Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Soccer Moms (and dads...)

Son D. is in a U4 soccer league for the summer. Basically, all that means is that 6 kids get on a field, crowd around a ball, and attempt to kick it occasionally. They don't keep score. No one wins. No one loses. They are just there to have fun. And the kids do seem to have a lot of fun.

But the parents. They drive me crazy. Some seem to have great plans for their 3-4 year old offspring. They yell from the sidelines, "Kick it Johnny!" "Other direction, Janie" and so on and so on.

First of all, I don't think the kids can even hear their parents yelling. They are running around, having a good time. I'm not sure the parental voices carry.

Second, I suspect the kids already know to "kick it" - that's basically the whole point of soccer, isn't it? Do the parents think they are sharing a new cutting-edge strategic blueprint here?

And I'm supposed to report that son D. scored a "hat trick" in Sunday's game. (i.e. he scored all three of his team's goals--of course, in the game in which no score is technically kept.)

Three goals and NOT ONCE did either his father or I yell "Kick It, D!" Not once.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another day, another fever

Not to be outdone by her younger brother, Daughter D. got her own fever at about 4 o'clock this morning. (Why do children's fevers always come in the middle of the night?)

My children have watched more TV in the last 24 hours than they have watched in the previous two months combined.

Normally, I'm pretty strict on the TV. During the school year, they don't get to watch any TV during the week, at all.

But when illness strikes - all such rules disappear. Bring on the TV! 24 hours straight of TV!

This time, I've even let them watch some "big kid" shows. And I must admit that I'm developing an odd affinity for Hannah Montana. Who knew Billy Ray Cyrus was still around?

I've spent my day discovering "FaceBook" - and help, is there anyone out there who can explain it to me?

I work in the field of technology marketing and recently, I've been hearing a lot of buzz about the different aps built for FaceBook, so I decided to check it out.

I've figured out a few things:
1) I'm about 15-20 years older than anyone else there
2) The groups seem really cool - I even found a group for the marathon I'm running
3) Every single one of our babysitters has a page
4) The babysitters have 400 friends. Each. I have 4 (and two of them are related to me!)

If anyone else is on there and can help me figure it out, please help! I'm the "K*risten N*elson" in the Madison network. (Stars added to keep me out of Google!)
What's a wall? What's a nudge?

god, I'm so uncool.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fever Talk

Son D. got sick yesterday. He'd complained about being hot all day, but I kept saying, "Of course it's hot - it's summer" and proceeded to take him on long bike rides and walks throughout the day. Finally, he insisted that he was sick and I took his temp - 103. Yep, he was sick.

The fever spiked at 1 am. He and I were up together from 1 am to 3 am, talking. He wouldn't stop talking. He was in some feverish state that required constant conversation.

None of our conversations made much sense. He wanted to discuss NASCAR quite a bit, but I'm afraid I didn't have much to contribute.

We had a long discussion about how he was the smallest person in the family. Evidently, he doesn't like the fact that everyone laughs at him so much. He requested that we add someone else to the family - someone smaller than he is. I apologized and told him that just wasn't going to happen. I tried to explain that the reason we laugh so much is that he is so stinkin' cute (what with the pony-tails and enthusiasm for all things soccer), but he wasn't buying it.

Finally, we finished with a long discussion of what his life will be when he is a teenager. He is very much looking forward to being a teenager and has an almost utopia-like vision of what his teenage life will be. (I decided not to tell him about the bad parts - the zits, the insecurity, the cliques. We focused on the fun: He can watch PG-13 movies! He can play soccer every day with a real team! He can go to bed at 9 pm!)

As much as it pains me to lose 2 hours of precious sleep talking with a feverish 4 year old, I suspect these are exactly the moments I will miss when he is 14.

Until then, I'll just consume lots of caffeine. Yawn.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Style it like Beckham

David Beckham has descended upon America and son D. has decided that he wants to be just like him.

Before the game this weekend, there was a short interview/biography special on ESPN. I thought it would be interesting to watch it. (Yes, I like the "up close & personal" segments at the Olympics, too.)

Big mistake.

Son D. was fascinated by everything about Beckham - especially the hairstyles. He wore his 'soccer uniform' to preschool today - including the too-big soccer socks that go up past his knees.

This afternoon, he dressed up his hair with three of his sister's headbands (including the pink one.) I felt the need to explain his appearance to all the neighbors we met along the way to swim team..."He watched Beckham this weekend." Luckily, they all nodded in understanding.

Tonight, he is sleeping in his soccer PJs, with the thigh-high soccer socks. He has added a pony-tail to his newly found hair style collection. Just a little one sticking straight up at the top of his head.

He had me photograph it so he could see what it looks like. But I just can't bring myself to post a picture of him on the internet looking like this. Personally, I think it's adorable. His prom date in 13 years might not.

Yesterday's quote of the day was, "Mama, if you win a stage at the Tour de France - you get two pretty girls!"

I suppose that as long as Vinocourov doesn't start sporting a pony tail out the back of his helmet, we should be OK.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thank you, Pew

Funny how just as I'm standing on a proverbial cliff - about to take the "opt-out" plunge - (stepping back from 75% of a job down to 50% of a job) the Pew Research Center comes out with a study claiming that yes, in fact, everyone else does want to jump with me.

I've been at the same wonderful company for 10 years and I've been very lucky. I worked full time before kids. After the kids arrived, they gave me exceptionally generous maternity leaves, and allowed me to work part time - ranging from 20-30 hours/week during the last 7 years.

I always assumed that as the kids got older, I'd want to work more.

Alas, instead I ventured straight into another one of those parenting things that nobody tells you: as the kids get older - they need you MORE. (Or perhaps, as a parent, *you* need to be there more. I still have a hard time differentiating between who needs whom, sometimes.)

So, as my department was reorganized this spring and I had the chance to scale back and become half of a job in a job-share, I took it. It wasn't an easy decision. I had another job offer for another 30 hour/week job which would have kept me at my current schedule and income level. That was tempting.

But as of this morning, I am officially a 50% employee. Although I got a big promotion, I'll be making quite a bit less money due to my cutback in hours.

It feels somewhat against-the-grain to be stepping back just as my youngest is turning 5. (Luckily, he is a Sept birthday and won't start school until 2008 so I'll get one more year with him.)

However, I am glad to see that part-time work is finally getting some research. For the last 7 years, most of the media attention has been on the "working moms" vs. the "Stay at Home Moms." And oh, the vitriol that can pass between those two groups.

I've always wanted to yell, "Yoo Hoo - over here - there are a whole bunch of us who are 'at home' moms on Tuesday and Friday and 'working moms' on Monday and Wednesday." We never quite fit in any category, and we have trouble being judgmental of either side.

Although, there was that one day a few years ago where in the course of one afternoon I had one friend say to me, "I could never work like you do - how can you let someone else raise your kids?" and a few hours later, a co-worker said, "I could never abandon my career the way you did - don't you feel like you wasted your education?"

Proving, once and for all, that no matter what choice you make on the wide spectrum of working and mothering - *someone* will find fault with it.

As for me, I'm off to type half an email, write half of a press release, and design half of an event invitation this evening while my kids are sleeping. Maybe I'll plan half the menu for our client open house and write half of a proposal.

Oh? you don't think that's what they meant by a job share?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

American Boy?

I am finally feeling like a human again. When I was in my 20s and I got sick, I would bounce back in a day or two. Now that I am in my late, late, late 30s - it takes a week!

When we first moved to WI, I worked for a company called "Pleasant Company" - it was a nice enough place but I learned that marketing to children was not my cup of tea. I moved on to marketing to small businesses instead and my career has rambled on.

I also vowed never to buy my daughter any of the American Girl toy/doll products. Having seen the process of creating demand for such products, behind the scenes, I decided it wasn't for me. (The books are another story - I think they are first-class and buy them all the time.)

As with just about everything else in my life, I am about to prove myself to be an inconsistent hypocrite.


Well, Son D. has decided that the ONE thing he wants for his birthday is Nicki - the "girl of today"

He would like her, and the soccer outfit, of course.

At first, I thought it was a passing fancy. But he has not changed his mind.

His reasons? First, he informed us that girls play soccer too and he'd like a doll to play soccer with. Second, he is quite convinced that his sister will include him in more playdates with her friends if he has the coveted brand-new American Girl. (I think he might be on to something there.)

I'm amazed that he has not picked up on the fact that all of these products are marketed to girls. Perhaps it is because he can't read. The word "girl" appears at least 100 times in every catalog we receive.

So, while I am a bit distasteful of all the gender-based consumer marketing that is targeted to my daughter from this company - I am secretly pleased that my son is completely oblivious to it and thinks it is for him, too.

I never said I was consistent.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sick on the 4th of July

My family is currently out having fun 4th celebrations, but I'm home nursing a fever. On the bright side, it's a day off work, so there are no logistical nightmares with this illness.

I made it through the neighborhood 4th Kid Fun Run, watched the neighborhood 5K, participated in the neighborhood bike parade, went to the neighborhood BBQ and fourth Fun Fair, watched the neighborhood Softball Game, came home and collapsed. Sure enough, I had a slight fever. So I'm resting.

I've managed to read a great book (Vonnegut's Man without a Country) and watch a great movie (Seven Up and 7 plus Seven)

But now I'm tired of resting. I don't rest well.

Vonnegut's book was amazing. I couldn't put it down. Thanks to the fever-mandated-rest, I got to read it all in one setting.

The 7-Up series should be required viewing for anyone interested in education/child development/race & class in society. A director follows a group of 14 British children from various backgrounds, visiting them every 7 years. The changes between the ages of 7 and 14 were striking. I've already got the next group of movies (21, 28, 35, 42, in my netflix queue)

Tomorrow daughter D. starts at Horse Camp.

Must go rest....