Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Silver bullets

Shortly after Noah was born in 2007, my Silicon Valley friends visited us in Munich.

As I pushed Noah in his stroller through the gardens at Schloss Nymphenburg, they showed me all the cool features on their fancy iPhones, which were, amazingly(!) receiving calls from California while mapping our walking route through the trees.

"But it doesn't refresh fast enough for mapping in the car," said Leslie, shaking her iPhone as though it might just work faster with a little physical encouragement.

Those iPhones: they felt like a definite step up from a clam shell! But I still couldn't really think of a good reason for ME to get one.

After Trixie was born in 2013, I confided to my friend, with a baby about the same age as Trixie, that I couldn't go anywhere in a car without the newborn Trixie screaming, screaming, screaming. I'd sing, I'd enlist the boys help, I'd cycle through songs on CDs, I'd (carefully!) break or accelerate a little faster, hoping to distract her. Nothing.

"Oh!" said my friend, "I just throw my iPhone in the baby seat. I have an app for white noise!"

My new sister-in-law is pregnant. She has an app for her phone telling her what foods are safe enough for her to eat. She uses it in restaurants. The waiters get a workout between the table and kitchen while they trace down the source of all the ingredients in the food. Some eggs apparently have significantly more toxins in them than others, you know.

I'm pretty sure that the precision of these concerns would simply NOT be possible without a smartphone.

A few weeks ago, I missed another important text from a friend regarding our children. And I felt (again!) the guilt of my technology aversion. Maybe it's time I finally got a smart phone rather than using this dumb phone. I'm ruining my friendships! This really has to change, it's time I grow up and get connected.

I've thought about buying myself a smart phone with my very modest earnings from my Etsy store this fall. But, I have to confess, I'm still not sure I can bring myself to do it. I'm not sure I really trust myself to put the damn thing down. And what if I stop singing to my kids because my smartphone really is a silver (or rose gold!) bullet?

Monday, October 19, 2015

I don't know how you do it.

Telling someone you "don't know how [they] do it" is sort of a compliment.

Sort of. 

But it's also a backhanded way of announcing, "You're doing it the hard way!" or, "I'm glad I'm not you."

It's the opposite of empathy. It's a public declaration that you don't really want to try to imagine another person's situation.

Personally, "I don't know how you do it" is one of those compliments that I'd like to never hear again.  In full disclosure, I will also admit that I've most certainly used this compliment before. I've probably used it right here on this very blog.

For this, I apologize.

I'm going to do my best to never let it pass my lips again.

Updated to add: I mean, it's not just the words that are bad - it's the sentiment behind it that I could improve upon, right?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Whose turn?

Trixie has been a hot mess of toddler independence lately. She wants to do everything herself and she's far more determined about it than either of her brothers were when they went through their toddler independence streaks. Trixie's independence streak includes everything from eating, to walking, to riding her bike, to picking up, to putting on clothes by herself. The putting on of clothes is probably the biggest area of contention right now. If she's not allowed to put on a sock or a shoe or a pair of pants on completely by herself (which she can BARELY do, by the way) watch out! If I even touch an article of clothing while she's doing it herself, she rips the clothing off and starts all over again. "My turn!" she yells. It's sort of funny - and yet horrible in slow, painful, drawn out way. I would have been really disturbed by this behavior if she was my first kid, but being my third, I think I'm a little more, "okay – whatever."

Well, I'm not completely "whatever" about it. We are working on it. This week, I convinced her to let me lay the clothes on the floor for her before she tries to put them on. This makes it somewhat easier for her, since we can at least 1) orient openings in the right approximate direction for limbs and 2) make sure that nothing is half way inside out before we begin. Excuse me, I mean, before she begins.

One of the surprises in her independence streak is the discovery of Noah's influence. For example, today we went out for a bike ride. Trixie wanted to ride her balance bike, because, of course, everyone else was riding their bike. I wanted Trixie to sit in the bike trailer. She's pretty fast on the balance bike, but we were planning to go a longer distance. And, well, she's not keep-up-with-her-brothers-on-real-bikes fast. Trixie and I went back and forth: she, insisting on her bike, me, using every parenting strategy I could think of to convince her to get in the bike trailer.

Finally, Noah stepped forward and said,

"Trixie, you want to ride in the bike trailer. It's much more fun than the balance bike."
She listened to him and then climbed into the bike trailer without further ado.

It wasn't that Noah said anything I hadn't already said. It was more like she didn't trust me. She needed to hear it from someone else. Like her brother. I was miffed. She's only two, and somehow, I'm already not cool enough to listen to? I'm glad that she will listen to someone, but.... And then a similar thing happened to Fritz when he had all three children at the museum.

I'm still processing the idea that our parenting strategies need to include the calculation that the kids might listen to each other better than they listen to us.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The weather turned (a bit) more fall-like this week. I'm not sure if I can credit the change in weather, or the cooler temperatures, but I suddenly feel like I have a lot more energy. I don't think I'm built for temperatures above 90 degrees. The 80s are sort of pushing it, too.

I finished a custom clown costume the other day. I think it turned out really cute! I took some photos before I shipped it off, and, well, I hope it is loved.

Fritz is starting to get grumpy about my "free" time being diverted. I mean, he talks a good, supportive talk, but I can see some pouting. It would be easy to get sort of self-righteous about having time to do The Stuff I Want to Do and brush off his unvocalized feelings. After all, how many years have I put prioritized him and the kids, often a high cost to myself? Many. It seems like an unhealthy perspective, however. And sometimes I think I have to be especially careful with my thoughts, lest they become more than just observations, but self-fulfilling prophecies as well.

Still. It's so easy for me to sink into a project, to make myself busy by obsessing over things. (Maybe that should be the definition of busy: "Putting things before people.") Either way, I'm slowing down, refocusing on my family. Although, I am trying to make some sheep masks for my mother... but I'm making them sloooowly, and then, I REALLY am going to stop making things for a while. Here's my prototype:

I don't know. This sheep mask is somehow not right. Maybe the whole face and ears need to be white? Maybe the ears look too much like mouse ears? Maybe I need to ditch the "eyelashes" that look nothing like eyelashes? (I was trying to make the sheep look sweeter, or something. I don't know.) Maybe I need lighter grey thread.

But, see? Here I am obsessing, over THINGS.... The truth is, designing anything is a lot of obsessing and trial and error and time-consumption. There's a reason that I haven't done it much in the last 8 years. The trick is figuring out how to allocate time going forward, so that it doesn't overwhelm the people around me but so that I get start doing a little bit of what I love.

I guess.