Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Faux preschool homeschool.

We sat in a sunbeam this morning at the kitchen table. I let the warmth squeeze into my bones and joints and I juiced my brain with a jolt of caffeine - I made a really good pot of coffee this morning.  It can be hit or miss sometimes with my coffee making skills.  I like my coffee not too strong, but strong enough, and filled with enough cream to make it a lovely light brown color (although I've recently switched from real cream to half and half.  That was a sad day for me, but I am coping, thanks for asking). Finn worked on some Aa worksheets that I hastily made up using a combination of Pinterest and Microsoft Word. I attempted to work on some more menu planning (I am so sick and tired of all of the same-old things we've been eating lately that I've been digging into some of my seldom-used cookbooks and trying new recipes from my old favorites.  I cannot believe how bored I have gotten with dinner.).  I wrote a couple of lists for gardening this spring.  Mostly, though, I watched Finn clutch a fat crayon and color all of the capital As.  He kept asking me, "Do you see any more, Mama?" right before he'd spot one and scratch it out with a flourish of green.

We've been attempting a really relaxed version of preschool this week. I hesitate to call it homeschooling because my husband immediately sees red and flashes of lightning spark straight out from his eye holes. Seriously.  He has strong feelings about homeschooling, most of which are attributed to some questionable individuals that he knows who were home schooled. Unfortunately, it's those few bad apples that ruined his bushel (Wow. Terrible, terrible analogy. I apologize, but it sort of works because Finn and I have been talking about the letter A this week). Anyway, I use the term homeschooling really, really loosely in this house because a) it's sort of my job to stimulate my kid's brain b) it's the alphabet, it's not rocket science.

That being said, I'm also a self-diagnosed procrastinator, so most of our "school" this week found me printing off coloring sheets, checking YouTube for a song about the days of the week, and filling in with some Yogarilla.  We played a couple of matching games, worked on a little bit of phonics with the sound of the A, counted apples and alligators, and did some tracing mazes from the preschool workbooks that Finn got for his birthday last year.  It took us about 20 minutes each morning - I spent more time researching and printing a few things off and cursing that my dwindling supply of construction paper yielded zero sheets of green.  I'd like to say that I'll be more prepared for the letter B next week, but...probably not.

If I'm being honest with myself, I know that he'll need to do some structured form on preschool in the fall. He's a quick learner and it's not the "work" part of it that I'm concerned with - I can teach him the alphabet and phonics and counting and probably even some science if I needed to.  The problem is actually Uriah's main concern every time we talk about homeschooling: he's not social enough.  I think it would be different if he had a sibling or 3 or 12 that he could practice sharing or co-playing or imagination-play with (for the record, no one in this house is having 12 kids. Ever. Our advanced age not withstanding, we would've had to have started a long time ago to get to 12 and really, since we can't even agree if a dog would be a blessing or a curse at this point, it's probably for the best we didn't know each other when we were young and ambitious.). Currently, Finn's favorite thing to tell me is: "I don't like to share," and he can seriously lose his shit when kids come over to play because they touch. his. stuff!  Sometimes he spends more time sitting by himself because he can be such a jerk.  I know that it is probably a bit of a phase, and we have talked about how all of his toys stay at his house and no one will take his stuff home with them.  We've tried putting away his "special" things before friends come over.  Nothing works, turns out - all of his toys are "special toys" and are therefore off limits in his mind.

So my plans to homeschool - and eventually homecollege - my son have been put on the back burner for now. He'll do fine when he goes to preschool and eventually kindergarten - and so will I, because by the time he goes to college I will have invented a serum to shrink myself so that I can live in his pocket and go to school with him and make sure he is safe and that he eats his vegetables and stays away from those girls. (You know the girls I'm talking about...the ones that "hang out" on the quad drinking "coffee" instead of going to class and find themselves in Cabo for spring break and end up in their own episode of Girls Gone Wild? The ones looking to earn their MRS Degree? Not with my son, they won't.) He'll learn to share and play nicely. He'll make lots of friends. He'll come home every day and tell me all about his adventures over cookies and milk. Until that day, though, I will be his best friend and I will teach him everything I think he needs to know...the alphabet, the days of the week, counting, and shapes.

And, of course, how much I love him.  That lesson is on-going.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

on being healthy: one week down.

I put it out there into the great wide interwebs last week, so I figured I'd better do something about it.  Baby steps to the elevator, right?  Right.

Here's what I did last week: not a lot.  Well, that's not true, I did clean the dust and grime and disgusting build up off of the tops of my cabinets in the kitchen.  I almost tossed my cookies it was so gross.  And I used the swiffer to get rid of the cobwebs on my kitchen ceiling (genius idea of my husband).  Do you ever clean something and afterwards think, "Holy shit, I was living in that!"  Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt late Saturday afternoon after I had spent pretty much the entire day knee deep in kitchen funk.

As far as healthy things go, though, I did implement 3 small things that will get us started on this healthy road (and by us I mean me, but my family gets to be promoted to healthy status vicariously through me).

First, I started tracking with MyFitnessPal again.  Helps to know what's going in my mouth.  And I've been using my kitchen scale.  I am always so surprised by what an ounce of cheese actually looks like (hint: it is a lot smaller than I think, but with an apple, I can stretch it as a good snack.  It goes well with wine, but I'm trying to be very stingy with my hooch consumption.  Something about empty calories, blah, blah, blah.).

Second, I brought back The Fruit Bowl.  It's just a huge bowl of cut-up fruit that I leave in the refrigerator; we pull it out for all  meals and it's a go-to snack spot after school for Abby.  I use whatever's on sale or seasonal, so this week's bowl is grapes, pears, oranges, and cantaloupe. It changes week to week. I've learned that bananas are not good to have cut up in the bowl, but I can pull one off the bunch and add it as we need it. Also, berries tend to get soft and mushy fast, so I also don't leave those in the bowl; we cut them up as we go when we have them (it's January in Minnesota - buying berries is not economical). I sometimes get annoyed that we go to the store for fresh fruit every couple of days, but then I remind myself that we're going to the store for fresh fruit.  There could be bigger problems to have.  Today I let Finn portion out his fruit for lunch and I had to put some back because three-quarters of his plate was fruit. Even I will admit that was a little excessive, but I'm glad he likes it, and he ate it all, so fruit bowl for the win.

Finally, I've implemented After Lunch Rest Time.  For everyone.  No computer.  No phones.  No Facebook or Pinterest or Etsy.  Only books for 30 minutes.  I actually really look forward to it...Finn sits at one end of the couch with his stack of books and I sit at the other with my book for 30 solid minutes (sometimes 45, not gonna lie - I stretch rest time).  We share a blanket between us and after the rest time is over, he picks a couple of books and I read out loud to him.  To be honest, rest time can last an hour here, but I think we were both struggling by the end of the day without a little re-charge.

Okay, that's it.  That's all I've done.  It doesn't feel like a lot, but I think these few small changes are a good start.

Oh, and I put this on my refrigerator as a reminder because I get distracted easily:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resolutions. And also, deadbeat moms. Thoughts?

I've been thinking about a New Year's Resolution for about, oh, 8 or 9 days now.  I know...procrastinate much? The answer is yes, I do.  But I always make a big, glorious resolution and it lasts for a big, glorious month and then I loose steam and energy and motivation and am left for the rest of the year with a big, glorious anger toward my un-realized resolution.  Oh, and my resolution always, always involves losing a gazillion pounds and finds me looking svelte and chic in a time frame that is not advisable (usually around 1 month.  Okay, I give myself 6 months...usually I have it all planned out for bathing suit season, which I don't believe is an actual "season" where I live.).

Not this year.  This year is different.  This year I bit off an amount I can actually chew.  This year there isn't really a "resolution," per se, it's mostly just a word: healthy.  I want to be healthy and I am not attaching a number to it.  I don't even really have a plan as to how I'm going to get to that healthy point other than taking it one day at a time, tracking my calories in and calories out.  I figure I'm just going to stop feeling unhealthy and I'm going to start feeling healthy. One. Day. At. A. Time.

Seems simple enough, don't you think?

Here's a story: last night we got dressed up to go to Uriah's work Christmas party (I almost typed program like it was going to be a bunch of chef-type people and hotel-type people and corporate-type people getting together and singing songs and doing a little dance number for the audience.  It was a party.  There were drink tickets and dinner and allegedly some entertainment that we didn't stick around for because we have kids and a 30 minute drive back up the shore.).  Anyway, so it was a party, which means we got to get dressed up.  And I got this cute new shirt (that I didn't try on, but it was $7 on clearance at Old Navy so I figured, what the hell, it'll work fine), and I got a cute new necklace to go with my cute new shirt (I paid full price for the necklace.  I can't even type the price because it was shocking.  More than I ever spend on jewelry and I usually spend $0 on jewelry because the only jewelry I wear with any consistency is my wedding ring, but I figured its price balanced my clearance priced shirt.).  I squeezed my buns into some dress pants and shoved my feet into some heels.  All in all, I thought it was good.  Until I looked in the mirror.  I had some doubts about the cuteness factor of the was a little shapeless and when your body is rather - shall we just go with curvy here? - okay, curvy it is...when you have a curvy top half, shapeless is not a good look.  Actually, shapeless is not a good look for anyone, but as the time was tick-tocking and we had to drive into the big city, I figured my new haircut and some makeup would take the attention off of my shirt and I hustled downstairs.

Matronly.  A word worse than shapeless is matronly and that's how my husband said I looked.  My face must have relayed my inner shock and disbelief because he quickly started back-peddling and telling me that I just looked like a mom who was dressed up to go out for the night.

Not. Any. Better.

I went upstairs as quick as my matronly mom-legs could take me and proceeded to rip through my closet looking for something, anything that didn't make me look old and frumpy.  Because I read between the lines and that's what I heard my husband saying: I was a 34 year old frumpy mom who was trying too hard to get dressed up and go out to dinner.  I'm sure he probably meant that I was looking good, since anything is a step above yoga pants.  And I'd actually taken the time to dry and flat iron my hair and I was wearing full-on make-up (not just mascara...I had eye shadow and lip gloss and everything.  It was a big deal!).  But I was devastated.  And of course nothing he said made me feel better and nothing in my closet was appropriate and nothing in my screwed-up brain was positive.  I tried on 17 different shirts before I realized that if we didn't leave 10 minutes ago we were going to be late.  I put on the original matron-shirt and we left.

I had 30 minutes to calm myself down a little bit and I didn't cry because...make-up, remember?  I didn't have the time or energy to repair that shit.  And Uriah tried to bring me out of my funk.  And I texted my gal, Bees and she, of course, had helpful, lovely things to say that boosted my spirits.

But really...this whole bag of matronly melt-down are my own issues rearing their fat heads again.  It's my own mind and my own lack of ambition and will-power and resolution to be better, to be healthier - eat more healthfully, exercise consistently, think positive thoughts and let the yuck slide off my back.  So last night in the car as we drove towards a ballroom full of people I didn't really know, I stopped caring what they were going to think of my shapeless shirt.  In fact, I stopped thinking about it all together.  I wrapped the word healthy into my head and I vowed to do better.  One day at a time, I will do better.  Because at the end of the day, my husband will still kiss me and tell me I'm pretty like a post card - and I usually don't even have make-up on when he says that, so I know he means it.  He makes thoughtless comments, but then so do I, I suppose.  At least we know enough to apologize for our thoughtless comments.  And at least I know enough to start on the inside and work my way out.

Exercise my brain muscle first...everything else will fall into place.

In addition to my matronly mom issues, I've been stewing on deadbeat mom issues all day long.  Stewing, for me, requires researching.  Did you even know this was an issue?  It is.  It totally, sadly is.  Some studies say that the percentage of deadbeat moms is actually higher than that of deadbeat dads.  I am a mom (obviously) and right now it is completely beyond my realm of comprehension, but I am trying to educate myself so that I can speak thoughtfully on a subject that blows my mind.  I wish so many things of our society, but the one I wish the most is that men and women were treated equally - and that includes areas of custodial and non-custodial parenting rights and responsibilities.  The research part of my brain encourages me to look at all of the facts, weigh all of the statistics and theories.  The mom/wife part of me wants to rage, and rage loudly, at the unfairness of it all.

Part of being healthy this year is going to be letting go of things that I have no control over.  It may also be a healthy throat punch to stupid people.  Maybe.  Possibly.

2014 - healthy mind, healthy body, one day at a time.

Oh, and I'm thinking of getting a dog, but that might be too big of  a commitment for 2014; I think my plate might be full.  Maybe 2015 will be the year of the dog...