Wednesday, November 19

Overwhelmed By Stuff

I keep trying to write, but the words that come aren't terribly uplifting. I'm tired. I'm irritable. I want to hire a team of mafia cleaners to come in and eradicate the house of identifying marks. (OK, mainly paper. Paper and stray socks.) They can take the stack of stuff I need to mail with them on the way out and deal with that, too.

Every single problem I have is not a problem. I get that. Doesn't stop me from wanting to go back to bed and read in peace. (Why does Neal Stephenson write such long, engrossing stories? He needs to get into writing short stories. That might help.) But life is good.

James received his Life rank at the Court of Honor this week. He's been working hard on that, and the reality that Eagle is on his plate hit him this week. He's excited/stunned/mildly surprised that it (meaning his entire childhood) happened so quickly. I love that kid.

Em and Jase joined a local My Little Pony club. They made ornaments this month, then played and ate. Perfect. The room was packed with 18 6-8 year-old boys and girls, and it was adorable.

And so, everyone is hunkered down for Winter, which came early and enthusiastically. The kids are hoping this means we'll have snow. I've reminded them that most people who live in the South do so out of a desire to avoid snow, so we don't mention this hope in public. We just fire up the wood stove and enjoy some downtime.

I think I'm going to go burn some stray papers. Maybe socks.


Thursday, November 13

Days fly by. Kids get big.

It's been years since John loved dragons, but we've been so busy building wood smokers and forges, making PVC bows (just for fun, we don't take them too seriously) and bat boxes (not to mention food, in general) that we haven't updated the house.

Actually, we haven't entirely *finished* the house. But that's not the point of this post. This post is about making a room for 16 & 14 year old young men out of a room designed for 7, 5, and 2 year old little boys. Or, at least, starting on it.

First difference I noticed this time around? They're actual help. Not "help", but really fantastic help. They care about detail and drip edges and primer. W00t:

Second difference? They're a LOT taller than I am. Not that this is news, per se, but the practical aspects are becoming more clear. They can reach the ceiling with little assistance. How cool is that?

They also have fewer opinions about what to do with the room. When we did this the first time, they knew just what they wanted. They designed the stencils and picked the colors. They had Vision. This time around, they're pretty flexible and don't seem to care what we do with the walls as long as they get a better ceiling fan (which they have, now, and it's wonderful - but it hasn't helped develop a vision for the room aside from "quiet ceiling fan and good lighting").

We'll get some paint samples this week and start looking around for furnishing ideas. I'm pretty excited! They're... well, they're willing to do the heavy lifting. They'll be excited later, when it's done.

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, November 6

Old. Old, old, old. And dark.

I used to love the Fall time change. (Actually, I used to love living in Arizona, where I didn't have to deal with the time change. But if I had to spring forward, then being able to fall back was a perk. I got a jump start on each day, and we'd likely be on time to things for two or three months.)

This year, though, I'm not coping so well. Sure, I'm up and moving at five each morning, which is pretty fantastic for my overall productivity. But I find myself trying to herd the kids to bed each night around six o'clock. It's dark. We've eaten supper. (That productivity thing in action.) We've watched a little something. I have read everything I can handle reading for today. TIME FOR BED! Wait, what? HOW is it only six?

:30 minutes later:

I quietly check the time on my phone. Damn.

:30 minutes after that:

OK, kids, how about you get your jammies on and... but seven is nearly eight thirty... aren't you even the least bit tired? (Nope. Not in the least. As a matter of fact, who wants to play 5 Second Rule!?!?)

:another 30 minutes:

If you go to bed now, I will make you doughnuts for breakfast. (No takers. They're not tired! What is wrong with them?)

:30 very long minutes later:

You know what, I'm done for. I don't care if you ever go to bed, but I'm about to pass out on the floor. Start the dishwasher before you leave the kitchen, okay? M'kay. Love you. Night.

And they follow me into my room and proceed to do what they do every night - the snuggle-and-data-dump. Which I really love. Only in the Summer they do it much later and when it's still light out. I don't know why that combination makes such a difference, but it does. I've fallen asleep fully dressed three times this week. The Bigs think I'm just getting old. The Littles are worried that I'm losing my mind.

They may both be right. *yawn*

Kiss those babies, and send 'em to bed really early!

Wednesday, November 5

November, What A Great Month

Having a great month so far! (Yeah, it's the fifth. I've decided to call it early and just enjoy the rest of it, whatever comes.)

Jacob managed to get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup out of the wrapper without skinning the bottom. He was very excited (as I figured when I saw this on my phone --->)

We had a party on Halloween. It wasn't a scary, gory party - mainly because nobody would have come, and parties are more about the people who come and enjoy time together than they are about props or themes or decorations. (Thank God, because even for other holidays, I pretty much stink at any of that.) But I do miss grown-up costume parties. And I wanted to have some fun with the day, too. So I bought sparkly silver eyelashes. The children were scandalized. (Evidently, that's not appropriate attire for a Good Mother. I had to take my own picture, with my short little dinosaur arms that are not made for selfies. And what appears to be a fish eye lens... I'm not sure what's up with that.)

I'll be honest, I couldn't see, and the sparkly bits threw light around and I kept dodging and twitching because it looked like things coming at me out of my periphery. But it was fun. Also, I have so much respect for anyone who can wear those things and dance. Clearly, I'm not going to be heading for the Vegas stage any time soon.

Em and Jase were *stoked* to find their pumpkins on the wall at the library. When you're in the under ten crowd, this is right up there with getting published or having your picture in the paper.

Jase looked so cute in his costume. But the flash on the phone is really bright, and it stays on a long time. So I got this shot, which was live-captioned by Jase, "Mom! You're blinding me! Ow!"

And that's been about it. We want to take December off to do fun things, so we're doubling down on November to take up the slack. We'll see how that goes. Should be fun!

Kiss those babies!

Wednesday, October 29

That's So Weird

When the kids were little, I followed a number of bloggers who wrote about life, centered around family and family-centered learning. Their kids were also smallish, but older than mine. It was fun to get a peek into what was coming up - what milestones, what achievements, what challenges. To these ladies, some of whom are in-person friends now, I will be forever grateful.

But I noticed a few years ago that the word "weird" began cropping up in a large number of their posts. Where once there were descriptive re-tellings of events, the reports became a little vague ("We had a good turn out. The kids had fun. Someone set fire to the stage.") and stories were often left out, replaced with what felt like a passing glance ("life is just weird," or "boys can be so weird, God love 'em"). That seemed... odd.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
~ Hunter S. Thompson

I didn't get it. Did something happen? Are they okay? Did the kids mutate and she just can't say anything? A veil descended over the blogging end of parenthood with the ascendancy of the teen years. It was a little disconcerting, and if not for late-night chats with friends, I might have gotten a wee bit panicky.

But now? Now I get it. Teens are awesome, and amazing, and sometimes absolutely frustrating - but it's never just because. There's always a reason behind what they do. (I knew that, once. I'm glad I remembered before declaring it's time for them to walk the Earth and do weird things somewhere else.) And sometimes, moms don't really care what the reason is (if my mother were here, this is about where she'd raise her eyebrows at me and mutter, "You think?") I get that, now, too.

I have long ago accepted that I am a little crazy and a little weird. It wasn't that exciting a revelation, though. Turns out everyone is.
~ Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing.

They are funny and brilliant and exuberant and Oh, so sleepy, all at the same time. And there are some tremendously endearing stories to be told, but they'll have to wait for the anonymity of time, for the buffer of maturity, maybe for an intimate evening with other moms over a bottle wine, swapping sweet, weird stories about years gone by. Right now, in the interest of blogging and honoring my relationship with my kids, I've finally come to grips with the use of the word weird.

And let me tell you, sometimes, life is just weird. Oh, it's good. And it's amazing. And I laugh more, smile more, *think* more, enjoy the inside jokes more with the teens than ever before. (It was pretty fantastic to begin with, so this is really saying something.)

You have this ability to find beauty in weird places.
~ Kamila Shamsie, Kartography 

My music exposure, which had pretty much stalled out at whatever I listened to in 1998, has exploded with new stuff, all courtesy of the boys.

They challenge me to maintain the same levels of integrity we've taught them to expect.

And yet, they're still learning, still growing, still trying things out and discarding what doesn't work (sometimes picking it up and trying it again, just to be sure). In these man-sized bodies, with these Titan-sized dreams, there are still the kernels of the large-pawed puppies they were just a couple of years ago. Beside that, there are echoes of the little boy with his pet slug, his favorite cape, tugging my arm to show me a wren's nest... and the whole thing collapses in on me, sometimes every day, sometimes several times a day. I don't always know what to do with it. It's weird.

Know what's weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything's different.
~ Bill Watterson

They still bring me their treasures, and I still cherish them, but it's with a quieter awe that I accept them, now. I get how much it means to share your most valuable gifts with someone, and I'm freakishly honored that they still share them with me.

So if you notice your friends who once told such hilarious and delightful stories about their children suddenly get a little hush-hush, don't panic. Look for the twinkle in their eyes, the laugh that escapes in the pause of a sentence, the little head-shake and loss of words. It just means life gets a little weird sometimes. It'll be okay. It'll be better than okay.

Be the weirdest little weird in all Weird Town.
~ Grace Helbig

Always, always kiss those babies!