Lord I was born a Ramblin’ (Wo)Man

1580 1580_ () 1580 1580 I’m going to start giving myself a little leeway around here, on Tuesdays in particular. I have a major writing deadline fast approaching and I’m realizing (gulp) that I am running out of that little time-padding I have been relying on for so long. Tuesdays are my go-to day for several hours of uninterrupted writing and I’m trying to force myself to take advantage of them.

I told my husband today that I’m getting to that place — either an actual place or a place of slight angst — where I have to hunker down. No more telling myself that if I write for fifteen minutes then I can check my email or switch over the laundry or rearrange some furniture. I need to start doing the whole producing large quantities of actual work. I have been doing that, more or less, off and on, but now it’s getting down to the wire.

I feel silly even addressing this issue here — there are plenty of blogs I like to read that don’t post every day. But I get this thing in my head where if I don’t post, then it weighs on me and I feel like I haven’t covered all my bases for the day. And the feeling won’t go away until I put something here, even if it’s just a link to a Savage Chickens cartoon (which is totally cool, don’t get me wrong).

And then, speaking of text messages (per the cartoon just then), there are other distractions like Twitter and Facebook and all these other forms of “connecting” which are not really connecting at all. Just a few more things to distract me from the task at hand.

So this is my little way of letting myself off the hook. Kinda. Because I’m still going to be doing all my usual stuff around here, but if I miss a day or two, here and there, you’ll know that I am working hard to get the job done.

And as a little treat for those of you whose eyes have not glazed over, here is a little snip from Peggy Noonan’s latest; I enjoyed the insight of this:

As for Mr. Obama, some thoughts that start with a hunch. He has the kind of self-confidence that will serve him well or undo him. He has to be careful about what he wants, because he’s going to get it, at least at the beginning. He claimed a lot of moderate territory in his Inaugural Address (deepen and expand our alliances, put aside debates on size of government and aim for government that is competent and constructive), but no one is certain, still, what governing philosophy guides him. He would be most unwise to rouse the sleeping giant that is American conservatism. One thing that would rouse it, and begin to bring its broken pieces back together, would be radical movement on abortion, such as pushing the so-called Freedom of Choice Act. 1580″> ? ,

1580

You’re So Money Monday

1579 1579_ () 1579 1579 It’s back — the long-ignored but never forgotten feature of this blog where I try to act like one of those better organized blog mistresses roaming the Internets.

Today’s topic (ironically): Organization!

Specifically, let’s talk about toy organization. Maybe even more specifically, toys that you have in a home full of boys, which we all know means one thing: Lego’s!

Reader Bevlin wrote in to find out how I store the Lego’s at Testosterhome.

I am pretty sure you’ve mentioned owning Lego’s. My 5-year-old son has recently received two largish sets of Lego’s from a very generous uncle. I don’t have a lot of space to put things, but I do like having a place for everything. It makes clean-up so much easier, too, when my son knows what goes where. So, my question is, have you found a good system for storing Lego’s when they are not built?

To which I answered:

I keep all the Lego’s in a very large (lined) basket. For a while the Lego’s all fit in a smaller plastic Lego box, but then we outgrew that so I moved to something larger. For a while I tried using a three drawer el cheapo plastic dresser (a very short one) but that was too complicated. I have found that by using a larger (but not huge) basket, I can throw the separates in the bottom and then place the in-progress or already built pieces gently on top. This seems to be working just fine.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? If you live in a house like mine, I’d like to know where you keep your weapons. What about your capes and cowboy boots? And finally, have you figured out how to get scuff marks off your ceiling? 1579″>

1579

Growing Boys

1578 1578_ () 1578 1578 Weekly column
Our oldest son was getting ready for a middle school basketball game the other day, and I was helping him adjust his too-large uniform.”This looks good,” I said, securing the safety pins on his shirt, “but don’t be surprised if the ref tells you to cover them with tape.”

One of the boys asked why, and I explained that something could potentially get caught on the pins. I flashed back to my days of middle and high school basketball, of our pre-game warm-ups that included covering all non-removable objects with tape, including hair clips and those little friendship beads we clipped to our high-top basketball shoes.

Ethan is beginning a season that I so clearly remember being in myself. While my experience as a girl was obviously different, there are still plenty of similarities. Watching my son during this first year of middle school has brought back a lot of memories.

It’s fun to talk to my boys about my own experiences with sports and studies and school plays, things that as they get older they can relate with more easily. Mostly, I watch them enjoy these new adventures, and it’s nice to think I have even a slight sense of what they’re feeling. Though they are boys, and I was once a girl, I can relate, even just a little.

As we got the uniform ready that afternoon, I felt like I was really connecting with my sons. I was talking about sports, and they were listening!

“When I played ball,” I continued, “if we wore barrettes, we had to cover them with tape.”

“What’s barrettes,” asked six-year-old Augie, and I looked up to see all the boys staring back at me, waiting for an answer.

Obviously, we won’t ever be totally on the same page.

As my boys get older, I’m also aware that while this season is a beautiful and fun new adventure, there will also be struggles. Entire books and lectures are devoted to dealing with adolescent boys. I’ve read some of those books and I’ve lived to tell the tale; but I’m also bracing myself for some challenges. Fortunately, my husband was once one of these creatures, and this should come in handy.

I recently read an article on parenting adolescent boys that suggests several things parents should keep in mind during this season. The list comes from a priest who is a spiritual director to young men, and it includes some sound wisdom and, for me, a few parenting goals.

The priest recommends setting clear guidelines and holding boys accountable for their actions. He suggests parents offer reasonable explanations for these guidelines and decisions, but to also have reasonable expectations. He also says it’s important to avoid hyper-analyzing your son’s emotions. I suspect this will be more of a challenge for me than my husband.

Important qualities in a father, he says, include manliness, temperance, making significant time for family, putting aside work, and being a reliable source of guidance. Qualities in a mother, he continues, include emotional stability, selflessness, loving service and extreme patience.

I have my work cut out for me.

Sometimes when I read lists like this, I find myself getting worried. For starters, the fact that he is warning me in advance to aim for emotional stability makes me slightly uneasy. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that stability is going to be a personal goal of mine in a few years.

But before I let my thoughts (and emotions) get away from me, I think of the words of John Paul the Great: be not afraid. While the season of life with teenage boys will no doubt be challenging, there is no grace for me to deal with it, not yet.

All I can do today is pray that when we enter that season, God will give me generous amounts of extreme patience and emotional stability, and the grace to guide my boys in the way they should go. 1578″ ?

1578

Nope, no toddlers here.