a lot?" The two aren't mutually exclusive. I have some dumpy sweats that I love but they don't exactly make me feel joyful, they make me feel warm and cozy. I guess that's a form of joy, isn't it? Utilitarian things can bring joy of a sort.

So I didn't do exactly what Kendo suggests, but I did go through all my drawers and closet and will probably make a pass at them again. I took her instructions and didn't listen to music or anything that could distract me. She is at once whimsical and fierce in her determination that anyone who does her system WILL NOT FAIL. There are a lot of bolded sentences in this book. But it's already a treasure. I'll finish reading it in plenty of time to reap the rewards, even if I make adjustments due to my reality. (Kendo appears young and pretty on the back of the book. Put another way, she does not appear to have kids. But I could be wrong.)

I'm hoping that this zeal will translate to big changes in our environment. Kendo promises this to be so. But I figure if I can get another few days like today where I was focused and had time to work on my own, I'll be able to get rid of some serious shit. Stuff that was weighing me down. 

Because looking at all of the costumes that I wear or have worn, upon scrutiny, are helping me shape who I am now, not who I aspired to be two years ago, or five years ago. I see some of my own whimsical clothing going to the donate bag, because they're just too young for me now. I'm almost fucking fifty. I can't wear a Hello Kitty slap bracelet, even ironically.

So this is a psychological experience for me as well as a physical one. I will be interested in seeing how this develops. It signals change, and promise, and hope.

You have to start somewhere.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No School

We had a snow day today, and another one is to follow tomorrow. We have been inside and on screens for far too long. I'm not winning mother of the year anytime soon, with my lack of social activities for the kids. But we did wrestle and jump on the bed, which was the highlight of the day.

It's just so freaking cold out there. And it's much warmer in here, even though we live in a large, drafty and OLD house.

It's getting harder and harder for the kids to get bored, with all of the screen interaction they can have: games, Skyping, research/homework, blogging. My kids do all of these things, not to mention watch reality cooking shows rather religiously. We're all into "Chopped" and "Cuthroat Kitchen". We are learning about food presentation and we spoof it up in our own kitchen. I would be "chopped" at most meals, for presentation AND content. I just don't enjoy cooking, but I do enjoy watching other people cook.

And that's the news that's fit to print in this cabin fevery time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Comment: Heavy Lifting Required

So my son's reading curriculum is tied to the social studies unit on the wars of the last century. Thus, there has just been one depressing book after another. "Night" by Elie Wiesel, "The Diary of Ann Frank", "Hiroshima". And now, "The Things They Carried", Tim O'Brien's seminal vietnam war-based novel. (Aside: I went to graduate school with his wife, Meredith, but I never met him so I'm just showing off because his book won all these awards.)

Anyway, my point is, this is some heavy shit. For sixth grade! Total downer. So I am volunteering to read the O'Brien book along with my son, to help him through it. I think the reading really gets to him, and he's already a sensitive kid to begin with. And squeamish. And he tells me the war book he's reading now, whose title eludes me, is "full of swears", which he does NOT like. 

It makes some sense to me that my son says he is depressed. His reading material is not helpful. Also, he is in middle school. A very small middle school with very few students and no close friends. He's lonely. And he's reading about war every day and every night.

We need to lighten things up around home. He does that by playing "Baldur's Gate", a D & D type of video game, and by walking backwards on our treadmill. He also wrestles with his sister and Dad and he and I lip synch to pop music while we clean the kitchen. Gotta have those light moments. 

I really feel for him.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Comment: It's not so bad

I thought I hated Valentine's Day, but it turns out I don't. What I don't like is the mass commercialism of it, and the implication that you must do something ultra romantic, that you're buying into the myth that chocolate and roses equal love.

My most romantic Valentine's Day has most likely already happened. My husband cooked me a four course meal, plus dessert, got down on one knee, and proposed to me on Valentine's Day many years ago. So I don't expect any romantic gestures beyond that. I mean, how do you top that?

Even without the fanfare, I know my husband loves me. His version of romance is generally to do things like wash my car for me or take out the compost because he knows I hate it. This works for me. I remember to get him hot sauce when it runs out and I try to use more spices in my cooking because he likes it.

Right now, he and my kids are baking a cake that they are keeping "secret" from me. They won't allow me in the kitchen (you'll get no argument from me on that). I'm of course playing along and know that whatever they've cooked up will be delicious because it was made with love. 

Forget the diamond earrings and the roses and baubles. A family willing to bake me a surprise chocolate cake is all the love I need. May you all have that much love in your lives.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Comment: Back at it.

It's been nearly four years, but I'm back on Facebook, and it's already affecting me positively and negatively.

On the plus side, I can promote my writing, Dat's Not It You Fool ,available in Kindle on amazon and my husband's business, Level.Works, which is also the homepage.

I've looked for a few friends and just found out one of them moved away! That was a bit disheartening. We weren't best friends, but I would have liked to have said goodbye at least. Ah well. Time's wheel continues to turn.

I've also chatted with my cousin, who is a doll. Some of my friends are doing pretty swanky things, which impresses me and in a small way depresses me, because I don't have a clear career path like most people. Well, not anymore. I think I've never been able to be totally conventional, so why should I expect my work history to be so? Still, people who have had jobs for 20 years in a row blow my mind! It's unfathomable to me. And not too shabby.

Lots of beginnings and reinventions going on, and Spring is coming, albeit with a nasty cold snap right now.

I've also now just spent an hour on Facebook and now it's time to make dinner. Duty calls.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cognitive Shift

So I've started working with/for my husband and it's interesting. Seeing him as a boss is kind of weird. Our dynamics are different and it's a real gear shift to go from talking about Facebook posts to drying dishes with him and talking about our feelings or the day's events. I want to please him but in a different way. It feels a bit complicated.

Some of the time we spend is together, but most is not. So I am doing work for him, copywriting, that he needs to approve. I'm not used to that, as I have my own writing outlets, this blog included, where I can say whatever I want however I want. It is a new challenge to be writing for a specific audience, especially when your business is so young and most of the control is out of your hands. I've done copywriting before, but not for a spouse or relative.

So it's tricky, the ego mind shift one needs to make in order to go from partner to (unpaid) employee in the blink of an eye. I think that's called code switching, when you play different roles with different people. We all do it all the time. If I were going to go back to grad school for the third time (Will I ever learn?), it would be to study something like that--cultural anthropology, how people change and react in different situations and with different people.

But I don't see school days coming anytime soon. I've got stuff to do, including writing. For my husband's company as well as for myself. Best get on task.