Monday, April 29, 2013

Parenting Advice?

I've been playing this ongoing game with my older son.  Every morning when he takes a shower he leaves his boxer shorts on the floor of the bathroom.  This is also the "guest" bathroom, so any visitors who can't hold it have to be subjected to a pair of dirty shorts as they enter the room.  (Sorry about that ladies!)  Anyway, for a while he would leave them on the floor in the morning and I would pick them up each day and put them in his pillow case as a (hilarious) consequence.  The problem is, he didn't really notice - or care.  I figured he took them out each night, but it turns out that he simply moved the lumps around until he found a comfortable position.  I finally broke and removed five pairs of boxers from his pillow case and then yelled, "Why don't you ever just put these in your laundry basket?"  He admitted it was sheer laziness.  Couldn't bother to pick them up off the floor in the morning, and didn't have the energy to take them out of the pillow case at night.  UGH!

I don't know what else to do.  We've started deducting money from his allowance if he forgets, but I'm not convinced that'll do the job.  What do you do when you've exhausted your creative parenting persuasion techniques? You should ask for advice.  So that's what I did... when I was desperate... and nobody was around.  Here's how it went:

Me: How can I get my son to pick up his boxer shorts?
Siri: What is your child's name?
Me: (I don't really see how that's relevant, but whatever) Zack
Siri: OK, I've added this relationship.  I don't have an address for Zack.
Me: Siri, focus.  I just want him to pick up his shorts off the floor.
Siri: I didn't find any places.
Me: He leaves them in the bathroom.
Siri: I didn't find any public toilets.
Me: You gotta pee or something? Come on!  (I figured I'd try another approach) Why are boys so messy?
Siri: Hmm, let me think.  I will search the web.
[Lots of similar questions came up, but with "men" substituted for "boys", leading me to believe this will never change]
Me: I'm sure even you can clean up after yourself Siri.
Siri: Yes.  Now can we get back to work?
Me: Who can give me parenting advice?
Siri: I don't get it.  Do you want me to search the web?
Me: No.  Are you getting angry?
Siri: I can't answer that.  (Wow, so snippy)

I never thought I'd need to consult a computerized voice for parenting advice, but it turns out you get desperate.  And maybe it was the wine goading me on.  I wish Siri had more useful information for me, but maybe boys confound her as well.  I can't ask my friends because we all sit in companionable confusion when it comes to parenting boys, hoping that some important nugget we've instilled will one day "stick".  Really, we are just grooming them for a future spouse.  That's my motivation.  That one day, some girl will not hate me because her husband actually picks up his dirty clothes.  Or at least hides them in his pillowcase. Eh, you can't have everything.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We Are Serial Murderers

We don't pick our victims haphazardly.  Much research and observation goes into choosing the next casualty.  How does the subject move around?  Are they skittish, scared, and excitable, or confident, relaxed, and comfortable in a group?  What do they like to eat?  And what is their price?

It doesn't matter what precautions we take - we always end up killing the poor, helpless inhabitants of our saltwater aquarium.  I can't tell you how much money we have literally flushed down the toilet.  So many fish have come and gone in the past five years that I can hardly remember them all.  Some were a good fit with our tank-mates, and some (we found out quickly after insertion) were not.  Not sure if you have high blood pressure?  Just try chasing down an aggressive fish with a small mesh net, while it darts in and out of rocks, and your body will let you know.  

We have a great local aquarium supply store and we look up information online before any purchases.  Somehow, our tank has become the stuff of fishy nightmares.  I feel like the girl in Finding Nemo - Darla, the "Fish Killer!!!"  Today I came home to find two fish laying down - that's never a good thing if you know fish.  Thankfully my boys are old enough that they aren't so traumatized every time this happens.  We are currently down to about a half-dozen inch-long fish...  in our 90 gallon tank.  Talk about overkill.  (Oops, I shouldn't say "kill").  Why is this so hard?  We test our water, clean the tank properly, and attend to any maintenance needs that are required.  I guess some people are just not meant to own certain living things.

I'd like to think it's not just me.  I must admit that my cat did die last year, but he was 19 years old!  I'd had him since my college days.  So long, in fact, that he had outgrown his 90's pop-culture name.  "Toonces" drives no more.  Our old dog is deaf (and totally clueless), but still kicking at 13 years old.  So, it can't be all bad, right?  I'm not the Merchant of Death or anything.  Right?

So long "purple-yellow" and "bluey" (can you tell my kids came up with these creative names?).  I'm sorry you've gone down the swirly rivers of the afterlife (aka voyage to the water treatment plant).  I've got to go plan my next murderous rampage trip to the fish store.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What did you DO?!?!?

I was reminiscing the other day, about a time when my boys were younger.  Sure, kids are a handful at every age; it's just the particular type of stress that changes as they age.  Currently, we are in that "hurry up and go from one activity to another without giving me attitude" stage.  But I remember well the days of toddler-hood when they are just independent enough to wreak havoc in the blink of an eye.

Zack was roughly 2 years old when he woke me up early on a bright Saturday morning to tell me, "Mommy, I don't like blueberries".  I wanted to roll over and mumble something along the lines of, "Then it's a good thing we don't have any!".  Instead, I cracked an eyelid and saw my son standing before me, grimacing, with blue lips and dark, purple hands.  He'd woken up early and gone exploring, but my panic quickly set in as I looked at his stained fingers and lips and wondered what he'd found to sample.  I rushed to the kitchen, hoping it wasn't some type of chemical or cleaner or toxic substance that he'd managed to get to despite all the baby-proofed cabinets.  Instead, the freezer door stood wide open and on the floor lay, not one, but two open bags of frozen blueberries.  He pointed and solemnly repeated, "I don't like blueberries".

Yeah, buddy, you're just lucky you didn't find the frozen broccoli, or better yet, the bottle of Jagermeister Daddy keeps in there. Couldn't he have woken me up if he was hungry???  A few years ago he admitted that when he was younger, if he didn't want to bother us, he would go into the garage and get a handful of dog kibbles for himself - and his younger brother!  Thanks for letting me sleep and foraging for something edible as if an apocalyptic event had destroyed all human food in the kitchen.

You know, as a parent, that all of this can happen so quickly.  They're fast, sneaky little SOB's.  We've been lucky that nothing catastrophic has occurred.  And, working in a pediatric ICU, I've seen my fair share of injuries from that constant chaos that surrounds little boys.  We have had destruction though.  In the matter of roughly two minutes Zack pulled out just about every video and DVD that was stored in a cabinet - and then proceeded to sit on his mound, as the self-proclaimed king of VHS.

Similarly, Logan followed his big brother's footsteps.  You know when it's been too quiet for a few minutes that you'd better go looking for something broken or dismantled.  I found Logan in the bathroom with most of a toilet paper roll wadded into the bowl.  Judging by the mischievous grin, he was obviously not too worried about my response.

I don't have any pictures of my kids covered in paint, or sticking sanitary napkins onto each other.  You've seen those on the internet, I'm sure.  Uploaded by a desperate mom whose only recourse is to take a step back and laugh at the situation - sometimes much later, after a considerable amount of alcohol has been consumed.  

My sister-in-law called me for medical advice (not for the first time).  Is craft paint toxic?  She didn't want to have to call poison control (also not for the first time) for fear they keep tabs on repeat offenders, I mean callers.  It just takes an instant and those little hands get into the back of a drawer to unearth things you haven't seen in years.  As a parent, make sure to guard against the obvious items that could cause injury, check on those too-quiet kids, and keep the number handy for the poison control center.  Trust me, this will pass all too quickly.  (And just so you know: Poison Control centers don't keep a "frequent caller" list).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Black Hole Backpack

We were in our usual state of frantic, barely-controlled, early morning chaos the other day when my older son decided he needed more note paper in his binder.  He removed said binder from the rotund mesh of nylon and canvas that grudgingly holds all of his schoolwork, and then - could not replace it once it was filled.  He's jamming away and yelling, "I'm gonna be late!" while trying to work his binder into a space that could barely even hold an empty Pee-chee folder.  I did what any mom would do who just wants peace and quiet once the boys leave, and came over to help.  Papers were protruding in every direction imaginable.  They were crumpled, accordion-style, underneath the binder's usual resting spot, and they peeked out timidly from between other dog-eared folders in his backpack.  Something must be done.

I started pulling out papers right and left.  He's yelling in the background, "Just forget it!  I don't know if I need those papers or not!".  But more and more kept coming out of his pack, a tidal wave of math equations and spelling lists that had long been bottled up, like vomit after a 21st birthday celebration (ok, that's a bit much, granted). In any case, there were more than I could handle at that time, and I was able to replace the binder in his stuffed bag just as the bike posse rolled into our court to get my son.

After I sat there, stunned, for a few minutes, I started thinking what I could do to remedy the situation.  I'm stumped.  I buy plastic folders so that he can easily slide papers into a flat receptacle, binder dividers to organize everything, and hanging files for his desk drawers so that he can remove older papers and put them together with others in the proper subject matter.  But it doesn't matter.  He is not concerned with organization and swears he has a system that works for him.  I, on the other hand, get stressed just looking into the black hole that is his backpack.  How's it possible for one individual to lose so much in such a small space?  Thankfully he has a separate lunch bag and we have yet to find the month-old banana that my friends have unearthed in their own boys' packs.

I was still thinking about this as I went to his baseball game.  As scorekeeper I always keep a mechanical pencil in my purse because the nub of a chewed-down No 2 Ticonderoga that accompanies the field scorebook just doesn't cut it.  I was getting myself set up, trying to find my pencil in time to write the opposing team's lineup and still eat my In-N-Out burger before play started.  The clock was ticking and I became more and more frantic as I searched fruitlessly through all of the hundreds of receipts littering my purse.  Multiple checkbooks were in my way.  Sunglasses, hand sanitizer, lotion, eyedrops, and about 20 different lipsticks were all present, but not my trusty pencil.  I suddenly realized: I had the black hole purse that must have spawned the black hole backpack.  How had this happened???  I'm usually pretty organized. And then it hit me.  I can blame my mom.

When I was in high school, I used to take BART to and from high school so that I could attend a private school which was 30 minutes drive-time away from home (and about 2 1/2 hours using mass transit).  In the mornings I would accompany my mom, who had survived the morning commute from suburbs to San Francisco for many years.  She had her routine, like all early-morning commuters: she had to be on the same train car every day, so she could be near the other regulars who traveled like lemmings back and forth each day.  One morning we were running a little behind.  The train was pulling up to the platform as we were downstairs adding money to our BART tickets.  We started sprinting up the escalator, rushing to get down the platform to our usual car.  I hopped off the escalator, started running after my mom, and proceeded to slip and fall, doing a great James Brown impression in the process.  She didn't even turn around.  Just kept on running.  A few men in suits helped me up and I ran for the car she had entered.  My nylons were snagged and blood was running from the cut on my knee.  As I was huffing and puffing to draw breath, she reached into her bulging purse to pull out a full-sized can of Bactine!  I kid you not.  And a band aid.   I was hoping she'd have a spare pair of tights in there, but no luck (I'd have to risk getting a detention for being out of dress code once I removed my own).  I'm not even sure what else could have come out of her purse, a la Mary Poppins, but the possibilities were endless.

As a mom now myself, I realize that my purse is the place for all of my children's stuff.  It houses toys, snacks, extra books, iPods, kleenex, clothing, and anything else that is not too sticky that they can hand off to me.  I guess I can go a bit easier on the boy.  Let me just pull that filing system out of my purse and we'll get started.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This one time, in Minecraft...

When's the last time you were around a group of 'tween' boys?  If it was recently, then you know that they begin just about every sentence with, "This one time, in Minecraft...".  This game came out of nowhere to dominate the favored boyhood apps.  You can build entire worlds using various materials, in either creative or survival mode.  And really, that's about where my knowledge of the subject ends, except for the fact that you can install Minecraft on tons of different platforms, causing boys everywhere to beg their parents for more money to play it everywhere they possibly can.

I'm not a big fan of most video games anyway.  (Unless I'm by myself, shakin' it, to achieve a new high score on Just Dance 4, but that's another post).  The graphics on this game are intentionally blocky since you're building with cubes, but I don't get the attraction.  Boys, on the other hand, can't stop talking about it!  It's like a new form of a soap opera to them.  Who's creating what, who's battling where...  Did you ever think you'd hear a sentence like, "He just started and he already defeated the Ender Dragon, and he thought he was done, but he's really not, and he can still play in creative mode". Ugh.

My boys generally sit in two different rooms, excitedly gripping their hand-held devices.  They virtually enter each other's worlds - remember, they aren't in the same real-life vicinity because they're brothers and that would lead to brawls.  Then they proceed to yell to one another across the house:

  • You left the door open and the zombie almost got in!
  • Well, I'm over here trying to build a new house!
  • Where are you?
  • Over here.
  • Where?
  • Turn around and walk straight, stupid; right in front of my biggest fortress.  Never mind.  I'm gonna blow up your house and then disconnect so I don't have to deal with you.
  • No!  I just want to play.  Why are you being so mean? (cue whining and crying)
Really???  You're in completely different rooms and you still manage to anger your brother to the point of tears and screaming?  A slamming door can't be far behind.  Yep, there it is.

There's another aspect of Minecraft that I will never understand: the videos.  It is my understanding that people (generally adult men, as if that's not creepy) create videos with footage from their own creations, often set to music.  My son was so happy that his two recent obsessions were featured in one place - Gangnam Style and dancing cubist pigs.  What the????  If you don't believe me you can Google it, but I'm not putting a link to any of that shit on here.  There's no way I can watch all of these (nor could you ever pay me enough to do so), but it seems that I will need to start policing the iPod.  My 9-year-old asked me last week, after watching some of these, "Mommy, what does it mean when someone calls a boy a 'pimp'?"  Yeeeaaaahhh, I think we're done with the videos.  I responded with a mature, "What's that?  I can't hear you over the monsters that are trying to get into my house.  I'm gonna disconnect now!"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Happened To My... Um... oh, yeah... Brain?

I realized yesterday, as I was struggling to recollect the names of people I'd just met, that my brain is not what it used to be.  In the past I could easily remember names, places, and numerous random details, seemingly plucked out of nowhere the second I needed them.  Sure, some of this slowing of synapses can be attributed to my inevitable push toward middle age.  But what about the rest of my confusion and declining mental abilities?  I've come to terms with the fact that my brain has been overrun with useless boy knowledge.

I grew up with brothers and a mom who loved watching various sports, so I'm no stranger to player stats, rules, strategies and standings. I just never realized I would unwittingly absorb all of that information, thus replacing other necessary, useful knowledge in the process.  I didn't need to worry about whether the Giants would keep Pagan and Scutaro.  And now I find myself easily making hieroglyphic markings in the baseball score book while simultaneously carrying on a conversation with friends.  But  I can't remember the main character's name in the book I'm reading right now or the color of the foundation I always purchase.  For Easter I literally had to Google how to hard boil eggs because I couldn't remember how long to cook them.  But I can still name off all the members of the Justice League, thank you very much.

I blame George Lucas for much of my mental fog.  Really, how can boys watch all of the Star Wars movies over and over?  And then they want to talk to me about all of the details and discuss great philosophical questions that arise during each viewing.  "How do the Tauntauns find enough food on Hoth to get that fat?"  I never thought I'd need to reserve gray matter for this kind of stuff:
  • cataloging all of the planets within the Trade Federation
  •  names of random Ewoks
  • General Palpatine's character arc (man, does he need some facial moisturizer)
  • every droid that ever was
  • and any weapon the Galactic Empire could create that would miraculously destroy Jar Jar Binks.
Last year my boys started playing rugby and lacrosse, both sports I'd never even watched before.  Slowly, the terms "scrum", "middie", "ruck", "grubber", "poke check" and "crease" have eeked their way into my muddled brain (and those last two do not refer to any naughty stuff if that's where your brain was headed - pervert).  I can't remember the name of the new manicure that will last a long time, or any cute brands of jeans, purses, or shoes I'd like to shop for.  

I'd settle for just retaining some of the information I use in my daily life.  I had to ask my husband, "What's the word for stuff like comma, exclamation point, period?" to which he laughed and answered, "Are you joking?  You mean 'punctuation'?"  Don't make fun! I've heard it happens to other people too... like good old what's-her-name and that other one...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nursing vs Nursing

Are you already confused by the title?  Well, then buckle up because this may be a bumpy ride.  I'll apologize in advance for any grammatical errors (my computer should help me out in the spelling arena) or exceptionally long run on sentences like those ones that just go on and on and you're waiting for the punchline but there isn't one and you forget what the subject was even before you've made it to the final punctuation mark - oh, see? - that's what I'm talking about.   I've been up now for 19 hours - and it is only 9:00 am.  Yes, I work a night shift and if you've read my posts before you may know that I am a nurse in a Pediatric ICU.  It's a busy unit and last night was definitely the crazy kind of "is it a full moon?" busy.  Put out one flash fire only to turn around and see fresh smoke at another bedside.  (That's all figurative by the way; no real fires in our hospital - at least last night).

Remember Stretch Armstrong when you were a kid?  Or the crazy Stretch Octopus?  That's what I end up feeling like when I'm in charge of a unit full of nurses taking care of a host of sick kids.  Tentacles pulled to the max in all different directions, trying to help as many people as possible.  Generally, barring any extreme cases, I leave feeling exhausted, but like I helped make a difference.  You can bet though, that I will still grumble and complain the next time I have to get ready for another shift.

Did you ever think how great it would be to live the life of a stay-at-home parent?  Yeah, I briefly thought that... and then I had a child and changed my mind.  That shit is hard!  No thank you!  When my husband went back to work I felt totally competent to handle my one lovely, easy baby.  By his third day at work I was begging for ten minutes alone so I could just shower and change my breastmilk-soiled shirt.  And when my two boys got older and started fighting, I gloated to my husband, "Oh, sorry I can't help you.  I have to go to work now!" as I sashayed out the door.  I could enjoy a quiet ride in the car, by myself, without listening to the Wiggles CD on repeat.  I got to go to a place where other people spoke "grown up" and had new stories that had to do with subjects other than Elmo.  Most people didn't even talk in that annoyingly high falsetto voice you use with toddlers - although I might have accidentally said "I'm going on my break-y now, alright sweetums?" if I was really sleep-deprived.  And when temper tantrums reigned at my house, I used to pray that I could be assigned a patient that was in a medically-induced coma.  You know what that means?  They are chemically paralyzed (no hitting mommy the nurse in the face), sedated (sleeping soundly) and ventilated (a breathing tube goes past their vocal cords making whining and screaming impossible).  Oh, glorious day!  I'd take a busy patient assignment like that over a full-blown tantrum any day.

I am lucky enough to have a job that pays me well for meaningful work, and I'm thankful that I only have to be there a few nights a week so I can enjoy my own crazy household of boys on my days off. (Run-on sentence right there in case you missed that, but I'm too tired to figure out how to fix it).  It is ironic though, that I leave my own kids to deal with another child's diarrhea, screaming and crying, bleeding, and projectile vomiting.  Bring on the sedatives!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

You know that mom who has been blogging since before she was married, and you've followed all of her life's accomplishments including the purchase of her dream house, and the miracle births of her beautiful, perfect children?  I am not that mom.  I mean, I have two fabulous boys who fill my life with... well, sports equipment, suspect smells, boogers, and more dirt than you've ever imagined... plus the most wonderful, amazing mama's boy hugs ever.  I am a mother of boys, a "MOB" if you will.  And these stories are the crazy antics that actually occur in my household and are collectively known as MOB mentalities.

I used to be that shy, insecure, quiet person who enjoyed observing life from a shadowy corner - sounds like a creepy stalker when it's spelled out like that.  I'm not, I swear.  Well, I only stalk people who write amazing blogs and have funny posts on Twitter (you know, socially acceptable stalking, so don't be so quick to judge).  When I had my kids the sarcastic side of me was forced to open up and take over.  You can't possibly take yourself seriously when you have breastmilk leaking through your bra pad or your baby's poop smeared on your arm because you didn't realize he'd had a blow-out that has coated everything from his one remaining sock all the way up to his dirty neck rolls.  In order to cope I took to Facebook to vent my frustrations at all the testosterone-fueled craziness that surrounded me.  I had friends encourage me to start a blog, and now, well, here we are. Hopefully they're not regretting that advice right about now.

I am new to blogging, and that's why I am so thankful to stumble across sites like 5 Minutes for Mom who have just compiled a full list of kindred spirits for me to connect with.  I hope you read on and enjoy a laugh at my expense!

Another Birthday Extravaganza

It is almost time to start planning another kid's birthday celebration.  Ugh, again?  We just did this last year.  Or, earlier this year if you count the other boy.  I hate trying to come up with a day of festivities for increasingly cynical pre-teen boys.  And really, do you think I want to be around a dozen hyper, sarcastic, writhing boys?  (You thought I was going to add "smelly" in there didn't you?  Well, if you've read my blog before you know that is implied and goes without saying).

Last year we hosted a fun day where we invited not only Zack's friends, but the parents as well, to join us in a suite at the A's game.  Baseball, alcoholic drinks, pizza, and adults to talk to - that's my kind of kid party.  Never mind the annoyed glances that came our way from the people who had the misfortune of purchasing tickets for the seats directly in front of our bay of windows.  Sorry people, you are now the unlucky recipients of ridiculous heckling, singing, screaming, and bits of flying food particles.  Deal.  You're at a ballpark, not the museum.

I love the current trend to host parties at warehouses that cater to your kids, provide activities to tire them out, serve them horrible, unhealthy food, and then clean up after you when you leave!  Did I mention that they clean up everything?  I'm really paying for that service more than anything.  Of course, I would love for my kid to feel like they've had a unique, exciting party that no one else has experienced before, but I'm not that creative or motivated.  We've done the theme parties and believe me, the kids don't really get it or appreciate any of the planning.  I'm all, "Hey, did you notice the Lego candies on all the cupcakes? And the homemade pop-up invitation that looks like a building block? No?"  The kids can't wait to run away from the freaky, overbearing lady.

As my boys grow older I become a little nostalgic for their sweet, innocent parties that are behind us.  Having said that, there are some things that I wave an enthusiastic good-riddance to.  I don't miss the piƱatas, the elastic party hats that no kid wants to wear, the party games, the ridiculously large bouncy house taking up my entire yard, or making goody bags filled with plastic crap that I know the parents will throw away as soon as they get home.  Thank goodness for easy gift cards that we can pass out to guests on their way out.  Didn't get enough sugar in the last few hours?  Here, take this See's card and go crazy, or keep haranguing your mom to take you for some frozen yogurt.  I'd like to say that I don't miss the snarky, screaming version of "Happy Birthday" but they still yell it at the top of their lungs.

Because Zack occasionally reads his wacky mom's blog I won't say what we might be planning for next month, but suffice it to say we won't have an obscene Bob the Builder bounce house.  Hey kids, just crawl under my legs here and we'll have lots of sweaty fun.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What's for Dinner?

Seriously.  Every night.  Can we just take a pass one or two nights a week?  My boys probably wouldn't even notice.  Sometimes they ask me for lunch only hours after they've finished eating lunch.  When I remind them of this they say, "Really? What did I eat?"  It must not have been memorable.

That's the thing: we've taught our children that everything needs to be presented with great fanfare.  Is the meal served with special neon colors, pinwheels, toys, activity books, movie passes, dancing clowns, or fireworks?  No?  Then forget it.  When my husband cooks something new that we think they might possibly like, the plate is often met with snubs and turned up noses.  Or, (more annoyingly) if they've enjoyed a meal in the past and we make it again, knowing it will be well-received, they swear they've never tasted such a concoction before and would never in their life willingly let this mix of ingredients pass their lips.  Logan routinely tells us, "I hate chicken!"  How can anyone hate chicken?  It's one of our main dinner ingredients.  And he will eat "chicken" nuggets from any fast food restaurant, thus proving that he does in fact like chicken, or that their "chicken" is not made from actual poultry.  

I'm not that excited about cooking.  Honestly, my husband plans and cooks more meals than I do.  I think he secretly wants to be on a cooking show.  He's the guy who has every ingredient meticulously chopped, measured, and featured in individual miniature glass bowls.  Our rule is one person cooks, the other cleans up.  I'm usually thinking, "Why am I stuck washing fifteen ramekins?  We had hot dogs."

Generally, most meals are dumbed-down for kids.  Less spice, fewer ingredients, uniform color, the more bland, the better.  The exception goes for that one family with the foodie kids who know what grass-fed Niman Ranch beef is, who ask for French Laundry as a birthday lunch, and have tried foie gras at fancy restaurants (you know who you are).  If we even add a simple shake of seasoning, or heaven forbid, parsley over the top, my boys won't eat it.  I try to hide veggies in the final product but they can sense the presence of natural vitamins just like Superman's x-ray vision can see through steel.  I tried using squash in mac'n cheese once but it was rather disgusting and I don't blame them for distrusting any casserole dishes I made in the future.

If I only had myself to worry about, it wouldn't be a problem!  I loved college days when I could simply have a healthy baked potato as my meal.  Topped with nonfat sour cream, broccoli, salsa, what have you.  Maybe a sprinkle of cheese, and some bacon bits.  Did I mention bacon?  That's a meal right there!  Or a bowl of cereal when I was really in a pinch.  Some rice and teriyaki chicken.  Or, bacon... easy peasy.  Now I need to make sure it's well-balanced, tasty, and follows that new government-recommended plate diagram.  Sure.  Let me just peek into my dwindling pantry supplies, and reach past my questionable refrigerator leftovers to whip up something real quick between guitar lessons, scouts, and baseball activities.

Thank goodness there's always one easy standby.  Brinner.  Breakfast for dinner.  I make it sound like a treat and they love it even more.  And the best part?  You can always have bacon with it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Homework Hell-p

I have a confession to make:  I enjoy solving algebraic equations.  And multiplying and dividing fractions.  (Glad to get that off my chest).  It's all like a puzzle to me and I love doing that kind of brain stimulating homework.  The thing is, it's not my homework.  My almost 12-year-old son is a huge procrastinator.  A big, stinkin', distracted, overstimulated mess of a boy.  He cannot just sit down and power through his assignments in a reasonable amount of time to then enjoy the rest of the evening with his family.  What should take maybe two hours takes him six or seven hours when you count dinner time, a few chores, and hundreds of visits to the bathroom.  No, he doesn't have any sort of disorder that makes focus near impossible (nor does he have a bladder the size of a pistachio) - he is just an adolescent boy with other things to occupy his mind and cause him to forget what he's doing.

When he started middle school we assumed he had the homework thing all figured out.  He didn't ask for any help and we didn't check assignments, but he's responsible and strives to do well, so the threat of failure was his own motivator.  But what is "failure"?  He started to worry after a string of math assignments came back with 3/5 points.  This meant that his grade was a measly 60% (for you math-challenged folks) which translates to a solid D-.  We all started worrying a bit.  And so began the homework checks before he went to bed and his revisions early in the morning before sprinting out the door.  I didn't really care for that method because it didn't allow for immediate recognition of what was wrong, so he and I started doing math together.

Of course, he had to remind me how to do each new process.  Dividing fractions?  You have to flip the numerator and denominator and then cross-simplify before multiplying.  Duh!  Right, I knew that... But he enjoyed being the tutor, which really translates to pointing out what an idiot I was for not knowing this stuff already.  Flashback to my own adolescence: I remember handing over my math book and worksheets to my dad so he could help me.  When he wanted to read the chapter first, I thought he was a total imbecile.  What?  You went to Berkeley!  You should know how to do high school math!  Jeez.  Yeah, what goes around, blah blah blah.

Most of the teachers make concessions for homework that seems to take too long.  If kids are spending too much time on it but seem to have mastered the concept, or the child needs more specific instruction, parents can sign off on the homework.  I don't think Zack's teachers really want a note detailing how long he lounged on each couch, what music he finally decided on, and his chosen method to stealthily shoot Nerf darts across the hall into his brother's room.  He's like the dog in "Up" - everything is distrac --- SQUIRREL! --- ting.  And it doesn't matter how many times I urge him to focus and keep working.  I'm even getting tired of hearing my speech, especially when he has his head on the table at 10 pm because he's so tired.

If only Minecraft made you complete an algebra problem before you could close the doors against zombies, things might be different.