Monday, May 9, 2011

Fish Story

Fish stories are all the same and the size of the fish increases each time the story is told.

Well, in my fish story, I’m just going to put it out there right away that this fish was absolutely humongous. It was so big that it left two adults and two small children standing in complete awe and jaw-dropping confusion.

Flashback to the wonderful afternoon I had planned with the grandparents and my younger kids, Xavier and Yasmin, up to Apple Hill. At the ranch where we visited there is a pond where you can rent a pole and go fishing. There were a hundred red flags that went up for me from the moment Xavier asked Grandma if she would rent a pole for him (which of course she didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!”).

I Showered This Morning ... Now We're Going Fishing?

There were zero reasons why I would want to include fishing in the day’s events and a slew of reasons why not. First, I was looking and feeling great that day. I had plenty of rest the night before. I woke up and wasn’t rushed to do anything or go anywhere. I got to take time for myself to choose a cute outfit and put on eye makeup. Heck, I was even able to take a shower. Second, I would wager money that neither of my in-laws have ever gone fishing in their lifetime, which would mean that I would likely need to assist. Third, if you caught a fish, you had to keep it or be charged $100 to throw the fish back. The list could easily go on, but I’ll stop there.

Xavier got the pole and I just stood back. I watched in amusement as my mother-in-law struggled to get the hook loose from where it was safely secured on the pole. My father-in-law offered to help, but she knew he wouldn’t have any idea more than she did, so she shrugged him away and continued. After at least two minutes of my son impatiently begging her to “let Mom try”, she did get the hook loose and Xav happily started fishing.

The pond was amply stocked with trout, but none were biting. Plus, there was no bait on Xavier’s hook. I have no idea whether people thought they’d catch fish with an empty hook, but I truly didn’t care as I stood my safe distance. I’d say he was fishing for about ten minutes when a sweet girl came up to him and offered him a piece of bread for his hook. She helped him thread the bait on his hook and, sure enough, as soon as he put his hook in the water a fish was caught!

Does My Super Cute Cocktail Ring Go With This Fish?

Xavier pulled the fish from the water with whoots of excitement, eyes gleaming with pride, and a smile brighter than the sun on the pond. But, what happened next still irritates the #$%@# out of me.

My father-in-law grabbed the string by the bobber and, since this fish was so big, the string broke — leaving the mammoth trout flopping on the shore. The scene was exactly as I described in the beginning — two adults (my in-laws, standing with blank stares), and my 8-year old son and 3-year old daughter watching this poor flailing fish with confusion and helplessness. I can easily say that I felt mad at my in-laws for standing there in utter and complete uselessness. My father-in-law advised Xavier to “pick it up by the string”. He began carrying the fish over to the weighing station and the hook tore a chunk out of the side of the fish’s mouth. Xavier was so close to the water that the fish fell back into the pond.

In that split second, I forgot about my disgust of green, algae-ridden, sitting ponds and slimy, scaly, smelly fish and my inner frugality kicked in. I could only think of two things: 1) my poor son wanted his fish and 2) it is crazy to pay $100 if that fish swims away! Garnered by some instinct I did not know I had, I sped over to the waterside, pushed my hand into the shallow depths, and grabbed that fish by his wide girth with my bare hand.

Let me just say properly that, I WAS PISSED. On so many levels, holding that bloody, writhing, and dying trout in my hand was just plain wrong and I was the last person who should have had the responsibility of grabbing it. Where was Grandma, who so sweetly agreed that fishing was a good idea? Where was Grandpa, the only grown man in the situation, who by the way was wearing his standard jeans and a plaid cotton shirt – and not a silky orange halter top, white-cuffed capris, and jute wedge sandals? Oh, and I add that the hand holding this flailing behemoth wore a super cute, gold and orange cocktail ring with a huge red-orange daisy — that was now covered in slime and mud.

The Big Fish Story

The story does actually end there. Completely disgusted, unsanitary, and still tasting the bit of water that splashed into my mouth one of the times the fish flopped its tail, I left feeling a bit defeated, maybe physically sick, but still somehow triumphant. I can still remember the smile on my son’s face as he held up his catch and even later that night as he proudly became the “hunter/provider” for the evening’s meal.

I’ll deny it out loud if you ask, but I am pretty sure that one of these days (not soon) I will likely go fishing with my kids again. No matter how awful and mortified I remember feeling, it all becomes worth it that the size of my son’s smile was as humongous as the fish he caught on that day. Each time I tell it, the size of his smile gets bigger — and that’s no fish story.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Einstein's Bucket Theory, or Reasons Why I Forget Stuff

A long time ago, I learned that Einstein thought of the brain like a bucket filling up with water. When you’re young, that bucket gets filled up and you’re able to retain most of everything you experience. As you age, the bucket is full and when you gather up drops of water, the same amount of water spills out – meaning you’re just going to lose that knowledge. To add to the unfairness of this concept, the quality of the knowledge is not reciprocal. So, if you take in the information that when your oldest son farts that your middle son will get seriously upset and a fist fight will ensue, you have the same chance of losing a similar useless bit of knowledge as you do losing what you learned about the scientific evaluation for the nature of quasars (everyday stuff, right?).

It was said that Einstein didn’t waste his time remembering useless bits of information, for fear that he’d forget or “lose” something really important – for example, he refused to learn his home address.

Now I don’t know if all of this is true, but ever since I learned this I’ve lived by this idea. I don’t know why I remember some of the things I do, and other things just completely escape me. Instead of feeling completely idiotic when I don’t know something I probably should, or when I forget something – I like to tell myself that it’s just a useless bit of information that I can’t crowd my brain with. I have to save space for stuff like the meaning of life and the day and time of my son’s class play. Oh, and also quasars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christmas Tree and Decorations Put Away -- Now For Some Spring Cleaning!

Ugh! So, it's such a great accomplishment to FINALLY get all of the Christmas stuff put away and stored neatly in the attic.

But, there's nothing like having stirred up all the dust that has collected in just over a month to remind me that along with Spring comes the urge to do heavy Spring Cleaning.

It never ends!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

OK, Who's With Me? Fess UP!!! :)

Happy Friday everyone! I didn't start this post off with a specific idea about what it was going to be about. I really just wanted to jot a quick "HELLO!" out to everyone and wish you all a great weekend!

Then, I thought about what I was going to be doing this weekend and along with watching my kid's play sports -- I confess that I have not yet taken down my Christmas tree and put away all of our Christmas decorations. Is it only me??? Am I the only one who still has the yule tide still spiriting around?  Anyone with me on this?  Bueller?

Well, anyway, I know I am soooooo behind.  So, that's the plan -- packing up and storing away all of our Christmas stuff. Now, let's see if it actually gets done!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Parenting Lessons -- Finding Our Way, Neck-Deep Into the Pre-Teen Years

Well, it's been awhile since I've talked about the challenges we've been having with communicating with our oldest son. My previous post was well over a month ago, although the obstacles we've come across have practically been daily.

Well, we did it! We decided together to seek guidance and talk with a family therapist. I scheduled an appointment with a doctor who came highly recommended from a close girlfriend of mine.

Paul and I went to meet with this therapist this morning and I am happy to say that the first session was fantastic. Having gone through therapy many years ago to help me deal with personal issues stemming from my own childhood, I am so much more in love with the man I spend my life with just knowing how he is so open to family therapy.  It shows his devotion to me and our family, his determination to be the best parent and partner, his confidence in the Man and Parent he already is, and just his understanding that many times it is a subjective eye that is able to provide the most helpful guidance.

We Get Homework Too!

Just some quick points we'll be working on to help improve our communication issues with Zack...

  1. Lecture less.

    One of the issues we're having is that homework in the 6th grade has become more challenging for him, and the number of courses increases the amount of homework he has each night. I want to help him, but for various reasons many nights have ended late and with arguments. We have decided that he should go to study hall, which is an after-school option where he can spend some quiet time doing his homework and have a teacher available if he has questions. Well, convincing Zack to go to study hall has been tough. For every point we have for why we expect him to go, he has a point why he does not want or need to. The therapist pointed out that we do lecture him quite a bit. After explaining to her what we say to Zack, she said, "You know what he hears?" And she did the "Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah" mimic of the Charlie Brown teacher. Before we jump into the reasons why we expect him to go to study hall, she advised that we ...

  2. Listen more.

    In the same scenario, it was easy to see why so many of our encounters with Zack result in arguments. It has constantly been a back and forth between him and us -- "You need to go to study hall because...", "Well, I can't go today because..." And, he is not hearing us. On the same note, we aren't letting him just talk. We're rebutting too quickly. It's also apparent now how this one fact likely plays a part in the reason why he does not communicate with us. Why should he? When he says something, we just rebut. So now, we'll be trying more to allow him more space to just explain whatever it is he has in his mind. Whether or not we agree, we need to let him completely have his stance.

  3. Give him some carrots.

    We also determined that we have way to many consequences. For example, we'll threaten to take away his phone or his computer. Since so much of what he did suffered a consequence she asked, "What is his incentive to do anything that he doesn't want to do, that you want him to do?" Instead, after listening to everything he has to say about, for example, not having to go to study hall, our decision as his parents is that he has to go. So, instead of threatening to take something away (which in the end he doesn't really care that much about and actually just gives him reason to be mad at us), we should offer him a reward -- sort of like dangling a carrot in front of him. It should be something small, but it should be easy for us to figure out what he would really like. So, we decided that if he tries it out for a week that he and his best friend can walk up to the local frozen yogurt place, our treat. It's a taste of independence that he'll think is so cool.

My Smart Alec Other Half -- And, Other Things I Already Knew

When we left the therapist's building this morning, I asked Paul, "So, what did you think?"  He was so hilarious.

He said, "Well, she didn't say anything that I didn't already know.  The whole time I was thinking it's all your fault and I wanted to say, 'You know, I completely agree with everything you're saying. That's what I've been trying to tell Jamie this whole time.' But, I held myself back and didn't say anything."

Of course, he was joking and I'm glad we can still laugh at ourselves.  It will help us as we try to work out the things we need to focus on as we continue to raise, love, and (hopefully) still influence our growing son who is so wonderful -- but I already knew that. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crazy Auntie = An Additional Kid For a Month

"Why don't you let me keep Jolene while you and Joan get settled in Texas?"

My brother, Joe, is a medic in the Navy and has be restationed from Pearl Harbor to San Antonio. So, I thought I'd joke around and say I'd keep Jolene while they get settled in.  I was sure they'd turn me down.

My brother quickly answered, "That's a great idea."

Well, I was wrong. I believe they may have already been thinking about the scenario before I brought it up. Now, I have an extra child for one month, maybe two months. That's alright, though. At least I love her to pieces!