Sunday, August 20, 2017

End of the Summer Chaos

We're nearing the end of summer. Most of the other kids in Sacramento have already gone back to school, but we have two more weeks before Courtyard starts up again.  Two more weeks!  The end of summer is in sight.  Thank goodness.

To catch up on all the activities since I last wrote:  We drove to Oregon the last week of July to hang out with Grammy for a few days, go to a bit of IPNC, drop Kai off at Nonnie and Papa's house and then head home.  It was a lot of driving, but we also had fun berry picking and visiting some Oregon farms.  And we went to the Oregon coast for a day -- I hadn't been to Cannon Beach in well over a decade.  It was fun to show the kids a place we both used to frequent as children.  And, we ended up having amazing weather for the Oregon coast -- clear blue skies, sunny and warm.  We spent a good chunk of time playing on the beach and even got to see horses.  Alden was enthralled.  He asked the horse's name and then played pretend the rest of the day that he was the horse and he would practice galloping along the sand.  Alden loves to pretend to be the people and animals that we meet in our daily lives.  We play "baby Joy Joy Joy" all the time.  And, after seeing Leo and Soren at IPNC, he started wanting to pretend that he was Leo or Soren (while Kailey, Eric or I would play the other twin).  He has been completely obsessed with Leo and Soren since seeing them at IPNC.  Teenage boys -- there's nothing cooler!

The following week, we had a week at the home with just Alden while Kai spent the week in Washington with Nonnie and Papa (and her cousins -- she ended up having like a 3 day sleepover with a couple of her cousins who are the same age as her).  While it would have been nice to have a quiet week to focus on Alden and do some special things with him, that was not to be.  It was a really hectic week.  I was in LA for two days.  Eric was on the river for three days.  And, Alden definitely felt left out .  He wanted to know why he couldn't be with Kai, Nonnie and Papa.  And then he wanted to know why I was gone.  And then why daddy was gone.  He kept saying, "it takes a lonnnnggg, looonnnngggg time" referring to the fact that we kept telling him it would be a few more days before everyone was back together.  It was a a hard week for everyone.  I think we ended up having pizza three nights in the same week (once to just give Alden a special treat -- movie and pizza night on a school night, something we don't do often.  The other two times because we had no food in the house and no time to shop). 

Kai arrived home with Nonnie and Papa on the following Monday morning the week that I had a three day trip to New Orleans and Eric had several more days of river events.  I had found time to go to the grocery store right before they arrived and in my over-zealousness, bought enough to feed a dozen people for a month.  Not exactly great planning given that I was going to be gone most of the week and not the one cooking.  That's how summer is -- I'm just off my game.  I try to engage in our normal routine and tasks -- but, the weeks are so hectic and devoid of normalcy, that it doesn't work.  We just end up eating out a lot and wasting food.  It feels like we're never home in summer.  Apparently, our neighbors agree.  We were talking to our nextdoor neighbor and he commented that our other neighbors are always asking him if we've moved.  Because we're never home in the summer. We're camping or on long trips.  We're leaving early for summer camps and coming home late.  We're at friends' houses and river events.  It's just non-stop.  Apparently, others have noticed (it's a very nosy neighborhood).

Anyway, so the week that Nonnie and Papa were at our house, Eric and I were mostly gone.  The kids had fun with Nonnie and Papa, but I think Alden was struggling with the disruption in routine still.  And, Kai started to really miss us.  She was back from her week away and wanting to be with us, but we were gone.  So, I think it was a hard week for everyone.  When I got home late Friday night, Kai had waited up for me and Alden must have heard me come in because he crawled into bed with us an hour after I got home and slept with his arm around me all night.  On Saturday, both kids spent the whole day basically mauling me and fighting over who got to sit on me and snuggle.  It's great to be so loved, but also can be guilt-inducing and sometimes is a bit claustrophobic.  But, I tried my best to give both kids the snuggles they craved over the weekend so we'd be ready for the next week (which was this last week).

Kai spent this last week at Aquatics Camp with Justine.  Which meant we were having to leave the house super early every day to pick up Justine and get the girls to camp by 8:30.  Aquatics camps is about a 40 minute drive away.  The early mornings meant everyone was super tired by the end of every day and tired often equals crabby.  And, adding to that, I was gone on Monday and Eric had a meeting at Kai's school Monday night where we learned that her teacher had given notice and that the school would be scrambling to hire a new teacher in the last 3 weeks before school started.  We babysat Will on Tuesday night and went to the Board Meeting at Kai's school on Wednesday evening to try to figure out what was going on with the school.  Thursday I took a half day off work to help interview the teacher candidates and Eric had a new employee start and also took a half day off work to go to the parents' day at Kai's camp (where the parents get to do boating activities with their kids).  All of this meant that Alden got picked up from school by our friends on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  After three weeks of living outside of his routine, he lost it.  Thursday night when I got home from the interviews, Alden was in full on meltdown mode.  I picked him up and snuggled him and said, "this has been such a hard week.  You aren't getting enough time with Mama."  He cried and said, "I want you to pick me up and I want to be with you."  We hugged.  I told him I knew it was hard.  Things got better.

Friday night we had pizza and movie night and everyone felt good about all being together and being back in our routine.  And, this weekend, for the first time in a looonnngggg time, we had no plans.  We've been home together cooking and cleaning and doing home projects.  Alden has been happy as a clam to have normalcy.  And, Kai seems to also enjoy the down time.

Summer is crazy.  It's not that there isn't fun stuff mixed in amongst all the running around and chaos -- but, it can be hard to enjoy because of the utter lack of routine.  Next week, Kai has theater camp and then there is a week where there are no camps offered and we have no plans yet.  Maybe she'll just come with us to work for a week.

After that, it's the fall!!  Truth be told, the fall is no less crazy -- it's just more structured.  Soccer twice a week.  School every day.  Piano once a week.  Homework and practicing in the evening.  It's still a lot of running around -- but, in a more predictable way.  And, somehow, that makes it easier.

Kai has asked to try out for a play -- so, she may also have play rehearsal several days a week.  And it looks like we are going to need to stay fairly involved with her school and potentially join the school board.  Maybe I'm deluding myself that it's about to get less chaotic.  This is really just our new normal -- and I think with Alden getting older and having his own activities, it will probably just continue to ramp up in intensity.  I think the key is probably going to be to find stretches of non-activity to offset all the times when we have far too many activities.  We are starting to plan a trip to Costa Rica for sometime next year.  Hoping we can actually take 3 or 4 weeks off. That's the kind of break we need these days -- because the craziness of summer "vacations" and camps is really far from being a break.  Right now, I'm exhausted! 

Threenager

Alden's mood swings must rival that of any teenager.  I haven't had teenagers  yet, so I may not know of which I speak, but I never fully appreciated the term "threenager" until this year. 

For example, Alden will come running over to me saying he wants "milk and snuggles".  Super cute.  I'll get him a sippy cup of milk and settle in on the couch, where he likes to snuggle.  But, suddenly, Alden is whining, "no! no! the pillow doesn't go like THAT!!"  So I turn the pillow 180 degrees and then he yells, "I don't have any covers!! I don't have enough room!  Not like that."  Everything has to be just so and I know he's just worked up from his day and trying to control the few things he has control over.  But, man, it's hard to accommodate his irrational demands sometimes.  Once everything is just to his liking, he settles in and we cuddle and as soon as the last drop of milk has passed his lips, he jumps up and bounds off to play, recharged from the milk and snuggles. And, I lay exhausted on the couch waiting for the next bout of mood swings. 

His mood switches on a dime.  Super sweet and cuddly one minute, and telling us he hates us the next minute.  I know he doesn't fully appreciate what he's saying, but it does get trying to have your toddler constantly telling you he hates you.  And that you're mean.  And rude.  I suppose this is also the effect of having a much older sibling.  He has picked up on phrases from watching TV shows and videos that Kai never watched at this age and just from listening to some of the things she says, that she never would have said at 3. 

But, he also has a lot of empathy and awareness of those around him -- although, it comes and goes (again, not unlike a teenager!)  The other day, I took him to school after a week of being away from school.  I thought he might have a tough time being dropped off, but he was happy to be there.  We went outside, where all the kids were, and his friend Sophie was in the middle of a huge meltdown.  She was clinging to her Mama and begging her not to leave, tears streaming down her face. I don't think she even saw Alden come outside.  But, he walked up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder.  She turned around and realized who he was and that he was back (they are very close) and threw herself into his arms.  They hugged and hugged, with Alden just holding onto her for a good minute and a half.  Then they let go of each other, and Sophie was no longer crying, but still looked upset.  Alden looked at her and then started hopping from one foot to the other and making goofy faces.  She laughed.  He laughed.  He made more goofy faces and then said, "Sophie! catch me!!" and ran off.  She ran after him, forgetting entirely that she was upset and happy to be playing with her friend.  It was really an amazing thing to observe.  I was so impressed with both how he responded to her emotional needs in that first moment, the need for a big hug and just to have someone there.  But, also how he pivoted - at just the right moment - to silliness and play. 

This morning when he woke up, he cuddled up to me and said, "I love you, Mama.  You're the best."  Not long after that, he was yelling at me and telling me I was mean because I wouldn't let him bang on the piano while Kai was using it.  So, the mood swings are real.  But, the sweetness makes it all easier to endure.  I suppose that might be the part missing from teenagers (again, not having gotten there yet, I might be off on that... but, it's hard to imagine teenagers having the pure sweetness of a three year old).

Right now, he's outside digging in the dirt with Eric (who is digging the nut grass out of the backyard, blade by blade, so that we can plant a new lawn this fall.... Alden, on the other hand, is just digging).  He's mad at me because I wouldn't let him have a cupcake this morning, which I wouldn't let him have because he wouldn't eat his breakfast.  He told me he was "full" and couldn't eat breakfast.  I told him if he was too full for breakfast he was too full for cupcakes, too.  He said, "you're rude" and marched outside to play in the dirt. 

Threenager! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Halfway Through Summer

Summer is a bit nutty.  It starts way before the actual season begins because I have to figure out the entire schedule for summer in March.  But, the actual summer itself is a bit insane.  My work doesn't let up in the summer but is thrown into chaos because every week is a new camp, with a different drop off time and pick up time.  Plus, the ridiculously hot weather makes us all a little cranky.  And, the long days make it difficult to get children to bed on time.  Throw in a few days of a broken air conditioner or a sewer line that decides to give out... and, it's just a lot of chaos.

There is also quite a bit of fun in summertime.  We all like spending time outdoors and it's fun to be adventuring together.  But, by this halfway point in the summer, I am always craving the routine of the school year. 

So, to recap some of our summer activities: 

Over the 4th of July, we took the week off and headed to MacKerricker State Park, which is on the ocean near Ft Bragg.  We went there last year, too, meeting up with two other families.  It's a blast for the kids because there are 7 of them and they have such fun playing in the woods together from dawn to dusk every day.  This year, they built an amazing fort -- improving upon it every day.  By the time we left, they really had built something magical, complete with an "intruder lookout post", entryway, and swings. It was fun to watch them work together and bring their vision to fruition.  And, they were very inclusive of each other -- even Alden, who is the youngest of the group by several years.  We also had a great time playing at the beach, playing in the sand dunes, riding bikes and making lots (lots!) of food together.

Last year we attempted to make a lemon meringue pie camping -- without a blender, it's pretty hard to whip meringue. But, we did it!  Our failure was in letting the pie cool sufficiently before digging in -- so, it was a bit of a mess (but, a tasty one).  This year, I saw a video online for bacon smores.  Basically, you weave bacon together, put brown sugar on it, cook it and then use the bacon weaves as the graham crackers -- each smore has about 4 pieces of bacon.  Weaving the bacon was a bit messy.  Cooking it was messier.  And, in the end, it didn't even taste that great.  Graham crackers are better for smores.  But, it was amusing to try to make them and we all had a good laugh in the process.












It was fun to get away for a few days with the kids -- they love camping.  Hopefully we'll get at least one more camping trip in before the summer is over.  We are supposed to go the last week of August, but Eric and I are both feeling like we have had to miss so much work with all the other summer activities that we may bag it. 

Last weekend, we braved the state fair in 108 degree heat.  Somehow it was fun despite how hot it was.  Alden and Will had a great time together on the rides.  Kai won a ginormous stuffed frog bursting balloons with darts (it cost us about $30!)  The kids loved watching the horse races (and Alden has been playing pretend ever since that he is the #3 horse and he races around the house while Eric plays a pretend trumpet tooting out the racetrack song).  They liked riding the ponies and seeing the farm animals.  We're going again tomorrow with some families from Alden's preschool.  











So, we've definitely been having fun... I love camping and I love the fair.  But, in between the fun, work has been insane and makes the breaks a bit stressful.  Since June 1st, I've traveled to Washington DC, Houston, Milwaukee, Eureka, and multiple trips to LA (I've traveled more this year than any other since joining the Alliance... partly because there is so much change happening in the LA office, partly because I'm hiring, partly because it's a year of training/implementing a new law, and partly because work at the federal level has picked up and requires me to be interfacing with folks beyond California a lot more)... but, it makes it hard to get other things done.  Eric is beyond over my travel schedule (as am I), but I'm not sure it's going to get better any time soon.  And, because I feel guilty about being gone a lot, when I'm home I try to do the lion's share of the child activities when I'm home -- drop offs, pick ups, cleaning, cooking, shopping... basically it has been non-stop.

Adding to the chaos, we're continuing to transition over to a vegan lifestyle, which has caused a lot of learning and some exasperation since the kids have the same resistance to eating vegan food that they have to ALL food.  But, both Eric and I have limited patience for complaints about food, especially from Kai, since we're all trying to switch what we eat because of her desire to not eat any animal products. We are on board with supporting her and making the switch -- but, not accompanied by a refusal to eat vegetables or complaints about the new diet!  I have to say, minus a few difficult nights, she has mostly been amazing.  She is trying new things, she made her own lunch all week for camp, and she is very committed.  We went to a pasta place for dinner last night and she ate all her dinner, without using any parmesan (which she used to love).  It's been impressive to watch her adopt and adapt to her new lifestyle and clear that she feels empowered by the choices she's making for herself.  Very cool.

On Tuesday, we drive to Oregon to spend a few days with Eric's mom, attend the salmon bake at IPNC (which we haven't done since Kai was 5!!) and then drop Kailey off at my parent's house for a week of fun.  It's not a great week for me to be missing work and the day I get back I have a new staff person starting, followed by a two-day trip to LA later that week, and then a 3-day trip to New Orleans the following week.  Eric has Paddle to the Capitol and a bunch of other training activities going on. And, Kai's soccer is starting up in August.  Practices are at 4:30 this year, which is a bit of a pain and is going to make work even more complicated to get done. 

I probably should not be writing a blog update today because I'm in a cranky and tired mood.  I just want one of those Saturday mornings from before kids where I am completely in charge of my own day and no one is demanding anything of me.  But, instead, Eric is on the river for the third weekend in a row and Alden has been up since 5:30.  Both kids have been asking non-stop for videos, food, water, snuggles, games... the list goes on . They are banging on the piano and drums and mauling me every few minutes.  Alden is at the age where he asks the same questions over and over again -- when are we going to the fair?  When will Nonnie and Papa be at our house?  And then he whines that "it takes soooo long" after I explain to him when these things are happening.  And, of course, they are squabbling and fighting with some frequency.   In short, they're being kids... but I need a break. 

When I was a kid, I remember feeling like summer break just dragged on and on.  I was so bored during big chunks of summer. Now, summer is this jam-packed, non-stop ordeal that leaves me completely frazzled.  I've lost the "break" part of summer.  But, I'm trying to hold onto the fun... just, today, I'd rather be napping. 



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vegetarian

I've written before about my struggles with dinner.  First, when Kai was little, just getting used to the dinner routine was a big adjustment.  It's hard to adjust to having to prep dinner at a set time every day and have dinner as a family.  After so many years of adulthood and eating whenever the mood struck -- often times a bowl of noodles at my desk while working late -- it was hard to think about meal prep and planning.  But, I mastered that long ago.  Not that I love it -- but, it's part of my routine now and I'm pretty good at meal planning.

Now, the struggle is getting the kids to eat and having dinner without listening to constant whining about the food in front of them.  Kai was a great eater when she was young, but has developed real resistance to many foods (many of which she once loved).  She picks at her food and moves it around on her plate, refusing to eat most of what's before her and claiming that she's not hungry (even when she just said moments before that she was hungry).  It's beyond frustrating.  And, Alden follows her lead.  So, when she starts picking at food, he picks at it and claims it's "too spicy". 

In one of my less stellar parenting moments, we finished a dinner the other night where they both ate very little and complained very loudly and I said, "you are both terrible people to spend a meal with.  And, I'm sick of it.  No more treats until you can go 5 nights of eating all your dinner with NO COMPLAINING."  So, we got out the sticker and they spent the next couple of weeks trying to earn 5 stickers.  Meals were somewhat less combative.  They eventually got through 5 that were less offensive to their delicate sensibilities. 

I think as a result of all of this, and the fact that Kai has always been fascinated about where her food comes from, Kai has been thinking a lot about food.  She came home from camp this week and said, "we had hamburgers for lunch but I couldn't eat it because I feel badly for the ground up cow."  Well, yes, when you put it like that, it's sort of gross.  She continued, "I think I want to be a vegetarian."

I thought Kai was going to insist on becoming a vegetarian when she was 4 and obsessed with where food came from and constantly asking if the red on her plate was the blood from an animal.  So, I've been expecting this day.  And, as I wrote 5 years ago, happy to support that decision if she was serious, could articulate the reason, and also be able to eat enough variety to be healthy.  So, we had that conversation.  I told her that eating vegetarian meant she was going to have to eat a whole range of fruits, vegetables and grains that she didn't often eat now.  I told her it wasn't a way to just get to eat pasta and rice every day.  She said, "well, I'm just THINKING about being a vegetarian." 

The next day, she told me she wanted to "just try it out."  So, I spent the evening researching various vegetarian options for meals for the coming week in an attempt to get a menu together that contained a large variety of different foods.  Yesterday, we went grocery shopping and loaded up on the items for the vegetarian meal plan.  Last night, I said to Kai, "how about we learn how to cook vegetarian together?"  She was all in.  So, we cooked our dinner together - with her doing at least half of the work.  We made sesame Soba and Zucchini noodles in a almond butter sauce and roasted cauliflower in a soy ginger sauce.  While we were cooking, Kai said, "I think I was born to be a vegetarian... and I'll be helping to save the world." 

I'm all about saving the world and figuring out how to be a social justice warrior in our day to day lives (and our work)... so, I was all in on this statement. Yes, let's be vegetarians and save the world!

She then said, "this smells delicious!" and once dinner was on the table, both kids sat down and ate with yums and thank yous.  Alden had seconds.  Kai ate all her cauliflower and asked for more.  Dinner was beyond pleasant and I was beside myself.  If this is what it took to get through a meal without complaints -- I was more than in!

So, it was one night.  And it was soba noodles.  So, we have a bit of a ways to go with this experiment.  But, Kai is interested in learning about how to be a vegetarian and I'm interested in supporting her.  I told her last night that she's old enough to start making her own choices about what she eats and how she approaches the world around her -- and deciding not to eat animals is one of those decisions.  Today, I'm going to show her a documentary about the food industry.  I like exploring these social justice issues with her and figuring out what that means both in our individual lives and in the larger political context. 

It may mean a bit more research for me in terms of meal planning -- at least in the short term -- but, I'm pretty good at recipe finding these days.  So, I'm not intimidated by the need to mix it up. I'm not sure I'm going to become a full-fledged vegetarian -- but, I'm willing to mostly adapt our dinners to vegetarianism and to make alternatives for Kai the nights we decide to have meat (ie veggie burgers when we have cheeseburgers, or alternative chicken sandwiches when we have real chicken... there are a lot of vegetarian alternatives to choose from).  And, she may not stick with it, of course.  But, it's fun to let her explore the options and figure out who she is and how she wants to approach her place in the world. 

Images

Alden has a way with words and describing his experiences.  I wish I was better about writing down all the things he comes up with.  He has a great vocabulary and when he hits a wall with the words he knows, the things he comes up with to get you to the same conclusion, often blow me away.

The other night, I was putting him to bed and had finished his three stories and "talk about the day" (something we started with Kai when she was a toddler that she loved and, similarly, Alden loves to talk of the day.  Essentially, we just walk through exactly what happened in the day, recalling what we did together and, often, the things they did away from us.  I think it helps them to process the day, reflect, and also realize that even when we are not with them, we are aware of what they are doing and thinking of them.  Of course, they don't articulate their love of "talking of the day" as a result of those benefits -- but, that's my theory as to why they like it so much). 

Anyway... we had finished the stories and the talk of the day and I had turned out the light and turned to Alden and said, "now, close your eyes."  Alden said, "I don't want to close my eyes because I don't like the movies and pictures that come when I close my eyes."  I was stunned.  For two reasons.  One, that was such an apt way to describe dreams.  Two, because why didn't he like his dreams?  But, then I realized how it only really takes one bad dream to turn you off dreams for awhile -- and they can be scary.  So funny how that's true of so many things.  We, as people, remember all the negative comments we get and have to receive the same compliment 5 times before it sinks in.  We remember our nightmares and forget the wonderful dreams. I think that's another benefit to talking about the day -- it's an opportunity to just reflect on all the things that are otherwise forgotten about in the hum drum of living.  And to remind ourselves of all the good things that happened.  It's also why I love this blog.  It's a way of just remembering all those small, positive moments in raising little people -- because it's easy to focus on how much work it is and how busy and stressed I am all the time. But, the act of taking out my computer to tell one of the little stories of wonder and amazement that comes from raising kids keeps me focused on what an amazing (and fleeting) experience this is. 

But, I digress.  I turned to Alden and said, "do you mean you don't want to dream?" Alden said, "I don't want to close my eyes and see the movies."  I reminded him that he loves movies and he said, "not the movies when I close my eyes."  I rubbed his head and hugged him and said, "many of those videos are lovely.  And, mama and dada will always keep you safe.  And we love you.  Tonight, let's hope for sweet dreams."  He was sleepy and turned over and fell asleep.. hopefully to sweet dreams.

Another example of Alden's imagery -- we were watching a nature documentary and there was an avalanche in the documentary.  The footage of the avalanche went on for a couple of minutes and we really got to saw how massive and destructive big avalanches can be.  Then, the documentary went on and after several minutes, Alden turned to me and said, "where did the mountain wave go?" The mountain wave!  That's exactly what it was. 

Alden loves to play pretend these days.  He wants to pretend he's a dinosaur, a baby, a bird, a builder.... he asks us to play pretend multiple times a day.  He isn't into dress up -- but, he likes to have props and to make up stories as he goes along.

The other day, when I was trying to get Alden to come set the table for dinner he said, "one minute, Mama.  You have to be patient."  I cracked up.  How many time does he hear that same phrase, but it was funny to hear it coming out of his mouth.  Patience!

He is constantly recounting tales to us and, if it appears we're no listening, he grabs our face and says, "Mama.  Listen. I'm talking to you."  He also says to me at least twice a day, "Mama -- I want milk and snuggles with you!"  He loves to have his sippy cup of milk while we snuggle on the couch and he rubs my "nickel" (a mole on my neck that both he and Kai love to rub... weird, I know).  He just bounded over here and grabbed onto my neck and said, "Mama... I want milk and snuggles".  I told him to go get milk from Eric (who is in the kitchen) and before he bounded off he clarified that we had to lay lengthwise on the couch (since I'm sitting up at the moment).  I assured him that when he returned with the milk, we'd lay down and have a proper snuggle.  He'll be back in a moment. 

It's 7:45 AM.  I've been up with them for two hours already.  We've built a fort.  Made coffee.  And now will be doing "milk and snuggles" before diving into breakfast prep and then, clean up. Gone are the days of sleeping in late and eventually getting up and heading to brunch with friends.  The days are definitely long, but it is so true that the years are short (too short) -- and I'm excited to hear what images and phrases pop out of his mind today as he navigates his day. 

Happy Sunday in June!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day

As with Mother's Day, there was a little celebration at Alden's school for Father's Day.  They made a collage of the quotes that each child said about their daddy.  Alden said, "I love to play horsey with my daddy."  He likes when I pick him up and take him places, notably to Will's house. And he likes roughing around and playing horsey with his daddy.  Very accurate! 

Anyway, that is really where the similarities with the two celebrations ended.  Remember how I wrote about the forced day off work so that I could spend the day with my preschooler by packing him a picnic lunch (which, as you recall, I failed to do because I had assumed that on a celebration of mother's, the mothers would not have to be the ones packing the lunches). 

For Father's day, the school sent an email inviting all daddies to drop their child off at school and stay for a donut and coffee before they had to head out to work.  The event went until 8:30 AM so that everyone could get to work in time.  And, the donuts were provided.  As was the coffee. 

Seriously.  What year is it?  And, what kind of message are we sending to our preschoolers? Daddies have to work.  They cannot spend a whole afternoon with you.  And, also, they cannot pack their own breakfasts (or, at least, we wouldn't want to impose such a duty on them).  Also, the children did not prepare any special song for the dads -- because, who could expect all the dads to show up at the same time?  I say that sarcastically, of course, as every school event has been equally attended by the moms and dads. 

I was so irritated.  I LOVE Alden's school... most of the time.  But, the persistent gender bias that has cropped up time and again is so irritating.  No one at his school would bat an eye if Eric were out of town as much as I am.  But, for some reason, it gets me a lot comments about how difficult it must be for Alden and various comments insinuating that I likely have little clue as to what's going on with him.  But, despite the fact that I clearly work -- there is also the expectation that I can take a day off whenever called upon to do so to host a field trip, pack a picnic or be otherwise on call.  There is no similar ask of the daddies. 

Eric points out that it cuts both ways and is also hurtful to have such low expectations of dads and the idea that they generally are a nice, but unnecessary, accessory in their children's lives. And, that is also true. 

We are co-parents.  Both involved at their schools and in their lives -- running them around town, going to parent conferences, helping with school work, playing together, doing projects, and being there for everything big and small.  And, we both miss things some of the time.  Because we both work.  And both of our jobs are important.  It is really time that we adapted schools and work to the expectation of joint caregiving responsibilities (whether that caregiving be for a child or another member of your family).

In our own family, we share a lot of the work.  We've always got numerous house projects going on and overwhelming numbers of tasks at work and all the general family time that we try to get in -- and, we share it.  We make it happen.  We parent together.  Maybe we shouldn't have a separate day for moms and dads.  Increasingly, in blended families and families that come in all different types, that just has the potential of alienating as much as it does celebrating.  Some children don't have a mother or a father.  They have a grandparent raising them.  Or, they're in foster care.  Or they have two mommies . Or two daddies. So, maybe we should just celebrate caregiving. 

Eric is an amazing dad and deserving of celebration.  And, I'm a pretty kick ass mom.  But, we don't need to be celebrated as a "mom" or a "dad" -- and we certainly don't need celebrations full of outdated stereotypes and expectations (or the lack thereof). 

OK -- rant over.

And, thank you, Eric, for being the amazing dad and partner that you are!

Hamming it Up

Alden loves videos.  Loves them.  He woke up this morning and before his eyes were open, he asked for a video.  I laughed and told him he wasn't even awake.  He protested and then I told him we don't have videos first thing when we wake up, to which he replied, "then, when we go downstairs?"  I laughed and then he made it into a game, asking for videos in silly voices and he kept saying, "wait! wait!... Ummm.... can I... can I .... ummmm... can I have a... VIDEO?!"  He was being hilarious.  But, I told him we couldn't watch videos.  So, he got books for us to read instead.  The book was about different animals and Alden started asking what sound they made.  But, the animals in this book were hippos, lemurs, beavers, and penguins.  I have no idea what ANY of those animals sound like.  So, I smiled and said to Alden, "well... to answer that, I guess we need a video."  He was so pleased and we watched videos of hippos, lemurs, penguins and beavers to learn their various sounds.  Clever little boy, he is.

Alden also likes to mimic videos . He'll re-enact scenes from movies and he remembers his favorite lines.  I may have already written this story in a prior post (because, who can keep track?  Particularly with my favorite stories because I repeat them to numerous people and also try to remember to write them on the blog...and, I lose track of what I've done and who I've told what to.  I'm sure it's annoying to everyone in my life who gest subjected to multiple tellings of the same story).  Anyway, he was riding his bike around our neighborhood the other day and he rides down the little hills on the sidewalk with his feet outstretched to get as much speed as possible.  The other day, as he was heading down a hill, he hollers, "I'm.... STILL.... FALLING" quoting a line from Moana.  I laughed so hard.  And then, he continued with the movie line, "Dum-dum... she's not even down here.  What mortal would jump into the...."  It's crazy how he knows lines from movies and also how to use them with comedic effect in his daily life .

Eric was showing him videos of some funny dance moves from Saturday Night Live, and he decided to imitate those, too.  This has resulted in one of my favorite videos of all time:

video