Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lost in Translation

I read a blurb this morning written about my blog. Well, actually is was less about the content of my blog and more about the absence of my blog: "(she) has been taking a short break from her blog as she enjoys time with her family". Until I read that this morning, I hadn't realized how long it had been since my last post. Has it really been over a month? I knew time was ticking away, but I didn't really think anyone would notice. I have been enjoying my family and I lost the time to translate that into words.

I meant to blog about our first ski trip of the season in January. I had so many proud moments watching my 4 year old make his way down the bunny slope for the first time. The scene was exactly how I remembered learning; one parent straddling and the other parent skiing backwards to catch when that little push is finally given. Despite my own memories, I didn't start off teaching him that day with high hopes. My shouts of "pizza, pizza, bigger slice" seemed futile at times. But after a whole lot of "I can't", I saw a knowing smile cross his face when he realized that he not only can, he did. And as he did ski down that slope multiple times, my 7 year old was skiing with his teenage cousin, mastering more advanced slopes somewhere else on the mountain. How do you translate that feeling when you see your kids learn and begin to love something that you have loved for decades? Before I could really decide, we were off to Mexico.

Our annual winter trip to someplace warm took us to Cancun this year. Again, I had a lot I meant to share. This was the first vacation with our kids where we left the resort to explore unguided. Unplanned exploring might just be another love of my husband and mine that we are now inflicting on our children. Drug war or not, we rented a car and drove through Quintana Roo exploring Mayan ruins. After I got past the fact that we might no longer be candidates for parents of the year, we created a really great road-trip with our kids. From the moment we got into our little rental car and my kids discovered that the strange handle on the door was for the window, I knew this was going to be a day of discovery. In addition to antiquated manual windows and locks, they also learned about an ancient culture they had never heard of before. We didn't just look at a bunch of old stones, we got a chance to climb Nohoch Mul. And as a reward for being such troopers, spending a long day in a car with only Mexican radio, I even let them have their very first Coca-Cola. They are now part of the pure sugar Mexican Coke cult, but what the heck, we had already taken ourselves out of the running for any parenting awards when we drove out of the resort that morning without a map.

Enjoying my kids, has been well, enjoyable. So, if anyone noticed or cared, I guess I did take a break from blogging about my life with my kids because I got a little busy living my life with my kids. I plan to keep blogging when I can between more skiing, travel, and life with kids; and I do want to keep blogging if for nothing else, to not lose the translation of those moments for my kids to read about later.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gym Class

With the first week of the new year, I joined all the other newly resolved people back at the gym. I had my share of sports related injuries in 2010 and I'm glad to be starting 2011 healthy, having just been cleared to resume all activities. But even with the memory of those frustrating injuries still fresh in my mind, I'm still finding it hard to really enjoy being at the gym. I keep trying to remind myself of a motivational mantra I pulled from Runner's World (May 2010, "Feeling Lucky?") "I don't have to run, I get to run". But today into the second set of "frog kicks" (don't even ask) in my boot-camp class, I was having trouble feeling like this was what I really wanted to be doing. And by the fourth interval of jumping rope, I was wondering when I developed this deep hatred for the jump rope? When did gym class stop being fun? I might have been 10, but the last time I jumped rope, I thought it was fun.

As my friend behind me was whaling, "Oh Lord, enough with the jump rope", the instructor reminded us that in another 30 minutes we could go home and enjoy a nice hot shower. That was exactly what I wanted to be doing right then, but I couldn't help think that my kids would hands down prefer jumping rope, or any other exhausting activity, over taking a shower. And my kids would have loved the frog jumps and donkey kicks, and not just for the names.

If you ask my 7 year old what his favorite class is in school, he'll answer Gym or Recess. I've watched him on the playground, sprinting around the field for 20 minutes straight playing Ga-Ga with his friends. This is his idea of fun and there is nothing he would rather be doing during those 20 minutes. If you give either of my boys a wide-open gym to run in, they are in Heaven. Sometimes I let them run around the empty gym at our church and I always have to drag them out of there when its time to leave. They are panting, out of breath, and dripping with sweat, but they fight with me every time for "just a few more minutes". I can assure you that I have never asked my boot-camp instructor for "just a few more minutes". And when our class ran long today, my friend asked, "Aren't we done yet?"

So, at what point in my life did exercise stop being pure fun? When did I no longer see a wide open space and want to just run? I still really enjoy a day of hiking or skiing, and there are days where I do crave a really long run, but for the most part, exercise has become something that I "want" to do because I "need" to do it. I do the kick-boxing and the boot-camps because I feel good afterwards, not because I'm particularly having a blast during the classes. I can honestly say my kids do have a blast when moving to the point of exhaustion.

Can you imagine how productive, not to mention how fit we would be as adults if we held onto that energy we had as kids? Its not really fair considering that most of us have gained all the responsibilities of adults, but lost that child-like energy. If only we could have bottled up that energy before we left childhood and could crack it open whenever we needed as adults. After tennis the other day, my 7 year old came running up to me so excited that they "got to do suicides" at the end of his clinic. I want that excited energy. I want to really believe my mantra. I want to feel like I "get" to do frog kicks, not just "have" to do them. I could use a bottle of that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bossa Mama

The Brazilian style of music "Bossa Nova" can literally be translated into English as "new trend". If you're not familiar with the loungy style made popular in the late 1950's, think "The Girl from Impanema", but a newer trend in the soft, smooth Bossa Nova music is to cover harder, rougher bands. My sister-in-law introduced me to this genre a while back and now I have albums like "Bossa N Roses" and "Bossa N Ramones" in my collection. I love music in the kitchen when I'm cooking and listening to a lounge-lizard version of "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Used to Love Her" just makes me smile.

The first day I had the music in my repertoire, my kids were at the kitchen table for all of five seconds before they identified the Bossa Nova styled lyrics as Guns N' Roses. And five seconds later they were singing along. Astonishing. The songs in Bossa Nova form are almost unrecognizable unless you really pay attention to the lyrics. That would mean that my kids not only heard the music, which through extensive testing I have proven their hearing is quite perfect, but they actually listened, a skill for them I had almost given up on.

If my kids could register the mellow Bossa Nova lyrics, is it possible my kids could listen to me without me yelling? Could I actually get a response from them by just speaking to them, instead of yelling? The yelling in my house has gotten a little out of control. I'm at a point where no one listens to me unless I'm raising my voice, and I often don't bother with a calm voice and skip right to yelling to save time. But maybe its not too late. Maybe I could start a new trend in our house. It would be so much nicer to start the day calmly asking my children to get their shoes and coats on for school. And I wouldn't be hoarse before 9am.

My new mom trend started this week. Monday morning I sweetly called to my 7 year old giving him a warning that we needed to leave for the school bus soon. I followed that up five minutes later with calm speaking voice instructions to get his shoes on. Both times my son acknowledged that he heard me, but he still didn't listen. With two minutes to spare before the bus would be rolling up, I found myself yelling and he finally came running to the door to put his shoes on and grab his bag and coat. As he was tearing down the driveway trying to put his coat on while holding his back-pack, I realized this new trend is not really going to work. In Brazil, "bossa" can also be defined as a natural ability; you can do something with "bossa". I clearly do not have the bossa to herd my children with a calm voice. I'm going to keep trying to reduce my volume, but the fact is, my voice is just background music for them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well Played

Are personality traits like "forgetfulness" and "lateness" genetic? I'm afraid they are and my oldest son is displaying these characteristics, just like his father. To sum it up: my husband is physically incapable of arriving anywhere on time and when he does get there, he has undoubtedly forgotten at least one thing. My 7 year old is following in his footsteps.

Last Monday I picked my son up from school like I do every Monday so we can get to his tennis lesson on time after school. I waited 10 minutes after the final bell of the day for him to finally show up at the door. He had no explanation for why he was so late other than he had to walk from his classroom and it "took him awhile". It took 10 minutes longer than usual, but for no reason. As a result, we were late for tennis and missed the first 10 minutes of the clinic. When we got home from tennis and I was unpacking his school bag, I discovered he had left his lunch box and thermos at school. I wasn't all that surprised, but I was annoyed.

When my husband came home, I mentioned to him that our 7 year old had "your kind of day" today. I went on to explain that first he was late leaving school which made him late for tennis, and then he also left his lunch box at school and he's not sure where. My husband laughed and asked, "Did you yell at him?" I admitted that I may have, I was annoyed. To which my husband added, "Good, then he had the full experience of one of my days". Touche. Well played.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking Late

I have one true thing that I can't stand about my husband. Just one, but it drives me crazy. He's chronically late. And his lateness makes me late, which drives me further insane. Before I was part of "we", I was always on time. Now we can't ever seem to be anywhere on time and I blame him. For him, five minutes late is "on-time" and is usually cause for celebration. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for me reminding him its time to leave, he would never actually leave. Its become his signature; he's always late.

Its no surprise that my best friend is also notoriously late. I seem to attract late people. My best friend is at least predictable though. I can firmly count on an hour past whatever time she swears she will be there. And I've learned that when she calls me from "Oaks" on her way, she is really just pulling out of her driveway, still a good 20 minutes from the Oaks exit. But, she does always call while I'm waiting for her. In fact, she usually calls several times to let me know while I'm waiting that she's still not there - Thanks. My husband does the same thing to me when I'm waiting for him. His patented move is to call me when he should be arriving to tell me that he hasn't left yet.

But that's the thing. All this mobile technology at our fingertips allows people to no longer really care that they're late. They can always just call or text that there's a delay. We've all done it in those scenarios where the unexpected happens and we're held up. But I think chronically late people take advantage of being able to communicate that they're late. There's no sense of urgency that they are keeping someone waiting. I've never seen my husband or my best friend rush because they were running late. Its more like they are just walking late, and they'll call ahead to let you know that they won't be there on time. Apparently in the minds of tardy people, a text or phone call telling you they are late is as good as being on time.

I read an article recently in The Wall Street Journal, "Sick of This Text: 'Sorry, I'm Late'". I was happy to see that finally someone else identified a problem here. But the article was of little help to people on the waiting end of chronic lateness. According to the article, my husband and my best friend both have "T.E.D." - Time Estimation Disorder. But there's little treatment for this affliction, other than better planning. My husband read the article and recognized that he has this disorder, but has not attempted any of the suggested tips. The article also listed "Coping Strategies" for those of us waiting for late people. Unfortunately, I've already tried most of these strategies. I've lied about the start time and I've also just plain left without my late people. But to no avail, late people just don't see a real reason to try to change. The only "Coping Strategy" left is to just love them, flaws and all. Because they will still walk in whenever they get there. And in the mind of a late person, if they got the message to you on time that they are late, are they really late?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. I love hosting anything, period. And I'm the type of host, drink in hand, that is ready 30 minutes before you walk through the door. Its the day before Thanksgiving and I am ready, or I was on my way to being ready. The table is set, the flowers are arranged, the sides are prepped, and the turkeys are chilling. I have everything, but the kitchen sink. My kitchen sink stopped functioning.

In the middle of the afternoon today while preparing the sweet potatoes and corn bread, the sink stopped draining. I immediately texted my husband, "Who should I call?". His response was, "I'll come home early and fix it". An hour later, as the pile of dirty pots and pans was increasing and the standing water level in the sink was not decreasing, I texted him again with my fear that we might need to call someone else and its the night before a big holiday. I was met with, "I'll come home now". He came home from work early, but 8 hours later I was still facing the very real possibility of hosting Thanksgiving without a kitchen sink.

My husband is pretty handy. For a business minded, computer nerd, he handles most of our simple carpentry, electrical, and plumbing work around our house. We don't call "people" to fix things until my husband has at least tried first. And he's very good at fixing things, most of the time. But, there are the occasions where my husband has been known to cause a bigger problem while trying to fix a smaller one. Tonight he took apart the kitchen sink pipes and found a clog much lower in the system than he could get to. We did call a drain professional who came out in the evening to snake the drain and it seemed that the problem was solved. But when my husband put the pipes back together they started leaking under the sink. Apparently when my husband was "diagnosing" the original problem, he "may" have put a hole in a pipe. Let me just say this is not the first time he has unintentionally put a hole in a water pipe. But tonight there are no stores open for parts for him to replace the pipe, and they won't be open again until after the holiday. He just threw a plumbers wrench in my plans for being calm and prepared for Thanksgiving.

At midnight, after much arguing about who I really should have called this afternoon (he still maintains he was the right call), he finally informed me that the sink is "functional". Functional, meaning that I can use it, but the pipes are held together with plumbers putty and there is a mixing bowl and bath towel under the sink. We just need it to hold until after dinner and hopefully it will. I had no idea this morning that what I would be most thankful for this holiday is a working kitchen sink, but its officially Thanksgiving and I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Check Yourself

Neither of my kids naps anymore. And despite having a designated bench on every level of my house, neither of my kids have been put in a "time-out" in a long time. But my 7 year old is having one of those weekends where he's been possessed by some kind of monster. There's been a lot of excitement in our house with a new cousin being born and preparing to host Thanksgiving. The kids are excited and maybe a little off-kilter, but my 7 year old is out of control. I've been counting the hours until he goes back to school on Monday - since Friday afternoon. We still have 14 hours.

I've always sent my kids for a nap, quiet time, or a time-out for them to gain a little control over their behavior. But telling my "too cool" 7 year old that he needs to take a nap, or that he needs to sit on the time-out bench is only met with more monster growls. I know he thinks he's getting too old for these tactics, but I also know that he needs some alone time to check himself. After his latest misstep this afternoon, I sent him to his room and told him to, "Go check yourself before you wreck yourself". He looked at me like he might have had something to say, but instead just smiled and went upstairs to his room. He got the message that he needed some alone time without any complaints. Its essentially the same message as "take a time-out", but apparently in a language a too old, too cool 7 year old will accept. I wonder if he also got the message after falling asleep for 2 hours, that he's not too old to nap?