Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Glimpses: February 2016

So we have these two adorable ginger kittens, Fred and George, who are fast becoming not so adorable---they need to be neutered before they turn into awful tom cats.  Unfortunately, in order to get them neutered, I have to establish them as veterinary patients first—and the vet won’t fix the kitties until they have all their shots, which are done in series—so we began that this month. Note to self---never take on free kittens. If you must have kittens, get them from the humane society---animals can’t leave the shelter until they are altered and vaccinated—Boom, done in one day (and for WAAAAY cheaper than at a vet’s office.) 


My kids had a piano performance this month called Monster Concert—10 or 15 pianos on stage, with two or three kids at each piano—all trying to play the same song in sync with a conductor.  Each concert has a theme, this year’s was “The Roaring Twenties.” Normally, we enjoy the hour-plus concert, but this time, since our kids performed early in the concert, we rounded them up and bailed as soon as they were done.  We’d had an incredibly busy week, with a still busier weekend in the making and snatched ourselves away as soon as we could to enjoy some ALL TOGETHER family time—at our favorite family restaurant, Chik-Fil-A.  This night’s meal was compliments of Christmas gift cards from Grandpa Gordon and Grandma Jen.  They know us well.


Ellen needs to log more driving hours before she can take her driver’s license test, so I let her drive me and the kids to some friends’ house, about thirty minutes away.  She did great, though we had one white knuckle moment when she took a corner a LEETLE too fast!  She cackled at my reaction, which made me think she swerved around the turn on purpose.  I freaked out on her for taking risks to scare me, before I realized she hadn’t intended to take the corner so hard and sharp, and that she had only laughed out of stress and relief that nothing bad happened. I should have known---Ellen is NOT the daredevil in the family. Where she learned silliness in response to stress, I have noooOOOooo idea.


Neenie is learning how to read and write—I LOVE this stage---it’s so awesome to listen to her sound out words and try to spell them.  Also, I love the prolific artwork she produces.  The kids have taken to calling the bean-bodied, stick-limbed portraits “Potato People.”  Here is Potato People MOM. I cannot get over the Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows and disgruntled expression. Clearly, she’s been studying me.


Have you ever heard the story of Beyonce, the five foot metal chicken?  Well, I found Beyonce’s BFF.  I fell in love with this flamingo at the local craft store and now I yearn for it. Someday, my precious, you will be mine. And all your little friends, too.

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My kids are as obsessed with Star Wars as I am with Harry Potter, so---somehow, they got it into their heads that because we have an annual Harry Potter month, we should have a Star Wars month as well.  I’m going to be honest here, Star Wars is not my jam.  But, February is hard for homeschoolers because BURNOUT.  Star Wars seemed the perfect thing to motivate the kids in their academics, so---we’re in the thick Jedi/Darth/Sith shenanigans.  We have painted rocks to look like SW characters, played a “drinking game” while watching Episode IV.  Of course, we substituted candy for shots. (I STILL couldn’t make it through the movie without falling asleep---Skittles and chocolate chips notwithstanding.) We have listened to the Star Wars soundtracks and read a biography about George Lucas.  Also, we are reading Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope” and I am LOVING it.  The movie is boring and doesn’t make sense to me, but somehow it’s unbelievably awesome written out in iambic pentameter.  I thought my kids would only find it tolerable, but I was delighted to see they enjoy the absurdity of such a mash-up of language patterns and pop-culture.  I have discovered the intergalactic portal to the love of REAL Shakespeare.  I am over the moons of Tatooine about this.


Finally, the weather has been pretty awesome for February and the kids are spending lots of time outdoors.  Here’s a shot of the kids playing “blob tag” at our regular “game day” with friends—it’s like one big 3 hour recess!


Monday, February 8, 2016

A Scarlet Letter

I don’t know what it is about Sunday nights, but every single Sunday night, as I lie down in bed, I start stressing over the coming week—first and foremost, the thought of getting enough sleep to be able to successfully get through my 5:30 AM kickboxing class and STILL function for the rest of the day/week. 

Inevitably, no matter how early I go to bed, I toss and turn and fret and stress over the time ticking away as I can’t sleep and think about how each minute I’m not sleeping will make it that much harder to function the next day what with getting up so ridiculously early.  Then, I start thinking how much I hate getting up that early and how even though I do it, it doesn’t seem to be doing me any good and only stressing me out---all that work and sacrifice of sleep to not lose an ounce, not get faster or even really stronger, or any closer to my goal of getting fit so I can go do this dumb Krav Maga instructor thing.  My only gains? Exhaustion, anxiety, and frustration. And injuries and achy joints.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.  Well, all hail the Queen of Insanity.  As I lay in bed tonight, I took a hard look at myself and my absolute inability to convert from being a night person into a highly productive morning person and thought, “Is this really worth my time? Am I really ever going to become something I’m not? Because I am not seeing results. Not even any. And I am tired. And there is no value added here.  This dream is bankrupt, but I keep putting in deposits. This is ridiculous and insane and stupid.  I am insane and stupid to be putting myself through this.  What on earth makes me think I can do any of this crap long term? Because I can’t even do it short-term!” 

The ONLY thing that keeps me going at this point is that if I bail out of this Krav Maga instructor thing and admit defeat/disinterest/apathy to my instructor, he’ll see me as a failure. But maybe, I don’t care anymore. I’m too damn tired to care anymore. 

Oh, and I’ve had a couple of friends ask me that if I quit now, what will it teach my kids?  If I give up on this goal I set, it will OBVIOUSLY teach them that I’m a quitter and a loser and that will set the example for them to become quitters and losers.  But then I argue back, in a lot of ways, I am already their example of what NOT to do---they have told me this—and I’m like, “yeah, well, good to see reverse psychology is working here, then. You’re welcome.”

It’s not like I NEED to do this Krav thing... it’s not like it will make me more employable.  It’s not like I NEED to do it to put food on the table.  I don’t even intend to become an actual paid instructor upon completion of the training and certification. I started this stupid thing to prove to myself that I COULD do it.  But, it’s been over three years since I made this goal, and I think it’s pretty damn obvious now that I CANNOT do it.  Also, I’m so incredibly stressed out over the fact that I’m getting older and it shows in my body and brain function.  It takes longer and longer to recover from anything. My body cannot keep up with the dream.

I should just throw in the towel and revel in becoming Jabba the Hutt. At least then I’d quit worrying about everything I put in my mouth and being unable to sleep despite all the breathing exercises and meditation and going-to-bed-early and honestly acquired EXHAUSTION.  Apparently, I was born to be a hedonist.  I come from a long line of night owls. I should embrace that.  All of my friends who are pushing or are well into their 40s have begun embracing the fact that they are middle aged.  They are letting go of the idea that if they work their butts off they will retain their svelteness and youth.  They have accepted this is fallacy and they are at peace. They have seen the light and it is a neon sign saying “Embrace your muffin top! Binge on Netflix and cookies!  It doesn’t get any better, so you may as well enjoy the ride to decrepitude.”

I long for this kind of self-acceptance.  As I was agonizing over my workouts and the struggle to eat right and lose weight, one friend said, “I’m done with all that. I’m ready to just be fat and happy.”  (And she is a healthy eater and NOT fat!!!) And  I was JEALOUS of her contentment. 

All my life I have agonized over not being “something” enough.  When I was young, I was not pretty enough (though I was thin then, and my mother often pointed out that at least I had THAT going for me.) I wasn’t witty enough, or cool enough, or whatever enough.  And I agonized over it.  Now, I’m finally in a place where I’m totally at peace not being “classically beautiful” or the sharpest tool in the shed.  I have embraced the fact that I am weird, think too outside the box for most people, don’t get sarcasm when directed my way, and that I’m a hopeless geek.  I’m DOWN with all that.  Like, I’m cool with all that.  I am a dork party of one and I am happy in my party hat, thankyouverymuch.

But with this stupid Krav Maga goal, I am angsting ALL THE TIME over the lack of progress in training and lack of weight loss and strength and stamina.  The angst is ALL CONSUMING. This kind of thing DRIVES some people, but it is ruining me. WHY do I insist on continuing?! This body just will not go any harder than it’s already going, no matter how many pep talks I give myself, no matter how much I push myself with harder, more frequent workouts and longer study sessions and lean protein and kale and complex carbohydrates.

Sometimes we must concede.  I realize that now.  Failure is part of life.  It sucks, but we must accept it and learn what we can.  I have beat this dead horse into hamburger. It is not going to rise up and walk again.  I am dropping the angst by dropping this goal.  I tried valiantly, but I just don’t have any more in me for this. It is not worth the time and stress I’ve put into it. This has been a non-value added goal, and I’m done. Quitting, with a capitol Q.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Photo dump: January in Pictures

I used to scrapbook—now I take pictures on my phone and forget to document anything.  Here is my attempt to capture the past month:

Calvin broke his left radius and ulna back in November.  One splint, two casts, and one surgery later, he got his final cast off on January 4th.  He was so happy to have that itchy, smelly thing come off (and so was I!)



Evelyn begins sounding out words on signs she sees.  (This was at the doctor’s office, the same day Calvin got his cast off.)  Evelyn is four and a half years old and I haven’t begun any official curriculum with her yet, she’s just picking things up as we go.  I love this “learning to read” stage.  She was so cute.  Now she wants me to help her spell everything as she writes it down.



Watching the State of the Union Address.



Proof that my kitchen does get clean. Sometimes I look at these pictures just to remind myself that dreams really do come true, if only in the three or four hours between meals.




Halfway into the month, I discovered the French Cafe station on Pandora and decided to play it every time I cook. I whip out my French accent and sing along as I concoct delicious, gourmet meals now---hahahahaha!  I even decided to make a French meal—or the American, “whatever I have in the pantry” approximation: Croque Monsieur sandwich, grapes, and green beans (French cut, does that count?!)



One weekend, I was moving stuff around in the garage. It was cold, so I came inside to grab my hat.  Calvin took one look at me and asked, “Planning a heist?”



Alan Rickman died this month. I am taking it very, very hard.  Even though I never knew him personally, the characters he portrayed and the stories he told through his work, and his personal contributions to humanity and the arts impacted me deeply, and have made me a better person.  He will be terribly missed.The kids and I saluted him with hot chocolate and words from a traditional Scots/Irish farewell song, The Parting Glass:

Of all the comrades that e'er I had
They're sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had
They'd wish me one more day to stay

But since it fell into my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I'll gently rise and softly call
"Good night and joy be to you all"

Rest in peace, sir.



We celebrated Julio’s birthday with a little party at home with just the family.  Gloria made his cake.  I got to set it on fire.



We discovered a little pioneer cemetery in our town, tucked between the railway and a new housing subdivision.  A total of 12 people are buried there, nine of whom were children.  It is believed that everyone there died in from a diptheria epidemic.  The Kuna Historical Society located 11 of the 12 graves and set up the markers. Volunteers keep the area litter free and place flags and trinkets on the graves, and maintain the fencing, the sign, and the plaque wall indicating who is buried there.


One of the people buried there is known only as an “Immigrant Woman.”  I wondered where she was from and what her name was. I wondered if she spoke English and how long she had lived in Kuna before she died.  I guess we’ll never know.


I snapped this picture of the rainclouds at twilight outside my house---I loved the velvety blue gray of the skies and the drizzle and the smell of rain—it was so beautiful, and kind of mysterious looking!



Our town is not very big, and apparently our only claim to fame is being the “Gateway” to various natural attractions—which are kind of lame in my opinion—the pioneer cemetery, the Kuna Cave, The Birds of Prey Conservation Area (okay, that is pretty cool, but not really exciting to look at), and a few other little things.  Nevertheless, I took the kids on a field trip to explore our little town.  Other than the cemetery and our maybe half a mile of greenbelt along an irrigation canal, there wasn’t much to see, but the kids were undaunted. The kids read the ‘Historical” plaques at the tiny Kuna City Visitor’s Center, and magically discovered the history in everything they found.20160125_155938


“Ooh, look!  A historic, abandoned Nerf dart!”


“There’s a historic restroom!”


“A historic volleyball court!”


And finally, the highlight of the trip,  a trip to the “historic” fast food joint, Arctic Circle, for ice cream.


What a month!