No more mommy haircuts, please

I wear many hats at home: mom, wife, friend, teacher, counselor, chef, housekeeper, toy finder, schedule maker, comforter, fish keeper, homework nagger, encourager, discipliner, etc. Beginning this week I realized that I’m also a hairdresser for both kids.

In the past, I took Elliot to a salon for two separate haircuts, but we’d all come home exhausted and traumatized from his nonstop crying. If the hairdresser got close to his head, he’d cry and try to squirm away by pulling off the velcro from the haircut cape. It was exasperating to hold him while his hair got all over me. I decided to save us from the trouble and cut his hair at home instead.

Rare occassion where he’ll allow me to pin his hair.

Mostly the hair cuts turn out well, even to my surprise. Everyone is content and I congratulate myself for saving time, money, and jangled nerves. But…there’s the other part too. I accidentally cut too much, unevenly, or make blunt cuts that don’t blend naturally with the rest of the hair.

I finally told Elliot that we are going to trim his bangs. It’s been a few months since his last successful haircut, so I assumed this one would be the same. These days he likes his bangs long and swept over to the side. We negotiated: he’ll let me cut his hair after I’ve watched him play several rounds of video games.

I started out confident but got nervous after the bangs turned out jagged. I’m not a trained hairdresser! He must’ve sensed my uneasiness because he ran to the mirror to check out the damage. When I went to see what his response would be, it was what I expected. Tears.

Previously he’d ignore a bad haircut and forget all about it. Not this time! He checked his hair in the mirror at various angles, combed his hair with his fingers, wet it with water, recombed, and as the last resort, shook out his hair as though that’d settle the wonky bangs into place. He asked me how I could do this to his hair. I offered to style it with pomade but he told me to leave the bathroom so he could be alone.

I realized that he’s not a small kid anymore; hairstyle is a big deal to him now. It’s a sensitive subject for growing kids about their identity, confidence, and appearances. What am I saying? It’s sensitive for grown ups too. A bad haircut makes me grumpy too.

I put my ear to the bathroom door and heard soft snapping scissor sounds. Alarmed I knocked loudly and asked if he was cutting hair!! I imagined opening the door to hair shredded all over the sink with bangs cut too close to his hairline, maybe even a mullet (which always reminds me of my 8th grade science teacher). My imagination went ahead of me. He only snipped a tiny bit. But it was a close call. He could’ve been tempted to go ahead and cut his hair.

I called in the big guns; Chris, you gotta help me fix this hair issue!! I tried not to ask him since he was inundated with video meetings that day and the following day, but this qualified as an emergency. He got the supplies and calmly proceeded to snip away the excess hair from the sides and cut it in proportion to the very short bangs. My approach is the exact antithesis to his; not methodical but unorganized in the name of creativity. Elliot was slightly appeased with the end result, but his eyes began to tear up again.

It’s been four days since the hair fiasco. Today he tells me that he likes his new haircut and that his hair is beginning to grow out. I smiled but inside I couldn’t help rolling my eyes.

My conclusion: I’m taking off my hairdresser hat and confidently passing it onto Chris. He has my blessing and profuse thanks.

Me: video game noob and a very tired teacher

These days I’m dragging my feet into this video game world, its rules, terminology, and other related things. One thing is for certain: you don’t want to be called a “noob.” I could think of worse things but that term seems to push player’s buttons. It’s supposed to be insulting to call or be called a “noob” yet the term is teasingly used among friends for poor play.

According to Wikipedia, ” Newbienewbnoob, or nub is a slang term for a novice or newcomer, or somebody inexperienced in a profession or activity.”

I’m in the latter category: My kids call me “noob, “but it doesn’t offend me. My noobiness is obvious when I can’t control my avatar’s movements in the game and can’t pass through doors or climb ladders. I continually ask: “What’s that?”; “How do you do that?”; “Why do I keep…?”; or “What do I do now?”

We play “Bed Wars” on the BlockMan Go app. It’s a 4 team game of 4 players who buy gear, blocks, and weapons though coins earned at each of their base’s iron forge. To get better gear and upgrade your weapon’s arsenal, you build bridges to other lands to get diamonds and emeralds. You also need to build to other team’s lands to destroy their defended bed. If you die or get killed, you respawn but lose all your inventory; however, if your bed is destroyed, you cannot respawn after dying.

My role is limited; I defend the bed with blocks, build one bridge to nearby the diamond land, gather diamonds to upgrade our team’s forge, and try not to fall into the void. It’s stressful and I wonder how my fingers don’t move as fast as I want them to.

Still, they want me on their team. It’s flattering, but it’s too much together time. We already spend an inordinate amount of time together as a homeschooling family. This activity cuts into my nap time, alone time, bathroom time, phone time, etc. I’m guessing they want me to play so I’ll lose track of time and not yell at them to stop playing. Just sayin’…

When we play, we refer to each other by our usernames. They like to show off their skills and give me tutorials. Ellis comments that I’m like her little sister in video games and that she needs to teach me how to do things. Other times, Elliot tells me to “stay back…I got you” while he kills off opponents or gets revenge on the enemy who killed me.

Avatars: Ellis (Far left), Elliot (middle), me (far right); my updated Avatar is a winking eye

Another game we play is Skyblock; you mine for blocks and use them to build your land in the sky. This is my favorite game; who thought mining could be this fun and pleasant! Kids got me better gear and unbreakable cross/ slash thunderbolt staff that I can use to defend myself from other miners who want to steal your inventory by killing your avatar. fend off attacks from other miners in the advanced mining area for higher cost blocks. Rare and special blocks can be attained through trades with other players or by using coins to buy them by selling the blocks you mined or with gcubes (gold cubes you buy with money).

We’ve kind of gone overboard and have built all kinds of structures along with making up stories. We have an evil scientist who grows poisonous berries, a young Apatosaurus dinosaur that suddenly appeared on our land (we are caretaking and teaching him while we look for his parents), kids made their stone generator business that makes stones with water and lava (cost is 1 emerald per use). Ellis also made a graveside for my father in law who passed 7 years ago, as well as one for Chris’ friend who passed recently in Dec. 2020.

I’ve been on edge since kids love these games, along with Minecraft and others, and I feel they will never stop playing. But I can’t fight it all the time, so I’m reluctantly changing my approach. This may be my rationalizing, but playing together gives us an opportunity to reverse teacher and learner roles, learn about internet safety, make good decisions, problem solve, build creatively, research information they need, understand sportsmanship, and discuss different ways people think and act on video game platforms.

This is their new obsession, so I’m seizing this opportunity to revolve learning around it for them. Being my kid’s teacher has its rewards and surprises, but in uncharted territories like this, I find the ride wild, uncomfortable, and unbelievably frustrating!! I’ve emphasized the positives here, but it gives me migraines to work with it. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜…

For every teacher, parent, and others in the second month of this school year, praying that we survive, stay healthy, and help kids on their road to become their best selves!

Feeding the busy builder birds, at least trying to

Few years ago, one of our windows was thoroughly streaked with bird poop: only that window. Turns out it was a bird who converted the overhang into its own cozy condo. I called a local office (can’t recall the specific place) to have someone remove the nest, but I was advised to leave it undisturbed till the nest was abandoned. Dismantling the nest was illegal.

It stayed and they continued to leave daily presents for us on, under, and around the window.

So it wasn’t a surprise when recently we noticed berserk activity from a group of random birds; zipping from tree to tree. They weren’t a flock: it was just arbitrary flying around of different sized birds. When they were camouflaged inside the tree branches, we could hear little “beep” sounds, similar to a home smoke alarm that is low on battery. They’re probably building nests for spring hatching. Hopefully the nests will be built only in trees and not in the previous condo space above our window.

Hypothesis: birds are building nests for the winter; they will lay eggs soon

When we discovered small v-shaped nests in several trees, we wanted to feed them, especially during this busy building season. A quick search about healthful foods for birds explained that bananas are beneficial to birds’ healths. Perfect for using up bananas that are starting to brown.

I chopped up 2 bananas into pieces and strung it through the middle (I cored it with a small straw) with twine. Ellis crushed up nuts using a mortar and pestle, which she sprinkled over the banana. 

Strung pieces of banana through twine to hang on the tree branches
Lots of birds flying around this particular tree. We were certain the birds or squirrels would eat this nuts-banana treat, but when we checked the next day, it was untouched. We removed this treat after 2 days and put it out for the neighborhood squirrels.
A potential spot to leave our treat. When we saw the nest, we agreed to hang it on this tree. You can see the nest higher above the blue circle. The banana treat is circled in blue. I overestimated my height and underestimated the tree’s height.
Day 2 of checking on this banana treat. It was half-eaten.
Day 3. Safe to say the bird/s loved our treat. All eaten.

We enjoyed the process since we could follow up and see whether a bird had eaten the treat. It wasn’t easy going unnoticed by the birds with all the crunchy leaves littered on the ground. Although it would’ve been delightful to see the birds eating while we looked, it wasn’t going to happen with 3 pairs of eager eyes staring at them.

Conclusion: one treat by a nest was consumed. The others were pulled off the tree branches and given to squirrels. At least the leftover was consumed by a happy squirrel. Yay, we all win!

This picture was posted yesterday for “Silent Sunday” before I realized I would write a post about it.  That’s the context of this picture; kids perched on the rails calling birds, squirrels, any critter would do, to come and eat the banana treats.

Update of egg floating experiment from previous post

The egg in our science experiment from 8 weeks ago still floated inside the glass of dissolved salt water. However, the layer of salt crystals on top of the egg became thicker even 3 weeks after I wrote that post.

I mentioned that I would crack the egg when more of the water evaporated (I should have measured the difference to have specific data though; even measuring the difference of the evaporation levels would’ve been a good lesson). Next time!

I carefully moved the thick but crumbly crust of salt onto the counter and cracked the egg in the sink. The egg white, thick and gooey, slowly spilled out where the crack was made. I guessed that maybe the yolk would be black or have turned into a moldy green color. But it was a fascinating finding!

The yolk formed into a squishy round shape and it held its shape even after a poke. My hypothesis is that the egg absorbed the salt slowly through its shell. I need to check with Chris, our science guy at home, but I’ll just trust my guts and post anyway!

If you have a hypothesis to share, please do! Will be interesting to see what ideas you come up with.