Friday, July 24, 2015

7 Quick Takes: The Little Wins edition


Once upon a time, there was a blogger who never blogged.
The end.

No, just kidding. Sometimes, she sat down at her computer and a bunch of words came flying out of her brain through her fingers and onto the screen, and she hit "publish" and people got to read them. Most of the time, though, she hit "save" and the words sat for a long time with the word "draft" beside them and no one ever read them...except the writer herself, when she needed a post for some looming deadline and thought she might try to recycle one.

The trouble with blogging in fits and starts is that so many things don't ever make it to the screen. I end up feeling like there are big holes in the story- so many little things I haven't told you! So today, I'm sharing some of them. We'll call it the Little Wins edition...the deceptively insignificant-actually great stuff that has happened lately that I want you to know. 

Ready? Here goes.


This week, I roasted a whole chicken by myself. I cut up the veggies and rubbed butter and kosher salt and pepper all over the thing, and I remembered to take out the yucky parts in the middle before I put it in the oven this time, and I even stuck some cloves of garlic in there to replace those yucky parts. And...it was amazing. So, so good. I felt like such a grownup that I even texted three people a picture of the chicken after I put it into the oven and told them that I felt like a grownup.



If you were one of those people, thanks for not telling me to grow up...because as far as I am concerned, I just did.

Let no one say that I have no domestic skills (even if some of them might have been late-blooming). Win.

The kids got a craft box this week from One of Those Monthly Box Subscription Services that are all the rage right now. I am not, overall, impressed with this company, but this box was a hit because it had a robot theme and included a hexbug.

Do you know hexbugs? They are pretty awesome things! Here's a link*:

                                                                   


I hadn't seen them until my nephew's birthday this year, where there was a whole little hexbug world happening with little robotic bugs climbing up and down these plastic connected tubes. It looked like a Habitrail I used to have for my gerbils for the middle school science fair.

So, we now have a hexbug of our own. My first thought when I saw it was, "Oh, no, here comes a HUGE problem," because there was only one of him and three kids who were clamoring for him right away.

But then, this happened:


video


The big kids collaboratively built a course for the hexbug. They figured out he didn't work well on the carpet, so they put down books. He didn't do well on the books, so they lined up wooden blocks end to end and made a road. He fell off the sides of the road, so they made bumper-style walls for him on either side, complete with a little wooden box garage door trap at the end. They released him into their course and cheered for him until he reached the box...over and over and over.

It was amazing.

It might have only lasted five minutes, but what a gloriously beautiful five minutes they were! No fighting! All teamwork! Somebody must be doing a great job of parenting those kids. Win!

Before they could start pulling each other's hair out and squabbling over the bug, I left.


I left. And I went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with my friends and zero of my children. It was even more amazing than the hexbug.

Thank you, George. I ate some chips with salsa for you.

(Win. Obviously.)

Mexican dinner out was especially amazing because I can now eat dairy again. The dairy elimination didn't really seem to help Felix at all, so we decided to do a dairy reintroduction trial and see what happened. There was no difference. That's not great news for Felix, but it's good news for my diet. My short-lived exile from all milk products is over, and just in time to make a bunch of mint ice cream. I have missed ice cream so much.

I don't mean to sound unconcerned about Felix- of course I'm still concerned about that, and since he's about to go back to the doctor again (for his one-year checkup...how is that possible?), I'm sure we'll get it straightened out. But ice cream and yogurt and cottage cheese and sliced cheddar and lasagna and queso dip and all the other things I haven't been eating are not to blame for his issue. Thanks be to God.

Sam decided yesterday morning that he's fascinated by robots and needs to know everything about them.

I know pretty much nothing about robots, and his questions were coming so fast and furious that he was practically spitting his Cheerios.

What's a cyborg, technically? 
What's the difference between a robot and a cyborg? 
So wouldn't General Grievious be a cyborg? 
Does Darth Vader count, too, because parts of him are mechanical? 
What about Luke Skywalker? He has a mechanical hand! 
Well, is a cyborg like a kind of robot the way a square is a kind of rectangle? 
What kind of microchips are in their brains? 
Do robot brains even look like brains? 
Well, are you sure? Have you ever seen one? 
I bet the NASA guys would have made Curiosity's brain shaped like a human brain just because they'd get a kick out of that.

Sigh.
I did what any reasonable homeschooling mom on summer break would do- I took him to the library with his card and sent him straight to his favorite librarian. She gets him. He went straight up to her, said, "I'm interested in robots now. These are my questions..." and she jumped into action. She found him a small selection of robot nonfiction, he copied an article from a science encyclopedia with some assistance ("Is this copier actually a robot? It's doing a task that a human could do! Is it automated?"), and we headed out. Now he is building a robot in his project workspace. I don't think there are any electrical parts in there, but I should probably double-check that he hasn't dismantled something and cannibalized it for parts...like my sewing machine...

Hold on. I'll be right back.


In other Sam news but completely unrelated to Sam (for reasons that will become clear), we've finally gotten to the bottom of the mysterious odor in his room. After weeks of futile carpet cleaning, sheet changing, and mattress airing, I have learned that someone seems to have been using the air vent in his room as a latrine.

Now, I should say (before this story goes any further) that a wise woman my mom's age once told me about a little guy in her family named Yehudi. He lived in their table leg, and any time there was an incident with her three boys breaking something, Yehudi took the blame for it. She always told them she didn't need to know who had done it- she just needed it to be fixed/cleaned up/made right.

She's obviously a genius.

We don't have Yehudi, but we apparently have "Mr. Nobody."

Some stealthy interviewing led to the revelation that Mr. Nobody might have, on one occasion or another, peed in the vent. After seeking expert advice (thanks, Mary Beth!) I poured baking soda and vinegar down there as far as I could and wiped it up (unearthing a collection of Starburst wrappers in the process- apparently Mr. Nobody also has a candy stash someplace). I scrubbed the surrounding carpet, too, and the smell (while not entirely gone yet) is better.

Sam hung out and helped with the cleaning, and he assured me that Mr. Nobody was no longer using that vent for his bathroom needs. ("He was doing it, and he probably did it somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 - 20 times, but when he heard that you found out about it, he was really embarrassed and he stopped.")

I'm not sure how my mom would have handled this, because I would never have done anything of the sort as a kid. I think this gets recorded as a parenting success. No one is peeing in the vent now, and we're getting rid of the smell. Win.


That's it. I wrote a 7 Quick Takes Post! Win! And now you're all caught up on the little wins. Thanks to Kelly for hosting, and thanks to you for reading...and *if you click on that hexbug link and buy one (or whatever else you were planning to order from Amazon), your purchase helps support this blog at no cost to you- thank you for your support!



For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five-Minute Friday: HOPE


I forgot to water the plants- the ones on the porch.

They trip me up sometimes, because when it rains, I think, "Oh, the garden got water today," and I forget about how thirsty the poor geraniums and petunias must be, languishing in their terra cotta pots under the protective eaves out front, withering, longing for something cool and wet to nourish them.

When I wandered out to get the mail and saw the state they were in, guilt stabbed me in the stomach. Oh, no. Something else I've forgotten to handle this week- along with the backflow of laundry, the phone call to sign up for gymnastics, the late gift for Father's Day, the early birthday gift, the follow-up call to the friend who is moving, the past-due playdate...a list of loose ends, twisting and flapping in the dry wind.

I'm worn out this week.


I wish I could say it was the first week of the summer that I've felt this way, but it isn't. Where is all the extra margin, this luxurious time for reading and relaxing on the deck and watching fireflies? Where are all the evenings of lingering over dinner on the patio and enjoying the sunset, stretching back into the space that surrounds us and collecting the stars as they emerge, one by one, in the night sky? Where is the legendary soaking up of sunshine? Why doesn't this summer feel the way I'd paint it (that is, if I could paint it the way I imagine it ought to be)?

I haven't been soaking up much of anything lately. Mostly, I've just been dropping balls everywhere I look this summer...and I'm not even sure why. 

As I retrieve the pink elephant watering can and pick up an eager helper on the way to the spigot, I notice the hanging basket. It was the victim of last week's forgetfulness...the basket I forgot to water for a few days in a row, the one that was a brown, dry mess when we got home after a weekend away. The same guilt stabbed me then as I rushed to water it on Monday, the rivulets beading up on the parched soil and forming shimmering blobs before gradually soaking into the cracks around the edges of the pot. I pulled off ten, twenty, thirty dead blooms (while my helper danced about me, calling out, "Deadhead! Deadhead!"), trying to coax the plant back to a greenish appearance, hoping against hope I hadn't killed it.

Today, it's Friday, and that plant is blooming all over the place like it belongs on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.


Somehow, that feels like hope to me.





http://katemotaung.com/2015/07/09/five-minute-friday-hope/


For more Five-Minute Friday, head over to Kate's place, Wandering Home.