Testing!

Six months — wait, maybe seven — since I last blogged. Batting a thousand with this one!

I’ve been dying to do more blogging, but I’m blocked every time I start. I have also been ignoring my laptop more during the day, opting to check and reply to social media on my phone. I just got a new one, so typing isn’t even as big a hassle as it was on my old one, which didn’t have Swipe. However, I’m far more prone to typos when typing on my phone, so I haven’t even tried blogging from there at all.

I have a tablet, too (it’s gadget-tastic around here), which also has Swipe, but I guess I just kinda decided that blogging from something that doesn’t have a real keyboard attached to it is just too much of a pain.

The real problem is that I’m lazy and uncreative right now, so blogging is WAAAAAY down the to-do list, along with “dusting”.

However . . . my laptop is getting a little long in the tooth for traveling. The battery is wonky, and it requires a backpack with a padded pocket. It’s just not as great a travel companion as it used to be. It takes up a lot of space on the kitchen table (or anywhere, honestly), and I can’t go more than an hour or so without having to plug it in. This is not good for use on a plane, in a car, or anywhere else I might not be able to plug in for several hours.

Enter the Bluetooth Keyboard! I’d thought about picking one up a while ago, so I wouldn’t have to lug my computer everywhere if I felt like working on a story or blog post when I got a free minute. We went on a trip in April, and I really didn’t want to bring the computer along. I almost left it home, except that it played DVDs (which we didn’t watch, anyway). I realized later that it would have been MUCH more convenient to just have my tablet and a keyboard, which might just fit in my purse.

I’m about to go on a trip to Texas, which will require a couple of long flights. I decided it’s time to find a good keyboard to go with my tablet, so I could reduce the number of devices (and chargers and accoutrements) I’m bringing with me.

I went to Best Buy to see what they had, and out of, like, 25 choices, only two were Android compatible (it felt like some kind of gadgety Brady Bunch tagline: “iPad, iPad, IPAD!!”). They were good choices, but not great prices. So off to Amazon.com I went, to see if I could find the same thing or something similar for a better price. I found a bunch, but nothing quite struck my fancy until I saw the Sharkk Backlit Keyboard, which has a bunch of different backlight colors (it comes with all the colors, and you can change them with a button!) and great reviews. Even better, it was on sale and fulfilled by Amazon Prime.

I ordered one, and it came a day early. I plugged it in to charge while I was gone this evening, and it was ready to pair with my Google Nexus when I got home! 

It’s a sturdy little thing, but it will require a more robust carrying case. It came with a cloth pouch to store it in, but that won’t protect it from being jounced around in a bag. My husband is a leather worker, though, so I might be able to talk him into make me a cover. 🙂 There are tablet cases you can buy that have the keyboard already installed, but since I already have a great case for my tablet and don’t plan for my tablet to actually fully replace my laptop, I wanted something separate. However, this will be perfect for traveling! And the occasional blog post when I can’t sit in front of my computer. 🙂

Whippersnappers

Oh . . . hai der, Blog. Totally forgot about you for ages. How’s it going? 

I’ve been babysitting a couple of cute little kiddos for a friend of a friend since the beginning of December until the end of this week: A two-and-a-half-year-old girl and a (now) eight-week-old boy (he was six weeks when we started). They’re both awesome. The girl plays so well with my boys and naps as soon as you put her down (I MISS THOSE DAYS), and the baby is so tiny and pwecious and snuggly (I miss those days, too)! At first I wondered if I was a little insane by agreeing to take them on, but it’s been great. I love holding a baby all day, and four kids really are easier than two! In some ways. Only difference being that I do not have a car big enough to go out anywhere with all of them, so I don’t get the experience of taking a big brood to the supermarket, or anything.

Of course, kids are little germ factories, and these are no different. My own boys were getting over their colds at the beginning of December, and my new little charges came in with green boogers and coughs, which my boys shared immediately with them, even while resisting sharing their toys. Being around that much snot and bodily fluids, there could be no way that I would dodge the inevitable. Sure enough, it hit like a Peterbilt Dec 7th and 8th, idled for a day or two, then started to back up over me just before my choir concerts the following weekend (14th and 15th). Despite the ick, I had enough voice to sing out a bit in both performances — unlike our concert in October, when I had no voice at all. That was miserable, and I discovered I am very bad at lip synching.

My mom and dad had my kids Saturday night, since it was Sweetie’s drill weekend, and I had concert commitments that would probably go late. Saturday night we sang just before the Symphony, and then I stayed for most of the Symphony concert. I left at intermission, because it was getting to the point where I couldn’t breathe without coughing, and just wanted to go to bed. We had a concert the next day, too, so I knew I would need the rest. Sunday, I slept in (Sweetie had his Unit Christmas party, and my parents were taking the boys to church) and took my time getting ready for my concert. The concert didn’t go as late as I thought it might, so I went to my church Life Group afterward, where I thought Sweetie might meet me (he never showed up; too tired after drill). I talked too much, stayed there too late, and then finally went home to spend a little quiet, decompressing time with Sweetie before we both passed out from our exhausting weekend.

Monday I did not have my two little charges, because there was a scheduled eight-hour power outage for our street so the power company could replace some lines, and I knew it would be too cold to have little kids in the house. Since Mom still had the boys, Sweetie and I slept in a little (been getting up at 5-something in the morning lately, so 7am was late!), had some coffee, and left the house a little after 8:15, when they shut the power off for the day. We went out to breakfast and wandered around various stores until it was time to pick the boys up from my parents’ house to take them to their doctor appointments that afternoon. Then we went to Sweetie’s parents’ house so he and the kids could join them for dinner, but Sweetie had to take me to the mall a little while later so I could help out with a gift-wrapping fundraiser for my choir. I was supposed to be there from 4pm to 10pm, but was feeling pretty horrible by 5pm (the left side of my throat was becoming quite painful). It wasn’t too busy that evening, and there were enough hands without me, so I had my husband pick me up on his way home from his parents’ house instead of staying and riding home with my friend who was working till 10, too.

That brings us to yesterday (Tuesday)! It was a long, active weekend with no time to recuperate, followed by another day of babysitting (not hard, just not restful), and I didn’t get as much sleep Monday night as I should have. When I woke up, my throat didn’t hurt too badly, but as the morning progressed, I couldn’t chew, swallow, or open my mouth very wide because it hurt too much. It didn’t hurt talk, only to move my jaw and tongue. This bothered me enough that I figured it was finally time to go see a doctor. I do have a new-patient doctor appointment scheduled for the end of January, but we have Prompt Care! It’s a new and exciting development in civilian medicine! (Okay, it’s not, but it’s new to me after having to go to the Navy Hospital ER for everything not pre-scheduled). I made Sweetie come home early (he works late on Tuesdays) to watch the boys while I took myself to the Prompt Care, where up till yesterday I’d only been to for my kids.

Had to get the icky throat culture, but I kind of expected that. It’s not strep, thank goodness; probably just a mild throat infection and/or a touch of tonsillitis. I got out of there with an Rx for amoxicillin and Cepacol lozenges, which I needed to pick up at my pharmacy, on the other side of the highway. Oh, and I got my right ear irrigated, because it was too waxy to see its condition. I didn’t get dizzy, either. Go me. I’m just so glad they used water. The last time a doctor cleaned my ears out, he used a stick, which was the most horribly uncomfortable, icky thing I’ve ever had done to me and I never went back to have my ears cleaned. Strangely, the doctor I saw yesterday (who was quite young, probably her early- to mid-20s) seemed surprised when I told her how uncomfortable it was. My ear canals are sensitive, I guess.

I had a few other errands to run, since I was already out and about. First I got a Jamba Juice, because it was close to the doctor and I didn’t think I wanted to try to swallow anything harder than a smoothie for dinner. I’d totally forgotten about the crazy Christmas crowd, which made parking exciting and annoying. Despite that, I did manage to get some close parking spaces — which was helpful when I accidentally left my wallet in the car at Target and had to be That Person who has to suspend her purchase and run out to the car Just Real Quick. *sigh*

I’d also forgotten that I hadn’t put on any makeup (just some powder foundation) and probably looked a little harried and pale. Not my best face forward — but I didn’t care, because it had been a long day, and I was tired, sick, and just picking up a few things at some stores on my way home from the doctor. At least my hair was brushed. 🙂 So when I was at my last stop for the night, picking up some stuff at Costco, and I had to have the youngster (mid- to late-20s?) check my age for the case of beer I was picking up for my husband (mmm, winter beers . . . ) he did not choose to check my ID, but instead looked at my face and punched in — no lie — 01/01/1961.

NINETEEN SIXTY-ONE.

SIXTY. ONE.

I boggled for a second, but didn’t say anything. No, the thoughts going through my head were: Do I REALLY look that old? (I did the math later, and 1961 would make me 52 years old — eight years younger than my dad.) Is that guy just that bad at judging age? Could he not have had the decency of erring on the side of 1970? Might he have asked me, and given me the opportunity to lie (not that I would have), or just not risk it and asked for my ID? I know I have some grey hair and could stand to lose a few pounds, but SERIOUSLY? And why am I freaking out about this, anyway?

I know I’m only 35. I have as much grey in my hair as a 50-year-old, but I really didn’t think I could pass for anything older than 40. Maybe 45. I wasn’t insulted or offended — not really — just surprised. The guy couldn’t have been that much younger than me, but either he wasn’t good at math, he just picked the first year that popped into his head, or he really thought I looked like I was in my 50s. I mean, I remember when I was little and 35 was SO OLD, but I don’t think he can claim that excuse, since he didn’t look that far from it, himself.

Whippersnapper.

(Here’s my Gravatar photo — though I’m wearing makeup in it. How old would YOU say I am?)

Image

Tragedy Brings Celebration of Life

I don’t know why I followed a link to a story about two little boys, four and two, dying in the storm surge on Staten Island during Hurricane Sandy after being ripped out of their mother’s arms while she was trying to carry them to safety.

My boys are four and two. I can’t imagine . . . I just can’t. (Read at your own risk!)

I’ve been so irritable the past few days. Weeks? I don’t know. Ask my husband. 🙂 Pie must contradict my every word, even in the face of facts. Beanie is deriving enjoyment from hitting his brother over the head with whatever is in his hands at the moment. He has the most maniacal little laugh for a two-year-old!

I feel like I’ve been at my wit’s end for days, angry at the drop of a hat because Pie’s arguing gets my goat every time. His eating habits are frustrating at best. Beanie’s not as picky, as long as the food can be consumed from a bottle. His sleep habits are the frustrating thing about him right now. Between the two of them, I am begging for a Calgon moment by 10am.

But after reading that story, maybe I should think about how I would feel if they were taken from me so tragically, and hug them instead of losing my cool for the tenth time that morning.

Well, now Beanie is fussing again, probably because he just woke up to discover he’s in his bed. Which he apparently really hates. Seems like a good time for some late-night cuddling . . .

Wherein Bathing the Dog is Easier Than Bathing My Children

Bath time is one of the most exciting and vexing times in our household. Both boys love the idea of bath time, but only one of them (Beanie) actually digs everything about the bath, including water in his eyes. It’s hard enough when both my husband and I are doing bath time together; it can be even more challenging if it’s just one of us, like it was last night while my husband was at Drill.

I have mentioned before (I think) that my children have sensory issues. Pie has the worst of them, but has grown out of a lot of it (thank goodness!), but Beanie is exploring new ways to be like his brother, which means that “change” and “infanticide” are often synonymous, and greeted with the same fits of terror one would expect with the latter.

Pie, who thinks bath time is just the greatest idea ever, is usually quickly disenamored of it once the first droplets from his brother’s splashing get within a six-inch radius of his eyes. Then we have the “Uuuhhh! UUUUUHHHHH!” whining until a towel can be found to wipe the offending substance from his face. Then, of course, there’s the fight to wash his hair. This has gotten harder over time, because his hair has gotten so thick that it requires several rinses to get the shampoo out, and he doesn’t even desire the first rinse that gets his hair wet before the shampoo. Fortunately, it’s not a screaming war anymore, but we have to be pretty heavy-handed just to get him to sit still and not open his eyes while we sluice his head down with the special hair-rinsing bucket.

Beanie’s hair is still wispy and thin, but he thinks it’s funny when we dump water on his head.

I’ve been trying to introduce some new, fun things during bath time to make it more interesting for everyone involved, and give me and my husband a moment’s peace before we have to start getting them out and chasing them around with PJs. Bubble bath has been widely accepted, especially since Pie got over his fear of bubbles in the water when he was Beanie’s age. Beanie just loves bubbles in any form, so he’s thrilled when they’re in the water. Colored shaving cream was met with excitement by Pie, and gradual acceptance by Beanie. Uncolored shaving cream was not as fun, though Pie finally got into pushing it around a little with his fingers. I think Beanie ignored it.

But yesterday . . . Yesterday I decided to get them some fun bath time crayons! Yay! Beanie LOOOOVES crayons! He is my scribbler, and I finally had to take his favorite red crayon away, because he was coloring everything (though he did not scribble on the walls, for which I am grateful). I might just put him in blue footie PJs for Halloween and give him a purple crayon, because he reminds me of Harold. 🙂

I also got them some fizzy tabs that turn the water different colors. Yay! Fun bath water! Because I know their dislike of Things That Are Different, I made sure they (especially Pie) saw me put the tab in the water, watched it fizz around and change the color of the water, and heard me say over and over how fun it was and how it was just color and nothing else, and there would be CRAYONS (Yay! Crayons!)!!

Well, we got all ready for bath, two little naked boys dancing around in the bathroom, SO excited! And then . . . then I put Beanie in the water. I mean ACID, to hear Beanie tell it. He would not sit all the way down, and he cried and cried like it was child abuse. He liked the idea of the crayon, and scribbled a little on the side, but kept crying and trying to remind me that the WATER IS PINK, MAMA. You’re DOING it WROOOONG!!!

Pie greeted it with nervous giggling trepidation, and resisted a little when I tried to lift him into the tub. He, too, wouldn’t sit all the way down, and when I handed him a crayon, he poked a little at the side of the tub, then began to get flustered that a) the crayon was wet, b) the tub was getting marked up, c) the white towel, which he’d used to wipe off the wet crayon, now had blue on it, d) the white washcloth I gave him for an eraser had color on it and needed to be wiped off, apparently with the white towel he’d already marked on, and e) there was crayon ON HIS SKIN (because he colored on himself — the crayons were encased in plastic). He didn’t scream or cry, but he was obviously tense and frustrated. AND water was getting in his eyes.

Finally, sick of the crying (it was also very warm in the house, humid in the bathroom, and I felt like a sweaty mess), I drained the tub and filled it with clear water. Beanie immediately ceased crying (and coloring), and was content with holding his red crayon under the running water. Whatever, kid. Go to town.

Pie, who had already gotten out of the tub once to go potty (after I’d asked him at least three times before he got in whether he needed to go), got back in and, again, wouldn’t sit down all the way, but wanted to know where the colored water went. I told him I drained it. He tried the crayon thing again, complained that Nathan was coloring on the tub (*FACEPALM*), and then began to have issues with color on his own skin and decided he was done with the bath and wanted to get out. I hadn’t washed his hair yet, so I had to go through the agonizing hair washing process detailed above, with more whining than usual, and found myself exclaiming, “SIT! STAY!” to him while I went and fetched a towel. Poor Ladybug, laying down quietly on the bathroom floor, was probably thinking I’d finally gone off the deep end.

In addition to all that, there was an excessive amount of dog hair in the tub, probably from Pie getting in and out with wet feet. Pie gets freaked out by my hairs getting on him while he’s in the bath, but Beanie freaks out over every little strand — person, cat, or dog — that sticks to his fingers, so it was a never-ending process of trying to get the invisible hair off the whining baby while also getting the kid out and dried and dressed before the baby could slip and drown (as all children are going to do if you leave them alone in the bath for one second, according to parenting experts).

Fortunately, I did not need to fight Pie over PJs, but I did have to corral him to get him to put them on with less twitching and flinging and roaring like a dinosaur. Getting Beanie out wasn’t so bad, because, though he was content with his red bath crayon and clear water, he was tired and lonely.

It wasn’t even too much of a fight to get them into bed after that. Beanie screamed, as he is wont to do when he is put down for bed, but stopped not too long after I shut the door.

I had hoped I might get them into bed before it got dark, but no dice. At least it wasn’t very cold outside yet. I was going to wash the car and then the dog, but I decided the car could wait, and I would just wash the dog while I still had energy.

I would have let a groomer do it, except that I’ve been having a lot of allergy trouble lately, and I’m not sure whether the shampoo or something the groomer used when we brought Ladybug in last might have set off this cough I’ve been struggling with for two weeks (and allergy symptoms for four). Or it’s the grass Ladybug’s been walking through and bringing into the house. Also, it just seemed like it was time. A clean dog is a happy owner. 😉

Compared to the kids, washing Ladybug was WAY less frustrating! More labor-intensive, but much more gratifying. She sat still on the porch while I brushed her out, did her ear wash, brushed her teeth, and shoved cotton balls in her ears so more water wouldn’t get down there while I bathed her. She did run away and lose the cotton balls when I turned on the water, but I needed a few minutes to wash the spiders off the hose and sprayer, so I let her cringe for a bit. She came right to me when I called, though, and let me put new cotton balls in her ears and prep the hose, because she’s just awesome like that.

She stood still while I sprayed her with cold water from the hose, and she didn’t move as I lathered her up and sprayed the soap off. She stood still while I toweled her dry, except when I let her shake. She ran away when the neighbor’s son drove up their driveway, but came back when I called her so I could finish toweling her off.

The only setback was this little ornamental bed around the porch with black bark mulch in it, which, naturally, she ran right through on the way back to the porch from the driveway, where I washed her, so I had to spend a few more minutes toweling the dirt off her feet before I could let her inside.

Before anyone freaks out over the fact that I washed my dog with cold water in the dark, it wasn’t cold outside, and it was 80+ degrees in the house (I forgot to look at the thermostat last night), so she was quite comfortable while she dried inside. 🙂

But, MAN! What a difference! It was hot enough during the day that it might have been more effective to hose the children down on the driveway, and they probably would have enjoyed it more. I just might try that next time, instead . . .

Yay for Christmas!

I wasn’t really in the mood for Christmas this year. However, I love spending time with family and friends. I just want it to be relaxed and stress-free.

I decorated a little (hey, at least the tree is up!) and Christmas-shopped (on the 23rd, with my 15-mo-old in tow, but it got done and Beanie was EXTREMELY well-behaved). I did a little baking, even after swearing off sugar, gluten, and dairy (which only lasted a day or two, but my stomach is happier for it, and Beanie has been sleeping through the night, so objective accomplished). We had our choir concert (despite a few hiccups, it went splendidly), family dinners (remarkably low-drama on both sides), church service (but my husband and I had nursery duty, and the power went out, so we didn’t get to participate), and Christmas morning with the kids today (the day after Christmas). It was a great weekend!

But it didn’t really feel like Christmas! I think the weather had a lot to do with it. It doesn’t feel like winter, and Christmas is supposed to be kind of an escape from winter (at least, in my mind). Warmth, family, fun — all while the weather outside is “frightful”.

Another part of the problem is that I like to work up to Christmas with music, movies, more decorations, etc, and I felt kinda disconnected from it this year. I listened to music in the car, sure, but we weren’t in the car that often. I’m not bombarded with visual or aural media anymore, not having a central radio in the house or subscription to cable. I’m actually very glad for the lack of media bombardment, because I have gotten to a point where I strongly dislike most contemporary Christmas music, and Christmas ads on TV are overwhelming and the programming is often pretty shallow.

Then, for a couple weeks leading up to the last few days before Christmas, Beanie was waking every two to four hours with teething pain, gas bubbles, or a desire to be fed, and I was turning into a mindless zombie who could barely function enough to do laundry. He’s slept through the night for several nights now, so I have more or less gotten caught up on sleep (thank goodness!), but not in enough time to be fully prepared for the holidays.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system . . . We had a great Christmas, really! I just feel like I was kind of sideswiped by it and am left wondering what happened. 🙂

It was fun to watch Pie open his gifts without help this year, and play with them! He appreciates books and toys more than he did last year. Beanie had fun, too, and it will be even more fun next year when HE is more aware of what a present is, and that it might contain something fun just for him.

I’ve lowered my expectations a lot over the past few years, especially since I started to struggle with the “true meaning of Christmas”, and what I wanted to teach my children about it. Even though we haven’t really made a solid decision or any real solid family traditions (other than dinner(s) and gift-opening time with the rest of the family, and my husband and I watching Black Adder Christmas Carol after the boys have gone to bed), I think we have done well by not emphasizing the presents quite as much to Pie. He was thrilled with what he got, but he didn’t run around asking for more, or saying, “Is that ALL?”. Granted, he did run around stealing other people’s gifts like they were his — especially Beanie’s — but Christmas isn’t (yet) ALL about the present-getting. I’m hoping we can do some crafts next year and emphasize the GIVING, because that always makes me feel more Christmasy — when I can make something I know someone will like, and see the smile on their face when they get it.

So here’s to a new year, wherein I promise to do so much better NEXT Christmas than I did this year. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I won’t raise my expectations much, because it’s kind of relaxing when all I expect is good times with family and friends. 🙂

* * * *

I did have to do a little self-training in regards to my own “Christmas getting” attitude. I didn’t have a lot of presents to open that were just for me at any of the gift-opening activities we did, including our own little family’s — and I really do love opening presents. However, that was just due to a shipping snafu on my husband’s part, so I do have some surprises coming to me in the next few weeks. As much as I like presents ON Christmas, I also like presents AFTER Christmas, so it kind of works out well. 🙂 I also know he was thinking of me, and put a lot of time into what he ordered, so I’m not even going to drop hints to make him feel bad. But it is pretty funny. 😉

Weird Night

I’ve been reading S.M. Stirling’s “Change” series. I think I just finished the first book in the second series, and have started on the first book of the first series (mainly because my library app has the first, third, and fourth books of the second series. I HATE when that happens!). The basic premise is that “something” happens to shut down all electricity and electrical equipment in the world, and render gunpowder useless. Then, the SCA takes over on the West coast (THERE’s a surprise) and cowboys and indians everywhere else. That’s the VERY basic premise.

Anyway, the first book has to do with what happens immediately after “The Change”–how people cope, survive, and die in droves. I read it for a while last night before bed, and you can imagine the kinds of dreams it prompted! Fascinating ones, for sure. What made it worse was that our power actually went out around 1:30am.

I awoke to the UPS on the computer beeping. While Sweetie went to turn it off, I called the power company to report the outage. I was apparently the first, because I got a real human, and not a recorded update. We got back to sleep, and I woke up a little when Sweetie left for work around 5:30. The power was still out then, so I called the power company again for an update. Apparently, only 15 customers were out of power due to an “equipment failure” and the estimated time of repair was going to be 4:51am (how they knew it wasn’t going to be 4:50 or 4:52, I’ll never know–but it wasn’t on by 5:35 when I called, so they were wrong, anyway).

I went back to sleep, having more odd dreams about the end of the industrial/civilized world. Around 6, my alarm went off. Still no power. Then I heard the UPS beep to life (well, it was still shut down, but I’m pretty sure I heard it announce that the power was back on) around 6:30. I decided to continue sleeping, since water wasn’t going to be hot enough for a shower right away. STILL more weird dreams.

So, waking up to a world that’s still intact, physically and civilly, was kind of disconcerting this morning.

I should probably read something “normal” before bed from now on. 🙂

My Identity

Oh good grief! It’s been three months since I’ve updated this thing. It’s probably been almost that long since I had two hands and more than a few minutes to put a few sentences together, too, so don’t judge me yet. 🙂

I think I need hot chocolate for this. Fortunately, though I am about to take a five- to ten-minute break, you won’t know, because reading is like watching TV on DVD: The breaks might be obvious, but you don’t have to wait through the commercials. . . . Only the inane blather about weird analogies while the author could be using that time to make said hot chocolate and get to writing a dang blog post, for goodness sake. That’s the quality you get here. You’re welcome.

I’ve read many blogs over time, and have come to terms with the fact that I am not a great blogger. I probably never will be. I’m a decent writer, maybe, but too perfectionistic to write well quickly. Therefore, I rarely post, because if I can’t get something done quickly, it doesn’t get done. That’s why my garage is still full of clothes I could be wearing, but haven’t sorted through. My three-year-old is destructive when I’m not looking and my seven-month-old likes to be held. He eats ever couple hours, and needs changing frequently. When they don’t need me, I am around in case I’m needed. And I’m probably tired, because my baby would have woken me up once or twice to eat, and I just cannot adjust. Things that aren’t immediate and quick don’t get done.

This clashes greatly with my old identity. My old “system”, if you will, or maybe “habits” fits better there. However, as I’ve thought about it, “training” actually is the best word to describe what I’m currently fighting against.

My entire life, up to graduation from college, involved, in some form or another, training in the ability to sit for long periods of time, studying. Testing. Deconstructing. Figuring. FOCUSING. I’ve always done my best in jobs that required long periods of focus on a single task; data entry, filing, or compiling being some of my greatest skills. I can sit for hours and do data entry. I’m really good at it. Leave me alone for a few hours or days with a cabinet full of stuff that needs to be reorganized or systemized (and the resources needed to do it), and I’ll give you a system you can depend on for a long time. This is not bragging (okay, maybe a little), it’s just what I’m good at.

But I haven’t done that much in my life. I’m, admittedly, an extremely distractable person, and the Internet has played a key role in my inability to live like an organized, systemized person. Throw in a good dose of Lazy, and you have Me. Yay.

When I graduated from college, I discovered . . . freedom. I was married, sure, but I was free to be a stay-at-home wife; my husband even encouraged it. Back then, probably because we had less stuff, no cable (only a VCR and computer DVD player), and dial-up, my house was always clean, the laundry always done, dinner always cooked. I had my storage room full of crap I wasn’t going through, of course, but the REST of the house was just lovely. And my brain was finally resting. AAaaah!

I loved being a stay-at-home wife. But . . . what was I now going to do with that piece of paper I’d earned after five years of work? I was pretty bored at home, to be honest. I discovered blogging, but back then I tried not to post more than a few times of day. I discovered a budding discussion board (remember EZ Boards?) and became a member there, but there wasn’t much discussion during the day, because there were still few members, and I didn’t want to be the chatty wannabe. They were tolerating me at first, anyway–it was all about the perils of the IT world, in which my husband was embroiled, and I was kinda tagging along for the fun of it. I didn’t need to ingratiate myself. Not to mention we still had dial-up, and I didn’t want to be on the phone all day (though it might have been worth it, since Qwest called every stinkin’ day to try to sell me something). These were the years before cell phones–not a new technology, but definitely beyond our means at the time. If someone needed to get ahold of me, the phone line needed to be free.

I’d subscribed to the local paper, because I’d always wanted to get a newspaper, but never had had time to read it. I quickly discovered I was not one to read a whole paper in a day, but it did come in handy when we wanted to get out and enjoy some local events–and when I decided it was time to look for a job. I wanted to contribute financially, and it felt like my degree was burning a hole in whatever stack in the back room I’d placed it in. My parents had reminded me frequently what it was costing them to send me to school. I was going to be paying those loans back soon. And my husband’s job was looking somewhat questionable as to whether it would exist in the next few months.

I kind of wish I hadn’t been too picky back then, and knew what I know now: I would gladly work in a coffee shop (there was one five minutes from our apartment, by foot) or a library (I knew where there were a couple in town). I didn’t really need to find something “in my field”, because, really, my field–“Environmental Science”–was kind of the equivalent of a Liberal Arts degree. Fuzzy and not terribly useful in the “real” world. (I did get a job in a lab once, but not because I had any kind of sciencey background. It was because I told them I enjoyed technical writing, and they eventually wanted someone to do documentation for the equipment they developed. I can say that my college training in writing lab reports DID help me out in that job, since the only real writing I ever did for them was a performance report on one of the pieces of equipment, and the big boss used it in a presentation and told me it was a great report. I got no compensation other than bragging rights.)

Going back to my original point (whatever that was): These days, I’m a mom. My house is cluttered; my floors are gross; I rarely get to listen to my music anymore; I feel guilty leaving my children with a babysitter, even my husband, which means doing anything without them is never very refreshing for long; and I can never focus on a project for more than half an hour without being needed by someone (or something–I’m talking to you, cat) or falling asleep/getting distracted/sneaking time for a shower when the baby’s asleep and the kid is entertaining himself in his room during lockdown “quiet time”. Ask me how long it’s been since I’ve updated the checkbook–a task that takes a lot of time and is actually very cathartic for me when I can focus on it. Fortunately, paying the bills is a quick, easy job, so that’s always done, but the checkbook is never balanced.

I went through school being pressured to perform academically. I was not discouraged from doing extracurricular activities, but it was made known on a few occasions that I shouldn’t have been wasting time with them. Fortunately, academics came easy to me, though I was always an average student. I knew what I could do to get by. I excelled at what I loved, though: Singing, writing (but I rarely did my best work), and reading. I was a little jealous of my brothers, who were such great athletes and not expected to bring home good grades but were allowed to take part–nay, encouraged–in any sport or activity they wanted (slightly more irksome when my youngest brother proved to be a math whiz–my weakest subject). But their identity was not bound up in what their brains could do.

Without getting into a bunch of other baggage, I’ll just say that now that my brain is pretty much my weakest link, I’m getting frustrated. I guess I’m still kind of smart about some things, but my articulation is so poor that I can barely get those concepts across anymore. I take in a lot of info during the day, and I have a longing to report on it or synthesize it, but by the time I’d get around to it, everyone else has already done so and I don’t have two brain cells left to spare on the subjects. I get a little jealous of my husband, who is so very smart and articulate, and who gets to spend an entire day focusing on a single task at a time–taking in information and writing about it, go figure–and then feel really inadequate when it comes to discussing anything deeper than what we had to eat that day.

This brain–the same brain that used to engage my husband (then friend and eventually boyfriend) on the phone for hours with interesting topics and witty banter–is NOTHING compared to what it used to be. The last counselor I saw told me something about how people tend to identify themselves as something–for instance, an intellectual–and face a crisis when they can no longer identify with that anymore.

I know I’m a mom. I have cute-as-buttons children who make me laugh and make me tear my hair out. It’s a job I longed for and a job I frequently love. But it hit me the other day that, though the overall joy is worth the pain, I face daily defeat, and it can be exhausting. I’m not the wife I want to be. I’m far, far from the intellectual I used to be. Heck, I’m even a mediocre mom, and it’s what I do full-time. Granted, I’m convinced children exist to show us our inadequacies and insecurities on a daily basis, and my children definitely excel at that. But it’s hard not to feel like a regular failure when you can’t figure out how to get your child to obey a simple command, you lose your cool too often, and you hope that at least the kids can put a smile on your husband’s face when he comes home from work, because you feel like you’re failing at that, too.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy, but to explore the irritation I’ve been feeling lately. As a Christian, it’s even more frustrating, because, ideally, my identity in the world should have no bearing on the identity I have as a saved follower of Christ. But I’ve felt like a mediocre Christian, too, who (*gulp*) barely cracks a Bible anymore and mostly remembers to pray when serving food to the kid–or when suppressing the urge to tie and gag the kid the next time he shrieks in the house after you’ve told him to stop it for the tenth time.

(On that note, don’t ever tell me or any other embattled parent to not pray for patience, because God will only send lessons in which to learn patience. When I’m praying for patience, it’s DURING those lessons, and I’m praying that God save me from emerging homicidal urges. I expect other parents feel the same.)

It’s like drinking in fresh, spring air after being cooped up in a musty cellar for months when I get to delve into a deep Bible study with someone. It’s like food when I get to spend hours searching scripture for answers. It’s like sweet water when I find those answers and get to pass them on to someone. I can understand the verse about hungering and thirsting for Christ and His teachings. It’s like the last bastion of deep thought I am afforded anymore. I think my political dabblings embarrass my husband. My nutritional research makes me guilty when I can’t expend the willpower or time to change my diet to something more healthy (though I have made great strides in past years, and my diet is much better than it used to be, even if it’s not always the best). But aside from personal study (which I have neglected) and recently infrequent studies with neighboring Jehovah’s Witnesses, I don’t get that meaty, satisfying discussion–not even at church.

If I were to pick an identity I would love to have, it would be Christian first. “Mom” comes with the territory, and it’s really a job. Who is THIS mom, besides Pie and Beanie’s caretaker and Sweetie’s wife? I’ve tried to run a business out of my home, but have been largely unsuccessful due to my own insecurities. I’m holding out, though, for my breakthrough–I don’t want to quit. It’s a very lucrative business, and I think I could be good at it if I allowed myself to be. I just have to get out of my own way and learn how to redefine myself.

Well, I’m finally getting tired. I wonder if anyone made it this far into my ramblings. I should probably congratulate you if you did. 🙂 The word count says I’m over 2200. Too bad I could do this kind of volume during NaNoWriMo! Anyway, that’s what I’ve been musing about lately. I don’t do the dreamy or poetic-type blog posts about how magical and blessed it is to be a parent or a person on this earth. I like nitty-gritty with a touch of philosophical. And a splash of vodka. 😉

And now, to go against my better judgment, I’m going to publish this without proofreading, because I am one of those people who will proofread and rewrite for another hour, and the baby will probably wake up in that time, so I’d better grab all the sleep I can get. Until later–God bless. 🙂