Sunday, February 16, 2014

I want it. I need it. Why can't I have it?!

                                                          NOT MY NEW CAR

Yesterday I was in a really pissy mood.

I was discontented. Moody. Irritable. 

And mad. MAD

I was mad because there were three cars sitting outside my house, and only one of them was working.
I was mad because it was Saturday, and it was snowing a sort of freezing rainy snow and blowing a kind of freezing howly gale and my husband was bundled up in a coat and a hat and was underneath his daggy old civic trying to sort out an electrical problem. An electrical problem that had seen him driving home the night before with a crazily zig-zagging speedometer, and headlights that were alarmingly flashing on and off the whole 40 minute journey from College Park to Braddock Road (note to anyone on that stretch of road - no, the police haven't started using crappy unmarked 1996 civics  - that was Andy flashing you.)

I was angry. Angry at the injustice of it. The utter unfairness. 

Towards the end of the day, I think I was actually reveling in my own little fetid puddle of grievous self righteousness. I had been dealt a very bad hand. Of course I had every right to be angry.

The reason being, of course, that I didn't have a nice new car sitting in the driveway. 

I was fed up with my falling apart van. The van that has no working windshield wipers. The van that is 14 years old. The van that has done many many thousands of miles and looks it.

I was fed up with Andy's falling apart Civic. The Civic that always needs work. Always.

Didn't we deserve a new car?

Didn't we need a new car?

It was only a lot later in the day, after I had emerged, somewhat bedraggled (and with the aid of a rather nice glass of merlot), from my puddle of self-righteous indignation, that I realised what had made the whole situation worse.

It was quite a revelation.

I blame the Winter Olympics.

Well, of course - not the Olympics themselves. But the televised coverage. What can you not escape when watching TV in this country?


And of course, Presidents Day is coming up.
And all the car companies are going MAD advertising all the deals on all the wonderful, sparkling, desirable brand spanking NEW cars.

I very rarely watch TV these days. I am more a Netflix/DVD person. So I was unprepared for the onslaught of it all.

I was a walking talking living breathing example of how advertising actually works.
And it works in a horrible way.

It makes you want what you cannot have
It makes you desire what cannot be yours.
It makes you envious of those who seem to have it already.
It makes you mad, sad and discontented.

Now I remember why I dislike commercials, and advertising in general, so very much.

And it reminded me of this.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
Hebrews 13:5

and this

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Proverbs 14:30

I shall continue to watch the Winter Olympics.I shall be making a concerted effort to ignore the commercials for those snazzy new cars, and attempt to live a contented life, free from envy, and with bones that are healthy, not rotting. 

And all with the aid of my lovely family, my friends, my God and a few more glasses of merlot.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bunnies For Sale

              It has been fun, the whole baby rabbit thing.
        From conception (we witnessed that brief event. 
               The children were amazed, grossed out )
        To birth (I was out, but got the most excited 
             voicemail ever from the 10 year old to tell me) 
        To the big milestones ... like: -

     the day they grew fur

                             the day we first got to hold them

                                              the day they opened their eyes         

the day they came out from the nest

                              the day they first ate solid food

            And now is the time when we say our first goodbye. 

                                 It has been a big adventure.  

                                       Can we do it again?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

bunny therapy

I am thinking of raising rabbits for a living.
I will sell them on as therapy pets.
Just gazing at baby bunnies is enough to release chemicals in the brain that are commonly referred to in the medical profession as "the warm fuzzies"
Holding a 10 day old squirming bundle of soft velvet-furred cuteness can make anyone smile.
Viewing parties by appointment only.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Potted Gardening for Dummies

I may have mentioned in passing that I am not an enthusiastic gardener.
The lawns are mowed on an irregular basis, and I occasionally chop back the undergrowth when it turns into overgrowth.

Someone gave me some seedlings the other week, so I thought I would pot them and see what happens. I left it so long before I got round to replanting that I thought maybe they had died, but amazingly nature fought back and they are now wonderful leafy plants waiting to bare fruit. Trouble is I can't remember what they are, so I guess we will have either cucumbers or peppers.

After finding a couple of sad old potatoes in the back of the pantry Rebecca and I did some research and discovered we could grow new potatoes from the eyes of the old (sounds a bit zombie-like to me) so we cut out the eyes (more zombie graphics) and planted them in pots of compost. Not to be left out of the experiment, Billy made off with the left over wrinkled tatties and demolished them with customary zeal. Nothing goes to waste round here.
The potato plants are now sprouting and I am excited to find out if they will be edible.

Rebecca and I have also tried our hand at planting from seeds. We filled big tubs with compost and planted carrots and beans. I think I may have inadvertently pulled up a couple of the carrots as I mistakenly thought the delicate little shoots that suddenly appeared were tiny saplings that seem to take root everywhere in my pots. Oops. 

So now we have come to the part where gardeners water their gardens daily and wait to see what will grow.

And look! We grew a dog!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blow the eggs, let's eat chocolate

I don’t claim to be very crafty.

My attempts at creating whatever craft I am attempting never look like the picture on the box/internet site/other peoples fabulous creations. 
This is usually down to my inability to follow directions coupled with my lack of patience. If something doesn't work first time, then it obviously wasn't meant to happen.

But Rebecca and I did blow eggs this Easter.
This is always fun, as it involves a little bit of mess, minimal effort and a splodge or two of paint.

As Rebecca was going red in the face forcing yolk and white through the tiny hole at the end of the egg, I remembered last years attempts. All had gone smoothly until we had left the newly painted eggs to dry on the kitchen table. Retreating into another room, we had suddenly become aware of a strange crunching noise emanating from the vacated kitchen, which turned out to be Billy eating our Easter craft.

This year (so far) the eggs have remained intact. 

And now it is Easter Sunday.

We can admire our finished craft, and remember that Jesus made all things new by his sacrifice on the cross. (And conveniently skip over the pagan fertility festivals bit) 

Christ is Risen. Hallelujah!! 

(Now where did I put those mini eggs?)

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Poem is Born

It’s Friday.

This is “The Big Day”

The day that #3 child reviews the weeks four 10 minute writing prompts, and decides which one she wants to expand upon, edit, proofread and hand in to me to get a grade.

She chose the one that had taken the least effort, of course. “Write a poem about your favourite season”.

The other “plunges” had been a challenge, to say the least. For her the challenge had been to grasp what she was being asked to do. The challenge for me was to try and explain it so she understood and, at the same time, refrain from tearing my hair out and bashing a hole in the wall. I think on Wednesday I almost had blood oozing from my eyeballs. It is SO hard sometimes to be understanding, sympathetic and encouraging when all you really want to do is grab her by the throat and scream in her face “WHY CAN’T YOU GET IT??!!” 

I sort of understand where she is coming from. 
One of the prompts was “Choose a game. Write instructions on how to play it”
One problem we are facing is that she really does not want to do this.
So first off, she is angry and resentful.
This does not bode well for a successful completion of the set task.
And then we have the added problem of how she learns.
Because of her autism, she sees everything in literal terms. 
So ~ already antsy and up for a fight, she snarls in my general direction “What do they mean instructions?! Do they want to know what button to push on the controller?”
I gently suggest that she could explain a few of the things the player can do in the game. Maybe talk about the characters? And the quest?

So every day this week she has completed a different 10 minute plunge.

And today we looked at what I, her teacher, was expecting from the finished article. 

She would take her poem. (The one that on Thursday I had dragged kicking and screaming from her reluctant psyche)

Orange leaves
Pumpkin carvings into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween
Colder Days and colder nights
I love Fall

She would rewrite it, expanding on the general theme.

It would have a title.
It would be neatly presented.
It would be grammatically correct.
It would have her name and the date.
And I would like it illustrated.

This is what I got. 

And this is what she got.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Homeschooling The Reluctant Teen

The challenges of homeschooling are manifold.

Some examples: 

Getting the children up in the morning.

Trying to entice a positive attitude from recalcitrant children.

Helping a 10 year old with her history curriculum (currently the spread of Islam) whilst keeping a suspicious eye on the 14 year old who is attempting to convince you she is, indeed, doing that General Science Study Guide, when in fact you know darn well she is watching You-Tube videos. 

Persuading the 10 year old that it is possible to write more than 2 sentences in a birthday thank you letter. (“Thank you.” “and Goodbye.” are not sentences).

This morning I introduced a new curriculum to the 14 year old.
Recently diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum, she has not been an easy student for some time. Her mind wanders in distracting ever increasing circles and her ability to keep on track with any given task is practically non-existent.

I have to confess that I have not been a good teacher.
It is far easier to concentrate on #4 child, who, though ADD and mildly dyslexic, at least is young enough to train. 
#2 child is the homeschool mothers delight. She does her work well. She gets good grades.

I have been convicted, though, of my need to spend more hands on time with #3 child.

#3 child is not similarly convicted.

Why suddenly do I want to see what she is doing? A new curriculum?? “But I don’t WANT to write”. “But I CAN’T write!”

The phrases ‘getting blood out of a stone’, and ‘it’s like pulling teeth’ were reverberating around the house this morning.

The new curriculum is called “Jump In ~ A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers.”
It is actually very good. I am excited about using it.
The thing I like best is that is has something called “10 minute Writing Plunges”. Every day there is a leading sentence that the student has to complete and expand on, or a subject she has to write about. And she has to do it in only 10 minutes.
The writing is not graded, but on Friday, she has to look through what she has written, choose one of the 10 minute exercises, expand it, proof read it and hand it in to be graded.
Needless to say, #3 child was not happy. At all.
But we did it. 
After 15 minutes (5 minutes were added to make up for the tears, screams and tantrums) something that correlated to what she had been asked to do was completed.

And tomorrow she will be asked to do it again. And the next day. And the next. The overall objective is, obviously, that at some time in the future (how long in the future is yet to be determined), she will be comfortable writing for 10 minutes on given subjects. It will become easier. Maybe she will even think it is fun. 

Until that time, there will be sounds of a child being tortured emanating from our house. Rest assured she is not having her teeth extracted. Just the contents of her mind.

About Me

My photo
I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.