Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Camping with the Kids

I love my daughter. She is this fascinating little creature who, at 2 ½ is far more opinionated than I. Last week we went on vacation for a week tent camping in Moab, UT. It was seriously fantastic and wasn’t even really roughing it, because though we had a tent, my parents had a trailer, which Gwen slept in. Every evening the kids received baths thanks to my dad’s portable 110 gallon water-tank and every day we ate amazing quantities of food and did some really fun activities.
Gwen however, was only marginally pleased with her accommodations. She spent the latter half of the week complaining about where she slept, stating loudly that she’d like to go home now, say she didn’t like *insert activity here*, that her toenail paint was chipping, that her hair was in her eyes, she’d like her feet rubbed, she had an owie, that it was raining….the list goes on.
Coming from such a tiny person, Greg and I couldn’t help but be a bit amused as we strongly encouraged her to buck up and enjoy the time. However, I think this is probably only the beginning. *Ominous thunder roll* I also think it’s probably a good thing we started this now, rather than in another year.
When we were packing up camp, Gwen quickly changed her attitude and became our biggest cheerleader, displaying an impressive show of concentration as she sang the ‘Keep Trying’ song from Yo Gabba Gabba. Greg packed the tent and loaded the car to the vocal abilities of Gwen, singing:

“Keep trying! Keep Trying!
Don’t give up, never give up!
Keep trying! Keep trying!
Don’t give up, never give up!
Don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t stop, don’t give up!”

Repeat a few hundred times and you get the general idea.
Greg took it in stride, as did I, and Gwen proved to be very helpful gathering smaller items around camp and chucking them into the car as fast as she could.
Greg drove through the night to get us home, so we spent Saturday mostly relaxing and Sunday I tried to sleep in. Gwen had climbed into bed with me around 6am, and miraculously slept until 8. We both woke up and Gwen asked if I could rub her feet. I said sure, and grabbed a chubby foot to massage. She sat in silence for a second then told me to stop. She stretched her foot out in front of her, wiggled her toes, and studied them for 30 seconds.

She then sighed deeply and said, “You should repaint my toes, the sand took away my pretty polish”.
The more I parent, the more I tend to side with nature rather than nurture.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Post

Little time for excuses. I must post when I can. I can say that when school is out the postings will be much quicker than this – but this is OK too.
The kids were both sick this weekend. Garrison has had RSV and Gwen had the stomach flu. I’d been home with Garrison for 4 days, only to get the call on Friday that Gwen was throwing up as I was packing Greg to fly out of town for a weekend with his brother. On my insistence, Greg left in spite of the kids being sick, and I was left at home with them. 6 solid days of very sick children.
I am amazed at how terrible and wonderful intensive times with my children can be. Their demands and whines stretch me to points where I am sure I must snap…and then I don’t … and I’m amazed.
Their demands and whines and exhausted little bodies wanting nothing more than comfort also create some of the best moments ever; as they curl up and sleep on or around me and I sit, not daring to move and wake them, listening to them breathe, stroking their heads, and doing absolutely nothing but perform admirably as a human pillow for a few hours. 
It is, in every sense, the best and worst of times.
This past week, as I ceaselessly cleaned noses and gave countless baths and rubbed Vicks on chests and feet and cleaned up vomit and diapers and sanitized and washed sheets was exhausting. It is only when they were newborns that I have been more tired.
But something was different. In all the discomfort there was growth too. Painful, excruciating growth. Gwen and I had conversations, she was articulate as she asked me to make her feel better. Garrison, rather than crawling all over the place begging to be put down, nestled happily in my arms and rested, fluffy head against my cheek.

And the bond of motherhood, which is all too often forged in fire, was strengthened. I am a harbor for my children, a place of safety, rest, and peace. A place where if they are not feeling well they can come to for some comfort. It is a hard-earned badge and when your children reach an age where they recognize it not just instinctually, but in a cognizant manner…. that is highly rewarding.
And so I return to daily life out of the forge and fires different.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A little self-confidence….

Not that I really struggle with that issue on a daily basis. At least not on the things most people (or perhaps only women?) do. I don’t think I’m fat, ugly, too tall or too short. Sometimes I wish my stomach was flatter than it is, but really, I am a confident person in my looks. Same with my attitude. I feel I make friends pretty easily and even though I don’t invest the time to have a ton of friends around me at all times…that’s been more a personal choice than a character flaw (though the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive). Self-confidence issues need not apply at my door. Humility is more difficult…

However, that is only for regular, day-to-day issues. Sometimes, I do doubt the validity of my opinion and nearly always believe that someone else probably has a better handle on the situation than me.  I’m an excellent bluffer, but if I don’t know the ins and outs of something, I have a real hard time owning it and making in mine in a discussion. Thus, we have meandered over to math. 

I am terrible at math. I try to learn, and study and fail over and over and over again. One summer, I took only a math class, I devoted 2-3 hours a night to homework, turned everything in, took notes, paid attention, stayed after class and worked with a tutor. I thought perhaps I just wasn’t applying myself previously. I needed this class to graduate with my Geographic Information Systems certificate. I had all the other classes but this one towards the requirement so I WORKED. I couldn’t fail, the stakes were too high!

And I failed. 

No certificate for me. I effectively attended college an entire extra semester to have it mean precisely nothing. It’s a rare occasion in life where my full energy devoted towards a project doesn’t get me what I want, but this was such a case. 

So you can imagine how nervous I was to learn that for my MBA, I needed not one, but two statistics classes. 

You can also understand my procrastination of such subjects to the very end. 

You can even probably empathize when I tell you I had a full-scale panic attack when I realized the professor who was teaching my statistics THIS semester was the same one who nearly killed me with homework in my macroeconomics class LAST semester. 

In a word, I have felt doomed for a while thinking about Spring and Summer 2011. 

But over the past 2 weeks something curious has happened. I, falling upon the homework like a Roman soldier who has been disgraced falls upon his sword, have worked with an air of futility. Each problem I figured out was happenstance, each answer correct was luck. 

Until it began to be a bit of a pattern. 

I was doing math. Statistics really, which make a surprising amount of sense. 

Not only that, but I was getting the vast majority of answers correct!

My confidence started blooming. Last night, as I finished up another 10 problems I actually somewhat enjoyed the work. And THEN imagine my surprise when I discovered I was supposed to be using some software which would do most of the hard work for me!!!

Heavens. It’s just too good to be true. 

I really think it’s due to the nature of statistics. I’m  not having to deal with theories or many equations, I am just applying common sense to a lot of data. But I also wouldn’t chalk it all up to that. Somewhere along the way I actually think I’ve become a little more analytical, have a tendency to see problems in different ways than I used to and have learned not to just throw down the pencil the instant a few numbers cross my page. 

And that, as they say, is good news indeed.