Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Faithful Friend

Dear Oscar. You are such a good dog. Grandpa will return!

Anytime my father goes down the road in his pick-up truck, Oscar sits in the field, facing to either the east or the west waiting for his return.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mother's Day Gift

Here's a blatant plug for my book: it is currently on Amazon for 13.60, and there are seven copies left at that price. I think if you order it now, you could get it in time for a Mother's Day present.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Guilt

My kindergartner noticed the lack of holiday hype revolving around Easter, “How come there aren’t any Easter decorations at school?” We had a good discussion about Easter and what it celebrates, one of my better parenting moments. Then he pointed out that we didn’t have any decorations up at our house either.

Ooops. We do have our wooden cross, fashioned from our Christmas tree, but it has been up since January: I think it blends in with the wall by now. I do have some old-fashioned Easter postcards I’ve been meaning to put up, but just haven’t gotten to it.

We don’t even buy the boys news spiffy outfits for Sunday morning, even though going to church on Sunday is really how we choose to celebrate this holiday. You’d think I’d embrace this concrete example of “new life.” But I find myself thinking, “One more thing we’d have to budget for and plan for and buy for.” No grandparents have stepped up to buy cute Easter outfits (not that I expect this either). I think this has never happened because I have all boys. My mom even admitted that she just didn’t think about it being important to them because they aren’t girls, that buying girls a pretty new Easter dress is way more enticing for the checkbook than slacks and a polo shirt. Growing up, my grandmothers would often sew my sister and me new digs, always made from matching patterns in complementary pastels. I do try and iron a button-up-shirt for the boys on Easter morning, attempting to find one with some springy, bright colors involved.

I feel a twinge of guilt when the ads come in the paper marketing all sorts of Easter basket pleasures that could make waking on Easter morn a bit more significant for my children. But I always resist, not really out of any moral conviction, but out of exhaustion. I find myself done with holiday hoopla around this time of year. Plus, if I start, then the expectation will be there, and I’ll be doing Easter baskets for the next 20-plus-years. I even console myself thinking, “Yeah, I’ll do that as a grandma. I’ll be the Easter-basket-grandma, putting them together with love and hand delivering them on the night before Easter.” I kind of think I will. Right?

With Christmas we have all sorts of celebratory events leading up to the 25th. We do an advent calendar, bake cookies, play Christmas music, shop for presents, go to various parties---it is non-stop Christmas fever. Valentines: we pick our cards out, sit around the kitchen table, and write a note to each classmate. Halloween: we discuss our coming costume choices (starting in about March), we go to the costume aisle, pick them out, wear them for a week or so before Halloween, and then continue to live in them even after October 31st has past. But Easter? I fail in creating anticipation.

The one thing I have put some effort into, the cross made from our Christmas tree, has faded into the clutter of our lives. But wait. Someone still knew it was there.

I was hosting a preschool event at our house. My boys were hyper! Kids were coming. Mommies were here. My oldest was showing off. So, with great exuberance he laid his body across our homemade cross and announced with arms outstretched, “I’m being crucified!” And then he ran around the house screaming at the top of his lungs. I could almost see imaginary blood spouting all over our house, like a bad B-rated movie. The visiting mother’s eyes: wide with shock. Community resolution: stay away from those Schneiter boys.

I found myself apologizing for my son’s brutality. It was embarrassing. I quickly suggested other types of play, “Hey, son, why don’t you show your friends your climbing ladder in your room.” Off they ran. Not one of my better mothering moments.

I guess my oldest hadn’t forgotten about the coming Easter holiday; however I wasn’t totally comfortable with the way he was commemorating it either. Maybe I should just focus on the miraculous bunny that delivers eggs instead. Maybe I should buy Easter baskets full of plastic trinkets and make sure my boys get new handsome shirts for Sunday morning. Maybe instead of a cross I should invest in some bunny decals for the window. Or maybe in the true spirit of Easter, I’m going to release the guilt and forgive myself for not always being the ultimate mother.

(I had major writer's block and just sent this in to The Graphic, but they said I was too slow and couldn't get it in before Easter. Boohoo. So, enjoy.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quite Happy: Screen Confessions

OK, we did well yesterday. It helped that I had just posted and that the sun came out and that daddy got home before dinner.

My youngest watched 45 mins. in the morning and 20 at night.
My middle watched 20 in the morning and 45 mins. at night.
My oldest watched 45 mins. at night.

I would say that is pretty excellent.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Screen Time Confessions

I'm reading Boys Adrift with my preschool co-op, and last nights discussion was on video games and screen time. I admitted that my middle son watches, on average, an hour in the afternoon when his younger brother is napping, older is at school, and his mommy needs a break. There was one gasp and one person said, "Oh that is not good." Thanks guys! Wow, talk about guilt. I was actually a little annoyed because I figure that whenever someone says they only let their kids watch a certain amount of TV, you can just add another 30 to 45 mins. to that and you'll almost get accurate picture. (Like sex...husbands always think it is less times during the week and wives always think it has occurred more.) "Good moms" do not want to do the unthinkable, which is expose their children's brains to too much multimedia.

As our discussion progressed, moms came "out of the closet" and admitted:

1. One day I let my son watch 6 hours.
2. Well, when it is raining we watch a lot of TV.
3. Yeah, it is always more than I say.

The things is, I'm always battling it with my boys...and my husband. And I realize the dangers, and I do enforce limits. I'm always trying to find ways to cut back, so maybe the first step in cutting back is being honest.

So, I'm going to actually keep track, and I'm actually going to post, and I'm actually going to let you all know what is actually going on with screen time this week. AND! You cannot judge me or make me feel bad or try and make yourself feel better with this information. Maybe we can all just do a little bit better during this week. It'll be our Lent! Fitting, right?

(Note: my youngest is watching Veggie Tales while I type this.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just Mom Events

1. Release party at Chapter's Books in Newberg at 7 on May 3rd
2. Local reading at the Brownsville Library on may 6th at 11, children's craft activity provided so moms can discuss
3. Radio Interview on May 9th at 3, Pacific Time
4. Book Bin Reading on may 13th at 7 in Corvallis

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Help? I Really Want It

Here's the issue: my son is reading, writing, bright, getting it, doing great in school, one of the kids at the top of the class...blah, blah, blah. BUT! When it comes time for him to read to us at night he shuts down. He also avoids reading during free time at school.

He's one of only two boys that go to a 1st grade level reading group during the day, so we know he can read. And he likes this, going to his 1st grade reading group. But even his teacher noticed that when it comes to reading out of fun fiction books, he's less than enthused. Each student in the class has a book bag with books at their reading level, and while the other children sit down eagerly during free time to read their practice books, my son avoids this at all cost.

What should I do? Do I require him to read to us at night, make it a chore? Or, do I let it go. After all, he's only in kindergarten? But then I wonder about this summer. I want him to read throughout the summer and make reading gains, not the opposite. I've thought that maybe this summer we could have him read to his grandma to make it a bit more fun. Like at a certain time each day, he walks to her house and reads for 15 mins. And I admit that I have issues with my own level of patience listening to young readers. I figure with my mom's background in elementary teaching, she has a better reserve of patience than I do for the less-than-expressive-reader.

And next year, he has to read every night after school, I think. I hear other parents complain about the power struggles over homework, and I really want to avoid that trap.

So, what has worked for you? Anyone with early childhood background? Any tips?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Amongst the Crazy

My plate feels very full: weekly newsletter for my son's school, working in my sons' classrooms each week, meetings with various interviewers regarding the book, planning for readings, getting all the pieces put together for my church's retreat, planning a talk at our retreat, writing, blogging, cleaning my house, picking my kids up, arranging play dates, making meals, grocery shopping, visiting my grandma, calling friends, meeting with friends, relating to my children, zumba, getting some quality time in with my husband, a class at our church.....there is always a list m and although I'm marking off to-do's, at this point it feels like once I take off one thing, I just add another.

It is just that season. It is all good, and I'm enjoying it for now, but I also look forward to a few less things to do every week.

How about you? How is your spring going?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shale, I Love You

I am very much effected by the raising gas prices. We are thinking twice about going places. I have stopped my weekly runs to Albany to the public library for a fun outing I'm reconsidering my weekly grocery trip....when we first moved to the country in 2008 I shopped once-a-month, but I slowly stopped doing that as time wore on, maybe due to manageable gas prices.

I try and combine my trips as much as possible. So, on Friday I made the whole family go with me to Winco, then we headed to Albany to Khol's and Target, and finally ended up at First Burger to meet up with the cousins and pick my oldest up from a weekend away.

So far I'm set for this current week and will not need to make any trips into town, town being Albany or Corvallis. However, I do have two meetings this week that will demand that I travel twice for 30 mins. each, and I find my stomach knotting a little bit due to the gas money I will need to hand over for those excursions.

I noticed at the pump the other day that everyone was paying in cash and that no one was filling up their tanks.

When we planned out our monthly budget for April, we definitely had less money to work with. Where did the money come from to cover our gas: food, entertainments, clothing, and gifts.

I was very eager to read the cover story on Time this week: Shale! And I found this closet environmentalist (that is me) saying, "Drill, baby drill!" I was also feeling very supportive of all efforts to come up with vehicles powered by electricity and other green energy sources.

I think the part I resonated the most was, in reading the cover story, that we have about 100 years worth of shale sitting under our soil that would make us no longer dependent of Middle Eastern oil...I'm starting to think this is a good place to no longer be dependent on, and that gives us a good amount of time to pursue good, solid, viable, green energy sources. We can do it! I want my next car to be a car powered by electricity. I dream of a day when I will tell my grandchildren, "Yes, we used to go to gas station to power our cars."

But, we need time to develop these resources well, and shale gives us this.

The sad side to this story of sale discovery is that some people don't like it. I get it. It changes the landscape, if it is your farm they are wanting to drill on. But there are environmental and political costs to all energy sources. I'm thinking I'd rather deal with the shale costs instead of the current costs of energy that we've been experiencing.

What about you? Do you notice the price of gas? Do you think about your driving trips?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shameless Promotion

Melanie and I created a Facebook page for our book, Just Moms. We were like two high school girls gushing over a crush, giddy with excitement. It was great to meet with her and see her in person. We've been in the book endeavor for almost three years now, and it was great to be with someone who understands the sense of accomplishment at seeing this book get into the hands of readers.

So, now we wonder how bold to be with our promotion and our new page. We plan to use this FB page to let readers know about events and readings, post pictures from events, and show pictures of various contributing authors. But the main goal to have a conversations with our readers. We hope to post questions and get responses. We hope to list helpful resources that support the parenting values we are pursuing as mothers.

We want this site to further the sense of community that is already present in the publication of Just Moms.

Check it out, and click "like." We shamelessly check the site multiple times a day to see how many fans we have.