- I got tickets to a Day Out with Thomas. I was going back and forth on it, but I have the day off work, and Aaron doesn't. Sometimes it's actually easier with two kids to go do a super big EVENT than to just stay home.
- This weekend is the church fair. There is a bounce house, games, a bagpiper, and other fun music stuff. Cam and Maggie's best grown up friend, Suzanne, is coming to go with them. Just Suzanne alone is enough to make my kids crazy with excitement.... add in a bounce house - and they are going to lose it.
- Aaron's grandmother is coming to visit. She wants to take us out for dinner. Let's hope the gang is on the best behavior.
- The dinner would be Saturday night. So we pray that the bounce house excitement leads to good naps. Or we are going to have a disaster.
- Night time potty training. I'm not even thinking about it, because Cam never wakes up dry. What have the rest of you done for this? Should I wait until he starts waking up dry? Because sometimes I wonder if he wakes up, realizes that he has a diaper on, and pees.
- I'm currently dollhouse obsessed. I like this one, this one, and this one.
- Aaron is willing to build the dollhouse. So I'm trying to decide if the Melissa and Doug (with the 'real' windows and tiny little details) is necessary - and in which case I don't think Aaron could swing it. But one like Anna's dollhouse Aaron could totally make - but will Maggie like it as much as one with all the pretty bits? Or will it be cooler that Daddy made it?
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Things I 'enforce':
Manners: Aaron is better than I am at this, but we insist on the following
- Please when asking for something
- Thank you when someone gives you something
- Excuse me when interrupting a conversation
- Asked to be excused from the table
Kindness: Mostly this is kindness in our house, to each other. They are usually pretty good with others (isn't that like life in general - many people are nicer to strangers than their own family). I don't tolerate a child yelling at me (For example, 'No thank you' instead of 'NO MOMMY! NO WANT TO'), teasing someone else (including the dogs) or being mean to a sibling. This is happening less and less - and I just keep repeating 'Treat your brother/sister how you want to be treated'. And it works! You would think they were too young, but no.
Helping: Everyone helps around here. Maggie and Cam help set and clear the table. If they make a big mess (like spilling cheerios) they help clean it up. I don't get upset - man do I remember my mother FREAKING out if I spilled something. I just acknowledge the mess, and have them help fix it. Same with if Cam pees in his pants, no big deal, but go get yourself a change of clothes. They help feed the dogs. They help put away laundry. I'm not making 'chores' because that isn't what it is. They are contributing to the family. Because they are part of a family.
Family Dinner: I try to get us to sit in the dining room every night for dinner. It's helping them learn to sit and have little conversations, but it's also good for Aaron and I to reconnect at the end of the day. It would be nice if Maggie would stop pooping in her diaper the minute dinner is served, but we are getting there.Things I care about, but don't try to control.
Sleep. I'm a mom who thinks one of the most important skills you can teach your child is how to sleep. Both of my kids went through my sleep boot camp at about 5 months old - and have slept through the night ever since. We have a routine that is pretty set in stone. We have dinner, we play, then we have a bath, read some books or watch a little TV, and then get into beds and turn off the light. Some nights, they pass out right away. But other nights? They play with their blankets or stuffed animals - or like last night, the glow sticks that I gave them before bedtime (not my best decision). And then they fall asleep when they do. I don't run up into their rooms and sit in there until they fall asleep. I just make sure they are safe, and in their rooms - and I let it be.
I feel like micro-managing when my child falls asleep is something I don't need to stress about. I certainly can't FORCE them to fall asleep and they will fall asleep when they are tired.
Potty training: Best advice I ever got - it's their project, not yours.
Toys: The kids play with whatever toys they think are fun. We have a battery powered guitar, a big drum, trains, a play kitchen, blocks, dolls, whatever. I don't ban anything. Maggie hasn't showed interest yet, but I'm fine with barbies and princesses. Cam will probably own nerf guns or whatever. We let them watch *some* TV, Aaron let's them play toddler games on the iPad. I'm not going to be the mom that BANS a certain type of toy.
As that get older - I see myself limiting screen time, if necessary, but when I was a kid, I never ended up watching much TV because I was involved in sports and had homework. I'm hoping that my kids are the same.
Jackets/Clothes (and at some point, hair). I let them wear what they want, when they want. Often this will mean Cam going to school without a jacket (Maggie on the other hand LOVES jackets). I watch people loading there kids up to go somewhere and seriously having a battle over a jacket. If the kid gets cold, he is going to realize that he should have put a jacket on. I always bring it with me, and if it really is cold enough? Cam will run over and ask for it soon enough (and then he will tend to listen to me on the jacket suggestion for a few weeks, and then he'll forget again). When Maggie is 15 and wants to dye her her pink - who cares?! It grows out. It's not permanent.
Now those weird ear stretcher things or piercings or tattoos? That's a whole other story.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I figure we can be 'surprised' and find it when we are out exploring in the back yard. I can't wait to see their reactions.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I've been having trouble sleeping lately - I can't stop thinking about Nora. But only at night time. I hate it when this happens. I can't figure out what triggers it, but I find myself wondering 'what if' and also reliving that night over and over. Thankfully, I finally got so tired that last night I just passed out. Rational me knows that grief has no end date and also that in general, my life is pretty awesome right now. But we all know that the rational part doesn't always win, right?
I am CRAZY busy this month. I volunteered for a few things at church, and separately they aren't big time sucks, but together - geez. One is teaching at the religious education class on Sunday - I'm with the 1st and 2nd graders. All I can say is kids that age are hilarious. I also signed the kids and I up for apple picking, as our church makes apple pies for a fundraiser during the month of September. A local apple farm lets us pick the dropped apples off the ground, and I realized that it's a perfect toddler activity. They love it. And finally, this weekend is the annual Church fair, and I'm heading the craft table.
This past weekend was WAY too much fun for the kids. Saturday we went to a Colonial Faire, and saw DRUMMERS (Cam's fav). I found myself tearing up watching the two of them just LOVE watching the different Fife and Drum Crops walk by. It kills me the joy they find in the little things. Sunday was Aaron's company picnic, and Cam is finally old enough for everything - he tried the bumper boat (with one of us of course), loved mini-golf and spent FOREVER in the bounce house. And Maggie, since she sees Cam doing it too - tries it all! She wasn't a HUGE fan of the bumper boats (too loud) but everything else - she totally went for it. Neither child had a nap on Sunday, and they both did great (and were sound asleep by 6:45 that night, lol).
Aaron is close to finishing the firetruck bed - and it is awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. I just need to decide if we should use a futon or a 'real' mattress. Anyone have opinions?
Thursday, September 22, 2011
- Thursday night, Maggie threw up in the middle of the night. Fun times.
- She was still throwing up in the morning, so I was home with her all day.
- Saturday, we had a fun day, running around, doing errands, even having some family over for dinner. Perhaps even had a few too many adult beverages.
- Sunday was my 36th birthday. I slept in. When I woke up I feel a little 'off'. Cam had some nasty poop, so I figured he was getting what Maggie had, and I was just hungover. My mom was arriving at 9 AM to hang out with us for my birthday
- I was just SO tired and my stomach hurt so much, I basically sent her home at 1, because I needed to lay down. I felt awful. She made some snide comments that she was being 'kicked out'. Grow up. Seriously.
- Monday, the kids made it through school until about 3, when Maggie woke up covered in poo.
- Tuesday they were both out. And I officially now had the illness.
- Same yesterday. But add on that I got my period too. Woot! Liquid butt with a dose of hormones!
- And today, Maggie is better, but Cam still has it.
- I'm crabby, miserable, and want to kill someone.
- Aaron is a lucky man.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
A smart person once told me that your life and the time you have available can be viewed as a pie. You can change where you spend each slice of your time, but the pie itself doesn't get any bigger. As a working mom, I already spend at least 8 hours of my 24 hour day working. And another 8 sleeping (To be civil. I know, thanks to Maggie, that I can survive on much less. But it's ugly). That leaves me a total of 8 hours to do everything else. I'm sure that other moms agree, I'd like some time to myself to relax and recoup and also get in some quality time with my family. So we do the following:
- Aaron is a huge part of this household. He contributes equally in every way. This was hard in the beginning with the kids - I had this NEED to tell him what to do and how to do it. I finally let it go. Sometimes, he may do things differently than I would - but so long as it's getting done and I'm not involved, I let him go for it.
- We have cleaning people. They come into my house every two weeks, change all the sheets and clean things top to bottom in less than 2 hours. For the cost of a nice dinner out. I'm willing to sacrifice going out to eat to not deal with DEEP cleaning. We still do spot cleaning, but I'm never pulling up my sleeves, donning cleaning gloves and getting down on my hands and knees.
- We eat dinner together, almost every night. Sure. It's a bit of a circus to get things done (and this is the second part of my post) but for at least 30 minutes every day the 4 of us are in the same room and connecting. And the more often we do it, the more used to it that the kids are. I usually cook, Aaron gets the kids from daycare, and when the get home, the kids set the table while Aaron makes drinks for everyone (Mommy's usually has vodka, lol)
The only way I'm able to get a dinner on the table for the whole family is by making it in advance. I either use a freezer meal, or a crockpot meal. Now, while I do love the crockpot, it's not great for EVERY meal. I think the crockpot is great for roasts, chilis, and stews. Before I found freezer meals, I would pretty much grill some sort of meal every day. That was all I had time for. Which got old fast, and back in the day when all my money wasn't being sucked into childcare, we would end up going out to eat at least 3 days a week.
Enter freezer meals. The idea is you take a block of time to assemble a bunch of meals, and then you can pull them out of the freezer and cook them when you are ready. It costs a bit more than doing it yourself (about $4 a serving with Dream Dinners), but less than take out. And you end up saving money because you aren't throwing away uncooked food at the end of the week that you ended up not having time to cook. Most meals take between 30 minutes to an hour to cook - which gets us at the dinner table by 6. Plenty of time to eat and get the kids to bed without meltdowns.
I started, 5 years ago, going to a non-chain store locally (called the Gathering Kitchen), but they shut down. I moved to Dream Dinners and have been very happy with them so far. Thing is, the Dream Dinners close to me have all shut down (thank you, recession) so I'm driving 60 minutes round trip to spend 45 minutes assembling dinner. Which honestly, is still worth it, but the other issue is that the serving sizes they offer is 3 or 6. 6 is way to much, but now that Maggie and Cam are eating what we eat, 3 is often to little.
My current project is seeing if it makes sense to do try and do this with another friend on the street. Because a lot of the allure of Dream Dinners is that you aren't buying (for example) a whole container of craisens when you only need 1 Tsp for a recipe. I've gotten a few books that have recipes, and am researching prices and container options this weekend. If it works out like I think it will, I'll be saving (more) time and (more) money.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Here is the gang 'helping' me with the laundry. Cam dumps the laundry out of the basket and then they both climb in.
Here they are helping me make tomato sauce. This was truly helping! Maggie would put the tomatoes in, and Cam would crank the machines - they did this with me until it was done, almost 45 minutes. Who knew it was that exciting?
When I got home from India, there is a small chance I took the kids out and let them have ice cream for lunch. Maggie was a fan.
Aaron has been working every night creating Cam's firetruck bed. On Sept 11th, we put the first bit of paint on it. Seemed like the right day to be working on it.
And finally, on Saturday, Aaron watched a bunch of my friend's kids while we went to another friend's art opening. There were 6 'big' kids (from 10 - 14 years old) and then Cam and Maggie. One of the moms brought this big cardboard box, and it entertained EVERYONE for 2 hours. Aaron didn't even stay in the same room with them.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Like there was never a break. Things here are crazy. Work is so insane right now it's actually laughable. I've got my two wonderful kids just being kids.
Maggie won't stop hitting people. We tell her no and move her away. She either turns around and runs back and hits again, or throws herself to the ground and freaks out. She is 22 months old - help? We've never needed to do time-outs with Cam, and I think she's too young anyway. What the heck do I do? She is a bit of a whirling dervish. She doesn't get what she wants? Complete and total freak out. Monday night, she wanted to stay in the tub. It was well past her bedtime, so we took her out and tried to get her ready for bed. She cried for 2 hours. TWO FULL HOURS. At first, I thought she was sick, so I went up and held her, rocked her - it was like trying to hold an angry cat. She was so loud she woke up Cam (so then I had TWO crying babies), and needed DADDY. Aaron came up and finally got her calmed down by letting her play with his iPhone, and she finally passed out. I think she was just overtired....I have to admit I was thinking at one point during this two hour scream fest - are we showing her that if she flips out, Daddy will come and play with her? But it didn't happen last night - I think she just worked herself up so much and was so tired that she couldn't self-soothe. But my friends. The force is strong with this one.
And Cam is just this crazy ball of Big Boy. Big boys sleep in BIG beds. Big Boys use the potty. Big Boys ride REAL bikes. It's hard to keep up with him! And it's also hard to believe that he will only be 3 in December.
Both kids have just shot up in size. I had to do my seasonal purge a bit early. Baby clothes require SO much more work then you would think!Sorting through what fits, what we should save. What to donate, what to try to sell.... it's just a bit overwhelming at times. I had everything dumped out in our guest room, and was slowly working through it (in that I'd pop my head in every once in a while and then walk away because I didn't want to deal with it), when our good friend Darrin called and asked if he could stay at our house for a few days. I overhear Aaron say 'We've always got room for you!' and I was like.... um. Not right now! And spent 4 hours sorting, chucking, organizing and putting things into bins. My system, though a pain in the ass, works great. I put each size in a big bin, and on the outside, I label what's in there. If someone offers me handmedowns, I can check quickly if it's something we need.
That's my life. I love it.
Friday, September 9, 2011
I think when you read this, you must know that my travel style is to try everything. I'm not afraid of failure. I try different foods (assuming that they seem well cooked - I'm not risking food illness) because what is the worst? I may not like it. I go to local places, and I try to experience the culture as much as a can (which in this case wasn't always easy because I don't speak the language). I also go in with the idea that if it's a success, it's fun - if it fails, at least I have a good story! And I also usually have the option to 'fix' it. If I hated traveling on the train, I would have sprung for a taxi home. If the hotel sucked, I would have switched. I'm a pretty flexible traveler. Which I think allows me to do and try more things than the average person.
First off, the people are friendly. Maybe too friendly, as many people wanted to practice their English with me. But don't be afraid to travel alone. I think the worst thing to be afraid of is pickpockets. I walked around with confidence and kept my bag close.
Pre-paid taxi stands are your friend. At all airports and railway stations, you will find these. Most places they are right out front. At the Old Delhi train station I needed to walk a bit, but they exist. Only the guy INSIDE the booth gives you the price. You will walk through a sea of people offering you taxi rides for probably at least double if not triple what you would pay at the pre-pay booth. At one point, I was at the window talking to the guy (he told me that it was 140 rupees to go where I wanted) and another taxi guy was telling me 200 rupees. They'll pressure you until you pay the guy - it's amazing.
If there isn't a pre-paid taxi stand, insist on a meter. I actually had to tell someone to stop to let me out because he wouldn't turn on the damn meter
Be ready to barter. Everything is up for negotiation. At first, it's fun. They give you a price, you offer half of that, and then you go back and forth. Sometimes you walk away. If they chase after you, you know you can still negotiate. They won't sell it for less than it cost. By the end of the trip, I was so done with this. Usually what I would do is set a price in my mind that I thought it was worth to me. Like cool pashmina scarf - $20 seemed fair to me. As long as I hit that price I was happy, but sometimes I got significantly lower.
What to wear. Sure, it's hot. But nobody wears shorts or tank tops. I got by with t-shirts and capris. Bring your own sunscreen.
Go to Agra. Seeing the Taj Mahal was one of the top 5 experiences of my life. It's amazing and majestic. No matter why you are in India - make it to Agra. Trains are cheap, and domestic flights are reasonable. Some people gave me advice to take a personal car tour of the Taj starting in New Dehli. This would have cost me about $400. I took a train back and forth for $30, and got a pre-paid taxi cab for 8 hours around Agra for 1500 rupees ($30). You can see everything worthwhile there in less than 5 hours. If possible, get to the Taj first thing in the morning before it's crazy crowded (the buses start arriving from New Delhi at 10). If you stay until sunset, ask a taxi driver to take you to Mehtab Bagh. This is a garden - but don't actually go into the garden. If you walk down the edge of this park, towards the water, you can see the 'backside' of the Taj. It's a great, not too crowded place to watch the sunset. When I was there, I was with maybe 20 other tourists.
Take a train. The train system is a HUGE part of Indian life. And they are safe and a very reasonable way to travel. I took a 6.5 hour express train to Jaipur, first class AC, and it cost me $21. You can book in advance on Cleartrip. But if you happen to need to book it the day of - there are tourist offices IN the railway stations (the ones outside are scams) that save a few seats for tourists usually. I mostly rode in first class AC, but second class is also fine - just make sure you are in an AC carriage. DO NOT EAT THE TRAIN FOOD.
NOTE: Be aware of scams. If you have a ticket in hand, it is good. An e-ticket print out IS a valid ticket. I had a moment of freak out when someone tried to tell me that my eticket wouldn't work, and that I needed to be at the station 2 hours before the train to confirm my seat. That is bullshit. I would recommend getting there a bit early to get on the right platform and settle in - but you don't have to check in like you do for a flight.
Drink the coffee. They make is with boiled milk, not water. It's delicious.
Try a heritage hotel. I only booked one hotel for myself - in Jaipur. They did have the tried and true US chains there, but for $120 a night and no charm. I risked it and stayed at the Umiad Bhuvan guest house for $40 a night. Great place!
Get a Aruvedic Massage.
I think that's it. The most amazing trip ever. I only wished I got to share it with Aaron.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
This is the next morning. The wedding was at a Hindu temple at 5 AM. The major theme for this trip was me getting up at 4 AM. Somehow I wasn't tired, but this is a picture of me with people who were hanging out near the coffee - so I did get some caffeine, at least.
They make coffee with milk, not water. It. Is. Wonderful. The other funny thing is that every time I took a picture, everyone wanted to get in it - but then they didn't smile. Strange.
And this is me with the bride and groom and his parents. I was trying to just get a picture of us together, and they insisted on making it formal like this. The whole time I was in Coimbatore for the wedding, the father was making sure I was taken care of. He had some member of the family with me at all times - it was awesome, but I felt bad - like he had other things to do during his son's wedding!
When I would protest, and tell them I was fine, I was informed that it's how things are done there (Indian hospitality) and I should just give in. So I did.
I stayed in Coimbatore for 3 full days, and although much of it was taken up with the wedding, I did get to explore the countryside for a bit - which was SUCH a contrast from the cities. Here I am with one of Dhana's friends exploring a tea plantation.
Next stop was Agra. I took a train there, and this is for another post - but I was almost scammed out of my ticket. I have loads of pictures, but I'll sum it up with this funny one:
The Taj Mahal is the single most amazing thing I've ever seen. No picture can do it justice. You have to be there. My day in Agra was so much fun - I met a Swedish woman on the train and we shared a tour for the first part of the day, and then I spent the afternoon seeing all the rest of the sights. Amazing place. I got to see the Taj at sunset - that beautiful white building glows pink. None of the pictures I took show what it really looked like. But it was amazing.
When I got back to New Delhi on Saturday night, it became apparent that the hurricane in the US was going to screw up all my flights. Again, a story for another post, but Aaron finally managed to get through, and got me on a flight home on Weds. Which gave me 3 more full days to explore. I decided to go to Jaipur. I had met a Japanese man in Agra who told me I couldn't miss Jaipur - that the Amber Fort was amazing and I could ride an elephant.
Basically Jaipur was the cherry on the top of my Indian Sundae. I was so tired, I went back to my hotel around 4, where I noticed a flyer for Aruvedic massage. So I went and got one. The description sounded like torture (warm oil slowly dripped onto your forehead) but Oh. My. Lord. It was wonderful!
And then I finally got to come home and see my babies. It was so nice to go and have a complete change in pace, but I sure did miss my gang.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
So this year, I came up with what I thought was a great idea. I thought I could buy a bag to pick apples, but instead of doing it all at once, just let the kids stop each day on the way home and pick one apple. Wouldn't that be fun? I finally got around to calling the place and asking if we could do it - I really thought they would think it was a fun idea. It's a tiny, family owned place... and the woman was SO not receptive to it. She said it would be too complicated.
I was really annoyed and disappointed - I really thought that a little family place would be open to making some toddler's day. But no. Oh well. They lost a customer who would have been made happy SO easily.
Friday, September 2, 2011
- After being away from home for 10 days, there is seriously no place like my home. I love my little family, our house, our friends, and even our climate.
- Today, we took the kids out of daycare so a few of the teachers could have a nice, long weekend. And I'm hoping to get out of work early so I can play with everyone
- Well, maybe not play. I'm thinking of taking the kids shoe shopping. How is it that their feet grow SO FAST!
- We had Chinese food the night I got back, and as usual, last night I was up every hour going pee. I hate it that salty stuff make me retain water like that! Every time I have soy sauce and/or Chinese food, that happens to me. Such a freak.
- We have no plans at all for the weekend. Nice, right?
- But I am going to attempt to make some tomato sauce for canning. last time I did that it was a huge failure. This time, I'm learning from the experts. Our Aunt Mary makes the only red sauce that Cam has ever liked. I'm hoping to have her teach me.
OK - kids are back from the park with Aaron, I'm going to try and 'work' while I play with them. So happy to be home!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I'll post again with loads of pictures, but for now I'll tell you that this was the best idea ever. I haven't had a real break like this since before we started fertility treatments (over 5 years). We just didn't have the time or money. I was offline, away from work, family - EVERYTHING for the whole 10 days. I needed it more than I knew. I was a super star in India - especially at the wedding. They were blown away that I came that far for the wedding, that I made an effort to wear Indian clothing (more than once I was told that I looked like a 'doll') and I had my own driver to take me around to see the sights.
After the wedding, I took a train to Agra and saw the Taj Mahal - words (and honestly even pictures) don't describe that place. Amazing. When I found out that I was staying in India for another day due to the hurricane on the East Coast, I then made plans to see Jaipur (parts of Indiana Jones was filmed there). My trip up to that point was somewhat frantic - trying to see as much as I could with the little time that I had. But Jaipur was relaxed. I had a great hotel room ($40 a night!), I rode an elephant, got henna on my hands, and even got a massage.
I had lots of adventures though - my luggage didn't arrive with me, so I had the fun of making sure I got that before my flight to the wedding, I had a second outfit mailed to my hotel - that didn't arrive until 9 PM the night before I was to wear it, I almost got scammed out of my train ticket on my way to Agra, I took a sleeper train (I felt like I was in the movie Darjeeling Express!), I rode in taxis, rickshaws, and autos - I bartered for shawls, I even ripped the butt of my pants in Agra and mooned the whole country for a while until someone FINALLY pointed it out to me, lol.
By the time I was finally leaving, I was ready. I was a bit homesick - everything in India is SO foreign, the language, the food, the climate, and I also missed the kids and Aaron horribly. I'm so glad to be home, and so happy that my trip went so smoothly. There were so many chances for things to go wrong, and it all just worked out in the end.
Ok - back to catching up on my life. When I have time to sort through my pictures, I'll do another post.