Thursday, May 31, 2012

And the winner is... Sweden!

When I was young and lived in Sweden, our family – just like the majority of the Swedish population – used to watch the Eurovision SongContest every year in the spring. First there would be a Swedish version, where the Swedish representative to the European contest was selected, and then a month or so later, there would be the great event, taking place every year in the country of the previous year’s winner. Sweden has won many times, and although most of the music that comes out of this contest is instantly forgotten, there are some songs and artists that have prevailed, most notably ABBA, who won with their song Waterloo in 1974. 

Watching the event on television was always a great treat for us kids, as it involved such delights as candy, chips & dip, and staying up late to hear the votes and find out who won. The excitement would then continue the next day, when we got to discuss the songs and the results with our friends (this is before Twitter and Facebook, so we actually had to wait until we saw our friends in person to talk to them!) Then, if there was a really good song, I would record it off the radio with my tape player, and play it in my room while doing my homework or drawing.

Over the years, especially since Eastern Europe opened up, the contest has changed, and now involves more countries, artists and some different rules. It’s still there however, but I haven’t been able to watch it since we left Belgium (where I didn’t always get to watch it either, since we didn’t have a television set). This year the entire event was broadcast online, and with Prof. Husband away for a conference, I made an evening out of it, for old time’s sake. I drank decaf tea, had some potato chips, and watched 26 mostly bad songs performed in some kind of palace in Baku. I was having a great time suffering through some pretty hideous performances and outfits, when William came out sometime late and joined me, as he couldn’t sleep. We watched the recap of all the songs together, as well as the voting, faithfully cheering for Sweden. I was quite moved by nostalgia and the excitement of hearing,

“And the twelve points go to… Sweden!”

over and over again. William put his arms up in victory when the final votes came in and Sweden was pronounced the winner of 2012’s Eurovision Song Contest. We even stayed up to listen to the winning song again, even though it was super late. For those of you who missed it, here it is: Euphoria!

Friday, May 25, 2012

My ten-year-old was finally subjected to the cover of TIME magazine

August looks at a picture of the controversial cover of TIME magazine. We have not yet discussed this picture or the debate that surrounds it. He looks a bit shocked and says,

“Mama, that’s a little weird.”

I freeze, and wonder; after all these years of our family practicing extended breast feeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping, has my oldest son - who himself resisted weaning so late I’m embarrassed to admit how old he was - fallen for society’s ignorant misconceptions about breastfeeding?

“How is it weird, August?”

“The boy is STANDING up… AND he’s wearing shoes! Nobody nurses standing up like that. And are those ARMY pants?”

Ah. I should have seen that one coming. Of course. I told him that some people think it’s weird for a child to nurse past the age of one. He didn’t seem very shocked about this, which makes me think that he must have heard some discussion about this somewhere. He suggested that weaning is like potty training, something you do when the child is ready, and added,

“Why do other people think they can decide when a baby should stop having num-num? And in a magazine?! Now that is weird.”

Yeah... Goodness. Such natural ideas, or...?. Either I raised a freak, or August just called TIME magazine on their annoying attempt to to scandalize nature attract readers.

Then followed a discussion about why I'm so opposed to the boys wearing army clothes. Sigh. I'm just not mom enough for that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The first cut is the deepest...

Dear HP Pavillion of 2008,

I found you at a Best Buy in Ft. Wayne, IN, almost four years ago, and it was love at first sight. You were my perfect match with your smaller screen, American keyboard, and basic functions.
Over the years, you have been my writing companion, social interactive companion, entertainment center, and later, my ideal colleague at work. How perfectly you adjusted your RAM to the translation software my job demanded. No matter what the installation required, you were always able to provide the most elegant solution.

Even when I didn’t handle you with care, you held out with your strong hardware, and survived a fall to the floor with just a few moments of screen connection loss, which you recovered from fully and almost instantly.

Over the past six months however, I noticed you became tired. It started with hot flashes – over heating, which runs in your family, I’ve learned, and then, your abilities deteriorated further; the DVD-rom stopped working entirely, the prt scr function vanished, and I’m sorry, but there’s no point in hiding it any more: you became senile, and forgot even the most basic things, like the fact that you have wireless LAN-drivers installed.

For a long time I closed my eyes and ignored the signs, but after a scare last week, where I had to restart you nine times just to get the essential functions to work, I accepted the reality: the time had come when we needed to go our separate ways. Although you have yet to break down entirely, you have to understand that without your memory, I can’t trust you with my work any more. “Quit while you’re ahead,” you once told me through one of those “Saying” sites; well, this is it.

You have been a faithful colleague – a companion - but it’s time for you to retire and for someone else to take over your hard work. A new laptop HP Pavillion is already waiting here on my table to relieve you of your duties, and you – my dear HP, my first - will finally get the rest you deserve after a long and faithful service.

Thank you for everything.

Your friend,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy birthday!

On a lighter note, our now nine year old boy (read his fairly uneventful birth story here) got this for his birthday, and was absolutely ecstatic!

Another one of the snowballs

I have a friend who is also a mother of a boy that my boys play with after school and during weekends. During a social event recently, her behavior towards me made me think that perhaps I had done something wrong (she moved away when I came to sit next to her to chat). I was a bit puzzled but oblivious and too busy to dig deeper. Then, through a different mom, I heard that there might be an issue with the boys. My boys had been singled out by my friend as bullying in the playground, and being mean, physically and verbally towards her son. I was quite shocked (this really does not sound like my boys, who always make sure to include everyone), a bit puzzled, and upset about her not coming to talk to me immediately, so I asked her as soon as I saw her the next day. She told me that, “Yes,” she had been avoiding me because of how my boys treat her son, who hasn’t been wanting to go to the playground lately because of them (this conversation is taking place WHILE my boys are playing very happily with her son). I was so baffled, all I could say was, “Why in the world would you not have talked to ME about this, and sooner?!” She was obviously very upset, and since bullying is a serious matter, I told her I would talk to the boys immediately, and find out what has been going on.

That evening we had a big talk - speeches, questions, discussions – and according to both my boys, it’s this boy that is trouble.

“His mom says you guys keep running away from him when he wants to play.”

“Yes, we run away from him because he is poking us continuously, jumping on us, and is being very annoying.”

“His mom says you guys call him names.”

The boys could not remember ever calling him any names. There turned out to be some other accusations that seemed unfounded – the boys could recall a few other instances, but it always turned out that the other boy was the trouble, and not my boys (we had them tell us separately - the information we got was the same). I told the boys to talk to the boy and straighten things out. Ask him exactly what names you called him and how he is hurt.

That evening I talked to the mom again, who seemed mainly bothered that I would keep bringing it up. She was obviously uncomfortable talking about it. I felt worse than ever.

When I came home, the boys told me about their conversation with her son. He could not remember that they had called him names, and when the boys told him they really had never meant for him to feel upset, but if they had, then they were sorry, he had just replied, “Sure, no problem.” The next day they were all playing again, nicely.

So, at least all the kids are fine, which is more than I can say for my friendship. I was just starting to make some friends here in Lebanon, but with this and add the birthday party flop, I think I might be back at square one.

Still here, juggling snowballs...

I didn’t forget about blogging entirely, no. I do feel like I lost my mind though. May is always such a very busy month, and you’d think I’d know that by now and be prepared, however this year some things happened that kind of threw me off. Some of them were foreseeable, some self-inflicted, and together with everything else, they’ve affected my mind and my ability to deal. Not only that, but some of them caused a snowball effect, which lead to further headaches.

So, what’s up? Let’s start with

William’s birthday party (Yay! My baby turned nine! :) )

# it turns out that one or two of his friends never got an invitation (I left the distribution of invitations up to William and never followed up) so I have some sad-ish kids and not so happy moms on my back – moms that I am supposed to be friends with, or at least was. I should have followed up, but work, home schooling, and everything else I've got going on got the better of me: when William told me the number of kids that had said they were coming, I guess I assumed there couldn't be any more kids out there that had not got their invitations. My main thought was, "Goodness! That's a lot of kids! How am I going to pull that off?"

# in the middle of the party, two of the invited kids left with their mom, without explanation and without goodbyes. Or actually, one of them told me he was bored (all the kids were playing “Capture the flag,” and he told me he “just wanted to play video games”). William was - kind of – offended, but more puzzled and a little sad.

# after the party, a few of the older kids decided to go off to Bliss Street and get milkshakes without asking their parents first. The parents of the new-ish kid started wondering where he was, and called around. They eventually asked William, who told the parents the truth. The parents went to find the older kids, who got in big trouble. Now the older kids are mad at William and mean to him, because he “told on them.” He understands that he did the right thing: What if something had happened to them and their parents didn’t know where they were? However his friends are not happy with him and William feels bad.

William seemed very happy with his birthday, however objectively, it was probably the worst we’ve had so far, and I’m still not sure how to deal with all of it. I still have to face the moms involved, and I don’t know how to help William, except to tell him that he did the right thing, using words like “integrity,” and “ character” to instill in him the important points here.

A friend told me, "Be happy you don't have any girls. Then you would have to deal with these kinds of issues ALL THE TIME." Well, I don't have any girls, so please help me out here!