28 June 2013

SAHM guilt

I've always felt that my duty as a full time stay-at-home mom is to be available to my children at all times.  It explains our long history of night nursing and cosleeping.  And it explains why I'm in the classroom so much.  This belief is certainly fortified by a campus culture, as perpetrated by administration, faculty, and parents themselves, of extreme parent participation.

My fellow full timers and I have had many conversations (read: rants) on this topic.  These tirades usually revolve around a self-pitying teacher or an overstressed working parent* who feels entitled to call upon us, the leisure, ample-free-time wielding, infinitely available unemployed folks.  It's such a strange phenomenon!  Demanding that a SAHM share her time because she has it in abundance is as ridiculous as demanding a WOHM to share her paycheck because she has it in equal abundance.

Still, I've historically been surreptitious about my off-campus activities.  That lasted until the day I came upon a friend who's utterly impervious to The Guilt.  "I drop the kids off in my gym clothes and toddle off.  With pride."  What the what?!?  You don't feel the need to stay until the class is settled for the day?  Aren't you afraid that the children will fall through the cracks if you aren't there to run small group discussions?  Don't you have to go shopping for a surprise after-lunch snack for the entire class? 

Nope!  She doesn't.  On any of those counts.

The conclusion to which my little circle has arrived is that sometimes, we NEED to do things like wait for the gas company to drop by during their scheduled interval or do laundry and clean the house (because we don't get paid and can't afford to hire housekeepers like our employed cohorts).  And sometimes, we just WANT to do things.  Like lunch with friends (Yes, I just used "lunch" as a verb.  I'm sorry.) or take a long walk or watch a creepy Hannibal episode in broad daylight lest our pants be scared off watching it after dusk.

As it turns out, ALL of these things are done for our children.  It makes us, as I've always felt necessary, available to them at all times.  My boys don't need to be dragged to the post office and grocery store because I quit my job to run errands during the day so that I could be available to them.  They don't deserved a frazzled, over-scheduled mother who hasn't relaxed or exercised for 5 consecutive days because, yes, you guessed it: I quit my job to be available to them.

In exchange for having the children come home to art projects prearranged on the kitchen table and homemade meals, I have given up a multitude of luxuries that would have otherwise come with an actual paycheck.  I have also relinquished some measure of sanity that I would have derived from working in my chosen profession, the one for which I joyfully and dutifully trained for years and years.  But that's okay.  Life is as I planned it, hurdles and all.

The Guilt can take a long walk off a short pier.  I'm done with The Guilt.

Following is an unrelated photos I was asked to snap by A1. It's not a great image, but he will to the blog looking for it and be disappointed if he doesn't find it.

*I know, I know, all parents have a tough time of it and there's never a reason to pit women, especially mothers, against each other.  Again, I'm sorry.  Some of the most hideous people I know are SAHMs while there are many amazing women I've met have been WOHMs.  I hardly think that employment status dictates personal character.


(Eek!  This didn't publish yesterday.)

The boys have been out of school for less than a week and it looks like a tornado hit the place.  I'm convinced the house is a mess because we have too many things.  And I'm convinced we have too many things because I'm a consumer extraordinaire and a total wimp when it comes to appeasing whiny children.  Both the disorderliness and the conspicuous consumption need to end!  I'm going to go through this entire house with a fine-tooth comb for items that can be discarded or donated.  It's probably best to take it one room at a time so I'm going to start with the living and dining rooms.  They're museum spaces meant to looked at from afar, but not genuinely lived in, so it will be easy to check them off my list.  Starting slowly will bolster me with enough false bravado to conquer the rest of the house this summer!  But I still have cassette mix tapes that I made in high school so it could take longer than I anticipate.

iPhone photos from today's beach trip (I don't know why I'm constantly clarifying whether the image was captured on the DSLR--I'd like to think that I'm the same photographer regardless of the temporary changes in instrumentation):

26 June 2013

Underwater photography

A2 longed desperately and quite annoyingly for a sports camera displayed at our local Costco.  We knew we would eventually give in because any parents in their right mind would do just about anything to stop the whining from pounding their eardrums.

James didn't want to give it to him on his birthday because merely clocking in another year wasn't a worthy accomplishment.  So when we got the results back from his GATE testing*, we figured it was a great occasion to celebrate and acknowledge his efforts.  Of course, some would argue that merely demonstrating your genetically-dictated neurological makeup isn't an accomplishment per se.

A2 has been enthusiastically using the camera for months now, but this was the boys' first foray into underwater work:

* Let's talk a little about testing, shall we?  It's a joke.  It's not a perfect system in any way.  Of course, classroom observations and work samples round out the profile so that the test results don't stand on their own, but still.   

There's a huge difference between achievement tests (what you know) and cognitive tests (how you go about acquiring your knowledge) where the former represents the actual and the latter represents the potential.  You can and should prepare adequately for achievement tests.  But the truth is (supposed to be) that you cannot prepare for a test of cognition.  So I'd like to say that A2 strolled on in and aced the exam, but that's simply not true.  He was "front loaded" as they call it.  That allowed him familiarity with the types of questions asked on the actual exam and practice maintaining focus for the duration of the test.  But in no way do I believe we cheated the system.  We loaned out our test prep materials to 3 different kids.  Of the 4 who underwent the same preparation, 2 were identified for placement in GATE while the other 2 were not.  So test prep can't force a child in GATE, but I imagine it's great for those who would otherwise be on the cusp to bump up.  And for those like A2 who would have mostly likely been identified anyhow, it makes them shine.  I mean, he really hit out of the park.  That ball flew out of the stadium,  beyond city limits, and right out of state.  But I know that much of that is attributable to the artifact of having been coached, as it were.

And then there's the guilt of not having prepped A1 in the same manner.  He was identified anyhow, but I'm still awash with guilt.  Because that's just how I roll.

25 June 2013

Seems that I'm blogging daily!

RunKeeper told me our hike in the hills today went for 2.2 miles.  But the best part is that we reversed directions from last time and still managed to shave a full 10 minutes off the total even though it was harder to go uphill today.  The boys want to keep training until we get even better.  Such a worthy goal!

After the hike, they took a quick (ahem...2 hours' worth, that is) dip in the pool.  What a sigh of relief it was when I initially discovered the boys were water safe. I was totally ecstatic that first moment when I could walk away from the pool to get a glass of water from the kitchen or engage in some equally mundane task.  I was probably prouder at that point than when they first learned to walk or talk, or even when they were first potty trained!

We still managed to squeeze in our daily goal of reading (Yay, Kindle for reducing the number of trips we have to take to the library!), math worksheets, and piano.  The writing prompt today was the same as yesterday in that it was a journal entry with an opening, details, and closing, but I compounded the assignment with a "see not say" component by asking them to add adjectives that help my visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile senses truly experience their narrative.

Following are iPhone pics of our after-dinner skateboarding adventure at the park (I couldn't carry the giant DSLR because I was on my own skateboard!) when the boys decided to use bellies, backs, and booties on the board instead of feet.  It's not much of a downward slope so I wasn't too nervous:

In recuperation

Last Thursday was the final day of school and I invited A1's entire class over to swim.  I hadn't finished everything I set out to do and I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that I can't possibly get it all done--being Room Parent in both their classes really left me unhinged this year.  In all honesty, even the mention of my failure here has me shivering a bit so maybe I've not really come to terms with anything at all!

The following day, I invited a few folks over for the usual Friday playdate at our house, but they suggested I relinquish control and hand over the reins so I could relax.  I'm really glad we went swimming at a friend's house because we all had a great time and I was able to start recuperating from the 2 hours of sleep I'd had two night before.  I'm giving people permission to slap me upside the head should I falter and end up Room Parent x 2 again next year.

Today, I wanted to start implementing my summer program of daily reading, (usually math) workbook, piano, and writing (today's prompt was to compose an end-of-day journal entry with an opening sentence, 3-4 supporting sentences, and a closing sentence).  It was such a success that we were able to squeeze tons of free play and 2 trips to the park, one via bicycle and another later on via car. 

The boys in the library courtyard:

24 June 2013

Peters Canyon and Settlers Park

The boys love these long summer days because we have time to take impromptu hikes and climb playground structures before bedtime!

Summer has started!

So what do we do with our time?

Dress up like superheroes, of course.

And swim. There's lot of swimming!

And occasionally, if the boys play their cards right, Mama asks them to do silly things like pop balloons with their booties.

Kinder graduation

While I still volunteered in 2nd grade, probably far more so than the average parent in that room, I purposefully tapered off my time this past year because small parent-led groups were choking the life out of me!  Fortunately, poor A2 needed the time since so much of my efforts are unequally channeled toward his brother. 

I spent the last day of school exclusively in A2's class, where I had them make graham cracker flags and patriotic windsocks on a July 4th themed blast off to summer party:

Shaving cream

A2 had a shaving cream day at school.

I thought it was so neat that I arranged for one at home!  The week before we had 24 kids over, but I lowered the invite count to only 10 kids so it would be manageable (no worries, the House of Huynh is still the party house--the week after, we ballooned back up to nearly 30!).

Afterwards, one of the dads allowed the kids to use him a human diving board by standing on his shoulders before being tossed into the pool!

So now we've been randomly been using shave cream whenever it pleases us:

She sews!

A2 asked for a cape.  Because what skater in their right mind would enter the rink without one?

Anna Banana

She gets her own post because she thinks she fits into all boxes, no matter how small they may be.  And because she loves to swim with us, as should all Golden Retrievers!

The boys have recently remarked, "She's becoming more like a dog!"  I suppose they mean as opposed to a blob of fur with teeth that bite.  Our human need for animal companionship is very interesting to me.


I entered Scoutorama with only my cell phone.  I learned a few things about iPhonography. 

1.  I shoot haphazardly without the heft of my DSLR.  I don't even know what I was thinking when I snapped these shots.

2. Much like the decreasing effective of CPR compressions with time (I recently got recertified so it's fresh in my mind), my iPhonography also diminishes greatly with time.  These are of the first quarter of the day.  I don't know what happened to the other 75% of the event!

3.  I LOVE subject isolation.  Thusly, I NEED aperture control.  When is that going to happen on cell phone cameras?

Presented in their sadly unedited version:

Wolfs (yes, I know, I want to type Wolves so desperately!) bridging to Bears:

Kindergartner gets his Bobcat badge on the Tiger path!

WHAT?!?!?!  Three of my awesome nephews in their Eagle Scout garb.  No pressure on brother #4, eh?  And yes, all 8 of us are in uniform!