Photos: September 2008 Archives

30

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One of the things I've learned in my 30 years here on earth is that you can never have enough good friends. To repurpose a Flannery O'Connor title, a good friend is hard to find. I'm lucky in that I have found quite a few.


They celebrated my birthday with me over the weekend, right before I woke up Sunday with a sore throat. I blamed allergies, except the pain grew worse and by the time I was on air Sunday night my throat was on fire and I was barely able to get through my show. During every commercial break I'd gargle coffee and suck the life out of cough drops. Monday morning I woke up barely able to swallow; a trip to the doctor revealed that all four of us had strep and were feverish. Chris, the boys and I wandered aimlessly through the aisles at Schnucks while we waited for our massive prescriptions of antibiotics. I sat down in the magazine aisle and stared at the ceiling.

 

I'm still recovering and on a massive dose of antibiotics and am in a cold-med induced haze. Fun! I have to be in top shape to cover the VP debate this Thursday for the station.

 

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. At one point during the birthday celebration evening, I gasped to my friends "Oh my word. Remember that show our parents watched? 'Thirtysomething?' OH MY WORD that's about US."

 

As it turns out, turning 30 wasn't so bad after all.

Discipline

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One evening as I was making dinner the boys were running and hollering all throughout the house. They raced into the living room and began jumping on the sofa; from the sofa to the ottoman; from the ottoman to the chair. They have been warned against doing this repeatedly; whenever they scoot the sofa off the rug it puts a scratch in the floor. Whenever they trounce on the cushions it breaks them down. Time outs, being grounded, standing in the corner, none of these punishments have penetrated through their hard heads to make a difference.

 

I felt the threat booming out of my mouth before I realized that it was my voice. Make it a threat you can cash! screamed the voice in my head.

 

"If you boys don't stop jumping on and destroying our furniture I'm going to jump on YOUR beds and show you what it's like!" I hollered as I stuck some rolls in the oven. The boys rolled their eyes and ignored me as though I were nothing more than a cigar store Indian.

 

Chris came home; I pushed him to correct them; he gave it a half-hearted "Boys! Listen to your mother!" They didn't stop. I'd had enough. I ripped off my apron and stomped upstairs, letting the force of my footfalls express my utter disdain for their behavior. I stomped into their room, right over to Liam's bed, climbed on top and jumped up and down as hard as I could. I upset the meticulous pile of stuffed animals lying on top and they flew everywhere. I BROUGHT THE RAIN. The bed creaked, the floor groaned, the house shook, the mattress flapped as though both ends were bird's wings.

 

"DANA!" Chris shouted from downstairs.

 

"I! TOLD! THEM!" I hollered back and put more effort into it. My head almost met my knees in mid-jump. I heard shrieks well up from first floor about the time I jumped across the room to Ewan's race car bed. The thick plastic didn't protest as much so I began losing interest.

 

"MOM'S CRAZY!" Liam shouted as he dashed up the stairs.

 

"MY MANIMALS!" Ewan cried.

 

"OH!" I said, standing triumphant at the head of the race car bed. "Oh - I see how it is. It's perfectly OK for you to disobey your parents and jump and climb all over every piece of furniture we have in this house, is it? But your stuff is off limits?"

 

"Yes!" They shouted.

 

"Sorry, that's not how it works. If you jump on mom and dad's furniture we get to jump on yours. And I can't tell you how much I love jumping on little boys' beds."

 

They looked at me as though I had lost it. I left the room so they could think about it and they went right to straightening their beds.

Something they never do unless nagged incessantly.

 

Have they jumped on our furniture since? No. Now they even put the quilts and blankets back properly after they use them. I am mentally high-fiving myself.  

 

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In other news, I turn 3-Oh on Sunday. I'm hiding out until it passes. Le sigh.

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(Also, please read the thing about the imposter if you haven't already. Thanks.)

Weekend recovery

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I'm still recovering from the conference this weekend and trying to attend to all the things that fell by the wayside last week. Liam has a cold and a fever so he's relaxing and doing worksheets and such from the sofa dressed as a ninja (Nana bought them costumes over the weekend) and Ewan is finger-painting while dressed as a police officer. The costume comes with a ridiculous, well-toned, pillowy sick-pack abdomen which makes him look even more delicious and buttery. When they nap, which should be soon, I'm going to try to reclaim some of my dining room from the books, canvases, and crayons, like in the above.

The days are getting shorter

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I've gone back and forth the past year about whether or not to create a "strictly-learning" space. When school started last year I transformed the third-floor playroom into a giant classroom, but it was too distracting for Liam to do his lessons there, I missed the French press in the kitchen on the first floor; plus I was too neurotic about paints and glue on the brand new Berber carpeting. A couple of months later and we somehow scooted all the way down the stairs to the first floor again, books, chalkboard and all, and took over the dining room. The playroom became a playroom once again. I was within steps of my French press. The boys could paint without me hovering over them. Liam was at the kitchen table instead of his small desk, where it was easier for Ewan to bother him and fiddle with his homework.

So every afternoon we hold court in the dining room and pretty much learn all over the house. We eat a simple breakfast and Liam practices his handwriting while I check email. We then power through phonics, spelling, history, math, and science. He does his reading and seatwork under how own will at points throughout the day. I don't nag him, except to remind him that his independent work is his responsibility and in order to get the mark it must be completed correctly by morning. I set his desk for him to work at in a far corner of our dining room where it's quiet and out of Ewan's sight.

All of his extra classes begin again in one week; Spanish, art, and gym. It's been a non-eventful summer for him - stressful and heinous for Chris and me - but the boys haven't noticed anything but summer afternoons full of games, tents outside, days in the sprinkler and nights catching fireflies. Summer is the only season that I can't stand to end. I always enter fall with what ifs and should haves. I don't linger on regrets though; I use them as motivation. Next summer maybe we'll get to take that ever elusive family vacation. We've never had one.

You know that summer you had as a kid, the summer where you took some big trip with your family or did something together that you will all talk and laugh about while sitting around the holiday table? Every kid has one. I feel as though I have to make every summer like that while I still have my chance. 

The Rules

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After his grandparents told him no wrestling around in the pews, Liam scratched this out on his lap at church. His grandfather has a game wherein he informs the kids "There will be none of this ..." and demonstrates that there will be a moratorium on headlocks, body-slamming, tickling, etc. by demonstrating it on the nearest grandkid. Probably sulking after being scolded, Liam drew this, rolled it up like a scroll, and delivered it to his grandpa, who showed it to Liam's grandmother and the two of them laughed.

I'm struggling to keep some things balanced, put out fires, and sometimes I wonder if what I signed up for is worth the trouble of everything I have to go through for it. Everyone has those days, I know. I just wish mine existed without things to make them more difficult than necessary. I'll take what I can get, I suppose.

Today marks our first official day of second grade. I'm still piecing together a homeschool resource page; I know some of you have emailed with a bunch of questions on everything from curriculum to how I schedule my time. I'm not ignoring them; I just I'm a bit slow in answering emails at the moment due to my workload. Thanks for your patience. I'll be here with more regularity, in a very non-fiber kind of way, as soon as we settle in to our new schedule and I can get Liam to stop feeding pencils to his new pencil sharpener.

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"