Friday, May 30, 2008

lunch bunch

Laura and Elizabeth ask how the rising food/gas prices are effecting everyone.

As I was packing daughter D's lunch this morning, I realized that one thing we are doing is stretching out the time between grocery store trips. This leaves us with a few days of eating whatever is around. (The good stuff goes right away. Strawberries have a shelf life of about 30 minutes in our house.)

I really hope that no adults I know were in her lunchroom today. I'm also hoping corn chips will qualify as a vegetable. We were pretty much out of all things animal, vegetable or mineral. I searched through the pantry. "Aha! Pinto beans! I could pack those with some crackers!"

I didn't go that far, but her lunch was pretty much 100% out of the cupboard today. The fridge was bare. I did find some raisins. That's about all that had nutritional value in her lunch today.

Finally, we broke down and headed to the co-op this afternoon to get some supplies of the fruit/vegetable variety.

I'm just going to have to start rationing the strawberries.

(and yes, we are still splurging for the organic I guess we haven't been hit too hard. yet.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Opting Out

Over at BitchPhD, there is an interesting post about the flip sides of "opting out/opting in."

I work in a job-share and therefore make 50% of the salary of the position and work 50% of the hours. It's great - don't get me wrong. I love working part time and the flexibility it gives me to do other things. I'm really lucky.

So, yes. I've "opted out" of full time career stuff

But I've been amazed at how my previously full-time paid work (pre-kids) has been slowly and subtly replaced by completely unpaid volunteer work. I'm honestly not "working" any less. I'm PTA President. I'm a soccer coach. I bake for bake sales. I organize fund raisers. I attend school board meetings. I volunteer in the classroom. I'm a Big Sister. And so on.

And although I've never been one to measure my success by my monetary worth - it kinda gets to me - this doing so much work for free.

The parents who work full time can easily say, "No, I can't do that. I work full time." And I don't blame them. If I worked full time, I'd say that too. You probably can't be a high-power career person and volunteer in the classroom for an afternoon each week and go along on every field trip or commit to the BB/BS program.

I choose the volunteer work. I enjoy the volunteer work. It's a core part of who I am. It's a huge part of where I find purpose and meaning in life. I'm not trying to complain about the fact that I do it. That's not it.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have the ability to not work full time should do volunteer work whenever we can. I chose my schedule and really, you couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to work full time.

But that doesn't change the feeling I sometimes get when I realize just how much unpaid work I do these days. Work that I do because I can, due to my flexible schedule. I'm not talking about the 'raising my kids' or 'cleaning my house' part of my life, either. Those are for my kids and my house. That's part of the package.

It's the 'making the world a better place' work that perplexes me. Why is there so much of it that is unpaid and volunteer? And why does one need to basically opt-out of a fast-track career path to do it? Why does it feel so devalued? And what happens to our society if people stop doing it?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

long weekend

Just went to pick up my registration for the half-marathon tomorrow. I'd planned on doing the full marathon, but this winter destroyed my plans. No one should train for a marathon during a record-breaking winter. According to our local paper, we had 30 days where the temp was below zero. (not below freezing.....below zero) and we got over 100 inches of snow. Ice and snow and sub-zero temps are not conducive to long training runs. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

The registration fairs at marathons always amaze me. All those skinny people. Generally, in any random crowd - I'm typically one of the slighter people. I have no curves to speak of (despite desperately wanting curves for most of my life - they have only appeared during pregnancy.) But the minute I go into a marathon registration fair, I immediately feel like Anna Nicole Smith. Instantly, I am voluptuous in comparison.

Ironically, the Madison marathon ends in a brat fest. That always feels wrong, somehow. But perhaps if all those marathon runners would eat more brats they wouldn't be so damn skinny.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I read boring books.

Seen at Raising Weg and APL: Proof that I am old and boring.

Evidently this is a list from Library Thing - a list of the top 106 books that people have on their shelves but have not actually read. Evidently these are the books that people think they "should" read, but don't.....because the books are really only appealing for those who are stuffy and boring. like me.

I have never seen "Dances with the Stars" or "The Bachelor." I don't watch "American Idol" or "Survivor" or "Swap My Wife" or "Pimp My Ride." (Don't get me wrong - I like trashy TV. Huge fan. Just not the reality version. )

Sadly, this is pretty much a list of my favorite books in the world. There were all sorts of fancy meme rules - something to bold, something to underline, something to italicize. But I just bolded. I can't figure out how to remove the underlines or the italics - just ignore those.

Who knows if this is even real. But after spending a week at a conference with cool, hip, co-workers who were discussing the various contestants of various reality shows - and not being able to contribute a SINGLE word - this is refreshing.

So, I'm old and boring. But I'm well-read in the field. (and obviously have a liberal-arts education...if I'd studied something real like math or science, there is no way I'd have had time to read all this fiction!)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina (I made my book club read this.)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (another bookclub book)
Crime and Punishment (college)
Wuthering Heights (loved it.)
Catch-22 (Brilliant)
The Silmarillion
Don Quixote (hated it.)
The Odyssey (college)
The Brothers Karamazov
War and Peace (college)
Madame Bovary (I made my bookclub read this too)
A Tale of Two Cities (high school)

Jane Eyre (high school)
The Name of the Rose
Moby Dick
Emma (love it. read it many times.)
The Illiad (college)
Vanity Fair
Love in the Time of Cholera (loved it. read it twice.)
The Blind Assassin
Pride and Prejudice (loved it)
The Historian: A Novel
The Canterbury Tales (college)
The Kite Runner (disturbing, but very good)
Great Expectations (high school)
Life of Pi (OK)
The Time Traveler's Wife (OK)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (I have this in my pile - haven't started yet)
Atlas Shrugged (college)
Foucault's Pendulum
The Grapes of Wrath (one of my favorite books)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (clever)
Mrs. Dalloway (liked it)
Sense and Sensibility (loved it...seeing a theme here?)
Middlemarch (I loved everything George Eliot ever wrote.)
Reading Lolita in Tehran (Also have this in my pile, but haven't started)
The Count of Monte Cristo (college)
The Sound and The Fury (college)
Memoirs of a Geisha (OK)
Brave New World (high school)
American Gods
Middlesex (fascinating)
The Poisonwood Bible (good, bookclub book)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Dune (not my cup of tea)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (high school)
The Satanic Verses
Mansfield Park
Gulliver's Travels (high school)
The Three Musketeers (high school)
The Inferno (college)
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Fountainhead (liked it at the time)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (loved it)
Oliver Twist (high school)
To the Lighthouse
A Clockwork Orange (brilliant)
Robinson Crusoe (OK)
Persuasion (loved it)
The Scarlet Letter (loved it)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (OK)
The Once and Future King
Anansi Boys
Atonement (loved it)
The God of Small Things (loved it)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (book club book)
Dubliners (loved it)
Oryx and Crake
Angela's Ashes (good)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (college)
In Cold Blood
Lady Chatterley's Lover
A Confederacy of Dunces (OK)
Les Misérables (college)
The Amber Spyglass
The Prince (college)
Watership Down (high school)
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (college)
The Aenied (college)
A Farewell to Arms (college)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Treasure Island (high school)
David Copperfield (high school)
Sons and Lovers
The Book Thief (reading now!)
The history of Tom Jones
The Road
Tender is the Night (love anything by him)
The War of the Worlds

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Live and Learn

We've always been a "one sport at at time" family. The kids do a variety of activities - but they do them one at a time. If they want to take gymnastics...well, then they can't play soccer. If they want to take ice skating lessons...well, then swimming will have to wait. One thing at a time.

This sounds reasonable to me. But you'd be surprised how unusual we are. We are the exception. Most of the D's friends are in multiple organized sports.

This spring, I signed son D. up for two sports. (Soccer and T-ball) In my defense, I didn't think they were simultaneous. I thought they overlapped for maybe one week. I was wrong. They overlap for the entire month of May.

May is making me tired.

Other families do this all the time. Most of our neighbors have kids in 2-3 sports - ALL YEAR LONG.

How do they do it? This is so totally not working for us. May is over soon, so I'll make it. But barely.

I loved this article from a professor from my alma mater:

My neighbor wrote another great commentary:

Ironically, Son D. loves both the sports and seems to be doing fine with the schedule. For those of you who are related to him, you can see him in T-ball action here: (don't click if you aren't related by blood....these things are fascinating for relatives but very,very boring for all others)

But the rest of us? Not doing so well. Tired and over scheduled. Live and Learn.

Next spring, he'll have to choose.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Alert the NRA

Son D. has begun a fascination with all-things-Star-Wars. It started innocently enough. A paperback book from Barnes & Noble, read at bedtime. But soon it branched into other books.

And then, of course, Legos. Oh, the Legos. So far, we've managed to get by with the tiny character Lego sets. A Storm-Trooper here; A Darth Vader there. As soon as he realizes that they sell enormous Lego sets of the entire ships, we're toast.

He hasn't seen any of the movies yet. So far he seems content with books and Legos.

But this morning, it was "sharing day" at his preschool. He insisted on bringing a Lego StormTrooper (who happens to be carrying a Lego-sized gun.) I refused, gently explaining all the reasons we can't bring guns to preschool.

A tantrum ensued, culminating in a full-body, full-volume shriek of, "IF I CAN'T BRING MY GUN TO SCHOOL, THEN I'M NOT BRINGING ANYTHING." Nice. Yep, that's how we're raising our boy in this uber-pacifist household.

In the end, he brought a book. A Star-Wars Book.

I caught the first 3 movies when I was a kid, but I'm woefully behind on the rest of the series. Who is this Anakin? This Padme? When did Ewan McGregor become Obi Wan? I'm more of a "Luke & Leia" era girl, myself. (Didn't they use light sabers? What's with all the Lego guns?)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Busy Weekends

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my 'little.' This is my third match over the course of 19 years, so you'd think I'd have the hang of it by now.

We've been meeting every week all year. It's been fantastic. A's done many things for the first time this year. She'd never been in a pool or on an ice skating rink. She'd never been to the nature center or the university football stadium. We've had fun. All the things that my kids take for granted (swimming, skating, shopping), make her light up with pure delight. I'll never forget the first time she went swimming. Pure joy.

But I messed up this weekend. I explained to her mother that I was going to have to move to an "every-other-week" meeting schedule for the next month or two because of all the kids' weekend activities. All of a sudden D&D are in too many organized sports. I'm not sure exactly how that happened. I must have signed them up for them, no? (T-ball, 2 soccer teams, piano, swim team....fills up the weekends...)

The look on A's face. It was not pure joy. As I left, I realized that *I* am her one and only weekend activity. She's not in too many activities - she's not in ANY activities. Our weekend afternoons spent exploring the city and going on adventures are it for her.

There has got to be a way to even the playing field (pun intended.) My kids and all their friends are in way too many activities - running from T-Ball game to Soccer game...then rushing back home to practice piano for their lesson. A. and her friends don't have anything. They pretty much spend the weekends indoors in their apartments - watching TV.

There must be a better way.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tick Tock

On Monday, it snowed. Big, fat flakes. Nothing stuck...but still. What do you think - we live in Wisconsin or something?

So, I declared Monday afternoon to be "official sloth afternoon." I *finally* let the kids watch the Harry Potter Puppet Pals You Tube video that they've been clamoring to see. (Did you know they are the only two people in the entire world whose parents wouldn't let them watch it?) The snow wore down all my resolve. So we watched.

And watched and watched and watched. I swear we watched it 20 times. That thing is hilarious. No wonder all the 8 year olds are recommending it.

I'm justifying exposing my children to a pipe bomb reference with the fact that I grew up watching Tom & Jerry, The Road Runner and Benny Hill. They got nothin' on an imaginary pipe bomb blowing up puppets.

Snape. Snape. Severus Snape. Dumbledore! (I dare you to watch the video as many times as we did and not spend the rest of the week singing that damn song...)

Ah, I love the internets.