Work with me, please.

Archive for the ‘Mixed Bag’ Category

Ridiculous Things My Kids Said Last Month


1. “Can I play with Legos for reading time?”  Jay’s voice had hesitancy and hope in it at the same time.  He knew I would say no. Reading time is for reading.  But that wasn’t the kicker.  A few nights before, he’d had a tantrum about not having enough reading time.  Hubby had let him stay downstairs past bedtime to finish watching a movie. In my mind, lights still go out at the usual time. Having the privilege of staying up later to watch TV means you sacrifice the equivalent amount of reading time.  It would have been expecting too much to remind him as a 6.5 year old about that tantrum, and I was too tired to explain the irony of his question. I left it at “no” (with maybe an eye roll.

2.  “I want to be the kind of mom that dad is.”  That gem came from Mae. Whew boy!  That was her way of saying that she wants to be a fun mom, which I am notoriously and unashamedly not. I thought to myself, “Well, you’d better marry a cooking, cleaning, homework-checking, bill-paying, hair-doing, appointment-making woman.”  I’m fully aware that there are some men who take on the same or similar degree of household management for which mothers are known. However, they were not my first thought.  She’s 10. She has lots of time to become enlightened. I wish her the best of luck!

3. “It’s not my fault I wasn’t paying attention.”  Ok then. I’m still processing that one.

4.  “I have a question I want to ask the Internet.”  When I was 10, I was annoyed that I lived in a home that didn’t have a complete encyclopedia set.  We had a partial set of Brittanica knock-offs that my mother started by trading in Greenback stamps at the grocery store. The store discontinued the offer before my mother completed the set. Using a “real” encyclopedia meant a car trip to the library or an aunt’s house.  Mae’s statement was a sharp reminder of how much the world has changed.

One of the wonders of children is their ability to make you see things in a different way. My kids continue to challenge me to think, rethink and unthink.  It’s good for me.

Me vs. Them

On February 21, not even two week ago, our washing machine was repaired.  The technician replaced a broken pump because coins had found their way into the pump and cracked it.  He found $0.83 inside the pump.  How much is $0.83 worth?  Well, $0.83 can get you $295.60 in washing machine repairs.  Not exactly a bargain.  Actually, the cost was $310, and fortunately, I had a coupon for 10% off the cost of labor.

I called a family meeting with Hubby and Dem Kids. I had the $0.83 in one hand and the broken pump in the other.  I showed them how pocket change had cracked the pump and thereby costed us the equivalent of 4 nights at the movies or 16 pizza nights.  Of course, fingers were pointing in every direction to peg the owner of the change. Frankly, I didn’t care to whom the money belonged (for the record, ahem, I use a wristlet and I keep change in one section of it).  I just asked that they check their pockets when they undress at night and check all pockets when doing laundry. That’s reasonable, right? 


Well, my little show – and – tell was for naught.  Since then, as I’ve move clothes from the washing machine to the dryer or out of the dryer, I’ve found a drum tuning key, money clip, and penny.  Three different occasions where either Hubby or the kids started the wash. 

What the what?  What did I say after finding the tuning key and money clip?  “Remember to check pockets . . . .”

I know they don’t listen to half of what I say and forget the other half.  But, gee whiz, who doesn’t like money and saving money?  As a matter of fact, Jay asked if he could have the $0.83 the day I told them about the repair.  Ok, he’s only six and a half, so maybe he doesn’t get the irony. 

So, I’ve got to think of some clever way to help everyone remember to check pockets.  And, I need to save the next appliance repair coupon I see . . . just in case. 

Strong Finisher

orange beltMae tested for her orange belt in Tae Kwon Do last Thursday. While performing an exercise called Second Form, whatever that is, she made a mistake.  She paused and started over.  The three classmates testing with her kept going.  She didn’t try to catch up with them.  She took her time.   I could she that she was concentrating hard.  She finished . Then, the entire group had to repeat the set of moves.  The second time, she did a great job from start to finish.  They all did.

Before going on to the next phase of the test, the Master Instructor praised Mae for starting over and taking her time.  He told her that he liked that she didn’t just stop.  He said that she’ll be a “strong finisher in life.”  I was more proud of her for staying the course than I was for getting the belt.

Mae told me a few weeks ago that she didn’t want to take the test because she didn’t feel ready.  She said she couldn’t remember all of the Second Form.  At first, I thought about asking the teacher if she could work with Mae a little extra.  I talked myself out of that.  Instead, I asked Mae what was the worst that could happen?  She wouldn’t get the orange belt, which would be disappointing and upsetting.  Then, life would go on.  I pointed out that she had several more weeks to practice.  I reminded her of the Fourth Agreement, always do your best.   She relaxed after our talk.  I did too.  The talk was as much for me as for her.  When she first said she was worried, a vision of a huge meltdown in the middle of the dojo flashed across my mind.  But I can’t save her from everything.  Failure is a part of life and learning.  I told myself that if she failed, I’d just have to be prepared to give her a shoulder.  So, it all worked out.  My Strong Finisher.

The whole week finished on a high note.  I went on a field trip with Jay’s class, which was a welcome break from the office.  I had Jay and one other mild-mannered kid with me.  Some of the other moms were envious; they had rowdy kids.  One mom told a kid that he wouldn’t be allowed to go on field trips in the future unless one of his parents came along.  Parents who are used to easy-to-manage kids have no idea.  Next time, I’ll volunteer to take him if he doesn’t have a parent on the trip.  Compared to my girlchild, he would have been a piece of cake.

When I went back to work on Friday, I had three deadlines and I met all of them, plus a slew of stuff that I wasn’t expecting to do.  But the absolute highlight of my week was that I found a pair of shoes on sale for $19.99 and went I to pay, I had exactly $19.99 in reward points.  Yep, I walked out with a free pair of shoes, no taxes, nothing.

This morning, I went to Jay’s school to help in the garden that the principal recently started.  I took my neglected gardening tools and gloves, meant for the garden that exists only in my head, and put them to good use.  I have neither vegetable nor flower in my own yard, but while my kids are in summer camp at the school, they’ll have an opportunity to see, touch and taste some of nature’s bounty and I’ll get some credit for it.  🙂

Today is Saturday, and I have nothing planned outside of the house for the rest of today and tomorrow.  That means we have no excuse to let our garage remain in its current crowded, unorganized condition.  So, that’s my tomorrow.  For now, Hubby found an Irish documentary that involves fighting.  I like Irish stories and he likes fighting, so we have a date.

Winding Down

It’s been so long since I’ve been here! The clouds are breaking. Work has lightened up, at least for now. We have a new staff member, which I hope means that my workload will stay reasonable. Homework is decreasing as the end of the school year gets closer. Whew! I’m convinced that 3rd grade has been harder on me as a parent this year than it was when I was a student myself some 30 plus years ago.

20130522-072907.jpgI finished my cake decorating class. If grades were given, I would have been lucky to get a C. For the last class project, my cake leveler broke and I was unable to get the nice, smooth surface I wanted. I made cream cheese frosting, which the instructor recommended against. I’m a hardhead.  I could not bring myself to put butter cream icing on a red velvet cake, and I didn’t have time to make two frostings. I took my chances. As a result, my frosting was too soft to make the pretty flowers I saw in my head. At least the cake tasted good (or so I was told). You couldn’t tell by looking at the final cake, but I actually learned a lot.  I need practice, which means that I need to bake, which I haven’t had time to do. Well, this weekend I will have time as well as a reason to celebrate. Yesterday was the birthday of Albert, Jay’s favorite stuffed puppy. Albert has birthdays every few weeks. Jay decides the theme and plans the party, including the type of cake and how it should be decorated. He gave Albert three birthday gifts yesterday, including a sleeping bag that looked like a sock. So, we’ll top off the celebration with a special cake for Albert.

Mae is done with social skills training until the fall while the therapist takes a summer break.  I definitely plan to return to the social skills playgroup.   I had a nice, long talk with the  therapist during our last visit.  She talked about helping the kids recognize “unlikeable” behaviors that make it difficult for other kids to stay friends with them.  I’m convinced that there is value in structured play time with interventions or corrections as necessary, both in being corrected and seeing others corrected.  A teacher told me recently that kids need to see or hear something at least 17 times to master it or make it habitual.  So, I’m going with that.  The cognitive behavioral therapy is on hold because we couldn’t get a regular slot that worked for our schedules.  If Mae asks to go during the summer, it may work out better since we won’t have to worry about homework.

This weekend I’ll also be working on travel plans for a vacation in June.  Sooo looking forward to that!  The vacation, that  is, not the planning.

Let Them Eat Nuggets


From time to time, I let myself out of food jail and cook something that I will likely be the only person in my home to eat. I love okra and I’ve been thinking for a while about an okra soup dish that I used to have at a West African restaurant in D.C. umpteen years ago. It was an ooey, gooey mess of okra over a whole deep-fried croaker. I think there was white rice too, and if not, there should have been. So, last night, I decided to try to recreate it, using as a starting point an okra soup recipe in a White House garden cookbook that my Ma-in-law gave me. To make the dish a little healthier, I opted for pan-fried trout and wild rice (well, to be honest, I would have cooked white rice, but I didn’t have any).

Normally, I would have cooked something else for the rest of the family. But, I was too tried, having left the house shortly after 9:00 am for an extended birthday party that involved building a bear, then food and play, then swimming; grocery shopping; and a trip to the dry cleaners.

I left it to Hubby to figure out what he and Dem Kids would eat. Wonderful man that he is, he pulled together some fries and nuggets, while I sat guilt-free on the couch with my little feast.

Sometimes, it’s ok to ignore people, the ones we love as well as others. I had practice last weekend too.

The longtime Dharma for Kids teacher at our Buddhist center left because her husband’s job relocated them to another country. Good for them, not so good for us. Now, parents are taking turns teaching each Sunday. My first turn was last Sunday. My luck, there was an 11-year old smart alec visiting for the first time. He was unhappy with his mom for leaving him with “the babies.” And, he didn’t try to hide it at all. I actually felt a little bad for him, until he started interrupting my story-reading every 90 seconds with questions that he thought were so clever but not. One of his questions was “If Buddha could see into the future, why didn’t he create a cure for cancer and HIV?” A better question would be “Why didn’t Buddha prevent cancer and HIV?” The other kids asked questions out of genuine curiosity or shared thoughts related to the story. That’s wonderful and welcome. I admit that I pretended not to see Smart Alec’s hand once, maybe twice. Let him drill his mom at home; it wasn’t my fault she made him come. By the way, this is further evidence that I could never be a teacher. But, otherwise it was a lovely class.

You can’t make everyone happy all the time. So, why not make yourself happy at least some of the time?

Some Things Work


Anticipating a tough morning on the first day of her assignment to a new homeroom, I took Mae to school today and walked her in. There in the office was the home room teacher that she’s been with since school started in August.

Mae went off with another student and Teacher and I talked. I told her that Mae is worried about having to change to a new homeroom.

Before I could explain why, she said, “I know. I know. We talked about it and we’re ready. Trust me, this is better for her academically. I’m going to spend time with her this morning and let her know that she can still come see me if she’s having a hard time or needs to talk.” This awesome teacher and the other 3rd grade teachers had discussed how to help Mae with the transition. What a relief!

I went on to tell her that Mae’s first concern was whether Gigi would be in her class. This awesome woman said, “No. We took that into consideration.” Yes! I said Mae’s second concern was whether her friend Danielle would be in the same class with her still. Teacher wasn’t sure, but thinks so. Mae will let me know tonight, I’m sure.

Teacher went on to say, “She’s going to be fine. I think this is going to work out well [as she lifted both hands with two crossed fingers in the air]. I’ll call you if I think it’s not working.”

When you have to leave your kids with other people, it’s such a comfort to work with people who listen and care.

Summer, Come Back Here!


I-yi-yi. Summer is slipping away and there is nothing I can do to slow it down. I took mental inventory last night of the remaining fun things I wanted to do this summer and how many weekends we have left. It’s not looking good. We were on track, too, until we met a family at the beach last Saturday and the mom told us about two new must-do places to visit. So, the next three weekends are going to be jam-packed, my house will be a hot mess, and junk food will be a substantial part of my diet.

Oh, wait . . . . that’s actually kind of normal.

%d bloggers like this: