Thursday, 14 March 2019

A Day in the Life Winter 2019

A Day in the Life
March 5, 2019

Husband 44
Jane 42
Tyler 5
Kate 3.5

0142 Tyler is incessantly meowing
0143 You’re probably thinking ‘you’re still dealing with that cat meowing at night?’
0147 Meow! Me-OW! MEOW! Yes. I am
0148 You’re likely thinking ‘why does she put up with that ?’
0150 I scoop Tyler up in my arms and he snuggles his head against my shoulder and purrs
0151 That’s why
0153 I bring Tyler into the kitchen and give him a few drops of Kitty Medical Marijuana 
0157 He follows me back to my room and jumps on my bed
0159 I think we both fall asleep
0343 Tyler is meowing
0345 Again
0350 Get out of bed and go to the kitchen. His food bowl is empty. Kitty Munchies are a real thing.
0455 Husband’s alarm goes off. He needs to catch a flight to San Diego
0500 Although he’s usually very conservative with electricity; for some reason when Husband gets up before me, he has to turn every single light on our room and the bathroom on
0545 Apparently I feel back to sleep quickly as Husband wakes me to say good bye
0605 Kate wakes up and climbs into my bed
0607 She asks for some milk
0609 I grab a cup from the fridge as I want her to go back to sleep quickly
0645 My alarm goes off. I was planning to get up to foam roll
0646 I don’t feel like getting out of bed
0649 Tyler jumps on the bed and snuggles next to me. Now I can’t get up
0700 My alarm goes off again. I check my phone before waking up Kate
0705 Kate wakes up. I agree to let her watch one show before we get in the shower
0720 I ask Kate to turn off the TV and she obliges. We head to she shower and she undresses as I am adjusting the water. I am a bit surprised with how cooperative she is being 
0723 While in the shower she starts working on the knots in her hair. Her hair has tangled into a small rat’s nest. I coat it with some deep conditioner 
0730 We get out of the shower and head to the kitchen. Kate has decided to play ‘cafeteria’ and has started moving chairs around in the kitchen 
0735 I finish washing dishes left in the sink from last night and clear the drying rack
0737 Kate is still playing her cafeteria game. I open a Danimals yogurt and tell her that Dazzle from Butterbean’s café made her a Smoothie 
0740 I make my breakfast and sit down to eat. To my surprise, Kate has finished her yoghurt while she’s pushed all the chairs into an aisle
0743 Continuing with Butterbean’s Café theme, I ask her to deliver a Cat Food Salad to the customer Mr Tyler and she does it. 
0745 Dump my breakfast dishes in the sink and pop a Zicam. I’m on day 10 of a cold. I bragged that I didn’t get the flu after Kate was diagnosed, but a week long cough is not much better
0750 Give Kate the ten minute warning before it’s time to get dressed
0805 I got distracted by a Whats App Group chat with my Cross Fit team
0807 Start to do “spinny thing” to work out the knots it Kate’s hair, it’s not enough, we’re going to need a brush
0808 I try to sneak a brush, but she sees it and runs
0809 I chase her and attempt to brush her hair as she screams. Feel horrible
0817 Dressed and ready to go. Nearly on time. Kate has a stuffed dog under her dress and is telling me that she has a baby in her tummy. She also informs me that I am to congratulate her. 
0818 Kate wants to wear a pair of shoes that are too small; convince her to wear a different pair 
0819 Buckle Kate in her car seat. We have to deliver her ‘baby’. I wrap the dog in a blanket that we keep in the car and hand him to her. 
0820 Fuck. I can’t find my keys.
0821 As I search the back seat, Kate tells me that my keys on the floor
0822 I find them where we keep shoes. Pissed that we’ve lost a few minutes when we were on time
0835 It’s raining and other drivers are acting like it’s K-Y. Traffic is backing up as I am getting closer to Kate’s school.
0836 Decide to be an asshole and get off the next exit just so I can get back on the highway. 
0843 Traffic is still moving slowly as we make it to school
0855 Finished an easy drop off, but I’m going to be late to the gym due to this traffic 
0912 Arrive at the gym and sign in for Independent Program, which suits me as I want to do yesterday’s work-out rather than today’s
0947 Complete my work-out. It was 21-15-9 of bar facing burpees and over head squats (30 kg) I was hoping to do more sets of the OHS unbroken, but went 12/9 and 10/5 but did 9 unbroken 
0955 Finish stretching and using the foam roller 
1024 Hit Safe.way on my way home as I forgot to pick up fruit to take for Kate’s school snack while I was shopping this weekend
1028 Pick up sliced apples as I can’t be bothered to cut up fruit. #lazymom
1029 I spend almost three hours each weekend doing meal prep for me and Kate #bittermom
1033 Stop to get gas as it’s a nightmare to fill up with Kate as she wants to get out of the car
1040 Arrive at home. It’s the first time in a long while since I’ve been alone in my house. 
1043 Bring in the laundry from the garage. It’s raining and the garage is damp
1045 Dump the clothes on my bed. Really tempted just to leave them there and deal with it later, but decide to put them away now 
1050 Return to the kitchen to clean the breakfast dishes I left in the sink
1055 Make a cup of coffee
1057 Cook chicken to take for lunch
1100 While chicken is cooking; prep green beans for tonight’s dinner 
1115 Finish a few emails, pack up the chicken and the rest of my lunch. Make my protein shake and T.ang for my “work out carbs” I haven’t had T.ang since I was a kid
1130 Change into my swimsuit and pack my work clothes into my swim bag
1135 Pour my untouched coffee into a travel mug and leave for the pool
1201 Arrive for the noon swim class. The coach lets me swim in a lane with a beginner swimmer, so my out of shape swimming self gets to feel like a rock star
1210 Take a sip of my T.ang. Much different that I remember as a kid as I used the correct ratio of powder to water 
1245 Time to get out so I can get cleaned up for work
1250 During the winter break, someone changed the outdoor shower so you have to hold the button down to produce water, which means you have to shower with one hand. It’s essentially taking a dry shower so you can use both your hands and then when you turn the water on -it’s fucking cold! I used to love this shower -it was the best shower in the world! Now it fucking sucks! 
1257 The water is finally warm. I soak it in
1300 Drying off. There is a strange guy doing jumping jacks on the deck
1301 I’m pretty good at doing a deck change, but don’t quite feel comfortable changing near jumping jacks guy, so I change in the storage shed. 
1310 Throw my swim bag in the boot of my car. Fuck. I just realized that I forgot Kate’s swim stuff 
1333 Walk into work. I’m a few minutes late. Hit the bathroom to comb my hair into a bun. Probably not too professional to have wet hair, but I need to get my yards in

1334-1640 Two of my patients who are seeing me for a two week follow up ask me if I am feeling better. I realize that I must have seemed really sick last time and this cold is lasting a fucking long time.
1728 Leave the office to go pick up Kate
1735 It’s time for Chris Jackson’s Mystery Riff on my radio station. It’s “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones. These are really obvious or impossible 
1745 It was right about the Mystery Riff
1747 Sign Kate out. I made it before the 1750 deadline 
1750 Gather Kate’s stuff and get her ready to go
1755 Buckle Kate in the car. She immediately wants to listen to “number 2” referring to the second song on the Adele 25 CD
1759 I make her listen to “Hello” before we listen to “number 2” (“Send my love to your new lover”) because I should also get to listen to the song I want to her as well. I’m trying to emphasize that it’s not all about her
1808 She’s asking for “number 2” again. I put it on repeat because now I don’t give a shit
1820 Arrive at home to pick up Kate’s swim stuff. Try to bribe her with a snack so I can run into the house quickly 
1821 It doesn’t work, she’s insisting to go in with me. I send her to get her swim bag, while I grab my book.Ironically, it’s  The Difficult Child. 
1830 Arrive at the pool just as the swim classes are getting started, quickly change Kate into her swim gear and discover that I forgot to pack her crocks. Mom Fail #1
1835 Reading the introduction to The Difficult Child. They have a do you have a difficult child? Quiz. I think I’ll do it with Husband so I can get his input
1840 Read the descriptions at the end of the quiz, I’m thinking Kate may be ‘Easy with Difficult Features’ or maybe I’m thinking wishfully 
1850 This book also has a chapter of tales of parents with really difficult kids. I’m feeling a little better after reading this section, which maybe is the purpose of the book 
1900 Class has finished. Kate runs out of the pool and I discover that I forgot to pack a towel Mom Fail#2
1901 Just take off her wet swim stuff and dress her in her sweats. Fortunately, we have a quick drive home.
1903. Kate never wants to wear a jacket in her car seat and now is no exception. She takes her jacket off and buckles herself in shirtless. I unswaddle her doggie from this morning and put the blanket over her
1910 Arrive at home. Get my wet swim stuff out of the boot and strip Kate down. Quickly run her under a warm shower and after toweling her off, I send her to her room to get dressed in jammies
1915 Ugh. Husband didn’t empty the dryer when he did the laundry on Sunday.
1916 Throw all the dry clothes on my bed. This time I really will deal with them later
1920 Kate successfully dressed herself
1922 Put Bubble Guppies on her Kate as I prepare dinner and try to wash up her lunch stuff. 
1925 I make her a grilled cheese and slip a piece of ham inside. Then we use a flower shaped cookie cutter because she’ll eat things that have interesting shapes.
1927 I make another sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch
1930 Make my dinner. It’s cooked ground turkey with the green beans I cut up earlier today and a black bean sauce 
1940 Sit down to eat with Kate. Surprisingly she doesn’t protest when I turn off the TV. She wants to eat the other grilled cheese sandwich, so now I need to think of a new idea for her lunch
1955 Work on cleaning up dinner dishes while trying to pack Kate’s lunch for tomorrow
2005 She tells me that she wants to go to bed. I still have more work to do, but I’m not going to miss the cue that she’s ready for bed
2007 Except Tyler reminds me that I haven’t fed him yet 
2010 Meet Kate in the bathroom. I recently bought her a new Paw Patrol toothbrush, but she doesn’t want to give up her old Shimmer and Shine toothbrush, so we’re having issues over which toothbrush to use. I am regretting getting this new toothbrush 
2015 As I’m getting out her night time pull up, Kate informs me that she needs to take her jammies to the wash as there is pee on them
2016 I check. There is a wet spot
2017 We have a conversation about why she peed her pants. Kate tell me that her brain forgot to tell her that it was time to go potty. 
2019 Discuss how she needs to pay more attention to her brain
2020 She picks out books to read. Naturally she goes to the ones with sound, which are usually too overstimulating. 
2025 As we sit down on the mattress next to her bed to read stories, I feel a small wet patch on her bed
2026 It’s time to play Why? Is? This? WET? 
2027 I decided to pretend it’s from her water bottle and ignore that she just wet her pants
2045 Inform Kate that it is time for lights out. She has developed a routine where she turns out her lights, turns on the night light and runs into bed
2050 Kate is asking for milk
2051 I inform her that she can’t have milk because she peed her pants. We are enforcing that there are consequences for wetting her pants
2055 She starts to whine and cry
2056 I put in my headphones and listen to some WODprep videos 
2103 Tyler opens the door and enter her room. She’s distracted long enough to stop crying and ask me to close the door
2110 Now she wants to give me another hug and kiss
2115 She asks “What are we going to do tomorrow?”
2116 I go back to listening to my videos
2125 I think she’s drifted off
2135 Wanted to give her a little more time and got caught up reading an article
2140 Head back to the kitchen to finish washing the dinner dishes, packing my lunch and Kate’s. Prepare my protein powder and Tang for tomorrow. Top up Tyler’s water bowl and dry food. 
2159 Eat a few mini-chocolate chips before brushing my teeth and washing my face
2205 Take my swim stuff out of the dryer and leave Kate’s stuff on top of the dryer. Go out to the garage to pack my swim stuff into my bag and load my car for tomorrow.
2207 Clean cat box
2210 Finally make it into bed
2211 Fuck! I forgot about the stuff I threw on the bed earlier
2212 Put away my clothes and husbands and place Kate’s stuff and the towels back on top of the dryer for Husband to deal with *
2214 Think about foam rolling
2215 Decide that I can’t be bothered
2217 Now Tyler is sitting on my lap. I obviously can’t get up now.
2216 Watch ‘This is Us’ as I’m still an episode behind and start writing notes for this post
2235 Husband arrives home and starts telling me about his day
2240 I feel that I’m being rude if I pause the TV, but he is talking during a good part
2245 Fortunately, it has captured his attention and he’s watching too
2247 Now he’s asking me to catch him up on the while episode
~2300 Fall asleep on the end of ‘This Is Us’ (will look up online the next morning to see what I missed)
Husband dealing with the laundry on the dryer was him shoving the towels into the linen closet and dumping Kate’s clothes on to the chair in her room. Real helpful. 

Sent from

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Maybe our parents had it right

It had been a trying weekend. Husband and I often found ourselves admonishing Kate, and then cringing inside as we realized “OMG, I sound just like my mother!” So when I was scrolling through my feed later that night, my eye was drawn to an article 20 Useful phrases to Use When your Child isn’t Listening. The author begins:

I replaced my judgmental, negative, threatening tone with a neutral, problem solving, empathetic, encouraging one, and my little girl's behavior improved dramatically. The lesson was clear for me. Talk to mini-humans the way you'd like to be talked to and things will go a lot smoother. 

I was immediately intrigued. I’d love to see Kate’s behavior improve dramatically and have a much smoother process. Added bonus if I don’t sound like my mother! 

As I started to read, I found that most of her suggestions made sense and I could see myself adopting them. For example:

1.What do you need to remember?"
Take a break from: "Be careful."

I had heard this suggestion somewhere else. “Be careful” is just too vague. Be specific about their actions or explain the consequences of doing something that they shouldn’t. Got it. 

2. Please talk softly."
Take a break from: "Stop yelling!" or "Be Quiet!"

A more positive tone. Makes sense. Also follows saying “Please do ___________” rather than “Don’t do this!” So far I’m following with you.

Then I started to deviate a bit..

Let's add that toy you want to your birthday list."
Take a break from: "We can't afford that" or "No, I said NO TOYS!"
Example: "I am not willing to buy that, would you like me to put it on your birthday wish list?"

Her explanation;  If we're being honest, we often CAN afford the $5 lego at checkout, we're just not willing to purchase it. But then we buy a $5 almond milk latte from Starbucks. Instead of blaming our finances and creating feelings of scarcity, own your limit, then offer ideas to help them learn how to get it (birthday, earning money, etc.)

I feel that we should teach our kids there are limits and they should know that they are not going to get every item they want.  Saying you’ll add it to the birthday list, isn’t saying ‘no’. You’re really hoping your kid is going to forget about it, but you could be setting up unrealistic expectations for a very long birthday list. Another parenting blog had a suggestion to have the discussion before you get to Tar.get and explain that you will not be buying any toys from Bullseye’s playground, so you avoid the tantrum in the store. 

This is going to counter my point; but I have to admit you never know when you give into buying an item and it turns out to be really useful. After having our talk ahead of time, Kate didn’t protest when we went past Bullseye’s playground, but then she spotted a small plastic case in the make up aisle that she just had to have. It decided to buy it as it was on clearance. That afternoon, she pretended it was her suitcase. She packed it herself with a pair of jammies and a tooth brush. Took a plane ride from her room to the kitchen, then changed into her jammies as she was an overnight guest. An afternoon of self entertainment for only $4.99, but I am digressing. 

Here is where she lost me. 

Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes?"
Take a break from: "Time to go…now!"
Example: "Do you guys wanna leave now or play for ten more minutes, then leave?

Her rationale: “ Kids love to be in charge of their own destiny, especially power kids! This takes a tad bit of proactivity, but it works like a charm! Give them a choice & they'll respond much better when you say "Okay, 10 minutes is up, time to go."”

Pausing for a moment to get to my main objection to this suggestion. I feel the notion of giving kids choices works only in theory. Yes, it works on Husbands. You’re choosing tile to update the backslash in your kitchen. You find two designs that you like and present him with the choice between the two. Ultimately, you get a design you like and he feels like he was involved in the decision process. Win-win. Yet for kids, the decision process is an opportunity to make things more complicated. I used to give Kate options for picking her clothes (sometimes presenting it as a choice between ‘freakin A or frecking B’) and she would reject both choices and try to pick something for herself. We had to stop using the expensive ‘dinner winner’ maze plates as it was an ordeal just to have her select a plate before we even entered the disaster zone known as meal time. 

Firstly, what kid is not going to go for the option of playing for ten more minutes and we know what follows from there. Ten minutes turns into twenty…  More so, what if you need to leave now and you don’t have ten minutes to spare? It feels like you’re venturing into letting the kids make their own rules. Call me old fashion, but I think the parents should make the rules and the kids should know that the parents make the rules and that they need to follow those rules. 

She had one more suggestion about getting ready to leave the house.

We are on cheetah time today and need to move fast!"
Take a break from: "Hurry Up!" or "We are going to be late!"
Example: "We're on racehorse time today! Let's see how fast we can move!"

So I tried this with Kate one morning, explaining that cheetahs are among the fastest animals, so we needed to move fast like cheetahs. Kate responded “I’m a baby cheetah, so baby cheetahs move slow.” I had to concede that yes, baby cheetahs probably do not move as fast as adult cheetahs. It was a fail. 

I think when I was 6 or 7, I was stalling getting ready for school one morning and my Dad yelled, “Get your ass in the car now!” There was no ambiguity. No choices. No discussion about animal speed. I knew I was in trouble because my Dad used the word ass, and I knew that if I didn’t get my ass in gear, there would be big trouble. The next morning I made sure I was on time. 

So maybe our parents had it right after all. Obviously, we all turned out okay. Now when I hear myself sounding like my mother, instead of cringing, I’ll take it as a sign that I’m doing something right.  

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

2018 Goals

1.    Following Flexible Eating and continued weight loss

Mixed. I did lose three pounds, but 1.5 was fat and 1.5 was muscle and I was told that I am probably not eating enough calories, so I am still trying to figure out what is the right balance. Our gym held a competition where members paid $10 to do a weigh in before Thanksgiving, those who maintained or lost weight get their money back and split the rest from those who gained. I was just a pound over my starting weight, so I lost (by not losing). It’s frustrating as I felt that I did eat sensibly and squeezed in extra work-outs during the holidays, but I’m going to set as a new goal for 2019: not to be so obsessed with the scale. 

2.    Cross-Fit 
Success! In 2017 I kept a sticker chart to track how often I go to the gym or to swim practice. Last year I made it to the gym 78 times. This year, I did 126 work-outs. What helped achieve that total is that I adopted a “no excuses” approach. From analyzing my 2017 sticker chart, I saw how easy it is for life to keep you from the gym (work events, sick kid, Husband’s away for work or hockey) so I only gave myself 5 passes when I missed because I just didn’t feel like it going. I managed to keep it only to 5 and it included my illness, returning from a trip, the two time changes and an England match in the World Cup quarter finals. I also purchased a 20 inch box, a kettlebell and a pair of 35 lbs dumbbells so I can do work-outs at home while Chris is away. No excuses.
Skills: I got Chest to Bar (Kipping) and I’ve been hitting a lot of PRs with my lifts. I competed in the Cross Fit Open and did one more competition 
   Targets for 2019
   Hand stand push-ups
   Rope Climbs
   CrossFit Open and 1-2 more competitions
   Working more on lifting technique 

3.    Sending cards for birthdays
Success! I may have missed one or two, but I received a lot of follow up that friends really appreciate snail mail cards. 

4.    Keep up with Kate’s Share Days
I did well in the beginning of the year, then completely fell off. However, we’re required to being in snack once a month at her new school and I’ve been good about keeping up with it.  

5.    Adjust to my new role in a leadership position 
Mixed to fail. I don’t want to go into any specific details, but there was a difficult situation at the end of the year and my weakness as a leader was truly exposed. My position ended up being eliminated due to another leadership reorganization and I was relieved as I probably would have resigned.  I don’t want to give myself a total fail as I feel I did some things well and I came up with a few good ideas. I’ve been thinking back to when I was a Junior in High School and I was denied admission to the National Honor Society due to lack of leadership activities. My school administrators knew it back then. I’m not a natural leader. I was devastated as a 17 year old who was convinced that no good college would accept her and I wouldn’t get to wear the gold cords at graduation. As a 42 year old I accept that I have other skills and good qualities. Being in a leadership position is not one. 

6.    Send my In-laws photos on a monthly basis
Success until April; then total fail. I have no excuses, just apathy. 

7.    Run some 5K races with Kate
Success! We did (6) 5 Ks and I ran (2) 10Ks on my own. Kate ran the first mile of our Thanksgiving day race on her own and Husband ran the New Year Day’s race and placed third in his age group! 

8.    More FaceTime with Husband
Getting better. We lost our monthly date night when we switched Kate to her new Pre-School, but we managed to go out twice while my parents were in town for Christmas and we’ve already lined up a babysitter for Valentine’s Day. Husband has been getting back to the gym and his recent third place finish is encouraging him to do some more runs, so we’re spending more family time together. 

9.    Swim Times
I had a surprise PR in the 50 Free early in the season, but was really disappointed with how I did at our Spring meet. I was happier with how I did in our Autumn meet, which included competing in the 200 Fly. My biggest challenge with swimming has been consistency. I took a few days off after our Spring meet, then Husband had a work trip, Kate started waking up multiple times a night, we went to Hawaii and suddenly I missed 6 weeks of swimming. Then we lost days in November due to the poor air quality from the Camp Fires. We only had a few days back before the pool’s heaters broken down in December and at press time, still have not been repaired.  I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to PR at our April meet given I’ll only have had a few months of training leading in
   Targets for 2019
   Avoiding any long and unnecessary breaks
   Completing 7 events in the SCY and SCM Championships (No scratches and no DQs)
   Doing 200 Fly in both meets
   Brute Squad challenge (missed this year due to pool closure)
   PR 400 Kick for Time (also missed due to pool closure)

10.    Parenting
Mix of Successes and Fails. I was really hoping to be completely potty trained by the end of the year. I bought a box of Night-time pull-ups in May, hoping it would be the last box we ever purchased. It wasn’t. By October, I was so fed up with doing laundry every morning that I decided we needed to take a two week break. I picked up a small bag of pull-ups from Safe.way and then decided that it was really nice to sleep at night and not have to get up to do Kate’s dream pee. So the next time I was at Costco, I picked up again what I hope is out last box of pull-ups ever. I decided it would be a good idea to keep her in pull-ups during our visit to her UK grandparents and our stay at a hotel in Ireland as no one would want to deal with wet sheets. We’ll get ready to give it another go when we get back. This will hopefully lead to two other unfulfilled goals of 2018: getting a proper big girl bed for Kate and getting her to fall asleep on her own. 

I had also wanted to be better with discipling Kate and just after her third birthday, I was feeling that it was a major fail. Just in the past few months, she has made such a change for the better and I give a lot of credit to her new Montessori Pre-School. Making the decision to switch her to the new school was one of our major successes for the this year and hopefully beyond. Even during my parents visit, where she previously fell apart due to the extra stimulation, she was much better behaved and even my mother noticed and commented. We still have our battles with getting her to stay seated and eat at the kitchen table. I discovered that I’m not afraid to be a hard-ass. It drives me crazy when she lays across the seat so after she didn’t listen to my warning, I pulled the chair out from under her. She was startled and I’ve threatened to do it again, and she’s been better about sitting. Eating in a reasonable amount of time is still a challenge. 

Targets for 2019.
Continue to limit screen time. Currently, she watches 2 twenty minute shows in the morning and 2 in the evening. Especially if one of us is solo parenting, it keeps her occupied so we can get ready. There are times when we get home from school when she wants me to play with her, but I need to start getting dinner ready. If I can’t get her to play by herself, I’ll offer letting her watch some shows, which I really hate doing, but sometimes you need to get stuff done. As she puts in a 10 hour day at school with the commute, I figured she’s earned some down time with the TV. I still refuse to let her watch anything on my phone when we are out. 

I also want to work on her letters. We have a dry erase board for practicing letter and she does surprisingly well (when she feels like working on them). I know it’s ambitious, but I’d like to gear her toward reading. She has an amazing recall and can practically recite a book after hearing it only one or two times, so I have the feeling that she is keen, although she resists sometimes when I try to show and explain words while we’re doing story time. Mostly my goal is to make sure she’ll be kindergarten ready by the end of the year as (gulp) I can’t believe she’ll be starting Kindergarten next year.

2019 is going to be a busy year and I hope it’s a good one! 

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Kate 3.5

Greetings! I’m writing from a Play Café in England. We made it across the Atlantic to visit Husband’s parents. Although I prided myself on getting through our domestic flights without screen time, electing to go old school with coloring books and sticker sets; I tossed that out the window for a long haul 11 hour flight. I have to admit, that even though I used to read Emily Griffin novels on the plane, it was also a good opportunity to get caught up in movies that I usually wouldn’t have a chance to see. Husband used to argue that if you were to factor the cost of going to the cinema, you’re earning $30-40 if you watch a few movies on your flight. I watched Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! Which was not bad for a sequel, if you can overlook the obvious flaw that all the main actors were about 20 years older than their characters should have been and Cher is essentially the same age as Meryl Streep and she looks much younger than most of the cast, but she was the only one who can sing, so we forgive her.

Anyway, as the last time we flew, I thought some of the kids programs shown on the plane were a bit too old for her, I picked up some Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Bubble Guppies! DVDs from our local library and I brought along our old school personal DVD player, which can be used during take-off and landing. The only trouble with that plan is that it was accidentally switched on in Husband’s carry-on bag and the batteries died during the flight. Nonetheless, we arrived at my in-laws and found they had stored the toys we bought during our last trip. They did throw out the toiletries that I had left behind as my MIL thought they had “gone off”. Um, I’m not sure if shampoo has an expiration date, so it does feel like there was an urge to purge anything of mine; but it gave me an excuse to pop out to the shops. Kate fortunately warmed up to her grandparents quickly and gave no protest when I left. 

Long term readers may recall my annoyance with my in-laws when they asked about Christmas gifts for Kate and I suggested ordering some distinctively English toys on-line so they would be there for her last visit, but my ILs didn’t want to agree to that and instead we had to make a quick trip to Toys R’Us and ended up with some of the same toys she has at home while my FIL slipped husband some cash in the kitchen as if it were a drug deal. (This year, I refused to purchase and wrap a gift for them so that they could watch her open “their” gift on Face Time, so we asked for money for her swim and soccer lessons) It didn’t make any sense to get any new toys for such a short visit, so I went to a charity consignment shop and picked up a bag of gently used toys for under $20. I also asked my MIL to update her library card so we could get a whole stack of books to read and I would only have to bring a few along. Kate had a weird reaction to the library. She was very disappointed when it wasn’t our home library and she claimed that she didn’t like any of the books. I thought it was just an overtired jet-lag thing (as yes, she threw a tantrum in the library) but every night she would fuss about not liking the new books, until I threatened that there would be no books, turned out the light and left the room and then she ended up enjoying the new books. Anyway, I still thought it was a great idea. 

I was nervous about how Kate would be with my ILs, after recently spending time with my parents who are younger, more active and in much better health. Fortunately she warmed up to them quickly and just seemed to enjoy the new attention on her and she played with them for the first few days of our stay. Husband commented that while my parents are better apt physically to deal with Kate, he thought his parents had more patience on the mental side to deal with her. Yet, even in a few days, I could tell that she was wearing them out and most of the time when the watched her, they spent watching TV. I could also tell that Kate was getting cabin fever and was literally jumping off the sofa in an attempt to bounce off the walls, hence we’re at the play place letting her have a good run around. 

Just as there has been a dramatic change in Kate in two years, I see a major decline in my FIL. Last time, he was fixing the shower at the age of 81. Now at 83 he has very limited mobility due to spinal stenosis and Class A or B (I’m guessing) Congestive Heart Failure. I always thought that despite his many health issues, he has enough piss and vinegar to sustain him into his 90s, but now I’m not so sure. I’m projecting 3-5 more years, but who knows? We met with a friend whose father has advanced vascular dementia and he made his peace with losing his father along time ago, but years keep passing and he’s still here. My MIL seems to be doing okay health-wise, but I always felt that despite having more health issues, my FIL would live longer without my MIL than the other way around. As I think about my MIL sitting alone in a dark house drinking tea and watching Australian soaps all day, I suspect she’d die of broken heart syndrome soon after losing him. 

As I’m contemplating if we need to do yearly visits (even it if is for a week, we’ll just suck up the jet-lag and deal with it) it’s reminding me of the final years with my own grandparents, wondering if each visit is going to be the last and wishing I could leave on a good visit, knowing how hard it is to see your loved one in total decline. Which would bring the question, if it would be worth having Kate visit if my FIL is really poorly? My friend whose father has dementia said he hasn’t taken his kids around in years. His father doesn’t recognize them and it’s scary for his kids to see the ‘old man who screams at them’. I feel that while my ILs are still holding their own for now, we really haven’t figured out how we’re going to care for them half way around the world. As I write all of this, I realize I am going to be entering the sandwich generation phase of my life really soon. 

I discovered that I am also entering another phase of my mid-life. Last time we visited, we met up with our friend Leonard and learned of the details of his divorce from Penny. [Penny has since re-married a younger man who is a perfect doppelgänger of Leonard, so it’s not just men who upgrade to a younger model. Although she denies any involvement while she was married to Leonard, as she works in HR, there is much speculation that she wouldn’t quit one job without having another lined up. Leonard also has a new girlfriend that we’ll meet at a wedding this weekend.] Obviously, you never know what is going on in someone’s home, but Leonard and Penny always seemed to be a solid couple, so the news of their split was quite a shock. Prior to leaving for this trip, I learned that our friends Dharma and Greg are now divorced. It was also surprising as they seemed to be a very compatible couple and during our last visit here, they had a 4 month old baby and were celebrating their 9th anniversary by having a date day (they took the day off and did lunch and a matinee movie while the kids were in childcare so they didn’t have to pay a babysitter). I know if Husband and I split, it’s over for me. I’m not putting myself on the dating market. I was wondering how Dharma would manage as a 38 year old divorcee with two kids, but apparently she’s already dating someone. As Husband pointed out “Dharma is really hot”. So I’m at that phase in my life. Friends are now getting divorced and dating again. Okay, let’s move on to talking about Kate. This post is supposed to be about her after all.

Eating:  Her table manners are marginally improved since my last post. The other major challenge is that she is such a picky eater. Oh how I miss those days of introducing solids and table food when they seemed so interested that you could spoon just about anything into their mouths. Her dinner diet is mostly meatballs, chicken nuggets, fish sticks or Annie’s Mac and Cheese. It has to be Annie’s. Despite her affection for Paw Patrol, she won’t eat Kra.ft Mac and cheese with their characters. She definitely won’t eat any properly made Mac and Cheese. Very discerning taste; it must be microwaved in a plastic cup with powered cheese only. Sigh. I received a few books on kids lunches for Christmas, so I’m excited to try a few new recipes and hopefully expand her palate. 

Potty Training: We had a slight regression during the Christmas break where she would wait too long and pee a little bit into her undies en route to the toilet, which results in needing to change her clothes anyway. I was really fearful about what would happen during our visit in England, but she’s actually been doing really well. I guess it the benefit of an under stimulating environment. Ha-ha. 
Sleep: Now longer waking up during the night, but routinely comes into our bed in the morning, which I secretly really love. She’ll usually bring her blanket and a stuffed toy along with her. One morning, she brought her Unicorn (from her Halloween costume) and it was quite amusing to wake up and see Husband sleeping face to face with Unicorn (he woke up before I could snap a picture). She hasn’t adjusted to the time change at all, which I’m hoping is going to mean it’s an easy transition going back. My in-laws did a nice job fixing up a bed for her with a Unicorn duvet cover and they even decorated the walls for her. However, when she tried to come into bed with us in the morning, it was a tight fit for three, so Husband went into her bed. This time I did capture a photo of him sleeping under the Unicorn duvet, which I will keep for some type of vengeful purpose. [insert evil laugh…] 

Likes: She had been really interested in playing store, so that was her theme for her Christmas presents. Myrtle gave her a toy cash register, my parents got her the stand, and ‘Husband’ and I got her a shopping cart, shopping basket and some more play food. She seems to be having fun with it so far. 

Looking forward to: Getting back to our normal routine. As my parents arrived on the 19th of December and we’ll be getting back on MLK day, I realize it’s been just over a month without being “normal”. So bring back the frantic race to make it out the door to get to school on time, long Tuesdays with swim lessons, going to the gym on the weekends and waffles at the Farmer’s Market. 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

The Santa Dilemma

This post was started mid December. I was locked out of my blog for a while!

I’m going to sound like the biggest Grinch. I have held conflicted feelings about doing the whole Santa thing with Kate. The first two Christmases were easy. She was five months and then 17 months and was blissfully oblivious. Last year, I just continued to ignore the white bearded man in the red suit. There were a few people who mentioned the ‘S’ word to her, but I don’t think she paid much attention. I sort-of (over) reacted to a few strangers, snapping at them for “presuming we celebrate Christmas” They must have thought I belong to a non-Christian based religion, which does make me question my hypocrisy for exchanging presents in observation of Christmas as an atheist, but my issue really is that they are assuming I let my child believe in Santa when I’m not sure I want her to. [Of course there is the other issue that we don’t quite believe the whole virgin birth baby in the manger thing. My favorite take on it is from Saved! As teenaged Mary becomes pregnant after having sex with her gay boyfriend in order to “cure” him and she wonders if The Mary made it all up. “I mean you have to admit, it’s a good one. No one claimed virgin birth before” She does add “I don’t think she made it up, but I can understand if she did.”

Here are my issues. It’s lying to her. In general I’m not against lying to your kids when you need to, I’ve probably told at least five white lies to Kate this morning just to get her out of the house. This is something big. What do you do when your kids ask you point blank if Santa is real? My thought is that if they are suspicious enough to ask, you owe it to your kid to be honest with them. I know we all went through finding out when Santa/The Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny aren’t real and lived to tell about it. Yet, I know some moms who went through a rocky period with their kids when the kids learned that that had been lied to by someone they trusted. It also can be noted that there are some kids who are seemingly a little too old to still believe in Santa. 

I also don’t like that it places too much of the emphasis on the gift receiving aspect of the holiday. Sending letters and asking for things. It also highlights the economic disparity and is painful for a lot of families when the kids are requesting items a family cannot afford. I’ve heard there have been school administrators who have sent letters home to parents asking them to limit the presents distributed by “Santa” so kids aren’t wondering why Santa was more generous to some classmates than others. I also have absolutely no desire to spend hours queuing at the mall for my daughter to sit on some stranger’s lab while I hope he’s not molesting her (I’m not saying all mall Santas are pedophiles, but just saying if you are one, being mall Santa is a good gig) 

My friend Amy made a few very valid points. First, threatening to call Santa to report bad behaviors is an effective deterrent. It’s a useful parenting tool. Secondly, you don’t want your kid to be the asshole who ruins it for everyone else. I spoke with a few like minded friends who were trying to promote that Santa is more of a concept. It’s the idea of selflessly giving to others. Anyone can be a Santa. I was ready to get on board with that, but the key distinction is that their kids aren’t in Pre-school where not only is Santa discussed, but he even visited Kate’s school. (Of note, the only thing I could find as a Montessori approved gender neutral gift under $10 for “Santa” to distribute was a Play Doh set and I silently apologized to the Mom of the kid who got this gift. Karma must be laughing, as Kate came home with the gift I brought in. Two other moms whose kids go to different schools also received their own gifts. Is this a thing schools do just in case someone buys Play Doh?)

Last year on a Target clearance sale, I bought an activity advent calendar to use for this Christmas season, which was really to appease my mom who I knew would ask it I were doing an advent calendar. To my surprise, she really got into it and did the activities (coloring, a maze, matching etc..) every day, which all featured Santa. I decided I would take a “I will neither confirm nor deny approach” which I know is the proverbial ostrich burying her head in the sand. Then she found her Peppa Camper van that I didn’t get around to wrapping in my closet. It was a a total #momfail. As I had to rush out to get to the gym, Husband pulled the “Santa couldn’t fit this on his sleigh, so he gave it to us early…” line. So maybe that was some confirmation; but she heard it from him not me. My parents were the ones who helped Kate set out the cookies and milk and carrot for reindeer and then staged the empty glass and cookie crumbs. 

Overall, we had a great Christmas. I felt we hit just the right number of presents. As she is really into playing “store” her gifts included a cash register, shopping cart and basket, more food, a small shelf and an Antsy Pantsy stand that works as a till. We didn’t designate any presents as being from Santa, but she seemed to appreciate the concept of Santa. I’ll have to figure out what to do next year. 

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