Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Being a Baseball Mom Will Be a Lot Better When It's WARM

This weekend marked the inauguration of a time that I've been dreading since back before we had kids, back when the cheerful mortgage broker cheerfully remarked that he hadn't gone camping at all in years and years due to his sons being in baseball. (Kids' baseball season typically goes from early April to mid-July, with two or so games per week plus practices.) At the time this felt like it would basically be the end of the world: what, no CAMPING? No getting out of town all summer ever? So that instead I can sit in the hot grass and watch short kids in funny suits bat a ball around a dusty square? I will NEVER, EVER let my kids play baseball ever.

Aaaand, nine years later, here we are. Baseball parents. For the next two months all of my Saturdays and Sundays are reserved; Silas is also practicing at least two times a week. In addition, Helen's doing gymnastics. On paper, it sounds pretty much like Melospiza Hell.

Well, I'm here to report that so far, Hell hasn't been so bad. Yes, there are better things in life than sitting around and watching your kid get creamed in baseball. And next time I will PACK MORE SWEATERS AND ALSO SOME BLANKETS AND A THERMOS OF HOT COFFEE. Preferably spiked with rum. But it has an enjoyable mellowness, this life: sitting around, calling out "Good play!" and "Way to go, Nate!" and "You can DO it, Silas!"Not worrying all weekend about Finishing Projects or Getting Things Accomplished or Cleaning the House, which is what I mostly did back in the days before we had kids. I also spent a lot of energy stressing myself out about not doing more.

It helps that I'm not working full time, and that for the most part I do have time to do some of the things I like to do. I know I will have some weekends when I will feel like I'm drowning, what with all the Obligations and wanting to do ANYTHING but drive my kid around from game to game. But these will be rare. I hope.

Also, it helps that seven years in, I've mostly resigned myself to the one of the central facts of parenthood: there's a lot of enforced waiting. This is really what I dreaded most about being a mom: my life would no longer be my own. I used to HATE waiting. I hated having to put off doing what I wanted to do because someone else was late, or sleeping in, or reading every bloody section of the everloving paper. Now waiting for people is mostly what I do. And while I still don't LOVE it, I'm a lot better at it, and furthermore, you know what? I'm a lot more pleasant to be around as a result. Who woulda thought?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parenting Fears

I'm not a parent who's really into the fear thing. Okay, yes, I worry--after all, that is one of my top five activities, after "haranguing" and "nagging"--but I wouldn't say that one of the hardest things about parenting is how terrified I am that something bad will happen to my child. [Knock on wood! God! Obviously!]

So when I read this article in BabyCenter's Big Kid Bulletin, I wasn't surprised that my "Top Five Parenting Fears" didn't match up.

Here's what moms are worried about nationwide:

1. Not measuring up.

Apparently parents are worried that their kid isn't reaching his/her academic potential and will fall by the employment wayside as a result. As someone who TOTALLY reached her academic potential, complete with a mind-bogglingly expensive ivy-league education, and STILL managed to fall by the employment wayside, I tend to scoff (gently) at this one. Of course, I still stress and moan about my children's educational opportunities, but I stress and moan equally about how the educational opportunities I do get them are crafting them into little entitled snooties.

2. Stranger Danger.

I HATE it when people say things like "THESE days, you can't be too careful" and "when I was growing up, the world was safer" because NO, IT WASN'T. Not if you grew up in the seventies, anyway. Stranger danger was FAR WORSE, then, and okay, that's probably partly due to the fact that parents today are totally paranoid and feel the need to escort their children to the actual physical custody of teachers, babysitters, etc., and so pedophiles just don't have a chance to do their thing. But it's also true that it's far more likely--FAR, FAR more--that my kids will get molested/ abused/ mentally scarred by teachers, friends or relatives (grownups AND KIDS) than by someone just happening by them in the street. So, yes, in fact, I DO let my kids play out front without (much) supervision. If they had friends who lived in our neighborhood, they could bike/ walk there alone and I would be okay with that.

3. Accidents and injuries.

This one matches for me. My number one fear: that my kids will d-i-e. Duh. Or become permanently incapacitated. And that it will turn out to be my fault.

4. Bullying.

I do worry about this one, but I also worry that my kid (my older one, anyway) will BE the bullier. He's kind of bossy, and he's discovered the secret to most humor: make fun of someone else, and everyone will laugh. GOD. Asshole, right? And unfortunately, there are lots and lots and LOTS of examples of this in real life (meaning TV, of course). Now that we all watch prime time together, Hubs and I find ourselves having to explain that while yes, we just laughed at that joke on The Office, it wouldn't be funny if it were really happening, and also, how do you think Jan feels about having her expensive new stroller run over several times by Dwight?

5. Weight issues.

I don't worry about this one so much, but we do talk a lot about the need for a healthy lifestyle, one that blends couch-potatoing with biking and swimming, and the need to eat healthy food, which blends the Easter candy with the veggies. In fact, this is a favorite "harangue" topic in our house. That doesn't mean I'm afraid of it, though.

What I DO worry about (besides the ones hidden in the responses above):

1. My kids will grow up to be entitled jerks.
2. My kids will become drug addicts, or drug dealers. Although actually the last one worries me less. At least it would be a JOB.
3. My kids will grow up to be bankers. GOD, that would be awful, wouldn't it?
4. My kids will grow up to be vaguely clueless automatons who aren't so much "insensitive" to the feelings of others as "unaware."

And truthfully, in numbers one to four above, you could replace "my kids" with "my oldest kid" and they would be just as true. I.e., I seem to have some ISSUES with parenting him. Hmph.

Top TOP Parenting Fear: I will so totally bog my son down in my issues with parenting a boy that he will a) be ruined and b) hate me forever once he figures this out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snow Day

Over the weekend we had a little bit of this:

Two feet of this, to be precise. It came at exactly the right time to tweak our weekend into mellowness: the out-of-town guest had to cancel (stuck in Wyoming), the baseball games were canceled (we're three weeks into the baseball season and the boy has had exactly zero games so far. Which is fine, but might be giving me an unduly leisurely idea of what it's like to be a Baseball Mom. [I can't believe I just called myself a Baseball Mom.]), and the outdoors proved so snowy and delicious, and also so warm, that we had to practically drag the kids indoors when bedtime rolled around.

There was lots of this:

Very dapper, this fellow. Also, very flattened. Silas and his cousin built him up, and then pummeled him into submission. I did rescue my scarf.

After snowing all day Friday and Saturday, Sunday it was sunny and 60 degrees (helLO Colorado), so we spent half the day at the creek. I should have just made a recording of myself saying "The creek is really high! You need to be careful!" and then left it at home. I could have saved my voice and my anxiety a lot of trouble. The kids were magnetically drawn to the high water, of course, but luckily neither fell in, and we all got a lot of sun time.

Bring out the sandbags, the bike path's flooded.

Got to get a closer look...

While I took this photo I imagined telling the officer what I was doing snapping photographs while my children climbed into the flooded creek and drowned. I kept such worries at bay by repeating, "Those rocks look really slippery! Be careful!" about fifty thousand times during the course of taking this picture. It obviously worked, because they're still here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Continuous Quality Improvement

Lately I've been trying to figure out what's with my bad attitude toward our house and its environs. Other than, you know, winter, which last I checked happened at our old place, too.

I have a lot of theories, but one of my prime theories at the moment is this: in the past, every move we've made has been an upgrade.

It helped that we started out life together living in a pickup truck:

(In answer to your question, Have you always been a dork? Apparently so.)

So pretty much all the crappy student apartments after that were a step up (there was indoor sanitation! electricity! tables! For MANY YEARS I was grateful simply to have a flat surface on which to lay out my solitaire game.)

Then came our first house:

I remember it being horribly stressful to buy, and it was kind of a wreck, but it was also cute and it was ours. No more landlords! We'd thrown off the shackles of The Man! Etc.

If the neighborhood we lived in was a little loud, and there were regular raids of the neighboring apartments by the local swat team, well--that was okay. It was REAL. It wasn't until Silas was born that we started to think that maybe we wanted something a little more genteel.

Moving from there to our second house was definitely a step up. There were two bathrooms! The basement was not half dirt! And, it had an absolutely gorgeous yard to which the current yard just can't compare. At least not yet.

Nice, huh? I start missing it all over again when I look at these photos. I start remembering our first night there, when everything was still in boxes and Silas was sleeping on our bedroom floor because his room wasn't set up yet. It was raining, and we had the windows open, and for the first time in five years we could actually HEAR the rain, because we didn't have the fan on to block the noise of cars peeling out of the alley outside our window.

Now, our new house is fine. It's not even really a downgrade: it has more bathrooms, more square feet, and APPARENTLY a better location because it cost a whole chunk of a lot more.

However, it is a downgrade in a lot of minor, personal ways. The kitchen is smaller and the cabinets are crummier. The yard is not as nice (although I'm working on that). The garage is smaller. I don't have a study (technically, however, this would have happened at the old place, since Si and Helen couldn't really share a bedroom forever.) The floor plan is a little less open. It's just...less. In a lot of sort of unquantifiable ways.

BUT. It is a nice house. I keep telling myself that once we've lived in it for two or three years, and made it more our own, I will love it. I may even love it MORE for having had to work at it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Cleaning

So, I found a hat on Sunday. It was lying in the middle of the road as I drove Helen home from a playdate, and two hours later the hat was still there, limp and pathetic as the weather washed over it. Since adopting stray hats has had good effects in the past--I fell in love with Hubs when he was wearing a terrific leather hat he found in Mexico, for example--I picked it up and wore it home. Over my hood. I will wash it before I wear it for real, in case you're worried.

And I don't know. It's just a hat. But I am hoping for some kind of help, here: for a while I've been noticing that my attitude is in need of a serious change. Yes, I was not really happy about moving to Denver. Yes, I'm bummed that my creative and professional life hasn't exactly been a shining beacon of wonderfulness for the past 14 months or so. Yes, the house we moved into has some problems, such as the dinky little kitchen with rinky-dink cabinets that shed paint peelings and sawdust into our pots and pans, and not all of these problems are going to be fixed in the conceivable future. Yes, for some reason our new geographic location makes me feel claustrophobic and constrained. But come on. This is where we live. I need to step into it and engage: I need to stop focusing on the bad and start pursuing the good.

So I'm hoping for good things from this hat: transformative things. Making-me-want-to-be-here things. Accepting-opportunity-when-it-comes things, and making myself receptive to opportunity. Such as this hat.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When the Universe Hands You a Hat

Sometimes you just gotta wear it.

Even when you're not really a hat person.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Breaking News Update on the Purple Cauliflower

Big news, folks: I used the purple cauliflower. In an actual meal. And the kids ate it and asked for more. It helps that they are cruciferous-loving weirdos, of course (broccoli? bring it on!).

Here's the scoop:
1/4 head purple cauliflower (YES that means I still have 3/4 left), chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1 lb cut-up pork
splash rice vinegar
splash (BIG splash) chicken broth
2 tblsp chopped cilantro
1/2 lb chunky pasta (my kids like campanelle, which is shaped like miniature ice-cream cones)
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Drop the cauliflower and zucchini into water and bring to a boil while you brown the pork. Splash in your chicken broth. Drain veggies and add to meat; start pasta. Stir until broth is gone; splash in rice vinegar. Add ricotta to drained pasta. Add cilantro to meat and veggies just before serving. Takes about 30 minutes and is surprisingly yummy. And even though the kids declared "Ew! What is this? I'm not going to eat it!" when I dished it out, they BOTH did. Every single bite.

In other news, I've been obsessed with design, on scales both large (landscape) and small (my yard, which has been putting me into a total funk lately). I don't think this is going to become any sort of DESIGN blog or anything, but stay tuned for my attempts to figure this stuff out. Hopefully with photos.