Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time and I are Not Friends

Time, the ever-elusive element of our day, has never been a friend of mine-not ever. As a child, I was incessantly late-or almost late-to everything: school, scout meetings, choir practice, church, and the list could go on and on.  This drove my mother batty, because with three other daughters, nagging just me about getting ready was nearly impossible. In college I was able to get a handle on my time disability mainly because I had to-professors are not known for waiting to see if and why a student is in clas.  But being the first person at a, let’s just say, a gathering, wasn’t cool, so I couldn't kick the lateness habbit altogether.


Fast forward

Now, years later (I will never reveal the number equivalent because I just now realized how big that number is and I am in shock), I would like to say that I have perfected my time management skills, but I still have lapses where I am racing against the clock to try to get somewhere, often mumbling words to myself that I wouldn’t dare out loud. Why do I do this to myself? I had grades to enter and a host of other things to do at the end of my day today, and I was fully aware of Mr. Time while I was doing them, but I still tried to squeeze in just one more activity before it was time to leave. (I had plenty of time...) The end result: I headed out my classroom door only to run back in because I forgot my cell phone (tic, tock), I ran out the door and into a teacher friend of mine who wanted to chat (tic, tock), and got behind a large gasoline truck going 20 miles under the speed limit (tic, tock, tic, tock), then pulled into my driveway just as the kids' bus was coming down the road. And like everything, when you are late for one thing, it snowballs into the rest of your day. I had no down time between taking care of someone else’s kids and taking care of my own-some days I really need this-and as soon as my kids walked through the door it was time to start driving to practice, then I had to come home and start dinner, and so on, and so on… (This reminds me of a line from a commercial... Man, I need to lay off the TV and read a book!)

Time for Chilling

So here I sit, typing this blog post-so thankful to have an outlet where I can unload and be understood. Recently it has gotten even more special because of three unique women from my new on-line community. They not only listened to me gripe and moan without judgment, but they comment regularly to let me know I am not alone, and this week they gave my blog some awards. Molly from Im a Sleeper Baker gave me the over the top award.

I will try not to disappoint anyone in future posts. I am now supposed to pass this along to six other deserving blogs, so here is my list:
Nancy from If Evolution Works has one cool looking site, and her posts are often very humorous.

Sarah from Mommy Lite offers a hilarious take on every day life with kids, but since she just received this award from another blogger, let’s spare her another 6-member list…

Chef Eureka from Two Peas in a Pod , a newly discovered blog that has become a favorite read due to her insightful postings.

The Girl with the Flour in Her Hair at Peeling an Orange with a Screwdriver because of her very funny(and sometimes heart wrenching) posts.

Flory from A Woman's Life Stages because of her beautiful site and often thought provoking topics.

Janie B. from Life Not Wasted or Lost because her site is extremely eye-catching, her posts are often unique, moving topics, and because she never fails to brighten my posts with heart-felt comments. Thanks Janie.
I also received the lovely blogger award from two of my favorite blogs (see list above:)
Life Not Wasted or Lost and I am now supposed to pass this on to 15 deserving blogs that I have since discovered, but I am getting tired (time is winning again!), so I will try to get this together over the next few days.

Thank you ladies. I have really enjoyed spending time with you this evening, and I look forward to more in the future.
Oops, I almost forgot. The Over the Top award requires me to answer these questions, so here it goes:

  • Where is your cell phone?
    Normally in my purse, right now on the table.

  • Your hair?

  • Your mother

  • Your father?

  • Your favorite food?

  • Your dream last night?
    don't remember

  • Your favorite drink?
    slow gin fizz(at least it was in college)

  • Your dream/goal?
    early retirement

  • What room are you in?
    living room

  • Your hobby?

  • Your fear?

  • Where do you want to be in six years?
    anywhere with my family

  • Where were you last night?
    Back to school night

  • Something you aren't?
    even tempered

  • Muffins?
    cinamon/brown sugar

  • Wish list item?
    house addition

  • Where did you grow up?
    Pittsburgh area

  • Last thing you did?
    took the dog out

  • What are you wearing?
    sweat shirt and sweats

  • Your TV?

  • Your pets?
    1 dog, fish

  • Your friends?
    3 good friends, many aquaintances

  • Your life?

  • Your mood?
    a bit cranky

  • Missing someone?

  • Vehicle?
    mommy van

  • Something you're not wearing?

  • Your favorite store?

  • Your favorite color?

  • When was the last time you laughed?
    with my husband as son was telling a story

  • Last time you cried?
    hmm...not sure

  • Your best friend?
    from high school

  • One place that I go over and over?
    beach (for vacation)

  • One person who emails me regularly?

  • Favorite place to eat?
    This was one major list! My blog picks for this award gotta' do the time with this list too. (Make it easy on yourself and copy questions from my site and paste them on yours...)

  • Sunday, September 27, 2009

    The List

    Ah, it’s Saturday, a most treasured day to us working folks, and one that I set aside to do things with my family-I should be happy, but I am slightly irritated at the moment. The day started out well, even though I had to get up early to take my daughter to practice, and getting up early on a Saturday goes against everything I believe in.

    A storm was brewing

    My mood began to change the moment I decided to clean up around my house, so here I sit, a prepared list in my hands of all the things that really rankle my “rickles”(this is a word I made up when I get angry because it makes me laugh when I say it, and who can stay mad when they are laughing?)
    So without further ado, I give you my “mother’s pet peeves list”-you might find we have some of these in common.
    • Why am I the only person who can change the toilet paper roll?
      This fact really puzzles me because everyone knows where the toilet paper is kept, and everyone was shown how to change the roll when it gets empty, but the actual act is never completed. There is either an empty cardboard roll left for the unaware discoverer-often me- or the new roll has made its way into the bathroom but hasn’t found its way onto the toilet paper holder. I have interrogated the natives around here, but no one seems to know the answer-or speak the same language, so the puzzle lives on, and I remain baffled.
    • And speaking of bathrooms, why am I the only one who can clean the toilet bowl?  Now I should mention that my husband saw a possible storm developing-I gave him “the look”- and he did clean the toilet today, but I can count the times he has done it in the past, and there aren’t many. I am trying to think back to our wedding vows, but I don’t recall saying anything about toilets. I mean there was the, “…to have and to hold, from this day forward,” but I don’t remember any, “ for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, to clean the toilet so you don’t have to” part.

    • And while we are on the subject of dirt itself, why am I the only one in the house who even sees the dirt?  When last checked, both kids had 20/10 eyesight, and although my husband has started using bifocals to see close, there is nothing wrong with his distance vision. I mean the man can spot a deer in a brown field while driving, whereas the rest of us squint in the direction but see nothing. Is there such a thing as dirt blindness-similar to color blindness but those afflicted just couldn’t see the brown and green shades of mud and grass tracked in off the bottom of dirty sneakers? It would certainly explain a lot around here, and it would stop me from torturing myself with little tests to see how long anyone in my family notices a fuzz ball lying on the bathroom floor (my last test lasted a week, and that was because I just couldn’t stand it anymore and I picked the blasted thing up!)

    The list could go on

    I keep thinking of more and more peeves the longer I type, so it would be easy to add to my list, but what would be the use? I remember reading a book titled-I think-Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff-and the items on this list are just that-small stuff. I figured out a long time ago that I am alone, an outsider, when it comes to my feelings about a clean house. The other inhabitants around here have won, and that may not be such a bad thing. I mean, as long as I can live in a semi-clean environment, and get help when things get past that semi-clean nature, I am appeased. Besides, I can either spend all day cleaning or spend that time playing with my kids, and I will always come down on the side of my kids.

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Addicted to Blogging

    I have a problem: I am addicted to blogging and everything that it entails, but I don’t think there is a 12 step program that can help me, or even a name for this ailment, so like a good blogger, I will enlighten you, my blogging compatriots, in the hopes that it will help end my suffering and possibly yours.

    How this all started

    The predicament I’m in sort of snuck up on me, so I am not really sure exactly when the addiction was formed, but I do know that I lacked a creative outlet and a friend suggested I start a blog. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.
    Said the friend, “I read that if you want to get back into writing you should start a blog.”
    To which I quickly replied, “A what? A log?”

    “Not a log, a BLOG. You can write about anything.” Hmm… Would anyone listen to what I had to say?

    The listeners in my life: Students

    My students don’t listen.
    Here’s a conversation I had on Tuesday:

    “Complete the questions from section 2 on page 27 for Thursday. You will have two days to do them, and you don’t have to include the vocabulary terms. We will go over those tomorrow in class.”

    “Do we have to do the vocabulary terms?”

    “No, you don’t have to do the vocabulary terms.”

    Thursday rolls around and these are the comments from several students:
    “I thought you said we only had to do the vocabulary terms?”

    “No, she said we wouldn’t have homework for two days.”
    “We had homework today?”
    “I just did question number 27.”
    And people wonder why teachers need time off in the summer…

    My husband

    My husband listens occasionally (at least I like to think he does) but he isn’t very reliable.
    (Me)”Are you going to pick her up from practice tonight so I can go work out?”
    (Him) “Sure, sure.”
    45 minutes later when I am at the gym, my cell phone rings.
    (Him)“Are you going to pick her up tonight?”
    (Um, didn't I have this conversation? I am getting that "deja vous" feeling...)
    (Me) “I thought you said you would do it?”
    (Him) “Yea, I guess I can do it. Do you want me to take the boy?” (This is how we sometimes refer to my son, but that’s a whole other post).
    (Me) “Well, I am almost done, but I don’t know if I can make it home before you have to leave…”
    (Him) “Ok, well do your best.”
    I call 10 minutes later
    (Me-being the helpful person that I am) “I’m on my way home. You won’t have to take him with you.”
    (Him)"Oh, you don't have to rush home. I'm taking him with me."
    I decide to just roll my eyes and sweetly end the conversation.

    My kids

    Then there are my children. I hope to instill in them worldly wisdom and good communication skills (this includes listening), but I am afraid I have an uphill battle ahead.

    “You need to pick your toys before going outside.”
    (Ten minutes later my son is outside and his toys are still scattered all over his room, but I realize I hadn’t made eye contact with him when I said this, so I broke a cardinal rule when it comes to compliance from my kids.)

    I yelled from the kitchen window, “I asked you to clean up your room.”

    “You did?”
    “Yes, I did (eye contact made.) Come in and take care of it then you can go back outside.”
    I busy myself with laundry and ten minutes goes quickly by. I go to my son’s bedroom to put his pile of clothes on his bed. There are the!*!*#!! Toys!!!!
    I am shouting from the window, “Get in here and put away your toys!”
    “I have to do it now?” (one, two, three, implode!)
    Then there is my daughter. I make eye contact, she smiles in agreement, and then she does exactly what I told her not to do.
    “Hey, don’t put that pencil on the couch.”
    She smiles sweetly, “Ok mom.”
    When she is done doing her homework and leaves the room, there is her blankety blank pencil lying on the couch!
    “Why did you leave your pencil on the couch?”
    She is still smiling sweetly and I am seething, “Oh, I forgot.”

    Addiction or passion?

    After further review of my sorry state, I have come to the joyful conclusion that blogging may now be an addiction of mine, but the people in my life drove me to it, and I think without it I will slowly lose whatever sanity I have left. So here’s to all you fellow blogger aficionados out there. Thanks for listening.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Enjoy Your Movie

    I can’t believe it’s been six days since my last post, but things were particularly hectic the last few days-you know the kind of days where you feel you should have both a taxicab sign on your car and a maid's uniform? But even though things were pretty crazy, I did something I haven’t done in a while-I watched and listened to my kids.

    Now you are all probably rolling your eyes right now while you try to figure out just what I am getting at. We all listen and watch our kids, but did you ever take a step back during the day and become an observer, not an active participant, watching your kids like you were viewing a movie about your life?

    The car ride

    It was during one of our fun-filled car rides to my daughter’s practice-you know the kind where you need to be there in 15 minutes but the kids get off the bus late, and the dog won’t do his business before you go, and then your son needs to go potty too, so now you have 10 minutes and the trip takes 20? Well, we finally pulled out of the driveway and I started playing a Journey CD to calm us all down, and pretty soon I hear a small, girly-girl voice from the back singing along. I just listened, entranced as my daughter sang in the quietest of voices, then my son piped in, complaining that she was singing too loudly and he couldn’t hear the song. (Ugh, here we go…) I was about to step in but stopped and listened as the two came to an agreement. At this point I thought who are these two and where are my actual children since compromise is not a word they understand, but the end result was that my daughter could sing but had to do it quieter and only during the chorus, and I thought that was a pretty good deal, and realized my kids are growing up...

    The restaurant

    The school week quickly passed and since everyone was pretty beat, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Chiles. This is my new favorite restaurant because they serve regular kid fare and Margaritas, and who could argue with that combination? (Ok, I’m kidding about the Margaritas. At about $4-$5 a glass in these economic times, plus the fact that having one would make me more than a little loopy, I passed, but it’s just the idea that if I wanted one I could have one and that means I am in a "grown up" restaurant and that makes me happy!)
    Once again I took a step back as an active member and watched my family as we waited for our meals. My daughter was engrossed in her coloring so she didn’t notice me studying the time it took her to decide on a color scheme, and how peaceful her face seemed as she finished her project. My husband and son were sitting together, mainly because I don’t have the patience for my son’s constant movement during a meal (he is almost on my lap, and I need my space so I can chew in peace). Anyway, they were quite the noisy bunch due to a rather intense game of Tic Tac Toe. My husband is pretty shrewd because he is able to let my son win in the end without making it seem so obvious, and I sat there watching my freckly faced boy laughing at his latest conquest, and I remember thinking how lucky I am.

    Bath time and beyond

    Well, we are back to school and work once again, and once again things are hectic because my husband won’t be home until late, so it’s me to look over homework, get dinner, clean up, then do bath time, snacks, and the bedtime story. Phew! I finally got my daughter showered after several false starts, and then it was my son’s turn for a bath. I was going through the motions of rinse and repeat when I noticed his toes. I just happened to glance down and see him scrunch his toes up at the end of the bathtub, and I couldn’t help thinking how tiny they still looked, just like when he was a toddler. It was a comforting thought to think that my baby boy wasn’t growing up that fast.
    Later, after our story and after my son was tucked in bed, I went into my daughter’s bedroom to wish her goodnight. I always sit on her bed and rub her back and hair-just as I did when she was a baby-and I listen as she animatedly tells me about four bees being on the bus during her ride home today and the escapade they caused, and once again I am the outsider watching the movie that is my life, and thoroughly enjoying the show…

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Not a Crisis, Just a Restrospective

    As we get older, we sometimes let the roles we play in life define who we are as a person, forgetting about the girl we once were and the dreams we may have had. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time for those dreams anymore, what with business meetings, gymnastics practices, carpools, dinner at 5:30, and we put the needs of others ahead of our own to satisfy our inner caretaker. If you have a family, you take on the dreams of your children, living vicariously through them because they are still a small part of you.

    The Reality

    I am writing this post not to depress you, but to tell you that you should make the time for yourself again, and I am writing from experience. The paragraph above is about me, the overworked, worn-out woman, who forgot about the “me” in mommy. (Get it? Ok, maybe it is a little corny, but it fit.) My kids are everything to me, and since I am a working mom, my time after work and on the weekends would be dedicated to them, but my 10-year devotion to just them started to take its toll on me both physically and mentally.

    The Turning Point(s)

    Actually there was more than one “Aha” moment when I was faced with the fact that my life was lacking something. The first time was when a co-worker struck up a conversation with me at lunch asking what I did for fun. My answer was a general one-I do things with my family-and this was true and I loved doing this, but I couldn’t think of any activity that I did that involved my interests. And what I did do for personal fun involved escapism (i.e. reading a good book or magazine, surfing the Web, watching a movie).
    The second realization came while I was bemoaning the fact that I was so tired even after getting my 8 hours of sleep, my body always wanted more. I also noticed how going up the stairs was starting to feel like a whole body workout. The very smart man I have been married to for 18 years simply said, “Then do something about it.” He reminded me about some of the perks of our family membership at the local YMCA (one of them is meeting with a personal trainer to customize a workout) and told me to take advantage of them.

    The Changes

    My physical changes came after I met with that personal trainer and we developed a workout that involved cardio and weight training, and I have to tell you that my energy level is through the roof! I also decided that whoever said “You are what you eat” might have had a point, and I quit coffee (yes, I still miss it) and all caffeine, and instead drink water throughout the day. I also started taking a daily multivitamin and calcium supplement and added salads to almost every evening meal. (My daughter has now followed my lead and enjoys a salad as well.)

    I starting out slow thinking about earlier interests, and one former love I had was writing. So now you will have to put up with my posts and comments for a while longer. I also always wanted to try my hand at a short story, and I completed my first yesterday evening. I am so proud of that fact.

    My husband and kids have been more than supportive as I pursue new interests, although I have to admit I was a bit surprised, and I still feel a tad bit guilty. I guess this teacher has truly learned her lesson, and I hope it helps you too.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    See you tomorrow...

    If I complete a post tonight it will be a miracle because my son has been up three times already and we put him to bed over an hour ago. He was never a good sleeper even as an infant, and I can remember rocking him endlessly hoping he would drift off, but I soon realized that would never happen. My daughter was the opposite, and I enjoyed holding her sleeping body, my nose nestled in her hair, as I continued to rock, not wanting to end the special moment.

    Now I love my children equally, but I noticed early on that there was a special connection between my husband and my daughter, and this is why the bedtime ritual was so important to me. Since daddy got more attention from my daughter during the day, I wanted her nights. When my son came along, I became the special parent, and my very needy little baby boy was not too crazy about parting with me at night, and this continues to some degree even now.

    First attempt

    My husband and I each take turns kissing and tucking both children in. I go to my daughter’s room first, kiss her goodnight, and rub her back, while my husband is tucking my son in, then switch, I go into my son’s room and my husband wishes my daughter a good night. Except my son doesn’t let me go away so easily, and suddenly there is something vital he must tell me at that very instant, and it usually comes with a very lengthy oration. After many “I sees,” and “Is that right?” I can finally shut the door, but every time that door goes shut, my son repeats the same three phrases he has been saying to me since he was two, and our little repartee goes like this: “Goodnight mommy.” “Goodnight dear.” “I love you.” “I love you too.” I’ll see you in the morning.” “See you in the morning.”

    Second attempt

    I then busy myself with getting ready for bed, then I jump on the computer or watch TV thinking, very foolishly of course, that my son is settling down for the night, but this is when he tries attempt number two. He starts to call me so I open his door and he reports that he has to go to the bathroom. Now, my husband and I have caught on to this one, and the last thing he does before bounding into bed is to try going to the bathroom, so I can now reply that he did this already. The response is the usual “Oh, that’s right, I forgot,” so I tell him goodnight, and our little ritual starts all over again.

    Three's the charm

    Now once again I am free, so I go back to whatever activity had been interrupted prior to attempt number two, and it’s not long before I am engrossed in what I am doing, and this is when attempt number three is tried. Silent as the night my son appears next to me (this always freaks the stuffing out of me), and he is usually sweating, his hair sticking to his forehead, because he is wearing his Spiderman pajamas and the shirt is too warm when he pulls all his covers up… The fix is for him to remove the top-I think he now wants to go to bed like his father- and once again I lead him back to bed with a stern “this-is-the-last-time” warning, but even though I am more than a little miffed, the bedtime ritual is repeated, and my heart melts.
    I don’t know how much longer my son will say this to me, but I hope that day is a long time in coming. You see, I too am a person who likes rituals, and I don’t know how I could sleep without my, “Goodnight mommy. I love you. See you tomorrow.” Goodnight everyone. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    No More Cheap Books?

    Ok, so maybe I am a little miserly, but with the economy in such a poor state and people worrying about job security, I think that may not be such a bad thing. Naturally, as things cost more to produce, the price goes up, and when people pause before making a purchase, the price stays up, but I was a tad disappointed with the very noticeable price increases of books offered through the Scholastic Book Club.

    The book club of the past

    I have fond memories of ordering books from Scholastic when I was little, mainly because with three sisters, getting something that was entirely mine was a rarity, and something new during the school year was almost non-existent. I remember how some downplayed the company because it offered much, if not all, of its books in paperback form, and these books would certainly not last the year. My mother thankfully did not subscribe to this way of thinking. She believed in fostering our love of books and she tried to add to our small collection whenever she could. Because the books were so reasonable, each of us were usually allowed a couple choices, and she taught us to treasure these new additions. (She still has many of these same books for my kids to enjoy when we come to visit…)

    That was then, this is now...

    Now prices did go up, but that was over 30 years ago, and this was expected, but prices were still more than reasonable, and when my daughter was in preschool, I started adding to her personal library. This tradition continued on into elementary school, but when my son started school, I noticed a major change. There used to be several books in each pamphlet in the $1 to $2 range, and my children and I would peruse these sections first. I set a price limit for each order, and my increasingly savvy daughter soon caught on to the fact that she could get more books for her buck if she kept to this price range, and four or five books were always better than two.

    But there have been some major changes to the book club over the past two years that I haven’t been too crazy about. For one thing, more and more toys seem to be showing up as a side bonus to buying a particular book, and if your kids are anything like mine, an award-winning book is great but just look at the toy you can get with that book! I had to come up with some book ordering rules and one is that the book catalogs were to order books and books only, and although it was a hard sell at first, my kids don’t even bother to ask about the “fluff” books now.

    Another disturbing trend is of course the price changes. It is very rare, if at all, to see a book costing anywhere near $1, and the books that are priced this low are usually by an author none of us have even heard of, so my kids don’t even bother to look at these anymore, and frankly I don’t blame them. It is also hard to purchase individual books and books in paperback. If I wanted the hardcover version, I would stop by my local Borders, and I don’t want 30 books even though they are a steal at $2 a book…

    All good things must come to an end?

    So does this mean I won’t order books for my kids anymore? No, of course not, but it just makes me a little sad to see a favorite icon tarnished and a favorite tradition threatened…

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    The "icky" of kids with colds

    I am trying to keep up with my blog posts, but alas (I can't believe I just used the word "alas"- the cold meds must be working overtime) my husband and I seem to have caught my son's cold. Neither one of us got any sleep last night, and today we are walking zombies. (A teacher friend asked me a question in between classes and I just stared at her because what she was saying just didn't register.) The worst part about all this is that today is my husband's birthday, and neither of us felt much like cake and ice cream, or celebrating in general.

    Just what is my post today?

    So, while I wait for the grogginess to come so that I can get some decent shut eye, I got my recent post idea: Why doesn’t anyone ever tell you about some of the “icky” things you will have to deal when you are a mother? All you ever hear is the wonderful bonds that will form and how this is the best thing that will ever happen to you, and while I fully agree with both these statements, I wish someone had given me a little “heads up” when it came to some of the other things you deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    Cold germs 101

    Now I hope I won’t gross anyone out, but the reason I caught this cold might have something to do with my son’s new method for wiping his nose-with the front and back of his hands… His doing this doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of tissues in our house because they positively populate every room. (I buy the multi-packs when they go on sale…) In fact, I caught him “doing the deed” while standing directly next to a table where there was, you guessed it, a tissue box, and I just stared in disbelief. I get him to wash his hands when I catch him, but he’s a sneaky wiper sometimes-I know this because, well, you know

    Boys against girls?

    Is it a boy thing, I’m not sure, but these are the times that no mother likes to relive, or are they? I still remember some of the pretty nasty stuff my daughter did as a toddler and I plan to retell the stories over and over (when we are both older) until people get sick of hearing them. .

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    What's the big deal about encouraging students?

    Free Picture of President Bush Sr. Signing MLK Proclomation, 1989. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart

    My blog posts consist mainly of helpful hints and friendly advise, but today I feel a need to get on my soapbox about an issue that  really rankles my “rickles”-I made a word up to keep things clean.

    The issue

    The issue at hand is President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren that was televised at 12:00 noon today. Now this type of speech is not a new thing because President Kennedy did it in 1960 and so did President George H. W. Bush in 1991. While I don’t know about the reaction to President Kennedy’s speech, (heck, I wasn’t even born yet), I do remember reading about the Democrats’ reaction to Bush’s speech. Most of the reaction came after his talk when Democrats claimed President Bush was trying to push his political agenda.

    Why the fuss?

    Now before I step on anyone’s toes out there, my purpose today is not to make any kind of political statement, but to put my backing behind the idea of talking to school students. Why can’t the most powerful man in the United States, our elected President, wish students well as they enter another year of school, and why would some be opposed to this? Did the President have a political agenda? Well, most politicians do, but I watched the speech, and the whole talk centered on not using your circumstances in life to dictate your future.

    The bottom line

    As a high school teacher, I think students need to hear that message over and over again from adults in many different realms of life, because the more it is repeated, the bigger the chance it has of actually registering in the students’ thought processes, turning the “I cant because”, into “I can,” and I for one will support anyone (Democrat or Republican) who is a voice of hope.

    Sunday, September 6, 2009

    Get Kids in the Garden

    My family and I were out in the garden today admiring some of the kid’s handiwork, the gorgeous sunflowers, when the idea for today’s blog came to me. My kids have always been picky eaters when it comes to anything in the vegetable arena, and I have learned a couple tricks that may be new to a few and old to others, that help them eat some, if not all, their vegetables.

    First tip: Growing the dreaded vegetables

    My husband and I have always had a garden, but with the price of groceries lately, we put more time and effort into it this year. Everyone has an input when it comes to what is grown, so the kids pick their favorites, help plant, and then help harvest some of the vegetables for dinner. When they know that what’s on their plate came out of the garden, I don’t get the usual pleas about how many bites they have to eat, and they usually eat most of what is served to them. We also let the kids add something special to the garden, and this year it was giant sunflowers. They grow pretty slowly, but when most of the garden is finished, these golden beauties brighten up an otherwise barren stretch of ground, and they are such a cheery reminder that there maybe some summer weather left.

    Tip number two: Helping in the Kitchen

    I know that this tip is not new, and with everyone’s busy schedule it’s hard to pull off, but I try to get my kids involved in at least one choice for dinner. I remind them about what we have, and then to make things easier and quicker, I give them a choice between two items. I also offer to make their choice a bit more appetizing by adding a topping-cheddar cheese is always a hit at our house-and this helps the green servings go down a little easier. (A little ketchup on the side is a favorite of my son’s, although the rest of us think this is pretty nasty, but hey, he eats it…)

    Tip number four: Be a good model

    Whatever you do, don’t worry if they turn their nose up at vegetables even after all your coaxing. My daughter used to despise everything and anything green-and yellow, and orange, and red-when she was my son’s age, but now she usually mixes a salad together, just like her dad and I, to go along with most dinners, and she often grabs handfuls of carrots -with dip too, but I’m not complaining- and eats these for snacks. The kids are watching your eating habits, whether or not they adopt them right away. So ease up, don’t fret, have the kids pop a multivitamin each day to help, then take them to smell some flowers before summer is all gone.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Technology: Friend or Foe

    The Dilemma: Is technology a "friendly" source of pleasure or something to be watchful of?

    Birthdays come around so quickly anymore. I can still see my kids as infants running around in nothing but a diaper, so when another year passes, it always takes me by surprise. This year my husband and I had a dilemma. Should we cave in and get my son the latest technology gizmo that some of his elementary school friends already have, or should we hold off on getting him hooked on computerized games at what I think is too young an age? The toy he was hinting at is the Nintendo DS, and we are pretty familiar with this gaming system because my daughter received one for her birthday just this past year. (Yes, we caved in, but we figured she was now old enough, and besides, she is so involved with other activities and her friends, that playing the games-which consist mainly of career exploration activities-isn’t a premium interest.)My son, on the other hand, has school, activities at home, and the occasional soccer match in the spring to keep him occupied. So the real fear is his getting “hooked” on the gaming since it might be the most appealing activity he has right now.

    The Decision

    Well, we decided to focus instead on feeding his imagination and keeping his body fit. I worry when some of the teenagers I come into contact with at school tell me about how late they were up the night before playing these games, so why should I start my son down this road now? He has a wonderful imagination, and he often shares his latest storyline when he is playing with some of his super hero action figures. He can also play with Legos and puzzles for hours because he seems to be fascinated with putting things together. So we are still going to keep the super hero theme alive and get him action figures and toys that let him think, and since the weather is still nice, we are getting some things that will promote his activities outdoors. It is my hope that years from now he probably won’t remember the computer game that was popular at the time, but he will remember running around outside with his friends and family.