Boron, Silicon, and Carbon; patterning my week

Silly Putty, in case you’re wondering …“You’re never excited about ANYthing, Mom!”  His words hit me like a ton of bricks.  I don’t remember what they were a response to, it probably involved some comment I’d made sarcastically about being thrilled about some project I had to work on that related to him somehow.  I know, not a comment I should have been making in the first place, great way to make them feel like crap.
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“As If” – The Limitlessness of Play (by Jocelyn)

I was fortunate enough to attend NYU for my MFA in Acting under the legendary theater director, Zelda Fichandler.  Zelda taught a class for the first years called, The Actor’s Space, which I later came to realize was an in-depth exploration into our Imagination. We created one-person shows which she called Universe Projects and performed them just for the other 17 members of our class and, of course, Zelda.  We learned intimacies about each other, in an instant of mime, mask or music that would have taken years to reveal, and which would make our work as an ensemble incredibly strong.  Every day there would be another brave sharing of personhood.  And ironically, the more specific the work, the more universally we all felt it.

And then the games began.  Zelda led us in the kind of theater games that rely on the trust an actor has in her ability to play. It was like a wonderful regression to kindergarten, where what you make-believe teaches you about the world and yourself, and you don’t even know it. 

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I hate the mirror ...

Douglas with his first design… and I’m not talking about the one hanging over my bathroom sink, though I don’t often love what I see there either.  I’m referring to that thing that happens when your mood, no matter what it is, is reflected by your kids.  It’s like taking a bad mood and amping it up x10, because that’s what seems to happen.  It’s not just a reflection, it’s an explosion! I get frustrated and speak sharply, or yell, and they start fighting with each other, whining, and talking back.  And then there’s the real wince when I hear my own tone, that harsh and nasty tone, coming right out of my son’s mouth.  I hate it when that happens!
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What's your biggest priority on a daily basis?

I read a SteadyMom post a couple weeks ago and the simple point was that her goal for each day was peace.  Simply peace.  It was more important than accomplishing lots of things, or making fancy meals, she wanted the motive behind the day’s choices to be a desire for peace.

To be honest, I first sniffed at it a bit because I thought about all the reasons why that’s not possible. 

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Growing Pains, With a Side of Estrogen (guest post by Alexis Green)

Image courtesy of Murtada al Mousawy via Flickr.

I wasn’t a “bad” child (at least not in the standard ways) when I was entering my teenage years - nor was I “bad” during them. I was responsible - I had babysitting jobs! I didn’t drink or do drugs or do that whole sex thing. (That all came in college…) My parents didn’t really have too much to worry about.

But we all have our issues, and I came into my teen years with a year of therapy under my belt and bouts of kleptomania that I fought (and usually lost).

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What Did He Say? (guest post by Bridget S.)

Image courtesy of Marco Gomes via Flickr.I have a friend with a thirteen year old son who has recently taken to letting her know that, in his opinion, she is an ass.  Nice, right?  He’s actually used even stronger language than that, and when she tells me about it I cringe, but not for the reasons you might think.  No, I have been through the teen years with a son myself, and I cringe because I know this is only the beginning.
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The Inertia of Winter

Otherwise known as: How I Get Stuck in the House and Then We All Regret It

I love snow.  Playing in it, shoveling it, sledding on it, throwing it, and yes, actually driving in it.  (Mind you I haven’t done too much of that in the last few years, so call it fond memories perhaps?).  As I was saying, I love snow, but I really hate dealing with it in winter.  The layers, the wetting of gloves and faces and underpants because-he-couldn’t-make-it-home-in-time, the contrast between a cozy bed and a freezing cold porch, the amount of time it takes to dress 3 people to go out, the number of calories they consume while playing in the snow which necessitates pockets full of uncrushable snacks, and I could really go on and on.  I get tired just thinking about it. 

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Q of the Week : How many activities are your children in? (By Heather)

Do you wake up early and rush to get ready (and sometimes still leave the house with wet hair)?  Do you rush the kids to get up and get going – so you can rush them through breakfast, rush them to school and rush yourself to work?  Do you rush around all day at work so you can leave on time and rush home so you are not late for the bus or day care pick up?  Do you rush through homework, so you can rush to after school activities, rush to come home to make dinner, cram food down your throats, rush through baths, reading and bed…to rush off to sleep so you have the energy to do it all again the next day. 

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone!

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Would You Like Some ... Ways to get your kids to listen? (by Darah)

Tired listeners …In today’s world where reality and cyber-reality intersect and co-exist, parents need to be creative and stay one step ahead when it comes to maintaining communication with their children.  For example, many kids nowadays prefer electronic forms of communication—texting, instant messaging and tweeting—as a means of “developing and sustaining” relationships in lieu of old fashioned face-to-face conversations and eye contact. We parents cannot change the ways in which our children prefer to receive, process and deliver information. If we want to keep the lines open, we’ve got to speak their language.

Depending on the child’ age and maturity level, here are a few creative techniques parents can use to “be heard.” 

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“Boy Cheese” and other Little White Lies I Tell my Kids (by Darah)

Little Lie Number 1

“It’s called g-r-i-l-l-e-d cheese,” I repeated for the twentieth time, not “g-i-r-l cheese.” It didn’t matter; his young ears couldn’t hear the difference. And, most importantly, he didn’t want to eat it because it was for girls.  “OK then,” I scoffed in resignation, trying not to appear exasperated. “I’ll make you a Boy Cheese sandwich.”  “Oh yeah, Mommy!” he cheered licking his lips.

Eureka! And that is how it all began. The little lies.

I realized that if I use their nomenclature coupled with their vivid imagination, I’ll succeed in getting through to them.

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Why I hate feeding my toddler (by Darah)

Let’s face it.  Feeding toddlers is no fun.  The parent must be completely “unplugged” as this is one stressful endeavor that demands our undivided attention.

My two year-old is too busy for food; sitting down to a proper meal is never on her agenda.  If it were up to her, she’d happily spend the day grazing. Getting her through a “sit-down meal” is exhausting and oftentimes, I wonder if it’s more trouble than it’s worth!

This precocious active kid has bounds of energy whether she eats her “square meal” or not.

I know, I know, the rationale extends beyond the actual nutrition and eating habits- it’s the cultivation of manners, table etiquette, establishing rituals, etc, etc.

In spite of the above, the five reasons I dread feeding my beloved two year-old are:

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Mom-o-Meters (by Heather)

Some moms seem to have this thing all figured out. They never get frazzled, their kids always behave, they are on time for every event, look put together (even at the gym), and still have time to make cute cupcakes. If these women complain at all about their children or how it has changed their life, it is done in a light-hearted manner and the tiny rant always ends with…”but isn’t it all worth it?”

Well no, sometimes it is not!

Sometimes I would like to trade them in!  I rather miss my old life!

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Would You Like Some ... Funky Crafty DIY Summer Ideas?

Douglas at the new project table …I’m a big fan of SAJ and she’s got a gig with Alpha Mom that’s turned out some cool craft projects.  If you’re hitting the summer doldrums and need some ideas, take a look!

I’m also addicted to the New Dress a Day blog, which has me scarily inspired to start mucking around with my sewing machine and some old clothes that aren’t quite favorites.  I’ve finally gotten the sewing machine OUT which is huge progress, it’s normal home is wedged in our single tiny bedroom closet, to the left of a filing cabinet which fills the entire doorway.  I have to deadlift the heavy old thing over the filing cabinet while batting away my husband’s suits (which he wears once every 2 years but that’s another story) and sweaters.  Swearing is usually involved.  So are pinched fingers.  Douglas is sewing madly away as I write, trying to stitch the word Mitten onto a series of tiny silk scraps he’s sewing into some form of a mitten.

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Q of the Week : What do you do when someone else parents your kids? (by Darah Z.)

Have you ever been in a situation where a stranger took it upon herself to either instruct your kid or blatantly scold them in front of you? It’s uncomfortable and complicated indeed- on so many levels. First, if your ego doesn’t completely overtake you and send you on a rampage to tell that person where they can “stick” their unsolicited advice, you may feel inadequate as a parent. Why didn’t I address that issue with my kid first? Secondly, perhaps that other person is a friend, co-worker, acquaintance or other parent and has something valuable to offer- something you hadn’t thought of. Lastly, how is this total disregard for your status interpreted by your child?

Of course, when one takes it upon himself to discipline your kid in your absence that’s one thing; when it is done in your presence - that’s another story.
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Batman is my new best friend! (By Heather S.)

I don’t know who made up the term “terrible 2s”, because in my experience when they turn 3 is when the real fun begins. Not only do they have the tantrums, but they have the logic to back it up. They are stronger, more persistent and more sophisticated in their ridiculous demands.

Whenever I have to give a request or demand to my three year old, I actually have to do some mental prepping because I know there is going to be a clash of wills. It really doesn’t matter what it is, just any direction at all.

Come sit down for dinner. Put your shoes on. Stop crashing your truck into the table. Stop licking the bottom of your shoe. Time to brush your teeth. You get the idea … I am not asking a lot here!
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Tip Tuesday : Don't forget distractions ...

I was away this past weekend, and had several other people watching my kids while I worked on wedding planning with a bunch of girls.  As I heard the care-givers working with them, through a cloud of favors and decorations and makeup, I was reminded once again that distractions are a wonderful tool with young kids.  Drag their focus away from whatever the issue is, and they’ll rapidly forget what was bothering them in the first place.  I tend to over-engage and get into arguments or battles of rationalization, which are utterly useless most of the time.  A rapid change of subject or direction calms us all down!  It works for me too sometimes, just change the subject or channel or direction I’m facing and everything falls into place.  Here’s to distractions …