Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Social Niceties

Does social media influence our ability to interact in real life? 

I've had a little success in the past few months between blog posts making the Huffington Post and The Good Men Project.  I am always surprised at how well my posts do, and even more surprised at the overwhelming number of supportive, positive comments that I get from other moms or parents.  From sleepless moms who feel my pain to breastfeeding moms who have gone through many of the same circumstances, to people who have lost their brother like I have, or who have been married as long as I have.  The comments are heart-warming, and I keep them in a nice warm spot next to that thumpety-thump in my chest.

I also love comments that disagree with me.  I love to have started a dialogue, to encourage someone to say, "That wasn't my experience.  My experience was this."  I am a firm believer that sharing your experiences aids other moms/dads/parents in feeling like they are not alone.  But then there are those other comments, the ones that I mostly ignore, that make me ponder the kind of society social media has turned us into.  Would I ever, for instance, tell a mom in real life that she's just complaining? "Waaah.  Don't have kids."  Or say that they seemed "whiny and a little insecure"? (I have had both comments aimed in my direction recently.) Or would I be polite and choose not to comment at all?  The problem with social media is it gives us this feeling of privelege--we can comment if we want, and since these people don't know us, what does it matter?  

I'm pretty thick-skinned.  I have a very conservative sister-in-law whose political rants have given us some moments of disagreement--but no matter how strong our politics are, I don't take it to heart.  Why? Because in the real world we wouldn't say the things we say to each other on Facebook, and in all honesty, politics probably wouldn't even come up.   But recently I have tried my darndest not to comment on her political posts, because I wouldn't have that conversation face-to-face.  I love my sister-in-law and I would instead ask what she has been up to, how her son is doing, and how work has been.  We might mention that we didn't like a certain piece of legislation and why, but, being of the generation that happened before Facebook means that we still, in our "real" lives, we would do so with courtesy and with a much slower reaction-time.

Now we see a generation who, influenced by the behavior on social media websites, have lost many of the social niceties that have shaped our face-to-face interactions before Facebook and Twitter.  Reaction time isn't filtered, and often what they think pops out before they have had time to decide whether or not it's impolite, or downright rude.  I guess time will tell if our social media lives will drip over into the "real" lives of my generation, but I have to hope that common courtesy wins the day instead.  What an angry, antisocial world it would be otherwise!  In the meantime, I'm going to continue to try to keep my comments limited to those I would make in real life.  Winky smiley face. Hashtag respect.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Is Your Kitchen Organized?

If you've never had a professional organizer come to your house, you don't know what you're missing.

My friend T is not a professional organizer, and by that I mean she doesn't get paid for it.  She does, however, take joy in bringing order to chaos.  Or my kitchen, as the case may be.  One night, I was heating oil to cook and I turned away to cut up some vegetables.  The oil caught on fire, and my mind could only think of all the things we had in the kitchen that made it a giant fire hazard.  We didn't have a grown-up kitchen, we had the equivalent of a teenager's bedroom instead.

Let me explain first that my laundry room and kitchen are the same room, and I've lived in the same apartment for 11 years. Three kids (one under 18 months) and countless life experiences have left us with little time or capacity for organizing, so my kitchen had become the room in the house that made me cringe.  The kids help put away the dishes, but they tend to put things wherever they'll fit, which results in a pile of pans and cabinet drawers that won't close.  Speaking of which, my cabinets are long, narrow painted shelves, which make it difficult to see what you have in the back.  They bring their own laundry to the kitchen, but it tends to pile up and wait there until the inevitable huff and puff that results in them finally bringing it to their own room.

Or did, anyway, until T came over.  She arrived in style, with buckets full of organizers, shelf spacers, bamboo dividers, you name it!  She was prepared for anything.  She even brought scrubbing materials (although we had pre-cleaned--that's how bad the kitchen had gotten.)  T's first task was to put our embarrassed hearts at ease.  "Listen," she said, "you've lived in the same apartment for 11 years.  Most people move.  When you move, you pull everything out, you get rid of things.  You just haven't had the need to do that.  This isn't that bad.  It's doable."

She had us pull everything out of the shelves, cubbies, buckets, etc, and organize them into "staging areas."  Tools went together, baking items together, arts & crafts items together.  We threw away or donated anything that we hadn't used in the last year (unless it was sentimental, and then it went in a special pile)--one of the key pieces to organizing.  Then we took a break.

That's right, we took a break, and went to Target!  We bought shelf liner, and two big stacking drawer systems, and came home to start the process of re-designing the kitchen.  This is what we ended up with:
A place for everything, on pretty shelf paper!

An organized closet

An easy-to-use silverware system for the kids.

A shelf system so that I can have a craft drawer!!! Of my own!!!

An under the shelf drawer and "steps" in the back to lift up items where you can see them!

And a drawer system above the dryer.  I put each child's clothing in a drawer, and they bring the drawer to their room to put their clothing away, then return it.  (Stray socks go in the basket up top,to await their mate!)

And that's life is changed forever.  Everything has its place! I have a grown-up's kitchen!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rose's Mysterious Twitch

Rose has been doing a couple of odd things for about a month, but I didn't think anything of it until they happened in combination.  She has been rolling her eyes, which looks really creepy but which we thought was just to get a new viewpoint.  She also has been squeezing her eyes very tightly.  The other day she was dancing, but then all of a sudden she stopped, squeezed her eyes tight, grabbed her face, and then rolled her eyes and fell to the right.  

       Rose squeezing her eyes tight 

On a separate occasion, she squeezed her eyes tight, and her shoulder twitched up and down.

should mention here, Rose is a very smart kid, and all of her developmental milestones are on target or ahead of schedule.  She is incredibly active, and has a great sense of humor for a 17 month old.  

Rose enjoying the Museum of Science

I wasn't incredibly worried, but she had my attention, enough so that I called the doctor.  We should have a neurology appointment within two weeks.  My problem is that now every cute thing she does has me wondering if it's "something" instead of enjoying the way a toddler explores the world.  Her enjoyment of spinning in circles suddenly makes me wonder if it's a toddler learning how to be dizzy or something I should tell her to stop doing.  The growling noises she has made off and on for the last two days have become less funny and a little worrisome.  And sometimes she just stops what she's doing and lays on the floor.

Rose lays down.  Changing her perspective, or feeling unwell? We may never know.

The doctor was very reassuring, telling us she just wants to rule out anything that might be of concern, but that it's probably, if anything, something very benign, like a tic disorder.  

I have had to monitor myself in the past two days, my worry making me want to teach her not to spin, or growl, or give 1001 kisses.  I stop myself in the last instant, telling myself to enjoy the little moments, and worry only when it's confirmed there's something to worry about.  

Have any of your kids experienced this? And was it just a "toddler being a toddler", or was there an underlying cause?  I'm a firm believer in moms sharing scary experiences, because sometimes that's the only way that we catch things early, and get our little ones on the road to wellness a little faster.  And maybe there is no road--maybe it's something she'll just out-grow...but it's nice to know I'm not alone, and neither are you.