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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cheater Pants Part 2: Why my boy rocks my world.

Pull on parenting clothes, Mommy!  Time to pack away the angry tears and take the bull by the horns.  Ugly words had been thought ("Homeschooling!" "Military Academy!")(1) but these thoughts should and may only be acted upon when all else fails.  Well, at least we have to try something else first.

A Plan, then!

I met him at the door.  "How was your day?  Hang up your snow pants! What kind of snack do you want?"  Trader Joe's cheddar nachos in hand, we sat at the counter.  I began a list.


Like            |           Dislike

I explained why I was concerned: teacher says you're not very focused in school.  I'm worried that you say you hate writing, because last year you were finally starting to like it.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"I just want to start with how you're feeling about school.  What do you like about it?"

"I really like spelling," he said.  So I wrote that down.

"And lunch and recess," he said, "but that sort of goes without saying.  You don't have to write that down."

"It's okay to like lunch and recess," I said, and I wrote it down.

"And... it's not that I don't like writing, I just have writer's block a lot."  I wrote that down under "Dislike," and he labeled it, (Like/Dislike).

We went on.  Here is the list he came up with:

"I pretty much like everything," he said.  And we ended up re-labeling "dislikes" as "Frustrations," because, well, if you're in math class and the math facts aren't in your head, it's frustrating.

And so he, almost unaided, suggested a new routine for the afternoon.

"I think that we should practice multiplication or whatever math we're studying right now after homework.

"And after reading, I want to work on a book I am writing."

We agreed on 1/2 hour of recreational computer time (Club Penguin,, etc.).

We also agreed on 1/2 hour of educational computer time--when he can type his book in MS Word, or do artwork in Tux Paint, or use the practice programs they do at his school.

TV, he said, should only be in his spare time, and maybe not every day.

Making the house nice to live in means 15 minutes of room maintenance every day.

Also, he has Gymnastics and Cub Scouts, and he's going to start piano soon.

Did I have to nudge him through some of this new routine tonight?  Of course I did.  But did he do every last bit of it, including his homework without a word of complaint and almost completely unaided?  Yes he did.  He's doing his educational computer time now, working on the book he's writing.  

We want to do some homeschool-esque projects after school, and the book is just the first one.  We're thinking about movies.

His ability to articulate his needs and thoughts completely rocks my world.

Oh, and he learned to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano within minutes tonight (after I got sick of random banging). :)

(1) I have been thinking about this all day.  I need to state categorically that I have every respect for people who homeschool their children, and in no way in my mind is there any correlation between homeschooling and military school. I absolutely would consider homeschooling D if it were the right thing for him, though the thought of trying to organize myself and not allowing him to spend the entire day on rather gives me chills.  At the moment, it's not the right thing.  He likes school.  I believe strongly that there are many good things about attending school, and I want him to get the most out of it.

Cheater Pants

Yep, last night's homework was not representative of my career high in parenting.

"Just do it," I said, because we hadtohadtohadto go get the dog before 7pm and we had pizza dough but no calzones yet and I was hungry, darn it! And so after prevaricating over what picture to put on the "Book Jacket" he was designing for the third Ga'hoole book, he managed to sit quietly and write the little summary piece in record time, and then we ran out the door to get the dog.

When we got home we ate and then finished the math work he didn't finish in school; in the middle of it I saw him gain that "I am toast" glazed look that signals the end of any useful instruction or production.

And then I checked the homework sheet.

Was his summary word for word off the back of the actual book jacket? Er, yes. Yes it was.

Okay, he's eight years old, they don't even grade in his class except for spelling and math quizzes.  But it's still cheating, still unacceptable, still had to be erased. And then ensued about twenty minutes of "But it's hard! I don't know what to say!  I don't know what to do!" and, my personal favorite, "Writing is evil!"

After a while he finally got out five sentences along the lines of, "The main character is named Soren.  The other main character is named Gilfie..." By this time, it was after 8:30pm and bedtime loomed, and I was happy some words he hadn't copied were on his paper.

I e-mailed the teacher.  "Yes," she replied, and here I paraphrase, "he's really having a hard time staying focused in school."

Aaargh! Grumble at public school system.  Grumble more at standardized tests that take all the joy out of learning.  Grumble at being stuck at work when my boy needs me.  Feel helpless much?

Part 2: Why my boy rocks my world: soon to follow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hee hee hee!

I'm really freakin' tired and I have to get up early and get life together because poor Tom had to go to Kentucky which means I get to bring boy to the carpool and dog to daycare and I still haven't taken out the trash--and it's really cold outside; no, not Minnesota cold, but definitely cold for central Massachusetts.

So I have to go to bed.

But before I do... lookie, I made a yarn swift!

My swift, with yarn.

The yarn ball I made.  We will NOT discuss how long it took, because it totally was not the swift's fault I got it all tangled.

Early Morning Sunday Thoughts

Today I begin teaching church school for the semester.  My partner-in-crime (or teaching, whatever), Judith and I will be exploring "Holidays and Holy Days" with a small group of 3rd and 4th graders between now and  May. Today's lesson: the Chinese New Year, with focus on the Kitchen God.

I noticed from the curriculum (which is good, but unlike the ones I've used before, every single word you're supposed to say is written out, with words underlined for emphasis so that you know how to read them... really? okay, /mini-rant.  Breathe, Lauren!) that in preparation for Chinese New Year, people scrub their houses from top to bottom, because it's considered bad luck to start the New Year with dust in your house.  Maybe that's my problem: the accumulation of dust causing bad luck and bad juju and bad feelings.

Interestingly, I've felt inclined to clean the last few weekends.  It helps that my Ravenclaw buddies have begun a game of "chores tag," in which you identify the chore you will do (many of us are current or former Flylady followers, so "15 minutes" is often our default chore length, though I realized long ago that 15 minutes isn't enough to get anything done), do it, come back to report you've done it, and then "tag" someone else.  On Ravelry you can send someone an "earburn" simply by linking to their profile in your post.  When someone links my username in their post, I get a message in my inbox that reads, "Are your ears burning?  You've been Magic Linked in The Tower" (or whatever forum I was linked in--it's just most often The Tower).  Hence the name "earburn," common Rav-lingo.  If someone tags me in Chores Tag, I can open my Tag whenever I'm ready, and do my time, and head back to report on it, and in return I get satisfaction and permission to knit. :)

A couple of weeks ago we cleaned the entire living room, in the wake of Tree Removal.  I scrubbed and dusted, Tom vacuumed and moved furniture, and the living room is just so peaceful now!  Last weekend I tackled D's room.  It was pretty disgusting, but I changed his sheets, moved out his bed and dusted behind it (no small task!) and Tom even found us a new chain for the light in his closet so you can see in there now!  Of course, as D is a small whirlwind, Constant Vigilance!!! is required to make sure disgustingness doesn't return.

This week was hard.  I'm on my second round of antibiotics in three weeks, this time for strep throat.  I know my ongoing battle with infections has to do with the lovely gynecological crap I'm about to be officially diagnosed with on Thursday; it's ridiculous, of course, to think that strep could be linked to a gynecological issue, except that I think my body's just open to infections of all kinds at the moment.  I was wiped out from Tuesday afternoon until Thursday night, but Friday I did a bunch of cleaning in my room, the last bastion of the Dust Bunny Brigade that's trying to take down my Good Luck.  It's not clean yet, but it's cleaner!

Perhaps I have to clean the psychological and physical dust out of my body and spirit in preparation for the New Year, too.  I will, very soon, have some hard decisions to make about exactly what to do about these gynecological difficulties, and I'm of very mixed mind about them.  I'm not ready to go into that thought process quite yet... writing it all down seems very final and I'm just not ready to go there.  Soon. Soon.

Meanwhile, after the great start I made on losing weight, the last 3 weeks of illness and infection have sapped my motivation.  Hurry up, antibiotics, and make me better, so I can go back to caring about whether I eat right or not!

Lauren dusts herself off and prepares to face the eight-year-olds with a happy face.  Here's wishing everybody Happy Sunday!

Gratuitous Knitting Picture:  Sparkly socks!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seriously quick

I have about 7 minutes before my body decides to shut down, so I'll be quick.

I've spent the past week feeling lousy, going to doctors, having people prod me.  I have an ultrasound scheduled for January 27, and at that point I will really know (rather than just having my doctor "strongly suspect") which lovely feminine ailment I'm facing, and I'll probably be ready to share.  It's not dire, it's not terminal, but it's extremely annoying.

I spent two days feeling horribly sorry for myself and dragging around and crying and eating whatever came my way.

Then I decided this is just not how I want to live my life, so today I started writing down my food again (I haven't recorded it all, but I am very sure I was extremely careful and did not go over, and I will get the rest of it down tomorrow).  I am ready to embark on my 3rd week of dieting, I am down five pounds, and it's time to pull out the exercise. I'm going to start with a very gentle yoga routine, because I think that's probably about all I can handle at the moment.

In other news, I started a fabulous shawl which is a gift for someone who could, potentially, see it here, so I'm not saying who and I'm not showing pictures.  But it's fabulous. 

And for having thus teased, I shall now present a picture of the other thing I did this week: A very sparkly candystriped sock:

and the roving I've started spinning on my new drop spindle.

And we had a SNOW DAY today!  It was rockin' awesome.  This was at 7:45 am, when it had been snowing for fewer than 8 hours:

And the kiddo has the day off tomorrow as well.  And Friday, school was already closed.  And Monday? Closed for MLK day.  Little stinker.

I'm off to bed.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Accidental Success

Yesterday I just did my best to not eat the house.  I didn't write down a single thing.  I was feeling blah... I've been feeling blah all week, which is why I haven't posted since Monday.

Tuesday night: that's when the blah began.  It actually began with much worse than just "blah."  I was sitting there innocently playing with my new ball winder and culled-together-from-household-objects swift (lookie: I was so proud!):

...when all of a sudden, my body started to feel really weird.  I was cold, shaking, and a bit nauseous.  I managed to finish winding my yarn; I need that yarn for my OWL swatch this weekend, darn it, and you can't just leave yarn 2/3 wound, especially with The Evil ChesterKitty lying in wait.  But directly after finishing my yarn cakes (ain't they pretty?) and clearing up (Yarn + ChesterKitty=Bad, remember), I put on my beautiful full-length green Sylvi sweater and went to lie down on the couch and take my temperature.  It wasn't high.  But there I was, shivering, feeling like crap.  A few minutes later I pulled myself together enough to go upstairs and get under the covers, still dressed and wearing Sylvi.  I fell asleep.

In the morning the horrible shakes were gone, but I was left with a blasting headache, and pain in my abdomen (at the lower-left "corner," as it were) and a distinct desire to go to the doctor.  The doctor's verdict, several hours later, was "some kind of infection, maybe a UTI, maybe diverticulitis."  The treatment for either is an antibiotic, so I got a shiny prescription and orders to call on Friday if I didn't feel "much, much better."

I didn't.  So I called.  And of course both my regular doctor and the doctor I saw on Wednesday were out.  I left a message at 9:10am, and got a response back at 1:15pm (which I missed, of course, because cell phone reception at my school is terrible).  By the time I called back to clarify what exactly they wanted me to do and why, it was 2:45 pm, and the call to my gynecologist took another 15 minutes (because, did I mention, I've also got some bleeding, and the doctor was a little baffled).  So now I have an appointment at 7:30am on Monday morning, woo-hoo, in Waltham.  Which is at least a 30-minute drive.  Thank heaven for GPS because I don't think I'm finding the place while half-asleep.

(Note: at this moment, ChesterKitty is sleeping across both my hands while I'm typing.  I'm going to try to keep him from posting this prematurely, but I make no promises).

So, anyway, I have been feeling kinda down and unmotivated and unSparkLike, and so I got a little spotty about tracking my food.  Yesterday I didn't track at all--but today I went back and tracked, and guess what? I was right in my range for everything: calories, fat, protein, and carbs!  Go me!  And better yet, I got on the scale yesterday morning, and I was down 4.5 pounds!  Go go go!  I know, that's just the beginning-of-the-diet weight loss, and it won't be so quick going forward, but it feels good to be down that much!

In the knitting world, I have finished Tom's hat, and one other project, and started a glittery pair of candy-cane socks for me.  For "valentine's day" (though I will wear them year-round and at Christmas too!) They're from one of the luscious skeins of holiday sock yarn I got when MariaCrafts, SparkSearcher, and I went to WEBS in December, and I can't wait to put them on my feet!  I also got to preach the Ministry of the Knitting Bag to some cub scouts last night, as I sat and knit at a mom's gathering (put all boys in one room and let them do whatever while moms sit around and eat and drink and be merry and turn deaf ears (but not Deaf ears) to all but the most egregious loud noises).  I ate 4 Doritos--yes, four!--and drank water, and that with bowls of chips and chocolate chip cookies right in front of me--all because I was wielding Very Pointy DPN's and sparkly yarn.  And a couple of Cub Scouts--all 3rd grade "Bears" from D1's den--came up and asked what I was doing and asked me to show them how, and proclaimed it "cool!"  I wonder if there's a knitting badge for the Cub Scouts?

I'm off to banish the Christmas decorations to their proper January location: the basement.  I leave you with a photo of some new KnitPicks Chroma.  Ain't it lovely?  Can't wait to start swatching!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quick before bed

So: the diet... still going okay.  I started to go a little aaaaaaah tonight and then I actually logged those five crackers and the bit of pub cheese and that put me 13 calories over and so I thought, okay, better stop.  And I stopped.  Go me.  And I've had my water, which is a habit I'd let myself get out of.  Water is good.

The knitting:  the hat I'm making is coming out very cool.  It's a lot of going round and round at the moment... sl1 K5 ad infinitum.  In less than two repeats I get to start the decreases, though, so that's good news.  I probably will have it done before my KnitPicks order arrives.  It's in the hands of the Framingham Post Office now--KnitPicks does this thing where they Fedex it to your town and then Fedex hands it over to the USP, so I'm thinking I'll probably get it tomorrow but definitely by Wednesday.  Then much OWL swatching must commence.  And I still have to buy 5000 beads.  Woo.

I found a picture of something I haven't posted yet.  When I made my Army of Penguins I also made a wee Foxguin for my boy (D1).

Foxguin... look, I even made him a tail.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Enter, rejoice and come in!

Enter, rejoice, and come in
Enter, rejoice, and come in
Today will be a joyful day
Enter, rejoice, and come in!

Don't be afraid of some change
Don't be afraid of some change
Today will be a joyful day
Enter, rejoice, and come in!
                         (From the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition)

Back to church today after the holiday break.  D1 lit the chalice during the service, which he did beautifully.  No churches were burned down in the lighting of today's chalice, and he looked calm and collected while he did it (and was I worried that Wiggle Boy would, perchance, wiggle mid-candle-lighting and accidentally drop the lighted flame on the rug and start a fire? A little bit, yeah).

We had a break-in in the church office last night; the Ministerial Intern and the DRE arrived this morning to find that someone had taken a crowbar to one of the doors, and they were still trying to figure out exactly what was damaged and what was missing.  With sadness I reflect that had whoever it was just knocked on the door during the day, they would have been given what they needed.  Enter, Rejoice, and Come In, my unknown brothers and sisters.  We mean it.

The Ministerial Intern, Michael, is a big solid rock, who knows, from his theater background, just how to make his words resonate.  It was clear he was shaken by the event though: he told every adult he could find about the break-in, including me.  I too know that desire to share: Something goes wrong? Call mom.  Saw something that made me angry? Post to Facebook. Discover that my knitting pattern makes an amazing zig-zag?  Post to Rav.

Sharing weight loss is harder.  I am always worried, deep down in my spirit, that I am being a pest to other people.  Really.  I'm trying to lose weight, and you are too?  I don't ask you to go the journey with me, because it might annoy you if I ask.  Weight loss isn't the only thing I have this feeling about, but it's a big one. My Ravelry friends have helped me through this a lot.  My self-worth is far higher than it was two years ago; I no longer hesitate to volunteer for something because I think my contribution won't be valued.

There are those who denigrate the online world.  Those aren't 'real' friends, they say.  But my Rav friends are very real, both the many I've met in real life (fifty? At least!) and those with whom I share a warm, caring relationship that's only online, because miles separate us.  That Maria and Julia (whom I've met) and Jen and Crystal (whom I haven't) are walking the road with me makes me feel I can walk just a little father, and the support of those I haven't met means just as much as the support of those I have.

Don't be afraid of some change... change in the New Year seems natural and right.  As we turn the calendar, we start new projects, try a new endeavor, seek a healthier lifestyle.  The light is returning, and that's change I don't fear.  Weight loss scares me a bit; I acknowledge the truth in fearing to look and feel my best, even though I don't completely understand what's at the root of that fear.  Change isn't easy to contemplate; in fact, the thinking about it is often harder than the actual change.  How long didn't we sell our house because we were afraid it wouldn't sell?  And then it sold in a flash.  Perhaps picking up my calorie-counter will be easy; perhaps that crazy bit of knitting at the center of the Shipwreck shawl won't be as hard as I think it is; perhaps going back to work tomorrow will be joyful.

Today will be a joyful day! Even though it means taking down the Christmas tree and saying goodbye to home and hello to work and stress, I'm going to make today a joyful day.  Enter, rejoice and come in, New Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ten PM, Munchie Time

Well.  It's 10pm, and as certain as clockwork, I have the munchies.  I find myself anxiously looking around the kitchen, thinking of food.  If I have to get up to do something, I look at, touch, and itchily consider eating pieces of food.  This is a difficult time for me.

Fortunately, today is the first day of Term for the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry!  I'm an official Sixth Year now (which means I've been at it for six three-month Terms, so going on two years at the end of this Term).  We're a big old humongous Virtual world, and let me tell you, I love it.  There are eight classes to choose from--you're only supposed to do six, though I've known people to do all eight.  I'm plotting *two* OWLs this term--long term, bigger projects that take at least a couple of months to craft.  So tonight I'll be starting a hat.  I've already done one small project (Mom!  You have earrings now, I just have to take pictures!) today and now I'm on to more ambitious things.  My yarn for my big projects isn't here yet, because I didn't order it until late.  It should be here on or about Thursday, and then I can swatch for my projects during the weekend.  So I would like to burn through a couple of projects this week: the hat, a pair of socks, and maybe start on my amigurumi design project.  And finish Tom's gloves.  Really really, I want them done.  But apparently not enough to, you know, actually work on them.

And my gals from the House Cup are joining me on SparkPeople.  Not only is Julia my buddy-sweet-buddy, but my Claws have a Spark Team just for us.  That was the problem for me on SP before, I think: I didn't know enough people.  My friend list has grown from 4 people (if you include the guy who started SP, who friends everyone) to 16 in two days, and I've been given credit for referring 4 people, which just makes me happy.  The other 3 people are two friends from Real Life and another Virtual Friend, Aunt Barb, whom I met hatching virtual dragons on LiveJournal about 4 years ago.  I love my Virtual Friends.  You can meet people online that you'd never meet in Real Life (Barb lives in Nebraska... when is that ever going to be on my travel list, right?) who have similar interests and care about the same things you do.

So before I sign out, I will give a recap of my eating day: we went to a party, so I didn't keep track.  I tried to make the healthiest choices I could, though.  I ate yogurt with fruit; squash soup; pickles; veggies and hummus; a couple of crackers; one scone.  At home I had stew I made in the slow-cooker, and it was delicious and nutritious (only about 218 calories for a 1-cup serving).  And I'm still hungry.  I think I will have to eat something.

I believe I will be going to find the yarn for Tom's hat now.  I have to finish a finger of that glove before I can cast it on, as they use the same size needle, which will bring the glove one finger closer to completion.  Good all around.

Er... a picture... um...

Detail of the Castle Cardi I made for EazyC last term.