Monthly Archives: October 2010

Rule breakers

There has to be a law out there, somewhere, stating that young children should not be allowed to get up before 6 AM on a Saturday morning. Mornings are my creative time, when I usually get my best writing done.

Sadly, my children have no respect for time decrees such as the 6 AM rule and always sabotage my attempts to luxuriate in bed with my laptop on the weekends. Promptly at 5:57 this morning, the baby starting “talking” (ma-ma-ma-MAAAA-ma-ma), the three-year-old climbed in bed asking for me to paint her fingernails, and the five-year-old wanted a schedule of the day’s events, and for that schedule to include a trip to the mall, the park, and the Wild West.

What I WISH they'd do more of...

What I WISH they'd do more of...

As I lay there, playing dead, wishing this would be the day when they would morph into those kids who play quietly in the other room, I had a revelation:

No freaking wonder I haven’t been able to write much lately.

I’m raising hyperactive, imaginative humans. And that takes a lot more creativity than any of my side projects. Because, really, in light of these incredible bundles of energy, my story is way down on the list of priorities.

So popping out of bed and enthusiastically mixing chocolate milk and cream cheesing bagels, I’m OK with just letting my need to write the next great work of fiction sleep in for a while. I’ve got a lot of life to manage.


Peanut Butter Pie

Due to a wonderful government program, we never lack for peanut butter.  This is a great thing, because my 5-year-old son thinks that peanut butter is its own food group. The most common snack for the kids in our home is Peanut Butter Spoon, which has two ingredients: peanut butter and a spoon.  Very complex. The other day, all three kids sat at the table with their peanut butter spoons while I read “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” to them for the first time.  It was a memory to go down in history. Peanut butter everywhere, and Peter Rabbit sent to bed without supper. Sheer awesomeness.  However, today I’d like to share with you my personal (and much more sophisticated) way to partake of peanut butter.

Before you get carried away on piles of tasty goodness, however, tell us what your favorite kid snack is and what kids book you would pair it with!

  1. Mash up a package of graham crackers w/ a stick of melted butter and pat around pie plate.
  2. Mix 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter with 1 cup of powdered sugar until crumbly. (I nuke the jar of peanut butter for 30 seconds to aid in the scoopability [hush, spellchecker! I’m inventing words])
  3. Get ready for the layers by whipping up some instant vanilla pudding and let it soft-set (if you are the Martha type, make pudding from scratch. I choose the path that gets me back to my book fastest.)
  4. Layer 1/2 of the peanut crumbles on the graham cracker crust.
  5. Spread pudding over peanut crumbles.
  6. Layer another 1/4 of the crumbles onto the pudding.
  7. Spread Cool-Whip over crumbles
  8. Top with remaining 1/4 of the peanut crumbles.
  9. Chill.
  10. Put your kids to bed and turn on the football game for your husband (trust me, this one is kinda messy and you don’t REALLY want to share :-D)
  11. Dig in!

(We saw an episode of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel featuring Mrs. Yoder’s Peanut Butter Pie from Sarasota, FL. This is my take on it.)

Electronic Distraction

I co-sleep with my MacBook.  You think I’m kidding? I dream in status updates and podcasts.

In so many ways, my laptop is a total blessing. I got it before my senior year of college, and I was able to be a good mom and a good student because of it.  It fit perfectly in my diaper bag, so I could take the kids to the park and work on a paper while they played. I rode the bus to school and could keep up with my writing during the hour-long trip. I was able to record my professors while taking notes that would synch up with the recording to catch any tidbit I missed.

When I was confined to bed rest during my last pregnancy, I was able to keep family and friends instantly updated via Twitter and Facebook on my latest prayer requests, praise reports, and cries to come take my kids out of the house!  When my husband woke up in the middle of the night with a killer headache, my computer was literally right next to my bed for me to look up his symptoms and diagnose meningitis before we called the ER (and yes, that is a blessing, because I’m usually a “go back to bed” kind of nurse).

Since we’ve moved out to the desert, my laptop has been my lifeline to friends and family: a way to stay connected with the people I love and who care about my family and I.  It is also where I go to write, and contains pages of my musings, imaginings, and creativity. I use my iCal to alert me of my weekly chores, so it cheerfully pops up at 9am Saturday morning to remind me that it’s time to scrub the shower.

However, my computer is also the biggest waster of my time.  First thing in the morning, I pop open my computer and see who’s sent me email, who’s baby slept through the night, what drama I may have missed while my eyes were closed.  TweetDeck notifies me when anyone posts to Twitter or Facebook, and I find myself clicking, commenting and connecting with people for whom I really do care, but honestly don’t have the time.  My husband makes fun of my daily, sometimes hourly, status updates. A few minutes here and there turns into a few hours by the end of the day.

I may have sat down intending to “just check” something, but invariably, I spend more time in front of the screen than is good for my family. I have children to teach, a home to run, finances to manage and, oh yeah, a husband to adore.  So while I love the blessings and convenience my laptop gives me, I know that I am totally out of balance with the amount of time I spend “connecting” with my friends.

In 1 Timothy 5:13-14, Paul writes to Timothy concerning young women:

“…they learn to be idle, going about to people’s houses; and not only idle, but also full of words and curiosity, speaking things not becoming.  Therefore, I will that younger women be married, and bring forth children, and be housewives, to give no occasion to the adversary for reproach”.

I’ve got the second half of this passage down: I got married at 20, I have 3 kids, I’m learning how to be an effective housewife, and I’m sure I don’t give Satan a chance to pick on me.  But the first half? Well, I need to work on that.  Although I’m not physically going over to my girlfriends homes a lot, I do spend a lot of time checking in on their lives, chatting with them on their latest news or blog or video post. It isn’t that I am “speaking of things not becoming”, but I’m not using my time wisely.  If I’m going to do a great job being a wife, mother and housekeeper, I’m going to have to cut back on my Facebook time. That’s all there is to it!

I’m not sure how that’s going to work out exactly in my life.  I was talking to Mary on the phone the other day and she says that she gives her self pretty strict time limits for social networking, like when homeschooling is finished for the day or when the kids are in bed.  I know of some YA authors who “go dark” on the weekends: no Twitter/Email/Facebook on the computer, just writing.

How are YOU doing at balancing computer time between idle fun and practical application? Have you set limits for yourself?

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