Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brief update

So, we went camping last weekend. We forgot our sleeping bags and ketchup for the hot dogs; it was hot and dusty until it got really very cold, and when we got home there was an entire weekend's worth of chores to do, plus extra laundry and dishes from the camping. Nonetheless it was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of it, except perhaps the moment we made the discovery about the sleeping bags ("Oh what a SHAME!" cried Helen and collapsed in misery.)

The kids spent almost every minute climbing in the rocks behind camp

except when they were geocaching

or melting their matchbox cars in the fire. Helen was well-dressed throughout, except when wearing her hot polyester nightgown. Silas was basically invisible, except when waving from some high rock. I read, and cooked a bit, and tried to nap (too hot). The mosquito level was fine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chore report

Well, the first shaky/whiny/frantic (how will we DO it all) week of summer has passed, and naturally we haven't actually carved out any sort of routine that makes sense, but things do seem less frantic. The kids are in their school daycare program for part of this week (rather more dismal than not, with full-group punishments for untattled transgressions and a distinct limit on outdoor time), and then onto their aunt's for hedonistic fun, sun & legos. I'd feel worse about the school daycare except that it is looking to be about 6 days total of the whole summer, maybe less, and one day of each of those is a swimming day (for which I say, Better you than me, daycare, and also: good luck!) Meanwhile, M and I are both getting a decent amount of work done and not feeling too compromised, and the kids...well, they'll be fine. If I were home full time they would get more sleep, but they would also spend more hours of the day engaged in saying "I want a PLAYYYYDAAAAATE" and "Is it ten yet? Is it ten yet? Is it ten yet?" and "I want to go swimmmmiiing" and probably a lot of "It's not FAAAAIIIRR." So. And they would DEFINITELY spend less time at the pool, per visit (they were there for THREE HOURS. As IF).

We're taking advantage of the summer schedule to work a few more chores into the kid routine. This has had mixed success. To elaborate:

1. Success: lawn mowing. Silas mows the lawn now. He gets five dollars if he mows the lawn without requiring nagging. If I have to remind him more than cursorily, he gets $4. If I have to do it myself, he gets nothing (obv). So far (for three weeks) this has worked quite well, and for the first time since owning a lawn I do not regularly have to mow it. Yessss.

2. Fail: getting the kids to pick up after themselves/ pick up activities before moving on to the next activity. This pretty much does not happen without M or I standing over them saying "and now THAT lego, please. No, don't build with it. Just put it in the box." The summer is young, however.

3. Mixed: dishes. We don't really have a fixed schedule for this, so the kids always feel like we spring it on them at the end of a long day ("I see you're tired and just want to play wii--how 'bout you load the dishwasher instead?") However, they've gotten to where they (mostly) remember to put their dishes on the counter, and if we prompt gently, into the dishwasher.

4. Mixed: room cleaning. We have a fixed schedule--every weekend, they have to clean and vacuum their rooms--but there is so much variation in the definition of clean (floor only, or surfaces too? bed made? do the shelves/desk need to be organized? what about that drawer of doom which is crammed so full of crap that it barely opens--yet which seems to contain many critical items, such as allowance and favorite hair thingies?), plus "weekend" is such a long, leisurely span of time that it's easy to find ourselves at 8:15 on a Sunday night without it having managed to happen at all, that this chore seems to involve more than its fair share of stomping and flinging oneself to the floor, or shocking requests to delay completion/ solicit help.

5. Mixed-to-success: putting away laundry. Sometimes I put a basket of clean, folded laundry in a kid's room and it is whisked away into drawers as if by magic. Other times I find myself tripping on it three days in a row as it first gets rifled for preferred clean clothes and then, confusingly, overpiled with freshly dirty clothes. In either case, I would like to involve the kids in this chore earlier.

We're trying. Ideally, I'd like all chores to be like the lawn mowing, in that they're required to happen, but my needing to remind kids to do them has been cleverly excised from the process. In other words, I'd like a little more ownership of the chore process from the children. I remind them frequently of that study from Harvard about how the kids who made the happiest adults were those who were required to do chores as children; however, I suspect this invigorating story translates to kidspeak something like this: "blah blah blah blah no, you can't play Wii now blah blah blah blah."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Field trip

Over Memorial Day Weekend I took a little trip by myself (I KNOW); I went down to Salida, CO to take part in an Artposium. Mostly my taking part involved sitting in a chair or sitting on the steps by the river soaking in the sun, which was all right by me. I also did a little catching up with artist/ writer friends from around the state. I read some of my words to an assembled crowd (sounds downright Thomas Paine-ish, don't it?). I went for a hike and took notes and brainstormed ideas and processed.

I was glad to get away, to talk about something besides is-your-homework-done and how-are-we-going-to-get-to-baseball and the ripening drama that is the baseball experience this season--is coach X the right coach and are the practices too negative and why is coach y's son being favored for all the best positions even though his baseball skills are not great and ARGH (we had dinner with fellow BB parent friends last night and that is ALL WE TALKED ABOUT. For FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS. "I'm thinking it would be nice to have some couple friends that aren't through kids," M remarked this morning.)

I was also glad to get back, although as usual the readjustment/ catching up that always follows any kind of excursion away from home meant that life was even more hectic than usual last week. Hence the silence here.

One interesting aspect of the trip: anxious to conserve funds, I stayed at the local hostel. The kind with communal bunkbeds. It was...conducive to getting up & getting out early. While it was nice not to have the faceless DaysInn experience, and I did feel even more connected than I usually do in going to these things (the hostel was full of young marathoners and 18-year-old kids fresh into town for Southwest Conservation Core jobs--a distinctly different crowd than the middle-aged artist-writer-activist types at the Artposium), I pretty much dreaded go back there at the end of each night.

I've concluded that I'm really more of a B&B personality. Same unique local flavor, 100% less plastic mattress and middle-of-the-night internal debates about whether it's worth turning over and waking somebody up and then having to listen through the dark to them listening to me in the dark.

Anyhow. I'm back. Today is the Helen's last day of kindergarten!

Also: so Si's class did what they call a mini society project, where each kid makes a slew of cheapie cheap products (painted rocks with glued on googly eyes was a hit, apparently). Si's choice of product was a "mini Mt. Everest," which, according to the market research he did in class, would be popular and would sell for $20 each (in monopoly dollars, that is). M and I were both a leeetle skeptical of the validity of his focus group, since the Mt Everests were actually plastic egg cups painted white, but he was adamant, and since clearly the point of this thing isn't to have your parents sweep in and take over, we let it go. Sure enough, when he actually brought the products in, no one was interested. Last minute panic and origami-paper-buying ensued, but after the dust settled and the Mini Society buying and selling fest took place, Si ended up selling exactly one (1) Mini Mt Everest, and that was to his teacher. He was mildly indignant--"I don't get why someone would want to buy a painted plastic egg but not a Mini Mt Everest"--but didn't seem too broken up about it.

Helen, however. She was distraught. She has come back to it two or three times, weepily. "WHY didn't anyone buy the Mini Mt Everests?" "Why did they like the painted plastic eggs better? That's NO FAIR" and "If Dad had brought ME to the Mini Society I would have bought one."

It's both touching and baffling. I tend to cynically blame her distress on the fact that a blow to Silas is a blow to her own status (HE couldn't care LESS about her successes/ triumphs--why should he? He's the oldest. She could be star of the school play, an award-winning gymnast and a precocious polymath and he would still get to be the big brother). However, I think that also she's more sensitive to his feelings than I am. This is weird to say. But I think Si puts on a brave face to M and me--oh, it doesn't matter. He's fine. It's no big deal, right? Could I play some Wii now?

But Helen knows better. She knows his feelings are hurt, and her feelings are hurt for him. Which is both sweet and potentially useful.