Month: June 2004


Yesterday was a perfect day for being outside. The sky was overcast and breezy so the temperatures stayed comfortable all day long. Such days are rare in the middle of summer, so my kids and I took full advantage. I cut chores a little short so that we could all get out front and ride bikes.

Since I don’t actually have a bike and Patches is too young for one, we just played chalk and No Street. The other three kids had a blast. Even better, they met up with three kids from around the corner and abandoned bike riding for sword games.

The excitment moved into the backyard where I was able to relax my vigilance of Patches and actually do some gardening while the kids ran around yelling at the top of their lungs. My yard has been sadly neglected over the last 4 years and so I’m in the process of reclaiming it from the jungle of weeds. I’ve enlisted the aid of chemical weapons otherwise I’d lose the battle. I love the stuff that I can spray all over my flowerbeds and then the grass in them dies. Just the grass, the flowers thrive. Wonderful.

I wish there was stuff like that for Bindweed. As it is I’m stuck pulling the bindweed out by hand. It isn’t too hard except in the rosebed. Those stupid rose bushes keep attacking me, don’t they know I’m trying to help them? No. They’d rather stay smothered by bindweed I guess. One of them has already sacrificed its life for it’s principles. I’ll have to remove it with a shovel. Oh well. One less rose bush to tend.

The best part of the day came in the evening. The kids were over by the playset tying each other up with rope and I took a moment to just sit on the grass and look around my yard. It wasn’t the look of “what should I work on next” or “Gah THAT still needs done.” It was just a moment of serenity. I just sat there and enjoyed the fact that I have a yard. I enjoyed the greenness of it and the feel of the breeze. I even lay on my back and watched clouds pass in the sky. It has been far, far too long since I’ve done anything like that. It was a beautiful day.

Parenting by Video Game

This morning as I was doing some housework I entertained myself by listening to my children pretending to be Pokemon trainers. I started thinking about the significant role that video games have played in my children’s lives. I know that many parents are of the “video games are evil” school of thought. Link’s kindergarten teacher certainly was. She told me that video games have no value whatsoever and she repeatedly expressed concern over Link’s “obsession” with video games because he was constantly drawing Mario and Luigi on his school papers.

I don’t agree with Link’s teacher. Video games DO have value and more than just entertainment value. People laughingly make jokes about hand-eye co-ordination in reference to video games. But in truth that hand-eye co-ordination is critical in any number of daily tasks as is the fine motor co-ordination that is necessary to push lots of little buttons in odd combinations. Puzzle games can teach thinking skills and problem solving skills which have applications in all sorts of other endeavors. Video games frequently provide opportunities for parents to teach kids how to handle frustration and competition. Many games teach lessons about resource management, you have to manage your life levels and money and any number of other things. First Person Shooter games can teach how to react and respond to threats. Those are not skills I care for my children to have, so we don’t allow FPS games at our house. Video games actually involve children in thinking and responding, unlike television which induces a hypnotic state. I’m sure I’ve missed other things, but you get the point.

Perhaps all of the above is merely my way of reasoning away the guilt when I encourage video game play in order to get the kids out of my hair (every parent needs some sanity time). But I don’t really think so. I’ve seen the benefit my children get. The biggest benefit has been in their imaginary worlds. For every hour they spend tied to a screen playing a video game, they spend two or three away from the screen playing imaginary games involving Pokemon, or Mario Kart, or Kirby, or any number of other characters and worlds to which they’ve been introduced.

There are definitely times where I feel like they’ve been spending too much time playing video games. Then as a parent I need to step in and encourage other behaviors. I’ve discovered that video games tend to go in cycles. There will be a week or so where it seems like they do nothing else and then there will be a week where the games hardly get turned on at all.

I guess my point is that like almost any other experience which life offers, video games can be an extremely useful parenting tool if managed correctly.

Stepford Wives

I’ve been interested in the movie The Stepford Wives since I heard it was coming out. I figured that since I’m a stay at home wife and mother, I really wanted to know what was being portrayed and whether I agreed with it. So last night I got a babysitter, rounded up Liren, and we had a Girl’s Night Out to go see The Stepford Wives.

I really liked the movie. It was funny and surprising and the not-so-hidden end message was a good one. I was very relieved to find the ending different from the one in the book.

I was thoroughly amused by the over-the-top portrayal of the perfect hommaker. It’s probably needless to say, but that ain’t me. I try to keep a house that is sanitary, but it doesn’t gleam. In fact I frequently fail to reach the “sanitary” goal. As for always ‘looking my best’ I choose my clothing for comfort and for movability. Have you ever tried to catch a toddler while wearing heels? (I have, at church, not fun.) Hair fixing and make-up nearly never happen.

I actually did fix-up to go out last night and when Chalain came to drop off Liren they both said “wow, you look good.” The compliments were nice. It’s nice to know that if I choose to do something besides the mommy ponytail and bare face I can make it work. I actually kind of admire people who pay attention to good grooming daily. Not the people who are afraid to go out ungroomed, but the ones who can do both with aplomb and tend to do the “well-groomed” thing. I admire it, but hair curling and make-up applying still end up way down the priority list. Go figure.

To veer back onto topic, Do men want Stepford Wives? Well I suspect that there is an attraction there, otherwise this movie wouldn’t exist. The fantasy of someone beautiful who awaits your every whim has to be attractive. But I suspect it would eventually be boring. A Stepford Wife couldn’t change or grow. That’s what makes long-lasting marriages so wonderful, changing and growing together. Would Howard like it if I kept the house cleaner? Definitely. Would he like it if I paid more attention to grooming and fitness? Probably. Would he want me turned into a brainwashed bimbo? Nope. Not a chance. It’s one of the reasons I love him.

My doctor, my friend

Today I called the family doctor to make an appointment for one of my children. My statement “Hi this is Sandra Tayler” was met by the receptionist brightening her voice and saying “Oh Hi!” like I’m a friend she hasn’t seen for awhile. I’m trying to decide if this is a good thing.

On one hand it is definitely nice to feel like the people at the doctor’s office actually care who you are. It is nice to know all their names and have them know yours even when they aren’t staring at the appointment screen.

On the other hand it means I’ve actually been in the office frequently enough for them to recoginize me both by name and by sight and to know the names of all of my children without having to look them up.

The gripping hand is that I’ve been going to this same doctor for more than 6 years, the staff there has been pretty constant in all that time, and I was one of the practice’s first patients. This means it makes SENSE for them to feel like I’m an old friend. In a way, I am.

While all of the foregoing thought does manage to make me feel better about knowing the people in the doctor’s office so well, it completely fails to make me happy that I’m having to take a child to the doctor AGAIN.


In the car enroute from swim lessons to the grocery store, Link shouted with glee “A white buggy!” All the children then craned their necks to determine that in fact there was a white volkswagen beetle right in front of us. Link then observed “but it’s not a turbo” the excitement in our car waned a little. Yes it was a beetle, but it in no way compared to Daddy’s beetle, which is infinitely cooler because it not only is a turbo, but is actually Turbo Schlock. (Schlock being Howard’s custom plate)

We spot beetles all over town and they’re always greeted with joyful cries. My kids haven’t yet been introduced to the concept of “Slug bug” and so thus far we’ve skipped the hitting and resultant crying because “She hit too hard!” I wonder if Howard ever thinks about that as he drives through town in his cool green beetle. Does he ever contemplate that everywhere he goes children are yelling and hitting each other? Good thing it’s a turbo bug so he can out run all those tired and frustrated parents.

sleep schedules

Gleek napped today at the worst possible time. 6-8 pm. This thoroughly kills any chance I have to unwind after kids are asleep because by the time I get her to go to bed it will already be past my bedtime.

Patches isn’t helping either. His sleeping schedule is all messed up and I have no idea why. My slices of re-couperation time which I snatch during the spare moments of the day are heavily dependent on my children acting predictably. They didn’t today.

So I’m tired. Tireder than I have any right to be. I actually got enough sleep last night.

No, wait. I just mentally reviewed all the stuff I did today and I’ve decided that I’ve got every right to be tired.

Then I reviewed all the stuff I didn’t do today and figured out why I feel down.

Fortunately a good night’s sleep is all I need to repair my sense of well-being. Unfortunately sleep isn’t going to happen until I convince Gleek and Patches to do the same.

A snippet of day

Howard’s out of town. This means there are more journal entries because it is a simple way for me to keep him up to date on little stuff at home. So in that spirit:

Today I was having a post crisis discussion with Gleek trying to make sure that the appropriate lessons had been learned by the experience. The answer I was reaching for was “say I’m sorry.” The conversation ran like this:

Me: “So what do you need to do to make it right?”
Gleek: “No biting.”
Me: “That’s good. Anything else?”
Gleek: “No I hate you.”
Me: “Very good. Anything else you need to do?”
Gleek: “um. . . do my homework?”

When Toys Cry

Today I’m tending my niece-to-be (My brother is in the process of adopting her)I’ll call her Belle. Belle actually spent the night last night since it was their anniversery. Gleek and Belle were both delighted, they are best friends despite a year age difference. I was exhausted. Like many kids who have been through the foster-care system Belle has behavioral issues. Nothing serious, she just requires extremely stable parenting because she’s used to a parent who moves to her every whim. Nothing I can’t handle, but it is tiring.

But there is one thing that has been driving me nuts ever since Belle arrived. Gleek and Belle spend lots of time playing pretend games, and for whatever reason the toys they play with spend a lot of time crying and calling “Mom!” I keep responding to what sounds like a major crisis only to have two cheerful little girls look at me like I’m nuts. Then they tell me “Go away, we’re playing.”

Unfortunately because of the behavioral issues, I pretty much have to check every time. With Belle, intervention is always necessary to resolve conflicts, particularly if Belle’s conflict is with Gleek. Gleek responds to attack by fortifying her position and hauling out the big guns. The big guns may be yelling or hitting or even occasionally biting. In short when they play nice it’s great, when they fight I have to get there as fast as possible before there is blood.

So I’ve been spending today in a fairly high-vigilance state. Fortunately my brother will be coming to pick Belle up this afternoon. I like Belle. I love the way that Gleek and Belle play happily together for hours on end. I love seeing how happy Gleek is to have Belle here. I’m just tired and I wish the toys would stop crying.


Well I’ve achieved another parental rite of passage. Gleek swallowed a toy. Okay, it was a piece of a board game, but it is still a new experience for all involved. I’ve had kids eat crayons before, but those are at least semi-digestable. Fortunately the gamepiece in question was a small round glass stone, unlikely to get stuck or to cause damage on the way down.

Gleek was very concerned about the turn of events. Her eyes were about twice their normal size and she kept touching her throat as if she couldn’t quite believe it happened. Toys aren’t supposed to do that kind of thing. So now I have a lap-Gleek who needs reassurance that All Will Be Well.

What amazes me when I think about it is that I’ve been a parent for over nine years without once having a child swallow a toy. To read the warnings on toy boxes it seems as if toys are just lying in wait to jump down small throats. But if I’m inclined to feel smug about my former record I only have to remember that there are many many parents in the world who’ve never been to the emergency room to have objects removed from a child’s nose.