Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Am I Not Tired?

It's 3:09 on Friday afternoon. The boys didn't have school today, so I got to sleep in until 8. Will and I popped over to Target around 9:30 to pick up a few things (which, Target being Target, turned into about fifteen things), and were home by 10.

I've cleaned the kitchen, made a birthday cake (Will's birthday is Sunday, but we're having the family party tonight), worked on a quilt, made lunch, cleaned the living room, straightened out the attic (which is to say moved a few boxes around to make it look like progress has been made in the ongoing decluttering project--total illusion) and picked up my study. I've composed two lengthy emails, made a business call, and organized the mud room.

In short, it's been a busy, productive day. Usually by this time on a weekday, the boys in school, I'd be ready for a nap, even without all the cleaning and baking. But while I feel vaguely tired, I'm not at all nappy. It's like this on Saturdays, too. I hardly ever feel tired on Saturdays.

Why do you think that is? Does it make a difference to start the day off slowly instead of herding children out the door into the car? Does it make a difference when most of the day is spent at home? Is it running a million errands in the minivan that wears me out? Even on days when I don't have errands, I drive the boys to school in the morning, pick up Will at 2:40, and then run out again to pick up Jack at 3:20, and yep, I feel tired and ready for a nap the minute I get home.

Am I energized by having my family at home, even if I'm ignoring them? I do find it cozy and nice to have the boys and the Man at home when all of us are doing projects and puttering and generally just hanging out. Should I start homeschooling?

While I love feeling tired at the end of a day well spent, I hate it when I run out of steam mid-afternoon. It was that way for me all week. This was a week of school parties and birthday present shopping and meetings and appointments. I spent three hours yesterday in Will's second grade classroom helping kids stuff candy corn and popcorn into rubber gloves--don't ask.

I hate chopped up days, when I'm in and out of the car. I think the pioneers had hard lives, but at least they didn't have to do afternoon pick-up.

So how is it for you? Are there days where you happily go-go-go from morning to night, while other days you barely make it to 4? When do you have the most energy? What saps your strength? Should I move to the woods and refuse to sign up to help with school parties?

Please advise.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inconsistent Pretzels

(Pretzels? Or dog treats? Who can say, really?)

So I made pretzels today. They are not the world's greatest pretzels; some are almost too hard to bite into, others are more like bread sticks. This inconsistency exists because I have the Absolute Worst Oven in the World. I hate my oven so much. I'd be better off with a wood stove. I'd be better off with a Bic lighter.

Anyway, now that I'm back home--yay! I'm home!--I've been feeling the urge to cook and bake and generally be domestic in a culinary sort of way. On Saturday I braved the farmers' market and bought a stewing chicken, and on Sunday I made chicken soup. It took all day, but it's the best soup I've ever had. I also made cheddar-scallion rolls with--get this--whole wheat flour from the farmers' market. Local flour! I didn't even know they made such a thing.

By the way, I have to say that I'm really enjoying the farmers' market this fall. In the summer, it's just too overwhelming for me. I go a few times to stock up on meat, but otherwise, I mostly stay away. But a month or so ago I went to see my fiddle teacher play with his band and discovered a vastly more chilled out market . That's because all the farmers sell in autumn is kale. Nobody knows what to do with kale, so they go to Whole Foods and buy tomatoes shipped in from California.

But I know what to do with kale, which is to cook it up with white beans and turkey sausage, and then feel virtuous as all get-out for eating kale.


I've been thinking about making pretzels for a while. My kids eat them by the ton, for one thing, and it's got to be cheaper to make them. Also, if I make pretzels, who knows--maybe I'll get a reputation as "that pretzel-making mom." As in, "She's so cool, she makes her own pretzels." Wouldn't that be an awesome reputation to have?

But pretzels, I fear, are in the category of baking which bagels also reside. It's the boil/bake thing, and I think to pull it off you have to have a real baker's oven. Or a real oven, period. My homemade bagels have been interesting, and chewy in a pleasant sort of way, but you'd never confuse them with real bagels.

And my pretzels? Well, you're definitely taking a risk with any expensive dental work--crowns, caps, that sort of thing. Still, for the title of "Number One Pretzel Mom," I say they're worth it. Well worth it, my friends.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Brief Return

Just popping in to say hi. I'm back from the mountains, where I actually had access to the Internet was just too dad-gum tired to post. I have no idea how teachers do it. I spent four days doing school presentations and now I need to chill out for the next four months.

I will have to wait until next week to chill out, however. On Thursday, I'm going up to Attleboro, MA, to give a speech and visit some middle school classes about one of my books. I'll be back Friday, and then I only have one more trip for the foreseeable future. Yay!

I wanted to report something I saw today, which has to be really, really high on my list for The Most Idiotic Parenting I've Ever Seen. I was walking across the library parking lot, when I noticed a driver being incredibly careful as she pulled out of her parking spot, tapping lightly on her horn as she drove. At first I couldn't figure out what she was up to, but then I saw the three-year-old on his scooter and understood.

Yes, right there in the middle of the library parking lot was a little kid riding a scooter. His mom was standing at the back of her car, hatchback open, changing her baby's diaper. Scooter Boy went back and forth from the car to the parking space opposite.

I'm trying to remember the last time I've been so dumbfounded. Really? Letting your kid entertain himself by riding his scooter in the parking lot of the public library is somehow a good idea?

What touched me was how careful all the drivers were as they pulled out. They saw the kid, and they pulled out of their parking spots at approximately twenty yards per hour. It was as though collectively everybody in that parking lot was more concerned about that little boy than his mom.

I never know what to do in these situations. Dress down the mom? Go stand by the little boy until she finished diapering the baby? In the end, I did what everybody did--I backed out of my spot very, very slowly, keeping my eye on the little boy the whole time.

I know that every mom in the world has pulled moves that later she can't believe. You leave the three-month-old baby on the bed while you run to get the phone, praying he doesn't suddenly learn to roll over in your absence and fall off the bed (in my case, he did). You don't strap on the belt on the diaper changing pad that's on top of a high changing table (that's when Will learned to roll over--onto the brick fire place). You run a yellow light with the kids in the car and almost get hit. You wake up in the middle of the night completely panicked, the memory of what almost happened making your heart race.

But let the toddler ride his scooter in the parking lot while you change a diaper? That's not a "I'll just be out of the room for five seconds" sort of thing. That's insane.

Oh, I should have said something. Would you have said something? Tell me what.


Back next week, and much more regularly, I hope!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Thursday, Must be Time for Another Post

It's not that it's been a slow week. It's more like my head feels like it's been stuffed with feathers. And cotton. And what is delicately known as, well, you know. Okay, I really hate the word mucus, but that is what my life has been about lately.

And do you really want me to blog about that?

I didn't think so.

I actually started a post earlier this week called "I Find It All Irritating." It was mucus-related, sure. But I also spent quite a few paragraphs talking about my children's homework situation. Which is excessive. And ridiculous. Grounds for homeschooling.

Unfortunately, it's hard to be funny when your head is stuffed and you can't smell or hear or anything. It was a very whiny post. Very unattractive. Though I really am steamed about how much homework my second grade son gets. I understand that Americans are way behind the rest of the world academically, but we're way ahead when it comes to childhood obesity, and that should count for something. Let's just call it a draw and let the second graders play outside after school like it says in the Bible.

One nice thing to report: Will has taken up playing the harmonica. He found the harmonica in the special "Where We Hide the Harmonica from the Children" hiding place in the attic. But you know what? He's a very responsible harmonica player. No wild wheezing, no painfully high screeches. He makes up songs. They are nice songs like, "This Song Sounds Like a Song about a Parade," and "The Tampa Bay Rays Rule!"

And since I can't hear, I think they are very lovely songs, indeed.

I'm going to the mountains next week to drive around and visit schools and talk about the wonders of being a writer, which mostly seem to consist of driving around and visiting schools to talk about the wonders of being a writer. I hope I'm going to be able to access the Internet from my hotel room, one, so I can watch Netflix on my computer, and two, so I can keep up with my blog-o-sphere duties. If you don't hear from me, it's because I'm pretty famous for not being able to do stuff like access the Internet from a hotel room.

But with any luck, and if I remember to take my camera, I will be back next week with photos of the mountains in autumn. Until then, I hope you don't catch my cold. If I were you, I'd go squirt some of that antibiotic Germ-X stuff on your hands right now. And then drink some tea and eat some chocolate. You don't want to take any chances.