{7 Quick Takes} Thoughts on Hamilton, “pretend school” and memory

Hello, gentle readers…hope your week has been lovely.  Linking up again with Kelly to let you in on what’s been happening around here…

ONE

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I am sort-of behind the times, but just recently discovered and immediately jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon.  I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Amazon nearly non-stop for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I was a history major in college and I always thought, reading about Alexander Hamilton, “what a stud!” first, but then, “this guy was the epitome of the American Dream”.  He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the most influential of the Founders.  He had such a fascinating, nuanced life and that’s why this musical really excites me.

Plus, the hip-hop?  That’s pretty darn revolutionary for a Broadway show about an 18th Century Federalist.  It could have been a tired, classical story about an interesting guy, but Lin-Manuel Miranda does such great things with his writing that it makes the early days of America fresh and exciting.  And relatable.  Which is a complaint I think a lot of young people have about the study of history.

(Why do I  have to learn about this?  What does it matter to me?  These people in the past are nothing like me, they have nothing in common with me.)

Miranda took it a step further and cast people of all ethnic backgrounds as the central (historically Anglo-Saxon/white) characters.  And it is brilliant.  The story transcends race and gender and solidifies the fact that no matter our backgrounds or ethnicity, ALL AMERICANS have a right to the heritage of our nation.  And that is just fabulous.

Plus, the music is super-catchy.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the soundtrack (even if you’re not a musical fan…this one might change your mind!).  If you’re waiting to see it on Broadway, it is probably going to be a long wait – it’s basically sold out into 2018!

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Alexander Hamilton (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) as Alexander Hamilton

TWO

The older two started school Aug 28th.  I had to laugh at Bellie (1st grade) when she came home after that first day.  It was an excited, breathless, stream of consciousness about eating lunch at school and riding the bus with her brother and seeing her friends and she loves her teacher and she got to help in the library and she used her new pencils and she loves her teacher did she tell me she loves her teacher?  And Junior (4th grade) came home and grunted “fine” when I asked him how his first day was.  Haha, the difference between boys and girls.  (Or 1st and 4th grade?)

THREE

I attempted to begin homeschooling my preschooler on Tuesday.  I had tried to get him excited about the prospect (We did not enroll him in “away from home” preschool this fall because A) at almost 4 he is showing a stubborn lack of interest in being potty-trained and B) I really don’t want to have to shuttle anyone back and forth to a 2-hour preschool when it takes me 1 hour round-trip  to get there.  This is my one year to be free from that!).  Anyhow, I told Spike that I was going to teach him at home.  He responded, “I get to go to pretend school?  Yay!”  Initially, I thought, that’s cool he calls it “pretend”, I know it is real, and it will be awesome.  Well, it turns out he really thought we were only going to “pretend” we were at school.  I barely got through the morning prayer and the pledge before he got sidetracked and started throwing a fit about playing with his Lego car.  I tried to lovingly refocus him, I attempted to move onto something I thought he would enjoy (coloring), I finally resorted to giving him a time-out.  He sat on the steps screaming, “I hate pretend school!  I don’t want to do pretend school any more!”  So I decided we would probably just take a break for the day.  I don’t want him completely hating it if I push it on him.  I vow to try it again next week.  I will keep trying for a bit but if it appears he is just not ready, perhaps he might not be.  I will keep you updated.

FOUR

The baby has some weird skin thing going on.  It looks like a rash or maybe psoriasis, is mostly on her chin and around her eye.  It looks very dry and red and patchy.  The only thing I can think of is it appeared around the time the kids were doing swimming lessons last month.  So perhaps a reaction to the chlorine or something?  It has been a couple of weeks since we’ve been swimming, though, so I don’t know what is going on.  Junior had some weird eczema around that age that eventually subsided, but this appears different.  I hate skin conditions in kids…one thing can look very much like another thing.  Something serious that needs treatment can appear just like something else that only needs to be washed with a gentle soap and moisturized.  It could be a reaction to some kind of detergent or it could be an allergy to some kind of food.  In that case, it can take months to figure it out while removing and adding stimuli to the child’s life.  Gaaah.  At least it doesn’t seem itchy or bothersome to Evvie.  She just looks somewhat ghastly.

FIVE

Our garden is overflowing and I couldn’t be more irritated.  I know that sounds totally awful, but it is true.  I love the idea of gardening.  I like having fresh herbs and lettuce to pick when I am making a salad or cooking and need just a little bit of parsley instead of running to the store.  But…but…even when you plant just one, little, teeny zucchini plant you somehow wind up with 5,634,592 zucchinis that you need to figure out what the heck to do with!  I have at least 3 friends who begrudgingly took one or two to make zucchini bread.  Hubby’s been cubing it and sautee-ing it with butter and Parmesan cheese (yummy actually, but not when you have it served for every meal for every day for a month!)

We have tomatoes and plums and really hard, not delicious pears strewn all over my counter.  The fruit is not so bad: the kids eat it constantly.  Unfortunately, those children still in diapers (I’m looking at you, Mr. I Hate Pretend School) tend to bless me with delightful pants to change after consuming all of that fiber.  Hubby was raised with the Depression-Era mindset (I am pretty sure he is actually a vampire who grew up in the 30’s) that you use EVERY LAST available piece of food for SOMETHING, no matter how ugly it is, how full of worms it may happen to be (yeah, our apples didn’t do so well this year), or how bad it tastes.  If it is not rotting or full of mold, you better dang well figure out some way to cook it, freeze it, or preserve it.  Of course, since Hubby is at work all day, this generally gets “intended” my way….and I honestly have tons of things I would rather be doing.  Hence the resentment over my bounteous garden.  I am blessed.

SIX

I have to go to the library today.  My kids love the library.  I love the library.  But I hate going with my kids to the library.

SEVEN

I am reading this fascinating (although a little technical) book: Permanent Present Tense: The Incredible Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. by Suzanne Corkin (2013).

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I became interested in this subject because a new nonfiction book about the same thing was recently published:

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My library hasn’t acquired this new book yet (Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, who is the grandson of the brain surgeon who operated on H.M.) but a search led me to the other one.

Permanent Present Tense tells the story of Henry Molaison, a 27-year-old epileptic who underwent an experimental surgery in 1953 to remove part of his brain in order to relieve his seizures.  It seemed to work somewhat, but tragically included the added side-effect of Henry never being able to create any long-term memories.  His life really was in “permanent present tense” as he forgot everything after about 30 seconds.

As a result, for the next half-century, Henry agreed to be studied by neurologists to discover the intricacies and nuances of the brain.

Fascinatingly, only Henry’s long-term memory of things after his surgery was affected.  He could remember things from before, and his intelligence and personality remained the same.

Henry passed away in 2008, before that, he was only referred to in scientific circles as “Patient H.M.”  He contributed greatly to our understanding of how the brain works, most importantly memory.

I have always been very fascinated with the brain and the history of how brain injuries and mental illness have been treated.  In the first part of the 20th Century, lobotomies were considered appropriate and acceptable treatment for a wide range of conditions, among them depression and schizophrenia.  They were used, with some success, on patients with epilepsy, but up until recently doctors were not sure precisely which areas of the brain were able to be removed or damaged to yield results without damaging other brain functions (such as memory).

I’m only about half-way through but am engrossed.  I feel devastated for Henry and his family to have to have enriched science and medicine through their loss, but it really did open up a whole knew era of understanding about the brain.  Alternately, the book calls into question the lengths we as a society are willing to experiment on human “guinea pigs”(drug trials, for example) to further our goals to find treatment for disease.

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{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash, Vol. 6: School’s out for the summer edition

Today is Day One of summer vacation in this house.  So far, so good….but it is only 7 am.  While I listen to the sweet silence of my children getting along for the last few minutes before all hell breaks loose for the following three months, you can read along and hear about what we’ve been up to lately.  (Stop at Kelly‘s for more cool happenin’s)

ONE

As we walked through the garden the other day and I attempted to weed, Bellie and her little brother were inspecting their plots.  Noticing that a few areas had teeny tiny sprouts growing, Bellie said, “Be careful, Spike!  Don’t touch them!”  Spike paused thoughtfully, then said, “Right.  Because we don’t want them to grow back down.”  It made me think of the Wizard-of-Oz when the Wicked Witch of the East got crushed underneath Dorothy’s house; her striped legs rolling back up under it like a party horn.  Definitely hope that doesn’t happen to our vegetables!  The kids do like to “see” with their hands.

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 dusty, dusty garden patch

TWO

Bellie was making a card for her friend’s birthday party and wanted to know how to spell said-friend’s name.  “P-A-I-G-E” I said.  “What?” she said, incredulously, “I don’t think so.  Isn’t it  ‘P-I-G? [she says, trying to sound it out] ‘”  Now, she is a newly graduated kindergartner and I generally encourage her to use “kindergarten spelling” where she sounds out words and comes up with the spelling herself, but I think on this occasion I will just spell that one for her!

THREE

Little Evvie is getting to be quite the explorer.  Running off during school programs, deciding she’s had enough at church and marching down the aisle.  Making friends of other similarly-aged babies and deciding to join their families at library story time.  Also the bathroom and kitchen drawer spelunking.  I have been trying to avoid putting those annoying child locks on the drawers but I think I might just have to pretty soon.  Especially after every single one of my feminine products found their way on to the floor of the living room and Spike is joining in the fun by adhering them to my bookshelf and asking if “these things are airplanes because they have wings”.

FOUR

They just cut the alfalfa field behind our house.  Mmmmm…one of my favorite smells.  I love how everything is so green around here right now – we just got done with several weeks of unseasonable rain and it has made our normally-desert dry neck-of-the-woods a verdant paradise!  At least for a little while longer.  Since we have moved some of our trees to the opposite side of our yard and put up a bird feeder, we have seen so many more birds in our yard and I love it!  We showed the kids a robin’s nest in one of our pine trees and I always forget how brilliant blue the eggs are.  I love early summer.

 

FIVE

I am trying to come up with a system for Kid Media Time this summer.  Ugh.  I hate hate hate hate hate having to deal with this.  I would be content if our tv and computer just broke (well, not my computer, I need some sort of lifeline to the real world!) and the kids would be content to just be kicked outside and play in the dirt all day.  And I guess a Media Moratorium is a possibility for the whole summer, but I fear a mutiny and occasionally rain and 2nd-degree sunburns necessitate a day or so indoors.  Being “SOOOOOOOOOOO bored”.  My issue is that I find difficulty policing the actual time spent on media.  The computer isn’t a big deal.  Junior gets an hour/day based following completion of household chores.  It’s the TV.  Because the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say “Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content” I am trying to only allow another hour or two for television/tablets.  My kids obviously do not like the same TV shows, being vastly different ages.  So what happens when Paw Patrol is on for Spike, but Junior is in the same room passively watching it?  Do I count this against Junior’s Media Time?  Does each kid get his/her own quota for time?  Or do I just say TV can be watched from 8-10 am and each person gets to pick a show?  What happens if we watch a movie in the evening as a family?  I would love to hear readers’ thoughts on this; particularly what worked or didn’t. 

SIX

As my shoulder saga continues, I think we may have made a discovery:  I HAVE BAD POSTURE.  After holding babies (incorrectly, I wager) for nine years and lugging around car-seats and other miscellaneous child-rearing paraphernalia akin to a pack animal, my normal posture resembles that of a hunchback.  I have to constantly remind myself to sit up straight, shoulders back.  My chiropractor recently tried using this kinesiology tape on my shoulder, mainly to remind me to keep my posture healthy and it has made a difference!  So going forward we will see if this makes a lasting impact.

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It’s a good look for summer.

 

SEVEN

Hubby and I are set to celebrate anniversary number 12 on Sunday and I am so excited for the gift I am going to present to him!  Twelve years of marriage is traditionally celebrated with linen or silk apparently but what the heck do you get a guy that’s either of those things?  I thought silk boxers but they sound somewhat impractical and hand-wash only.  So I got him this gorgeous handmade fly box for when he fly fishes.  It is customized with his favorite run and the “river” is inlaid with turquoise.  I really love it, I hope he does too!  Thanks Mike at Snake River Nets for the fabulous box!

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Ta ta for now, have a great weekend!

{7QuickTakes} Belated weekly mishmash, Vol.5

My kids are watching The Good Dinosaur while I attempt to get something actual contributed to this blog!!  I haven’t abandoned it.  But y’all – May. Is. Crazy.  And I only have two in school.  But the programs, and the field trips, and the catching-up-on-everything-academic-because-the-school-year-is-almost-done-ing.  Plus, the kids are all antsy to be foot-loose and fancy-free and have all this pent-up “school’s out for the summer” anticipation and it is making me batty.  But…..I am sure I am not alone on this one.  Check out more moms (and dads!) who are probably going through this exact same thing at Kelly’s bloggin’ linkup.

ONE.

Hubby is back on shift work after a blessed hiatus.  The overnights are the worst.  The days (14 hours gone from home) are pretty bad also.  It is, for me, like being a single parent the days he is working.  He basically comes home, eats, and goes to bed.  Trying to focus on the positives…like, he does have a job.  This is a big plus.  And also, he does get to have 4 days off after his 4 days of work.  Which is nice, so we can do things together, like have a conversation.

TWO.

Two of my brothers came for a visit this week.  It is always nice to see family, particularly when we live so far away.  My youngest brother is moving back to the Midwest after his Active Duty stint in the military and my oldest younger (got it?) brother flew out to help him move back.  We are located conveniently half-way from California.  My kids get such a thrill seeing their uncles [aunts too]when they come visit.  Plus it helps that my brothers are really, really great with kids.  (PSA: Youngest brother is single, ladies – he will make a great dad someday!!!)

THREE.

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Current drama streaming obsession: PBS’s Poldark. (Find it on Amazon or DVD) What a great costume drama!  What a great love story!  What fabulous scenery!

mv5botq3nzm1mzq0ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjazntqxode-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_ Current comedy streaming obsession: Fox’s The Last Man on Earth.  (We watch it on Hulu).  I absolutely love the character of Carol (Kristen Schaal).  I think she is my favorite part of the whole show…Will Forte is good, too, but I love Carol.

FOUR.

We were at the local indoor-kids’ play gym (thanks to torrential rain and a Hubby sleeping off his night shift) yesterday and Evvie completely ‘imprinted’ on this other mom who was there with her twin boys.  It was somewhat amusing for me, because baby Evs can be pretty choosy about people she goes so far as to smile at.  But this fellow mom must have been magical to her, because she kept toddling around after her and her sons and would walk right up to her and look up at her all longingly.  The other mom, blessedly, did not find it annoying or creepy like I might have in her place, but just laughed and told Evvie, “You’re so cute!”  Then, my oldest, Junior, said (loud enough for everyone to hear), “I think Evvie wants a new mom!”  Yeah, I must be totally rocking this parenting thing…

FIVE.

I have 5,954,256 items on the floor in my office right now.  When I started writing this blog post, there were zero.  My children love me so much that they feel the need to be close to me at all times, particularly when my attention is not 100% devoted to them.  They take this opportunity to helpfully pull out every available book, crayon, office supply, piece of garbage, sticker, plastic baggie, craft item, and toss it, tornado-style on the floor of my workspace.  And Hubby thinks it would be a “breeze” for me to work from home!  Well, maybe, but at the end of the workweek the house would need to be condemned, pretty sure.

SIX.

Been seeing the chiropractor for my shoulder for a few weeks now.  It is helping, but slowly.  I find it is less painful (surprisingly) when I am well-hydrated.  And I am awful about drinking water.  I was a water-drinking champ when I was in college, or working, or pregnant.  But now that I am none of those things I find it difficult to get the requisite ounces in every day.  My main issue is that I fill a glass or bottle with water but through the course of the day, I am running all over the house and/or the car and I forget where I’ve left my water.  I think I just need to fill my Camelbak backpack and wear that all day so I don’t lose my water.  Where’s my Water? is one of the kiddo’s favorite games.  I should have invented it.

SEVEN.

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French fries?  They put me right to sleep.

 

That’s all folks, have a great week!

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash Vol.4

I was a bum last week and didn’t post!  Lots of craziness here (as though that is ever news;-)

Check out the link-up for more good times!

~UN~

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It was really funny, whatever it was…

Made it through yet another kid’s birthday party.  Junior had a great time but these fêtes are so stressful for me to plan and execute.  It has been years since I have thrown birthday parties for my kids so I felt guilty and decided to allow all three of the older ones to have parties to celebrate this year.  (The youngest just turned one and I figured she won’t need/remember a big birthday party so we just did a family thing.)  Anyhow, I have decided on a rule regarding bday parties:  We’ll do them for age 3, 6, and 9 and possibly 13 and 16 if they are so inclined, but that is it.  Unfortunately, my three oldest are each three years apart so most of those milestone bdays will occur all in the same birthday season!  Oh well, it seems worth it simply to not have big birthday bashes every.single. year.

~DEUX~

I am worried I am heading toward shoulder surgery.  I think it is because I am getting old with a little bit of “children have wrecked my body” added in.  When Spike was born, I had a wrist thing going on for over a year.  It was the stinkin’ carseat-lugging.  It finally got better when I wore a wrist brace for most of my waking moments.  But now my shoulder has been out of whack for 9+ months.  I have tried stretching it, icing it, heat-padding it, over-medicating on Advil to no avail.  It has gotten so bad the pain keeps me up most of the night.  (And let me tell you, my 15-month-old finally started sleeping through the night and nothing breaks your bubble of “Yay! Finally a whole-night’s rest!” than being up in pain with “minivan shoulder”.)  Next stop is the chiropractor to see if I can figure this out without resorting to something more invasive.

~TROIS~

Which leads me to….yay I get to bring my kids to the chiropractor appointment on Friday morning.  Hubby usually gets Fridays off, but just after I made the appointment (that has taken me months to get around to making) he informed me he has to go in for a special work meeting this Friday all day.  Because I am really and truly a glutton for punishment, I decided to keep the appointment (hey, my shoulder really hurts), and haul the youngest three with me.  All I have to say is thank goodness for tablets.   I momentarily thought about bringing them to my bi-annual hair cut & color appointment Thursday but my good friend luckily intervened and agreed to watch the kids for me.

~QUATRE~

SAHMs need decent childcare options.  I have the toughest time with this.  I don’t need full-time child-minding, just the occasional couple of hours here and there so I can go to doctors’ appointments, or volunteer, or just have a coffee by myself so I don’t go crazy.  I have no family in the area. (and even if I did it is unlikely they would be able/willing to help in this capacity) Our town does not have good (any?) options for drop-in childcare. I have only one close friend who has not gone back to work (my other good friends are leaving SAHM-ing in droves!) and I hate to impose myself constantly on her.  Hubby does get Fridays off, but what happens when the doctor I need to see doesn’t have office hours on Fridays?  Or Hubby is resistant to “babysitting” the younger ones so I can volunteer once in a while at the older children’s school?  What do I do with them when I give blood, or want to go into a china shop?  The answer is, I either take them along (sorry dental hygienist for the mess my toddler made of your laughing gas canisters) or simply stop volunteering, stop running errands anywhere there are breakable items (so sorry Hobby Lobby! Your displays are so beautiful that my kids need to “see” them with their hands), and put my health needs last (I would love love love to be able to see a therapist at least once a month or so).  Just very frustrated.  I might just have to bite the bullet and put an ad in on Care.com.

~CINQ~

Trying to teach my kids about money.  This is challenging.  The kindergartner is still trying to wrap her head around the fact that 6 cents is different from 6 dollars.  The boys seem to be compulsive spenders, even when I explain to them the value of saving your money for something really special and dividing your funds into Save/Spend/Donate.  I can’t get any of them to voluntarily donate any of their own money.  My money, sure, but with their own cash, definitely not!  I worry I am raising children far too interested in our society’s idea of consumerism.  Parenting is tough.

~SIX~

I did art with Spike and Evvie this week!  Go me!  Normally the thought of doing crafts or art projects with my kids makes me want to claw my eyes out (the mess, the chaos, the children eating non-toxic finger paint!) but I took a deep breath and held it together long enough to let them make a total of 5 masterpieces.

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Look Mom! It’s you after a glass of wine!

 

~SEPT~

Apparently, I have a diabolical plan:  I only make really delectable desserts when I am serving positively disgusting food for dinner.  This is the honest truth.  They found me out.  It’s a vast parental conspiracy.  (Cue evil laugh)  So if you come to our house for dinner and you smell those delicious brownies…beware!  That means we are having liver, potatoes (don’t ask me – my Idaho-born children think potatoes are anathema), and something green for dinner.  No dessert unless you clean your plate.  Mean mom strikes again!

Have a delightful week!