Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Uploading history to the family cloud (Or, that didn't happen to you, honey)

My husband and I have been together for 17 years. And during that time, we've shared a wonderful son, a collection of amazing travel photos and a series of shared memories. We share those memories even when we don't mean to.

My husband was telling friends of ours about an always-hungry cat we had. And how, one night, while we were in bed, we heard a loud banging noise from the kitchen, but we didn't investigate because we were too tired. Sure enough, in the morning, we found the overturned food bin on the floor with cat food scattered everywhere and one satisfied kitty.

I listened to my husband describe the event in great detail - everything from the banging sound to the exhaustion to the food on the floor the next morning. Except, here's the thing. That didn't happen to my husband. It happened to me. And he wasn't home. In fact, he was 300 miles away at the time.

Once I convinced my husband that he wasn't there (which involved showing him the email recounting the story to him to prove it),  it got me interested in how these types of false memories occur. It turns out that these transactive memories happen in couples all the time - it's a way for us to share information. You can think of it has the low-tech version of storing information in a cloud (but instead of the ether, it's stored in your other half's head.)

But, it turns out that these transactive memories happen within families, too. (If you didn't click on that link - a transactive memory occurs when people remember separate details of an event, and added together, it makes a complete memory.) So now, our son is taking up the collection of our memory details: He is able to tell stories that he hears my husband and I share, even though they happened before he was born. When questioned, he will explain events in as explicit detail as you can expect from a young boy.

All of this is really helpful to him though - because he is learning our family history and his place in it. And studies show that children who know their family histories are actually happier overall with a better sense of self-esteem.

So, we tell him our family history. And it doesn't matter if the memories belong to my husband or me - it is our history, and it belongs to him now.

What memory did you borrow from your family member?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The art of a good snuggle

My son is a big boy (or so he keeps telling me). But, when the pajamas are on and the bedtime books have been read, he still wants his snuggle time with Mommy. He curls his little body into mine, sticks his cold toes against me and tells me things that melt my heart ("You smell so good. Just like a Mommy." or "I can hear your heart beat and it is beautiful.")

So, yes, I am raising my son to be a snuggler.

I know that I am fortunate, in that he was always a snugly baby. Although he never slept in our bed, he had a habit of sleeping on us whenever possible. He even loved to be swaddled in what can only be described as an almost shrink-wrapped style. I loved the way he giggled and wiggled when we tickled his oh-so-soft skin fresh from the bath.

So, I'm kind of surprised that there is a study indicating that babies like to be touched. (Really? Is that a thing that people don't know?) I'm just kidding - we all know that. Rather, the study is about the exact infant responses to touch that may actually be helping to strengthen parent-child bonds.

And that, is a very study worthy. Most babies are touch magnates - especially for women. But there are some genetic influences to the way that babies liked to be touched. If Mom, for instance, doesn't like light touches, then baby may not like them either.

So far, it seems that my son has the same sensitivity as my husband. I can say that because they are both crazy ticklish. I am not ticklish (no, really, I'm not), although I used to be when I was younger, it was not with the same intensity as my husband and son, and evidently, I grew out of it.

But, I am a good snuggler. So, I will pass along the art of a good snuggle for as long as my son lets me.

Did you ever try baby massage with your little one? Mine didn't go for it, but I loved the idea of it. As your child has grown, how do you incorporate the oh-so-important sense of touch into their day?

Monday, April 28, 2014

How do you plan on embarrassing your child?

Children are embarrassing; it's in their nature. I believe that many adults are often jealous of children's social "pass" in getting to say whatever is on their minds at any time: "That woman is fat!" or "I can see your underwear and it's blue!" or "The food you cook tastes like poopy!" are all things that can be yelled by children at the decibel level of a jackhammer with little immediate repercussions beyond a parent saying, "please use your inside voice."

Parents with thin skins will leave a store when their child throws a tantrum in the middle of a toy aisle because Mom or Dad isn't buying them everything on the bottom two shelves; parents with thicker skins will continue their shopping and let their child wail throughout the store while saying quietly, "I know; it's a shame, but we don't always get everything we want in life."

I root for the parents in the latter situation every time.

And all of these childish behaviors lead me to wonder how I will embarrass my child in the future when the tables are turned and I become the most bothersome thing in my son's life. Because - and let there be no mistake about this - I am looking forward to embarrassing my son. I have thought of lots of mortifying scenarios I will put him through, including kissing him good-bye in front of his friends, displaying dorky-but-adorable photos of him from his childhood around our home, and even - gasp! - friending him and then commenting on the social media outlet of his choice.

It seems that the last item on that list may already be contributing to the exodus of teens from Facebook. 

In this British study verifying that parents are just as embarrassing online as they are in real life, researchers have indicated that European teens aged 16-18 are leaving Facebook because of all the adults on it - especially family members. There are some other interesting findings in the study - namely that Dad is more embarrassing than Mom, even though Mom is more adept at using modern slang.

So, no matter what social media my son ends up on, I'm sure I will be there as well - helping him make smart choices about his privacy and posting the occasional cringe-worthy comment. 

Because I'm his Mom. And that's just part of my job.

What was the most embarrassing thing your parents ever did to you (either online or in real life)? Share the horror of it all with me in the comments.

Friday, April 25, 2014

To read or not to read: Parent research

Every day, I sift through my emails and review the latest parent research. Links have taken me to information about the importance of Mommy sleep to the idea that your child's name will indicate their future job. There is the research that is in conflict with previous research, like the latest info on breastfeeding, and the research that is still in its infancy.
But, no matter what, I enjoy it all.

There was this humor piece written for the New Yorker, making light of the contradictory nature of parent studies - and indicating that parents were going crazy from all the parent research. I smiled when I read it. And after I finished it, I continued reading another research article that was delivered to my inbox.

But why? Am I addicted to parenting research? Do I feel like I am missing out on the latest and greatest parenting advice to apply to my son?

Maybe. But maybe I also recognize that knowledge is power, and I want to make sure I have the power to have a happy and healthy family.

And now, a story:

I live pretty far away from my extended family - a multitude of aunts, uncles and cousins who I love dearly. Whenever I see them, I am completely happy and feel welcomed and embraced and loved. Their lives are intertwined and they share this collective knowledge of everyone's business, social lives and latest news.

And, as much as I love them, I am OK not being a part of the larger collective. I am fine just being part of my smaller family unit who visits them, trades stories and makes various attempts to keep in touch between the larger visits. But, I also recognize that I am missing out: Missing out on collective wisdom, or great parenting advice or even funny stories that relate genetic quirks of our family.

So, I read parenting research. And I learn. And, hopefully, I grow. And that's why I write this blog: To share what I've learned along the way.

What kind of family studies/news stories do you find yourself paying attention to the most and why?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Zen and the art of sleeping alone

When I wake up in the morning, it is usually to the brief beeping of an alarm, a steady (and desperate purring) or a little face next to mine asking me for pancakes. In all of these instances, my husband is still asleep.

I've always been a light sleeper. To this day, my husband reminds me of the time I woke up to the sound of him taking off his belt. (He still can't believe that shooshing sound woke me.) He and my son are sound sleepers, and I am sometimes jealous of their ability to sleep through a cat crawling around the bed because she is unhappy with the fact that she is on a diet.
This is my cat. She likes to sleep in the middle of the bed.


But I digress. The point is that I am able to leave the bed in the morning and start my day without interrupting my husband's sleep. And one of the reasons that is possible is because we have a king-sized bed. I've talked jokingly before about not co-sleeping with your husband (and was pleased when I saw a similar slate.com article on the same topic last week), but now I feel like I have to go a bit on the defensive.

You see, a recent British study has suggested that sleep position is a reflection of a couple's intimacy. Survey respondents who slept close to their partners reported being the happiest. The results suggest that couples who drift apart in bed may also be drifting apart when they are awake.

Or, you know, they might just be really tired and need a good night's sleep.

These are the types of surveys that make me laugh: The ones that are so vague (did any of these couples have children and were those children trying to sleep in the middle of their parents' bed?) that they are really only good for a fun read. I feel the same way about the theory indicating that babies cry to keep their parents from having sex, and thus, more babies. Was it a worthy read as I thought back to all those late-night feedings with my son and sleep-starved days? Yes, I laughed, but I'm not inclined to believe it.

So, I'll keep my spot in the bed next to my wonderful husband, sleeping not too close to him and not too far away - within reaching distance, but each of us with our own space. Because you know what makes us a really happy couple? A good night's sleep.

When's the last time you slept alone in a bed? Was it a good or bad night's sleep for you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why I'm not busy anymore

I am not busy.

I am a working mom to an adventurous little guy and a needy cat. I am a woman who likes to travel with her husband, maintain a blog and a often-neglected but still beloved podcast, and who enjoys cooking and forces herself to exercise.

I work more than 40 hours a week in an office where everything is an
emergency, I eat at my desk and I haven't had the time to call my friends in weeks. I use my car to wind myself up or down for the day, and I have rediscovered yoga to hang on to the thin thread of calm that I have left.

But, I am not busy.

I say that for a few reasons. First of all - my life could always get busier. We are all healthy, my son hasn't taken up any after-school activities I need to ferry him to, and we only have one child to keep track of. At work, we could lose people on my team from staff reductions or people resigning or I could get handed a lot more projects to work on.

My other big reason is that I am tired of living in a culture of busyness. One where we are always connected to work and one where we try to one-up each other with what we get accomplished before 8 am, or how late we stayed up last night to work on something. I feel nothing but sadness when I see emails from my coworkers that came in during a weekend.

So, I say that I am not busy. And most days I believe myself. On the days I don't, I focus on the following things:
  1. I don't need to interact with media every day. My phone can ring/buzz and I can ignore it. It's usually not that important. 
  2. Work is for work. Home is for family. I am thrilled to see that other countries like France and Germany are trying to make that distinction on a national scale - I'm making it a distinction on a personal scale. (I don't enjoy working from home, anyway.)
  3. I am an organized person. Lists are my friends - as long as there aren't too many of them - and they can help me find the time I need to find to get everything prioritized and accomplished.
And for the most part it works. I feel occupied, but not busy. I feel balanced, but not slammed. I have down time to just sit and breathe for a moment.

Do you feel overwhelmed with too much in your life? What are you going to let go of to free up some of your time?

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's never too early to start planning Mother's Day

For anyone who does not realize this: Mother's Day is a big deal. It is a chance to tell your Mom how much you love and appreciate her.

And, for me, (and with the help of a little technology) it is the chance to drive her a little crazy.

Let me back up a bit. I love my Mom. She is a talented woman, a fantastic writer, a hands-on grandmother and loves to try new things. She is up on her DIY craftiness as well as technology. So, I use that love of technology to drive her crazy just in time for Mother's Day.


You can play along with your own Mom:

Game 1
Text your Mother a picture of yourself every day for two weeks leading up to Mother's Day. See how long it takes her to ask you what you are doing. Respond with, "I just thought you wanted to see more of me." This works especially well if you have children, because she doesn't want to see you, she wants to see her grandchildren. Bonus points if your Mom calls you weird.

Game 2
Works the same as game one but with just pictures of the cat.

Game 3
Send your Mom a text about the things you love about her every day for a few weeks leading up to Mother's Day. They can be sweet (Mom, I love the way you would brush my hair out until it shined.) or a funny remembrance (Mom, I was just thinking about the time that frog came into the house and you threatened to kill all of us if we didn't handle it - classic!)

Game 4
Play I Spy with your Mom via phone. Call her when you know she isn't able to answer and say, "I spy with my little eye something pink." Then hang up. Repeat the next day, even if she doesn't call you back with an answer. It's good form to take anything she says as a correct answer - she did call you back after all. (Cool Moms call back.)

Game 5 - for moms who don't enjoy text games
Cut up a picture of the two of you and send her the pieces in the mail for her to assemble like a puzzle. Bonus points to you if you leave one piece out and wrap it up for her next birthday/holiday.

The point of all these silly games is to go beyond the flowers and cheesy cards. Make Mother's Day fun for you and your Mom. As for me this year, I actually can't say what I'm going to do, because my Mom reads my blog. And that would ruin the surprise. (Love you, Mom!)

What Mother's Day gift are you wishing for this year?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Mommy needs alone time: Part 2

My last post left off with an annoying child in a grocery store and a study about children being more aggravating than they used to be.

Let's deal with the child first.

His Mom didn't budge. That boy said her name about 200 times between the checkout line and the door, at which point she turned to him and said, "I already told you, 'No.' And that was my final answer."

I caught up with her in the parking lot and (because I talk to strangers) said, "Nice job sticking to your guns, Mom. That's the way to raise a man." She smiled at me and we had that Mother-to-Mother moment that is often only captured in movies on the Hallmark channel.

Now let's deal with that study.


Are children really more aggravating? I doubt it. If you read the study, it's all self-reported data. But a lot has changed in the past 15 years: The economy, which parent stays home with the children, technology and our attention spans. I have a feeling that everyone's stress levels are running a little higher than they should, and children feed off that energy.

What to do about this? Why not take a page from your parent's playbook (thanks, Mom!) When I was little and fairly certain I was about to drive my mother over the edge, she sent me outside to play. (Or to my room to play if it was night or raining.)

And so that is what I'm doing now. My son is perfectly capable of playing by himself with the obscene amount of toys that he has. When he has asked me the same question for the fiftieth time, I ask him to go play in his room, and I can let go of my stress. When we both feel better, we can meet up again and talk about our emotions.

Because, let's face it: We all need a little alone time.

What would you do if you had a whole day just for yourself?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why Mommy needs some alone time - Part 1

I am in the store by myself.

This is odd for me. I am usually accompanied by my son and husband, or at least by my son. But, he did NOT want to go grocery shopping with me, and my sweet husband elected to stay home with him and build with Legos or set up racetracks or do whatever it is they do together during man time.

Which leaves me in the store by myself.

I am always caught slightly off guard when this happens to me - like I have forgotten something really, really important, but can't remember what it is. But, by the end of my shopping trip, I start to feel comfortable with the alone time and know that I will mourn its passing.

So, I am standing in the checkout line, and in the line next to me is a boy about my son's age. He is tugging at his mother's shirt and saying, "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooo-ooooom, Mom, Mom, Mom..."

And she looks like she is going to snap.

At this point, I am very thankful my son is not with me, because (gasp), what if he saw that behavior and wanted to give it a try? I'm working on my patience and am not sure if I would have that kind of resolve.

But, I'm also reminded of this study that basically claims that children are more aggravating than they were 15 years ago.

(Ummmm...you're welcome, Mom.)

So, let's talk about that more next time. In the meantime, what's the worst behavior you've ever witnessed in a public place?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Learning how to play it safe

My son has a special title: He is our safety officer. Whenever we get in the car to go to school, I tell him that he is responsible for making sure everyone is buckled up for safety. When he helps me cook in the kitchen, I've given him the responsibility for making sure I am being safe around the stove.

Like most parents, my husband and I try to give our son a sense of balance: My husband has always encouraged our son to test his limits, but I am always a bit more nervous about his safety. But, it turns out, most Moms are that way.

A group of researchers at the University of Iowa tested how Mothers and their children rated various dangerous scenarios - everything from climbing on a counter to using an axe (they didn't actually give children an axe, they just talked about it). Not surprisingly, there was a vast difference in the danger ratings.

So how can we help discuss potential hazards for our children in a way that will help them with safety? Here are some tips:
  • Although you may initially get your child's attention with phrases like "Don't do that!" don't forget to explain why. 
  • Use terms that explain exact consequences, not things that could happen in the future, since children are usually only interested in their immediate needs.
  • Designate your child to be in charge of safety for a day and have them point out dangerous situations to family members.
  • Use empathetic storytelling to tell your child about your own injuries; let them know that you aren't impervious to pain.
  • Try to let the little things go.
That last one is hard, since we all want to keep our children safe, but I feel like I need to follow in my husband's footsteps sometimes and let our son push his boundaries.

What's the worst injury you had as a child from not being safe?

Monday, April 14, 2014

The effects of second-hand television

My son and I are in the grocery store, and the nice man bagging our groceries sees my son's Batman-logo t-shirt.

"Cool shirt," he says and whips out his cell phone's Bataman-logo case. "Are you Batman? Are you off to fight the Joker?"

My son looks bewildered, so I try to explain. "My son doesn't watch much TV, so he doesn't really know a lot about Batman. He just knows that Batman is a hero and has a neat logo."

Now the guy is looking at me like I'm crazy.

Which makes me ask myself, "Are my TV limitations for my son wrong? Will my son get bullied or picked on in school because he doesn't know who a popular character is or watch a certain show?"

I mean, I know that too much television is wrong. Dozens of studies warn us about the damaging effects of television before the age of two, or that it causes social issues, or that it could disrupt children's sleep. But what about social awkwardness because my son can't relate to what his friends are watching?

But then I take a deep breath and realize something...he didn't learn about Batman in our household. He picked that up at school from his friends. The same way he picked up knowledge of Superman, Disney princesses, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Thomas the Tank Engine.

So, for now, I'll keep my limited TV rules in place, and continue to steer him toward the educational and fun programing that is age-appropriate for him (Except for Thomas. I can't stand that train; that show is so horribly boring.) Like most parents, I'll need to stay flexible as he grows up and we can reassess his viewing habits when he enters Kindergarten. 

Most of us watch too much TV as adults. What's the one show you should give up watching but just can't do it yet? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Making my peace with traffic

One of the many reasons we moved was to shorten our commute time. So, although I find myself driving less miles, I find that I am in the car for the same amount of time as I used to be (or sometimes for longer). Every morning and evening, I sit in traffic and look at the other cars around me: I see angry, frustrated drivers who are endangering everyone around them by not using turn signals when merging; I see sleepy drivers who are yawning and drinking Starbucks; I see a lot of people talking on their phones.

But not me. I am taking back my traffic time.

There was a study that came out a while ago about adults having trouble with the stress associated with social transitioning (from home to the office; from office to home). The study mentioned that women in particular were prone to this stress. So, traffic has become my wind up or wind down time.

In morning traffic, I have just dropped off my son to school, so I use that time to transition to work and think about the projects that I want to get accomplished that day. In the evenings, I use the time to let go of the projects I haven't finished and think about my husband and son. Since I've started doing this, I feel like I am more present in my life and more focused on what I need to be focused on.
Background image by Shawn Campbell


And when I am stuck alone in traffic on the weekends, I have taken that time back for myself. I use the voice recording feature on my phone to tell myself a story that I could use in a future podcast that I can transcribe later. Or I listen to podcasts. Sometimes I think I'll use my time to start listening to audiobooks (sort of a 100 audio book challenge), but I'm not there yet.

And if my son is with me, well, then we turn the car into a musical classroom. And we dance and sing and have much more fun than the angry drivers around us.

The point of all this is that I don't mind traffic anymore. But, I still think everyone should use their blinkers.

What do you do during your morning/evening commute?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I am drowning in lists

My son and I are at the grocery store and a family passes us. The family has this conversation:

"What do we need again?"
"I don't know - I think cheese."
"Don't we have cheese?"
"It might not be the right kind."

My son hears all this and says to me, "Those people are not list people, Mommy."

I am a bit proud. And somewhat terrified.

Hi. My name is Lauren and I am a list person. I keep lists for all sorts of things. I have grocery shopping lists, and weekly menu plans. I keep monthly event lists and blog topic lists and story idea lists. I have lists for music I want to purchase when I get back to my computer and for things I want to do next season. And I keep lists of projects I want to finish.

In other words, I am drowning in lists.

Which made me wonder if lists were as good of an organizational tool as I thought they were. So, I read this older study about why lists don't work and then made a list of why I am going to stubbornly keep making them:
  • My memory is failing me. Two things I can remember. Three? I have to write it down.
  • Some lists are communal. And yes, I expect other families members to contribute to the shopping list (this is a work in progress).
  • I keep them all in one location. It's not like I have 5 notebooks laying around. I have one big one with all my lists in it. (And a small one. And that grocery one...ok, I try to keep them all together.)
  • I really, really like crossing things off my to-do list. And I know I am not alone on that.
So, I'm going to stick with my lists. Incidentally, a few days after our shopping trip, my son handed my a piece of paper with some scribbles on it and said, "Here, Mommy, I made you a list."

That's my boy!

How do you stay organized? Are you a list-driven person? Leave me a message in the comments (and feel free to make it into a list format!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How much homework is too much?

My son has been in school since he was 6 weeks old - not daycare, but a school with curriculum and accreditation and the works. Sure it was all fun and games as he focused his young energy on learning how to walk and talk, but once he hit the age of two, the homework started.

His homework has run the gamut from building a beanstalk, to making collages, to writing his letters and building a robot. So far, it's all been manageable and fun.

I admit to being a bit worried when I heard from other parents how much homework their children have at night. They describe hours of work that can't possibly be completed and that they are unable to help with.

But it turns out that this scenario might not be the standard. This study by the Brookings Institution has used data collected over the last 30 years which shows that homework amounts have been pretty steady. Since 1984, nine-year-old students have experienced a slight increase in homework, however, 13-year-olds have received slightly less.

So why does it feel like the homework has been piled on? I don't have any study data to pull from, but I have theories of my own:
  • My friends who report the homework onslaught have multiple children who are all involved in multiple extra-curricular activities. I sense a mega time crunch issue.
  • In 1984, I had a stay-at-home mom to greet me after school at 3:30. With my husband and I working full time, we are unable to pick up our son until later. 
  • Memory loss. I have somehow retained my memories of the sheer amount of work the nuns gave me to do in seventh grade (there was a tree log, a moon log, the science fair, a book to translate all due around the same time), but other years are a little fuzzy. Maybe we have enough distance from our middle school years that we forget what the workload looked like.
I have a few easy homework years to help with before I can really start to complain. But tell me what the situation in your household is like. Do you think it is reasonable or out of control?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The results of the media diet

Last week, I came across the term media diet and decided to track my own use of media throughout a typical week. I was especially interested in seeing how much I used media (specifically, my smartphone, the computer and TV) in front of my impressionable son.

So, let me explain the rules I set for myself: I use a computer all day at work, so I didn't factor that time into my data set. I did, however, include any time I used my phone for a personal matter while at the office (which isn't much). 

What I didn't realize is that I would run into a gray area when compiling my data. I tend to listen to podcasts while driving to and from work (it's a long commute). My son is definitely not present in the car while those podcasts play, but I felt like that was a media use, so I included that number.

So, here are my results:

Monday
Computer: 80 minutes, no son present

Phone: 20 minutes, no son present
TV: none
Podcasts: 40 minutes, no son present

Tuesday 
Computer: 50 minutes, no son present
Phone: 10 minutes, no son present
TV: 30 minutes, no son present
Podcasts: 40 minutes, no son present

Wednesday
Computer: 40 minutes
, no son present
Phone: 10 minutes, no son present
TV: 60 minutes, no son present
Podcasts: none

Thursday
Computer: 40 minutes
, no son present
Phone: 10 minutes, no son present
TV: 60 minutes, no son present
Podcasts: 40 minutes, no son present

Friday 
Computer: 50 minutes, no son present
Phone: 10 minutes, no son present
TV: 45 minutes, no son present
Podcasts: none

Saturday
Computer: 20 minutes, no son present
Phone: 20 minutes, no son present
TV: 30-minute yoga video with son; 2 hours, no son present
Podcasts: none

Sunday 
Computer: 10 minutes with son present; 50 minutes, no son present
Phone: 20 minutes
TV: 30-minute yoga video with son; 60 minutes, no son present
Podcasts: none

So, from this week I've learned a few things. First, I spend most of my computer time on my blog and podcast. And those times when I am watching TV, I usually also have my laptop with me so I can work a bit and half pay attention to the shows. (I don't get a lot done, but I am at least in the same room as my husband.) Secondly, I mostly use my phone for games - so that short time every day is when I am defeating my husband at Hanging with Friends (or at least trying to). Finally, I think I've subconsciously fixed my schedule so that I am not working on my computer or watching TV when my son is around me, because all those minutes I logged were either before he woke up or after he went to bed.

Overall, I am proud of myself. I had hoped that I was setting a good example for my son and it turns out I'm not doing too bad of a job. How about you? Are you ready to take the challenge and see how you fare? If you are feeling brave, share your results in the comments.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Experimental Mommy

In school, science was never my strong suit. I'd like to blame this on the nuns. (Can I do that?)

Things picked up for me in science when I finally got away from the life sciences and got to explore chemistry and astronomy. (Let's add fire! Let's talk about other planets!) It was great timing, because by 10th grade I was really, really tired of talking about cells and phylums.
Background image by Shawn Campbell

So, that's how long it took for science to be fun for me: High school. I don't want my son to have to wait that long. To help with that, I'm looking for everyday science opportunities: natural discovery outside, discussions about weather, even cooking.

Along with this, I'm also planning to fail more. Because that's what science is all about: Experimenting. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. The important thing is that we are learning.

My new goal is to plan at least one science experiment with my son per weekend. Maybe we'll fail. Maybe we'll succeed. I bet we both learn something.

Science is sort of like parenting: It's about figuring out what works.

What did you learn today? Share with me in the comments.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In (his) sickness and in (her) health

My husband and I have been together for a long time. I like that about us. I like having this mental database on him - things he likes, things he doesn't like, shared memories and even memories that he thinks are his but are really mine. I even like it when I learn something new about him, because it is usually such a wonderful surprise. (Seriously, honey? You like Indian food? When did that happen?)
The latest surprise? His good health may prevent conflict in our relationship.

You see, the good folks at the Journal of Marriage and Family have been studying long-term couples and have found that if the husband has a good attitude and is in good health, then there will be less conflict in the marriage. A woman's health, however, has little to no effect on the amount of conflict in the relationship.

The couples in the study had all been with their spouses for around 30+ years, so my husband and I have a long way to go. But I found it interesting that the researchers identified "marital conflict" as getting on each others nerves. Which, after that many years of marriage, is probably understandable.

This is just another reason why I think parents need to have a hobby away from their spouse before their children leave the nest. If you have something else to focus on other than your spouse, it is easier to let the little things go.

In the meantime, I will just be thankful for my husband's good health - both for his sake and the sake of our marriage.

What about your spouse still surprises you?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life's too short - use the guest soap

We recently moved.

I am not like most people - I enjoy moving. No, not the heavy lifting part. Or the part where we realize we have too much stuff. Or anything that involves me dealing with the DMV.

No, I like the purge.

I like going through all our stuff and figuring out what can be donated and what we can keep. (I believe this is because it feels like my favorite game, "Does this belong here?")

One thing that I noticed during our move is the amount of stuff we have but don't use. This stuff runs the gamut from broken furniture (really? why are we holding onto this?) to fancy soaps for guests. While I was packing, I kept asking myself, "Why aren't we using this?"

So, now, I have a new mantra: Use the guest soap.

For example, I think that my china is gorgeous - I want to use it for special meals or for taco nights. I want to break out my nicer clothes more often. The point is that I deserve to use the nice things that are in my home.

So do you.

So, what lives in your house that you are not using? Do you have a dedicated guest room in your house that doesn't have another purpose? (And can I ask you: Why? Why are you allotting all that space in your home to people who use it so infrequently? That is your home and your space!)

Tell me what nice things you deserve and want to take back in your house in the comments.