Friday, January 20, 2012

Forever Young

Alex doesn't want to go to grow up. I get that. He lives The Good Life at home. I'm not strict at all about his time playing video games, and I don't trust him pouring his own milk, so he basically plays games while mom serves him. He plays about 3 hours of video games each day (more on weekends, I suppose), but he also gets exercise through basketball, swimming and terrorizing his parents, sister, dog and cats. He's HARDLY inactive. All we ask of him is to do his homework, brush his teeth, pick up after himself and to act kindly and respectfully. If he does those things, he can play all the video games he can fit in before 8:00 pm.

The biggest problem of this is that he doesn't see any reason to make it EVER end. He goes to school, of course, but not without a struggle. I joked with him in the car this morning that I was going to install one of those pilot ejector seats, so that when I pulled up to his school I could just pull a lever and he would shoot out of the car as I burned rubber out of the drop-off circle. He kind of laughed at first, but then he kept coming up with bad things that would happen if I did that, like what if he hit his head on the ground and died? It's just pretend, Alex, I'm just making a joke! Once he got that, he told me he would have two levers that would shoot mom AND dad out of the car so he could go in front and drive. Apparently, my ability to join in another's pretend scenario is about as good as his, because my response was "but you're too short to reach the pedals."

Well, since I still don't have an ejector seat to get Alex out of the car when we got to school, I was in for another whine session about how he wanted to forget school and stay home all day. My first response is the straightforward, "yep, I know you do, but you can't." I'm still dreaming of the day that he'll sigh , give me a mopey "I know", and go into school. In the meantime, I have to tell him why he can't forget school and go home - for the 300th time.

"Well, if you did stay home, I'd make you do school work anyway."

"All day?"

"As long as you spend at school."


"So you get a good education to gain the skills you will need when you're a grown-up."

Oh, crap, I've just found myself in a circular argument. So now I resort to humor and silliness, which is really where I should have started.

"If you don't grow up, who will take care of you when I'm too old?"

Mom affects a little old lady voice: "Alex, please come in here and change my diaper."

Alex ignores me.

"Alex, please bring me some warm broth and spoon it into my mouth."

Then, to show me how well I've raised my son, he jibes back:

"I'll just get one of those horns and blast it at you. Go get your own food, you old lady!"

Sweet boy.

Finally, I remember the key to getting this stubborn lazy-boy out of the car. I tell him he gets out, or he rides the bus next time. Just like an ejector seat.

Darn crossing guard letting a couple kindergarteners go across the street prevent my leaving skid marks, though.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Little Birds

Here I am sitting on the futon downstairs in our extra bedroom. It's currently a meditation/yoga/reading/writing room, but it's function will change soon I think. Anyway, for now, I am writing in it. It's nice and cozy in here because it's sunny out and I have this awesome space heater that looks like a little wood stove. It looks so cute in here, and that makes me happy, not just the heat it produces.

Just outside my window there is a red osier dogwood bush. The thing is a monster, and I hate trimming it. So it grows and grows and grows. But it does have its advantages. For one, the birds love it. Looking out from where I'm sitting, I can see three house finches sitting on the branches. Wyatt the cat was sitting in the window watching them, but he gave that up to go sleep in a nice sunny spot on the rocking chair. Who can blame him? If I were his size, I'd nap there too. I leaned over so I could see more of the bush, and I counted as many as 14 finches in the bush. They are really cute with their feathers all fluffed out to stay warm. One just flew away to go get some food from the bird feeder. I used to have the bird feeder next to the bush, right outside the other window in this room, but it the pole it was hanging from wasn't very firmly planted in the ground and kept falling over, so I moved it to the deck. That's a nice location because now we can see the birds feeding from the living room and dining room.

We live in a suburban neighborhood, so we don't get a big variety of birds, but that's okay. I like the finches and the chickadees. Once in a while we'll see a cardinal. It's a nice yard, even nicer when I take care of it. But yard work will have to wait until probably March or April. It's frightfully cold out right now. The dog isn't getting a walk today. But for now, he's napping in the sun on the floor next to Wyatt's rocking chair, so I hardly feel sorry for him.

This is my idea of relaxation. Warmth, cute space heaters, sun, furry sleeping pets, and fluffy finches. Now where did I put my book?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Running on Empty

I've been discussing faith with people a lot lately. Facebook, mainly, but I also am conversing with the young woman who is soliciting my house on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses. As long as they are kind and respectful, I'm happy to talk to them. I'm pretty ignorant of their sect of Christianity, but I definitely know enough that I would never join them. They are very outspoken against homosexuality, and I cannot be a part of that in any way. I support the rights of all people, regardless of their sexual preferences. But, I don't see any harm in being more informed, so I talk to them. Maybe they will learn something from me, too. The Jehovah's Witnesses have always impressed me as the sort to seclude themselves from society, so I want to represent the "godless" well.

I envy people with faith. I've lived my whole life without it, and have seen many people's lives enriched by it. What can I say, though, I just don't have it. I am fascinated with spirituality, and I'm pretty certain that there is a higher power in this universe, I'm just not able to reconcile myself to the idea that that power has been manifest here on earth in one true form, be it Jesus Christ or any other God. The nearest I can come is that Christ was a divinely inspired person. His teachings, HIS teachings, not those of the churches and religions developed to propagate them, are beautiful and in my soul I feel they are the way to goodness and peace. But there is this enormous hurdle that holds me back from being a Christian, and that is the acceptance of Christ as my "lord and savior." I believe in his way, his meaning, his spirit, but I just can't get myself to truly believe that he is the literal son of God. I don't even see "God" as God. I mean, in terms of God in the form of a father, an actual being. Now I am completely comfortable accepting that there are millions of things about the universe that I will never understand, and the higher power is one of them. And maybe that's why believing in Christ as the incarnate form of the higher power is difficult for me. It seems too understandable. If there is a divine power governing the universe, it's got to be way beyond my comprehension, because the universe itself is way beyond my comprehension.

I guess the question is, do we matter enough as human beings here on one tiny planet in one tiny, minute part of the universe to draw the attention of the higher power? And if so, why did it choose to send one man, to proclaim that there is only one way to connect to that power. And why did that man get sent to that specific part of the world? Why not China or North America or Europe? What about all those people who didn't get the word that there is only ONE way to peace for ever after? If you held infinite universal power, wouldn't you spread the word everywhere?

And really, why, why does it matter so much to believe? Is the creator and master of the whole entire universe so concerned with ego that he/she/it needs the worship and recognition of one small tiny drop of life in the whole ocean of the universe? If his forgiveness is so absolute why can't he accept that it's hard for some people to grasp these ideas. Why is it so important to have faith? Especially when having faith has led some to do such horrible things? Would the highest power in the universe really want to create pain and suffering over his glorification??

I am not saying it isn't possible. I'm not telling anyone that what they believe isn't true. I absolutely do not know what is true. But I don't think it's wrong to admit you don't know, and to question what is out there. So I go on, without faith, still not able to accept as true what cannot be known.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in Black

I'm considering a song title theme for this month. I've always liked how episode titles of "Grey's Anatomy" are song titles, and since I need a little shove in the creativity department, hey what the heck?

So it's been a few weeks. Christmas happened and all the craziness that accompanies it. But now kids are back in school, hubby's back at work, my enormous pile of laundry has been washed and folded, and I'm all ready to start writing again. So there's the "back part." How about the black? I'm wearing my black boots, but not sure if that is really significant to write about. I'm sure not depressed, I've got a new daily regimen of exercise, medication and yoga/meditation that's been great at keeping my moods up. So how is my life black right now? What stands out most clearly is Berry, my lab-pit mutt. He's black, except for a flash of white on his chest. And now that kids are in school and Jon is at work, he's my number one distraction at home. And with Berry, there's always some bad with all his good. He's been happy as a lark that we have been going on off-leash walks at the dog park, but when we are at home, I can't get him to go outside and pee. He is the most stubborn dog I have ever known. He simply stands at the door, or walks out onto the front walk and stands, sniffing the air. I'm practically yelling "go potty!" a thousand times, and he just rambles around.

Perhaps that may lead one to assume that he doesn't have to go. Let me assure you that this is not the case. My lovely little pooch is incontinent. If he has a full bladder, it drips out. And even when he doesn't have a full bladder, he will pee when he is relaxed (mostly sleeping). Thus, his kennel always stinks and I'm constantly washing his beds and blankets. So I try to make him go every few hours. But as I said, he refuses. I'm pretty sure he is refusing to waste his precious marking material on his own yard where no other dogs come to smell it. Because he LOVES to mark. Leash walks can be maddening as he tries to stop and squirt on every third mailbox. I tried to discourage his marking by not letting him stop, but then he just keeps hoarding his pee, only to let it slip away in his sleep.

Going to the dog park in the morning is wonderful for both of us. I get my exercise without constant stopping by marksy-dog, and he gets to run as much as he wants, play with other dogs, and mark as many trees, rocks and clumps of grass as he pleases. This will be a win-win situation until it's 20 below weather. Then I think I'm just going to release him in the wild, load up "Gossip Girls" on Netflix, and take my walk on the treadmill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teach Our Children Well

Day 14's prompt from Kassie at :
Is volunteering something you do regularly? If yes where do you volunteer? If not, why not?
I volunteer twice a week at my son's elementary school.  I've been volunteering at this school since my daughter was in kindergarten five years ago.  On Monday mornings I help the first graders with their language arts activities - reading out loud and writing.  Teachers now have about 25 kids in their class, which is a lot to keep a handle on, even when you aren't trying to get them to do schoolwork.  They do a fabulous job, but parent volunteers help them give a little extra attention to the students.   On Wednesday afternoons, I work with selected fourth graders who need extra help improving their reading fluency.  Our school district has a great program for supplementing the curriculum for kids who need extra help with math and reading, and I'm proud to be a part of that.  I also volunteer from time to time at my daughter's intermediate school, PTO events and choir or band activities.

I volunteer for a few reasons, I guess.  One is that it's a good way to get this introvert out of the house.  Two is that I like getting to know the teachers and children that my kids spend their days with.  Three is that I want to be helpful.  I don't have a job outside of the home, and while I know that taking care of my kids and the house is important, it just isn't enough for me.  I'm trying to get involved with more things, but it's hard putting myself out there.  I don't volunteer elsewhere because it's hard for me to get to know new people and find my place within an existing group.  I suppose it is for everyone, but it's pretty bad for me.  I'm working on it, and my next step will be to add an hour per week at the public library.  I'm already familiar with most of the librarians from being a frequent user, so it shouldn't be too hard, right?  I think I've got my New Year's resolution figured out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is That Lady Meditating in the Check-out Aisle?

Reverb Broads prompt for 12/13: What are three things you are better at than most people?
Well it sure isn't talking about myself.  But thanks for making this easy.  Yeesh.  It's hard enough to find one thing you do better than most people, but three?  I've been thinking about this all day, while walking my dog, doing a little cross-stitch, and it's not getting easier.  Best I can come up with is something very situation-specific.  Like I am more patient than other shoppers when I'm waiting in line at the grocery store.  There's an ego-builder for you.   Or, I am the best mother for Lauren and Alex.  While very important, it's not like there's a lot of competition in the field either.  And I really loathe comparing parenting styles and/or techniques.  Every child is different, and no one gets his/her child better than the parent.  And when you see that frustrated mom in the department store, just ask yourself, "have I ever had a moment like that?"  If you can answer no, go ahead and judge her, but most of us mortals have done things we aren't proud of.

It's not that I'm unhappy with myself.  Most days, I'm very satisfied with who I am and what I can do.  I have very personal goals, and being better at them than another person isn't really relevant.  I want to improve my meditation, but there's not exactly a meditation Olympic team to try out for.  I'm a very competitive person in some ways, but the thing is I don't enjoy competing.  My husband, who is very competitive and naturally athletic, will tease me and say that I don't enjoy it because I don't win.  And I'm not saying he's wrong, but I don't think that's the whole story.  I'm pretty good at tennis, but I really enjoy hitting the groundstrokes.  That's what is fun for me.  When you play a match, you need to serve and it helps if you can to volley too.  Those aren't my strong skills in tennis, because I don't enjoy practicing them as much.  So if I'm going to play for recreation, I like to just hit balls back and forth and not even bother with scoring (unless I am playing with Jon, who would probably invent a scoring system for just hitting groundstrokes).

Other things I really enjoy?  Reading, but once you are above a 10th grade reading level, what's the point in keeping track?  I used to be pretty good at trivia games, but my memory is going to shit.  I'll know I know the answer, but I also know that the neuron pathway to retrieving that specific information is about a day's journey, so might as well take a guess.  Besides, if I tell you I'm smarter than you, you'll just think I'm an asshole.

So maybe what I'm really good at is just accepting myself.  Or I'm just lazy.  That's pretty likely, too.