Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spiritual Sunday - Learn to be Still

I've decided to reinstate my spirituality blog entries and start a Spiritual Sunday Meme.

Ask anyone who knows me, and you will find I tend to avoid organized religion.  The organizational structure of many religions seems to invite corruption and those who wish to manipulate and twist the religious beliefs.  I prefer to believe that if there is a higher power, it doesn't matter what we call it, only how we act.  After all, how can we, as humans, presume to know the mind of a god? 

So, it seems logical that the best way to muddle through this deeply flawed, human life is to find a way to express your spiritual self.  The best way to figure this out requires stillness.  I know in the business of today's world, with cell phones ringing, email to be answered, and small children clamoring with loud voices and sticky fingers for your attention, it's extremely difficult to find a chance to be still, but it is important for all three aspects of health: mental, physical, and spiritual.

Some might refer to the process of learning stillness as meditation or achieving balance; no matter what you call it though, it requires quiet and peace.  Choose a place that you draw comfort from and sit.  Turn you cell phone off and choose a time when the children are asleep or distracted for an extended period of time.  Achieving stillness requires patience, dedication and quiet.  Otherwise, it wouldn't be still.  Breathe in and breathe out and release your stress and anxieties.  Open your heart and let your spirit float freely. 

Finding that inner peace and connection to the unseen world (the spiritus mundi as Yeats would say) is a key to finding your spiritual center.  My spiritual stillness comes mostly in nature.  Whether it is the stillness and quiet of the snow falling, muffling all sounds of the urban life, or the wind rustling the leaves with the light, cheery chirrups from the birds.  Wherever you find your stillness, keep the memory of it for the hectic busy times.  Pull the memory out when you find yourself faltering and it will serve you well.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update to yesterday's list and flowers

Yesterday, Big Guy came home with flowers. Not just any flowers but 12 long stemmed roses for me. Why? What was the special occasion? There wasn't one. He brought them home because he felt I deserved roses and he knew when February 14th arrived, their price would sky rocket. But he wanted to make sure I got roses, "just because".

I was...semi-successful with my list yesterday. I finished 4.5 out of the 7 items on my list, including the getting up and making coffee. Well, 4.5 is better than 0, so it sort of worked. Little Guy got clean and I managed to get some of the family room picked up, but not vacuumed.

Big Guy's Valentine's Day Gift. Dragon Age: Origins, arrived and I decided, since my birthday gift was also a game and I was going to guard the PS3 after its arrival like a dog with one pup, that I would give him gift early. It seems to have been as successful as the series of books I bought him for Christmas. I am going to breathe deeply and thank the powers that be. I'm doing good on gift giving.

Camera Critters Saturday!

Camera Critters

Today's Camera Critter is of the two-legged variety and comes to us from the warmer month of October.  


Lest you argue that he does not count as a "critter", I have to point out that this particular "cub" is more than capable of destroying a house if you leave him unattended....  :-)  

Friday, January 29, 2010

List of things to do

Final exams for my class were yesterday.  There's always a lightening of the spirit in the air when the class ends.  It's an end to routine, an end to the day-in-day-out.  The students are happy and excited because, for most of them, they've come to the end of their first class in college. 

For me, the end of the month means a three day break before I go back to school.  I always fill those days with grand plans that never seem to come to fruition.  For example, right now, I'm thinking that I'll get the laundry completely folded, the laundry room swept and mopped, the kitchen swept and mopped, and the family room picked up and vacuumed.  I'll also work on the blog and finish reading my book. 

Now, I know that two of those items will definitely happen.  Two others, I know, realistically, are only semi-likely to achieve completion, and the final two items are not likely at all and will take a miracle to happen.  Hey, at least I'm being honest with myself.

What I need is a plan. I need to put together a list of things to accomplish.  So, here goes my list for today:
1 - Get up (This does deserve a spot on the list because, dammit, it's hard sometimes)
2 - Make coffee
3 - Do my blog stuff - write and post the entry, EC stuff, etc
4 - Little Guy's breakfast (or lunch depending on his wake-up time)
5 - Make grocery list and menu
6 - Pick up the family room and vacuum
7 - Give Little Guy a bath and fold Laundry

The hope is, if I make a list, I will follow through.  And I am nothing if not a constant lesson in "hope springs eternal".  I admit it, this is all probably a pipe dream, but some day I will not get distracted.  Some day I won't wander off halfway through a task because something else caught my eye. I just hope it's not because I'll be old and blind. 

Now, obviously I've accomplished #1 and #3.  Little Guy is working on #4 and I still need to do the second item on the list.  So, I feel like I'm off to a good start!  I think, once I get caffeine in my system, following through the other items will be easy!  Wish me luck! 

Original photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Thursday, January 28, 2010

End of Class Obama Love

Today is the last day of this month's class.  I'm always ambivalent about the end of class, always second guessing myself.  Did I get through to them?  What did I do well? What could I improve?  What worked?  What needs to be adjusted?  Generally, I'm pretty happy with what I've decided to do. 

Some months I feel really on top of the ball, like I've not only conquered the world but tied it all up with a neat, little bow.  Other months, I'm glad to see the end of it and if I never have a month like it again, it will be too soon.  Then, there are the months that are just blah.  They aren't spectacular, but they aren't horrible either.  They drag on and close with both myself and the students wiping their brows and sighing in relief. I think this month was close to the last category, not spectacular, not horrible and done. 

We watched the State of the Union last night, and, as befits an Obama Fangirl like myself, the man made me give happy, girly sighs when he smilingly threatened the Repubs and promised to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Big Guy grumped through it because he hates politics.  What else can I expect from a British national though; it's inherent in his blood to hate American politics since we ruined perfectly good tea.  In all seriousness, the man said thought he was done with politics once the election was over. There's a part of me that looks at him and says: "Really?  And you've been married to me for six years?  REALLY?"  Little Guy saw Obama, said his name, and then went and played with his cars.  Apparently just seeing the President was enough politics for his night. 

However, my ADD kicked into gear once the speech started and I got my grading done but completely spaced on the laundry that I needed to get done.  Big Guy's job gave him some money to supplement his wardrobe with nicer clothes.  As irritated as I am with the way they have treated my husband, at least they gave him money to get some better clothes.  I threw the new clothes in the washing machine after the speech and tossed them in the dryer before bed in the hopes that they would smell home-like and be soft and comfortable for Big Guy's day at work.  I am not sure the man realizes how much I love him. 

 Speaking of love, I also got his gifts for Valentine's Day and his birthday next month, though I recognize and accept that they won't hold a candle to my birthday gift from him, The Bioshock 2 Special Edition set.  Even typing those words makes me woozy with anticipation.  I suspect we'll be going to get it as soon as possible (I'm pulling for waiting in line at Midnight to get m copy).  It almost makes turning 31 worth it. 

Seriously, if you don't own Bioshock, GET IT.  I cannot recommend this video game highly enough, particularly for people who enjoy books like: 1984 or Brave New World.  Go, buy it, and know the love that is Rapture. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Homeschooling Discussions

Big Guy and I had a "discussion" on my way into work yesterday.  We're currently at odds on the whole schooling thing with Little Guy, and I don't foresee these discussions going any better the closer Little Guy gets to attending school. 

I am on the side of homeschooling and will argue vehemently for that.  My reasons are sound, and, until recently, I thought Big Guy and I were in agreement on schooling.  I do not approve of the schools in the area where we live.  I do not believe they will be able to educate my son appropriately.  I do not hold the teachers at fault, but the area we live in was one of the hardest hit by the economic downturn because many of the people in the area are blue collar, factory workers.  Many of the people around here do not value education or what it can accomplish and I do not want my child growing up with that attitude. 

Big Guy has gone from agreement with me to saying, now, that Little Guy should go to the local schools.  He argues that we will not be able to educate him properly because we lack the money to buy the homeschooling books.  He says that Little Guy will do fine as long as we support his education in the school.  A lot of this started because a friend of ours, who teaches high school, made the comment that homeschooling was going to be bad for Little Guy because we would not be able to give him the social interaction he needed, no matter how hard we tried.

Now, Big Guy has gone from the "It's OK to homeschool" camp to "NO".  I'm frustrated and irritated because the normally smooth ground my marriage exists on has become somewhat bumpy.  Both of us are absolutely convinced of our position's correctness and these positions are diametrically opposed!  Our view of what's important plays a big part in our difficulties right now.  He sees social activities as an important part of school, while I view the quality of education as more important than socialization. 

Honestly, I hated the social aspects of school.  I was never good at playing the social games and never felt comfortable in the social groups.  I wasn't a band geek, I wasn't a jock, I was more aligned with the smart kids, but not really...  My group of friends referred to ourselves as "The Outcasts" because we were different.  Amusingly, we were all drastically different from each other as well.  But, the social strata was different in a much more condensed way.  It was a small parochial school; therefore, things were going to be difficult. 

Who knows what we'll do.  Big Guy doesn't think it's worth arguing about because we have a year and a half before Little Guy goes to school.  To me, that means a year and a half of more fighting until we come to an agreement.  I'm concerned that if I give in on the unimportant years, the earliest ones where they go over the basics, then I will lose ground later on where the difference in educational quality will become noticeable.  


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

He's not smart after all - How I've ruined my son

The snow has restarted in earnest around here.  Leaving class last night, it appeared as the the wind and snow was conspiring to make a blizzard.  Coming home, I could see the little whirling snow rivers created by our passage highlighted by the headlights of the car behind us.  This is the kind of weather I can support.  Of course, the fact that we regularly get weather like this makes me look askance at those southern folk.  I guess when you don't get weather, it's hard to know what to do when you get it. 

 Little Guy and I were working on his letters and numbers yesterday, and I praised him to the heavens, just like any other parent.  Then I read an interesting article (Don't Call My Kid Smart) that has me rethinking how I approach this.  Jeff Weinstock writes that we shouldn't call our kids "smart".  By labeling them as "smart" and attributing their success to natural talent, we set them up for failure and, even worse, we set them up not to try. 

I can see some of this emerging now.  I have called Little Guy smart ever since he started exhibiting advanced tendencies.  He can count to 100, how smart he must be.  He can read some of the simpler books, he is so smart.  But getting him to practice, getting him to do the stuff he's NOT good at...  Then he balks and doesn't want to try.  Why?  Because it's not easy for him and he already recognizes that he is "smart" and therefore things will come to him without having to work at it. 

As we all know, though, life does not favor the easy route.  If you want something, you have to work for it.  This is true in all things: school, work, and even relationships.  This puts me in an awkward place though.  He is smart and I know it.  He does have a high level of innate intelligence and things will come easier for him than they will for others.  He is fortunate to have that ability.  But, that doesn't mean there isn't a certain level of effort he must put forth to succeed. 

But, how should I praise him now?  Telling a 4 year old: "Great effort!" or "What a nice try!" just doesn't seem right.  Those are the phrases that you give to kids who really do mean well, but just can't quite reach that bar.  Those are lines that just seem coated with an undertone of pity that you feed to kids to ensure their self-esteem isn't too damaged by failure.  And by avoiding the use of the word "smart", are we in danger of hurting our kids' self-esteem by not acknowledging their intelligence?  No one warned me that being a parent was so dangerous.  Are we all destined to ruin our children either by over-inflating their egos or destroying their self-esteem?

After discussing the article with Big Guy last night, he's of the opinion that I read too much and worry too much.  He says that Little Guy will likely survive the fact that I call him smart and be the better for it.  He's got a point and was in a position to know.  Back when we first dated, he did audits for CPS and it truly upset him at what some of those poor children went through.  And, to a certain extent, he's right. At the same time, I do need to find ways to praise and encourage Little Guy for the work he does.  

In more amusing news, I finally found my keys while I was at school last night.  They've been missing since before Christmas and I was really getting worried that I had done something horrible with them or maybe even left them someplace.  I found them in my purse.  Yeah, I know, I know. 

Watching Jimmy Fallon last night, I realized that Little Guy's hair style is catching on.  Michael Cera has the same exact hairstyle.  I can now pass it off as intentional.  I would like to point out that my son had that hairstyle long before Michael Cera did though.  That's my boy, always on the cutting edge of fashion.  And he's super smart to boot. 

Dammit, he'll never recover from having me as a mother! 

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Week Begins

Today begins the last week of class for the month.  That means final exams and grades. It also means it is a Monday, the end of the weekend, and the need to start behaving like a grown-up. Angels and devils, choices to make, do I act productive, or do I wallow in my creature comforts. 

I always start the week with good intentions.  I plan out what I need to get done on which days of the week.  I even try to figure out approximately how long it will take so I can maximize the efficiency of my days.  And then something happens.  I could probably blame it on ADD, Little Guy, or a combination of the two, but nothing ever goes as planned.  I always end up with part of the list done and none of it hen it was supposed to happen. 

Little Guy does more than his fair share of throwing wrenches into the works. The child has not met a room he could't destroy in under five minutes.  There are times I picture him as Pig Pen from the Snoopy cartoons, surrounded by a whirling mess of toys and books. Right now, I've got the door to his room closed as I try to ignore the mess he's created.  He's since spread out from the bedroom and overtaken the Front Room as well. 

Admittedly, I am holding the wall on the Family Room and attempting to prevent the mess from further incursions, but it's a losing battle at times.  Particularly with a busy boy like Little Guy.  He constantly surprises me.  When he was born, I couldn't imagine what kind of child he would become.  Now, at 4, his personality is emerging on a regular basis.  He has his likes and dislikes and expresses both on a regular basis.  In general, he's a happy kid, but I worry about him. 

His life has changed so much over the past year.  As his mother, it is my duty to make sure that the difficulties that his father and I deal with don't affect him overly much.  How do we really know what he thinks or how it affects him?  I suppose the happiness he exhibits is a good enough sign that we're keeping most of the issues from registering. He's a smart kid and it's going to require fancy footwork to keep him free and clear as he get older.  He already wears me out now!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lazy Sunday

I've retreated to the sofa and Big Guy's laptop to write today's journal entry. When I am at my desk at this time of day, the sun manages to drive its shiny spikes right through my eyes and into my brain. I am not a day person. I don't approve of rising before noon, I am not fond of spending time in daylight, and this time of year only makes it worse.

It's January and it's raining. There's something seriously wrong with that. Give me great white blizzards where you cannot see three feet in front of you, give me cheerful little snow showers... But don't give me sun that shines of the snow and blinds you, don't give me dismal, grey days that are cheerless, and please, by all that is held dear, do not give me rain in January. It's a muddy, depressing mess outside and it's only made worse by the rapidly changing clouds.

I recognize and accept that both sun and rain have a place in the cycle of things. Both are needed to grow plants and refresh the earth. But not now. Now is a time for the ground to sleep and regain its strength for the growing season. This is a time where we wait with anticipation and excitement for the first buds of spring. Winter has its place in the cycle too and this rain and grey is throwing off the cycle.

As much as people complain about winter and snow, there is a need for it. Without this season, the ground would not have a chance to rest and our attempts to grow things will be thrown off. And, despite my love for winter, I do love the growing seasons. Last year, my garden didn't fare so well. This year, we're going to build a raised bed, fill it with wonderful dirt from my mom's yard, and, hopefully, actually be successful this year.

In the meantime, Big Guy, Little Guy and I will sit in our house and await the spring. Today, I do need to enter grades into the spreadsheet but I'll save that until after dark. Big Guy has started on the Song of Ice and Fire series, but for right now, he's watching a truly terrible movie called "The Time Guardian". It's apparently a 1989 rip-off of The Terminator and, despite starting only a few minutes ago, is already pretty horrible.

It stars Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap, Battlestar Galactica) and Carrie Fisher (Star Wars: The Original Trilogy) in what, I can only assume, is a part of their lives they'd rather forget. They use laser guns and the killer robots appear to be Space Barbarian Transformers with horned heads. They bear an astonishing resemblance to Optimus Prime. Dean Stockwell apparently plays the stock douchebag that he's known for, while Carrie Fisher is a Princess Leia type character circa "Return of the Jedi". They time travel from the 40th century back to 1988 in Austrailia. Why? Why would anyone want to travel back to 1988?

Even Little Guy couldn't watch it. After devouring about 10 crackers, he ran back to the front room to play with his cars and shoot up the Cantina in Lego Star Wars II. Big Guy did better than any of us and made it through 20 minutes before he decided enough was enough. We'll probably zone out now and read while not really paying attention to something on the television. Gotta love Sundays.

The measured tree overflows.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Willful, stubborn, bullheaded and smart

I've been working with Little Guy on the fundamentals of writing.  Things like how to hold a pencil, how hard to press on paper, the basic of basics. We've been working on tracing in his workbooks and he likes to count the lines as he traces them, but he gets bored with it easily.  Yesterday, after trying to get him to trace the final group of diagonal lines, I put the workbook away and gave him some paper to draw on.  He proceeded to draw letters out on his own. 

They were a stereotypical large and childish attempt at letters, but you could see what letters they were.  And while I am proud of him, this concerns me for a number of reasons.  I am thrilled my son is smart, I am thrilled that he catches on and figures things out quickly. But his dad and I are smart too, and I recognize the dangers of things coming so easily.  Already I can see some of the more treacherous aspects coming through. 

When he tried to write a word out and realized he couldn't, he got frustrated and tried to have me do it for him.  When I told him no, HE needed to work at it, he threw the pencil down and ran out of the room.  He's learning that, because he is a smart kid, things tend to come easily to him.  Unfortunately, he's also decided, like most smart people, that because so much comes so easily he doesn't want to waste time on the things that don't come easily.

He likes to read, he likes to draw, but if he can't get it right away, he doesn't want to wait.  That, unfortunately, he gets from me; a short attention span and a severe lack of patience.  He wants it and he wants it now, and if he can't have it now, the world will pay.  It is good that he is stubborn.  It is good that he is smart.  I just wish he hadn't inherited the character flaws. 

What I need to do is buckle down and make him work.  But I am also afraid that I will turn education into a punishment and he won't find enjoyment in it.  Finding some sort of balance between needing to work and enjoying the effort is difficult with a 4 year old.  And then I worry that I push him too hard.  He can count to 100, is reading some things all on his own, knows colors, letters, sounds, can sound out words and is no slouch in the imagination department either...  Am I pushing him too hard?  Or should I feed the beast and keep him working at it?  How do I make sure it's enjoyable without scaring him off?

Being a parent of a strong-willed, stubborn child is difficult.  Finding the path through those minefields is dangerous and exhausting.  As I tell him regularly, there's a reason why animals eat their young, he's lucky he's so skinny and worth keeping around. 

We took him to breakfast and then a trip to Barnes and Noble today.  I had finished A Clash of Kings and had to pick up the remaining two books of the series.  Normally, we'd hit the Bargain Books store, but they didn't carry the series and I needed the books. Right now, while I type up this entry, Big Guy is finishing up the last book in the Temraire series and then will likely pick up the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. 

We've forced Little Guy into nap-time.  He's getting willful and fractious and that generally means he's tired.  Small wonder, since he went to bed at 1:30 this morning and was awake and excited before 9 am.  Soon, I'll snuggle back with my book, A Storm of Swords, and undoubtedly burn my way through that one as well.  Sadness for me when I finish it.  What will I do after I finish this series?  What shall I read next? 

Friday, January 22, 2010

The school system's failures

I really do love teaching but there are times when I wonder why.  This month, I've been teaching an English Fundamentals class.  There are times when teaching this class totally eradicates my belief in the public school system. 

In Fundamentals, I teach the very basics, like nouns, verbs, and how to create a complete sentence.  As I go over these things, many of them talk about how they know they should have learned this in school.  It isn't just their fault though.  I can't help but wonder how our society has gotten to a point where we have let people escape from schooling with no concept of how to properly communication. 

I hold the bureaucracy of the system to a large part of the fault.  The other part of the fault should rest on the shoulders of the parents.  Parents need to support and encourage their kids to do better.  Parents see it as a free babysitting service to use while they are working.  How can we get our kids to acheive more when the expectations given them are so low? 

It seems to me that our school system has faltered.  Teachers should not be forced to socially promote students who haven't learned the material.  They are forced to teach to the lowest common denominator and to teach to tests that ONLY hold the students back  In Indiana, schools are required to have a certain percentage of their students pass the ISTEP or risk losing funding.  Because of this, a total of six weeks of school are devoted to the preparation and taking of this test.  Reading between the lines, we spend a total of 240 school hours teaching kids stuff they've already learned.  And we do this to take a test that supposedly measures how much they know. 

Every day I deal with the failing of the school system, people who cannot construct a proper sentence or recognize what the subject of a sentence is.  When did we abandon our children to an uncertain future?  And why do we, as parents, continue to let the system fail us and our children?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Waking sleep

Getting back into writing is difficult, particularly when you haven't made it important for a while.  I know it's necessary and I need to at least flex my writing muscles or, like any other muscle, it will atrophy and waste away. 

There are just so many other things I would rather do than work.  Though, the winter is probably the best time to get back into the process of writing.  When Spring and summer come, there will be many things I know I would rather do, like gardening and playing outside. 

But the winter is here right now and that limits the outdoor stuff we can do. Plus, Little Guy and I are more interested in finding ways to stay warm while we have the heat turned down.  Getting out of bed in the mornings is difficult.  No one likes getting out of a nice, warm nest to face the day, but it is necessary. 

Today, I had the roughest time breaking free of that nest.  I kept drifting off and dreaming that I had gotten up.  Then something would happen in the dream to make me realize that it was a dream and I would wake up again.  That happened about three or four times before I was able break that cycle. 

Not that Little Guy even noticed that I was later than usual today.  He was still sleeping at 10 am.  Around 11 am, I heard soft giggling coming from his room.  Not long after that, he came wandering into the family room. 

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that Little Guy is a night own like his parents.  It makes it easier on us right now, but how is this going to affect him later on?  If we follow Big Guy's line of reasoning and DON'T homeschool him, we need to get him on a regular, normal schedule.  I'm still holding out for homeschooling though. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Embracing the nerd within.

I've been burning through A Game of Thrones and actually finished it last night, curled up in bed with Big Guy.  I imagine by the time the weekend comes, I'll have finished the second book.  I just need to prepare myself not to complain or else Big Guy will mock me. 

As it is, he's very insistent that I am a nerd like him.  He uses my reading against me.  Of course he also uses the fact that he dragged me into the gaming world against me.  He tried to use my video gaming against me, but I was able to point out that gaming is actually a pretty cool thing to do.  He then had to point out that most of the video games I enjoyed were pretty nerdy. 

He said even my movies were nerdy.  This is not true.  He tried to say that since many of the movies I greatly enjoy are based on books, it made me a nerd.  I disagree.  I think it means I know what I like going in.  Yes, I have watched more than one movie based on Shakespeare.  And I have done so of my own volition. Yes, I enjoy movies based on Jane Austin novels.  That is not nerdy.   He then tried to use my love for the English language against me. 

He said the simple fact that I teach courses in Lit and writing makes me a nerd.  He said no one but a nerd would harbor the deep emotions I hold for literature and grammar.  When I protested that English was cool, he said my arguments to the contrary (and my correction of his word choice) only served to enhance my nerdiness.  I'm sorry, but you can't use odorous when you mean onerous

I disagree most strongly with his views.  English and the study of grammar and literature is not nerdy but "muy awesome".  We even watch the TV show Castle where the main character (played by the sexy and also awesome Nathan Fillion) tends to make me squeal like the grammar fan girl I am.  If discussion on proper word usage and how to properly define "irony" are so nerdy, then why are they discussed by such an awesome character?  And if loving English is wrong, then I don't wanna be right. 

Of course, in a world where the average American reads at a sixth-grade level, maybe being an English nerd is not such a bad thing.  In the long run, it doesn't matter how nerdy others think I am, I know I'm cool and I know what I enjoy.  And, besides, I will never be as nerdy as Big Guy.

OK, maybe I'm wrong.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To the beat of a different drum

So, my mother in law sent over a bag of goodies for Little Guy.  Footie pajamas, which he loves and refuses to take off until we make him, an adorable "Kiss me I'm Irish" shirt, a pair of snow pants, and a set of "Hit Stix".

These are drumsticks that make noise no matter what you beat them on.  He has tried them out on the wall, the floor, the doors, a car, a box, his bed, and anything alse he can find.  In fact, our house is chock full of taps and beats and other wonderful drum-type of stuff.  I must remember to thank her.

For Christmas, I bought Big Guy a set of books: The Temraire series by Naomi Novik.  We both burned through those books at record speed, though I finished the series first.  According to Big Guythis is due to the fact that I read "freakishly fast".  I disagree.  It may be speedy, but I read everything.  Because I managed to finish the books in record time, we discussed what series we were going to purchase next to read and have decided on George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice.  That was why we went to Barnes and Noble yesterday.

While we were there we purchased the first two books of the series and a couple workbooks for Little Guy to practice his writing skills with.  For, while I have no concerns about his potential writing ability, I do have concerns about his ability to write.  So, we're going to take pencil in hand and practice starting tomorrow.  This ought to be interesting, especially when you consider that he doesn't like following directions.  (He gets that from Big Guy.

As far as the new series, I'm reading the first book, A Game of Thrones, and made it to page 124 last night.  I told Big Guy that it may be true that I devour books.  His response was to say no.  Devouring would imply I stopped to chew.  I simply suck them in like spaghetti.  I know I read fast, but I do read everything.  That's something most people don't understand. I'm not just skimming, I am actually reading.  I do love reading though. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Grey days and clean clothes

Last night there was a freezing fog advisory for our area and I noticed, when I looked out the window this morning, it was a bit hazy.  I also noticed that the branches of the trees seem to be coated in an icy glaze.  I wish it would choose something other than grey though.  Snow, I can handle and would enjoy.  Sun would be bright but nice.  Grey clouds that reflect grey off the snow and light the world in a grey, dismal light. This does not help in cracking the post holiday blues. 

However, forcing myself out of the rut does.  As you can see, I am getting myself back in the habit of writing.  It would be poor form for a writing teacher to preach writing on a daily basis but not do so herself.  And yesterday, while G and Little Guy played Lego Starwars 2, I made more laundry detergent.  We haven't had to actually buy laundry detergent for over a year. 

Big Guy has no complaints about the homemade detergent and is pleased that the clothes get just as clean for a fraction of the cost.  And, aside from the soap scent that I add to it, there are no other additives.  The clothes get clean, there's no weird stuff in it, and we aren't paying a ton of money for it.  This last batch, all I had to buy was the washing soda at a little over $3.  That should last me for the next few batches and the only thing I'll need to buy will be the scents if I choose to add them. 

Because today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I have no class tonight.  I don't know what we're going to do tonight, but it won't involve school.  I'm holding out for a trip to Barnes and Noble, but it depends on Big Guy's mood when he gets home from work.  In the meantime, while I wait for word, I'll do some grading and see what pans out.  I'll probably even do some laundry.  Little Guy is playing with his cars and animals and watching Thomas and Friends in the front room and will probably ask to play with his trains soon.  Later, we may curl up on the sofa together. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Gamers

Right now I'm sitting on the sofa with Big Guy watching him play Civilization Revolution while I put together my blog entry for today.  Because trailers are not so good at maintaining heat, I am curled up under one of my two Snuggie gifts for Christmas. We're also watching my niece, G, for my sister-in-law. She's adorable, if a semi-picky and extremely slow eater. She and Little Guy are currently ensconced in the front room playing Lego Star Wars 2. Currently, they are on a roll destroying R2-D2 so they can hear him yell.

We're a pretty tech-happy family. We love our PS2 and PS3 and, when console debates begin, of course support our brand of choice. It's really not that difficult, though I do wish Sony had not eliminated backwards compatibility from the PS3. The Playstation series has a lot of great things going for it, not the least of which is the Blu-Ray player that comes with the Playstation 3. And, Big Guy and I are pretty dedicated gamers. The irony is, when I met him, Big Guy hadn't had much experience with video games. I introduced him to my Playstation 2, and the rest is history. He became a video game addict like me.

Little Guy is proving to be a video game nerd like mommy and daddy. Of course, the poor child was doomed to nerd-hood anyhow. He runs through the house singing the Imperial Death March and, for a long time, recognized dinosaurs as "dragons". His preferred weapons are the laser guns, lightsabers, or a sword and shield. He also would prefer to be a Sith lord rather than a Jedi. He can speak some small words in Mandarin and can count to 100 and does so on a regular basis. Not too shabby for a 4 year old. I've been trying to get him to read because he LOVES books, but he's been giving me difficulties recently.

We went to the bargain book store the other day and he wanted a particular Pooh book, a level 2 book which contains higher level words and concepts. I told him that he could have it IF he showed me that he could read it. We went through the first couple pages and except for a difficulty with the word "heart" he read every word on those pages. The booger has been giving me difficulties, not because he's having trouble, but because he doesn't want us to know that he can do it. This ranks right up there with our issues with potty training.

Little Guy just turned 4 and is still in diapers. Everyone is full of advice and ideas, some of which we're going to have to implement in warmer weather. I think, though, that the biggest stumbling block to potty usage, is Little Guy's own determination. He adamantly refuses to use the potty, doesn't want to have anything to do with it, and will tolerate no discussion of using it. If he chooses to, he could probably get this potty training thing down with very little effort.

Instead, he's putting all his effort into avoiding it. When it gets to be spring and summer, I'm unleashing the child on the outdoors in a pair of underpants to try and learn potty time. I think it's going to be a battle of wills. Luckily, I'm bigger, older and have a better concept of patience and time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Post-Holiday Blues

I have homemade chili bubbling away in the crockpot and Little Guy is (hopefully) napping. It's still a bit nippy in the house because I have to keep the heat set at 65 to avoid a massive heat bill. But I also recognize that I am dealing with post-holiday crankiness.

Post-holiday crankiness happens to a lot of people. The coming down from the build up and excitement of the holidays leads to depression and unhappiness. I get cranky after the holidays. Luckily, I recognize it and try to offset the crankiness. But, the whole post-holiday crankiness bothers me. Because it bothers me, it tends to make me crankier. This makes for an unhappy dpwnward spiral. One thing I know I need to do, that will break the spiral, is get back into a routine.

My current routine has flown to the winds. It used to be: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays were teaching days; Wednesdays were my "at-home days", used to get chores and the niggly bits out of the way; Fridays were my days with my mom. Weekends were reserved for Big Guy and our activities. Then, two things happened. Mom's car broke down and eliminated the Friday routine for the time being, and the holidays hit. This event nixed all other routines.

As Big Guy will attest to, I do not do well with change. It is an unfortunate and unpleasant side effect of the ADD, but there it is. A change in routine throws me off and affects me mentally and emotionally. Even worse, the ADD also makes it that much more difficult to get back on track. And if I'm not careful, my distraction can really upset the balance in the household. Big Guy and I are not fanatic cleaners, and Little Guy, for as much as I adore him, is a hurricane and a tornado combined.

What this means is that if I get distracted, nothing happens until I throw a fit because now the house is a complete mess. Big Guy and Little Guy watch me in complete and total amazement while I start slamming things around trying to get things cleaned up. I know the easiest thing to do would be to pick up gradually, but it never seems to happen.

It's times like this that I wish I hadn't married a guy whose cleanliness threshold was so much lower than mine. On the other hand, if Big Guy is the way he is and nothing happened around the house with Crazy Ex unless he did it, what must her house be like now?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yes, Reader, there is a Santa Claus

PhotobucketThe holidays were, of course, really busy around here. Thanksgiving came and went. We ate turkey, visited with family, and had a great time. Then the preparations for Christmas kicked into high gear.

I am in love with Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. In fact, Big Guy states that Santa probably doesn’t love Christmas as much as I do. I can’t help it though. How can you not love a season that promotes peace and joy? I was the kid who embraced Santa beyond the age of rational thought, the one who knew “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” practically by heart. And, were you to ask me today, I would devoutly answer that yes, indeed, there is a Santa Claus.

It is immensely important in today’s fast paced world that we embrace and enjoy the spirit of giving and sharing. There are probably none better than I who recoginize the difficulty involved in holding on to peace and joy. The months leading up to Christmas 2009 were… difficult… to put it mildly. But, Christmas gives us all an opportunity to embrace the better aspects of our personalities.

I made it a point, this year to share what I had, what extras we had, with others. Selling them would have given us some much needed extra cash, but it would not have given us a much needed c balm to our spirits. In sharing what we had without trying to earn money, I believe we made an important spiritual advance. I felt better and people out there, most likely worse off than us, had a better holiday because of us.

So, yes, at 30 years old, I can proudly say that I do believe in Santa. I believe that the spirit and potential lies in all of us. And I think that if we were to each embrace that happy, peaceful, and giving side of our personalities on a more regular basis, the situation we find our world in would not exist. But, I guess I am an idealist.