Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Comment: Tangled up in Blue

Well, it looks like we've found ourselves a family hobby: painting.

Painting the interior rooms of our house, that is. We are in the process of painting our living room blue, which is a cheerful and lovely replacement to its former color, which resembles two-day-old guacamole. So we enjoy painting together. That's revelation number one.

At one point today, every single family member was painting AT THE SAME TIME. Now granted, that didn't last long. My son lost interest and was immediately sucked into the tantalizing vortex of his computer. My daughter actually stuck it out, so to speak, for quite some time. And with only minimal drips on the baseboards and floors. Did you know that a damp rag takes the paint right off? (And it's such low odor paint. My, how times have changed.)

Which led us to revelation number two: my husband and I fuss WAY TOO MUCH. You probably already know that about me, given the massive quantity of capital letters and italics I use. And my husband made the point that we are probably a stronger couple (or a couple at all) BECAUSE we both fuss so much.

He said he "can be more charitable" towards a fuss given the fact that he is also a fusser himself. Revelation number three.

Some families go to amusement parks, some families go camping. All our family needs is a local home depot.

And lots of damps rags.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Comment: Let the Frustrating Times Roll!

I was reminded today, as I watched my children attempting to use a slip n' slide, that sometimes you have to be really frustrated with an activity before you can enjoy it. Insert smart-assed comment here.

My children marched along the wet, slippery surface and were understandably irritated when they reached the end without sliding.

They've never seen a slip n' slide commercial, so they have no model for this, thus compounding the dilemma.

I tried to coach them, talk them through it. But then again, I've never slip n' slid in the summer either. I'm from Canada. You slip n' slide all winter so who wants to do it when it's hot?

After much gnashing of teeth and my pathetic coaching attempts, it finally took the older neighbor girl and her friend to SHOW my kids how to throw yourself on your knees and really slide across that sucker.

Ahh, bliss. Slipping AND sliding. Who knew something simple could be initially so irritating, and then so fun?

Insert other smart-assed remark here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Complaint: Get a Life

In keeping with the whole living-virtually-versus-actually-living riff I'm on, I'd like to give shout-outs to Wii for making you pretend to play a sport, Guitar Hero for making you pretend you're a musician but not really teaching you anything, to Tap Farm for reducing a complex and vital industry to a few flicks of the finger, and to all the other games and systems that require moderate to strong hand-eye coordination and zero imagination.

And let's not forget going to see your kids perform and spending the entire time behind a viewfinder as you attempt to record what you're too busy focusing on to actually witness.

Put the video games away and go outside and play, FFS! Where I live, if the sun is shining for more than thirty seconds at a time, you'd best get your butt out there and enjoy it before it rains again.

And when it does rain, how about a book? If you don't feel like reading, they make great walls and forts.

Use your imagination, if you still have one.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Question: What is up with TAP FARM?

So my kids and husband are all into this game that's on his iPhone. Tap Farm is a virtual farming utility that allows you to sow and reap fruits and vegetables on a teeny tiny screen. I believe coins are also involved, virtual, natch.

Meanwhile, as they're engrossed in said activity, we are driving by REAL farms with REAL animals and REAL produce.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Question: Are We All Destined to Mellow as We Age?

I mean, if even twentysomething M.I.A. is mellowing, what hope is there for Generation X?

I'm not talking about her "Born Free" video, which I have deliberately not watched, because I don't like violence. I appreciate M.I.A. for her fierce spirit and her fearless provocative work, so I don't need to be reminded of it by watching a video that is obviously trying to make a point, but one that I already get.

It's just that I just downloaded her newest single, "XXXO" and, message notwithstanding (the anomie of texty relationships), it's so.....tame... lame...the same...as everyone else.

She used to really kick ass in a progressive sense, but now that she's had a kid and hit her midtwenties, she's...singing?

What the what?

What does SINGING have to do with M.I.A.?

She's a freestylie rapper chick. The singing was always incidental. What's up with the singing?

Anywho, I'm just feeling slighlty dispirited because if even M.I.A. is going for the status quo, where does that leave the rest of geezahs?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Complaint: Rejection Stings

How do you turn that frown upside down when you find out you've been rejected for something you wanted to do, but the people rejecting you didn't have the moxie to tell you personally?

Because rejection is not easy for anyone, and it's even nastier when you hear about it second hand.

It's nothing tragic or anything. I'm just feeling sorry for myself. Self-indulgent, I know.

And my husband's advice to not take it personally is sound and reasonable.

But who said feelings were sound and reasonable? Intellectually, I've got it. Mentally, I feel like I just got stood up on the fourth or fifth date. Here I was thinking things were going along so well with this organization, and then, nothing. Not even a blow off email.

Oh well. It should spur me on to more productive and focused action elsewhere. And if you don't get a job or a gig because something else was better, so what? Somebody somewhere thinks enough of me to hire me to teach; I actually already have two jobs. And of course I could always go back to school (again) to get more credentialed than I already am. But that doesn't sound appealing.

I have these skills, and a great diversity of experience, but that works both for and against me: I'm versatile and experienced, yes, but I'm also specifically for trained for less things than I can competently do. How do you convince someone of your effectiveness without a piece of paper to prove it?

And I'm not short on pieces of paper from higher institutions.

Is the answer more school, or better marketing? I fear it may be the latter.

Which is a challenge, because I've been programmed to believe that marketing is evil.

But selling your skills so you can make a living isn't evil. Personal/professional marketing is okay; vital, I guess, when you get right down to it. Yikes.

It's the selling snow to Inuit marketing that's offensive.

Okay, we've got that cleared up.

Now I just need to pick up my slightly battered ego and find something else to put my energy into.

Good thing I'm so plucky and eclectic.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Complaint: No Fun for the Whole Family

What is wrong with us?


Our family has been handed the togetherness opportunity of a lifetime with a severance package and a summer break coinciding, and we can't hold it together to go on a damn picnic.

Let me backtrack.

My husband and I have noticed that, as a family, we aren't very good at having fun, unless there's food involved. Then, all's right with the world.

But going to a movie? Too loud and seizure-inducing.

To an amusement park? Too many people, and too expensive.

To an edumacational, kid-friendly museum? Kids like it for awhile but Mom and Dad are couting the ceiling tiles within five minutes. And too expensive.

Camping? Lord, no. We learned today that we can't even FLIRT with the idea of camping as a family.

We took a meandering drive in the rural countryside (try teaching that word to small children, they can't pronounce it) to an alleged state park.

When we arrived, there was no state park. There was a road. A very muddy road. A very muddy, buggy road. Full also of green and itchy plants that repeatedly got in our way. We were going to have a snack on a blanket (a snacknic) and everything, but we never made it.

Tears, gnashing of teeth, mild cursing, and massive whining ensued. Mostly these came from one person, but to be fair, there were complaints from everyone except the patriarch, who clearly is more of an outdoorsy kind of person than the rest of the family combined.

As we drove home today, munching our snacknic in the relative peace and air-conditioned comfort of our car, my husband and I mused aloud, why can't we have FUN as a family? WHAT is our problem? (What do we want? Serenity! When do we want it? Now, damn it!)

Are we just a bunch of misanthropes? Or are we setting the bar too high? My husband and I know how to have a LOT of fun together, but it's nothing we'd do with the kids around. Still, you'd think we could find some activity that all four of us could do with relative satisfaction.

We all do enjoy reading. Yes, we're cutting edge. I see that now.

We love to drive somewhere new, eat at a restaurant we've never been to, drive home, read, and go our separate ways for the day.

Is that so wrong?

All this fun for the whole family bullshit? It's over-rated. Fun has to be what YOU say it is, not what the media, or your neighbors, or even your friends say it is. We all have our preferences.

I guess the bottom line is, fun is subjective. We should stop caring what other people think of what we do, take a drive, eat some pancakes and crack open a book.

Or four.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Question: Is there an APP for that?

So I was lamenting the fact that I've been running so low on enthusiasm and ideas for this blog situation to my best friend today and she came up with a great question. What's funny is now I'm not sure if I'm even remembering this right (memory is so fallible) but it was something along the lines of, isn't there an APP for (fill in blank here) ?

I believe I was discussing the fact that I'd told my husband something a bunch of times and he kind of ignored it, but then he "discovered" what I had already implied, like it was brand new information. So I'm wondering, is there an "I told you so!" app? Because I'm all over it.

Also, my friend and I were discussing the whole emergence of the stay-at-home mother from her chrysalis of sweatpants, jeans and endless kitchen clean-up duties as her children become old enough to not need as much micro-management as previously.

Is there an app for life when the nest isn't empty, but at least occasionally vacant? How do we talk to other grown ups without sounding like we have verbal diarrhea? How do we talk to grown-ups, period?!

I really put my face in it a few months ago when I ran (no pun intended) into these cool, collected and haughty women from my kids' school who were also running the half marathon I was doing. I ended up babbling like a pathetic brook, with such gems and witticisms as "There will be a lot of people running" and "I am excited, there will be running". The Algonquin Round Table's got nothing on me.

I barely know how to speak to anyone over the age of seven. And now I have jobs, involving grown-ups! OMG to the MAX!!! (there, I sounded like a teenager for a second, right? Is that progress?)

How do we walk, talk, eat, dress, now that we are re-emerging into the world we left behind seven years ago? How do we not become the most dreaded of all mothers returning to work: the ones who TALK ABOUT THEIR KIDS ALL THE TIME? I know I did that last week in a training I was in. I was ONE OF THOSE MOMS. I'm mortified and chastened. I must make amends.

Where to begin?

If there are job coaches, surely there are coaches for mothers returning to the work force. And where there's a coach, surely there's an app. Am I wrong?

I'm back, baby!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Comment: On Pie, Briefly

My husband and I just finished devouring a pie (with relative self-control, I might add) over the past few days. (Its merits were lost on the kids, who prefer ice cream or pre-fab cookies.)

It was a fresh black raspberry pie. Homemade, natch. (not by us) (think about who you're talking to)

And I realized that this pie, this gorgeous, delectable pie, is what Pop-Tarts aspire to, but will never, ever, be.

Pop Tarts are pathetic attempts at kick-ass homemade pie.

Pity the Pop Tart, for it will never attain greatness.

And here's hoping we as humans can move beyond our petty Pop Tart foibles, and reach for the golden crust and fruity, delicious filling of the true homemade dessert.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Complaint: What did you expect?!

Okay, so I took the dumb-ass tests today. Even managed to squeeze in a brief rant about ETS and how they're evil, money-sucking tyrants to some other disgruntled test-takers in line.

All I can say is, I'm glad I didn't waste more of my time studying for that swill. Because it was not something to be prepared for (although I did blow a question on Augustine, dagnabbit, and induction versus deduction stymied me, blast it!). I had these asinine and useless flashcards that I ordered and did not use, for which I am thankful.

I mean, I already lost five hours of my life to these damn things, why sacrifice more, when the odds of getting a job teaching in this state are poor to virtually impossible? Apparently in my town you need to know or blow someone on the board.

So much for me. That's not how I roll.

Anyway, they were dumb-ass tests and the invigilator/proctor really had to get all in this woman's grill because she didn't IMMEDIATELY put her pencil down when she was told to. Um, power issues much?

I still have to take math classes and prove that Canada is not Outer Mongolia, educationally speaking, but other than that, I am well on my way to getting a credential in yet another state that ends in A!

Iowa, I'm looking at you. Don't get too comfortable.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Comment: Stuff

Did you know that if you throw sidewalk chalk at someone's face at close range, it actually creates a welt and cut? My daughter demonstrated that ability today on my son while I attempted to have a conversation with an adult today. Everybody is okay and has been appropriately dealt with.

Amazing the things you learn in a day at home.

Also, we found a dead mouse outside on the porch behind the kids' doll house. It's all rigor mortisy and disturbing. Glad Daddy-O is home these days, I tell you.

In other news, what's your take on the effect of barometric pressure on people's moods? Because my son, daughter and I have all passed the tantrum baton today quite successfully, if by successful you mean making a ruckus and being irritating to other innocent bystanders.

It just clouded over and we've all gone apeshit.

Or it could be the 180 degree spin our lives have recently taken.

But really, I'm trying to roll with it. We are so damn lucky. We have NOTHING to complain about.

I suppose I could complain about having to take the damn Praxis tests tomorrow, but I just can't summon up the gumption to give a shit.

So there you have it: a window into my wacky world.

Hopefully I will get my ass back in gear here on the blog and post more regularly. It's a habit I've really fallen out of, much to my detriment, I think.

It's so much cheaper to do blog therapy than the conventional kind.

But we're out of time for today. See you next time. It's all a rich tapestry.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Comment: Growing Pains

So things have changed drastically in my house since last I wrote. My husband is no longer working, my children no longer have school, and I now have a job.

Suddenly life has gone all Bizarro world.

But the thing about the job is, it's part-time, AND in the future. So although I need to prepare for it, it hasn't actually happened yet.

The kids have stuff to do, my husband is finding all kinds of stuff to do, and I'm suddenly superfluous.

I should be happy that I don't have to cook every night. You know how I feel about cooking.

I should be happy that I'm not needed every minute of the day.

I just asked my kids if they wanted me to read to them and my son said, "Do we HAVE to?" In my ego's fragile state, that stings.

I know the whole goal of parenthood is to teach your children to be independent, but I think I'm having my own growing pains with this big transition. I'm alone yet never alone, have stuff to do but nothing pressing. I do feel all lost at the supermarket. And it's like one I've been to before, but this one has more aisles and harsher lighting.

What I guess I'm saying is, I don't know who I am anymore.

And the illusion of stability we had when my husband was working has vanished. I know that ultimately there is no ground beneath our feet, but I've been living under the delusion that there is.

And now the emperor truly is buck naked, staring at me, saying, what will you do next?

So I guess I need to relax and figure that out.