Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mom, what's mulitiplication?

That's the question Max asked me last week. At least, I think it was last week when I picked him up from school and we were on our to go get his sister. He knows addition, kind of knows subtraction but I don't even think he is supposed to learn multiplication for a few years. Anyways, in the car, I was trying to figure out a good way to explain it to him and drive at the same time. Thank goodness for red lights. It gave me a chance to use my hands to give him some examples. You know like 3 x 2 = 6. I held up both hands showing 3 fingers. I asked him how many times I showed the number 3 and what number did that create. He kind of caught on and we did a few of those type of examples. It was interesting to try and teach him and I even talked to his teacher about it.

Fast forward to today. He was doing a worksheet and he needed to count his teeth. He came up to me and said '10 two times is 20= multiplication.' I just wasn't expecting it. It is nice to see that he was listening and comprehending what I said. He is growing up so fast.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We voted as a family today

Well at least 3 of us did. My husband is waiting for November 4th to cast his first ballot. But more on that later.

Max has been asking since the early voting began when we would go vote. He had already voted in school and Obama had won in his classroom 10:3. We went to the rallies during the primaries and he chanted with everyone else, OBAMA. OBAMA waving the sign in the air. He has been excited about the process even if he hasn't completely understood it.

It's kind of like the Reagan/Carter campaigns. I was so sure Carter was going to win because my parents supported him so much while the neighbor kid, friend of mine was so sure Reagan was going to win because his Dad was a staunch Republican. Billy didn't lord it over me too much when Reagan won but that is the first election I remember. That began my love affair with politics and the process. Well and those saturday morning in between cartoons, cartoon that would tell us what a bill is. You know schoolhouse rocks! I need to get those for my kids, hmmm I digress. It is nice to see Max following in my footsteps to the point of wanting to have his vote count because we voted as a family.

We voted at the grocery store when I picked him up from school. We had to stand in line for our turn and we chatted with our neighbors in line. It was nice, there were no questions of who people were voting for just excitement and a sense of how important it is to get out and vote. We got up to the table so I could get my electronic card. I always knew Costco was a handy place because that was the card I used to id myself, lol! I gave my address and signed on the dotted line. We went for the short wait to get to the booth. The election workers gave the kids, the I voted stickers. They allowed me to take a chair over to the booth so the kids could stand on it and watch me vote. For some reason, Max missed my first vote so he did not see me touch the screen and cast that momentous vote for Obama. So much hope was cast with that ballot.

We want our kids to grow up knowing that if they dream and work for it, it could be theirs. That now includes the highest post in the land and I hope that I am not speaking too soon.

I have always felt that voting was such a privilege and so important that I have never understood those who don't vote. There are so many places in the world where that right and privilege don't exist that it is hard to imagine that our own citizens take it fore granted.

My husband got his citizenship, I think it has been 2 years now. This is the first election that he is voting in. But before this election when we were still living in CA, right after Max was born, there was a March voting. I don't even remember anymore for what. He asked me if I was going to vote, my mom was visiting, and I said nah, I am too tired. He looked at me and said, 'I can't vote. It is your duty as a citizen to vote, now go, it won't take long.' If not those words, exactly it was something close to them. He reminded me of how important my job as a citizen of this country is. If we don't cast our ballot what right do we have to complain about our government?

Anyway, I am excited for the 4th and I hope that he takes Max with him to the booth so that Max can vote again. I hope he will tell me who he voted for on that day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My day of nothing

Seriously, I am still in my pjs and it is after 4pm. I don't know why I can't seem to get dressed on get on with my day. Maggie is half dressed. Max is dressed warmly because he has a cold.

I did accomplish finishing a book. I have let the kids way tooo toooo much tv. This day has been a crowning glory of under achievement.

I keep waiting for a good night's sleep. I think I have a long wait ahead...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sick all weekend

Do they take pity? nope, were they bored mindless? yep, was the house a mess by the Sunday evening? yes. did they give me hugs because they knew I was sick? yes. Did Max bring me toast and water and give me kisses? yes. Did I feel bad that I got sick right after Krismon got back from his conference? nope. I was so thankful he was home. It was a rough weekend that I pretty much spent completely in bed sick as a dog.

I am still recovering from it and am hoping to be back to my cheerful self before tomorrow just so I can move on with my week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

IBM conference

So somehow my husband one the prize a trip to North Carolina to deliver a presentation at a golfing conference. In all actuality, I am really pleased for him. I think this was a great opportunity and he and a co worker were the youngest people there. But that meant that I was home with the kids. Now don't feel too sorry for me, heck I know some of you out there have husbands who travel a whole lot more than mine. I did have school and friend to watch the kids while I worked from home and had a break from the kids. It was more the night times that I was dreading.
Maggie has been in the habit of going to sleep in her room and then somehow ending up in our bed and sleeping with us the rest of the night if we don't wake up and take her back to their room.
Max has always been an early riser and lately it has seemingly been earlier than usual.
Last night was no exception except that even when Maggie was making noises at 3 something in the morning, it did not wake me enough to start me thinking and I continued to sleep fairly peacefully until almost 6am when an awake boy and dog sought to wake me up and in the aftermath wake Maggie up as well. I kind of headed them off which gave Maggie an extra 10 minutes or so.
Anyways, I am really looking forward to picking Krismon up from the airport this evening. We talked about it last night and are keeping the kids up an extra hour or so, so he can see them. It was nice to know that he missed them so much.

Yesterday was his presentation. I picked Max up from school and on the way to go and get Maggie we talked about it. I was setting the scene... stage, jumbotron (sp?), etc. Max from the backseat asks, "Is papa nervous?" I don't know why that still seems so profound to me but it is. It was a sign that he understood the feeling on some level and could, I believe, empathize. I might be making this all up in my head but it just seemed so grown up coming from a 4 yo. Anyway, I answered saying yes I believe he was when we skyped the night before. He did say yesterday when I spoke to him later in the evening that the presentation went well and he had people come up and talk to him about later. I couldn't have been more happy for him. He said the stage was so well lit that he couldn't see people in the audience and that helped relax him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And his education has begun

Well it began this summer when he called someone stupid at school. Ah the joys of picking your child up from school to be informed that he is calling someone names and using the word in the proper context! Yippeee.

Yesterday was so much fun, hearing about his growing vocabulary and the new signs he is learning. The new sign he called it 'the shark.' Sounds powerful, right? Alas, it is what we in the biz call 'the bird.' He showed it to his father first and then his father suggested that he show it to me so I could see this lovely new sign that he had learned from an older child at his school. Now I understand that this was bound to happen. Heck, I had a mouth like a trucker when I was in third grade, at least, when my parents weren't around. His friends in school on the playground were kind enough to teach him both butthead and buttcrack. I feel so psyched that he is building his knowledge and sharing it with us and Maggie. Just what I want my 2 yo to hear. It's bad enough that we taught her 'bootie' and that she likes to both say it and shake it. argh. Okay so some lessons we learn the hard way....

We had the discussion of appropriate vs inappropriate words and behaviour. Has he gotten it completely? Welllllll he kind of knows because he hasn't done it in earshot of his teachers and thankfully he must know that isn't something to add into his everyday sentence structure but can we expect more... Heck yes

And oh did I tell you about him chasing the girls trying to kiss them? Hmm now that was two weeks ago and he got talked to by two teachers to get him to stop. He had his uncles wanting to live vicariously through him because he had the girls giggling and running. He still fondly remembers that time two weeks ago when he wanted to kiss the girls.

Can you tell I am worried what the future will be like?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nonviolent Communication

So I have been reading a book by Marshall Rosenberg. It is a really powerful book with tough concepts. It's about changing the way we think when it comes to our interactions with others. I would actually put it up there with Oprah's favorite book "A New Earth" except that the practical applications, I believe, are more.

I say tough concepts but they aren't really.... They are very easy to understand and practical for use until you are in a situation with oh say your kids. I really dislike the push/pull of power struggles and I don't want my kids to grow up feeling like an iron fist is being wielded. I am not talking about physical abuse or mental abuse for that matter. I want them to have respect for everything around them including themselves but I feel that I am failing in this aspect. I know for respect to be given, it also needs to be reciprocated. This is a tough idea. As a parent, we get used to the idea that we can tell/make our kids do what we want them to do but what does this really do for them except to try and make them obedient kids and then have them rebel later on.

Okay so to get back to the Rosenberg. He has for 4 part approach. To take directly from the book, page 7 "NVC Process
The concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being.
How we feel in relation to what we observe.
The needs, values, desires, etc that create our feelings.
The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives."

My example of this.... Say I ask Max to unload the dishwasher but he isn't doing it in a timely manner.

Instead of exploding or getting more irritated. I need to observe my feelings, see the prior statement. Then ask myself what needs of mine are not being met (this was a big revelation to me, because I had considered the feelings part and sometimes I could observe my feelings as if slightly disconnected from myself except it wouldn't stop me from still spouting off at the mouth) And then make the request that expressed my needs and not as much my feelings unless I was truly being responsible to my feelings. So my request might be, 'Max, I need you to feel ownership of this household which means contributing to the upkeep and care of our home by emptying the dishwasher.' What I need to let go of is that he might not do it in my timetable every time but if there are distractions, I might need to try and clear those (ie tv playing at same time).

Now being responsible for my feelings isn't a new concept to me because it was something my parents pounded, I mean, taught us from a fairly early age. Someone can't make you feel anything. We choose to feel the way we do. What Rosenberg does is take it a step further and say because some need is not being met. I am still trying to understand how I can express this for myself. The feeling he speaks to is anger and its derivatives. How often do we say or heard said 'He, she, it makes me so angry....' We need to step back and really look at why we are feeling this way and how we can change our perception. Our best bet is to stop and breathe as Rosenberg says in the book so we can gain more perspective and really translate to ourselves what we are feeling.

Okay I got to cut this short and get out of here. Maybe I will have more to write later but I really want to take on the challenge of getting my family on the nvc bandwagon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why so early?

I am still trying to figure out why my children like to punish me and wake me before the sun is up in any way shape or form. Everyday is a challenge it feels like and a hope. Please, please, please sleep until 6am. Please, please, please Maggie don't come to our room and climb in our bed and practically lay on top of me leaving me so little room that I am hanging off the edge of the bed.

Can you guess that this is one of those days? We let Max sleep on the blow up mattress in our room last night because he did not get a time out all day. We want to let them do this one night a week just for fun. Maggie decided to throw my cell phone so she opted out on the sleeping on the mattress with Max. So instead, at 4:30 this morning she came down and climbed in with us and then realized Max was down there and insisted on a pillow so she could join him. I should have known even in my foggy sleep state that this was bad news.

Fast forward to an hour later and I have had enough of Maggie going back and forth and climbing on me. I decide she is going back to her room and get out of bed to take her. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Maxwell out of bed. I think I say something to the effect of you better had just gone to the bathroom and are going back to bed and move Maggie along.

I take her upstairs, potty her, throw her in her room where she cries and cries and cries. And did I mention that she cries? I try to lay down in the guest room since it is close but after a bit find I am now to wound up. But during this time, Max makes his way up the stairs at which point I say something to the effect that he better get back to bed or all his privileges will be taken away for the day.

Now, Max knows and understands the reward system and so he is easier but it gets really hard with Maggie to get her to stop sleeping in our bed. We just end up so tired for days trying to deal with her.

I guess it is something I need to recommit myself to. I just miss when she was a baby and slept at least 12 hours a night.

Friday, October 3, 2008

End of year frugality

I bet you know what is coming. Given our economic climate, I want to scale back not only on our spending but really determine a budget based solely on his salary. My friend talked of the 80/20 rule. Use 80 percent of the salary for expenses and debt and split the 20 between charity and savings.

I want for us to really build our savings and get our spending under control. Who knows how long our economy will look like this? While we should have seen this coming, I didn't. And I feel like that is saying something since in I lived when the silicon valley bubble burst in 2000 and seemed to take forever to recover. It was a few hard years and now the circle is radiating from NY out and hurting even more people.

I really hate the idea that we are bailing out big companies and hope that the ceos and executives who were among the problem are not compensated for what they have done to our economy. It's crazy to look at what these people make and then see what their decisions have done. I feel like they should have to give money back for those decisions. I know off on a tangent.

So again back to the reason I am here. I have tried in the past to do months of frugality and been successful but this time around, I really believe it has to change even more. And darn it, that means that I need to get creative not only with dinners, but with kids crafts, with my (lack of) exercise routine. Thank goodness the weather is changing and soon I will be able to take the kids on nature walks again after school. That will be a nice change from coming home and doing snack and then trying to come up with something to do that doesn't involve tv time but that usually wins out in the end.

Any crafty ideas, dinner ideas, any ideas at all from frugally gifted people?.......

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Camping in a lightening storm

Yes that was our weekend last. Fun, fun, fun oh and did I mention fun.....

I am not sarcastic in the least. We got up to the mountain Friday and got set up. We ate our chili the kids got bored with us. They were so excited to be there, they wanted to go and visit all the other campers. The bathrooms were locked for the season so we had to make due with port a potties (more on that later). The first night was okay except none of us got a whole lotta sleep. We were truly hoping that we would since the second night, Saturday, was when our friends would be coming up to camp and bbq with us. We brought a ton of meat (we have a ton left over). We had one friend get lost drive the wrong direction and almost to Utah (slight exaggeration) before coming the right way. We had rain off and on during the morning until around 1pm when we had a thunderstorm. All I can say is Thank God for dvd players!!! The kids watched a dvd while we listened to npr. One friend, John, showed up towards the end of the storm. The kids were so happy to have someone besides us around! They ran races and walked about. We started to prepare for the arrival of others. We did not have as many people show as we thought. Max crapped out at 6pm. I had to carry him into the tent and lay him in his sleeping bag. He fell in love with his bag that night since it kept him wrapped up like a cocoon. I got to stay out with Maggie until around 7:30-8pm. Then she wanted to go to sleep. We were just getting ready when her favorite person showed up, Nick. She gave a few more hugs and included Chris in them and then we were off to bed to share her sleeping bag which was larger than mine. We got it with the idea in mind that she might never let us sleep on our own and that she wouldn't be conscious enough to keep herself warm. We snuggled in and slept right away.

Around 2am, the storm started. I think we were all pretty much awake except maybe Maggie. You could see the flashes of lightening. I could tell that Krismon and I were thinking the same thing, crap are we going to have to make a run for the car! Luckily the lightening passed below us on the mountain and we were okay. But before it was gone, I became a mama sandwich when Max climbed up on the blowup mattress with Maggie and I. Afterwards, he rolled back down to his beloved sleeping bag to talk with Krismon about thunder and lightening while Maggie and I went back to sleep. Ah did that feel good.

The next morning, all was well and wet. We ran to get the kids pottied and had to skip using the women's because of the mess in there. I will not describe it further, but it was not pretty and Maggie wouldn't even step foot inside and she is 2!

We made breakfast for the bunch, let the kids wake up their uncles. They fell in love with Uncle Chris that day. He played hide and seek and spy games. Even Uncle Nick got in on the act and played with them while we were decamping. Now we know we can get through a lot with our kids since we got through the weekend. We, also, learned that we need to figure out more good outdoorsy type toys or games so they won't ditch us for those fun campers! lol