Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why the Bachelor will never work

So last night I got SUCKED into watching The Bachelor on TV. The DH likes to fall asleep to tv and he's had it on a few times so as a result I'm familiar with the show (even though I try to tune it out. I try so hard! But when women are biting chunks out of soda cans with their teeth to get the Bachelor's attention it's darn HARD to turn away!!!) So when DH said, "Oh, come on! You know you want to see who he picks!" I was like, "Drat you!!! I HATE this show!!" And then I stayed up until 11pm watching it while he snored next to me.
But I just have to say, first of all, I think it is one of the stupidest reality tv shows they've come up with- and that's a big insult due to the sheer volume of HORRID reality tv programming. The concept of having one hunky bachelor and 20+beautiful women competing for him with the idea that he'll meet "Mrs. Right" and they'll get married and have babies is pure rubbish. It never works. It never will.
That is not how men operate.
Men are hunters. They like the chase. This is not a secret- it's one of those universal truths that has existed since the beginning of time. As a rule, men do not like for women to pursue them. Flirting? Yes. Come hither glances? Yes. Returned phone calls? Sure. But doing outlandish things to get attention (singing opera, pole dancing, biting into cans (I can't get over that one!)- and beggaring oneself with every phrase under the sun that means "pick me!!!"- not what men want. I'm rather confident of this, having been around a few times on the dating carousel myself.
So why do the guys do it? Because just as much as I've never known a guy who wanted to marry a forward woman who was trying to run him to ground, I've also never met one who wouldn't want to be surrounded by dozens of beautiful women who all WANT HIM. I mean, really- what red-blooded man doesn't want that? It's a dream come true.
Of course, after he's lived in a fantasy world of intricately planned over-the-top dates and weekends in Barbados, he may think he's made a match. And then they have this final (and ridiculous) rose ceremony where the Bachelor gets on one knee (in front of cameras, of course) and gives a pretty speech and tells his bachelorette how he's fallen head over heels, and won't she marry him? Cue the doves and flower petals.
And then, a few months later, we read in People magazine that they aren't together anymore- it "didn't work out."
I guess once the romantic villas and lavish dates and tv cameras go away, these two people finally realize that they really don't know each other at all. He doesn't know she can't cook. She doesn't know what a whiny sick patient he'll be. He doesn't know how to reconcile their different goals for the future. She doesn't know how to reconcile their religious beliefs. He doesn't know that she has a lot of childhood baggage that plays into some major family drama. She doesn't know that his childhood dream is to move to the woods and build a cabin. He doesn't know that she likes to get up and run first thing in the morning. She doesn't know that he likes to sleep in until noon and exercise in the evening. He doesn't know that Jim Carrey impressions can always make her laugh. She doesn't know that letting him have 10 minutes with the paper when he gets home from work makes all the difference.
They don't know anything. Their relationship is a castle of sand to be crushed by the first big wave because it's imaginary. There is nothing real about it, aside from a sexual attraction and maybe some basic friendship/camaraderie.
And still I watch.
So what I'm wondering is who is stupider- them or me?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Inez got it right.

My grandmother, Mary, is one of 7 children. She was born and raised on a farm in the Carolina mountains. Her mother, Inez, like most women of her generation, was responsible for the household - washing, sewing, mending, cooking, cleaning, etc.- with NO modern conveniences. They had an outhouse. Inez put three hot (and reportedly delicious) meals on the table each day. (They never ate at a restaurant as there weren't any in the tiny town where they lived.) She even performed chores that don't appear on my radar, like wringing the necks of chickens, plucking their feathers, and lots of other GROSS things like that. On top of being a good home-maker, my great-grandmother is remembered as a fun-loving, sweet and kind person who loved to laugh.
Lately, I have been thinking about her more and more.
I have 2 kids (as opposed to 7 !), a dishwasher, plumbing, washing machine and dryer, Target, Wal-Mart, a variety of take-out restaurants nearby, a car, paper plates, a husband who helps out around the house (usually), and no need to ever lay one stitch in a piece of fabric unless I want to do so. And yet, at the end of many days, I feel completely whipped by this life. Spent. Overwhelmed.
And then, thinking about Inez, I feel SILLY.
Very silly.
I am sure that my lifestyle would look like the lap of luxury to her. But I can't bury this sneaking suspicion that somehow, her life had a different quality. Something less complex- the original "simple life." I think back then people had more clearly defined roles. While they may have been limiting, they were also freeing in a sense. I don't imagine that Inez ever worried about how she would supplement the family's income- that wasn't her job. Inez didn't have to keep up her professional credentials so that she could re-enter the workforce at any given time- that wasn't part of her duty. Inez didn't have to battle time-draining technology like email and cell phones and yes, the Internet. Inez certainly didn't (according to first-hand reports) spend a moment worrying about entertaining her kids!
She loved her kids. She was a wonderful mother. She made sure all their needs were met. But entertainment? Not so much.
I've been reading John Rosemond. (Can you tell?) I used to think he was a right-wing fundamentalist meanie. Now I think he's just RIGHT.
He talks about how upside-down many of our child-rearing practices are today. Let me quote a few lines from my new favorite book, New Parent Power:
"In the years since World War II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. Along the way, child-rearing has become "parenting," with all its high-pressured implications. ... Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that children are the most important members, and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. The more child-centered the American family has become, the more demandingly self-centered American children have become. And the more demanding the children, the more demanding the task of raising them." (And he says so much more. I highly recommend his book.)
And reading his text, I realize that I've fallen into the trap, too. Again and again, I fall in. I spend hours planning activities to do with my children. I carefully analyze our toys- which ones are best? What toy should I buy next? I spend most of my time interacting with them, playing with them, supervising them. (Somewhat necessary since Brother is still a little fellow.) The house falls down around me but I can't clean it because the children demand my attention. Supper is take-out again because the children demand my attention. There is not one ounce of energy left in me at the end of the day to feed my marriage because the children drink every last drop.
And, honestly, isn't it all too much already? Do they really NEED this? Is it even good for them? Or am I doing them a disservice by creating two people who are dependent on someone else for their entertainment/ happiness?

Surely Inez didn't wrack herself with guilt that she couldn't spend the morning playing in the floor with her children. I don't think it even occurred to her. Between cleaning up from a hot breakfast for 9, maintaining her home, and preparing lunch and supper for 9 plus the field hands, I doubt there was much time for her to entertain her kids with puppet shows and design "learning centers" for them. I mean, SERIOUSLY.
So how did these poor un-played-with children fare in the cold, cruel world? Did they overcome this terrible lack of playrooms and toys and preschool programs and mothers-who-do-amazing-craft-projects-with-them? Let's see what they became:
Son #1- Economic Whiz and self-made millionaire
Son #2- College Professor
Daughter #1- Teacher and Home-maker (wife to town Mayor)
Daughter #2- Teacher and Home-maker (wife to state Senator)
Son #3- College Professor, agricultural entrepreneur, real-estate investor, self-made millionaire
Daughter #4- Teacher and Home-maker (wife to heart surgeon)
Son #4- Professional farmer who took over the home-place
And that's only their "measurable, "worldly successes. They also had happy marriages and wonderful families- lots of children. They were all very active in their churches. NONE of them ever divorced.
In looking at what their childhood lacked, I'm trying to figure out what it HAD. Because THAT'S what I want to give my kids.
Yes, I live in a different era. There is no changing it. And I am surely thankful that I don't have to wring a chicken's neck for my dinner tonight. Or sew our clothes. Or hand-wash our laundry.
And I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with craft projects, or toys, or preschool.
But I'm rethinking some things.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Have you seen this going around? It's kind of fun.

So me...

So not me...

So me...

So not me...

So me...

So not me...

So me...

So not me...

So me...

So not me...

Gee, this is fun. I could do this all day, except that I have some chores to do. Anyone else want to play? If you do, tell me in the comments so I can check your blog!

Monday, April 21, 2008

lamest post ever

I've been feeling guilty about being so many days between posts when I realized that:
1) Everyone is doing it! Spring is in the air.
2) I'm not supposed to care, because I blog without obligation.

So there.
And I know I promised to post my "weird" post but I lost steam on that. Thing is, I need to be in a weird mood to finish it, and that just hasn't happened in the last few days.
Grumpy? Yes. Stressed? Yes. Happy? Yes. Relaxed? Yes. Sleepy? Yes. Hyped-up? Yes.
Weird? Ummmm, no. But I'm due for some weird any minute. So that post should be forthcoming.
I've also been busy. Saturday I taught a class for teachers and administrators on how to integrate the arts into their teaching of the "basics." It's one of my "passionate topics" and I love the mental stimulation of preparing for the classes. I'll be teaching for the next four Saturdays. Having me work weekends definitely adds to the stress around here, but it's also a good thing. It's nice to actually MISS my kids, you know? (Not to mention making some extra cash.)

Yes, this is my lamest post ever. Sorry!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who, me?

I'm working on a weird blog post (that will reveal my weird, weird imagination) but I just had to post here to say that the lovely Jennifer has given me a blog award! I know most of you have gobs of them, but this is my first one and I'm oh, so excited. Here 'tis:

It's the blog of distinction award given to "a blogger who makes you laugh, cry, think, or sigh."

I feel so honored! For me to do any of those things for Jennifer is a thrill, because she is an excellent blogger with diverse (and very interesting) topics, and I always make sure to read her blog when I can THINK because it's worth it. You know? So, thanks Jennifer!!!

And now I must pass it on. So here it goes:

To Beck, of course, because she makes me laugh, cry, think and sigh all the time (usually all in one blog post.) She's probably been given this kind of award 10 dozen times, but still I must give it to her!

And to Kate-who I found through mini-swap and who I love to read because of her ability to make her daily life sound so lovely. (Lots of sighs! Just check out that banner photo!)

OK- I hope to have my weird, sci-fi post up tomorrow. Maybe the next.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scarlett gets what she wants

Last weekend my DH flew to a far-away location to visit with his 82-year-old grandmother on her birthday, and join the related family festivities. I fled to my mother's house (locally) because I am a BIG CHICKEN and am afraid to stay in my house alone.
I thought I would get lots of blogging done, but I didn't anticipate one obstacle: Brother. I set up his Pak-N-Play in my mom's guest room/office and every time I could have gotten on the computer, he was sleeping in there! So, I had an unplanned vacation from the Internet. It wasn't a bad thing, but I missed you guys!
Anyway, this weekend was also our local school's consignment/rummage sale. I love this sale. It's HUGE and is geared towards all things kid-related (baby stuff, gear, equipment, toys, clothes, books, etc.) I always score some awesome deals and have so much fun shopping. This year I consigned some things and also signed up to work the sale on Saturday. If you consign or volunteer, you get to come shop the pre-sale Friday night (and cherry-pick all the good stuff!)
So here comes the story:
Friday morning I was helping with the set-up and I spied the golden prize: a like-new Schwinn double jogging stroller with a bike hitch! Now, this is not something I wanted. This is something my sweet sister-in-law has been wanting (and talking about non-stop) for months. She and my brother are teachers and live on peanuts, so buying a $300 stroller is out of the question. She's been scouring yard sales and the Internet forever, but hasn't found the stroller in her price range.
But Friday morning, there it was- shiny and in great shape and only fifty bucks!!!
I was so excited. And when I told my SIL, she was ecstatic. We were both on pins and needles all day, waiting for the pre-sale to start.
Now, here's the deal. The pre-sale started at 7:oo on Friday night. In the past we've had problems with people starting the shopping before 7:00 and pushing things to the side and marking them "sold" throughout the day. Not fair. Not cool. So this year the girl running the sale made a point to say that nothing was to be moved or sold until 7:00.
So, SIL and I arrived at the building at 6:30- we were first in line!- and stood there waiting and looking at the beautiful stroller gleaming at us from across the cafeteria. We had 30 minutes to kill, and so we chatted with the other women who were there finishing the set-up. Suddenly, at 6:50, SIL looks at me and says, "Susan! The stroller is gone!"
I looked. She was right. It had disappeared. I was stunned. And then I got angry. Someone was breaking the rules. I stepped into the room and saw what had happened. There is always a wall of tables set up for vendors (selling new things like monogrammed clothes, Discovery Toys, etc.) One of the vendors had left her table and snaked that stroller- pushing it over to the wall near her spot!
So I said something to one of my friends who was setting up. She went and said something to the woman in charge, who went and told the vendor she couldn't do that. So the vendor apologized and pushed the stroller back into the room- about 3 feet from her table! Meanwhile SIL and I are about 30 yards away at the door.
I knew exactly what would happen. As soon as they opened the sale at 7:00, she would just step out and grab that stroller. My SIL looked like she could cry. "Oh, well," she said, "I guess it's gone."
I was TICKED. "Um, no- not yet." I said through clenched teeth.
I stood there and tried to think what to do. I am not an aggressive person. I do not like confrontation. I am not good at approaching people in situations like that. And I have reached a point where material things are NOT worth relationships. But my SIL deserved that stroller. And we were following the rules. If one of the women who busted her fanny organizing and working that sale had wanted the stroller, that's one thing. But for some random vendor to take advantage of her ability to be in the building before the start of the sale and snake that stroller- well, I just couldn't let that go.
Next thing I know, I'm walking across the room to the vendor.
I smile sweetly, "Hi. I am so sorry, and I hate to do this, but I saw you push this stroller over here and I need to tell you that I've been here for 30 minutes at the front of the line so I could buy it."
The vendor (a very lovely woman) stared at me and said, "Oh."
"Then you can have it."
I said, "No- I want to be fair. The sale is starting in 3 minutes. You want the stroller and I want the stroller. What if we flip a coin?"
She was very nice. She smiled and said, "OK. That sounds fair!"
I called heads. (I wasn't feeling nice enough to let her call it.)
She was very gracious in defeat and laughed, "I guess it was meant to be yours!"
We talked another minute and then I started walking back across the room to my SIL. Then I noticed another woman swooping in on the stroller! Geez!
So, I went back and planted my hand on that stroller and waited until the sale was officially open. The look on my SIL's face when she saw me pushing that stroller toward her was priceless. And I had so much adrenaline pumping from that little encounter that I shopped like I was on Speed for the rest of the night.
SIL has spent the last 5 years playing Melanie Wilkes to my Scarlett O'Hara. Tiresome, I'm sure.
But sometimes it's nice to have Scarlett on your side.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where have I been? Man, life is clipping past me at quite a rapid pace. Between DH's work, negotiating, re-negotiating, and re-re-negotiating a contract on our house, having it inspected, and spending what seems like hours on the phone with our realtor, there just aren't many spare moments. But in the ones I do have, I've been scheming.
I am determined to make my hours home with my children more enjoyable and more productive. Right now it's survival mode; keep Brother from seriously injuring himself. Keep Sister from watching too much tv, keep the siblings playing nicely, keep the clutter from swallowing me whole. By 6:00 every day I feel very, how shall I say... put out. And just in time for the DH's homecoming! So lovely.
I don't like this attitude. It's too much Eyeore, too little Tigger. (A la The Last Lecture .) So, I'm scheming. And if I had time, I'd share my scheme with you. As it is, a bottom needs wiping, a boy needs bathing (desperately!) so I'd better run along.
I shall return.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cowboys- the ideal birthday gift

The other day as we left school, Sister had a little crisis because she NEEDS some plastic fairies like the ones shared by her classmate that day during Show-And-Tell. She was rather distressed that I wouldn't drive straight to the store to pick some up. We had a little talk about waiting for special occasions to get special toys. When we got home I offered to help her create a list of things she'd like to receive for her birthday. Seeing me record her heart's desires seemed to make the wait a little more bearable. Would you like to see what Sister really wants for her birthday?

Sister's Birthday List:

1. Fairies

2. Dolls

3. Cowboys

4. Toothbrushes

5. Greeting Cards

I realize that the last 2 items are rather unconventional gift requests for a 3 and 1/2 year old, but number 3 was what really caught my eye: cowboys.

I have no idea where she came up with this one. Cowboys have not been a big topic in our house, we don't watch any cowboy shows on TV, etc. But I think Sister is on to something. Cowboys are exactly what's wanted around here.
Just think of the excitement and adventure that would result from adding some cowboys to our household mix. Sure, I'd have to install a few spittoons, and maybe swinging doors on the front of our house instead of the traditional front door. And I suppose there would be a much higher chance of manure being tracked in on my rug, and I'd have to add a LOT more meat to the crock pot.
But cowboys are worth it. *sigh*
And Sister, at the ripe old age of 3, has already figured it out.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dear Blog

I have realized that this blog has become something akin to the Strawberry Shortcake diary I had when I was 11. It even had a little lock with a little, tiny key. I hid it under my mattress because I was such a SLY 11-year-old. (I hope my mom enjoyed the reading. My brother told me years later that he certainly did. Brat.)
Like the diary, this blog has become a place to record my extremes. I seem to turn to it when I'm in a mood of some sort- frustrated, or exasperated, or depressed, or just full of myself.
Dear Blog, My husband is gone all the time!
Dear Blog, This has been the worst day!
Dear Blog, my toddler won't eat his vegetables!
Dear Blog, My mom won't buy me the Benetton sweater! She's so mean! (that one is actually from the Strawberry Shortcake diary... vintage 80's)
Waa waa waa...
And I guess that's OK, because this blog is for me anyway, and maybe I have regressed to my 11-year old mentality of needing a place to vent all my strong emotions. Hanging out with a 1-year-old and 3-year-old all day, every day, will do that to you. I've got more strong emotions than stubbly hair on my legs at this stage in my life. (And that's a LOT.) Aside: Brother actually rubbed my leg the other day and said "Furry" in his sweet little voice with a big smile on his face. And then, with an even bigger smile- "Momo!"
Yes, sweetheart- fur. Just like Elmo. At least one male member of the household likes it.
As I was pondering my little blogging revelation, I came across this blog entry. It hits the nail on the head. So go read it, why don't you.
Anyway, I would just like you to know, for the record, that I'm actually a normal person. And that if we were friends, you would find me one of the most laid-back and even-keel women you know. (I hide my feelings very well.)
Happy weekend, and enjoy your glimpse under my mattress.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

one of those days

Oh, man. It's been one of those days, brought on by one of those weeks.
DH has had a crazy schedule. He hasn't been home much before 8pm this week and I'm not used to that. I feel like a single mom who is also expected to have a man-pleasing meal on the table and be a good evening companion. (As opposed to collapsing on the sofa in my rattiest sweatpants once the kids go to bed.) Not DH's fault at all, though- I know he'd rather be home with us. But it just makes for some LONG days.
I woke this morning at 5:00 (after also being wakened at 2:00 by Sister who needed her covers put back on!) to hear Brother coughing and crying. He went back to sleep- I couldn't.
When he did wake for the day, he had a nasty runny nose and a general fussy disposition. Poor thing seems to have caught a cold. Naturally, the morning dawned rainy and chill, and the weather hasn't improved.
Last night I read the first part of Amanda's book and sternly told myself, you CAN be this kind of parent. You CAN!
But by 10:00 am I was desperate to get them out of the house (one sibling quarrel too many) and so where did I go on a cold, rainy day with sickly children? Target, of course! An hour later, after an in-store Fruit Loop gorge, we emerged with foam letters for Brother's bath time, new swimsuits, a pretend beauty parlor set for Sister, a frozen pizza for lunch, and a new Barney video. Yes, a Barney video. I'm that tired. (So much for being a SouleMama today!)
It didn't really help. Brother is just so fussy- he fussed at the Barney video and he scattered his letters all over the bedroom and he drove Sister nuts as he kept running over and snatching her little beauty parlor things while she was trying to give Madeline a makeover. I was quite glad to put him down for his nap, bless his little heart.
Now I've had a 20 minute cat-nap and feel ready to face the afternoon. (DH will be late once again- he has to attend a PTA luau at his school. Sheesh! It never ends...)
However, chin up! I have a plan for rainy-day-sick-kids-long-afternoon-survival:
The bean-bin with scoops, cups, bowls, etc. (This is such a mess that I only pull it out when I'm desperate.)
this matching game
watercolor paints
this book with body crayons (stored in a chest for just such a rainy day)
I hope these combined activities get us until at least 6:00. And we're totally eating leftovers tonight. Cooking is so out.
Maybe I can be a SouleMama tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

crafty link!

You know how you'll see some genius craft idea to do with your kids on a blog (and think you'll remember it) only to find that 3 weeks later, when you're ready to give it a shot, you can't remember the details OR which blog it was on? Well, check it out- Crafty Crow is a new blog collaborative that links to some of the coolest kid-crafting ideas out there in blogland. I'm loving the concept, and the projects that she's already posted look great.
I found it via Mary Beth at Salt and Chocolate, and I must tell you that if you want to know what kind of attitude you should have when your baby is diagnosed with cancer, then go read Mary Beth's blog. She is amazing to me.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ha ha

OK. Since I've been so HEAVY on this blog lately, I decided to lighten things up. Here is a great story my DH brought home from school recently.
He was observing a kindergarten teacher as she was teaching a science lesson. It was something about gravity and force, and he said she was doing a great job. The kids were totally "into it." I must mention that this wonderful teacher is also rather overweight. You'll see why I had to mention that fact in a moment.
The teacher held up a stick with a rope and ball attached to the end. She asked the kids to observe what happened to the ball when she swung the stick. She started spinning the stick, and of course, the little ball went flying into orbit. The kids were riveted, and so when the teacher asked, "Boys and girls- what do you observe?" a little girl piped right up, "Ms. S! When you do that, the fat under your arm goes back and forth real fast!"
My husband said he almost died laughing (as quietly as he could.) The teacher, being the pro that she is, laughed too, and told the little girl that she had made a very accurate observation.
Kids are so funny!
Hope you have a great April Fool's Day. We're having a birthday bash at my house tonight for my Dad- a true April Fool (in the best sense.) I wonder if being born on this day was what made him so fun to be with and so good-humored? I'm attempting to make a clown cake that Sister saw in a fancy cookbook and just HAD to have for Pop's birthday. If it's decent, I'll post a picture tomorrow.
I'm off to bake!