Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just V, Etsy Announcement

Today, the house is calm. Just the five of us. Well, four, since Fritz is already at work. It feels magical to be just us again.



A couple of you have asked about the link to my Etsy store. Yup, I've opened an Etsy store. I'm having so much fun making things! I have no business plan, but an insatiable desire to create. I'd be honored if you checked it out and tell me what you think. I have little idea where I'm going with this. Maybe you can give me some tips? It just feels so good to be creating....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Direction

As the summer vacation comes to a close, I'm feeling quite overloaded.

Relative to last summer, I think I did a great job with the kids and their schedules. The pacing felt right; nothing dragged too much; I'm even looking forward to the last week of vacation with the kids and not in a desperate kind of way.

However, on a personal level, I'm pretty angry and resentful. The predominant theme of the summer seemed to be one in which I felt constantly taken advantage of. Two adages immediately come to mind each time I mutter "taken advantage of" to myself. The first one is, nobody takes advantage of you without your permission, and the second one is, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Leaving aside the fact that an adage is just an adage (not any sort of truth) I've spent a lot of time the last week or two thinking about how I got myself into this mess, and how I can avoid it in the future.

As life goes, I'm really, really ready for change. I've been doing this little kids and babies gig for SEVEN years, and I feel like I have 4ish more years to go. I think it is totally fair to be tired of it. Have you ever read those statistics where the average American changes jobs every 5 years or something like that? (I bet Germans don't change jobs that often, but whatever, I'm American.) Hey, maybe I'm just, you know, really part of this culture, and it's ingrained in me without my explicit permission, and NO WONDER I feel like I need a new gig.

Well, I think my frustration with all the little kid baby stuff led me to take some risks that I maybe should not have taken. I let myself be convinced that my commitment would be worthwhile. And unfortunately, I think other people had their own personal agenda which they thought would (could?) complement what I needed. So, see? It felt like a matter of nothing ventured, nothing gained. I thought I could take the risk and maybe it would change the situation. And I really, really wanted change. My judgement was clouded by my need for change.  But...no. Positive synergy was not what happened. Instead, I was over-committed. Chaos accelerated and I born the brunt of the situation many, many times over in the last 10 weeks.

I have always liked the adage that nobody takes advantage of you without your permission, because it suggests that I am the agent of change in my life. I've never liked to think of myself as a victim; I'd much rather believe that I am in control of me, whatever that might mean. Perhaps: I took some risks, I failed, I have nobody to blame but myself. Of course, that's not entirely true, but at least it gets me thinking about what I need to do differently in the future.

1) I need to reinvest in my decision to be a stay at home parent. It was not (continues not to be) an easy decision. But it was conscientious; it was based on specific principles and values. Every now and then I find myself needing a little reminder since the motivation lies outside of conventional wisdom and the predominant cultural values.

2) Time for our houseguest visits to wrap up. Maybe for quite a while. I've written several unpublished posts on this over the course of the summer on this topic. Basically, times are changing here at the Wyse home; what worked two years ago doesn't work anymore. The guest room will be closing.

3) Specific investment of my time. I need to do start doing more of the things that I want to do, and less of the things that other people think I should do. With three little kids, there is so, so little time for my own pursuits. I must start saying no to the requests of other adults, who somehow think that I'm available just because my workday doesn't start at 8 am and end at 6:00pm. I've got some stuff I want to do: I'm prioritizing MY stuff. Strangely, with three kids, this is more difficult than ever, but also more necessary. For my sanity.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Exchange

We're entering the final stretch of summer vacation now. The boys have returned from their Rhode Island trip, camps are back in swing, AND... we have an exchange student visiting us for the next 3 weeks!

Quite a few of my friends, who know I'm feeling a little crazy lately, have asked me how this came to be. As in, um, really? Another person for you to keep track of? Is that a good idea? I really don't know. Fritz and I discovered (just last week) that we have different stories about how it came to be that we would host a 17 year old boy from Germany. In my version, Fritz was the instigator. In Fritz's version, I was the instigator. Hmmm.

We had an exchange student when Mattias was about 6 months old, four years ago. It was kind of refreshing, in the sense that she was at a really different stage of life. Having her around jolted me out of the baby world and gave me a chance to live (sort of) vicariously through her. I'm not sure that this experience will be the same. I'm at a different stage of life than I was 4 years ago. Also, it was a she and now it's a he. What's he going to do? How bored will he be? Didn't I just post about how hard it is keep kids with a SIX year spread happy? What about when the spread is SIXTEEN years?

I was trying to calm myself down this morning by thinking about how teenage boys can be helpful, right? I mean, BOYS ARE FINE. I have a husband! I have sons! I have brothers! Yes, right: I grew up in a house with boys! No big deal! Then it occurred to me that when my brothers were 17 years old, I wasn't living at home anymore. So maybe I don't know 17 year old boys, GULP.

I'm sure it will be fine. RIGHT?!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dialect

Mattias came down with strep throat while he was visiting my parents in Rhode Island. Before we knew it was strep – but while it was looking kind of streppy – my mother called to get treatment information. I ran her through our pre-strep protocol. (Unfortunately, we have one. Fortunately, we haven't had to use it for several months.)

After I got off the phone, Fritz commented on how my language had changed while I talked to my mother. "I had no idea what you were talking about, " Fritz said. Most notably, I had used brand names rather than generic names to talk about medication. A similar conversation between Fritz and I would have used generic names.

It's interesting the way that language can change depending on the context. Our household is an extreme example, with two different languages (English and German) being spoken. But it doesn't take entirely different languages to constitute a change in the language we use. I think we all alter our language based on the context and the people. Fritz can become almost indecipherable to me (even though I speak German) when he is around his family and slips into their own set of dialectic preferences.

Recently there was this quiz in the New York Times that maps your own personal use of American English dialects (and accents, I'd say) graphically on a map of the US. (It's super cool, you should try it.) Both Fritz and I did the quiz. I really wondered where the map would place me, since I have lived all over the US. Fritz has also lived in vastly different parts of the US; and he's not a native speaker; AND he learned British English in school. In terms of places where we've ACTUALLY lived, both our dialect maps had strong strong similarities with Colorado even though neither of us are from Colorado and we have only lived here 5 years. Then I took the quiz several more times and discovered it changes depending on how you answer the questions AND that I could manipulate the outcome predictably if I tried.

We're language chameleons, I suppose.


I added stars to show where I've actually lived.
 The city names in the Mid Atlantic States are supposedly
the places to which my dialect is most similar (but I never lived in any of them).


It makes me wonder how much I am subconsciously changing my language (or dialect) in my daily interactions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dialing

The Denver Public Library has a phone number for kids which you can call and listen to a story. They have stories for kids of different ages at different extensions. It changes weekly. There's something sweetly retro about it.



It actually reminds me of when I was Noah's age and I discovered the Time and Temperature Phone Number. I'm not sure if every town had one, but in my hometown, you could call a number and a machine told the exact time and temperature. I thought it was great. I must have called that number hundreds of times. I don't actually remember the temperature part so much. But I do remember this:

"At the sound of the beep, the time will be 8:01 am. BEEP."