Cows are big.

While perusing http://sneezingcow.com, the latest entry reminded me of some of my childhood memories. One in particular involved cows. Oh, hell. Many memories, fond or not, involved cows. Once, when I was six, I was involved in a major production of moving cattle from one pasture to the next. My grandpa asked me (did I mention I was six?) to stand in a particular spot to prevent said cows from going through the spot where I was standing. Cows are big. Cows to a six year old are really big. I was terrified. I was bundled in a big lumpy snowsuit and took some comfort in the fact that if I did pee my pants, no one would notice. But as I said, cows are big. And when thirty cows head toward a six year old, her initial reaction is not to stand firm. At least not this six year old. I started to sweat and panic and I could feel my little face turning red. As they were getting closer to me, I could hear their tails swishing and that was just too close. I think this should have been clue one in a long line that suggested farm life was not my natural territory. So yes, I bolted. I cried and ran but did not wet my pants as 30 cows casually strolled through the opening left by my absence. Surprisingly, there was no shouting, swearing, or even mild cussing. My grandpa was chuckling to himself. With a mischievous grin on his face he said, "Let's try that again. Want to stand my me?" Yes, yes, yes! I thought as I grabbed his hand.

"Grandpa," I said, "cows are big."

He chuckled again. "Yep."

Peck Peck Peck

"Being a parent is like being pecked to death by chickens."

This speaks to me. More frequently than I care to admit. Which I just did, which says too much about me. Again. Anyway, when hubster and I are in a negative zone, or I should say, when the kids are in a negative zone, one of us will simply say, "Peck." Two minutes later, the other replies, "Peck." This can continue for sometime depending on how long the negative cloud hangs around. Astute Things may take notice of pecking and inquire. More often than not, we shrug and continue until it seems the cloud has disappeared. How this does anyone any good is beyond me. Maybe it's some trippy psychological technique that hasn't been officially approved yet prevents us from ripping out hair or leaping from windows. God knows there are enough science "experiences" in this house. I don't need further research or even affirmation. Keeping my hair in tact and windows unbroken is good enough, and we all know good enough is great for me.

Well, shit.

I made a promise to myself with the new year that I would write more. To that end, I decided to carve out time for this at a time when I feel fresh and others are not likey to bother me. So far, this is how my morning goes:

5:20....I smell my coffee perking and it lures me up before the alarm goes off.
5:25....I sit and stare at the computer. Most often I write crap for 10 minutes before something comes to me.

5:40...."I wet the bed I wet the bed I wet the bed!" roars from Thing 2's room so I trudge in to help and pack him off to
dad.

5:45....Thing 2 is up and ready for the day...dressed, humming in the kitchen, deciding on her breakfast. I plead for alone time. She sulks off to her room...with music blasting.
5:47....The dog barks a lot. I forgot I let her out. Now she is in and demanding attention. From me.
5:50....I forgot what I was writing. I have been up and down 5 times since I started and whatever thoughts I had have left. More
crap is written to be deleted soon.

6:00....Screw it. Maybe the news will jar something.
6:05....I will check Facebook. I have a few real writer friends who have published BOOKS for chris sake. Let me find out what
they are up to. At least I can feel someone's success from afar.

6:10....Whatever.
6:15....Check blogs of other successful people and whine more to myself.
6:20....Glad I made no promises to anyone...except to myself. Well, shit.

.

Getting out of January

January has been getting to us so we took the kids on a family "date"--this really just means we couldn't find a sitter and I did not want to cook. But the place was nice. It wasn't fancy, but there was a candle and with Ben this is always a risk. There was pizza offered so the complaints were few. Aside from suffering through a reading of Pokemon's Adventure, we were able to navigate ourselves into a pleasant conversation when it hit me again--how did I get here? We were discussing plans for the summer, which led to where we wanted to travel. Harry Potter Land, Paris, and Washington, D.C. were at the top of the list for the little ones. What? I thought. How can these be my kids? As a child, I never went anywhere on a trip where a relative didn't serve as the hotel. Lawrence, Nebraska anyone? Oh wait. We did go the Black Hills and if memory serves, someone had to wire us money to get home. And out to dinner ? Yeah, right. We felt lucky to go to McDonald's in the city and if things were really rolling our way, we'd come home with one of their special glass cups featuring one of those wacky McDonald's characters. I certainly don't remember feeling deprived. Oh, it was a different time and place. I am certain my parents felt we were spoiled rotten, too. McDonald's again? You guys don't know how lucky you are! A trip just for fun? Why, we never left the farm--there was work to be done! I do remember longing for Australia. I don't know why. I had a thing for koala bears. What I don't remember is if I thought getting there would be a reality. But the dreaming--it was enough. And for now, that conversation was enough. In January, what more can you ask for?

Blind leading the blind

I've been asked to sub for the teacher of an ECFE parent education class. Isn't that funny? Has she peeked in my windows all the while knowing the best way to get better at anything is to teach it? Maybe she heard my screeching,"Get. Your. Shoes. On." or found out about the hot dogs and chips for dinner. A friend must have told her I regularly break my own screen time rules and once declared, "You just watched a movie. That's your story. Good night." Or maybe she read my blog when I was grousing about being a tiger with a different tale and read between the lines- I just want to be a slacker. Whatever the case may be, the offer was made and I accepted. I do have that useful teaching license good for another 3 years so I might as well get something out of it. I will smile and nod and facilitate discussion with ease. I will ask tantalizing questions and help lead people toward their own answers. With luck, no one will notice while I furiously soak up the wisdom I so obviously need.

I'm a tiger with a different tale

Can you snuggle with a tiger? I was able to peruse the latest mom-oir by an ambitious Chinese mother who proclaims that being a "Tiger Mom" is what it takes to make your children successful and above average. My conclusion isn't just no, but who would want to? Yes, it appears to be another one of those books in a long string that tries to tell us the way to raise a kid. Well, we all know there is more than one way. We can also debate long and hard about what success means. What really matters is that you determine your definition and parent accordingly. What I like about my method is there is room for mistakes. On my part. I get to apologize when I screw up. This makes me human. Not a tiger. Tiger moms commit, go for it, and push, yell, force, and scream when need be and never ever admit an error. While Tiger moms may produce kids with better math scores and piano prowess, it's humility, compassion, and happiness that light my fire. Of course I want my kids to succeed, but my definition of success is clearly not hers. I can buy music and I will never pretend to understand math gifts. If by tiger-mom, you mean passion, I will jump on that band wagon. I am just as passionate about my methods. I will continue to lead my charges in flannel and snuggle-time, insist on messy art projects and science experiments, and loudly and authoritatively proclaim "dance party!" In the midst of all of this, I will work to help my kids become the kind of people I like to share the planet with and that, for me, is not debateable.

Mama bear

All reason goes out the window when mama bear tries to protect baby bear. Can I just say that today I don't want to act reasonable and would like to just be a roaring, ferocious mama bear? And further more, parenting is hard. Wah, wah, wah. I should try it in a dusy field with infants strapped to my chest while I hoe...or maybe go at it alone while my spouse is in far-off lands fighting crazy wars. Or perhaps while my spouse is in a medical-induced coma hanging by a thread after a senseless act of violence. Ok. Ok. Then...I can really complain. For now, I will put on my big girl pants and tame mama bear with some chocolate. Not sure for how long, though....

Well, are we?

Are we supposed to grow out of birthdays? I mean, the cake and the gifts and the outright all-about-me stuff? I know there must be some psychobabble that suggests that we move on from the selfish phase to a more global attitude of we're-all-in-this-together phase, but a birthday just takes it all back to you in one big puff of a candle. And....I like it. It seems a lot my friends like it, too. And a lot of my friends are women. But many of my women friends are married to men. I am married to a man. And the men...well, they don't see the big deal and well, do you see where this is headed? Now that I think of this, I should talk to my women friends who are married to women to see if there is a difference. More of an acceptance of, "Hell yes! We will celebrate YOU from sun up to sun down and extend the celebration for a whole week if need be!" But I digress.

I tend to think we have it a bit backwards in this culture. Kids are already selfish. Our lives already revolve around them. Perhaps we should inverse the trend- start and stay very small right through to 21. Then, when some stripes have been earned, start slowly pouring it on. Because isn't that kind of what it's about? We've made it this far? We've survived some things?Achieved some things? We want to, just for a few moments, be happy that we are here and revel in what we have become and look to the future with excitement? The celebration is a pause that let's us do that. Whether anyone else is in agreement with me doesn't matter. Because one of the greatest parts about getting older is claiming what you want and knowing you can get it for yourself. Now that feels like the best gift of all.

Say what?

My family thinks I should open a restaurant. What they don't realize is that I already have one. It's called Chez Lisa and it opens at 6:00 a.m., closes at 7:00 p.m. and the quality is iffy. When I cook what I want, the results are spectacular. When I cook what will get eaten by 75% of the crowd, the results are blah. "What icky stuff are we having tonight, mom?" does not provide the proper motivation for this would-be restauranteer. Since I don't get paid, I have no standard to uphold. When pre-made barbecued meatballs get more accolades than a homemade chicken pot pie with preserved veggies from our own garden, the clientele seems more questionable than the chef. I don't get tips unless you count use more ketchup! but I also take no prisoners. Like it or lump it. Or like the lumps. There is always toast. That was lesson number one when attending Chez Lisa's cooking school. I passed this most valuable tip on to the masses a la' Food Network style and it is safe to say, Chez Lisa will remain a franchise of one.

Oops....

Did I go too far waxing poetic about being at home in the jumbled, sort of haphazard life that I lead? It is far from glamorous and not at all what I imagined. You know, when you are in your twenties and say, "I'd like to have a kid" the notion is so...vague. Kids are anything but vague. They can be quite precise. Put my blanket here. Only this stuffy will do. My noodles may not touch that vegetable. Only the green plastic cup works for chocolate milk. I will not wear those black pants, but these black pants are perfect. I like broccoli mushy, not raw. I only eat raw cauliflower, not cooked.

How funny is it that so much of life is based on a need for control and order when it feels like anything but? My previous post about the dream had no qualifier. I didn't say it what kind of dream. I only meant to say that I really love it when I catch myself enjoying my life. Kids or no kids, spouse or none, with a plan or not, I hope that wherever you find yourself, something good can be found in it. As much as we might crave order, only so much can be done. Don't forgo the joy because it is there if you look.

From Ben

"Hey buddy! You had a great day! Lots of playing with friends, you worked hard during homework time, you got outside. "

"Yeah, mom. And I've been pretty nice to you, too. Haven't I?"

Later.

"Watch this glorious thing mom. Watch!"

I peer down the hall. There he is wiping the seat of the throne instead of leaving it for one of the girls to yelp at and twist their face in disgust. That's my guy. A 4 star day, for sure.

Then and Now

It used to be that I dreamt of going to Paris and London and Melbourne. I would travel the world, write and report it back to the masses. Now, with a sick kid or two, outdoors with the dog seems good enough. Is this really what 42 looks like? Wouldn't trade it. There are wizards and approximately 10 quintillion insects in the world and glow-in-the dark potato cannons launched on New Year's Eve off a half- formed deck and dance parties and art sessions involving popsickle sticks and pipe cleaners and puff paint. Who can resist puff paint? There are books everywhere-- under beds, in the bathroom, on the floor, in the car, stacked upon the kitchen table, cluttering my counter, and every day this thrills me. How great to be living a dream you didn't know you had.