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. 


  1. I wrote a comment the other day (twice actually), but for whatever reason it wouldn’t go through, so I’m trying again just to let you know I’m here! I love reading your Kate updates!

  2. Love these updates! Glad the trip went well. That's too bad your FIL is having a harder time. I'm not ready for all that. Olivia's new thing for dinnertime is "I don't like (insert any food besides tacos and pizza)!"