Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Thoughts

I've been having them, thoughts. I just haven't been finding the time to write or process about them. I was sharing this with my friend Jen who also blogs and we both admitted that we are doing good if we both get one blog a week off these days. We are both transitioning out of the preschool years and have kids in both elementary and preschool. We talked about how no-nap-time has changed our writing now I really don't have one.

If I write it means that my kids are zoning to the TV. I'm not one of those writers who gets up early to work my craft, nor stays up late. Then there is the little problem of sharing one working computer. This is not a hardship. I'm very aware of the fact that owning a computer is a luxury. But everyone wants to use it: me, my husband, the boys....I almost need to have my own secret laptop that I keep hidden and then can pull out and type away on when all family members are good and occupied by some creative endeavor.

Here are my thoughts recently:

1. I really don't love that my 1st grader gets technology a few times a week. My son is very computer savvy and doesn't need more screen time at school. However, I realize other kids do not have computers. Still, I wish he was playing at recess or working on some spacial, hands-on activity instead.

2. Two years in a row, I feel like my oldest has gotten an excellent teacher. He's learning a ton. And guess what we are discovering about him: he's a hard worker and very self-driven. My husband was very relieved by this recent announcement of mine. Sometimes I find myself encouraging B to relax and take a break. Last night he wanted to practice his flashcards, all on his own. And he also never wants to take a night off from reading to me. I do love it, but the other night he was sick and coughing and I thought, "Maybe this night we could just skip it." (My good friend Jessica pointed out that I am a very driven person...true.)

3. I am getting tired of reading about the stock market and economy. One day it is up, one day down. Sometimes in the same newspaper, there will be two columns: one declaring financial doom and next to it another one singing of the excellence of Caterpillar stock. I wish everyone would relax and trust the process. I feel like it is working itself out. (I'm not sure I totally feel this way, but when I read articles like this I do.)

4. My pastor asked me to contribute to a church blog. I was very honored that he thinks I have something worthy to share. Now I'm stressing because I can't think of anything great to say. This helped me realize that I haven't journaled to/with God in a long time. Which reminded me to not "neglect my first love." I've been writing my prayers to God since I was a preteen. Some people feel close to God through activity, through nature, through worship, through prayer....God and I have always written together. I need to get back to that.

So, there are just a few of my random thoughts. Others include: newspapers, the China bubble, Christmas shopping, good friends, fall weather.....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Updates and Contests

Just thought I'd point out that I have a new blog family photo and that I went for the collage approach since that is what most readers wanted. Some of you responded on here and others let me know via FB.

Also, there is another contest going on at the Just Moms Facebook page. Basically, get a new friend to "like" our book and introduce us to them on our wall, and you and your friend will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy. The deadline is Oct. 31st.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Homemade Life: A Discovered Passion

I have never used the word passion and cooking to describe my feelings toward my time spent in the kitchen, although I do plenty of it. I cook three meals a day, and we rarely eat out. I actually cook a hot breakfast each morning for my children, and dinner time with family is given a high priority in our home. I see great value in good food and in spending time with my family enjoying that good food. (Restaurants are great, but not very relaxing...a bit noisy, way overpriced, and my husband and I never get to linger and visit at the table while the boys run off to play once their plates are clean.) I'm not a professional foodie, not hippie enough, but I do appreciate the food movement.

However, I would rather work outside or on a writing project and have a hired cook than spend as much time as I do working in my kitchen.

My book group picked to read A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. They promised me I'd like it. That it would inspire me to cook. OK. I wasn't buying it. But get this...I really did like the book. I love Molly's writing style. She is an expert blogger and her chapter essays ooze with excellent writer's voice and a relational style that creates an intimacy with her readers/following. She has a blog called the Orangette. I loved reading about her intimate relationships that all involved food. And, I loved many of her recipes in the book. I tired several.

Each chapter is a story in itself with a recipe at the end that ties it all together. For example, the chapter that deals with her father's losing fight with cancer and their shared moments of clarity over an egg dish then includes the recipe for "Eggs Grotto" at the end.

I'm planning on buying this book for myself, read the library copy, and keeping it in my kitchen cupboard. The bummer is that I wish there was a recipe book version only so that the pages of her brilliant wit wouldn't become stained with various food matter as I whip and serve these recipes, but Molly would probably like that. She'd think it was fitting.

And I learned something about myself from this read, bonus! I like cooking....when I don't have to follow a recipe. I like cooking savory items because of this. I am quite pleased with myself when I can make a yummy soup by putting things out of my pantry and making it work. I feel more free, more romantic, and more bohemian when I'm cooking without the constrains of rules and measurements. Now I just need to take some professional cooking classes so I can do this with more successes than failures, or my family might not find our time around the table so enjoyable.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Needing New Family Photo: Vote!

I was told that my kids look nothing like the main photo on this blog, and that should be correct since it was almost a year ago that we had the picture above taken.

So, here is the soon-to-be-new-blog-photo. I thought I'd let the old one stay so you can compare and contrast, but starting more old photo to view.

But perhaps the second shot is more get to vote!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Am A Soccer Coach, Yep You Read that Right

I have a new passion. It isn’t Kit-Kat bars, chia tea, shopping at Costco, or even Zumba…like some of my past passions. It is quite ironic really. This soccer wife has turned soccer coach. Yep, you read that right. I am my son’s 1st and 2nd grade soccer coach.

When I first announced to B that I would be “wearing a whistle” he gave me a puzzled and skeptical look, “Don’t worry. I’ll get all my ideas from Daddy.” There was a marked, physical reaction of relief.

I was nervous, but after our first practice I actually felt a bit in my element: telling young children what to do and making sure they had smiles on their faces the entire time. I have six kids on my team and we play with a max of four players on the field, so it is right at my soccer level, but I am finding that after being the “coach’s wife” for over a decade, I have actually caught on to a few very basic rules, plays, and overall general coaching philosophy. I guess all my husband’s post-game talks late at night have paid off.

I find myself using phrases I have heard Hans say like, “Keep square to the ball. Play to feet. Don’t hold on to the ball, pass it. Keep shape. Remember, we play our style.”

In our second match the opposing team’s coach, another mom, looked very nervous, admitting that she’d never coached before.

“Oh, me too. Don’t worry.” But I think she probably hates me now and decided I was playing a sick, cruel joke because compared to her team my group played some beautiful soccer. (This is when I should probably mention that five of the six players have been to one of my husband’s soccer camps…several times.) We were passing. We were fluid. Kids were holding their positions. Our defenders were reading the game well and going out and winning balls only to set up the plays again in our favor. I mean, I was ecstatic. I’m sure in a few years B is going to find me totally embarrassing, but for now he’s so excited to be playing on a real team that he doesn’t seem to notice the loud, vocal coach, who happens to be his mom, shouting at everyone.

I find myself running up and down the sidelines, hollering at the kids to pass to open players, reminding them to “shake hands with the line”, and guiding them toward sweet victory. (This is also when I should probably tell you that a good coach never does this type of “coaching” during a game. My husband chastised me after our second match.) But we were all feeling quite good about ourselves. We aren’t supposed to keep score, but I secretly love that the kids do. I mean, what’s wrong with a little competition? Shouldn’t kids learn to win and to loose, not just get participation points leaving everyone feeling “good” about having fun with a ball? (I might not feel this way if we are ever the recipients of a blowout.)

By the end of each match, I’m exhausted. My adrenaline has pumped a bit too much, and I’m in need of a cool down. I’m so happy though, so proud of my team. At our second game, everyone got at least one shot on goal and most got it through the middle of the two, red flags! Nothing feels better than seeing a seven-year-old score! And nothing feels better to a coach than seeing these kids beam with soccer love.

And then it dawned on me, the true reason my husband loves coaching soccer. Yeah, we all know he loves the game, but I think what keeps him doing it season after season is that there is something rewarding about working with youth, seeing them succeed, and hearing them express how good they feel about all their hard work and end results. And I think this is the passion that I am currently, truly, addicted too. It’s not really about the game of soccer, it’s about the kids.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Rage Like No Other

I guess I’m still in need of refinement. My youngest tested my ability to keep my cool this morning by throwing a ginormous fit that lasted a full 35 minutes. I felt a bit helpless because he threw this fit while I was driving away from the bank. It was obvious that something had not gone his way, but we were all amiss as to what.
I am continually impressed with this third child and find myself saying, “Well, you’d better go far in life mister,” due to his perseverance and determination, also known as being stubborn and strong-willed.

A's two older brothers were in the van with me watching the rage and trying their best to distract A, cajole A, and threaten A into obedience. I heard B speak calmly, “Use your words A. Tell us what you want.” I smiled at B’s attempt to parent. Wonder where he’s heard that line before? But instead of being rewarded by a calm explanation there was more screaming, more kicking.

C tried another approach, “Stop it A. You are being naughty. Mom, he’s trying to get out of his seat. He’s trying to get out of the van. A, stop, this is not safe!” The yell and scare tactic, another one I often pull out of my parenting tool belt.

I tried also, really, I did. I was becoming a very distracted driver and so my oldest suggested that I pull over immediately before we all ended up in a car accident.

By this point A had freed his upper body from the 5-point-harness and was screaming, “I want out! I want out!” I guess he was taking B’s advice and using his words.

A was trying to unlock the moving van’s door with his left foot, as he successfully lowered the window with his left pinky finger. I did win this small battle by pushing the child-lock-window-button and by keeping the van in motion which has a child-safety-feature: while the van is moving, no side doors can be opened. Go Honda Odyssey engineers.

I pulled over. I’ve been working with this very interesting final installment of Schneiter’s procreation now for exactly 2 and ½ years, and I’ve discovered that the soft approach works best. I got out of the van and opened his door. I stroked his sweet face, only a mother would find this angry face sweet. I said things like, “Honey, you need to stay in your car seat. You need to stay in the van. You need to stop. You need to be safe. What do you want? Use your words. Do you want mommy to buckle you back in or do you want to do it?”

“A do it!” This was followed by even more intense and loud raging, the kind I’ve never seen or heard before. I was afraid the other people in the parking lot were going to report me because surely a child screaming that loudly was being mistreated by their mother, no one would stop to think that it was I that was being mistreated by my son. At this point I wanted to wither up and cry. But then there was a slight pause.

“OK, now, we are leaving and going home, thank you.”

It was merely the eye of the storm. The brief break was just a reprieve before the hurricane’s onslaught. I found myself trying to tune it out, focus on the road. My oldest offered to help me drive by pointing out all the stop signs and merging traffic. We promised and reassured each other that A would give up, eventually. Surely he wouldn’t last the entire trip home. The town we were in was a good 35 minute drive from our house.

C and B plugged their ears with their fingers and took their little minds to another, peaceful place. I was jealous of their Zen skills as little feet and legs wildly kicked the back of my seat. I kept waiting for a police officer to pull me over and ask me if I was a fit parent and a fit driver…if I needed to sign up for some parenting classes, maybe I did. Maybe I should. I have been parenting now for almost seven years, and I was at a loss. None of my usual tactics were working.

A did not stop screaming until we pulled into our driveway and he knew the ride was over. I let him out of his car seat. He crawled onto my lap, a puddle of tears and exhaustion, “Sorry mommy, sorry.” It was nice for him to say sorry, but by this point in time I was the one who wanted to create a scene. My scene would be a pity party. I wanted to melt into the driver’s seat and cry, “Oh A, why? Why were you so angry? Why were you so unreasonable?”

And then I turned a bad mommy moment into a constructive one because two out of the three children had been brilliant, “Boys,” I turned to my older sons, “I am really proud of you for putting up with all that craziness. You were very patient.”

B smiled, “I just tried to relax my body.”

I’ve decided to give myself a golden star in the good mommy column. Wouldn’t you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oh Bank of America, Don't Do It

I'm very upset by Bank of America's plans to start charging a monthly 5 dollar debit-card-use-fee. That equals 60 bucks a year for the right to swipe your card, to spend your own money. The thing is, banks have been pushing for customers to use their debit cards. It helps avoid the whole bounce checked idea.

I am glad I am not a Bank of America customer, and I'm hoping those who are will jump ship. I hope they experience the "Netflix Syndrome" and that their plans to gain revenue backfires....not because I want to see this bank go under, but because I do not want other banks to follow suite, including my own.

Like my husband pointed out, we will just switch all our accounts to our credit union, which we are liking more and more these days. The other night I was looking over our bank accounts and noticed all these monthly fees that we'd never had before. I was quite upset and called the bank immediately. They apologized and removed the monthly fees, but I was told that I would need to go into a local branch and clear up the misunderstanding as my accounts were no longer set up the way they had been initially and the lady on the phone could not guarantee that my bank wouldn't try charging me again in the future. These accounts were savings accounts for my boys! They hardly had enough funds in them to constitute a monthly fee. I'd rather just keep their savings in a sock in a secret floorboard at my house if I'm going to be charged to have their meager pennies held in a big bank's coffers. Have I mentioned that these are savings accounts...the idea is to save money, right? Not watch your bank spend your money for you. I did not enjoy seeing money taken out of my son's accounts. They work hard for their change. It takes a lot of egg collecting to make a small impact toward their savings goals.

Since 1995 debit card usage has slowly gone up and surpassed credit card usage, which I think is good for the American consumer and good for our overall economic health. Studies show that people spend more when they use a credit card, a little less with a debit card, and they are the most fiscally responsible when they pay in cash. (You can learn these fun facts and life-changing ways if you take a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class.)

The article I read in the newspaper this mornings predicted that credit card usage would again gain popularity if banks began charging for debit card use.

I know that we will switch banks and return to the golden-olden days of checks and real, cash, money.

If you bank at Bank of America, I'd encourage you to leave! Send them a message. And if you don't, let your current bank know you'll be going somewhere else if they try and copy this latest move in bad business.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Andy, I'll Miss You

Andy Rooney is a comfort food for me. He represents family, open-face-grilled-cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, cozy time on the couch with a blanket...he was that space right before the whirlwind of the week began again. He was our last moments of Sunday Sabbath.

At 92, he is going to retire. I guess we should let him. How cool is that? My grandma, a contemporary of 97, is also still alive, but in no way capable of being on 60 Minutes. I want to be able to be 90-something and still be "at it." Whatever "it" is.

I grew up watching the Muppets, 60 Minutes, and Mash with my family. 60 Minutes really gave me my first look into the world and built a foundation for my worldview, and Mr. Rooney was a part of that.

I guess I'm a bit sentimental about his last show. Will you be watching?