Thursday, November 29, 2012

Field trip.

This morning the boys and I went on a "field trip" to the symphony. I'm not sure why I'm using air quotes, it really was a field trip. There were school buses parked out front and when I asked the usher where I could park my stroller, I told her we were with the Middle Tennessee Inclusive Homeschoolers.

She didn't care a lick but it made me feel a bit more like we belonged. Homeschool is weird like that. I know we're "with a group" (yay, appropriate air quotes!) but for all anyone could tell by looking at us, we may have just wandered off the pedestrian bridge looking for a warm spot to rest and some free entertainment.

Today was especially weird because I honestly don't know the Middle Tennessee Inclusive Homeschoolers from a hole in the wall. I got an email reminder (reminder might be a strong word as it was nowhere on my calendar...) and we didn't have anything else going on so I figured, why not watch the symphony rehearse? Heck, we'd make a whole morning of it!

A quick walk across the pedestrian bridge overlooking downtown Nashville, free tickets to watch rehearsal in the incredibly beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a stroll down Lower Broadway, lunch at a restaurant, playing at the cool riverside park, maybe even ice cream or a little honky tonkin'... what a fantastic day!

And it was. Mostly. But there were also more than a handful of those moments.

Running across the pedestrian bridge because even though I had given him two calls to action and three reminders, Liam was still barefoot with no idea where his shoes were when it was time to walk out the door.

Finn crying, "Leave!" from about five minutes into the rehearsal until we bailed a song and a half later. Because, you know, he's TWO and probably shouldn't be taken places where sitting still and being quiet are part of the program.

Spending twenty five bucks on lunch  that no one but me made an effort to eat.

Just the normal stuff that comes with hanging out with little people, I guess. And honestly, I'm more than used to brushing it off on a regular basis (it's in the job description, right?). But as the Liam is not impressed moments piled up, I found my patience starting to slip.

Do you know what I'm talking about? It's the, "How much longer?" during the incredible symphony that we're lucky enough to see. And the, "I can't believe we can't get ice cream!" after not eating (or thanking me for) his lunch. And the, "We're leaving?! But I haven't even played in the sand yet! This is the worst day EVER!!!" as I try to drag him away from the park for Finny's nap. You know, just the general attitude and pouty face that is threatening to drive me absolutely insane these days.

After the park (our last stop for the day), I kind of lost it. I mean, not really. I wasn't screaming or anything like that. But for how much fun we had been having all morning, my attitude on the drive home was anything but cheerful. I told Liam I was afraid he was starting to act like a spoiled brat. And that I felt disrespected when he didn't listen to me or talked back. I told him I felt like I must be failing as a parent because I did not want to raise kids who didn't respect or appreciate their parents. And that it made me sad that instead of enjoying what he has, he's pouting about what he doesn't have.

This probably has more to do with my anxiety over the upcoming gimme season than anything (and a lingering feeling that homeschool is completely indulgent). But still. I pretty much read him the riot act the entire (short) drive home. And then instead of counting our "field trip" as school for the day, I gave him a list of assignments so he wouldn't be able to have any free time the rest of the day. I think it was my way of saying, "You have NO IDEA how good you have it, kid. You wanna pout? I'll give you something to pout about!"

Pretty nice, huh?

I went into the office to work while he sat at the kitchen table. He shut the door so we could work quietly but I think the real reason was so he could slip this note underneath:

"I'm sorry if I made your day a little sad. Want happy? Look on the back." (We obviously need a refresher on punctuation...) Here's the back:

I called him in and we hugged it out and talked about our feelings. Then a little later I slipped a note to him thanking him and telling him how much I loved him and making sure he knows that he can't make me sad. That when I overreact or get upset about something, that's a choice I make. It's my job to help him grow and make better choices for himself but I can't control him. I don't even want to! But I do want to do a better job controlling myself.

We promised to help each other out.

Then I let him off the hook for some of his work so he could go read in the bath ("like a grown up") and sent myself to my room to read some of my new book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. It arrived from Amazon right after we got home from the park. I'd say that's pretty much perfect timing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Van school.

On the way to Liam's American History class this afternoon, I let the boys watch a show in the van. They're only supposed to watch DVDs if we're going somewhere at least 30 minutes away but I probably break that rule more often than I follow it. Because there are so many good reasons for kids to watch TV in the car!

Like, sometimes there's nothing else we want to listen to and NPR is too newsy (I have to monitor what's on when Liam's in the car - he takes in EVERYTHING).

Or we have to go somewhere boring (grocery store, airport to pick up Bill, etc), and I feel bad for making them ride all over town for nothing.

Or they ask (nicely) and I can't think of a good reason to say no.

When I cave, more often than not it's because I know there's something educational-ish in the DVD player. (Suckers!)

Things like The Super Mario Bros. Super Show are not allowed anywhere near my van. Or really, my life. Have you seen this show? It is pure, unadulterated garbage. Liam loves it, of course. As does Finn (he loves everything Liam loves). But I can feel myself getting stupider if it's on anywhere within a 30 foot radius of my person.

A well made skateboard video on the other hand? A perfect video to drive to. There is generally good music, which I appreciate, and no story line to get confused by (I'm talking about me getting confused, not my kids - we don't do headphones yet so whatever they watch has to be approved by the driver). Plus, don't you think it's inspiring to watch people do things not all of us can do? Like play football or conduct an orchestra or hang ten or do a back flip? Even if we never attempt the things we see others do, I think we still get a subconscious nudge to push ourselves in whatever direction makes sense for us.


Today I caved because the 20 minute drive to class is pretty far and I knew I had a National Geographic special all queued up and ready to go.

The boys loved it. They were oohing and aahing and laughing, even during parts about bugs (which Liam gets a little grossed out by) and animals eating other animals (which most people get grossed out by). About 10 minutes in Liam said, "Woah, Mama! This is so funny. That hummingbird was a predator and now he's prey!"

"Who's after him?"

"Well, the hummingbird was eating a spider, then a snake ate the hummingbird. Now an alligator is going to eat the snake!"

Ah - a food chain! Just like he learned in Science a couple weeks ago. I wondered if he'd make the connection so I said, "What is that a perfect example of?"

He thought for a moment and then answered, "Karma?"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving thanks 2012.

And now for an extra large helping of pictures (in absolutely no particular order whatsoever...):

So much to be thankful for, so little time to sit down and write about it! Actually, that's not even true. Thankfully I do have time (at least a little) to sit down and write about what I'm thankful for. I just usually choose to spend it doing something else. Reading a good book, taking the best dog in the world for a walk, hanging out with my awesome family...  

When your world is full of two year olds who say, "Thank you, Mama," and cousins and aunts and grandparents who love your babies as much as you do, and six year olds who understand you better than you sometimes understand yourself, and tall trees and crystal clear lakes, and husbands you can't wait to get home to, and friends who feel like family (in a good way), and good hair days, sometimes it can be hard to pull yourself away to sit at the computer for a while.

But every time I do, I feel a little bit more full of life. So, thank you. For giving me the opportunity to write and share and connect, and for sticking around when I go a week or two without posting and (hopefully) not rolling your eyes when I share way too many pictures. You help me live my life more fully and I am very grateful for that. 

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am blogging on my iPhone!

I really meant to write something on Sunday but instead spent the whole day packing and thinking about packing and putting off packing and eating pizza. And now I'm away from home, without a laptop, for a whole week!

That is just no way to celebrate my blog's FIVE YEAR anniversary.

What?! I know!

The reason I always remember when I started this website is because it was right before my 30th birthday. And since I turn thirty five on Wednesday, I know it must be time to celebrate.

What?! I know. For reals, y'all.

So I spent an entire Sunday planning and packing and an entire Monday traveling so I could spend a whole week celebrating. Must be somewhere pretty fabulous, right?

Well, I'm actually just at my parents house with my boys. Not that it isn't fabulous. I mean, so far I have dragged my babies out of bed to make an early morning flight only to get stuck in security for so long we had to RUN through the entire airport to make our flight (if you know Liam very well you can imagine how awesome this must have looked). Then we arrived in Phoenix and were met with a 3-1/2 hour delay. At least we wouldn't have to run for our next flight! And there was good Mexican food and a kids' area and a Starbucks with Liam's favorite lemon pound cake and we were so good at killing time that we actually DID have to run for our next flight!

But we made it and arrived in Reno safely (just a mere 11 hours after we left our house!) and were greeted by grandparents and bubbles and Miller High Life. Not to mention an air mattress that went flat part way through the night and two little boys who woke up well before the crack of dawn like, "Let's party! It's 7:00 somewhere!"

The plan was to pack up our three ring circus and take it to the other grandparents house for a night before heading up to my cousin's house in Tahoe for the remainder of the week. But after spending a full hour re-packing and cleaning up after hurricane Conran, I think we'll head up to the lake as soon as possible and ask everyone to come to us. That's not too much to ask, is it? There's plenty of room and a little snow and I am not at all above playing the birthday card if I have to. So come see me! I'll probably make a cake and everything.

(If you want to see pics of our escapades, I will probably be popping some up on Instagram throughout the week. Since I'm in my mid thirties now I can't exactly tell you how that all works, I just know that a friend did something to my settings and now people can see the pics I've been taking since I got my phone last summer. I would post them here on my blog but I can't figure out how to change the size of photos when I upload them from my phone and I am not about to put stuff up here looking all crazy. Sounding crazy is another story. Obviously.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where the magic happens.

I finally finished our bedroom makeover! Well, mostly finished. There are a couple things I'm still hoping to do but it was a sunny afternoon and I had just washed the sheets, so I figured I'd go ahead and snap some pics to share with all ya'll.

Once again I skipped the before pictures which is such a bummer in the wow-factor department. How about this? Just imagine a room painted the color of old lady makeup with a messy computer desk in place of a bedside table, a random assortment of pillows that seemed completely oblivious to the very red rug and nothing on the walls except for one lousy picture and a million tiny holes. Got it? That was before. And now...ta da!

I thought I wanted a lot more whimsy and pops of color but the more I tried to make it happen, the more I realized that what I really wanted was a retreat from all that. A space that, if given the power of onomatopoeia, would obviously say, "Ahhhhh..." And not much else.

At first I was looking for all the right pieces to fill the space (we have 12' ceilings - that's a lot of wall space!) but I ended up editing most of it out. Sometimes less is more. Especially in a room that is predominantly used for sleeping.

The stuff I kept had to take a quick trip through the feng shui detector to make sure it wasn't going to ruin our lives or anything catastrophic like that. I know about as much feng shui as you could learn with one quick Internet search. But I figure if I'm going to choose stuff to surround myself and my lover with (ew gross I just threw up in my mouth), I may as well choose with intention. 

Bedroom feng shui 101: bedside tables should match, a mirror over the bed is good (round is even better), plants are bad, pairs of things are good, anything displayed should be reflective of what you want for your relationship, feet should not directly face the door when you sleep and don't stash a bunch of crap under your bed.

There is still a bunch of crap under our bed but we share one small closet and one dresser so it's either under the bed in boxes or piled up in a corner. I'm no expert, but I think if it feels good and makes you happy, it's probably a-ok.

Comfy sheets and good lighting are essential. As for stuff? Just keep everything you need and nothing you don't. I'm sure our room will keep evolving as we live in it but for now it feels really good to have it (mostly) finished. And really good to spend time in there.

Here's a bit more detail on some of the projects that helped me get from there to here. And, a before picture!

Pretty fancy, huh? Our bedside tables did the job but we never really liked them. I originally wanted to paint them Kelly green but with the very red rug I was afraid that would be way too Christmassy. So I gave the family in Just Right Julia a lovely green side table and went with blue for us.

Then I added new hardware (I was lucky enough to find exactly what I wanted) and bam - all new side tables!

Full disclosure? First I painted them a completely different shade of blue. It was lighter and what I thought I wanted (whimsical! fun! the same color of the toe nail polish I really liked this summer!) but as soon as I finished painting two coats of primer, two coats of paint and one coat of polyurethane I realized I hated them. Back to the drawing board. When I was finally finished with the darker blue (which I actually liked), I got distracted working on another project and when I turned around to see what Finn was up to, I realized he was helping.

I seriously need to learn to multitask.

The mirror above our bed was another project, fortunately one that took a lot less time and effort. I've been wanting a sunburst mirror ever since I saw one in Elle Decor several years ago (I think it was in Molly Sims' house). They seem to be all the rage on Pinterest at the moment but I was not about to shell out $300 for one. So I sifted through Home Goods and Marshall's and Ross until I found something that might work.

The size was good, the price was right ($40), and the design was pretty much exactly what I wanted. But the cheap bedazzled crystal things were hideous. So I painted them gold.


Other than that I just painted, upgraded our bedding (coverlet and shams from Overstock), and replaced our mini blinds with bamboo shades (they open top down and bottom up!). I might have to take some pictures at night some time because I'm looking around right now and really like how it looks with all the different lamps on (especially the salt lamps). But for now I'm starving and dinner's ready (Billy made pizza!) so I'm signing off. Hope you had a good weekend!