Friday, February 26, 2010

Is it Tuesday yet?

February 26, 2010

Awhile back, I found a rather ingenious and invaluable parenting technique on one of the blogs I frequent. (I truly wish I could remember which one, but I'm sorry to say I don't. Please let it suffice that I am acknowledging your genius. If you recognize your own sage advice, feel free to identify yourself.)

Anyway, one of my children is a hypochondriac. Seriously. Not a day goes by without some new ailment plaguing her. Usually, she's attacked by several at once. (I'm fairly certain I know the origin of her hypochondria, and let's just say it's NOT from her mama. I'm just sayin'.) Almost daily, upon pick up from school, she'd start in with the litany: "Mama, I don't feel good. My tummy hurts. My knee hurts from running today. My big toe hurts cuz I have an ingrown toenail. I've had a headache since choir today." Mind you, none of these infirmities ever got in her way when she wanted to go to a birthday party or play with her friends, but whenever it was time for chores or bedtime or, say, running in P.E., they were debilitating medical health issues. (And remember The Boy Who Cried Wolf? On the rare occasions when there actually was something going on with her, I felt like the mean, horrible mom for having told her to just 'deal with it' as usual.)

The advice I read, from the genius blogger I can't remember off the top of my head, changed all that. She said she gave her kids one ailment per day. Period. They weren't allowed to complain about anything else. Huh. So straight-forward, so easy! I decided to give it a try. I explained to my daughter that this was going to be the new way of operating around our household. She could let me know anytime if she was feeling bad, but I would only be interested in hearing about one health problem a day. That's the one we'd focus on and treat, but no complaining about any others--til tomorrow. Got a headache? Okay. We'll rest, keep quiet for awhile, pull the shades. Tummy hurts? Sorry. Remember we're focusing on the headache today, so you'll have to talk to me about the tummy tomorrow. Your knee? Nope. Not dealin' with that today.

And you know what? It worked! Unbelieveably well, actually. It only took about three days of reminding her that we were only focusing on one thing a day before she started remembering on her own. She came in to me a couple of days after I first let her in on the plan, and started to open her mouth to say something, before closing it again quickly. "What is it?" I asked. "Were you going to say something?"

"Well," she said, "I was, but I'm not going to now. I already told you my tummy hurts today, so I guess this one can wait til tomorrow." Then she went off to her room to play contentedly with her toys. Sweet!

(Before anyone gets too mad, let me assure you that if my kid was, indeed, truly ill, I'd take care of her without question, and immediately. I just wanted her to get out of the habit of 'feeling bad'--a general malaise--which was more often than not borne out of boredom, rather than anything else. Just wanted to throw that out there.)

So, since I was fortunate enough to come across some advice that I have found to be worth its weight in gold, I thought I'd 'pay it forward' and share a piece of my own advice that was a sanity-saver when my own kids were very little. (It's a little deceptive, but sometimes you've got to resort to such measures. And word to the wise: this only works until the kids start school. Then they become wise to the ruse.)

When kids are very young, pre-school age, they don't really grasp the concept of time. When there's an event on the horizon that they're looking forward to, the wait can seem unbearably long, and they are compelled to ask, repeatedly, HOW LONG UNTIL....(...we go to the zoo, ...we get to see Aunt Lisa again, birthday comes, ....). The real answer might be in a week, or in a month, or in seventeen days. To a very young child, all of these answers sound essentially the same. They all mean, "Not right now, but some vague time in the future." Since it's so nebulous to them, that could mean sometime tomorrow, or even later in the day. In a month? Three year olds simply don't conceptualize a month. They aren't sitting there in their playpens, working out the math in their little baby brains, letting them know it's fruitless to ask about when we're going to Aunt Lisa's for at least another 29 days or so.

My solution? I started answering every question of that nature with "Tuesday." Random, yes, but it worked. Apparently, "Tuesday" was concrete enough to my little tykes that it satisfied their need to know when. When are we going to the zoo? Tuesday. When are we going to see Aunt Lisa? Tuesday. When do I start kindergarten? Tuesday. Is it Tuesday today? Nope. Oh, okay. Guess we'll move on then. (Occasionally they'd ask me if it was Tuesday ON Tuesday. Easy fix. Not this Tuesday--the next one.) It was magical! For whatever reason, that was enough of an answer, in a way that 'next month' wasn't. So yeah, sometimes it was a little deceitful. We don't do everything in our world on Tuesday. Sometimes things happened on Saturday. Or Wednesday. Or even Sunday. But they didn't know. Every day is just a day to them. Who cares what we call it? Once they start school though, and learn the days of the week and how calendars work, all bets are off. But by then, they figure out how long a month looks, so it's all good.

You're welcome.

(Sadly, this does not work for the mind-numbing, "Are we there yet?" on long car rides. Not even Mom wants to hear that we're not getting anywhere until Tuesday.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Exactly What I Was Expecting

February 25, 2010

The 13 year old has finally discovered girls. Well, kind of. How do we know? In checking the living room computer's browser history, my hubby discovered some recent middle-of-the-night searches for "sexy jedi cartoon girls," and a couple of other similar cartoon searches. (Frankly, I didn't know such a search would yield actual results, but apparently there's a niche market for everything.) Not exactly the follow-up to the 'Birds and the Bees' chat I had envisioned, but he and I will be having a little heart-to-heart today.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Evidence That My Status As "Good Mom" is Sometimes Suspect

February 19, 2010

Those of you who have (or have had) small children know there are times when we adults are subject to the mindless repetition of a child's favorite TV show or video. The irony is that sometimes we resort to videos to maintain sanity, but by the 101st time you've seen the same video, your own brain has turned to mush. Or you begin to entertain somewhat violent thoughts of punching a he-shall-remain-nameless purple dinosaur in the snout. Depends on the day.

Anyway, I did my time enduring Pokemon, Digimon, Blue's Clues (which was better when Steve was there--Joe was a sorry imposter), Teletubbies (beyond creepy, especially the Big Brother-like baby head that was the sun of their universe), Carebears, and Sailor Moon. There were also the movies that never seemed to lose their appeal to the little ones--Spirit, Brother Bear, Lilo and Stitch. Sadly, I am all too familiar with these films.

(Note, please, that I do not include such fare as Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, Finding Nemo, and Beauty and the Beast here. Watching these with the kids is not a hardship, but a pleasant, shared family-oriented experience. There are movies and shows that are designed to entertain the parents as well, and oh, how I appreciate those offerings!)

So, when Bree was about three, one of her fixations was Disney's The Fox and the Hound. Let me first say that I love Disney--most Disney. I'm a huge fan. There are very few Disney movies I can't get behind. The Fox and the Hound happens to be one of them. I'm not sure what it is, but we'll just call it the Dark Days of Disney. That movie is tedious at best, migraine-inducing painfulness at worst. I can't honestly say I ever cared if Tod and Copper overcame their natural differences and became friends again--their little cartoon lives held no interest for me whatsoever.

Bree used to just bring me the video case whenever she wanted to watch it, but eventually she started asking for it by name whenever the video case was mysteriously out of sight. (Yup--I hid it from her. Don't judge.) The first time I heard her ask for it, my jaw dropped. I didn't know what she was saying, but it sounded like something she needed her mouth washed out with soap for. "What did you say?" I asked her, incredulously. "Where did you hear that?"

"Fok!" she said. "Peas?" She's three at the time, remember.


"Fok! Fok!" She was getting frustrated with my inability to comprehend simple English. "Want Fok an' Hound!" (Try saying it outloud, quickly. Trust me, it's funny.)

"Oh!" I slapped my forehead and burst out laughing. This did not sit well with her, as she did not have time for me to have a hysterical breakdown. She had The Fox and the Hound on her agenda. "Say it again. What do you want to watch?"

"Fok an' Hound!"

"Which movie?"

"Fok an' Hound! Fok an' Hound!" (This time accompanied by a little hand on the hip and a stamping of the foot. What was the deal with her mama? She was usually much more perceptive than this!)

Finally I "found" the movie and popped it in the VHS player. All the amusement I got from hearing her say "Fok an' Hound" several times softened my irritation at having to sit through the dumb movie yet again. I just kept chuckling to myself, hearing her little voice saying something that was oh so innocent but that sounded so inappropriate.''

As soon as her dad got home for the day, I said, "Hey Sweetie--tell Daddy what your favorite movie is!" Daddy eyed me suspiciously. He already knew what it was.

"Fok an' Hound!" she said emphatically. Daddy, too, dissolved into laughter. Yep, we were mature like that. Let me tell you, Bree told a great number of people--the babysitter, our friends, her aunts--what her favorite movie was, because I told her to. It cracked me up. Every time. I found a way to find humor in an otherwise humorless and mind-numbing movie, and as long as she stayed enamored of that video, I didn't work very hard to teach her how to say her 'Xs' correctly. If she was going to keep watching it, I was going to keep the only good thing about it. Not the highlight of my "Good Mom" career, but you know, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fives for Friday

February 18, 2010

I love...
--my funny, sweet, big-hearted, quirky kids
--my hubby, the holder of my heart
--my job (well, most of it)
--sunshiny weather
--chubby cheeked toothless baby grins and giggles

I wish....
--my sister and her girls could just move here--now
--for a great job opportunity for Doug
--for the continued health and well-being of my family
--I wasn't sick right now
--for just one more....

I don't like....
--people who feel the need to create drama
--mean-spirited souls
--that there's more of me than I'd like
--when I lose my cool with the kids
--how long it's been since we've had a vacation

I want....
--more time to read (without falling asleep!)
--more teaching days like today
--a car (van) that doesn't screech, crackle, and sputter like an arthritic octogenarian
--a better camera so the pictures I see are the ones that come out on the page
--my kids to know how proud I am of them and that I'll always be their biggest cheerleader

I feel...
--amazed at the people I've reconnected with in the past couple of years
--thankful that in this economy I have a job and a home
--anxious about balancing all the blocks in the tower
--nostalgic already about the fact that my oldest graduates next year--NEXT YEAR!
--I'm making up the answers as I go along, but I know I'm not alone

Monday, February 15, 2010

Post at the Other Site...

If you aren't a follower of my second blog yet, swing by and check it out at Sisters Recommend. We'd love to have you follow our progress, and even join as a reviewer if you'd like!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Valentine

February 14, 2010

It was the summer of big hair and tiny dolphin shorts--hallmarks of the early 80's--when I moved in across the street from him. I was finishing up my sophomore year and he was nearing the end of his freshman year at the high school that was a two minute walk from our front doors. When I first saw him he was standing out on his driveway, hanging out with friends who would eventually become an integral part of our lives. He was tall and cute, and a member of our high school band, just like I was.

It has been verified that at first it was my sister who caught their eyes, collectively. My sister, two years younger than me, was and is a vivacious, outgoing and attractive girl. People tend to be drawn to her magnetically, and I can't say I can blame them. I mean, she's a very cool and together person (and my best friend of many, many years). I, on the other hand, am pretty shy and not too successful at first impressions or idle small talk. (Don't get me wrong; once you know me the whole shyness thing fades away, and I can certainly hold my own in a conversation. It's just getting over that first hurdle that challenges me to this day.)

So like lots of guys before and since, my new neighbor and his pals made an effort to befriend me, the sister, in an effort to get closer Lisa. (Of course I didn't know for sure at the time that this was an ulterior motive, but I had my suspicions.) As I got to know Doug, I found him to be incredibly intelligent and witty, but goofy and sweet at the same time. And funny! He made me laugh more than anyone I knew. I can still picture his wry, side-long fifteen year old smile, looking for encouragement that his wit had found its appreciative audience.

There were many hours of late night conversations that summer among Doug, Lisa, Jim, David, and me out on his curb or ours as we soaked up the promise and leisure of summer nights with no place to go and no responsibilities. The courting dance changed its tenor and we just became a tightly knit group of friends with whom there was complete ease and comfort. When we started school that fall, we arrived knowing we already had in place the people who would share our memories of the year. We were all in band, as I said, so that meant hours of practice and bus rides and competitions all in close proximity, over the course of the fall. As we spent more time together, I realized that I was really falling for that boy across the street, smitten as I was with his confidence and his ability to make me laugh and forget my own self-consciousness. To my surprise, I realized that over the course of the fall, he had also turned his affections toward me. I was no longer 'the sister'. That recognition, on both of our parts, threatened to become awkward now and again, as we attempted to renegotiate our friendship and try to make the transition to a different sort of relationship. Then, on a band trip to the Fiesta Bowl in January of that year, we took a walk out under the stars in Rawhide, Arizona, where he shyly took my hand. And under those stars, we shared our first kiss. It was magical--still one of the most magical and romantic moments of my life.

We came home from that trip and were absolutely inseparable. Winter yielded to spring, and our love and affection blossomed. But young love is volatile and can be immature, and in the hands of ones who are yet too young to deftly navigate waters that don't always run smoothly, can hit storms too big to survive. After several months, Doug and I went our separate ways. Though we tried to remain friends, it was quite some time before we were able to make our way back toward the closeness we had known before our first foray coupledom.

We did make it back to friendship, though, eventually. After high school, Doug joined the military, traveled the world, played in more than a few bands, found love. I went to college, got married, had three children, started my teaching career, got a divorce. And though we didn't speak every day, or even every month, whenever we did connect our conversations picked up as if it had been only the day before that we last spoke on the phone. Our paths were separate, but we cared about each other deeply, and sincerely hoped for happiness for each other.

Flash forward several years. I happened one day to run into Doug's mother. He had become a truck driver, she told me, was out on the road for weeks at a time. She thought he might like to hear a friendly voice every now and again. Because he had moved quite a bit, it had been at least five years since we had last spoken. That weekend I picked up the phone and called, and we caught up on all the intervening years. Over the next several months, we chatted as he drove across the country. We became friends again, after all this time, learning about who we were as adults--what we had experienced in our lives, what we thought about, what we believed in, what was important to us. I helped keep him awake during long, lonely nights on the road, and he was an ear for me as I was learning how to be a single mom.

Several months after we reconnected, he was home visiting his mom. He had a couple of days of before he had to get out on the road again, and I had tickets to a concert that I was supposed to attend with my sister. Lisa wasn't able to make it up that weekend, though, so I invited him to join me. Although it wasn't his favorite band, he agreed to come along. It was halfway through the concert when I turned to look at him, and I realized I was falling for him again. Not long after, he realized it, too. We once again began the transition from friendship to coupledom. We were older, though, and less apt to jump to conclusions, to leave unsaid that which needs to be said. We were, of course, more mature, and had enough experience to know what we wanted, what we deserved. And at long last, what we deserved was each other. Two years later, we were married.

Today, I am blessed to be married to someone who truly cares about me and respects who I am as a person, and who is without a doubt my soulmate. He still makes me laugh, every single day. He makes me feel beautiful, and smart, and lucky, and I hope I do the same for him. When he kisses me, I know it's not just because it's my husband and he's supposed to, but because he absolutely loves me. Holding his hand still gives me the same butterflies in my stomach as the very first time his hand tentatively clasped mine. We first met a lifetime ago, and I am thrilled to see what the rest of this lifetime holds for us together.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Challenge

February 12, 2010

My sister and I have decided the set a goal of reading (and writing reviews) of 25 books each this year. For some people, that's a pretty easy goal, for others a pretty lofty one. For us, I think it's just right (though we won't know for sure until the end of the year). As a way to keep us on track and to hold ourselves accountable, we started up a new blog that will be dedicated to our book reviews and discussions of books.

We are also looking to include any of our friends who would like to take on the 25 Books challenge to add their reviews to the blog as well by becoming regular contributors. If you are interested, you can send me your email and I can add you to the blog. We'll read a variety of books, including fiction, non-fiction, pop fiction, classics, teen fiction, etc.--whatever catches our interests at a given time. Some of the reviews will be short and concise, and some of them might take on a slightly longer form (I can be verbose every now and then, you might have noticed.) Either way, we'll let you know what we think of them, and who we think might also like them. If you've read any of the books we post about, it'd be fun to read comments and hear what you thought of them, too.

The book blog is called Sisters Recommend. (Click on the link to check it out.) The blog is in its infancy, so come along and watch us grow as we progress through the year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Baby Come Back

February 9, 2010

I've been unceremoniously dumped. I'm not sure what I did, but here I stand, rejected offering in hand, watching the tail lights fading in the distance.

Actually, that's a fabrication of sorts. I didn't even get to see the tail lights. They were here, and then they were gone--a disappearing act. Maybe I talked too much; maybe I rambled too often. Maybe...well maybe I was just too boring. Too pedestrian in my verbal banter and too narcissistic in listening to my own voice.

Whatever it was, I've lost one of you. It's a small, intimate circle of friends who drop in here now and again, and now it's one person smaller. Is it silly that that makes me sad? I can't help it; it just does. Because all of you who offer me encouragement here have become very important to me. For all of you who have stuck around, even through the rambling and the boring parts, thank you. It means more than you know.

Weekend Wrap Up, Plus a Few Movie Reviews

February 9, 2010

We started off this fantastic three day weekend with an awards ceremony on Friday, where Danielle was awarded Principal's Honor Roll. Since they gave out the awards during my prep period on Friday, I was able to go see her and take her picture. (It's actually worked out pretty well these past couple of years--they moved when they give out the awards, and it almost always coincides with my prep period. It's definitely a perk of the elementary school being so close to the campus that I can run over to her school during these assemblies and not have to miss any of my own classes.) I am so proud of Danielle for all of her hard work this year--she's doing such a great job of being responsible and caring about doing her best work in school.

Later that night, we headed out to Family Dinner Night. This week happened to be Danielle's week, and she chose IHop. Her question of the day (the person whose week it is to choose the restaurant also gets to come up with the question of the day all week) was "What's your favorite restaurant that is no longer in business?" I was actually surprised that everyone was so easily able to come up with an answer to that question. My answer (one that my siblings will recognize immediately) was The Big Yellow House. When we first moved to the Fresno/Clovis area, we tried out lots of restaurants in town, but our favorite by far as a family was The Big Yellow House. We'd go there after church most Sundays. It was a completely family-friendly restaurant, which is a big plus for a family with five kids. What we all loved most about it was that they charged you, if you were a kid, by weight. There was a great big oversized scale right there in the lobby, and if you were under 12 years old, you got to step up on to it before you were seated. Depending on where the needle fell, you were charged 99 cents, $1.99, or $2.99. In my present world, as an adult, I am fairly certain I would not be thrilled about being charged by my weight in a restaurant. But in those simple childhood days, what one weighed was just a number, without all that baggage attached, so to speak.

So....back to the weekend. Next up, Doug went out to play some music with his buddies, so the kids and I had the whole evening together. I had been thinking about taking the kids to see New Moon at the three dollar theater, but I was skeptical that Nicholas would enjoy it. I didn't see much else in the way of options, though, until I told the kids that Fantastic Mr. Fox was also playing there. Both of the younger ones perked up and begged me to take them to see that one--exactly what I was afraid of. I had seen a few stills from the movie, and suffice it to say the animation style did not attract me at all. Brianna was even less enthusiastic. I gave in, though, and told the kids we'd check it out. I enticed Bree to be a good sport and play along by saying that she and I could sit and make fun of the movie together. We're good at snarky comments. It's one of our hobbies. She couldn't resist.

Let me tell you, I am so happy we went! That movie just cracked me up! I haven't laughed outloud and so unabashedly since I watched The Hangover (NOT with my kids) in the theater. There is just so much in the film that is unexpected and weird and surprising and witty and sardonic. And the animation style completely supported the tone and moods the movie was trying to convey. Bree and I were genuinely laughing so loudly that Danielle shushed us more than once. I had to lean over to her to explain that we weren't in fact laughing AT the movie, as I had planned--we were laughing WITH the movie. Well...kind of. You know what I mean. All I'm saying is, if you haven't seen it, see it. It will make your day.

The next day we had a fairly mellow morning. In the afternoon, all five of us went to a family birthday party for Kathryn, who had just recently celebrated her sweet sixteen. We had a lovely dinner and lots of good conversation and way too much to eat. I can't believe she's already sixteen! Yet another reminder of how quickly all of our children are growing up.

After the party and after the delivery of the kids to their dad's house for the remainder of the weekend, Doug and I went back home and settled in for some movie-watching. We throw a big Oscar party every year, so we try to take in as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as possible before the big event. On tap for Saturday night was District 9. District 9 is not a movie I would normally go out of my way to see, which is part of the beauty of our Oscar-movie-watching plan. I am exposed to films outside of my comfort zone. It's a pretty dark but thought-provoking allegorical film that addresses the issue of race relations and humanity. The protagonist begins the film as a milquetoast middle-management type for whom the moral compass is unexamined, taken for granted. Throughout the course of the film, the tables are turned and he begins to question his own role in the inhumane objectification of others. His transformation, both literally and figuratively, is artfully and deftly explored through the actor's powerful performance. It's a movie that will stay with you for awhile. (Not only that, it's got some rousing good action sequences, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Sunday, of course, was the Super Bowl. I have to admit, I've never been a huge football fan, and up until about five years ago, I had never even watched a Super Bowl game. There was simply no allure for me. I now recognize, however, that it's okay if I don't recognize the teams or the quarterbacks or know who is favored to win or know why the underdog is the underdog. What I do know is it's a great excuse to get together with friends, enjoy food that's way too fried and fattening, and root for somebody--anybody--while getting to watch all those cool commercials they air between the huddles and the passes and the spectacular tackles. It's just good fun! I'm a convert. We spent this Super Bowl Sunday with our good friends Rick and Julieann and Jason and Heather. To be honest, there was a lot more laughing and eating than there was actually watching the big screen TV, but I was totally okay with that.

Finally, Monday came--a glorious Monday of sleeping in. No alarm clocks, no school. I love that we celebrate our presidents on two consecutive Mondays in February. It helps us make it through the dreary winter months. Though we did get a little cleaning done, Doug and I also did a whole lot of nothing, catching up on our DVR backlog. We also checked out another movie that's up for some Oscar love--Nine. I'm a big fan of musicals and this one is packed with big names and faces, so I've been looking forward to seeing this one for quite a long time. I will say I very much enjoyed it, but it was not the movie I was expecting to see. I thought I was going to see the brother of Chicago--a fun, rollicking flick despite some of its sordid story line. What we saw instead was more reminiscent of All That Jazz. It was the story of a director/writer struggling with his demons and wrestling that fine line between defining his reality and creating his fantasy worlds. Guido, our protagonist, is sympathetically depicted despite the fact that he has brought on his turmoil through his own choices--it's the push-and-pull of the artist who is both victim and perpetrator of his own artistic license, lost somewhere between the two and affecting all those who touch his world. The musical numbers that make up his sirens' songs are mesmerizing, enticing, powerful and seductive. They made me want to know more of their lives, their back stories. Guido, we know, but his women? We are only allowed glimpses of them through his eyes, through his imagination. Ultimately, it's what makes Guido sympathetic, that he gives us these women, part reality, part fantasy, inextricably tied with his own needs and desires. He is, after all, human, fallible, real. And we feel his struggle.

So now....back to my reality, back to work. My weekend? Fantasy, fun, flirty, fabulous. My Tuesday-that-is-like-my-Monday-this-week? A little less siren's song, a little more gritty reality. Thank goodness there's another three-day weekend on the horizon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Homework Ogre

February 5, 2010

I totally felt like the Homework Ogre Mom last night. From a History Day project to a recreation of the Periodic Table to studying for a math test at a level I myself never even reached, the stress level was pretty high. My job, when due dates and procrastination levels collide, is to be the Homework Ogre, Task Master Extraordinaire. It's a little bit like trying to train Golden Retrievers to "Sit" or "Stay." It can be done, but dang, it's hard when there are squirells and sticks and other dogs to bark at.

Over the course of the very long evening, these are all of the not-quite-relevant-to-homework cries for help I heard from my three children:

"But I'm DONE!!" (Not even close.)

"I can't do it. The rest of my project is at Dad's." (We'll call him and ask him to bring it over.)

"I'll finish it tomorrow before school!" (You can't get out of bed on time; what makes you think you'll wake up early enough to finish a homework assignment?)

"I want a cookie." (Me too. Okay, we can have one while you're working.)

"But the show I want to watch is coming on soon!" (DVR.)

"I don't want to do my homework!" (Seriously? Shocker! How many people WANT to do their homework??)

"Can you just do this part?" (I am proud to say that yes, yes I CAN do that part of your homework. Will I? Now that's another question entirely. I already passed 5th grade, so I don't have to do 5th grade homework anymore. Your turn.)

"Why do I have to show my work?" (Because your teacher asked you to. Because your teacher wants to see your thought process, and he can't read your mind. Be glad he can't read your mind. I assure you, HE'S probably glad he can't read your mind. Just show your work.)

"This is dumb!" (Maybe. Sometimes homework is dumb, or too complicated, or too simplistic, or too time consuming. There are parts of my job that I don't like and think are dumb, too. Comes with the territory. Suck it up, Princess--or Prince, as the case may be.)

"I'm tired!" (I know. And soon, very soon, you'll be going to bed. Oh, believe me, you'll be going straight to bed. Just as soon as you finish this dumb project!)

"This will take FOREVER!" (Have we learned anything about time management yet? That perhaps your teacher gives you four weeks to work on a project because he/she KNOWS it will take a long time, so you're supposed to work on it little by little, piece by piece, so that you're not overwhelmed with trying to do everything the night before it's due? No, you didn't learn that yet? Then yes, it IS going to take forever. Better get rolling now.)

"I need a drink of water/another cookie/to go to the bathroom/to take a break, etc...." (Not yet you don't. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.)

To other siblings in the room: "Quit throwing things at me/hitting me/looking at me/talking to me/annoying me...." (Really? I've got to separate you into different rooms to do your homework? What are you, Golden Retrievers?)

Finally, after what seemed a very long night, math was completed (work shown), we had a reasonable facsimile of a Periodic Table, and a respectable amount of work to check in with the History Day coach. Everyone turned in for the night, and the Ogre and her Golden Retrievers, spent from the previous hours' game of tug 'o war, all slept quite soundly.