Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What it's like

A long long very long time ago, as a drama-school kid, I studied improv comedy.  The number one rule in doing improv is to always say "yes" to keep the action moving.  No matter how off-the-wall the new development is, it's more interesting to run with it than shut it down. 

Living with 3 1/2 year old twins?  It's a lot like that.  One kid will start making up an elaborate game, or story, and the other will just jump right in.  Fearless. Also wacky. And often funny.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lesson of the day

It's hard to feel like a grown-up at a parent-teacher conference when you're trying to balance your butt on a chair designed for a 3 year old.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On discipline, self and other

1. Self.

Since leaving my day job (of the sort where going to the office is part of the gig, and on some days seemed more important than the quantity of work produced) I'm having trouble finding the self-discipline to accomplish, well, much of anything of substance. Case in point: I've been meaning to write this post for a week. On my "to-do" list everyday. Already had to come back to it 3 times today. (And again a week later, natch.)

I never thought I was an office-job sort of person. I like self-directed projects. When I'm involved in a project, I can work on it almost nonstop for hours, stay up all night while the creative juices are flowing, eat in front of my computer, then do nothing for several days afterward. But the act of going in to the office gave me a kind of structure, and now that I'm working from home again I'm rethinking my optimal setup.

How do I find the time and focus and self-discipline to do what I need to do, and not simply fritter away my time? How do I shut out the other projects so I can focus on just one?

I'm trying a new thing -- the Pomodoro technique -- as a way of reigning myself in. For 25 minutes at a time, I'm focusing on one project, task, writing assignment, whatever. I'm trying to do a couple of "tomatoes" every day. (Ideally, I'd be doing something more like 4 tomatoes in the morning and another 4 in the afternoon, I think, but right now if I can focus that well on 2 it seems like a good day.) We'll see if that helps me focus on just one thing at a time, even if I focus on different things at different times. Or something.

2. Kids

A whole different kind of discipline here, of course.  The kids are, well, three and a half.  And all that entails.  For a couple of weeks, now, the kids have been having a tough time with their behaviour, especially at school.  And the school seems a bit at a loss as to what to do.  The teachers send home these notes (sometimes quite lengthy notes) detailing the day's infractions - who had to nap in the younger kids class instead, who wouldn't clean up their mess after spilling at lunch, who said NO to the teachers a bunch.

When I first started this post (eons ago, apparently) I was going to ask for discipline advice, since clearly nothing we were doing was working and we were terrible parents who couldn't control our children etc etc.  And to some extent, we're still there.  We've implemented a sticker chart to reward the ideal behaviour (at home, stickers for the steps to get ready in the morning, plus stickers for being quiet at naptime and listening to the teachers) but I don't know if it's making much difference. It's only been a week and a half of charts, so we haven't had a huge chance to test out the rewards scheme.  But even then, it feels silly.  I don't love the idea of bribing the kids to behave, nor do I love that the school is getting all worked up over developmentally-expected behaviour.  Obnoxious, yes, and certainly something we all need to work on, but not cause for sudden panic and drastic measures.  They're three-and-a-half, dudes.  They're testing limits.  Please don't go all "wait until your father gets home" on us -- if they're acting up at school, something other than a sticker when they get home has to be involved.

A couple of other things might also be factors here.  Once is a twin thing -- some days it seems like the teachers are seeing the kids as two parts of a whole - so one does something, and the other one does something and it's as if the second kid is on their second infraction.  Or the teachers just don't like us as a family or something.  Also, a structural problem.  Our kids are the oldest in their class, and should probably have been in the next class (a slightly older bunch, and the group they'll likely track with into Kindergarten).  I wonder if these teachers are less used to dealing with the obnoxiousness of 3-and-a-half than the next classroom's teachers, just due to the demographics.

We're trying to set up a parent teacher conference with them -- hard to arrange since it means other teachers need to be covering the class, but the school is trying to work out the logistics.  We'll see what we glean from that.

A week ago, I would have been looking for reassurance, but I've managed two moms-nights-out recently (one with my twins club, and one with our old playgroup moms) and both times have heard the collective reassurances - they're just acting their age.  It's obnoxious, and it'll suck for a while, and we certainly need a plan for helping them learn to control their behaviour, but they're not suddenly on the road to misfithood over their defiance and limit testing.

Though it's damn exhausting.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

If only I could...

I'm trying to figure out how to write about my dissertation without ever having this personal blog linked to my professional persona. While the process of dissertation writing is fairly universal (not that we all experience it the same, but the challenges and themes are somewhat consistent), topics are unique. Good topics (at least in my field) are VERY unique. And my topic, in specific, has to do - at least somewhat - with blogs. So this might not be funny to anyone but me, but I found this spam comment on a post over at Tertia's (which is especially odd since I don't regularly read her site anymore).

Nowadays people have an opportunity to use the help of the thesis writing services that would finish famous thesis topics connecting with this post. But I suggest to detect the experienced dissertation service to buy dissertation online in.

(I removed the links to the spammer's site to avoid driving traffic to them.) I just found it so amusing that someone would post a spam comment about writing a thesis related to Tertia's post ... on her newly remodeled house. And then I realized that not only am I writing about blogs and bloggers right now, but I've done work on houses in the past. So really, I should just buy my own dissertation right now. Hey, problem solved!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Is this thing on?

I got two drive-by pregnancy announcements in the past month, and even though we're not in the trenches of trying or anything (which is a topic for another day) I felt blindsided. After all this time, I guess the pang of jealousy over seemingly easy conceptions and neatly spaced children hasn't gone away. Though apparently, J's tact about such things has -- he relayed one piece of news without any preamble in the midst of the evening getting-home-from-school chaos and I had to excuse myself to the other room to just process it alone for a minute. And then I just felt lonely, since I couldn't run to my computer and blog it all out and hear a chorus of support, and then I thought "hey, why not?" So here I am. Though I expect there's not much chorus to speak of anymore. And I have no idea what I'm doing here anymore, or where this will go. But here I am, for now, anyway. Ambivalent much?


And because it feels wrong not to play catch up a bit:

M&B are 3. (Three and a quarter if they were older and counted in quarters, but M is in the phase of shyly holding up 3 fingers when asked her age so we'll go with that.) They are rambunctious and feisty and sweet and fabulous and fascinating. A couple of months ago, one of the kids got a fortune from a very wise cookie that said "You are a bundle of energy, always on the go" which is perhaps the most spot on fortune I've ever seen. They also snuggle and cuddle and generally melt my heart in the very best ways.

J is deep into the career shift process, which means he's gone back to school and might at some point try for an entry level position in his new field of choice. Hopefully soon. Which is wonderful, of course, but also tense and tenuous. I'm a planner, and this level of unknown makes me anxious on so many levels.

Plus, I am back from the land of the employed to the land of the (theoretically) dissertating, though so far I've been spending time organizing my household chaos, and lounging about, and feeling generally unproductive.

And those are just the highlights. Wasn't that fun?