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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Diet Quickie

All right, after yesterday's discussion with my boy, I've decided it's about time I started feeding my body the way I want him to feed his mind.

I went back to SparkPeople.  I found their gadget for my Droid and it works very nicely, and I used it today and now I'm freakin' starving... so I am going to go over my calories before bed, just a little, and I'm not recording it, darn it, because if you're that hungry you're just asking for trouble trying to get to sleep.

And I think Julia's going to be my diet buddy (corny? maybe.  But she's starting SP too and asked if I want to do it together, and yes I do.

One of my goals is to journal daily, so you might see more of me.

Gratuitous knitting picture... mom's socks.  They're all ready except the earrings, mom!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Television Nutrition

Today my dear son turned on Mad TV on Cartoon Network, and after thirteen seconds I was shouting "Turn it off!"  I had a gut reaction to the sketch on the screen at the time: "There's a Crap For That," in which, iPhone ad-like, various situations were described and their solutions--the sounds of varied bowel movements--were accompanied by a voice-over stating, "There's a crap for that."

I took a deep breath once the TV was off and then attempted to address my son's whining, "But why? It's funny!" "It's not funny, it's disgusting!" "No, it's funny!"  Hm.  I could see I would get nowhere with my killing line of logic.  All right, think, Mom, this is your moment to stamp out bad television from your child's life forever.

Mad TV is like candy, or junk food, I explained.  You know how junk food tastes good, but it doesn't do much to help your body grow?  Mad TV doesn't do much to help your mind and spirit grow.  Like, when you watch Fetch with Ruff Ruffman.

"Oh, I was just going to say that.  I learn a lot of facts from that show!"

Right!  And think about Phineas and Ferb, (a show my son and I both happen to like).  Can you think of ways that it nourishes your mind and spirit?

"Yes," said my son, "It has great vocabulary.  And the kids are so creative."

I can think of lots of ways it helps you grow, including the vocabulary and the inventions.  Also, there are lots of different kinds of families on it: Phineas and Ferb's family is a blended family with two divorced (?) parents who married each other.  Isabella's family is, somehow or another, both Hispanic and Jewish.  The characters break out of their stereotypes, so that the bully can have moments of sensitivity and a real friendship with the nerdy Indian boy he's supposed to bully.  It isn't perfect; the main female character seems to have no purpose other than chasing a boy and trying to get her brothers in trouble--but even Candace has moments of growth.

"Is being funny nourishing?"

Well.  Laughter is good for the soul, right?  It's also the best medicine.  But just as slapping a piece of tomato on the disgusting fish sandwich I prefer at McDonald's does not make it health food, if something being funny is the only nourishing thing about it, maybe, just maybe, it's junk TV.

We talked about a list of TV shows that are, and are not, nourishing.  My son realized that he watches a lot  of junk TV.  Even AFV, which seems pretty harmless on the surface, really has nothing going for it except laughter.

Now, do I really believe he's going to cut his Junk TV viewing down to twice a month?  No.  But I've asked him to make sure he watches at least 5 or 6 "nutritious" TV shows for every one Junk TV show he watches.  Not all in one day, of course. :)

And now, for some gratuitous knitting pictures:

 Our Christmas Stockings (my Potions OWL)
Peck's new Bow Tie
An Army of Penguins
A closeup of the Swallowtail I made for my mother-in-law.
and ChesterKitty eating a bowl of pasta sauce, just for something completely different.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homework and Holidays

I'm sitting here next to my eight-year-old son and his homework.  Perhaps, indeed, I am earning Bad Mommy points by blogging while supervising my son's homework time, but I gotta do something or I am going to go postal on someone.

It is 6:45 pm.  My son just finished his "paragraph" (which is one page long).  It is part of his Native American Project report, due this Friday.  We have been, more or less, working on it since the end of November.  However, now it is Crunch Time.  Tonight he started working at 5:45 pm, so that's one full hour of solid homework, and he hasn't done his reading yet.  This thing still has to be edited, and he also has to make a headdress before Friday as well.

Now, I will grant that I am not the most organized human being on the face of the planet. Could we have been working on the headdress for the past two or three weeks?  Well, yes, probably.  So some of this is on me.  But three weeks ago was Thanksgiving, when we went down to Pennsylvania to spend much-needed time with family.  Our weekday afternoons go like this: 3:30pm get home from school.  4:00pm do homework.  5:00pm do mandatory reading.  Wednesday night: choir rehearsal.  Thursday night: Cub Scouts.  Friday afternoon: gymnastics.  On either Monday or Tuesday we make our weekly library run, and on the other day he usually gets to finally play with friends.  Tonight we added in a school fundraiser activity.  Tomorrow we have the Cub Scout Pack Meeting (but we win Thursday back!).

Weekends have been filled with family visits and decorating and cleaning and shopping and all kinds of things. Last Friday night we finally went out to buy the materials for his stupid project (oh, wait, did I say that? Sorry) and we haven't had time to work on them.

He also had a fever one day, and we had to rush our dog to the vet with a bad cut on his foot the same day, which didn't help.

So the time management issues are definitely there, and partly him and partly me.

However.  Monday night's homework each day this month?  Read a page-long reading selection, and then answer three pages worth of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions about it.  Tuesday we have for the project.  Wednesday is math (two sides of a worksheet, usually) and Thursday is Word Study (cancelled this week, thank heaven).  And then on top of that, he has to work on the project.  Usually by the end of regular homework and reading, he's done, and so am I.

So tonight he came home from the fundraiser thing at 5:30, he did this paragraph (which can't, by the way, just be the 5-sentence thing I expect a third-grader to write.  The feedback on his fact sheet was along the lines of, "Please explain how they made these costumes, what the significance of the costumes were, whether they wore different clothing for special occasions, how the clothing represented the tribe's spiritual teachings, etc. The teacher wrote a full paragraph herself explaining how my 8-year-old could make his writing more interesting and vital) and now he's on the computer frying his brain.  After dinner, which we haven't eaten yet, he will head into the living room and do his daily 20-minutes of reading.  And after that we'll be starting to finally put the headdress together.  Because if we don't, the glue won't be dry by Friday morning.

So, what I'm left with is a deep and dire temptation to do my child's homework myself.  Really.  I could just, you know, put the damned headdress together and send it in on Friday.

And here's the thing: I don't even really think it's such a bad idea.  I mean, what's he really learning by doing over 1 hour and 20 minutes worth of homework and then having *more* homework in one night?  That school is torture?  That no matter how hard he tries, this thing he's making out of felt is never going to look like the one in the book?  That at the end of the day unless we spend all our waking hours working on his homework, it's never going to earn the highest score?

Who assigns a full-length report every month to a bunch of 3rd graders?  He'll be well-prepared for high school, to be sure: he'll get there hating school and schoolwork and with an ulcer to boot.

I want him to be a healthy, happy, well-rounded, caring, intelligent, fun kid.  I want him to have a healthy, happy, relaxed, caring, fun mommy.  Right now he has the whip-cracking, steam-coming-out-of-the-ears kind of mommy.  I think we can get to this and not have both of us in tears over homework.  I really do.  But not if he gets this much work assigned all the time.  It's going to drive me to drink.

Where's that Pinot Grigio?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some Knitting Pictures to Lighten the Mood

Snuffles, all ready to go to Birch Island in the Mary Poppins Bag I made!

Starting Fresh

Can I admit that even I think it's strange I have a desire to start fresh in September?  I'm harvesting my little garden... tomatoes abound, and we've been enjoying cucumbers, even though our bell peppers don't seem to have any desire whatever to do more than flower.  September isn't about starting fresh... and yet it is.

David starts back to school in two days.  He will be in third grade, which is the grade in which children take the first in a series of Nastily Exhausting State Mandated High Stakes Tests.  The series ends sometime in High School, when, if you have passed them, you may graduate.  If he doesn't pass the third grade ones, it's just noted in his records, held against the school when they're looking for funding, and probably labeled on his forehead for life, so it's really only sort of High Stakes, for now.  But they will be the focus of his public school education for the next nine years.

He will go off to school with a new lunchbox, a freshly laundered backpack, clean (but not new) shoes... we bought them last spring and though apparently he walked through a swamp in them, they are still good.  Still must go out and buy a new water bottle and a spiral notebook, but basically, he's ready.

Starting fresh.

For me, I find that my thoughts of starting fresh linger on my health.  I passed my physical exam a few weeks ago with flying colors; except for a vitamin D deficiency which we're now correcting with supplements, I was within healthy range for everything.  This makes me happy, but still leaves me wondering why, if I'm so darned healthy, I feel so blah.

For my depression, the doctor recommended seeing if getting more sleep would help.  And I am convinced it absolutely would.  The problem is, I go to bed--sometimes even on time--and I lie there.  And my hip hurts.  And my lower back is crunchy.  And my nose is stuffed up.  It sometimes takes me an hour or more to get to sleep.  Now that I'm not living in a state of constant sleep deprivation caused by staying up too late and getting up too early, I am back to my habit of insomnia.  At least when I am only getting 6 hours of sleep a night, I fall asleep when the time comes.  Melatonin doesn't help these days, either.  It gets me sleepy, but not enough to overcome the pain.  Advil before bedtime helps that, some.  Not always.  Last night I was just awake, almost all night.

Which brings me once again around to the things I probably should do to keep my body, mind, and spirit healthy.

Yoga.   I need to stretch.  I've started just doing a mountain pose-into-forward bend, letting my head and shoulders relax as I gently hold my elbows.  I just do this about 10 times a day, and I can feel it helping, especially if I manage to relax enough to let my lower back let go.  I should commit myself to at least 30 minutes of yoga every day to get myself back to something resembling flexibility.

Tai Chi.  Why don't I practice daily?  I couldn't tell you.  I think it's both a time and a space constraint.  I feel like I "should be doing" other things, that if I don't get up very early to practice, I've missed my window for the day.  Really I could spend 15 minutes a day not sitting at the computer, doing Tai Chi instead.

Massage.  My hip really needs it.

Walking.  Could I go out every day and get exercise? Yes I could. Do I? No.

I have a serious mental block when it comes to self-care.  I couldn't really even tell you where it's from.  I procrastinate about doing things that would, in the end, make me feel better.  I eat too much, I sit at a computer, I don't do things for work, or clean.  And then I feel bad and beat myself up.

Why on earth would I do this to myself?

That, I believe, is a deep question I'll be trying to answer.  But not today.  Today I still need to think, and maybe walk, and maybe get some paperwork done.  And stretch, and do laundry, and make dinner.  I shall try to take babysteps on the path to redemption, but take them I shall.  I don't think my body can take it much longer if I don't.