Archive for January, 2011

27

Attention, Attention Please

Jan
4 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Kids

I blame the teeth. It’s those darn 2-year molars. It has to be. I recognize that my 2 ½ -year-old is going through the developmental stage of autonomy (also known as the “I do it myself” phase), which lends itself to frequent tantrums when others (namely me) try to usurp her independence for the sake of saving time. I try to build an extra half hour into our morning routine to allow for the time it takes for her to choose her own mismatched outfit, “brush” her own teeth, fight with me about my desire to finish brushing her teeth, attempt to put on her shoes, get really angry when she can’t do it herself, come crying to me to help her, and then freak out because I end up being the one to finally get her shoes on her feet. Somehow, that half hour is seldom enough. We are late most days, often because I make the mistake of putting her in the carseat when she can clearly do this herself. I also recognize that even on a good day she has a really bad temper. Despite all of this, I cannot figure out why my ordinarily funny and good-natured girl has turned into a beast on most days. The only thing that makes sense to me is the teeth. This is the child that keeps us in stitches with her antics. She usually takes great pleasure in making us laugh, but lately, not so much. That’s why I have to cling to the one funny story from this week. It started out not-so-funny. I was talking on the phone with my sister when my darling girl began her 37th tantrum of the day. Generally, I walk away from her when she begins her tirades, and generally, she follows me, complaining loudly. I was explaining this routine to my sister, and I was just commenting that it was strange that she was not following me. That’s when I heard it. The crying that had been coming from the floor below me was now coming in loud and clear…over the intercom. For some reason, my girl decided it would be easier (???) to go in the bathroom, get the step-stool, carry it into the other room, and continue her tantrum over the intercom the previous owners of our home so kindly installed. After a long, long day dealing with drama after drama from my youngest, I really needed this moment of humor. I guess she can be funny even when she’s in beast mode.

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21

North vs. South

Jan
2 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:General

Having now lived in the deep South, the Midwest, the far North, and the mid-Atlantic regions of our beautiful country (oh, and Florida, which seems to be a region all on its own), I have noticed many similarities and differences in the cultures of each region. As for similarities, food seems to be a unifying force no matter where you live. My husband and I found we like beer & brats (short for bratwurst sausages, not obnoxious children) as much as we love gumbo and crawfish etouffee. I have also discovered that people in the Midwest are just as passionate (read “fanatical”) about football as those of us raised in the Southeastern Conference.

I have also enjoyed the diversity of culture in our country. Some of the differences are drastic and some are subtle. There are differences in dialect. Two such examples include the well-known “y’all” vs. “you guys,” as well as the reference to soft drinks as “soda” or “pop” in Northern states vs. “Coke” in the Deep South. (For my Northern friends reading this, yes, Southerners really do refer to all sodas as Coke…do not be confused if a Southerner asks you, ”What kind of Coke would you like?” and then proceeds to list the names of various sodas.) There are also differences in the ways people interact with one another. Growing up in the grace and gentility of the South, I was worried about moving to the Northeast. Generally, I grew up believing people from the Northeast were, for the lack of a more polite way to say this, rude. I found that they are not rude, but rather honest. They are very kind and friendly (for the most part), and you always know where you stand with them.

As strange as it may seem, of all of the differences that I have observed, the one that stands out most to me is the practice of monogramming. Before Christmas, my mother-in-law sent some adorable outfits to my girls. They were red and green polka-dotted leggings with white t-shirts with the girls’ initials embroidered in red. One day when my girls were wearing these outfits I actually had someone stop me and ask what was on their shirts. When I explained that it was their initials or monogram, she said, “Oh, well that’s a neat idea” and walked away. It dawned on me at that point that I had not noticed children running around with monograms embroidered on everything they own like I do when I am at home. I was discussing this with the ladies in my moms group. One of them told me that while she was vacationing in New Orleans, she had a shop-keeper tell her they could monogram an item she was purchasing for her son. She admitted that she thought it was just a tourist gimmick. It was then that I realized that the practice of monogramming children’s clothing is a Southernism. The rest of the country seems to think of monogramming as something to have done on your LL Bean canvas bag.

While monogramming makes it difficult to pass on hand-me-downs, it also has both aesthetic and practical aspects. It adds a personal touch to clothing and even decorative items for the home. Additionally, I, for one, would be lost without monogramming when I am around my identical twin nieces. There are subtle differences, but, let’s face it, it is so much easier to tell them apart when they are wearing their names or initials on their clothing. I need to look into tapping into this market as I make my way around the country. I could make a fortune.

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20

Eating Elephants

Jan
3 Comments »   Posted by migratorymama |  Category:Moms

When I married my husband, I remember feeling overwhelmed by planning a wedding and preparing for marriage and moving to a new state. I wish I could say that this is the only time in my life that I have felt this way, but I have moved five times in the past eight years. Like most people, I go through periods of time when I feel beleaguered by too many items needing my attention and not enough time to get them all done. I have been feeling this way recently. We were gone for a little more than two weeks at Christmas-time this year. I had a wonderful time, but I returned home exhausted and struggling to return to our normal routine. (I have to admit that I use the word “routine” loosely. In my mind I am extremely organized and have a set daily routine. However, in real life I thrive on flexibility in my day.)

As I was emptying the dishwasher a couple of nights ago, I was feeling overwhelmed once more. If you have small children you know that unloading the dishwasher is not simply putting away the plates and glasses. Emptying the dishwasher involves drying off everything as you pull it out of the dishwasher because plastic does not dry like other materials in the dishwasher. Sippy cups stay wet. Then they drip all over the other dishes. Plus you have all of the little pieces to dig out of the bottom of the dishwasher. I also only run the dishwasher when it is completely full…and I do mean completely. As I was beginning this seemingly arduous chore, I went through my usual mental pep talk that includes reminding myself to be thankful for modern conveniences such as dishwashers and washing machines because, really, it could be so much worse. Then I looked at all of the dirty lunch dishes sitting on the counter waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher. Then I glanced at the clock and noticed it was almost time for my husband to come home…and I still had not started dinner.

As the panic began to rise, I remembered something my father-in-law told me when I was newly married and overwhelmed. He asked me, “How do you eat an elephant?” I remember trying to determine if this was another one of his jokes or if he was trying to distract me. I told him I didn’t know. His answer was, “one bite at a time.” He then explained that when I look at everything and it all seems to be too much, to simply focus on one small piece of it at a time. This profound bit of advice disguised as an absurd question has stuck with me. When I get that feeling, I stop and remind myself of that silly question and the lesson to take it one thing at a time…one fork out of the dishwasher, or one step while running, or one toy off of the floor. Somehow focusing on the smaller details makes overwhelming days seem much less daunting.

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