Thursday, September 28, 2006

Abandon Bad Books

Not having mice in this house (that we know of. yet.), I am left to report in not nearly so side-splitting ways about a problem I have: I can't _not_ finish a book. This is *not* a good thing. It means that I waste time reading some silly, horrid books just because I think, "welll...maybe it'll get better ______ (in 50 pages/in the next chapter/by the last sentence).

I just wasted several weekends reading an absolutely abysmal, cliche-packed chick-lit book. I've defended the genre before, but this one was SO bad that it made me embarrassed to be a girl. But mostly, it made me even more embarrassed that I took the time to finish it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On another note...

So, to distract you faithful readers from the free-loading rodents residing in my home, I bring you this video. I'm not much of an Anna Nicole Smith fan, but I have to say this really illustrates the importance surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you. Maybe even having children with them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Open letter to our incontinent mouse

Dear House Mouse:
OK, let's get something straight. At one time in my life, I killed (yes, SLAUGHTERED) 15 of your cousins out in New York. Don't think for a minute that I'll let you continue to live rent-free under our roof. And don't expect some sort of new-agey humane trap to await you next time you smell peanut butter. My DH and I, we're old school. We're talking super spring-loaded trap here, Mr. Mouse. Because I'm the queen of this house, and a rather off-with-your-heads type of royalty. But here's the deal. You've got to get more brains into your operation. The thing is, if you didn't poop every two inches whilst running all over the counter, in the cupboards and in the drawers, you'd never get caught. I might not even mind your presence but for the aforementioned evidence of your existence and presence in our humble abode. I enjoy a clean house like anyone, but washing dishes because someone took a laxative and decided to run around in the kitchen with no underwear is no bowl of cherries. I've heard there are enzymes you can take to control that kind of problem. But I digress.
The thing is, this house ain't big enough for all of us. We recognize that there's only four of us (one of which is a mere baby) and probably 300 of you all (since I just read a reassuring blog that mice can produce 263 offspring in one year). But we hope you know in your heart of micey hearts that your game is up. We are taking no prisoners, this is an all out war against you and your kind. Prepare yourself (or don't).
My advice: go find a nearby barn to raid because (a) they have more food there and (b) they probably have a friendly cat to play with. But before you go, just know this. Your decision to visit us has actually convinced my husband that cats just might have a reason to live, and for that I thank you. But the bottom line remains. Get out. Get out before I lose my mind and do something I'll later regret. (Like move into a concrete box sealed off from all rodents.) You give me the creeps.
The LCS Family

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One of those days...

I have to start this post by admitting that I've broken a vow I've made about 3562 times in the last 12 hours alone. I'm not talking about a marriage vow or anything so serious as that... I've just been trying to make an effort to be nice to my family. Which sounds simple, and maybe it is if you aren't me. But for whatever reason, it seems to be real easy to be sweet to strangers, and then turn on the other poor souls who share our house and make them sorry that I live there too. Case in point: today.
We had a bit of a rough start, as Boy #1 was super tired and slept until 10 a.m. For most people that would be a joyous occasion, but for us, it's no good at all. He wakes up rummy, cranky and out of sorts and typically... does. not. nap. At all. So today, he woke up just as I would have predicted and proceeded through the day pushing just about every button I have. First he ran around the house smacking everything in arm's range. Plants, humans, loud toys, the sliding glass door. He picked up his baby brother. Repeatedly. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that it generally ends in a drop, which leads to a screaming episode. He was bananas in a store we visited. He ran trucks through my flowers. Every time I tried to curb his behavior was met with resistance, including but not limited to the Temper Tantrum Dance (jumping, screaming and insta-crying). (I'd rather see square dancing, but such must not be in his repetoire.) I think approximately 2 words I said all day were acknowledged.
You get the picture. And I was not a nice mommy today. I raised my voice, I was too in-his-face. I hated the way I was parenting him, and yet could not figure out what wasn't working.
Then just before bedtime, DH called and I wasn't nice to him either. The day was awful I knew (at that point anyway) that it was me, not an exhausted spouse or a curious and spirited toddler, that needed to change. But what had gone wrong?
One culprit could have been the try-to-do-too-much effect. I wanted to get a project done before DH returns from work tomorrow for two reasons. For one thing, it's something I enjoy doing, and secondly, I wanted to surprise him by actually finishing something without leaving a truckload of things for him to do that I just couldn't get to. ( More on this later, but trust me, the project isn't nearly as exciting as that last run-on sentance makes it sound.) I just wanted to do something productive.
Then the thought crossed my mind that perhaps the day was bad because I'm just not cut out to be a stay at home mom. Maybe I'm not patient enough, not nice enough, not so-many-things enough to do this job. And maybe, just maybe, I don't want this job. Can't do it, don't want to, done pretending. Ready to get out of the sandbox.
With that thought in mind, I started my evening (after both Boy #1 and Boy #2 were sleeping, of course) by downloading my most recent pictures. A trip to the mountains, time with family and friends, just household antics... nothing but pictures of sweetness and life. My greatest fear is that I'll put out the spark in my kids' eyes... and I fear doing that through not being kind to them. So after looking at recent memories, a hot bath and lots of M&Ms, I guess Life's Great Lesson for today is this: s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. If I had just not set too high of a goal, not insisted on doing something that was monumental with two kids in tow, not spent the day consumed by being productive, we could have enjoyed the day a lot more. I don't think I would have questioned whether this is what I should be doing. And, especially, it would have been easier to be kind. Be nice. Be a mom I like and not one that makes me cringe. Be a mom that doesn't have to be quite so thankful that kids are forgiving.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh the things I've seen

Three things I've seen:
1. The funniest: a dentist in our town, named Ramon Chichon. Wonder if his parents thought about the rhyming pattern when he was born.
2. The grossest: Seen at the local Weinerschnitzel: "Now serving breakfast." Triple Ick.
3. The oddest: an 80-ish little lady, frail as all get-out, driving a Ford Excursion. Now I've seen it all.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Since I have nothing else to say...

Does anyone else think it's a little wierd that the current Survivor episode has all the teams divided by race? So it's the Hispanics (their word) vs. Asian Americans vs. Whites vs. African Americans. Of course all of the teams still have earthy names typical of Survivor, like the Itzis and the Hitis etc, which also seems a little Noble Savage-esque to me... I think it's a little weird. I heard about this on another blog, but I thought the writer was spoofing. Here's the article I just read.
One of the tv people says something like it's the "greatest social experiment of our time", which I think is a bit of a stretch. Or maybe I just hope we've come up with better social experiments than this.
Maybe this is entirely not weird and I'm just living with my head in the sand. Questions, comments, concerns?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My most important decision decided

I was listening to one of NPR's weekend shows while on my way around town with two kids when the most interesting conversation started. They were interveiwing an air traffic controller who was talking about new regulations and the stresses on his job, etc. I can only imagine what it's like to have planes coming in and knowing you are the pilots eyes and ears to get his 150 passengers and crew safely on the ground. (I know Lisa can speak more eloquently about this topic.)
But he made a statement that really hit a nerve. And not my funny bone.
"So, how do you deal with decisions that have to be made at home?" asked the interviewer.
"Oh, my wife and I go around about that. We'll decide to go out for dinner, she'll turn to me and say, 'Where do you want to go? I don't have a preference' I'll turn to her and say, "Oh, you decide. I've been maing decisions all day.' And it's funny, because her most important decision in the whole day has been how much coffee to put in the coffee grinder." (long pause while our readers think, "He didn't really say that, did he?" I must inform you that yes, he did.)
Maybe it's my own discomfort with not having an answer to the "what do you do" question. Maybe it's because I just feel like I'm supposed to be June Cleaver and I'd rather be Ward some days. But more than those things, I think it's because it makes me crazy crazy crazy how this country values work and the working (as in receiving a paycheck) person more than others who contribute to society in other ways. Certainly I 'm not saving people from burning buildings and heart attacks like my DH. But I like to think I'm making this world a better place by being a part of my boys' secure little world.
He is not a spokesperson for any particular group or gender, but it's comments like this that reflect a trend in society to devalue anything that isn't either (a) heroic or macho or (b) bringing in the cash. I'm sure air traffic controlling is stressful and I don't doubt that important decisions are made every day by that man that affects the safety of loads of people. But just because that's the career he's chosen doesn't mean he should devalue his wife's job with a comment like that.
Some days it does feel like the decisions I make aren't important, but the impact of a zillion tiny decisions can be huge. If I demand that my toddler do things my way 100% of the time, I'll have a boy with very little confidence in himself in the future. If I decide to let him work things out instead of constantly doing everything for him, he'll have much more belief in his capabilities. If I decide to be hypervigilant around traffic and nefarious looking people, I'll have a child who understands the need to be careful in dangerous situations. The list goes on and on. I do hope that someday I'm completely comfortable in my new(ish) role and that I don't have to justify myself. Maybe then when I hear cringe-evoking comments I'll be able to roll my eyes and change the station.... but knowing me, probably not.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Today my thoughts are turned towards colleagues at the institution I've left, who are now on strike. I wish I had the morning to really reflect about this, but instead I'm thinking as I go and using this post to sort out (or perhaps make muddier!) some of the mixed emotions I have about this practice in the context of universities.

Take one: unions can do good things. I've seen the ways in which a union can advocate on behalf of a group of workers. Being originally from the west and less unionized states, I was taken aback when we moved to Former City and, before I'd even drawn my first paycheck from that university, I was asked to walk a picket line with my colleagues. Our union meant that we had incredibly clear tenure guidelines (something that is frustratingly murky and idiosyncratic at far too many places); great health benefits; and a living wage (believe me, profs don't make much. At least humanities profs. And that's okay with me--I went into this eyes wide open. But in this Former City, it was common that secondary teachers made more than us. Just so you know...)

Take two: unions for faculty--a professional-type group--seem odd. I always felt profoundly uncomfortable to be striking, or threatening to strike, over what % of raise we should get, or what % of increase in retirement set-asides we should get. I mean, aren't unions to protect folks who do the *real* labor of our nation--those who cut steel, or dig ore, or assemble cars? Mind you: I never felt like the "demands" of our union/faculty were unreasonable. I just felt odd about the public discussions of why we should have a 4% raise rather than a 3.5% raise. While we didn't make anything mind-blowing, we *did* make more than many of our students' families.

Take three: unions cause deep divisions between faculty and administration who, at least for the duration of bargaining talks, must posture as embattled enemies who mistrust everything the "other" side does. Sadly, at my Former U, this is occuring as I write. On the "admin" side are at least two people I've worked closely with and whose integrity I admired. Right now, though, they're seen as evildoers by many faculty. I'm not exaggerating. Once the bargaining/strike is over, it takes a *long* time for those wounds to heal and those misconceptions to be readjusted. Which means that it's really hard to get other kinds of work done.

Take four: all of this is dependent on situation and context, which may be obvious. It's been fascinating to me, over and over again, how similar and how vastly different the two Us I've worked at as a tenure-track faculty member have been. Here, there's no chance of a union. Our salaries, our raises--shoot, even the test score cut-offs for *our* writing classes--is controlled by the state (ironic, isn't it, in a Mountain West State with a supposedly deep distrust of government control.) This means that there's a different kind of vulnerability--and almost a sense of hopelessness, really (ie, "they --the state legislators--didn't give us a raise").

Anyway, this is probably extremely dull for our readership, but as I think about my former colleagues and good friends having to walk picket lines today, knowing that they feel many of the ambivalencies I do, I had to write a line or two about it.