Survival

For some people, survival involves wearing sweaters upon sweaters while they turn the heat down. For others, buying store brands, cutting medicines in half, cutting tissues to save money are forms of survival. Some find survival in alcohol, other in drugs, other in religion.  Family can help some survive bad situations, others need the solitude to find the way to survive.

I will be with my parents and my sister for the next 6 days.

Let’s hope I survive.

Me time?

How does one really find me time?

Yesterday, after I finished my 4 hours of work, I sat down to read. I was able to mostly finish "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" in quiet. Then, I had kids, dinner, snow, mess, run out for 3 hours for shopping, etc.

I got my friend Becky a T-shirt that reads "If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy. Me Time." She’s a widow, so she is mom all of the time. It’s not even a "dad has the kids for the weekend" type of parenting, it’s her.

How does she find me time? She stays up to ungodly hours of the night and lives on little sleep. It’s a habit she started after her husband died and she couldn’t sleep.

I don’t know where to find me time. I have so much I want to get done, and so little time to do it. Sigh.

How do you find me time? When do you read? Exercise? Cook? Bake?

When push meets shove, I get coffee

This weekend, well,  to put it in a single word; SUCKED.

Let’s see, Friday we had a Girl Scout party with another troop and two girls in my troop got into a fight which concluded with a backpack being thrown, a kid hit in the head and someone running OUTSIDE of the building and into a roadway. Great. Two kids are going to be asked not to come to the next meeting. I hate this part of being a leader.

Saturday, I took Soleil to her 6 am hockey game. Her violin was canceled, so I slept off until I got up at 10. Then going to a birthday party, continue to remove thick glue from the downstairs bathroom, picking up birthday party kid, going to ice skating, then to home where we had friends over.

Sunday, I was able to stay home and found that our toilet appeared to be leaking. Damn. We had noticed for a while that the water seemed to be running, but we hadn’t found the issue. I had about 2 minutes to discuss this with Dr. Jay while we handed off Soleil at Temple. She had violin right after temple and he was taking Luna home. He lost it that I started ANOTHER project (his words) and then we handed off. He decided later that nothing was leaking, but when we installed the toilet with a new wax ring, the running water magically stopped.

I also wanted to take the time to make cookies, then the girls wanted to sell Girl Scout cookies and somewhere in here, we needed to make Latkes for Soleil’s class report on holidays in Israel. Following so far?

In addition to all of this, we had two meltdowns and only one was me.

Today, I am working from home. I have the cookies to bake (old family recipe, but the cookies have to dry before you bake them) and then laundry, packing and some last minute shopping to do. Sigh.

I think I better get more coffee. Because starting Thursday, I get to spend 5-6 days with my mom,dad, sister and family. I’ll need a great deal of alcohol to survive this week. 

 

Say what?

Last night, I had the joy of going to Soleil’s parent teacher conference. Yea me. NOT.

I hate these. I get to hear the same things, "She’s so smart, but she can’t focus.", "She’s a real pleasure to have in class, but she needs better self control.", and my personal favorite, "I love it when kids read, but I often have to stop her from reading because she needs to follow the class." Last night was not too different. We started with the book statement (yeah, I know…) and then moved onto the "real pleasure" statement. Fortunately, I had started the school year with speaking to her teacher about some of her issues (no-I haven’t gone into them and I probably won’t, but let me say, they aren’t considered special needs so she can’t get an IEP even though she really needs one- But don’t get me going or I will never shut up about the inherent unfairness of the system)

I was waiting for her teacher when the phonics teacher came out of the classroom. I had just discovered on Monday that Soleil went to a phonics class. This was very surprising to me since she has been speaking since 13 months old and her enunciation is the clearest I have heard from a child except when she calls hamstrings "hamsters", but that may just be confusion. Luna clearly needs help with speech and has only recently realized that the word "the" is spelled with the "TH" blend instead of the "D" she hears and says.

The phonics teacher took a moment to introduce herself and tell me a bit about Soleil’s classroom behavior. While doing well, I discovered that she needs extra help with her short vowels. Apparently, she can’t tell the difference between a short "a" and a short "e" sound when speaking. Um, okay…However, she is very fluent and emotive in her speaking and is a real joy to the classroom. After a few minutes of the explicit issues with my daughter’s speech patterns, I couldn’t resist, "I do have to point out ", I said in my best, calm voice, "that both my husband and I are from the mid-west. I am afraid she has learned how to speak with our accent."

Teacher stops and blinks. "Oh! I never thought about that." Blinks some more. I think the gears are moving in her head. I am afraid smoke will start pouring out of her ears in a moment. "Well, I’ll keep that in mind, but if you could help her when reading and speaking, that would really help."

Smiling my best smile that says that I am biting my tongue, I agreed and checked "You said it was her short vowels, right? And we should help her practice?"

"That’s the general idear".

I almost burst out laughing right then and there. A woman with such a strong Boston/New England accent is teaching my kiddo, who has excellent enunciation for someone who could be from Erie PA, how to speak. If she starts replacing random "ah" sounds with "er" sounds and replacing "ar" with "ah", I am going to have to hurt somebody.

$$$

The recent tax compromise has the Spacefamily in disagreement. I am not thrilled with the fact that the top 1.8% ($250,000+ yearly income) still gets tax breaks. I am not happy that the estate tax is now a $5 million start point instead of $1million. However, I am happy that the 98.2% of Americans are getting a tax break. Dr. Jay is FURIOUS at the President for not standing his ground and telling the Republican leaders where to take the tax breaks for the rich and shove them. While I understand his anger, I actually agree with Obama on this one.

I think Obama has a point that bickering and doing nothing is a bad idea. Action is needed and there are so many families working to discover that they still can’t make ends meet. These are the people who need the break. They are the ones who need to have the extra $$ to save/spend/put food on the table, etc. Of course, the tax breaks help the middle class more than those who are in desperate need, but this is how things always work.

On the other hand, I am peeved that people making $1million+ are getting tax breaks. These are the people who are in a better position to help others. I know one friend (I don’t know if you still read, I miss you and hope you do) who is a strong believer in capitalism. She feels that SHE can choose where her money goes and that the government has no right to use it. Period. She does like to drive on the government built roads and she does like the roads cleared and I am sure she enjoys the police protection in her town. I am sure she would prefer the people who run her money accounts be reasonably educated by the public school systems and to have been involved in school sports and activities instead of being only involved in the activities the family can afford. The public money does trickle up in ways that many fail to see.

The truth of the matter is that the United States is NOT a capitalistic country. It is a mix of socialism and capitalism.

The rich have created several capitalistic loopholes to prevent them from aiding the socialistic agenda of our country.

The middle is further away from the middle these days. We have a parfait that has a very creamy top layer, but thin, and the main of the parfait is watered down.

We’ve been built on the horrible idea that those who work hard will become rich. Have you ever seen your garbage man working? Want to say that’s not hard work? Now, do you want to say he’s going to get rich from doing that? Yeah, didn’t think so.

I don’t have an answer for the tax issues. I just wish it wasn’t such a polarizing issue…

Oh hi! You’re still reading?

Yeah, well, it’s been a wee bit crazy at Chez Spacefamily, so I haven’t been around much here. I have been on facebook and a friend challenged me to do workouts everyday, and I am trying to eat better (does it count if I have a salad and then Doritos?), and the kids have mucho activities and grandparents were here and hannukah…. I could go on, but your brains would explode. If anyone is still reading, of course!

I have a IRL friend who moved far far away, as in not only the west coast, but to CANADA’s west coast. She is homeschooling her kids, but in a new way called "unschooling" (ie- no set curriculum,class time etc). If you are interested, her blog is here. We don’t always agree, but I find her way of thinking interesting and sometimes wish it for my kids.

Our kids are fully packed. Most of my friends think we are crazy for letting them do too much. Sometimes I agree, but other times I don’t.

Soleil has: hockey (her choice), violin(her choice), Girl Scouts(her choice) and Hebrew School (our choice)

Luna has: figure skating (her choice), Girl Scouts(her choice) and Hebrew School(our choice).

Luna used to have piano, but she got fed up with it and we decided it wasn’t worth forcing. She now wants to learn guitar or flute. I am voting guitar since flute is something she can take in school and she is pretty good at coming up with songs. I can imagine her wanting to play around with chords and singing even if she doesn’t know music theory.

What does this have to do with my friend? I think about choices. Dr. Jay made is clear that he wanted the girls to learn about their Jewish heritage. Not just the religion, but the ethnic portion of the culture. How it is mostly recently that Jews are intermarrying, what have Jews done historically and what do Jews feel are their obligations to society (note: all forms of Judaism are different, but our temple is very big on culture and social help and giving back to society).Ok, I am good with that, even though I am atheist.

But the ice hockey? That was Soliel’s choice after seeing her cousins play. The figure skating? Once we got Luna on the ice, she was off! She started at age 3 and never looked back! Violin? When Soleil was 3, she saw a violin for the first time. From that point on, she wanted to play. We made her wait until she was 6 so she would be a bit more patient…

The girls have also done soccer (one wants to continue, one would rather try karate). We try to allow them to do what they choose. I don’t want to force them into something specific, although I did with piano and that was probably a bad thing to try.

My friend is very good with allowing her kids to choose their way. I do make my kids go to our public school. We will need to evaluate this as life continues. I’ve mentioned this before, Massachusetts is one of 5 states that does not consider gifted as a special need. Therefore, despite Soleil’s need for an individual education plan, she is left out. We may need to deal with this as time goes by. Luna is also gifted, but the principal at her school wants less pull out classes and more integrated approaches. This frustrates the hell out of her and I hear it EVERYDAY.

I don’t think I could do unschooling. I am not patient and I would want to teach in more structured settings. But then again, we discuss everything and anything in our family. When a girl noticed that "everything is made in China", we discussed why. I asked how much they thought groceries for a week cost. The answer they gave was $10-$20. When I reported closer to $100-$150, they were shocked! And then discussing world wages shocked them more. So maybe we do unschool.

Anyway, most of this is just food for thought babble. I am tossing ideas around in my head. I need to think more about everything.

Really, New York Times, tell me something I didn’t know!

Today I found this article on the New York Times web. The headline is "Delaying marriage and child rearing leads to more stressful lives." Um, No shit?

Today’s parents are screwed. As girls in the 70’s, we were told we could do anything. ANYTHING. What nobody realized is that someone still needs to care for the kids. Yes, I was screwed over with this too. I decided to go with my love of science. For years I fought off the taunts of "4-eyes" and "geek" and "brainiac" and "ewww who wants to date HER?". Yet, I stuck to my goal.

I married at the ripe old age of 26 after dating for 5 years and delaying until we had both graduated and had semi-stable jobs. We didn’t start trying for children until our job became more stable after our telescope launched and actually worked (I get so upset when a project fails to launch or gets dumped in the ocean.) Then, we ran into infertility. After a long time, I became a mother at 31.

Is parenting stressful? Yes. Does delaying marriage and child rearing actually add to the stress? I don’t know. Think about it. Most of the women I know who delayed children did so after first establishing their career and secondly had fertility issues. If I went through all of my teens and my 20s establishing myself in my field, why would I not go back to work? But then the work and raising children is difficult. (And the first person who comments "why have children if you just send them to daycare" will get a black eye since my kids don’t sleep, so yes, I had plenty of nights to raise them!).

But what is the alternative? Having children younger is easier? No way! I refuse to believe that. There still needs to be a caregiver. There still needs to be a breadwinner.However, more and more women and men share these roles. Even younger women and men.

In modern society, I suspect we have more sharing of duties going on. At least that is the case at my house! We share kids and adult stuff. We work when we need to at home and not when we don’t. I have scheduled girl events or dealt with the school at my office and have been on telecons in at the playground.

What do you think about this?