Thursday, 28 June 2012

The 6 Best Things About Being an Adult

One of the most memorable conversations I've had with my mother was not about anything particularly meaningful... unless you consider cookies to be meaningful, which I do. I was about six at the time, and was commenting on the freedom of adults to eat cookies whenever they felt like it. "I think that must be one of the best things about being a grown up, to eat cookies whenever you want." I expected some kind of wishy washy reply about Health and Vegetables, but that's not what a I got. Mom considered this for a second. "Yeah," she said, "It's pretty great." 

So, with that introduction, I bring you-- the 6 Best Things About Being an Adult*

1. Cookies whenever you want: That is to say, your decisions are, to a great degree, your own to make. Now, with the big decisions, there are a lot of factors to consider-- namely, how your decision will impact other people, and your future. The little decisions, though? That's a free-for-all, and I love it. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner, just because I can. 

2. Freedom of movement: In my case, I drive-- but taking public transportation would be every bit as satisfying. I love that, when I want to go somewhere (and am not limited by my schedule/committments to other people), I can do so. Need more cereal? To the grocery store! Want to hang out with friends? Off to Portland! On a similar note, I also have travel plans for Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's-- that I made myself, paid for with my money (or, ahem, a flight voucher from Delta), and will undertake Because I Want To. I actually think this also falls in the Cookie category.

3. Being in a position to be a role model: I love that I have the opportunity to teach kids by example, even if it is a fair amount of pressure. A health teacher I had in high school shared the quote "Everything we do teaches a child something," and I have loved it ever since. What responsibility, but what an opportunity. 

4. Hearing the truth: I understand the impulse to sugar-coat information for children, but I despise it. Even as a kid, I knew if I wasn't getting the whole story, but I never knew what the whole story WAS. Therefore, I would make up my own worst-case scenerio, which is invariably much, much worse than whatever was actually happening. I'm very thankful that people don't seem to feel the need to do that for me anymore.

5. Having lived through "it will all be ok": Now, I know that's not always true, but it often is. Sometimes things suck, but often (not always, but often) they do work out ok. That's always hardest to believe if you haven't lived through it, but having had a couple of very worrying experiences that have turned out to be ok (after more or less anxiety or painful effort) is very reassuring. 

6. Having all of the friends that I've made throughout my life this far (I know, I know, "awww...."). Seriously, though, I have lived quite a few places, known quite a few people, and my close friends now are, I feel, the very best. I know there are more friends out there to be made, and I look forward to meeting them, but I'm also pretty sure that the friends I have now can't really be improved upon. Added to, sure, but improved upon? No way. In a similar vein, I love having friendships with people who span a much larger age range than they used to. Remember when a 2 year age difference between friends was huge? Remember when a 4 year age difference was insurmountable? Yeah, me too. And I like it better this way. 

*Inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop

Monday, 25 June 2012

Lazy Days of Summer, you say?

Oh, guys.

You probably thought I'd been Kidnapped By Zombies, or maybe Hidden Away in a Hot Air Balloon, or maybe Sunk to the Bottom of the Sea. (You didn't really think that, about the hot air balloon, did you? I'm terrified of heights.)

But NO.

That's not it AT ALL.

It's just SUMMER, guys! You know those lazy days of summer? Yeah, me neither. It's over-rated anyway, I'm sure. Here's what we've been up to for the past weekorso.

I currently have all four of my kids (Panda and Clover just finished 6th grade, Pom Pom finished 4th, and Neptune finished 3rd. PAR-TAY!), and thus, chaos reigns supreme. They get along really well, which I'm thrilled about, and we have been having Many Grand Adventures.

Side bar: You know all of the capital letters I've been using in this post? I know there are a ton, and I'm sorry, I'm sure that is annoying, but it's Really Important, because I've had a Capital Letter kind of week-and-a-bit, k? Please bear with me. 

So anyway. School let out on Friday the 15th at 10:40 (middle school) and 11:00 (elementary). I gathered together all My kids, and a bunch of their friends, on a field at a local park for Bubblepalooza. Basically this was a celebration of All of the Types of Bubbles We Could Think Of (regular bubbles, pop up bubbles, DIY bubble wands, bubble foam snakes, bubble wrap, bubble gum, carbonated drinks... you get the idea). It looked like this:

Because, logically, the only way to Do This Right is to put each individual bubble-thing into a plastic bucket ($1.50 at Michael's!) and tie a helium balloon onto it, labelled with the contents of the bucket. I mean, obviously.

Most of my pictures are of the kids (unsurprisingly), but here's a fun one where you can't see identifying features. They made bubble wrap shoes, which the middle schoolers are planning to wear on the first day of school (pleasegodletthemforget).

So that was Bubblepalooza. Fun was had by all, and I highly recommend it, if you're looking for an activity. It's splendid.

The following week (last week, in case you're keeping track) was an endless smorgesboard of glorious activities. We bounced and played dodgeball at SkyHigh (indoor trampoline center, in case you're unfortunate enough to live somewhere without one), went on a beautiful hike up Little Si (and everyone was cheerful! and cooperative! and sang as we walked!), came up with a team name (the Bubble Mafia, or BuMa for short. I'm the BuMama, in case you were wondering), wrote a team song (sung to the tune of All Star-- stay tuned for lyrics), made a huge chalk mural, played at multiple parks, ate lots of ice cream, celebrated Panda's birthday (12! woo!), got dressed up Extremely Formally and went to get non-fancy teriyaki for lunch and and and and...

You get the idea.

Last week was terrific, and we're off to a brilliant start this week.

We ate lunch of out of unexpected dishes (I had pasta out of a crock pot, for example, eaten with an ice cream scoop), made plaster of paris bugs, went to a really cool playground in Seattle, and went bowling.

Phew! I hope summer is off to a wonderful start for all of you as well! 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Just. Trying. To. Breathe.

Last week of school.
Cookies? COOKIES.
Thanks, teachers.
Here are 131 chocolate chip cookies
And 83 snickerdoodles
Also, we ate some
They were delicious.
So thanks, for education
And an excuse to eat some cookies.

And because it made sense (sort of, never)
The last day of school was 2 hours long.
Which, between the elementary kids and the middle school ones means...
one. hour. without the kids, in order to
set up

Bubblepalooza, guys,

It sounded like a good idea in theory.
It was a GREAT idea in practice.

But oh my, what a project it was.

Stay tuned for more, on the Last Week Of School
And more importantly
The first hours

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Ghosts of Summers Past

Clover and Neptune are getting so Old. They turned 12 and 9 in February, and Clover is now in middle school. Yikes! The growing up process is Right and Natural and Good, but it is still also a little bit sad. I'm so excited to see the new things they can do, the new ideas they have, the ways they are developing to express themselves, their interests and goals. It is really, really fun. It has always been fun, though, and it's great to remember the different types of joy that we experienced through the years.

Little things can bring back a lot of memories, for all of us. Recently, we put on some of our favourite music from 5 or 6 years ago. At the time we were listening to Tom Chapin and Tom Paxton instead of Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, and Nicki Minaj. Those were lovely years, and while I may have gotten tired of "The Buddy Song" (actually called "Hi, Hi, I Love Ya") or "The I'm Sorry Song" ("Mikey Won't") played on repeat, they were most excellent days.

We hadn't listened to Tom Chapin for a very long time, but a week or so ago, we were having One Of Those Days. The kids were out of sorts, and my patience was not quite as infinite as I strive for. We were grouchily driving to tutoring, having entirely given up on conversation. The the car was unpleasantly silent.

I reached over and tapped my iPod a couple of times, and the cheerful, colorful music of a children's folk singer sparkled around us. Slowly, the mood in the car lifted. I sang along, and glanced in the rearview mirror to see the kids doing the same.

Tom Chapin, you have saved the day!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Choose Your Identity

When I go to write a comment on someone's post, blogger gives me the option to "choose [my] identity." I can go with Blythe, which I always do, or enter just about anything else I could possibly choose. What freedom!

It made me think about the choosing-my-identity process I experienced all through adolescence. Now, I know some things are pretty hard-wired (I am a delicate blossom when it comes to emotions, and there's no pretending I'm not. I'll cry at anything.), but other characteristics of mine are deliberate choices. I choose to find humour and joy in the tiniest of things, to blow bubbles, to jump in puddles, to laugh easily. I choose to guard memories fiercely, by taking thousands of photographs, by organising them and displaying them, by keeping notes, cards, programmes, posters. I choose to abstain from meat, which sometimes involves people "jokingly" arguing with me (seriously, guys, have you ever actually convinced a vegetarian to eat meat?), and often involves respectful differences of opinion (and, when in France, involves a LOT of fries and salad and "croque monsieur sans jambon").

I could go on forever, but the characteristics that make up who I am, but chances are you can figure a lot of these out for yourself. Some of them are unavoidable (please see: delicate blossom), but a lot were the product of a lot of experimentation. Oh, adolescence.

It's a bitch, isn't it? Your friends are becoming who THEY are, you are becoming who YOU are, and sometimes it's hard to figure out what they want, versus what you want, versus what you THINK you should want. I tried all sorts of things-- maybe I could be The Hippie One, and I wore long skirts, and went barefoot much of the time. Or maybe I could be The American One. After all, I was one of very few Americans at my school in Taiwan. I wore flag-themed t-shirts, and came to the defense of the US as best I could, at each moment. That was pretty short-lived. Our politics at the time were hard to defend, and the behaviour of our tourists is sometimes pretty outrageous. Maybe I was The Domestic One? I embraced baking (which I have always enjoyed), and made a point to remember Useful Household Tips. (Thinking back on this phase has been particularly handy at this point in my life.) I was never The Rebellious One, or The Risk Taker-- those didn't appeal to me, and still don't. Mostly I just rotated different aspects of my personality, and focused on each as the Main Thing.

It took me years before I realised that I could be ALL of these things, ALL of the time, or maybe NONE of these things, as I so chose. I wanted to be something definite, something easy, because continuing to figure yourself out is SUCH a process. It's one I have decided to embrace, though... largely because I don't have any other options. The more I explore, though, the more I enjoy the process of exploration.

That's one of the things that is particularly interesting about working with kids. I get to watch them choosing their identities, and finding what is hard-wired and what is optional. It's fun to see what they choose to emphasise at different times, and fascinating to watch what persists. It's a wild ride-- for them, and for me-- but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Why does no one consult me?

This is the question I've been asking myself on a daily basis recently. Actually, I've been asking myself (and anyone around) multiple times a day. After all, I have So Many Opinions, and I am more than happy to share them with you. Why does no one take advantage of this excellent service I am willing to provide?

Some things on which people should have consulted me, but did not:

Telling Princess Aurora that it was her 16th birthday, when the fairy godmothers knew perfectly well that this might draw the attention of Maleficent. Why wouldn't they just always celebrate her birthday two weeks after the fact? WHY DID NO ONE CONSULT ME?

Russian Roulette. Who on earth thought this would be a Good, Fun, Exciting idea? I could certainly have set people straight, if given half a chance.

The timing of school breaks. My brother's college (!!!) has winter vacation from about December 21st- January 22nd. Now, doesn't it make So Much More Sense for it to go from about December 15th- January 16th? That actually gives the students a chance to enjoy the pre-holiday season. It would be so convenient! Especially for those of us who want them home to help carry bags while Christmas shopping. Why does no one ask me about these things?

Friday, 1 June 2012


It occasionally becomes clear to me that children are savages, heathens, in need of civilisation. Sometimes the civilising process is a gentle one, with patient reminders and celebrations of accomplishments. That doesn't always work, though. The other day, I walked into the kids' bathroom, and realised that they have been wiping their hands and faces (their filthy, dirty, make-upped hands and faces) on the white shower curtain.
I was horrified. I reacted in the only way that seemed reasonable.

I'm not sure if this will have the effect I hope for, but at least it amused the children... and, more importantly, it amused me.