Thursday, March 25, 2010

I've Been Tagged

Heather at Light and Macaroni tagged me to reveal 7 things. Here goes:

1. I love to dance! As a kid, I did ballet and modern dance up through high school. I took ballet lessons and danced and choreographed in the high school dance company. I did African and modern at Bennington College one summer. I hoped to dance in college, but science labs got in the way. Today I get my fix from Zumba.

2. I think I was too practical choosing sciences as a path in college instead of dance and writing and more creative pursuits. My jobs after college involved science writing and medical editing. I think I chose the safe and responsible road instead of following my passion.

3. I love children's books. I was the librarian for the 3 to 6-year-olds at the Montessori school my kids attended before we moved. I miss it. My favorite kids authors are Shirley Hughes, Demi and Jon Muth. I love Ferdinand and The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge. I am a really expressive reader. My kids are both great readers. I'm not sure if it's because I read to them so much, or passion for reading runs in the family.

4. I want to travel much more. Over the past decade, we've done some great family trips to national parks in Colorado and California. We went to England when some dear friends were living there for business. We rented beautiful houses on the beach with lots of friends in North Carolina. But I have trouble spending money on travel. I feel internal pressure to save for retirement, college for the kids, and rainy days. I feel like I sacrifice today's fun for the future. I might be "cheap". I sometimes wish I could be less frugal.

5. On the other hand. My husband and I are of like mind with regard to finances. My father-in-law once called us squirrels. I think this saved us in the past year. We lived in the same house for 16 years and dutifully paid down the mortgage, paid cash for cars and only did renovations we could afford. When we had to move for my husband's job last year, we were able to sell our old house and buy a lovely new one in a down market. Our financial habits have protected us.

6. Otherwise my husband and I have completely different temperments. I am passionate; he is evenkeeled. I speak my mind; he waits and says clever and insightful things. I am all about feelings; he deals with facts. Somehow this works well for us.

7. Like me, my birth family (Mother, Father, Sister) are all passionate, emotional people who argue and like to be right. I have virtually no relationship at this point with my Father, a strained one with my sister, and an emotional up and down but close one with my Mom. These relationships often cause me pain. Growning up in a strained environment likely influenced the type of person I married.

Yikes, please comment Heather. Your openness inspires me, but I feel like I've exposed a lot here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome Spring and a Confession

Yesterday spring began. It felt like summer had arrived. It was sunny and 70 degrees, about 20 degrees warmer than typical mid-March weather in MA. We took full advantage of this beautiful Saturday to clean up the gardens.

Here are before and after pictures. My hardworking husband appears in both.

The kids got into the act too. Jack chopped down a dead tree.

Renee enthralled her visiting grandma.

Here's some evidence of plants growing toward the warm sun. Daffodils and rubarb are on the way.

Now for a confession. Here's my major obsessive parenting mistake. I desperately want to make my interactions with my kids positive. I want weekends to include fun family activities, but I am often stymied by frustration over my kids' lack of attention to their chores and other responsibilities. I used to have a rule that rooms had to be cleaned Saturday mornings. I would also spend that time cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms. Often the kids would sit on their beds rather than cleaning. The opportunity to do something fun in the afternoons would disappear as they put off their chores and I became more and more frustrated.

I became more lax about this rule since we moved. I got tired of the arguments, but now I am very annoyed by seeing the 24/7 mess in their rooms. They tend to loose things and mess drifts to the dining table and the family room.

I entered my daughter's room this morning with good intentions but seeing her crafts all over the floor once again and (get ready to be grossed out) an item dug from her nose on the door frame (she's 9) set me off. I became the angry, lecturing mom. I feel like we can't go out and have fun until these things are fixed. My son's floor is covered with at least 3 days of laundry and a wet towel unless I become the policeman. He is 13. All my good intention drains out of me when I see these things.

I once took a parenting class that said let the kids have their rooms as they wish. Close the door and don't let it bother you, but I'm having a lot of trouble. Please comment with any thoughts or suggestions on this problem. I am so tired of always being an angry disciplinarian.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Unproductive Adventure

I tried to walk into town and do some errands today. I was planning to return books to the library and send some things at the post office. Sadly, my efforts were unproductive except for a few cool blog pictures.

Along our road there was a waterfall that isn't normally there.

I headed to the center of town, but couldn't figure out how to get across this intersection. I suppose I could have asked someone to drive me across, but I didn't want to do that.

I meandered around to a back route behind the town building. It was flooded too. I removed my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants. I thought I would wade through, but the water was freezing, and I was unsure how deep it would get.

So I walked back home and made a story of my adventure. I guess I'll have to take the car later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

We Are Not in a Flood

Notice in the picture above, the shed sitting in a river, the drowning daffodils, the stones front and center in the picture that I know are at the top of a wall nearly 3 feet high, the trees far to the left that usually would sit near the river bank not well within its stream.

Is it OK to feel relieved that I am not in my old house anymore? We would have been going through our 3rd flood there now. Unfortunately, the people who bought the house are now likely going through their first flood only 8 months after they moved in. They were aware of the flood danger, but that doesn't make the reality of it any easier. We had been in the house about 6 years before our first flood, and then it was another 7 years until the next one. This one has followed only 3 years later. Hundred year floods are getting awfully common.

The picture above is from April, 2007 when the flood gauge at Little Falls, NJ measured about 11.5'. We had about 18" of water in the basement at that time. This weeks' storm will likely reach almost 13', possibly the largest flood of the Passaic River since 1903.

Perhaps it's possible that things work out for the best, that situations like having to move for a job are blessings in disguise. While there is lots of flooding in the Boston area as well, our current house is not in a flood plain. We are not watching the weather reports with fear. We are high and dry. We are thankful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Solutions for Litter?

I've been following the environmental changes made by followers of Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change. Many great bloggers have been using cloth napkins rather than paper, eating more vegetarian meals, composting, carrying reusable bottles instead of buying water in plastic, etc.

I haven't committed to anything specific over the months, but I have adopted many of those practices in my life already. Today I did something that fits with the program that I'll try to do as often as possible. It involves litter. Now picking up litter is not going to change the world, but litter itself is a visible symptom of our whole throw away culture. Not only do people who litter use bottles, cans and coffee cups that they could avoid using altogether, but they then disrespect the environment by disposing of these items improperly.

Here is the haul of stuff I picked up on my walk today. And I only picked stuff up on the way home from a local nature preserve. So this was only from one side of the roads I walked.

This wasn't all I saw, but the bag I was filling (that I found on the side of the road) was getting too heavy to carry. One thing that amazes me is the number of liquor bottles, especially the tiny ones I thought were only sold on airplanes. Are people drinking these while driving?

The lovely bottle below might make a nice vase. Odd, I'd always imagined sophisticated people drinking sake relaxing at low tables with quiet music, not slobs drinking it in a car then throwing the bottle out the car window.

This is not the first time I have picked up garbage as I walk. See here. I'm happy that I remove what I pick up, but the situation never improves. What can we do to stop littering? I've debated sending garbage or pictures of garbage to companies like McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts and the soda and beer companies, but they would blame the people who litter, rather than take any responsibility for the mounds of trash their products create.

Once, in my old neighborhood, I watched a teenager pull to the side of our dead end street and empty a large pile of garbage from her car onto the road. When she turned around to leave, I confronted her and told her to pick it up. She denied it was even hers. I ended up getting quite angry and dumping a half filled coffee cup she had left at the side of the road into her sunroof. It was not my finest moment, and I'm probably lucky I didn't get run over. I feel passionate about this issue and don't know how to move beyond simply picking up the never ending supply of trash. Please leave any suggestions in a comment.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tiger and Butterfly

Heather's photos of painted faces on Light and Macaroni were so amazing today. It reminded me of this photo of my kids from a few years ago. We had been to a zoo carnival and my kids faces were so intense. My son really is that tiger, and my daughter a bewitching butterfly.

Spring is on the Way

Signs of spring are beginning to show up here.
Sap is flowing from the trees at a nearby farm.

There are new calves there too.

Snowdrops are the first flowers to emerge in our yard. There are hints of coming daffodils,

and forced forsythia in the house.

Hoping spring renewal is quickly on its way.