Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Technology Is Not My Strong Suit

I'm absolutely, down right, humiliated that it took me this long to figure out how to respond to blog comments. I used to have Disqus and then it went crazy and I couldn't figure out how to fix it because I am a computer moron. So I got rid of it. But then I couldn't respond to comments so people stopped commenting at all. Ever. Sometimes I would comment just beneath a comment but I knew they probably never, ever saw it. Tonight, I investigated and I figured it out and THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING IN MY OWN HEAD!

But back to me being a moron about computers.

I have grown up with computers. Think, Oregon Trail in 3rd grade with the tiny little green ox and the square that he pulled and everyone died of dysentery before we even made it to Independence Rock. And, okay, any time I had diarrhea as kid, I totally thought I was about to die of dysentery. But here's a thought: Can you even imagine having and/or dying of dysentery on THE OREGON TRAIL? It's not like having dysentery in the privacy of your own bathroom or, even, a hospital room. No. This was straight up, lay in the middle of your wagon with all the other wagons in your train only ten feet away, while you moan and groan and DIE OF DYSENTERY. So, in other words, THE STUFF NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF.

We got a computer when I was in middle school which was 100 years ago. Except actually, 21. Despite living most of my life with technology, I'm relatively device illiterate. When I'm teaching kindergarten and they ask if they can use the iPad, I secretly do a happy dance that they're usually password protected. Because it is embarrassing that five-year-olds know more about using an iPad than I do. Not that an iPad is actually a computer. (I just had to Google it because I typed that and thought, wait, maybe? But no. It's a tablet. Which I knew. I just didn't know if a tablet was considered a computer. Answer: no. At least according to Google. And Google knows everything.)

I spent time in 3rd grade last week and the lesson plans told me to pull in an alphasmarts cart and do keyboarding. This sounded technological and I was afraid. Not that I wouldn't be able to figure it out because I am not a complete moron (and, truth be told, it was ridiculously self explanatory) but because, more than kindergartners, 3rd graders would sense my weakness and prey on it like jungle cats in their prime.

This is why I am legitimately and irrationally terrified of 6th graders. And math beyond the 3rd grade.

Because while I have a college degree, the amount of math that I actually retained is limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division easy fractions and, occasionally, percentages. This is why I hang out mostly with kindergartners. Well, that and the fact that they're still stinkin' adorable and they don't usually say bad words or need deodorant.

All of this to say that today's youth should have been the ones to come over and take a look at my blogger page and teach me how to turn the reply to comments feature on. I'd have been able to say, "Hey! Thanks for your comment!" a long time ago. So, to all of you who have been leaving comments, THANK YOU! And to those who stopped because it seemed like I was ignoring them. I'M SORRY! I always replied to you in my head. I just couldn't seem to get the thoughts from my head into this new fangled notebook I do my writing on.

Yes, parents, I am responsible for shaping today's youth. But only every once in a while when their teachers are blowing their noses or attending training sessions or, heaven forbid, traveling the Oregon trail in a wagon and trying to avoid dysentery.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Dead End Path

I've noticed a correlation between my children's ages and the decline of blog posts. The older they get, the less I post. There are book reports and baseball games and track practice. Life is on the go and the posting is sporadic.

But there's another thing. I'd been working on a series which, maybe some day I will post. I was hoping to get to post it soon but life happened. It's no longer relevant. So, for now, the series will remain in draft form, dear to my heart but not available to my seven loyal readers--and the one lurker who thinks she knows the details of Matthew's adoption and leaves hateful comments even though she doesn't have a clue. 

Sometimes we're faced with a choice. It's a life altering, really enormous, gigantic choice. And we're standing at a crossroads looking down each way, unsure of what to do. One way is straight and we can see the end and it looks fine. It's comfortable. It's what we've always known. The other way is the path less taken and we cannot see the end but there's a promise that it's great. There are risks, to be sure, but we are continuously told that it will all turn out wonderfully in the end. We trust the people on the hill because they tell us they've been there before and everything looks great up ahead. There is an emotional toll. There may even be a financial toll. Still, we choose that path. We take the step. We walk boldly in the direction we chose. Because we have to know what's up there...

Sometimes, that path was a dead end. Someone had removed the sign long ago and we thought we were headed somewhere amazing. When we get to the dead end, we're pretty livid at all the walking we did, pretty annoyed that we climbed a hill to nowhere only to discover that there isn't even a view from here, pretty devastated, wishing we hadn't paid such high tolls. We examine ourselves. We ask why we went that way when the other option would have been infinitely better. But we remind ourselves that we never had a map. It was anyone's best guess. And we know that if we had gone the other way, we would never have known what was up that windy, steep hill and we always would have wondered.

And so we are angry. And we are sad. Because life didn't work out the way we thought it would. But at least we weren't left wondering.

Some day I may talk more about this winding path. Until then, wait on me. There's no need to ask others as this was, more or less, a personal and secret journey and others do not know.

See each choice you make is a kind of a loss
Each turn that you take
and each coin that you toss
You lose all the choices
you don't get to make
You wonder about 
all the turns you don't take

Saturday, May 21, 2016

#boymom v #momofboys

There is a difference between being a #boymom and being a #momofboys. Hear me out. If you have one, two, or even twelve sons, but you also have a daughter (or twelve) you are a mom of boy(s). You have them. You inherently understand the incessant obsession with battles and bugs and tree climbing. You know about that sweaty boy funk that settles in around third grade and never really leaves. At least, not until they make their acquaintance with a lady friend who won't come over if the gym socks are strewn about, stinking up the joint. You commiserate with every other mom of boys who has no idea how she's gonna feed them in a year. Or has already accepted a second job JUST so she can keep food in the refrigerator. If you have just one boy to love and raise, you get it.

You get the snuggles. You understand the quivering lip when he's struck out one too many times and he just needs a hug even though there's no crying in baseball. You know the privilege of raising these sweet little stink bombs.

But a boy mom is something different entirely.

A boy mom doesn't have daughters. Not even one. And it makes a difference. We wear our hashtag boymom label proudly because there is absolutely nothing to offset the testosterone that flings around our homes.

When my kids were itty bitty, my friend was in the thick of raising her four children. She has three boys and a girl. She knows weaponry and air soft. She knows video games and how to interpret grunts. She told me that the only thing that saved her sanity was having that girl. When she was plumb sick and tired of picking 32 towels up off the floor, that girl's towel was hung nicely on its rack. When she'd had a day and the boys came in barreling over one another and seeing who could fart the loudest, that girl sat down next to her on the couch and asked if she was alright. When everything smelled, that girl came down the hall wearing Cucumber Lime lotion from Bath and Body Works. She didn't love the girl any more than those boys. It's just that when she needed a break from the grease and the grime, she took the girl to the mall or they got a pedicure. Or both.

She is a #momofboy.

I am a #boymom. Strangely, no matter how often I clean my toilets, when I get down at their level for a good scrub, my nostrils are infiltrated by the festering smell of pee. I can't find it. Everything looks clean. But my house will, apparently forever, reek of urine. It's not that a "mom of boy" doesn't have this problem, but she's also got a teenage daughter burning a Sea Breeze candle in the other room or a little one squirting tests of perfume on her dainty wrist. THOSE SMELLS BALANCE THE PEE, Y'ALL.

We boy mom's got nothin'.

We've got baseball bags with stinky shirts wadded up in the bottom. We've got dirt and snips and snails and puppy dog tails. We've got BB guns and footballs and athletic cups lying in the middle of the floor. We've got time snowballing toward the day they will walk through the kitchen with armpit hair, mumbling a one word answer about how their day was while they grab all the food in the pantry on their way to their smelly man cave bedroom.

And we have all the joy of these sometimes mama boys, these tiny men who cling to us when they're sick or when their pride is wounded, these bed headed little wonders who look like Tasmanian devils while they're awake but angels while they sleep.

The truth is that we love these guys--irreparable pee smells and all--forever and for always. We feel pretty proud of the fact that God said, "You will parent only what you are not. I trust you with this. Good luck and Myspeed."

But since we don't get to balance all that testosterone with even a few, blessed drops of estrogen, can you let us have #boymom? We'll just be scrubbing mud out of the carpet (again) while we await your answer.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Love Languages

I've always been a sort of love language naysayer. It's not that I don't believe we have a way in which we prefer to give and receive love. It's just that I find it hard to believe there are only five. For example, I'm convinced that my love language is a good back rub. Sure, you might say this falls into the "Touch" category but I could really care less if someone is snuggling me or holding my hand. So, at the very least, these love languages have to have sub categories.

"What's your love language?"

"Touch. Sub category: Massage."

Another love language of mine--I totally have more than one--is chocolate.

All that said, I see elements of the whole love language phenomenon that are completely accurate and I try to give love the way I know my family needs to receive it.

I'm actually Acts of Service. Troy could buy me gifts, kiss me, spend time with me, and tell me he loves me until he's blue in the face but when that man gets down on the floor and scrubs it clean, my heart goes all a flutter.

I recently found an online quiz for kids. Matthew is technically too young but we did it anyway. The results were shocking to me. Troy and I would have bet the farm--if we had a farm to bet which we do not--that Garrett was Quality Time and Matthew was Touch. From the time he was a very little tyke, Garrett has just wanted to spend time with people. As much time as he possibly can. It's obnoxious because regardless of how much time you give that kid, he wants more. And, when he was little, Matthew may as well have climbed into my body because he simply couldn't get close enough to me to satisfy his need for physical touch.

I hadn't really thought about the fact that, as he's gotten older, Matthew's need to be held/snuggled/hugged constantly has waned. Garrett still wants to spend every waking moment with people and, when I tested them, Quality Time was high on his list. But, I was pretty surprised to see that...my boys were flipped.

Garrett's top love language was Touch. I suppose I should have seen it. He's nearly ten and still wants me to snuggle him every night. He'll still kiss both of his parents in public. He wants hugs. He'll reach over and take my hand and just hang onto it. He likes to be near people. Don't get me wrong, Quality Time is incredibly important to him and I think I need to do a better job of balancing both of these languages when I'm communicating love to him.

Matthew's love language came out as Quality Time. He's a different bird. Garrett's personality is a lot like mine and it's not terribly difficult for me to parent that--on most days. Matthew is the oil to my water. He's very different from me and I have to take a lot of steps back to figure out what works in parenting him. When I asked him to choose between the two choices in each scenario, he favored the Quality Time answer almost every time.

Initially, I was just doing it for fun, but I've decided that I can really use this new information--especially with Matthew. So, while I don't think the Five Love Languages are gospel truth or anything, they're definitely a tool to be used.

Especially when I need the floors cleaned.

Friday, May 6, 2016

(Ir)rational Fear

I had this dream that my family lived in New York City. We never left the apartment. Well, that's not entirely true. We left as long as wherever we needed to go was within walking distance. We lived like hermits. This was because I had an irrational fear that Matthew would make it onto the subway but the rest of us would not. My precious seven-year-old baby would be doomed to ride the subway alone for the rest of his life and we would never be reunited.

Never mind taxis. They never came in to play in this nighttime reverie. It was as though they'd never been invented. Or, at least, it was as though I couldn't afford to ride in one. Fact. And truth.

In this dream, I finally decided (after briefing the kids on exactly what to do if we got separated) to take them for an excursion. This was because I really wanted to walk around The Village and I really wanted a Magnolia cupcake.

Fact. And truth. I always want a Magnolia cupcake. I live my life with the constant underlying craving for them. Not to make light of actual addiction but I feel like this is what recovering addicts must feel like. I mean, they have it much, much worse, to be sure. But I am living with the constant notion that I just really need a Magnolia cupcake.

Anyway, the day was beautiful and Troy was at work (I don't know what kind of work he was doing in NYC but he was off doing it) and I took the boys to wander around Greenwich Village and eat cupcakes. I woke up nostalgic for the city and, also, craving a cupcake even more than normal.

This led me to wonder how many moms have this fear of losing their children in New York. How many of them lie awake at night worried that the next morning will be the day that little Brooklyn or Bronx or Hudson or Chelsea will get on the subway without her. Or, the reverse horror, that she will get on the subway and aforementioned New York theme named child will stand on the platform, blinking, as mommy rides away.

And then I remembered that I thought I lost Troy in a foreign country.

There we were, exhausted from flying from Salt Lake City to Tel Aviv. I had thrown up all day (or night) on the plane (it's hard to know when you're over international waters and the sun is up but it's midnight where you're from). I was at the very beginning of what would turn into the worst sinus infection I've ever had. We were taking a train and then a taxi to our hotel just off the crystal waters of the Mediterranean.

Troy was carrying 17 tons of canned chicken in an army bag.

Our tour guide had asked us to bring over a bunch of chicken for our group's lunches on account of chicken being $6000 dollars a can cheaper than it is in Israel. So, along with his luggage, Troy was toting an enormous amount of chicken on his back.

As the train pulled up, the kids and I hopped on. Troy began to toss luggage in to us. People piled in and suddenly, he was out of view. The doors closed and the train pulled away. My senses were overloaded. I still felt like vomit--both as something I needed to do as well as a general description of my countenance. I was so tired I felt like I'd been inserted into a cartoon where everything around me was happening in real time but I was, somehow, in slow motion. I had both children, one of which was only four, a heap of luggage (but, thankfully, not the 17 tons of chicken), and no husband.

Also, I don't speak Hebrew or Arabic.

Thankfully, most of them do speak English.

I had no idea if Troy had gotten on the train. I had no idea how long it would be before another train came along. I had no idea how I was getting both boys and all of our luggage off the train by myself at the appropriate stop before the doors closed and the train took off again.

I tried to logically form a plan. But I was exhausted. And also afraid that I was going to throw up on a whole bunch of people in a foreign country. Do I throw the kids off first or the luggage?

"Where's daddy?" the oldest asked.

I didn't have an answer.

When the train came to a stop, the doors opened and Troy stood waiting for me. He'd hopped into another car, hopped out with his chicken bag when the train stopped, and was standing there, my night in shining armor, telling me to hand him the luggage. I handed him bags and kids and we were all safely reunited. We worked together like a well oiled machine. Even if one of the major machine parts was disheveled and probably smelled like barf.

And so, perhaps my fear of losing Matthew on a subway isn't completely irrational. Although, likely, I would never be in New York City heaving around 17 tons of chicken.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


We just dropped $2700 on car repairs. Now, that was spread out over both vehicles and we'd been expecting it and needing to do it for some time. Actually, we'd set aside $3000 so we were pleasantly surprised to "save" 300 dollars.

Still, this whole crud load of money that exceeded my entire paycheck for my six week long term sub job has me thinking about simpler times. Covered wagons. Horseback. WALKING! If only the furthest I ever needed to be from home was only five miles away.

There's something to be said for hunkering down at the homestead.

Maybe I'll move to Avalon and just buy a golf cart.

Or an itty bitty island in Indonesia where all I need is a rowboat.

I feel that these options are at least worth considering. In the meantime, I'm going to start saving $2700 dollars so we have it for the next set of repairs.