Oh, She’s Just Wild and That’s Okay

But what if it isn’t?


I took Kiley to school this morning. On most accounts, it was a typical morning. It took about 15 min of hounding for her to get dressed. It’s pouring rain and in the 50’s but that doesn’t stop her from putting on a light, airy dress. Last week, it was getting a bit cool. This week, it is cool and wet, the kind of cold that gets right to your bones and sticks there, haunting you while you try to recover your enthalpy sheltered indoors. As a parental figure, I couldn’t let her keep dressing for summer. After another 20 min of bickering that tempted a full scale meltdown, I dug in her clothes to find something suitable to wear. Another 15 minutes of hounding her to eat her one packet of oatmeal and we were finally out the door with 10 minutes left to get to school. 

Today was different because instead of driving through the drop off lane and letting her hop out, I parked the truck and walked her to her classroom. This is our routine now, because we are having quite some difficulty with her academic success. I won’t go into details, except to say that the school must be convinced that we don’t do anything for the child. I walked Kiley to her classroom and introduced myself to the teacher, a quiet, kind old man. I told him that I will be ensuring she comes to class and that breakfast isn’t a classroom issue. That nice man started nodding and saying “oh, it’s okay, it’s okay” before I could finish explaining why I was there. 

Through all of the headache with Kiley, I have to say that we have certainly taken up folks’ kind, supposedly helpful suggestions of showering her with more love and praise. Every single time, the same results: exponentially decaying behavior. Within days, she will be ruling the land with an iron scream. Look, I get that we can’t be suppressing children’s ability to let their emotions out, that we should acknowledge them and give them room for expression. However, here’s where it breaks down: Kiley is asked to do something, she does not feel like complying, she makes excuses, then if asked again decides to have a display of emotions. The consequences of this behavior is anything from having a nice, comfy seat on a beanbag doing nothing to playing on an iPad while the office ladies dote on her. 

STOP! It’s not fucking okay! She gets positive results from negative and disruptive behavior, what the hell makes anyone think that she is ever going to benefit from education, or even see it through, if she is given a more pleasant option than doing her work any time she feels? Oh, we get told that if she gives lip when asked to do something, just take her by the hand and -cheerfully- take her to where she needs to be. Then, there we are wrestling her kicking, thrashing, possessed body into time out while she screams all manner of dramatic domestic abuse phrases. Yeah, just take her nicely by the hand, huh? Then, surely the lying and stealing (ahem, taking then maybe asking, to be exact) are okay, too? What’s the punishment for that? Oh, offer her more stuff because obviously the reason she’s stealing is pure desperation, not because she receives positive reinforcement for doing the wrong thing. 

Look, one of our state’s most iconic natural areas just got torched because some hooligans had a seriously bad attitude toward authority. The parents are in the spotlight, but in the innumerable interactions those kids have had with the incredible amount of relationships through their lives, the village, as it were, how the hell did they come to the conclusion that what they did was going to end well in any case? At the very least, they were going to get a nice little fine from the state. In today’s world where everyone has high resolution video recording in their pocket or hand, if someone sees you do something like that, you are as good as caught before you finish the act. 

I don’t know what makes people just fall over themselves for certain individuals. My dad had that charm. He could talk a sane person into jumping off a tall cliff, I swear. He talked, and no matter how bad the bullshit smelled, people would eat it up and ask for more. Baby’s momma still has that charm. I walk through a custom tailored circle of hell every time I show my face at my son’s school. These people get to waltz all over society with their attitude. If I ever had the nerve to cook up half the lies these clever crooks concoct (man, the Dr Seuss really rubs off) I’d have my ass handed to me. No, something special protects these individuals from social backlash. I don’t get it, but I sure suffer the consequences. 

It has really only been recently that we have recovered control of our household on a day to day basis. Chaos, complaining, ultimatums, negotiations, and ultimately utter exhaustion used to be our norm. It doesn’t work like that. It might seem to work, but we can’t really all just play their games and insist that it’s better for them in the end. 

Well, maybe I made a bigger thing out of it than it needed to be. The point remains though, there’s everything wrong with disrupting class, taking without permission (aka stealing ), and simply refusing to do work. It’s not okay, stop telling me it’s okay, and for the love of humanity stop telling her it’s okay. We are doing everything we can to sort this behavior out (I say this as crying breaks out in the background) but for most of the time she is in school, she gets it her way all day. How can we be effective as parents if what we enforce at home is being undermined at school? 

Has anyone else experienced this or a similar frustration with school? We have considered home school, but honestly that’s a pretty tall order. I hope it really is a phase, but I somehow feel like this is pretty much getting to be a part of her personality. 

The List 

Goes on and on

Just because I can perform a white glove field day (cleaning to near impossible standards) doesn’t mean I appreciate inspections of my living quarters. Still, as a renter, I am subject to at least one per year. Well, the least I can do is make the experience as unpleasant for them as possible for the grief they like to paper us with. 

Luckily for me, they came knocking before I left this morning! I hope I emphasized “screens on the windows before our kids fall out of them” enough times for them to think about putting some in after numerous maintenance requests and emails have failed to prompt them. Our tap water (where it does work) is fucking yellow, okay? Assholes. Hope they enjoyed their earful of my list as much as I enjoy paying too much for this place. 

Oh, the power of a list! Okay, so nobody likes a list of ‘unacceptable shit’ or ‘reasons you suck at <blank>.’ It’s just an ugly bludgeoning device. Lists are usually a force for good, though it still would be good if our shower mist and toilet visits were fanned out of the bathroom. Maybe before the optimal for fungus growing rainy season comes? Oh, it’s already here, never mind. 

Well, I’ve sure been thinking about life pretty deep lately. If I can say anything for certain, it’s that I like to project. Like many poor souls with overactive minds and itchy hands, I have a few waiting to be finished and some waiting to be started. Being extremely challenged for space, I don’t have a ton of half-done projects laying around. When I do have space, well you get the idea!

Now, I have this glorious creation of mine, this milling machine. It’s not name-brand, top of the line, state of the art anything. What it is, is about the most machine I could conjure up for the smallest price I could summon. What to do with it? What can it do? Gosh, just about anything! I have been following Hackaday, and it’s really sparked my interests again. People making giant sized Lego bricks, experiments with UHF waves suspending water droplets, and other makers building ridiculous rendering machines like a tower climbing paint can wielding printing machine. 

Looking around my house, I see possible projects in every disorganized corner. I could dream up projects all day! I do often find, especially when the projects start piling up, that I sometimes have to list them out and prioritize from that. After reading other blogs this week, I’ve been considering what to do with my online self and have been pondering doing videos and maybe even making a live presence on instagram. Maybe regular visibility or even a weekly blog will get things moving for me. I can’t say for certain, but I can say that as long as there’s a breath in me, I will be trying to fenagle (sp?) some kind of contraption together! 

So, without further adieu, here is my current list of project ideas I’d like to tackle.

  1. Upgrade CNC drives. 
  2. Add dust collection to CNC.
  3. Giant connect 4.
  4. Convert old cabinet to aquaponics system. 
  5. Design and play with joinery on CNC.
  6. Model the Ikea designed grow room sphere. 
  7. Make a Roomba device to clean our floors. 
  8. Experiment with alternative clothes dryer. 
  9. Fidget spinners for the kids. 
  10. Wood bearings. 
  11. Shelves and more shelves. 
  12. Planter shelves. 
  13. Bunk bed from pallets.
  14. Queen bed frame with drawers and headboard. 
  15. 180 degree panel saw
  16. Holiday engravings. 
  17. Shop smith powered drum sander.
  18. CNC capability for lathe. 
  19. Full-function wood recovery machine.
  20. 3D printer
  21. Light up LED sign. 
  22. Wooden gears.
  23. Phone mount. 
  24. Phone case. 
  25. Propellers and whirligig wings.
  26. Timing belt transmission. 
  27. Juggling gear caddy.
  28. Hat rack.
  29. Deacons bench (out of pallets?)
  30. Tool boxes, cause you can never have enough! 
  31. Spice rack.
  32. Build it yourself, educational motor kits. 
  33. Table saw motor rebuild. 
  34. Wind turbine from recycle-able materials (I know it’s been beat to death, but it’s so damn enticing)
  35. Monitor mount and accessory holder for CNC
  36. Coffee grinder mod.
  37. Espresso tamper. 
  38. Folding wood boxes.
  39. Clothes hangers

Okay, I’m stretching for those last few, but I can guarantee I dream up another dozen projects before I actually complete a dozen of these. Some of these are projects I’d really like to see done and some are more simply flights of imagination. But hey, at least I still have that about me! 

What do you think? Could I manage a weekly production on the topic of making stuff? Is there anything you would like to see made? Does anyone have any tips on doing a weekly video or live feed? Let me know! 

The Way Things Should Be

Because I think they should be

It has taken time and several concerted efforts, but our family dynamics are improving. There is less chaos, fewer meltdowns, and more talking. Oh, and the kids are back in school! I felt for a while the day would never come. It’s some semblance of routine, anyway. 

On another delightful note, I woke up yesterday morning and upon whipping the blanket off, was greeted with a snappy chill. Oh, man! I can’t wait to not have that fan in the window all night again. The cool weather is right around the corner, and that combined with back to school means one thing: germ season. Kiley stepped outside in her dress and started shivering immediately, and like a bad PTSD trigger, the image of her sneezing all over herself and opening doors flashed through my brain. I returned home from dropping her off and besieged the place with soap and bleach. I had other things to do, but I couldn’t let it go any longer. 

We have managed to get the kids to keep their toys more picked up. The living room got organized and things are much tidier overall. I clean like crazy because it improves the quality of life for everyone. Regardless what living space you occupy, even if it’s a tent or your car, your quality of life will be far better if it’s kept clean. In my mind, that’s the way it should be. 

Unfortunately, I have to exist in reality for a majority of my life. In reality, a house is very difficult to keep up with, especially with kids. Nothing is the way it should be, pretty much any time, ever. It doesn’t matter that I have been groomed to 5S the hell out of things or scrub a room to white glove perfection. I live in the real world with real cohabitants. 

I also have real bills that I have to share in paying. It doesn’t matter if I can balance a budget. I cannot be in two places at once to make two incomes at the same time. Hell, earning the one income is taking its toll on me. I should be able to pay all my bills every month. In my mind, that should be entirely possible. I should be able to afford a vehicle, not necessarily brand new nor high end. Just a vehicle to safely get me and the kids around. 

These things that should be, they bother me because these things are not. It’s not just my expectations of myself, is it? My debtors expect to be paid, the government expects to be paid, baby’s momma expects to be paid. Really, the downward spiral of it all, the eternal source of stress, is that all these people expect results. Hours of my time, abuse to my knees, back, hands and otherwise, nights spent on a ladder instead of bed, hours and fuel spent in traffic, all condensed down to a green sheet of printed fabric. 

I should be free to let my mind explore the world, the most succulent and delectable morsels of knowledge oft overlooked. Instead, I’m bound to expectations. I shouldn’t be bound to a life of poverty after working so hard to escape it. However, to be otherwise should not require I be bound to a life of corporate servitude, resorting to stealing my life back in a lunch break here or concocted excuse there as neither my weekends nor holidays are left sacred. 

These things that should be. I struggle to accept the reality that things are not the way they should be. I can accept the reality of the past, or at least I’m working on it. What bothers me is the reality of my future as there has so far been no indication of it being vastly better than the recent past. 

How do I ‘let it go’? How do I build ‘mental flexibility’? What can I do to make tomorrow at least marginally better than today aside from giving the home a field day cleaning? 

The Glad Game 

It’s sounds so corny, cheesy, and I suppose other foods as well. I know some bloggers make a point of stretching their gratitude muscles on the weekly, but I think I’m going to get frustrated keeping that up. So, here’s a quick few morsels of joy to share at least this once. 

  1. I have my son today. I did have a seed of paranoia growing around summer plans and worrying about him disappearing. He is here, safe, and I treasure every bit of time I get with him. 
  2. Coffee. We have some this morning. That hasn’t been the case some mornings lately. 
  3. The cool fall breeze. Ah, after so many muggy triple digit days, the cool nights have returned. Clothes, blankets, snuggling, not mindfully drinking a gallon of water every day, cooking and baking in the oven again.. 
  4. Sex on the reg. I really don’t understand how I can feel so lackluster or bummed some days when I pretty much know that at the end of the day, I’m getting laid. Not everyone is so lucky, especially the singles. I have even known couples that only get intimate a few lucky times per month. I just wish it wasn’t such a big deal when, on the rare occasion, I don’t feel like it. Sometimes, sleep is all that I’m mentally or physically good for. Not like I won’t make up for it 😉
  5. Summer is all but gone. Good riddance. This summer was lame. Super weak. All I did all summer was two hikes, and I couldn’t much enjoy them with my charming family whining the whole way. Another broke, sweaty, uneventful, bickering and fussing, lame duck season over.

      Good lord, bring on the rain and school already! 

      More Doing

      In trying to shake this funk, I have come to realize that I no longer have a space in the house to claim as my own. There is a desk with a computer, but said computer is about to give up the ghost as well. I don’t really get quiet time to sit and do anything productive, either. 

      Still, I have to make something. It’s just what keeps me able to wake up day to day. I shouldn’t imply that my family doesn’t do that for me, but I really lose the wind in my sail being little more than a babysitter day in and day out. I have to do stuff, keep my hands and my brain busy. 

      I’m wishing I had a shop space again, as power bumps screw with the machine and usually makes it freeze. I also have just barely enough room to walk around the thing. Nonetheless, I finally got what I was after. 

      I’ll take any kind of success I can get right now! 

      Finally, back to making sawdust! 

      That’s really all I have wanted out of life for a while. To stop this thing from being something I’m working on doing, and to finally say it’s what I do

      Joe Gotta Go

      I quit once, so I can do it again. It’s not really an addiction if I don’t let it control me. [Paraphrased from the low budget flick Coffee and Cigarettes ]

      I have quit a lot of times. Haven’t most smokers? I slipped into it again. What is it, really? I admit that it came back to me when I was driving. I would go to the airport queue for my lunch period, see a few folks enjoying their nicotine and before I knew it…

      In retrospect, I can see that I only wanted the company. Every other driver seemed to sit in their car and zone out into their phone the whole time. I just wanted some small talk and maybe to hear someone else bitch about their misery. I picked up a pack and enjoyed my social time. For a few weeks, that was my routine. 

      Then I quit driving to work on shop projects. For the last few months, I have been trying to quit again. I have a week that’s not so stressful and I just don’t give in to cravings. Then I have a week that stresses me out and I say the hell with fighting that battle. Some weeks are okay, but most weeks this summer have just shortened my life span and grayed my hair. 

      The counselor believes that most, if not all, of the intense bickering in our house is the result of my energy. Accordingly, I have been instructed to go for a run when I feel stressed. These moments of stress don’t follow a nice schedule though, and rarely in those moments do I ever have energy to run. I fell back onto construction as I can’t afford shop space right now, and have been on hiatus for anything active since. When the house starts going into nuclear meltdown, I take my loud, abrasive self outside. Since my body hurts, the only thing I care to do is cover the pain with tobacco. The crazy thing is that my body doesn’t even like it at all. One cig and I feel instantly shitty. 

      So, it’s been a lot of just feeling shitty. I shared with my girl how I don’t really enjoy my smoke breaks but rather just feel like I’m being punished for shit I didn’t start. Little Kiley acts out, I go outside, and I reckon that in her mind she won the fight. She may have had a time out, but she made me go away. I was banished at her will, all it took was attitude and screaming. 

      It sure wasn’t easy, but we had to flip the script. Kiley was informed of the new plan to punish her, and as anyone could predict, she just had to give it a try. This time, we decided that 3 strikes earns her a grounding in her room. One whole day, 24 hours, where she has her bed, stuffed animals, toys, but absolutely nobody to interact with. It was as close to a prison sentence as one could inflict on a child. 

      Well, this turned out to be a great solution. Kiley is far more reserved in her outbursts and her tone of voice is less irritable on the whole. The listening skills need work, as do many other skills, but the nuclear meltdowns seem to be contained.

      As such, it is time to take my own mental health seriously.

       I’m giving myself this one last lung dart, then I’m on the pesticide free diet. It’s time I get back to the pursuit of the 6 minute mile. I need to give myself that much with everything that’s going on.

      I hope to get back in the shop and building things, but getting life on track is the primary focus right now. I need to get out from under the steam roller in any way I possibly can.