Dreaming of Pinehurst

Today’s the day! We’re off to North Carolina for the USKG World Tournament! We’re renting a house that may or may not have internet, so this may or may not be the last post from me for a week or so. Wish me luck on the flight!

Packing for trips must be hereditary.

Every trip we go on, I give the kids a backpack and let them choose what toys/books/things they want to put in it. This way, they’re not stuck with a pack full of stuff that I thought they would like, but that actually bores them to tears. It’s also a good reasoning exercise—what would you take with you if you are going to go to …(fill in the blank)? As they get older, they take on more of the responsibility of picking out their clothes, which takes a considerable amount of stress off of me! Our upcoming trip to NC is no different, and we’ve been packing all day.

I still need to help adjust their choices, though. As you can see, The Naturalist has followed my way of packing which is: “When in doubt, throw everything in the suitcase. And around the suitcase. And then find more suitcases to fit all the stuff into.”

The Golfer takes after his dad, which is to scan the room, grab a few things and then get the heck out of dodge.

The Sassy Princess threw a few books at me and ran back to watch Spongebob.

In preparation for the plane ride, I’ve packed some gum for pressurization, lots of lollipops to (hopefully!) keep the Princess too busy sucking to yell or cry, Gameboy DS, CD player, card games, playdoh, coloring books, sticker books, activity books, and crayons/markers. And, in a very optimistic show of faith, I’ve packed lots of trashy magazines in case a miracle happens and The Sassy Princess falls asleep and I get .5 seconds to myself. I’m SO going to read up on Britney’s disasterous ‘interview’ in OK!!!

Cheese as a weapon?

For the love of Pete.

I’m sure you all have seen the ‘terror threat’ warnings about people trying to smuggle bomb parts onto airplanes. And that some of these smugglers used cheese in the place of actual explosives.

I’m already anticipating a bumpy ride on the plane with the Sassy Princess in tow. And I already have to sacrifice her favorite juice box because of the no liquid ban. But now?! I’m afraid to pack her favorite string cheese for fear they’ll earmark me as an evildoer and I’ll have to endure a cavity search while the headlines blare: “Unassuming Mom Packs Contraband Cheese For Nefarious Purposes. Toddler In Tow Will Not Cooperate With Authorities. News At 9!”.

What do they do with these insane people who construct cheese bombs at the airport? Do they ship them to Guantanamo? Hide them in secret CIA shelters for secret tortures in secret countries? Whatever they’re doing, it’s not working. They are not discouraging would be terrorists from doing whatever it is they like to do with cheese and cell phones.

I have a solution. Take them. Lock them up. Attach a speaker to their cells. Put on a tape of what a 3 year old sounds like on a cross country airplane ride without her favorite cheese and juice box. Play it continuously. Over and over. 24/7. In fact, I’m going to take a recording of what the Sassy Princess sounds like when we endure such a flight on Friday…they can use that feedback. I know what it does to me, hearing the shrieks and wails and whines and tantrums. And I’m a hardened mom–usually I can block out the fevered pitch of kids throwing fits. But 3 year olds have a certain frequency that induces migraines, seizures, and nerve damage to everyone within hearing distance…all at the same time.

That’s what I’d like to do to these freaks who deprive me of innocent cheese on an airplane for my toddler.

Defending State Golf Champion!

The countdown is on to the USKG World Championship in Pinehurst. The qualifier was held last month…the same one The Golfer won last year. In fact, that was the first tournament he’d ever entered. The USKG organization runs a really fun event.

Here’s The Golfer with his playing partners, who ended up placing 3rd and 4th.

Every golfer needs a caddy to carry the clubs…The Naturalist fills in nicely!

It’s all fun and games…until it’s time to play. I’m always amazed to see the transformation on The Golfer. One minute he’s chasing bugs and laughing, the next he’s got his club in his hand and is totally and seriously focused on getting the ball in the cup.

Last year he shot a one under par 35. This year he was heading for 3 over par, until he got to the last 3 holes. He managed to get a birdie, par, and then finished up with an eagle on a beautiful drive right that landed right off the green. He chipped it up within a few feet of the cup and then dropped it in. It gave him a final score of 36, and he placed 1st! He was really excited, because he wanted another chance to play at Pinehurst.

After the award ceremony, he gave me a big, proud smile.

And then he remembered he’s shy and got embarrassed at everyone clapping for him.

While he was playing, The Naturalist started constructing an award of her own for him…a pinecone decorated with all kinds of plants and flowers. He said he liked it even more than his medal. I love these stinkin’ kids!

This win qualified him for the World Championships, and so we’ll return again this year. He’s so excited to go back and play again!

Pedoaviophobia

I’ve always had a fear of flying. Nothing that keeps me off planes, but I sit in my seat silently freaking out about every bump and clatter. And then, after 9/11 I had a new thing to worry about…the people sitting around me. I know that the odds are really really low that anything will happen to me on an airplane, but I still grip the armrests and break out in cold sweats for the entire flight.

There’s been a new development in my Aviaphobia. One that significantly decreases my odds of things going my way on a plane. It’s called The Sassy Princess.

Planes and kids are always a nervewracking mix, but in between the last time I flew and now, there have been a rash of family unfriendly airline policies spotlighted on the news. First…apparently, it’s possible to be held on a plane for an indeterminate amount of time without basic services like food and water. This winter when all the planes were being held on the tarmac due to bad weather, all I could think about were the moms with small kids sitting on the flights. They must have had a double whammy…inconveniently stuck for hours on end, sitting in a seat. But, I bet they also had to deal with all the looks and comments about their frustrated kids from other passengers.

The second thing that scares me is…the power that flight attendants are wielding in allowing people on or kicking them off the plane. Specifically this. And this. And this. And this. I mean, seriously. Kicking a kid off for throwing a tantrum? Saying “Bye Bye Plane”? Nursing? Coughing? Really. Really?!

Heaven help us all when I take the Sassy Princess on the plane this Friday. Chances are low that I’ll be sitting next to a terrorist, but chances are very very high that I’ll be sitting next to a tantrum throwing, loud talking 3 year old with a very very bad attitude. Something like this:

And this:

And probably this:

The thought of successfully navigating an airport, flight attendants, and a long plane ride makes me feel like hiding under my bedsheets and never coming out. Like hurling. Like hiring a nanny to accompany me and then pretending not to know her or The Sassy Princess when all the tantrum throwing chaos on the plane begins. It gives me Pedoaviophobia…fear of flying on planes with a small child. I don’t think there’s an official classification of this specific phobia, but there will be if the airlines continue to be free and easy about tossing out moms and babies willy nilly.

So, you know, if you hear about a loud and uncooperative kid being kicked off a plane with a harried, nervous, jumpy, frazzled, freaked out mom, you’ll know my flight didn’t go very well at all.

The Y’s Make A Home.

Here is The Naturalists sophmore claymation film, “The Y’s Home”!

I knew something was in the works when she asked for the camera and then dissappeared for an afternoon. When she surfaced for some food and a little fresh air, she had a great little movie about how her claymation people found a home. After watching her have so much fun adding the finishing touches to her last film, I begged her to let me help pick out the music, so we had a great time finding just the right song.

Et voila! Le Y’s!

On a side note, I love watching kids becoming so engrossed in something that they lose all track of time.  Hyper-focused, I guess you can call it.  Especially when it’s a kid, like The Naturalist, who has been labeled with the ADHD tag.  When learning and skills are pertinent and immediate, the typical (or stereotypical)  ADHD behavior is nowhere to be found.   Happily, unschooling makes this kind of focus possible pretty often, because it is so interest driven.  I’ve found that The Naturalist is much more tuned in to more of her day, and the flights of imagination that made school so difficult to sit through actually serve her quite well when she can then funnel her thoughts into different projects.

And on a side side note, I really really love the Frames software that comes with this Claymation kit from Mindware. It’s really intuitive and The Naturalist picked up how to create a basic film after a day tinkering around with it! It comes with music, clip art, special effects sounds, pictures organized according to subject, and an easy interface between the pictures and the stop motion film. The price is reasonable  and I highly recommend it  for anyone with a creative mind and imagination to spare. 

Mad Organizational Skillz, Yo!

Some mornings I wake up and think, “Hey!  It’s time to reorganize the pantry!  It’s been a few months  weeks!”  I know, I know, some people have a chart on their calendar, or a to-do list for these kinds of things.  But I work by inspiration.  I don’t like to feel strong armed into it, and what’s a bigger buzz kill than seeing “organize the cabinets” first thing in the morning?  Unless you’re like my hubby, who really enjoys being neat and tidy, and who early in our marriage helpfully wrote out reminders for me every morning.  I can see now he was only being enthusiastic and optimistic in his anal retentiveness…but it didn’t go over very well at the time.

 Anyways!

I woke up and decided it was time to clean the pantry AND the cabinets in my kitchen.  No small feat when you have a little helper around.   First, look at how little The Toddler The Sassy Princess was!  Second, check out those shelves!  So clean!  And organized!

But it doesn’t stop there.  Oh, no.  I went on to clean out every single cabinet.  I labelled with my labelmaker, and put things in uniformly sized plastic containers, and wiped everything down really well.

I know you’re thinking that hubby married himself a great woman.  Someone really on her game!  I mean, those are some nice, organized, & clean cabinets!

 Except!

Don’t look at the counters.

And certainly don’t look at the rest of the kitchen.

Do you ever get the feeling that with housework, it’s all about winning the battle but losing the war? 

Take a walk on the wild side! Or not.

I’ve never considered myself a rebel. I doubt anyone has used the term ‘wild child’ to refer to me. Probably the most radical thing I’ve ever done is this unschooling stuff–but that’s hardly dying my hair purple and getting a tattoo on my arm. (Both things my tattooed sister has done–simultaneously. Now that’s wild!)

I generally follow rules. But more in a ‘spirit of the law’ kind of way. Following rules in a ‘letter of the law’ kind of way exhausts me. Any kind of precision is a bit difficult for me to maintain. If I can estimate the answer to a math problem, I’m golden. But if I have to give a specific answer where all the numbers are correct in the right order, well, that’s when the wheels fall off.

I guess the best way to describe what I do, is I mentally add “-ish” to everything. When cooking, I “Mix for 30(ish) strokes” and “Blend for 2(ish) minutes”. In my every day life, when I say “I’ll get the kitchen clean today, hubby!” I really mean, “I’ll get the kitchen clean(ish) today, hubby!” Or, “I’ll get the closet organized today(ish), hubby!”

This can be difficult for someone with a practical, sequential, literal mind. Someone like, say, my hubby. You should see him following a recipe. When it says, “mix for 30 strokes”, he laboriously counts to 30. Not 29, not 31. Precisely 30. When it says “blend for 2 minutes”, he carefully starts his stopwatch so he gets it exactly right. He deals in absolutes, or else starts panicking as if the fabric of space/time is ripping. I deal in generalities.

Out of all the ‘quirks’ in my personality, I think this one drives hubby craziest. And not the funny, ‘aren’t you so cute’ crazy, I mean ‘I’m looking at you and have no idea what goes on in your head and can’t even begin to express how frustrated I am right now’ crazy. I’m used to dealing with that from hubby, but was entirely surprised to realize The Golfer is bothered by this, too.

It started on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, at Disneyland. Have you heard? They have added mechanical Jack Sparrow puppets at different places throughout. And they are so realistic! Yummy! So I took a picture of one of them, at the very end. ‘Ello, luv!

The Golfer urgently pulled on my arm and said, “Mom! Was that a flash picture? Did you just take a flash picture? The rules at the beginning of the ride specifically said, “No flash pictures” and you just took one!!!”. The tone of his voice made it sound like I was trying to pull Jack down and take him home with me (which actually isn’t a bad idea–they’ve done a good job with those Jacks…but definately couldn’t happen with The Golfer in the boat with me. He’d be the first one to rat me out. Sheesh.).

First of all, I didn’t hear the ‘no flash pictures’. Second of all, I think what they meant was, “no flash pictures unless you love Jack Sparrow in which case you should take as many pictures of him as you like because we appreciate it when people like our imaginearing and think you should be able to have personal pictures of him from this ride.”

So, I snapped another picture of Jack. The Golfer, nearly apoplectic at this point, stammered out, “Mom! NO FLASH! I don’t like it when you don’t follow the rules!” At which point I took a picture of him. And then I dutifully agreed that it’s good to follow the rules and that I would follow all the rest of them. By which I meant “follow(ish) all the rest of the rules”. Heh.

But do you see this look from the picture I took right before retiring my camera? The one on his sweet, little, 7 year old face? It’s exactly the one hubby gives me. It’s that look. The “‘I’m looking at you and have no idea what goes on in your head and can’t even begin to express how frustrated I am right now” look. Oy vey, I’m in trouble.

Operation Happy Rabbits, phase 2

Hello Pepper…you sweet, chocolatey brown bundle of softness! At least, I think you’d be soft. It’s not like you let us hold you much.

And hello to you, LuLu. You’re a tough nut to crack, you know that? You have what we humans call an “attitude problem”. I’m sure you are sweet, too, but I can’t really tell with all the impatient thumping, hiding, and overall sulking you’ve been doing. Why do you put up such a barrier. Don’t you know we think you’re adorable?!

The Naturalist convinced me to bring you from the garage to our backyard. But I think her hidden agenda was revealed when she then brought you into our house so she could train you to ‘love her’. I’m sure it’s something she picked up on Animal Planet. If this works, I’ll start calling her ‘The Bunny Whisperer”.

I’m not sure you two bunnies appreciate what this girl is doing on your behalf. She typically doesn’t sit still for very long or focus very easily for long periods of time. Her mind is going to fast in too many directions. So, for her to sit, quietly, waiting for you to get used to her…well, that just doesn’t happen very often. I mean, look at her! She’s been in there so long, she’s actually gotten tired and is laying down in there.

And, listen. One last thing about the antibiotics I have to give you twice a day. It would be nice to have some cooperation. I mean, really. It’s not too much to ask. It’s not like I’ve ever medicated a bunny or anything. And you are both being very difficult. At the very least, I’d like you not to sniff the dropper and then immediately freak out before I can get a little in your mouth. I’ll tell you something…I’ve always had a fear of bunny bites. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s the biggest reason why I’ve never wanted to own a bunny. And you guys are getting dangerously close to biting me–if not for my lightning quick reflexes, you’d have gotten my finger good. Knock it off, or it’s back to the garage for ya. Or, into my soup pot, if you get my drift.

So, to recap…here’s what I need from you to make our partnership successful this summer, until you go back to your school home at Running River. 1) Start being more friendly to The Naturalist. 2) Start taking your medicine more easily. Good gracious, my kids are better at it than you are!

Thank you. That is all. Let’s hope we start seeing some warming up behavior from both of you very soon.

Adultitis

I’ll start with one of my favorite lines in a song, by way of The Indigo Girls:

The best thing you’ve ever done for me,
Is to help me take my life less seriously,
It’s only life after all…

My adventure into homeschooling, and then even further into unschooling, hasn’t been just about “learnin’ my kids”. In a bigger way, it’s been about me loosening up. Opening up. Getting outside my rigid operating system and really looking at my life. Getting back to the place where everything is fresh and new…and every day is an adventure. I guess spending 24/7 with kids will do that to you.

When we started homeschooling, it came at a stressful time wondering what the future held for a child who wasn’t succeeding at school. And the thought of taking on the schooling at home added even more stress. But that was nothing compared to what The Naturalist was feeling: Panic attacks. Nervous eye twitches. Stuttering. Bouts of crying before and after school. An actual diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. !!! She was 8, people!!!!!

As I sat with her after I pulled her out of school, I remembered how I had felt at her age. I think everyone, as a kid, thinks that being an adult will be SO COOL. You can make your own rules! Eat whatever you want! Play for as long as you want! Have more time for TV and sleepovers! The possiblities seemed endless.

But then I realized that here I was, an adult, and I wasn’t doing any of those things. Call it ‘responsibility’, or ‘growing up’…but the fact was, I had all the pressures of an adult but none of the fun I thought I would have. And, seeing that fun was something that my daughter desperately needed, that became my goal for both of us. For us to live a little. Explore, investigate, question, and not to sweat the small stuff.

The Naturalist was really good at this, and soon her school specific anxiety cleared up. In fact, ironically–at a time I had designated myself as the teacher, she ended up being the expert when it came to lightening up.

She helps all of us have fun, actually.

I found a website that has highlighted a nasty habit I have of getting even MORE stressed out when life is getting hectic around me. Adultitis. The reality is, that the times when I’m most aggravated/annoyed/frustrated/high strung/kid induced crazy, are the times when I probably am in the biggest need of a good laugh.