Friday, March 28, 2008

Eggistentialism

I miss my husband. Lately we're just passing ships. He's been so busy taking additional courses for the life-suck also known as NCLB. I've bitched about it before. I'll bitch about it some more before it's all over I'm sure.

I've been busy keeping our toddler entertained or maybe it's the other way around. I love being with my little guy, don't get me wrong, but when I get the opportunity to go on a house call or do some freelance work, I jump at it. I neeeeeed to get awaaaaaay. STEP AWAY from THE CHILD. I need to go away where I can get the friggin Doodlebops songs out of my head!

I love to get in the car — just GET IN THE CAR, close the door, put my seatbelt on and drive off.


It's a nice change from: check the diaper bag to be sure it's packed and stocked with diapers, snacks that are something different than the previously disintegrating cheerios, cereal bits and crackers and oh gawd how long has this water been in this cup? Are those sea monkeys floating around in there? Lucian — bring me your shoes, we have to goooow — no, those don't fit you anymore — oh jeeze, how do you grow such huge rocks in your nose, that's just disgusting, could you please work on a diamond next time? Thanks. Come on! Let me brush your hair, it looks like birds abandoned their nest on your head. When did Flock of Seagulls get back together? What's that smell? Oh MAN! I just changed you 5 minutes ago and NOW the apple juice decides to work it's magic after 2 days? Ugh, come on, let's go, thank God these shoes don't have laces. Great, the diaper pail is full. Come on, yes you can help put the key in the lock, ok, ya know what sweetie, let me help you with that, yes, you must wear your sunglasses, ok you can close the gate, Thank you, such a big helper! (such a big, slow, methodical little perfectionist of a helper) No, come over to this side of the car, this is your door. Ugh! You're a piece of lead! Ok, this clips in here and that clicks and then this side clicks, errr, uh, ok, is that tight enough? Good. Here's your book, kiss kiss. Off we go! Yay! Car go vrooom vrooom! (tires go smokey smokey) (hah, in my dreams)

I've been taking on some more house calls lately because the snow birds are here. I like to take advantage of this opportunity to make some extra money for us since we plan on traveling out east this summer. I also just picked up some new clients since my evening class size more than doubled this year. It has been really really nice and I've made so many new friends so for that I am extremely grateful and happy. I just wish there was more freedom to do it more and make myself even more available. Needless to say, all this business in our lives has created a bit of a

divide

between the Mr. and I.

Lucky for us, we're soul mates so we're handling it as best we can.

Sometimes it helps to be a little creative.

We usually always keep hard-boiled eggs on hand because they make a good snack here and there. We usually hard boil half of the dozen eggs in a carton, so to keep the hard boiled eggs differentiated from the fresh, we always draw a little 'H' on the tops of all the eggs with a marker before putting them back into the egg carton.

I don't know what made me think to do this, but I started writing little love notes and messages on the bottoms of the eggs as I was marking them with an 'H.' I enjoy the opportunity now and again to use my fancy handwriting to pen an 'I love you' or our initials or 'You're the Best' and then put them back into the carton message side down. Hubby enjoys getting his little love notes this way — it's just something different and especially when he takes one off to school with his lunch for the day.

This past week, he decided to play along. I was delighted to find a half dozen hard-boiled eggs with little love notes scribbled on them. I was so proud of myself because I even resisted the urge to pick up each one and read it! Instead, I waited each day and looked forward to the next message.

Well, I just wanted to share that little story. I don't know if anyone else has ever done this, but I encourage you to try it sometime. It's fun and simple — low tech even! I think it would be fun for your kids' lunches too. Handwritten notes are always nice no matter what form. Once in a while I even put a post-it note on the door knob with a love note on it before going to bed so he sees it when he leaves in the morning.

I would like to know if you have any other creative ideas for putting a little somethin' somethin' in your marriage or relationship.

Share your ideas here in the comments. I'd love to hear about it and maybe try something new out on the Hubby. (or, since he reads my blog sometime, maybe a suggestion for him to try! Hey! Help me out here!!)

Who needs Valentines Day or Easter to enjoy some romantic egg notes?!

If you decide to participate, take pictures, email me or comment and tell me your story! Maybe you're looking for a way to propose to your girlfriend? Need to tell your husband you're pregnant? Write it out on the bottom of an egg. Just put the word "fertilized" on it and then ask him to go make you an egg sandwich or something. I would do this myself, except we already have a signal to let my husband know if I'm pregnant. I'll put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal box in the fridge. That's how we figured it out the first time!

Have Fun! Write notes!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hand-Made Mac Tips

[Edit: I just updated this post and re-embedded a shortened version of the previous video. At 9 mins., I thought it was a little too long so I decided to shorten it by making the slides go a little faster. This one is now just under 5 minutes. I hope you like this version better. If you like a slower presentation, you can still find the original here.]

How to Toddler-Proof Your Mac

This is the first presentation in a series I'd like to call "Hand-Made Mac Tips."
This is a tutorial slide show video that shows you how to create and configure a separate user on a Mac which will protect your personal data from being damaged by curious little fingers. The presentation is just under 5 minutes long and guides you through a custom user account setup and configuration from start to finish. The slides move quickly so you may need watch it a second time and pause where necessary.




Intended Audience:
parents, educators, early childhood administrators
Difficulty: moderate, time consuming (but well-worth it!)
Goal: After following these instructions, you will have a separate child-proof* user account on your Mac that you can switch to instantly in 2 clicks. You can then allow your young child (kindergarten and earlier) to explore your computer and use it as an educational tool without disrupting any of your important files. Please note that this new configuration will only help to protect your software. You still must work with the child to protect your hardware, i.e. monitor or laptop screen and keyboard.
Total Time: +/-20 minutes to watch video and follow along
What you will need: A Mac running OS 10.4 x 'Tiger,' some patience and understanding, toddler to test the configuration
Notes: Contact me via comments with any questions. I realize the text may be hard to read, so I recommend viewing the video via the YouTube site where you can enlarge it to full screen. There is no sound, just text and video. (This is my second attempt at making one of these.)
Additional Resources: Please visit www.themacmommy.com and check out my learning links section where you can find lots of great references to educational software for young children from all over the web. There are even some Windows-friendly links as well!

Please let me know what you think of this presentation and if you would like to see more like it. This is my first tutorial using this slide show method and I'm currently exploring other methods and formats. Any suggestions and ideas would help me make this a better resource.

I hope you find this useful. Any questions or comments, just ask TheMacMommy :)

*Author assumes no responsibility for loss of data or damage. Be wise and supervise children while using the computer!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rebel With A Cause, Baby!

I am pleased to announce my very first blog comment give-away!
Leave a comment and win a prize!
Look at this cool t-shirt my kiddo is wearing!
Wanna know where I got it?
Tired of the same old pink and blue?
Make a sta
tement with something fun and new!
Launch the rebellion!
Click on the button below and che
ck out Rebel Ink Baby!
Choose from many witty designs for babies and toddlers.

Wanna send a message to a loved one?
Have something to say?
The rebellion has begun
in an extraordinary way!
Check out the many expressions at Rebel Ink Baby.
You can win your very own
Rebel Ink Baby Onesie
just by leaving a comment!

Here's the kiddo to show you your prize. Even he can't believe it!
It's shocking, but, yes, it's that easy!
Just enter a comment on my blog post here

and this adorable onesie and black pacifier can be yours!
The onesie has "100 percent orgasmically grown" pri
nted on the front.
Wait till you see where they print their logo!

C'mon, you know it's true! Why not just tell it like it is?!
Win it for a friend or use it for a baby shower gift.
Win it because maybe you've never won anything.
Win it because I said so! Enter a comment just to make me feel good.

Here are some other images of the items inside the b
ox pictured.

This contest will end on April 17th.
At that time,
I will pick a random
comment and ship the prize out
within 2 business days.


Enter this contest because it's way more fun than doing your taxes!

Be sure to leave me some way of contacting you.
I'll need to know who you are and where to ship your prize.
If you have your own blog, I can usually get your email address from your link
if you've set it up so you don't have to display your email address if you don't want to.
You can also leave a comment and then email me directly to be sure I have your contact information. My email is: themacmommy (at) gmail (dot com).
(Be nice to me, no spamming please!)
Put "Rebel Ink Baby Give-away" in the subject line so I'll know it's not a spammer.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I've Been Googled by Google

Did you know that it's someone's job at Google to spend time searching the web, i.e. 'googling' information posted about Google? Sounds like fun to me because I love to research. Well, someone was doing their job and found one of my blog posts interesting enough to contact me about it! How cool is that? I have to admit, it was very exciting to have received an email from someone who has "Google, Inc. Global Communications & Public Affairs" in their signature.

It's a good thing I check my junk mail folder regularly to see what it catches. I had to read the email twice because I thought it was spam at first. Then I realized, whoa! she really is talking to me! Cool! It turns out, Google is really interested and invested in learning about positive user experiences, so much so that they actually read blogs and contact people to talk to them. I just find that really really impressive. A year ago Yahoo! contacted me but it just wasn't the same. It wasn't a real person. It was a survey approach. That didn't go very far with me. Here's a secret: it's not going to go any further if M$ gets the deal.

She was particularly interested in my January review of Flickr vs Picasa. It seems like she's not alone as it's the most popular link referenced from my blog. I just find it amusing that so many people have taken an interest in it — for which I am extremely grateful. I really enjoy reviewing products and giving my most honest opinions. I appreciate it when others do the same. To me, it's the best and most entertaining form of marketing there is. I like to make educated decisions before investing any time, energy and money into any product simply because my time, energy and money are all on the short list these days. I need and want to do more reviews and I have many in the works. (Looking forward to Spring Break here and maybe I can crank out some more soon.)

So, we exchanged some emails and arranged for a phone call and then chatted for some time about my user experiences with Google products. She seemed to be very impressed with what I described to her about how I use Google apps on a regular basis in my personal and professional life. I think it may have even been a little overwhelming for her because I use so many of Google's products, I could just ramble on and on about it. I've been boasting for sometime now about how much I love Picasa web albums, but that's not the only Google product I use. I told her some other stories about times when I've used other Google apps and it sounded like she was really interested in knowing more. She wanted to know if I would be a case study for Google apps. Of course, I agreed so I'm looking forward to that, whatever that means I'm not completely sure but it sounds like fun, so I'm game.

I've lost track of how many times I've used a Google app for something useful, but now I sound like a total Google commercial. So, let me clarify. I am a very busy, fun-loving, sleep-chasing, insomnia-powered Mom/Wife/Instructor/Technology Coordinator/Blogger/Webpage-Layer-Outer/Graphic Artist/Daydreamer/Geek/Chick who likes to take advantage of technology tools in my [cough] spare time [cough]. If that technology helps me solve a problem, is fun, useful, intuitive and free (or really really inexpensive), I will use it and love it and feed it and tell people about it any way I can. I will even go as far as to test it and put it through the ropes and share a review and or recommendation. It doesn't have to be Google, but it should work on a Mac (because that's how I roll) and should also be able to be accessed by my PC-using friends on the receiving product end of the service.

I have to say though, I've played with a lot of Google stuff and I think there are some really great products that are worth sharing my experiences in hopes that someone else can achieve the same positive user experience I have. For me, Google products are the benchmark I use to compare other (web) products against. Google happens to be my sandbox of choice and I like to share my toys so come on over and build a sandcastle with me. (Queue up the Air Supply or Styx soundtracks now.)

So, people from Google are watching with their googly eyes and it's really exciting and I wanted to share that little tidbit. It's been motivating so I'm going to work on doing some more reviews and tutorials to share on this blog and on my website. I'd like to see what you think about some of the toys I've found and how they relate to some everyday issues, so please leave some comments when you can. Stay tuned for some new posts in the near future and thanks for checking me out. I really appreciate having a little bit of an audience and knowing my reviews could help someone learn something about technology.

To be continued...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Logo Tweak

It's been bugging me for a while now, so I've decided to tweak my logo. I haven't yet ordered business cards and my website and blog is only beginning to get some traffic, so I figure now is the time. There was just something about the space in between the 'T' and the 'he' in the 'The' that I didn't like. Plus, The top of the 'T' kind of reminds me of a tree top. So, to keep with the whole apple, apple tree, apple seeds = learning symbolism (which also works nicely with Apple products for which I am a major cheerleader), I decided to make the top arm of the 'T' green to reflect that feeling. I also decided to extend the 'Y' at the end of Mommy to make it more prominent. Lately as I've been giving out my email address, the question I always get is a rather silly one "that's mommy with a 'Y', right?" Well, I suppose you could spell Mommy with 'IE' as in Mommie, but that's just awkward, isn't it? Stranger things have happened. The other reason I wanted to tweak the 'The' was to make it a little more prominent as well since it's very important that the article 'The' be recognized or else you'll get the wrong Mommy on the internet. (just plain old macmommy was already spoken for in various forms from screen names to email and web address, so that's why I chose to put The in front of it, not because I'm a conceited know it all. I know about as much as any other Mommy knows out there so, and Mommy knows best, so take that however you want to.)

So here are the results. I'm just going to update my blog and take some time to reflect on it before updating my website and Twitter pages. I want to see if it grows on me. (I think the seeds still need some refining.) I'm really not super crazy about using red and green either, but it just works so well with the contrast. Green is very techie and the deep red is passionate, warm and highly visible. The two colors together are organic looking which is such a contrast to the technology I use. It also works because it goes with my philosophy of uniting people with technology. Well, I hope the new logo will be liked by others even though it's me who has to live with it.

New Logo:Old Logo:


[Edit] I've decided to edit this post to add a few more details about the logo design just because I'm waiting for 200 photos to finish uploading and can't really work on the next project till they are done.

Another subject I want to note in this post is about the fonts I chose to use. 'The' and '.com' as well as the tagline are set in Bossa Nova Plain. Bossa Nova is a highly stylized font so I don't intend to use it for much else except for maybe an accent in type design on other pieces. 'MacMommy' is set using Tekton Pro Bold. I had considered other fonts for this like Chalkboard, Marker Felt and dare I say even Comic Sans.

I couldn't bring myself to use Comic Sans though because I have a thing against M$ and that is a M$ font. It just wouldn't be true to my Mac roots if I used it for my logo design. In my warped little mind, it feels almost sac religious to use it in any design when I'm discussing the Macintosh platform. The only reason I even considered it is because it's a very popular font among those in the teaching field. I do currently use Comic Sans as the text font on my website only because it's readily available on PC and Mac so the chances of having it load properly to view as I intended it are high. My intended target audience for that website is really parents and educators and so Comic Sans is a font their eye is accustomed to viewing when it relates to an educational resource. I don't have too much of a problem using it for body copy or even my email signature because it is cross-platform, but for my logo or something that I personally identify with, no, I won't use it.

There is a time and place for certain fonts. Different fonts are appropriate for different pieces of a design. Some function better than others and some flow with a theme better. Overall, readability is my main concern.

I decided to go with Tekton ultimately because it was a more technical looking font yet still has an organic feel to it. (Makes sense since it was originally created for use with architectural design.) The original Tekton family as well as the newer Adobe Tekton Pro release shows promise and expandability for using it with larger amounts of body copy or text since there are several weights available. I'm still experimenting with different fonts for larger amounts of text, so the colophon is still in development.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

First Screencast

Ok, so I have been messing around with this free app called Jing. Everyone knows I like free (mommy geek on a tight budget) otherwise I would love to use SnapzProX but I can't yet spare the 70 clams to purchase it. Plus I just want to practice my hand at this whole screencasting thing before committing to it. I teach classes using a projector and this method, so I thought why not record some video and create an archive for my students to sort through. So here is my very first screencast for your viewing enjoyment...or not.

Right now, I am messing around with this post because for some reason I can not intuitively figure out how to get the resolution scaled down. The video is way too large. Not to mention the file size is honkin huge. I tried tinkering with the code, but I have no clue what I'm doing in there. I tried changing some of the sizes but then the video container box got small but the rest of the video remained large. I'll keep investigating this.

I've tried creating several different versions on the same theme but I really don't like my voice. Well, my voice isn't horrible, but I have to work on the uhhhs and places where I screw up. Maybe I need to write a script or just practice a little more first. The other thing is that I'm using the built in microphone and so you can hear my fans running and my fingers hitting the keys. I discovered I'm a very heavy hitter when it comes to typing. So, I decided to forgo the whole sound thing and find a way to get instructions in there. Watch for yourself and see what you think.

This is not what I would pick for a final, but I wanted to at least start testing how posting this sort of thing to my blog might work out. I welcome any comments or feedback if anyone knows more about this stuff. I would loooove to learn how to do this better. It seems like a lot of fun and I really want to teach people how to do things visually.

[Edit] I ended up abandoning Jing for the time being to try out Screenflick. I really like it. I'll post more on it later but for now, I wanted to test it some more by replacing the prior Jing screencast with this Quicktime movie. Testing here to see if the code embeds the movie in a nicer size. I think the file size is larger though. Will work on reducing that but for now, I'm just embedding the code.

[Edit] I had to remove the embedded code because it made the page load way too slow. Clicking the link in the post title should go to the file where I uploaded it.


Keep a Living Thing Alive

I had an experience with my toddler a little while ago that I don't want to forget. Bear with me while I get my head around this.



Normally, I try to preserve a memento, like a flower, by placing it into wax paper and inserting it into the middle of my trusty old American Heritage Dictionary. Thinking about this task led me to contemplate how other experiences in life relate to this process. Even though I can not preserve this particular memory of an experience with my son in a physical and tangible form such as that of a pressed flower, the mental process is similar when I decide to write about a certain topic. The ultimate goal is still the preservation of youth and wisdom gained through hindsight.

Definitively Divine?
When it comes to preserving a memento, a dictionary makes a nice place to stash articles and for good flower pressings because there is so much weight in between the pages. My dictionary is no ordinary book, however. It is a special gift I received when I was a child and I never realized just how special it is until recently.

I'm not sure about traditions in other schools, but when I attended elementary school in the eighties, back in southeastern Pennsylvania, a little ceremony took place when you reached the end of the sixth grade. At this ceremony, you received a gift. It was an American Heritage Dictionary signed by all of your teachers past and present. Before school was over, this dictionary served as a sort of year book that got passed around and signed by all of your classmates as well. Of course, we also spent time giggling while trying to see how many bad words we could find in it. That was always a fun pastime. Getting your dictionary signed and signing your friends' dictionaries was a big deal at the tender age of twelve.

Receiving this gift of the dictionary was a bittersweet and significant event for us even though we could not fully comprehend it. The event represented the end of a large portion of our childhood while signaling the beginning of an exciting new phase: junior high. It was uncertain if you would keep the close friends you had while attending elementary school and the future was uncertain when it came to thinking about making new friends in a much larger fish bowl. We all knew it and we had mixed feelings about it. We could not quite grasp the concept at the time, but receiving this gift also meant not only that we were old enough to have our very own dictionary but also that we had now been given the responsibility for becoming resourceful on our own.

Pulling Teeth
It was really difficult for me to transition from elementary school to junior high because my school was like a big family to me. Parents knew each other and they knew the school staff. Everyone knew everyone. My Mom sold Avon to just about everyone from the lunch ladies to the School Secretary, Mrs. Wert. The Lunch Cashier I remember everyone else called her Mrs. So-in-So, but I knew her real name was Kitty. She wore lots of blue eyeshadow.

My elementary school was a very small school compared to others in the district. Only first through sixth grades were taught and there was only one teacher for each grade for all of the subjects. The only teachers who taught different subjects were the Music, Art and Gym teachers. Other memorable characters included the School Nurse, Librarian and Lunch Aides. Mrs. Amadio, one of the Lunch Ladies, pulled one of my loose teeth out with a sandwich baggie. I'll never forget that. "Mrs. Amadio, look at my loose tooth!" I said and then proceeded to proudly wiggle it for her. She said, "Oh, let me take a closer look" as she reached down onto my lunch tray and put her hand inside of a plastic sandwich baggie and gripped onto my tooth and pulled it out of my mouth. I just stood there in shock.
Don't ever show a loose tooth to an old Italian woman. She will pull it out without asking you!
I say this because my Mother's Godmother, Mrs. Giamo, was another woman who pulled out a loose tooth of mine without asking. It all happened so fast. All I remember was a huge wad of scented tissue stuffed into my mouth and seconds later she was holding my bicuspid.

I forgave them though. Years later, Mrs. Amadio did the alterations on my senior prom gown. MomMom, as we call her, she taught me how to apply lipstick the proper way. I always looked forward to visiting her when I was young because she would pull out one of those teeny, tiny little Avon lipstick samples and give me one; despite the fact that my Mother had hundreds of them at home. She just turned 94 I think. Happy Belated Birthday, MomMom.

I was fortunate enough to have attended the same school district from kindergarten on up through high school. If you asked me, I could tell you all of the names of all of the teachers I had for each of the grades one through six as well as a couple of my junior and senior classes. I could even tell you the name of the Elementary School Librarian – Mrs. Siler.

One other fond memory I have was when I was in the first grade, our teacher, Miss Nigreli, invited us all to her wedding. She was one of the most beautiful brides I have ever laid eyes on. Even more pretty than Laura when Luke and Laura got married on General Hospital. It was a huge and long Catholic wedding. I'll never forget watching her pray for children. She had so many children at her wedding (her whole first grade class and then some) and it left such an impression on me. (It's one of the reasons why I wanted to have many children at my own wedding.) After her wedding, she was called Mrs. Patrizi. I was so excited to learn about the difference between Miss and Mrs. and had fun relating this new concept to my dolls and the little boy named Eddie I had a crush on who lived up the street. I had many crushes on different boys throughout the years.

Sign of the Times
Of all of these childhood memories though, I still have to say that getting my sixth grade dictionary signed and crossing that threshold was one of the most profound. This is where the importance of the dictionary is prevalent for inside the index page of the back cover is a note and a signature penned by a boy named Josh. I had a huge crush on him during our sixth grade year. When he signed my dictionary, it meant the world to me. I used to look at it a lot after he signed it. I used to trace my fingertips over the pen outline and study the words he wrote, "To a very good freind I met this year! Good Luck! Josh" He wrote "very" which completely overshadowed the fact that he misspelled 'friend.' The adjective very gave me hope that maybe he liked me too. Of course, junior high came and we went our separate ways and made new friends and discovered new crushes while still keeping ties with our original sixth grade base of friends.

Unfortunately, nothing could have prepared me for what happened in the next few school years. Just three years after signing my sixth grade dictionary, Josh died. We were only fifteen (+/-). It was one of the most difficult things I have ever endured, seeing the lifeless body of a fellow classmate laying in a casket. A funeral for a young friend is no place to be. It's just not the natural order of things. I remember watching his face so intently waiting for the joke to be over. He never woke up. I remember all but passing out into another friend's arms as I turned away from the casket. (Thank you Chris Y. for being there to catch me and for hugging me so hard.)

The fact that Josh's signature is in the back of this book, I think, has something to do with the reason why I use this particular book to press funeral flowers. Ironically, as I think back now, there have been a couple of young people who's funeral flowers I've pressed in between the pages of that dictionary. I think until now, it's been a subconscious way of somehow preserving a piece of someone's youth even though it was lost to death. Death for me at least defines the end of someone's physical life but the beginning of an eternal memory and when a young person dies, they stay young forever. I can't help but thinking that some tiny part of Josh's youth and life, represented in his little note to me and signature, is frozen and preserved in time just like a pressed flower.

So, I guess this proves that my brain has some pretty amazing memory capacity after all. That and the fact that I am super good at digressing.

Insert classic soap opera fade back to present time short term memoryville complete with harp music.

Life in the Hands of a Toddler
Let me tell you a story about a little boy and a Mother's quest to keep a living thing alive. It was a nice and sunny day that lent itself to turning off the thermostat and leaving the front door open to let the sunshine in. We have a metal screen (security door) in front of our wooden front door. There is a gap in between the bottom of this door and the threshold. Sometimes little tiny beetles sneak up through this crack and sun themselves on the concrete step to our front door. This is not a wise thing to do when there is a curious toddler lurking about.

I was cleaning the house and doing some vacuuming when I noticed my son was fixated on something at the front door. I went over to investigate. He had discovered this little black beetle and was trying to play with it. So, I decided to stop what I was doing and help him discover his first bug.

It was strange at first because I have this built in bug fear reflex and I had to find a way to get over that for this moment because I wanted my son to explore the bug and learn about it. I wanted to embrace the moment and share the experience with him. (Plus I would rather he not eat the poor thing!) This meant picking it up myself and feeling it's tiny little legs wiggle against my fingerprints. I remember thinking to myself, here we go, this is what mothering a boy is all about. Bring on the mud pies and slimy frogs. This is now the beginning of life for a little boy.

I watched proudly at how fascinated my son had become with this tiny little living thing. It would crawl and scamper up and down his arm and then drop and trace the chubby contours of his little leg and thigh. Then, with his pincer grasp perfected, he would pick up the bug between his chubby little thumb and finger. I watched in horror and grimaced at the thought of him crushing his new little friend to death there by ending the game sooner than it had began. There was one problem, however. This particular bug was good at playing dead. The more the bug did not respond, the more my son was adamant for getting the bug to cooperate. He was pinching the bug harder and kept dropping it and getting frustrated with it.

One of the most awkward things for me as a Mother to deal with during this experience was knowing that death could very well be imminent for this little creature. All of the sudden I felt this enormous pressure to try and do the right thing. But, what was the right thing? Was it ok to just allow my son to explore this little bug even if it meant squishing it and killing it unknowingly? All of the sudden I realized that I might have to soon give my son his first lesson in what it means when a living thing dies. How was I going to explain this concept to a little person who has only been alive himself for 19 months?

Of course I understand that the ability to comprehend death of a living thing for my young son is way off in the future, but this whole experience with the bug made it such a reality for me. It dawned on me that I am now responsible for teaching my son about life and death. How will I deal with this when the time comes? Do I purposefully allow him to kill the bug to introduce the concept? I have no problem with killing a big, nasty, roach-looking water bug I find in the bathroom at 3 am. (Well, actually I do, I usually scream and make Hubby kill it if he's available.) So why would I have any qualms about letting him mishandle this little black beetle?

I guess it's because I see my young son as so pure and innocent and incapable of inflicting harm on anything. That is my definition of him right now, but I see that definition is changing. It is not something I can preserve in the pages of my own childhood dictionary. He is growing and learning and exploring. His destiny is to create his own definition of himself. I have to accept that and it is not easy. I can not always protect him from the world. I can only teach him to be gentle and respectful of living things including his own life. I have the obligation as a parent to teach him that life is short and sometimes fragile. It's my job to teach him to respect life no matter what form it comes in, but also to realize that some living things are a danger to us and do need to be killed in defense. It makes me ache inside and I can not grasp the reality of what the Mother of a soldier must deal with when her child goes off to war.

I'm not sure what will happen when he learns that certain kinds of bugs scare Mommy and make her shriek and then Daddy comes to the rescue and kills the scary bug. I don't yet know how we'll explain this or the concept of death to him. Maybe I will have to look up words in my trusty old dictionary. Maybe I will have to open the back page and ask Josh for help to explain that sometimes living things die and we're not sure why.

All I know is the gift my teachers gave to me over 2 decades ago is the gift that keeps on giving. I did not realize before now that this dictionary serves as not only as a reference for words and meaning, but also a place to preserve memories and a resource for wisdom as well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thank You, Captain Obvious

Oh yeah, why didn't we think of that?
I like it, I hope it works out. At least I have hope.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday More or Less

Sunday Weigh-In Day
Finally! The scale has budged! Let's get the ugly part over with though, shall we? I now weigh 191 lbs. That's down a couple of lbs. from the last post so that's a good thing. I still don't have the motivation to "exercise" like I was but I have been controlling my eating habits a little more than last time. I know what I need to do to lose weight but it's so frustrating that I just don't have the will-power to actually hunker down and just do it and stick to it. I know that if I got more sleep, I would lose weight. I know that if I ate more protein and fiber I would lose weight. I know if I cut out the sugar, I would lose weight. I know, I know, I friggin know so why don't I do it?
“You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know." — Oscar Wilde
Is food really that addicting? I know it's a dumb question and I'm smart enough to know the answer. I know it's all about lifestyle change. I hate lifestyle changes just as much as the next person. I wish I could embrace it better. I've changed my life so much in the past decade that it just kind of makes me feel exhausted to change yet one more thing. Can't I just be good enough as I am? No, because the way I am is not good. I'm unhealthy. I know I can be improved. I've just lost track of what version this is. Melissa 30 point 3 build 030208? It's like I keep reinventing myself. Maybe that's why I'm so friggin tired all the time. It's like my old struggle to quit smoking years ago. Well, at least I can actually type that. Wow. I don't think I ever did that before. I'm feeling brave now so I'll just go with it.

Smoke and Mirrors
I used to smoke. I used to smoke a lot. I smoked for almost 15 years. I struggled with that addiction for so long and tried to quit several times. I wasn't just a casual smoker either although I was a bit of a closet smoker. There are many people who know me that probably never knew I smoked or would be shocked to find out about it. Oops, oh well. Get over it. I'm trying to.
“I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then" — Lewis Carroll
It was something I was never proud of and tried my best to hide it as much as I could. I smoked menthol lights. There was even a time when I smoked regular old New Ports. Yuck. Well, thank God for interventions like getting pregnant. I hate to put it that way, but it's the truth. I so thought I was going to be one of those people who prepares for having a baby by losing weight and getting in shape and and changing for the better. But, it just wasn't me. After watching so many of my close friends struggle to conceive, I didn't want to focus so much on getting pregnant to the point of driving myself nuts with trying to conceive. I thought it was best to just go about life as normal and just assume that it wouldn't happen for a while. Well, I guess that plan worked because we got pregnant right away.

I absolutely hate to admit this, but I smoked for the first couple of weeks before I knew I was pregnant or sure. I was in denial for the longest time. Then when I did know, I still smoked very lightly and hated myself for it every day over a couple of weeks until I quit for good. I wish I could have just quit cold turkey, but I think the way I did do it was maybe better for the baby even though it all just sounds wrong. I basically cut down and weaned myself off of it gradually. I begged the OB for a prescription for one of those patch programs but she said that was worse for the baby than actually smoking. That blew my mind. They also said that while they strongly advised quitting was the best thing that going cold turkey might not be the best thing for me. I thought that was shocking advice as well, but it did make sense to me. I was afraid that if I just up and quit cold turkey that I might not stay quit. I had to do it for me, not just for the baby. So, I gradually cut down and basically went through a process until finally, I just said enough, I've done this for far too long, I had my fill, this is the last time and it's the first day of the rest of my life as a non-smoker. I haven't picked one up since.

It's a wonder my child is so healthy. I felt so guilty and worried about it in the beginning thinking I had damaged him. I'm just really thankful I had the sense to quit when I did and it was the best thing I ever did. Now my biggest fear is ever getting hooked on it again. I have serious doubts I would though because I'm so repulsed by it now. Some of my husband's family members smoke and if I even get a whiff of it, I try to grab Lucian and get him as far away from it as possible. I know I can't protect him from every danger out there, but right now, I just don't even like it that he sees someone smoking. I'm not sure what's the best way to deal with this, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

There are times when it's a little sketchy though. It's one of the reasons why I rarely drink anymore. I used to smoke and drink casually with my husband and family and there are times when I really miss it. When I met my husband and got married, I had already toned it down a lot from before. Beer, wine and cigarettes just went so good together for me way back when. Back when I was putting myself through college and partying with bikers on the weekends. I used to ride motorcycles too. I actually took a course, passed and got my motorcycle license. (I passed it with colors if you count the black and blues from dropping the bike a couple of times! Tip, don't put your keys in your pocket and then land on that side.) I even had a 750 Virago with a purple gas tank that my ex fixed up for me. I think I drove it 2 or 3 times. It was too much bike for me though. I laid it down in a gravel parking lot once and that wasn't fun so I decided not to pursue being the driver and stuck to being the passenger. Then that ended when my ex totaled the bike on his way to work. That was also the beginning of the end of that relationship too, so it was all for the best.

Quitting smoking also plays a part in my struggle to get out and be social. I have no problem wanting to go on play dates – that's safe, but going out with some girlfriends for a drink is another story. I'm afraid of going to bars because I'm afraid I'll loosen up too much and make poor decisions like smoking so I just avoid it right now. It's been over 2 years since I quit smoking, but I still don't think I'm ready to be around alcohol and smokers at a public bar. It's probably just better that way. I'll stick to my computer habit, thankyouverymuch.

Time May Change Me, But I Can't Trace Time
Anyhow, I did manage to get a little more shuteye here and there, just a tiny bit. Alright, maybe I didn't, but I think about sleeping a lot more now. Lucian is starting to sleep a little more solid now that he's in his own room. There are still a couple of nights where he is restless and I know as soon as I try to nod off, he'll be awake and won't go back to sleep. So, part of my sleeping problem is still that I anticipate him waking as I want to go to sleep.

I think I've also discovered why I have so much energy at night instead of during the day. Of course, duh, because when the boys go to sleep, that is the only time of the day when I can work without distraction! I can actually get some house cleaning done, fit in some freelancing, blogging and other "me time" activities that I just can not do when Dr. Destructo (Lucian) is awake and on the loose. I get to feeling trapped in my own home sometimes because I have to stop what I'm trying to do either for myself or the house or the hubby and focus on the child. I know I should be grateful and this time will not last, but sometimes it's just a real challenge because I have to separate myself from things I want to do for me and for us and put it off for another time. I've been struggling with time management lately. I just admire other people who can really pull it off. I guess I just have to stop being so hard on myself and just realize that Rome was not built in a day in just let things go a little more.

I have also kept up with my water intake and this past week I've really tried hard to ramp up on protein and fiber. It seems to have worked so I hope I can keep riding this positive reinforcement. I'm thinking that maybe instead of beating myself up so much about not exercising, maybe what I need to do it try to lose a couple more pounds just with diet control and then maybe that will enable me to get more motivated to exercise more. I'm staying pretty active as much as I can. I've done a few house calls and work at the clinic. We've had some running around to do this past week and it involved getting up and out of the house crazy early, so that has helped out a lot too.

As for food, having deli meat and hard boiled eggs at the ready to snack on is helping too I think. My biggest weakness is the carbs. I'm part Italian, so I was raised on carbs. We had pasta every Sunday and lots of bread so I'm just so programmed to want to eat that way all the time. It is a real struggle for me to resist carbs when I want to snack. So, I've been trying to eat more meat in the process. It's not easy since I'm really not a big meat eater. I'm not a vegetarian, but I could live without red meat if I had to. Although I do love roast beef. I also need to concentrate on eating more frequently. I go too far in between without eating and I'm sure that is not good for my metabolism.

I'm also trying to be much more conscientious about the kind of food we keep in the home. This is a little difficult because Hubby likes to spoil us with his cooking and some of it can involve some very rich foods that might taste really really great, but they just aren't good for our waistlines. Since he does most of the cooking (and the grocery shopping), this is going to be a challenge. He likes to indulge in things and enables my bad habits without realizing it. (Hubby, are you reading this? I l love you, but you spoil me rotten sometimes!) Just last week, I resisted the urge to get tater tots like we normally do. I replaced them with veggies in one meal I cooked. Hubby wasn't too happy about it. I don't know if I'm cut out for this tough love thing. I think I'm going to suck at it. We'll see.

I said so. There. hmmmmm

Booger Patrol is Slacking Off
I even finally managed to take Lucian to our first 'play date!' That was pretty cool. I met another Mom from Myspace, of all places, and we finally got to calling each other and I went to her house for the first time. We've been exchanging letters and notes since last year, but I just haven't gotten motivated to call her and finally she called me and we chatted for a while. Then I was out running errands and decided to call her and see if she wanted to get together. She invited us to her place. It was cool, she's very easy going and her kids are adorable. Her house is not immaculate, so that made me relax about my house not being so perfect either. I now feel more comfortable and might invite her and her kids out to my place soon. The only problem is I don't have any yard toys yet.

The other issue I have is with Lucian's demeanor. My child is sooo mellow compared to other kids. And, I happen to LIKE IT THAT WAY! This new friend's kids are really energetic and I'm not yet sure how to act around them. Lucian played with them just fine. He wasn't shy at all. I just fear that he will start to get more and more aggressive as I start introducing him to playing with more and more kids. I'll start wondering where he learned how to hit or pinch or bite. Not looking forward to that at all.

There is also the germ factor that I'm not looking forward to. Every kid has a runny nose or crusty boogers it seems. Now that he's older and I can't get him to sit still for the Booger Police like I used to, he's got crusty boogers too. Lovely. My kid is now a snot-nosed brat. I wish it weren't true, but those boogers, they just seem to find their way of creeping out and hanging on. Since he's not as attached to my body as he used to be, the boogers seem to win more and more.
Why oh why has someone not invented a giant hamster ball for toddlers? Why? Is it really that hard? I mean, there could be a little door to put food in there and maybe mount a sippy cup in there. C'mon? What's the hold up here people? Look! They make one for big people!

Well, as usual, I am rambling. I know I had so many other things I wanted to post about, but those thoughts have also gone somewhere to die in my brain only to swim around later when I'm trying to fall asleep.

I know I want to blog more about technology and some of the projects I'm working on, but I'm just not ready post without doing a little more research first. I suppose I will just try to dream about it for the time being and hope to get the focus and motivation I need to post it sooner than later. Maybe I need to get me one of those giant hamster balls to run around in!

I think I'll end here with one more quote I really like. It kind of says it all to me without being and excuse to slack off either. It helps me to forgive myself when I'm just trying to do the right thing.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." – Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I am My Own Mystery

My thought for the day. (The one that managed to get out of my brain and into my blog unlike so many other thoughts that just go to die somewhere I'll never know.)

Mothers who work in the field of technology are a mystery, even to those of us who do IT. We all wonder, how DO they do it? How do they FIND the time? It's not that Mothers who work in other fields aren't also a mystery. It's a wonder how all Mothers manage to fit it all in and still be there for husbands, kids, careers, friends, dogs, hamsters, blogs, death, and taxes — in no particular order.

There is something to be said for how publicized a Mommy Tech's life can be with the advent of blogs and other public steam vents. More than ever before, this brings some kind of hidden truth to the surface for all to see if only through a looking glass.

Finding time happens somewhere in between feeding your own passions which motivates you to MAKE the time to explore your curiosity. Never stop being curious. Keep building the mystery. TIME will find you.

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