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General (goals/house/family) roundup and welcome!

February 15, 2011
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Hello readers!

So far, I’m certain that six of you exist and I know just who you are.  I write for that general audience, and for myself, mostly myself, because I assume you are interested in what I’m doing.  I mean, it’s sort of like having a conversation with a few close friends- I edit to meet the understanding of that group and its members, and the rest is whatever.

In an effort to be less self-important in some ways (and more so in others, obviously, but we’ll leave that to another post), I’ve terminated my Facebook activity, and encouraged my friends to find my musings and goings-on here.  What I’m trying to say is, let me know if you have no idea what I’m talking about.  I’d like to explore writing in a more accessible way.   Please interact with me, frequently, and let me know what’s going on in your lives, too.  I want this to replace Facebook in a positive way with a few choice friends, and I think this can be a safer, warmer, nicer, more fun place for us to do that, if you like.

Oh my goodness, I am so conceited.  Let me just stop right there.

*****

Here’s what’s happening on East Street…

I have a few January totals to report.

  • My $1.60 batch of homemade laundry soap yielded enough for 20 large loads of moderately soiled clothing.  I have to admit, it wasn’t too effective on the tough, caked on stuff, but it really did a great job on anything from light to heavy-medium (or medium-heavy).  I always wash on the super load setting-  that is, I always fill the washer to capacity, so maybe with a lighter load, it might do even better.  Either way, I paid $.08 a load, verses $.26 a load, and that feels great!  I live for saving $3.06 a month!
  • In January, Irene watched 35 hours of television.  This is not counting family movie nights.  Looking at that total it still feels like waaay too much, a total waste of time.  But it evens out to about an hour and fifteen minutes a day.  My goal is to have the television on fewer than five hours a week, and I think we can get it down to that this Spring.  We won’t have time to sit in front of the tv when we are walking to the garden and playing in the back yard.  I guess for winter, it’s an okay number, and it’s still way better than the three to five hours a day she got when I was working.  I might need to spend some time rethinking these goals, or at least re-imagining what they include.  I mean, is there a different weight for so-called educational programs?  What about for stuff the whole family likes watching together?
  • The garden is researched and planned.  I’m waiting for some seed catalogs to arrive in the mail so I can do my seed shopping.  My earliest inside-start date is March 19, so I still have some time.
  • Weekly chores are going great; it’s been easy to stick to the schedule (today was bathrooms/trash), especially if I do my weekly chore first thing in the morning.  If it’s an upstairs chore, it’s been especially great to get it out of the way and then get down to the kitchen.  The only bad thing has been laundry- I have piles of clean clothes because, of all the chores I do every day, putting away clean clothes is by far my least favorite and I avoid it at all costs.  It’s pathetic.
  • A previously unpublished goal of mine is to write at least four letters a month.  My friend Kristin doesn’t email or text, and so writing is the most effective way to keep in touch with her.  She’s also a busy mom, with several jobs and responsibilities, so catching her on the phone is unlikely.  We’ve been pen pals for several years, but now I finally have time to keep up a  regular correspondence.  A close friend of mine recently lost her mother, Patty, and in a very beautiful, funny and moving obituary, it was mentioned that Patty kept up with several long-distance friendships; I thought that was a wonderful thing to read about someone.  I hope I can be that kind of friend to the ones I love through letters.  Anyway, since January,  I’ve written three letters- well on my way to the four-letter goal.

Other things are happening, too, of course.  Judah is moments away from taking his first step.  Irene is putting herself to sleep at night (sometime soon I’ll write about the long-goodbye to family bed), and times are nice.  It’s warm at our house, peaceful.  We all seem happy and anxious, just waiting for Spring.

****

Just one more thing.  My husband knows me well: for Valentine’s, he brought me silk flowers from the props shop and a handmade card.  Zero dollars, a million kilowatts of love.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 4:22 PM

    “million kilowatts” … i love that 🙂

    1. my least favorite part of doing the laundry is folding and putting away. is it because it’s the *last* step and i’m just procrastinating? or because folding is tedious? or because of the obligation to put everything in the right place? i don’t know. but i was so proud of myself when i began my yesterday by putting away all my clean clothes. it was an actual accomplishment.

    2. tv time: i always thought of it this way, having been raised with some level of television: there *is* such a thing as education television (just like there’s such a thing as a terrible teacher … “class” doesn’t automatically mean “good,” “tv” doesn’t automatically mean “bad”). the most important thing i took away from my childhood was my mom and/or dad being right there for much of my tv-watching, ready to answer my questions or to add their own remarks to something they thought fell short of a full/realistic explanation. treated correctly, i think tv can be a fine tool for education, as long as it remains a tool, used *actively* by a person.

    two cents. 🙂

  2. February 15, 2011 4:25 PM

    oh, and for my own education as a non-mommy: what allowed you to have more control over irene’s tv-watching once you stopped going to a job? i would love to hear more about that …

  3. February 15, 2011 5:11 PM

    Thanks Lindsay!

    I actually like folding, and I think I kind of purposely save it up so that I can do a big pile while watching The Cosby Show or something. It makes it seem like I’m *not* just vegging in front of the tv. Upon deeper reflection, this tactic is obviously counterintuitive to *not* having to put a giant pile away every time. Looks like I’m going to have to choose.

    And as for tv: I totally agree that tv has its place, and it’s a valuable place at that. But, I generally don’t do what you describe. I totally see tv as a babysitter. It’s sorta bad, but Irene is 1. watching all pre-approved stuff. It’s not like she’s watching the Kardashians, or even un-seen episodes of Sesame Street. I’ve seen all the stuff she’s watching before and 2. so active when she’s not watching tv, that plopping her in front of the tv for an hour or two is one way I get anything done on non-preschool days. The reason I want to limit tv is to allow tv to be total downtime for Irene, and to limit the total downtime she has throughout the day. I think it’s okay to totally relax in front of the tv, but you can only totally relax so much in one day. Active, engaged kids = good sleepers, good eaters, good interactors. Right?

    Irene watched more tv when I worked because, most days, she was at my grandparents house where she pretty much got whatever she asked for, and, you know, she asked for it a lot, and also because I frequently didn’t take the time to think of other creative ways to keep her entertained while I cooked dinner, and that took up a lot of our evening, so she would sometimes be watching tv from the time we got home, around 5:30, until nearly 7, and then, on nights that Richie worked, sometimes while I was putting Judah to bed, too.

    Now I have a whole line of fun things to offer her in case of the need to occupy her, but I also can appreciate how sometimes, nothing but 20 minutes of your favorite show can distract you from your troubles, even if you are four.

    🙂

  4. February 15, 2011 6:03 PM

    I also meant to say, I think the word “educational” applies to a whole range of tv shows. The reason I referred to it as “so-called” is that, from my point of view, a show that demonstrates strong writing, acting, animating, imagination, etc… is just as educational as a show that teaches the alphabet or explains how to deal with conflict and cooperate, and usually, so often, all that value is stacked into the same show. So I’m lumping together all the stuff we love like Mustard Pancakes, Fraggle Rock, Arthur, Angelina Ballerina, The Cosby Show, Rugrats, They Might Be Giants, Wonder Pets, and tons of other great stuff. Irene is also getting into really great movies like the filmed version of Jilie Taymor’s The Magic Flute, and she generally has okay to pretty good taste.

    It’s been a long time since we’ve been the type of television viewer Irene is; she can spend the whole day watching the exact same episode of Arthur on repeat. Little kids are like that. They want the same bedtime story every night and the same food in their lunchbox every day!

    That being said, I only select things for Irene to watch that meet my approval as one of those aforementioned types of educational, so it really is about time spent. I mean, we’re talking about a person who possesses the ability to choose and select and turn on a limited variety of programming, and she never has access to commercials or the internet, without strict supervision. I’m just thinking, how much is too much of/what is the best possible use of time spent in front of the moving image, and not *moving*?

  5. February 16, 2011 6:52 AM

    i love hearing about this behind-the-scenes work of parenting, down to tv-time. and you and i are on the same page about the quality of the product, it sounds like.

    so the question left *is* how much is too much, if some much is too much at all? and there, i bow out of the conversation and turn my ears up, because not only am i not a mom yet, i’m not irene’s mama.

    perhaps there’s some scientific research to unearth that says at exactly what point screen time, in fact, starts turning our brains to mush…

    ….

    ugh, i can’t help myself. i starting talking about science and then i have all these pscycho-science-y questions pop up in my brain:

    >> have you observed a point at which tv-time makes irene anxious or lethargic, or had any such affect on her nature?
    >> have you observed an amount of tv-time that seems to shift what irene is interested in doing the rest of the day? say, does she become *less* interested in playing outside, hearing stories, interacting positively with judah?
    >> does x amount of tv invariably result in less sleep time?

    that is all.

    • February 16, 2011 9:40 AM

      All good questions! TV at night is never really a good idea, mostly because if she is prone to have a tantrum, it’s when she’s tired. I try to stop it at least an hour before bed, but usually she used up all of her tv time in the day anyway, especially now that we are (mostly) housebound. Irene sometimes plays and sings and putzes around while the tv is on, and sometimes she’s glued to it. I find those times she’s so engrossed that she can’t even hear me talking are the times, obviously, that it’s harder to pry her away. Yes, some days, Irene is just not interested in playing by herself or sitting quietly and reading. Those are the days she’s OBSESSED with tv. I’ve removed tv as a reward for anything, and when she redeems her pogs for tv time, I try to really downplay it so she won’t think of it as the biggest treat in town. I also started making one pog redeemable for one “half-hour” program, which usually translates to about 22 minutes, instead of for thirty minutes.. Over the past few months we’ve really been experimenting with other “quiet-time” activities, like looking at animal books, telling a story to Judah or to herself, finger puppets, looking out the window and observing. Sometimes segueing from one of these activities to tv lessens the obsession.

      I think that Irene’s limit is no more than two hours a day at the very very VERY most and it absolutely cannot be continuous. Otherwise, I have a crazed zombie on my hands. Irene gets 6 pogs every morning (4 if she doesn’t sleep in her own bed alone all night, the reasoning being that if we are all tired, we can’t concentrate on computer games- kinda a little reward still built in there, but it’s all a compromise) and can redeem them for tv or computer time, so it has been evening out to about 1.25 hours of computer games and 1.25 hours of tv, and her tantrums have been lessening. The kitchen timer lets her know when computer time is over, and I don’t even have to say anything. She just hears the beep, turns off the monitor and speaker, and gets up to go play. So that’s a win! Actually, the overall tv reduction process has been going pretty okay, and, like I said, I expect it to be a lot better in the summer.

      Love you, Lindsay. You make me feel good!

  6. Shelley permalink
    February 16, 2011 7:14 PM

    Wow. I don’t even know what to say re: this comment chain. I am so much less thoughtful than you two! You’ve put so much consideration into the TV issue. Impressive. Makes me think about how many rawhides I give my dog so he’ll leave me alone when I’m tired at the end of the day. 🙂 My mom regulated my TV content, but I don’t remember so much about the time. I was always reading from the time I can remember, but I’m sure I saw my share of Sesame Street before reading came along!

    • February 16, 2011 7:22 PM

      Oh, Shelley! I’m really not all that thoughtful- I’m just really into tallies, lists, statistics, and behavior. I mean, I’m not trying to parent Irene within an inch of her life; I’m just interested in the results that little differences in her routine have on her behavior, and therefore my experience. I’m not really fond of dealing with cranky 4 year olds! The truth is, Irene is a wonderful kid, and she was when she watched 4/5 hours a day. But I want to enjoy her childhood, too, so I constantly try to think of ways to improve it for the both of us. Soon enough she’ll be choosing her book over hanging out with me!

  7. Mindy permalink
    February 18, 2011 7:47 PM

    I am here, I am reading! can respond with one hand only, but LOTS of love

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