Archive for December, 2011

My son, age 7, has started impressing me in a new way.

As a toddler, he used to impress me with his articulation.  As a kindergartener and a first grader, he impressed me with his ability to consume arithmetic, algebraic, and geometric ideas and respond intelligently.  I am told that he ought to have received more praise for those things, but I apparently didn’t understand the magnitude of his performance because he is a firstborn and I had no other children to compare with except my own childhood.  Having no understanding that I ought to discover a child’s strong suits and cater to those, I catered to my own strong suits that I saw in him.

However, recently, he has been impressing me by exhibiting a maturity beyond his years that he didn’t learn from me.

He had been faithfully attending rehearsals for the church Christmas play since August.  During finals week (where I was giving the final), he had a required rehearsal.  That evening, while I was giving a final and my husband (who has been the one driving him to rehearsals) was required to go back to the school where he works and run the sound for one of their Christmas plays (he had to ask a grandparent to watch our three children during the performance) , my seven-year-old son had no way to get to that rehearsal.

Sunday arrived and a kind person informed me (I had been at work for all of his other rehearsals and was much less equipped than all of the other moms) that I needed to return my son for church no later than 3pm for the last rehearsal for the play at 5:30pm.  Though the other one had been billed as a final rehearsal, this was apparently the FINAL final rehearsal.  We reorganized and spread our family over two counties and three locations to get him there on time.

My son was told that he was not allowed to perform because he had missed the single previous rehearsal.  Certainly the staging that they practiced in that one rehearsal was too hard for him to master in the two and a half hour block.  By the way, his staging consisted of “stand in this one spot.”  A child of 130 IQ might not be able to handle that?  Anyway, I was expecting to have to console him extensively.  He merely remarked that this was disappointing–not shedding a tear.

During the performance, his auntie asked him to sing all the lyrics from his seat so that she “could hear them.”  He, as opposed to the children on stage, didn’t have the benefit of reading the lyrics or watching the instructors, but sang his heart out from his seat.  I didn’t feel the need to have words with the powers that be because my husband and brother-in-law certainly filled that quota.

My son told me later, “I’m sorry that I didn’t get to perform for you.”  I responded, “I am so pleased with the fantastic attitude that you had that I think that I am MORE proud of you for doing a good job from your seat than if you had performed with the group.  This way, I got to see what a wonderful kid you are too.”

On another occasion, I had wound myself up and  as a result, I was spinning like a top through my kitchen.  In the middle of my frustration, my son put his hand on my shoulder and told me, “Mom, I really love you.  I think you’re great.  I just wanted you to know that.”  He has learned how to diffuse my frenzy instantly.  He must have learned that from his father!

Finally, he had very specific ideas about what he wanted for Christmas.  I gave him a budget (his budget was more than his toddler sisters’ combined budget) and took him shopping.  He picked an item, but upon checking the price, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to afford both of his items and stay within his budget.  He paused for a moment.  He looked kindly into my eyes and said, “That’s okay, Mom.  This is enough.”

He had no idea that I had found the other items on his wish list for a great deal in October!  In a season where I was trying to teach my children about the perils of materialism, his sweet attitude nearly made me break character and raise the ceiling on his budget.  Nearly, but I didn’t want to squander the educational momentum.  He was still pleased on Christmas morning.  I have never enjoyed seeing him light up on Christmas morning like I did this year.

I always knew that my son would impress me, but I assumed that being proud of him for the KIND of person he is would come much later.  I’ve heard of this dance that mothers and sons perform where they are constantly redefining their relationship as the son learns how to be a functional and reasonable person, where who protects whom slowly changes over several years.  While I understand that there is much more morphing and redefining to take place in the next few years, I am astounded that he has enabled me to look into his eyes and see the man he will become in only half the time before I expected to have that revelation.  I am exceedingly grateful for any opportunity he gives me.

When I was a kid, Star Trek: The Next Generation was the Saturday night favorite.  Having not blossomed into a nerd (and having an attention span of a child), I was only mildly interested in what would become my SciFi favorite.  I watched them again after school when I was a teenager and again through the morning sickness with my third child.

Modern entertainment is showing evidence of a post ST:TNG world.  OH, the gadgets!  Getting to see technology gear itself in the direction of the SciFi writers of my childhood is delightful.

There are obvious things like the ideas of virtual reality and Xbox Kinnect are a holodeck in its infancy.  Also, Dr Crusher appears to be using the equivalent of an iPad in sick bay or a version of a nook/fire when she’s directing a play.

But, Oh, My Flippin’ Goodness, I nearly had a conniption when I saw that CVS now sells Neela’s PianoNeela's Piano at CVS from the episode Lessons!


The short version: where can I find washing soda?

The long version: More than three years ago, my friend, Hannah taught me how to coupon.  Initially, it was a solution to a very large problem.  Then, it became a game.  For a while, it became a little bit of an obsession.

In August of 2009, I bought a boatload of dishwasher detergent (I use the term loosely, because I came out $4.11 in my favor to take it).  Then in February of 2010, I got twenty+ bottles of laundry detergent for next to nothing.  I bought dishwasher detergent in September (2011) and laundry detergent in October.  I’ve decided I don’t like this “paying” for things that I’ve enjoyed for free for so long.  Now, I did use coupons, but I didn’t get them for nearly free.

The stockpile of free items has another benefit that I miss—the convenience of not having to go to the store to finish household chores.  “We’re out? No we’re not.  Go get some more out of the storage drawer under the dryer.”

Being a little dramatic, I claim that each time I come back from the store, I am done.  I am done; everything that my family will use for the next week has been purchased.  I have completed the whole shopping event and I AM DONE.  I have accomplished my goals.  ALL HAIL MOM who has returned from the trenches of retail.  Now, I can spend my week focusing on cleaning, working, and paying attention to the toddlers so that they don’t rip the house apart.  I might even sit down with a cup of coffee.

That’s my fantasy, by the way.  I always envision sitting down with a mug and a computer and writing or practicing calculus or trig problems—the way that other people do crossword puzzles.  But my toddlers wake up and stop the fantasy—as they have done twice during the course of writing this paragraph.

But within minutes of coming home, my husband will sweetly say, “You know what I should have asked you to get at the store?…” or I’ll see the one thing that I overlooked on my list.  And a little piece of my morale dies because the end of my to-do list is that much farther out of reach.  I have only found the very end of the to-do list a couple of times in the last decade, but I always really, really believe I will reach it.  When it becomes farther out of my reach, I can hear the really whacked out version of me inside my head weeping.

So, having to GO to the store and BUY things that I have grown accustomed to having at home in my free stuff stockpile makes me feel like I’m hemorrhaging both time and money.

Having now purchased 3 bottles of laundry detergent and 4 packs of dishwasher detergent (yes, we have a LOT of dishes and laundry in this house), I’m debating making these things at home.  I’ve heard of people doing this.  It makes sense.  Making laundry detergent wouldn’t really extend too far out of my realm. I’ve used baking soda for cleaning for 15 years.  I’ve made use of borax in the last year or so.  I apparently need washing soda—which is different from baking soda.  I can’t find it at Target and the space for it at Wal-mart (which also makes me weep a little inside) is empty.  So, before I put any more effort into it, dear internet, where have you successfully found washing soda?

I have a list of things that I am out of and plan on learning to make at home (this week, my homemade goal is yogurt—which is a lofty goal during finals week). While there are many things that I would be willing to make at home (detergents, yogurt, bread, curtains, purses, any cleaners where the homemade version would introduce fewer toxins into my home), there are many things that I cannot imagine making at home–like mascara.  I was out of mascara this week and I bought more with coupons because I don’t have access to bats and can’t fathom making it at home.

Since I’m still going to coupon for things like mascara, shampoo, foaming soap (my homemade version didn’t work out very well), I question the decision to try to make things at home.  So, dear internet, what things have you successfully made at home where the conventional American home would have just gone to the store?