Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smells I Love

Okay, so I am a smeller. I have a great sense of smell and stamp my memory with smells. I have noticed Andrew is the same way. "Let me smell it" he always says, and I let him because I totally understand. He loves to smell things while we are cooking and I see him breath in and taste from the smell alone. The nose is a powerful piece of the puzzle for creating opinions, assessing scenarios and, creating memories.

Here are some of my favorite (and, you are going to think I am nuts) smells from childhood and what they mean to me:

1) Skunk and Cow Manure. Ahhh, the smells of the country. What is so great about those smells? When I grew up in Carmel, it was mostly cornfields. Today it is one of the fastest growing communities in the country. Skunks and cow manure bring back images of wide open fields, flying kites in the corn fields and playing flashlight tag after dinner in the summer. If it was warm, if you could smell cow poop, we were outside. Riding bikes at dusk, fishing in the lake, buying fresh sweet corn from the farm stand up the street and writing on the driveway with chalk. Those smells were the backdrop of my summers.

2) Vick's Vapo-Rub. I am probably not alone in this one. All warm and menthol-y. Whenever I was sick (which I seemed to always have strep throat or some bad cold), my mom would rub the good old goopy kind on my chest at night and lay one of my dad's handkerchiefs over it so it didn't get all over my nightgown. I loved that.

3) Fresh Drywall and Saw Dust. My dad was a builder and our house was forever under construction. I woke up most Saturday mornings in my childhood to the sound of a saw blade out my window and the smell of fresh sawdust. Progress--it always meant something new at our house. If not at our house, then I smelled it at my dad's jobs. I would sometimes ride around with him while he checked on each job--my favorite Saturday pastime.

4) Boiling Potatoes. Don't think they smell? They do. I could always smell them just as the water started to boil. It meant one thing--hot mashed potatoes were on the way. I love comfort food and just the smell of it gets all my memories flowing. Chicken and noodles at my grandma's house, the bacon for the green beans, yeast rolls.

5) Snow. You know that smell? The smell when the air is crisp and damp? You know snow is coming and the clouds grow heavy and gray. I love the smell of the air and the anticipation of watching the flakes fall. We used to play in it for hours, building forts, digging tunnels, sledding at the Butcher's house then when we came in drinking hot chocolate and sitting by a fire.

What are your favorite childhood smells?

Don't Talk Politics

"I don't want to talk about politics," is what Jeff said as we pulled up to our friends' house for dinner last night and saw the signs in their yard proudly demonstrating their upcoming split-ticket vote. What?! I said, "Oh, I am gonna ask." He didn't want to talk about it Friday night either when we had friends at our house.

Why not? Well, I think I know. He cannot just talk about it. He gets all worked up and angry. Which, in my opinion is one of the biggest problems with the Republican party right now: their inability to listen and consider the opinions of others. Am I a Republican? Yes and no. Yes, I most often vote that way, but I am not afraid to split my ticket and the splitting can go as deep as it needs to. I can only think of a time or two when I voted straight ticket. Almost always, it is about the person--not the party.

I voted for Clinton twice. I voted for Bush--twice. I always vote for Evan Bayh (Democrat). But, I won't be voting for Obama. However, I think he is going to win and my big problem right now is I no longer think McCain is the right choice either. So, I am stuck. Do I not vote for president or use my vote as a vote against Obama instead of for McCain?

Maybe I should write someone in, someone I wish was running for president, but that brings me to my other huge disappointment with the Republican party. There is a significant lack (on the local, statewide, national levels) of up and coming stars. Why? Because for YEARS and YEARS the same old white guys thought (think) they know all the answers and they have silenced and squashed any new young thinkers who may be able to expand the parties horizons.

So, as far as hope is concerned--the theme for this year's election--I have little in the future of the Republican party. I hope this election creates a new path for Republicans--a kinder, gentler, smarter path that is more in line with modern day America. And, I hope when you read this you read it for the sake of discussion and not a political statement. "I don't want to talk about politics," well maybe we need to talk about politics a little more often and listen to others ideas and thoughts and give consideration to new and different possibilities...just maybe.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Little Travels

Because Susan was bored, she did it. Now I did it (although I wouldn't necessarily say I am bored. It's just barely 5AM and I should be working!).

visited 5 states (2.22%)
Create your own visited map of The World or determine the next president

For some reason (perhaps because they are so small), my Caribbean countries are not showing, but been there.

visited 26 states (52%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or determine the next president

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blah, Blah: Ramblings on Our Morning Routine

Thanks to my two friends for their supportive comments after my last post. I promised when I started this blog I would post the good, the bad and the ugly. Nothing has made me feel more like an inferior mother than the slew of “mommy-blogs” I read. They only post the good. Pretty pictures of sweet children doing elaborate crafts, stories of all the time they spend together, tales of beautiful family events and perfect moments. It is so not my life. Now, not all of them are like that, but most are and it isn’t always helpful in the darkest of moments to be reminded of how inferior you are. So, let me provide a point of comparison for you. When you lose your temper next time, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!

Now, my next struggle is our morning routine. For the first few weeks of school it was perfect. I was bragging about how amazing the kids were (mistake #1), how cooperative everyone was being (mistake #2) and how we were actually early to school on most days (mistake #3). Cursed. I have been cursed by my own mouth! Morning routine has, as the boys love me to say, been flushed down the toilet. Getting everyone up is a struggle, there is a fit about something by at least one person each morning and I am driving like a maniac to make it to school by 8AM.

I am a morning person—period. I hate sleeping in, I love going to bed super early but hate sleeping in. I grew up listening to my mom fight with my brother for hours about getting up for school. I think my brother was late every day of school, or seriously, at least three times a week. I married a man just like that. I promised myself that would not happen in my household. I did not give birth to three morning people—really, just one. So, we started using alarm clocks this year for everyone to get up to with the goal in mind of by the time they are in high school the grouchy sleepyhead ones will once and for all be trained to the alarm clock.

Every school morning, their routine starts at 6:30 with alarms going off. They have 30 minutes upstairs to wake up and get dressed. Andy spends 25 of that whining on my bedroom floor that he cannot find “perfect pants.” They all pick their own clothes, by the way (except PJ who wears a uniform). At 7AM, I head downstairs to start their breakfast, which is usually on the table by 7:05. They eat, brush their teeth and then if there is time left over, they can watch television. Then, at 7:30 TV goes off and shoes go on. It takes at least five minutes for everyone to get out the door and in to the car. The goal is to leave the driveway no later than 7:40AM. This hasn’t worked so well lately, but I remain hopeful. Yesterday was not great, but Phillip complemented me on not yelling (as I swore I would change my yelling after the last event I wrote about). So, progress! I thanked him for noticing. What a sweet boy.

Tomorrow is the last day of school this week. We have fall break Thursday and Friday (same as the public schools, which stinks because everything will be crowded). Monday will bring a new week with a new goal of getting out the door again by 7:35-7:40 instead of 7:45. I can make it on time if we leave at 7:45, but I have to drive like a total maniac and I really don’t like to start my day out late and rushing. Next week, we are going for the gold again, back to our award-winning gold star mornings. I hope.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Tantrum

I lost my temper tonight for what I would call the second worst time since being a mom. And, it was over the dumbest thing. Really, it was like just one little fit over my limit. I am just tired of fighting kids, fits, whining, bossing, etc. Eight years we have heard that stuff--enough is enough.

I hate it. I feel horrible. And I cannot take a second of it back. It is the strangest thing too. In the moment, my brain was telling me to chill out to redirect my attention to being nice and understanding because anger wasn't working. But, I was so in the moment and felt like the battle was on and if I stopped at that moment, I would have been defeated. I was so wrong.

I gave a warning, he chose to ignore it. I saw it with my own two eyes. I told him to go upstairs and wait for me for a story. He wouldn't go. I carried him. A huge fit erupted and I mean a fit of like a tantruming three year old (he will be six in a few weeks). I tried to ignore and just tell him to wait for me. The fit raged harder and harder. He was hysterical, not listening to me, thrashing--oh, you know, you have probably seen it once or twice.

I got mad. He got madder. I yelled. He screamed louder. He started to tear his bed apart. I got madder. Finally I said I had to walk away. He screamed louder. I stood on the steps and said, no I mean yelled, "Look how mad I am, don't you get this?!" Ugh. Blaming someone else for my anger. That is so wrong. I chose to be angry, he didn't make me.

I eventually locked myself in my room to calm down for a minute and take some deep breaths. When I came out I declared I would no longer give that behavior any attention and as long as he was tantruming, I would completely ignore him. He came downstairs once during that time. Walked down the steps came in to the family room and sat down on the floor and started up again. I didn't even speak. Carried him upstairs and went back down.

I went on with the evening routine with the other boys. He eventually came around and gave in, turning the tears (fake tears and baby talk) off. But, for me, it's too late. The damage is done. I feel horrible. I apologized and so did he. I apologized to the other two too and promised I was going to change my yelling and anger because it isn't right--period. I told them it isn't okay to treat people like that and that I regretted it and would never do it again. I don't want them to be afraid of me--I don't want to be afraid of me.

Enough is enough and I am tired of the fights and fits, but still under no circumstances would I ever try to justify or rationalize my behavior. I was wrong and I feel horrible. Why am I telling you? Because I think I feel like if I totally own it and say it, I can move on. I feel like that makes me not a coward and gives me the strength to change it. Forward I go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Me from 8:17 to 8:23 on 10/15

Watch the hall to the bathroom for a few minutes....anyone coming? anyone going? Wait until someone who goes comes out, then wait a few more minutes, then go. Oh wait, someone else is going. Start over. Watch, wait, watch. Go.

Hallway is long and winding. Who is hiding back here? Does it really matter, men's or women's? Open women's door. It's too big, weird big. Close door, push the lock button. Is that locked? The lock didn't make the click noise. I don't think that is pushed in all the way. Unlock, crack door open. Shut door. Lock again. Really, that doesn't seem like it's locked. The toilet is far away. If someone starts to open the door, I cannot reach it to slam it shut.

Open door again. Push button while door is open to test to see if that is actually the button pushed for the door to lock. It's locked. Close door. But, now is it locked or unlocked? Push down on handle. It was locked. Pull door open a bit to test to see if it is locked or unlocked. It was unlocked. Shut the door. Lock the door.

Head to the toilet via the weird empty space in the room. What was supposed to go here? A couch or something? Why do they always have furniture in women's restrooms? It's always so dirty and gross. What do people do on it? It's just too big. Finally at the toilet. Go pee. Think I hear someone messing with the door. Stare at the door like a deer in headlights. Wait for something to happen, but nothing does. The door is definitely locked. I think.

Zip my pants, walk to the sink. What is in the bottom of the sink? Clearly some thing to keep stuff from going down the drain, but it's weird, not the normal kind. Two pumps of soap. It keeps coming out, creating a long string from my hand to the soap dispenser eventually breaking on to the sink. Wash, wash, rub, rub, scrub, scrub. Thingys from my shirt dangle over the sink. I knew they woudl do that. I should have tied them this morning. I tried, looked dumb. Opted from untied but told myself to tuck in when washed hands. Clearly forgot.

One, two paper towels to dry. One more. Lingering dampness near top of wrists--so annoying. Look in the mirror, use the paper towel to de-shine my face. It's humid out and I feel shiny. What little make up I had on now appears to be on the paper towel. Try to tie things on shirt. No. All wrong. Try to just loop things on shirt. Worse. Too cluttered up there with those, my necklaces, etc. Go back to original plan--just hanging there.

Check my zipper. Check my teeth. Check my hair. Look for the door. Check my butt in the mirror as I walk toward the door out of habit to cover those days when in a skirt or dress (with ever year I age so does the number of times I apparently tuck my skirt or dress into my underwear and not realize it until I see in the mirror on my way out of the bathroom). Open the door and the lock makes a click sound. Huh. Walk down the long hall, check zipper again. Fix shirt, double check zipper. Adjust shirt. Hands in pocket. Walk back to table.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Change is good, but...

I am a believer in change. Most of the time, change is good. It hurts, it is messy and it can sometimes be disappointing, but most of the time—goodness prevails. But, sometimes, why can’t we just leave good enough alone.

Ever have a favorite dish at a restaurant and then one day you go back and they changed the menu and your favorite is history? I hate that and would argue in this case, change is not good. When is change good and when is just the way it is the way it should stay?

One of my favorite places to take the kids is Conner Prairie, a living history museum with a national reputation. It’s just about 15 minutes from our house and the kids love it. Its open spaces, few rules and a chance to explore history in a natural environment. They run, even disappear out of sight and I still feel they are safe. Expansive fields, historic homes staffed by real people who are interpreters that interact with the kids and create memorable experiences.

But, they are changing. Finally, the public has an idea of what the plan holds. While sworn to secrecy, I have seen the plan and know what is in store. The ideas are good and it sounds great, but after this weekend, I have to ask, why isn’t it okay to stay the way they are? Here is the thing. Right now, attendance is just right. Interpreters can interact and engage visitors.

There is even a difference from weekend to weekday. On the weekdays when it is pretty empty, interpreters have told, shown and let my children experience amazing things. Weekends, conversations are a bit more general. This weekend, a smaller crowd on a Sunday gathered for a wedding with cake and dancing after. I didn’t dance and the kids opted for popsicles instead of cake (it was actually like an apple pie), but this is only possible with a smaller audience—small enough where everyone who wants to participate could, and they did. We watched from a bench and could see without fighting crowds.

But, when they change it and add these new attractions (the first of which is a hot air balloon ride like the first one attempted by the U.S. Postal Service in Lafayette, Indiana), it is going to become something else—whether they like it or not. It’s going to become a bigger place, which almost automatically to me means it will have less meaning—less touch. They are going to move things around which means some of that expansiveness, some of the wonder and wander will disappear.

Why can’t they just be happy with the attendance they have and the level of funding they have? Why argue for change? I am guilty of changing things that shouldn’t be changed and the results are always disappointing. Some things just are not meant to be changed—some things are just fine they way they are. But, sometimes you only know that after you change them and it doesn’t work.

Most of the time, change is good, but change clearly has consequences and those consequences should be considered before change is made. Is it your idea or our idea (meaning is it me that wants the change and I convince everyone or is it everyone else who wants the change and they convince me)? Is it changing to something that already exists or changing to something that doesn’t currently exists? If the later, think hard about why it doesn’t already exists—what is right or wrong about it that has kept others away?

I have one big example where I made a change I shouldn’t have—a big change. And, it was wrong. I learned, it wasn’t a mistake (cause I certainly came to realize some important things), but it was the wrong thing to do. Now, I must undo—humbly transform back to the old way. Change is not always good. Sometimes things should just stay the same. Sometimes we should leave good enough alone.