Thursday, March 31, 2016

Person, place or thing

This morning, Kailey and Alden were sitting at breakfast together, each jabbering to themselves and playing with (I mean eating, of course) their food.  Alden started saying, "neo - unnn", "neo - unnn" and Kai perked up and said, "Alden, are you saying NOUN?  NOUN"

He looked at her and said, "neo -- unnnn".

She smiled and said, "NOUN... that's a person, place or thing" and Alden immediately replied, "oh!"

It was so funny.  He was right on cue - as though he had totally understood what she just said.  "Oh!"

(It turns out there was a kitten scratching at the door and Alden was saying "meow" to let us know that the kitten wanted to get in.)

The Grind

I write this blog for Kailey and Alden so that they can read it when they are older and learn more about who they were when they were younger.  Memory is such a fickle thing, and I know my own memories of childhood are so distorted through my prism as an adult.  And, of course, there are just so many things I don't remember because so very much happens in a lifetime.  So, I try to keep this blog up to date so they have a record of the going ons of their early years.  And, of course, I keep it for me -- I love re-reading this blog and remembering all the funny things they've said and all the sweet moments and vacations and adventures we've had together.

But, sometimes, I read this and wonder if they'll have their own distorted view of childhood -- since I tend to only write about the highlights, the funny moments, the sweetness of life.  Because, those are the things that I want to capture.  Those are the things worth remembering and holding onto.  But, I also know in writing this I am creating my own distortions of reality by focusing just on the good things.

I don't write a lot about the harder things or the drudgery.  Like dinner.  Dinners have come to be the bane of my existence.  I long for the days before kids when dinner simply didn't matter.  We worked until whatever hour we wanted to work and then grabbed something to eat.  Maybe we went out.  It's so nice to eat out as a twosome.  There is nothing nice about eating out with a toddler at most any place besides Round Table or some other sort of chain where no one thinks twice about the kid in the corner who is throwing food and shouting at the top of his lungs. 

Because eating out is expensive and not fun, it means nearly all of our meals are eaten at home.  I get tired of meal planning and use all sorts of tricks to avoid it.  We have a meal service that delivers two recipes and ingredients for the recipes -- taking all the thinking out of meal planning, which I love. I'd much rather just make something that was already determined by someone else.  But, Kai whines every time she sees a Blue Apron recipe card.  And this is true even though she often tries the meal, once prepared, and relents that it "isn't so bad."  But, still, the whining persists. 

Alden is more willing to try most foods -- but also is hit or miss day to day.  And, the 30 - 45 minutes while I am trying to make food at night are a total nightmare.  Alden just wants to be held and cuddled.  Or, he wants to eat right away and not wait for dinner to be prepared.  Either way, he follows us around the kitchen crying and clawing at us and asking to be held or for a snack.  By the time dinner is on the table, he is often at his wits end.  Sometimes he calms himself enough to eat.  Other times we eat listening to him scream while trying to keep him from throwing food. 

At the same time, we spend the actual eating period (of about 20 minutes) cajoling Kailey to eat while she hunches over in her chair complaining about the food and picking around the things she doesn't like. 

I had these visions before children of lovely family mealtimes when we would all sit around a table, enjoying a wide variety of foods and engaging in conversations about politics, our day, school, and other current affairs.  The reality of a hurried rush to get food on the table after a busy and stressful day at work all while dealing with a screaming toddler, trying to get Kai to do her evening chores, rushing her to set the table, and then, finally, sitting down to a meal no one wants anymore is far form the vision I had once upon a time.

Eric said yesterday as we were going through the night time grind -- "it's amazing how they can just WIPE you in one hour flat." 

Someday, when they are both older, I hope we have the mealtimes I once envisioned.  But, at this point, meals - and especially dinner - are just annoying.  Breakfast isn't so bad because it's the beginning of the day when everyone is fresh.  But, more importantly, we only have about 3 - 4 things that we do for breakfast and they largely get to choose what they eat in the morning.  They'll have oatmeal, toast and oranges 5 days in a row.  For some reason, it doesn't bother me in the least to serve them the same breakfast day after day.  And, they love it. 

But, for dinner, we try to mix it up. It feels like mac and cheese every day -- while avoiding all the drama of mealtimes, for sure -- is not advisable.  Maybe I'm wrong about this.  But, we keep pushing to keep dinners diverse.  Last night I made sweet potato "noodles" (using a spiralizer) in a brown butter sage sauce.  It was yummy.  It tasted like butter.  What's not to like?  But, the kids picked at it and yelled.  We gave them rice too -- which, is the most annoying food in the world to clean up off a hardwood floor after someone has pitched his entire bowl over board (that person shall remain nameless, but I bet you can guess who it was... it wasn't Eric.  Or me.  Or Kailey). 

We do resort to the basics with some frequency just to avoid the nighttime grind.  Pizza, plain noodles with parm, mac and cheese, ramen, sushi, bbq chicken.  There are things that make the nights easy (or at least easier).  But, I don't want them to grow up only eating a few things.  So, there are many nights when we make salmon, steak, fried rice, stir fry, quiches, pasta with real sauce full of vegetables or meat, fish tacos, enchiladas, etc -- and, inevitably, those nights are nothing but a grind.

That is a big part of parenting.  It's the thing you cannot prepare for or really understand before being a parent.  Because, it's not the single event that wears you down.  It's the daily grind.  Doing it over and over.  And being willing to accept that grind, the daily struggle, for the larger good.  We go through the nighttime dinner drama day after day because it's good for them, even if it shortens your life span considerably (I'm kidding).  It would be so much easier to just throw in the towel and order pizza every night.  I mean, Costco is right down the street and they are practically giving the pizza and rotisserie chicken away.  It would be much easier to just feed them what they want every night.

But, our job is not to just take the path of least resistance.  It's to help them try new things, develop good manners, be adventurous, grateful, and curious -- and, some of that starts with dinner time.  So, we continue the nightly grind of dinner and the daily grind of getting Kailey to do her chores, and teaching Alden to clean up after himself.  This is a big chunk of our days.  I look at things that Kailey writes about us at school, and am amused that she writes about me being a good cook and good at taking care of them.  It's evidence that she does appreciate, on some level, the effort that goes into the nightly meal fiasco.  And, I know, that over time it will pay off and we will have the meals I imagined (well, I guess I don't know that for sure, but I have to believe that we will get there because otherwise I will relent and give into the ease of evening meals of ice cream and ramen).

Especially as we continue to grow our own food and teach them to take pride in both the growing and cultivation of our food and then the preparation of that food -- I think they will begin to appreciate a wider variety of foods. And, maybe, Alden will grow out of toddlerhood (that seems inevitable) and not become the picky eater his sister is -- and we'll get to peaceful mealtimes sooner than later.  But, really, I'm not holding my breath.

But, man oh man, I hate meal time planning and execution at the moment.  It's not a fun way to cap off a stressful day.  But, we do it nearly every night anyway knowing that in doing so, we are helping to shape the adults they will inevitably become.

Until then, there is always lunch.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

He's TWO!


Happy Birthday, Alden!!  Somehow, two years have gone by since this little person came into our lives.  Alden's birthday capped off Spring Break this year.  My parents came and spent the week with us, which also meant that Eric and I got a few nights away on our own.  This was the first time we'd gone away together in the last two years (and, actually, it had been closer to four years!)  We got home on Friday evening and had a busy weekend of birthday celebrating planned. 

Saturday we started the day with Music Together, which Alden really enjoys.  He tries to follow along with the clapping and has fun playing the instruments.  And, he loves listening to the songs in the car and trying to sing along -- especially the parts that require listening and repeating a rhythm or sound pattern.  And, he clearly has favorite songs.  There are some -- like Paw Paw Patch -- that he wants to hear over and over.  Others - like Merry Go Round (which is in an odd key) -- he shouts, "NOOOOOO" when it comes on, insisting that we skip the song. 

After Music Together, we tried to get in on our neighborhood egg hunt.  But, by the time we got there, we'd missed the hunting.  So, Alden and Will just ran around together and then Kailey arrived (she had been off grocery shopping with Eric) and they both shouted, "La La!" in absolute delight and all three ran around after one another.

We headed home for a quick nap and lunch and then were off to a Ellie's birthday party.  Alden and Eric came a bit later, to let Alden sleep a bit longer, but once he arrived he had a good time playing with all the other kids and, especially, pretending to be a chef with their play kitchen.  He spent a good 45 minutes stirring and baking and measuring.  That's definitely one of my favorite parts of TWO year olds -- the ever expanding imagination. 

After the party, we went back to our neighborhood and headed over to Cathy and Aaron's house for egg decorating and pizza.  Alden, Will and Kailey all got SUPER into the egg decorating.  Cathy had hard boiled 36 eggs.  I figured they'd do a couple and get bored but they went through all 36 eggs in no time flat.  It was remarkable. 

After the egg dying, Alden seemed to go into a bit of a daze. It had been a full day of activities, so I didn't think much of it at first.  But, then I noticed his eyes.  What is it about sick children and their eyes?  You can just read illness on their face.  I could tell from across the room that he had a fever.  I was talking to a colleague today about toddlers and fevers and he said, "the weird thing about kids that age is how FAST and HIGH the fevers come.  One minute they are fine.  The next they are burning up."  So, I guess it isn't unique to Alden!  But, that's EXACTLY what happened.  He had been fine all day.  And then, bam, fever.  I think Cathy and Aaron's dog sensed that he wasn't feeling well, and she was sitting close by and watching him.  When I moved to try to pick him up, the dog freaked and bit my leg.  It was through my jeans - thank goodness - because otherwise he would have done real damage.  As it is, my leg is not pretty at the moment. 

What I'm trying to say is that following a perfectly good beginning of the weekend of celebrating, we took a bit of a left turn on Saturday night. 

We got Alden home and took his temp and, sure enough, he had a fever of 104.5.  Ugh.  Sunday we were supposed to be going to brunch and then having a mini-party for Alden at our house with his favorite foods, a bubble machine and an Elmo cake.

Sunday morning, Alden woke up with his fever still raging.  I still made a carrot cake that morning, with Kailey's help.  And, we decided to still go to brunch (mostly because I didn't want Cathy and Aaron to think we were upset about the bite).  Alden didn't eat a thing at brunch and was pretty miserable by the time we left.  We went home and got him to bed for a long nap (which I took with him).  When we got up, we found that Nonnie and Kai had decorated the Elmo cake. 


We had called off the party for the evening.  Alden clearly wasn't into celebrating and we didn't want to expose everyone else to whatever he had.  But, after a dose of medicine, Alden felt a bit perkier and was up for opening gifts.  He LOVED all his presents.  Eric and I got him a trike, which he rode around the living room before finally wheeling it to the front door and signing that he wanted to go outside.  He also got an Elmo bubble blower from Kailey, a t-ball set and fire engine set (it's a fire engine that comes apart and then you can rebuild it or make it into other things), a toy violin, a stuffed dinosaur and new pajamas.  He really did love all of the presents.  He played with the fire truck, wheeling it around and saying 'beep beep".  He hugged the dinosaur.  He walked around trying to tuck the violin under his chin the way Kailey does. 

 
 
 
 
video
 
After presents, we seized the fever-free moment and had cake mid-day.  Alden was SO excited about the cake. He LOVED the Elmo cake and kept saying, "Mel Mo! Mel Mo!" He also was really excited after all the birthday parties he has attended this last year (friends of Kailey's) to get a crack at his own cake and candles.  He absolutely loved us singing to him and knew exactly what to do when the cake and candles were presented to him.

video

I love how he claps for himself and high-fives Eric at the end of the song.  After we sang, he requested that we sing again.  We repeated the birthday song and candle many more times.  Many, many more times.  He could have blown out birthday candles for the rest of the day.  We ate a little cake, and then went outside to try out the trike.  After a bit, the medicine started wearing off and it was time to sit out the last two hours before we could re-dose him with cuddles and back rubs. 



It was my hope that on Monday - his actual birthday - Alden would feel better and we could do a bit more celebrating.  But, the fever persisted all night and into Monday.  We still tried to go out and get his haircut and go to a birthday lunch -- but, it was just a day when everything I tried to do didn't work.  The haircut was a waste of money because his bangs are still in his eyes.  He cried the whole way through it, too.  Not celebratory at all.  And, by lunch time his fever was very much on the rise again and all he wanted to do was go back home.  He perked up a bit when they presented him with a sundae and a lit candle, taking the time to blow it out before resuming his "nooooo, noooo, noooo" to every question I asked him. He was sick through Tuesday and, finally, today seems to be getting back to his usual self. 

So, in the end, Alden's birthday weekend was a little rough.  Certainly, not exactly what we had planned. But, we tried our best to salvage it and we definitely got in lots of the activities that Alden loves best.  It's a good reminder - especially as we turn towards the over-the-top party that we are planning for Kailey's upcoming birthday -- that mostly the details don't matter.  For a two year old, what matters is the simplest things that bring so much joy -- bubbles, candles, songs, sisters, grandparents, togetherness.  And, of course, when you're not feeling well, what matters is cuddles and hugs and naps.  He got all of that stuff and more in and we had fun taking advantage of the moments when he was feeling better to celebrate the last year with him and look forward to the year to come.

He's TWO!!  Happy, happy birthday to our sweet, cuddly, elmo-loving, musical boy!  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Communicator


When Kailey was about this age, we were worried that she wasn't saying as much as other kids her age.  We had her assessed and were assured by the speech therapist that she had great understanding of language and the ability to communicate and the words would come.  They definitely did -- and now I feel guilty when she's been chattering on in the back seat as I drive her to school and says, "right, Mama.  MAMA.  Riiiggghhht?!?!!"  And, we both realize I haven't been listening. 

Maybe it's just our genes, because Alden is following in Kai's communication footsteps.  Now when I look back at videos of Kai from this age, I realize that she had quite a few words.  But, as Kailey before, Alden has no shortage of understanding or ways in which to get his point across, even if he doesn't use a ton of words at this point.

He has invented some signs -- including touching his finger to his tongue when he wants a pacifier, using one finger in a hook fashion when he wants you to follow him, clapping the heels of his hands together for pancakes, and doing a solo high-five (repeatedly) when he wants to go outside.

He listens to music and follows along, clapping when told to clap, repeating the sounds and rhythms, stomping his feet when he is supposed to stomp.  This weekend, I taught him "open and shut them" which is a song with a bunch of hand signals, and he LOVED it.  He asked for more about 50 fifty times. 

For things that he cannot use signs or motions, he has picked up a good number of words.  Kailey is "la la".  He says a bunch of colors, although, tends to just work his way through the ones he knows when asked what color something is, almost always starting with blue, then white, then red -- and if it's none of those, he tends to go back to blue. 

He says "yes" in the most emphatic way nodding his whole body, while doing a little hop, and saying "yuuusss!!"  His "no" is just as firm -- shouting it from somewhere deep in his belly while scrunching up his face and looking at us out of the top of his eyes with a very menacing scowl. 

He now says "bike", having discovered Kailey's old trikes in the garage this weekend.  He loved sitting on the trike while I pushed him around the neighborhood and screamed when it was time to get off, but - really - my screaming back was happy to put up with a screaming toddler in order to get a break.  He is going to be so excited about the new trike we bought him for his birthday! 

He's not doing many two-word sentences at this point, but, I think he realizes he doesn't need to.  He knows how to tell us what he wants and he is very effective at making eye contact, getting your attention, and patiently repeating the word or sign until we get it right. 

I know that all those words are in there and can tell how much he understands by how quickly he responds to us.  This morning, Kai said to me while we were walking down the stairs that she was still tired.  I told her she could take a nap later and she said she hated naps.  Alden patted my arm and signed the word for "sleep", letting me know that he was following along with the conversation.  I told him that he was right, we were talking about sleep.  He nodded, happy to have the reassurance that he had heard correctly.

In just a short time, I'm sure I'll be ignoring Alden as he recounts his imaginations to me from the backseat.  I can't wait.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

2nd Trimester Report Card

Kai is having a great year.  Her second grade teacher is just amazing.  Like every other year, Kai is getting a bit of spring fever which corresponds with getting her name on the board more and having to "owe some time" at recess with increasing frequency.  But, in past years, I think the frustration with the exuberant behavior has spilled over into more negative assessments of her performance in the classroom.  Mr. Cunningham, for whatever reason, seems to be able to keep the two things separate.  I think part of it is that Kai is still engaged in the classroom because he makes the lessons so engaging.  He does thematic learning, so that they are studying a certain subject (right now it's steelhead) and all the subjects are about steelhead in one way or another.  He also really lets them be involved in the projects, moving around, creating, talking to each other.  And, for Kai, that is so important.

The end result is that Kai just got her best assessment on a report card ever!  Mr. Cunningham wrote:


It says: "Kailey has worked very hard this trimester. Her reading rate has jumped from 96 words per minute to 131 words per minute while maintaining a very high level of comprehension.  Kailey is responding well to our small group collaboration and literature circle groups.  She enjoys our thematic units and is managing a nice balance between core understanding of curriculum and the creative element in our projects.  I'm very impressed with Kailey's writing despite the higher expectations for structure and descriptive language.  My goal for Kailey is that she continues to develop as a class leader and work to stay on task."

We're so proud of her and also in awe with how much she has learned this year and how she has taken to school.  Mr. C is a teacher we will all remember for many, many years to come.

First Crush

Kailey has had a bit of a crush on a 4th grader named Peter Okomoto this year.  She blushes when she says his name.  And was excited when he ran for the Spirit Commissioner at school, because it means he leads the school in cheer at all the assemblies. 

Kailey also ran for student council this year and - along with two of her classmates - got selected to be the class representative for 1/3 of the year.  It is now Kailey's turn to be the class rep (which, incidentally means she's 2/3 of the way through the 2nd grade!!!) When I picked her up Wednesday of this last week and asked her how school was, she reported that she had gone to her first student council meeting.  Then she reprimanded me for not packing her a home lunch and told me that she needs a home lunch on student council days.  I love having to be able to do things without knowing in advance what it is I'm supposed to have done!

Anyway, I asked her how the meeting went and she replied, "it was awkward."  I thought that a strange word choice so I pressed her.  "Well, Peter is in Student Council.  But, luckily, he sat way on the other side of the room.  Still... it was awkward."

Kai isn't the only one with a crush.  A 1st grader has a big crush on Kailey.  She knows this because he told her, along with anyone else that would listen.  And he's made her cards.  And bought her stuffed animals.  And given her candy.  It's a bit much, really.  Although, it is clear Kai finds it endearing and cute and isn't bothered by it.

It's all adorable at this age.  I'm sure a few years from now, it will just have me worrying... but, these young crushes are super cute. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The March of Time

I can scarcely believe it's halfway through March already.  Life is such a blur of activity these days -- even as we've slowed down the last few weekends due to illness, it just feels like the rush never ends. Alden turns two this month.  It feels like he's always been here, but also like he just arrived. 

I lost a good friend to cancer this last month.  She has a five year old.  I can't even hold that thought in my head.  It just takes the wind out of me.  For her, life has stopped and the life of her child goes on -- and somehow, that little girl has to navigate that void without the mother who held her so close and loved her so fiercely and fought so hard to stay. 

The thought of it has stopped me in my tracks this last week.  I rush from activity to activity, corralling the kids and urging them to get ready faster to move faster to get to the next thing... and, then, I just stop. It can all just stop in a moment. Slowing down is as important as hurrying up.  Grabbing these fleeting moments with my kids is as important as getting to the next activity.  I think of her and remind myself that these moments, every one of them, are so precious.

I was lying next to Alden in his bed last night, willing him to fall asleep so I could escape his room and clean the dishes, and gather the clutter, and get Kailey to bed, and get to bed myself... the next thing, the next thing.  And then I stopped. I thought of Fiza and all the moments that have been stolen from her.  I embraced the moment, sniffing Alden's head and taking in his sweet smell while he gently rubbed my face and tucked his head under my chin. 

I wish I could will life to slow down. I wish I could have done that for Fiza.  Forced life into slow motion so that we could all just have these moments for eternity.  Or, at a minimum, for a bit longer.

I've already plotted out our summer -- which makes me feel like it will be September in an instant.  And Kai will be 8 and in the 3rd grade.  And Alden be 2 and starting preschool.  And I'll be 40.  The drumbeat of time goes on. 

I'm not complaining.  The alternative - the stopping - that's what I fear.  This march forward is wonderful.  It's just fast.  It's so fast. 

That's the thing -- it's not regret that I'm feeling.  I love my children with a force I could never have imagined before having them.  But, that love - that overwhelming love -- comes with the reality that my life is not mine anymore.  I think in some ways, there's a mourning that comes from that.  Or, a longing for a time when I had the space to act for myself and myself alone.  My time scarcely belongs to me anymore.  Not even in the quietest hours of the night when I try to roll over and get a moment of solace... not even then, because no sooner have I rolled then I hear that little squawk of the toddler sleeping next to me, protesting my attempt to steal a moment to myself during the darkest stretch of night, reaching his little hand over to grab me, to roll me back towards him, as he insistently tucks his head back under my chin and pats my face once more.

My working hours are also divided between making time for scheduling camps, doctors appointments, rushing off to school assemblies, visiting preschools, following up with preschools, trying to get in that quick errand that will be so much faster if I do it by stealing 30 minutes from work rather than the hour it will take with a kid or two in two. 

There are no breaks anymore.  Almost no time for conversation or reflection.  I see this with all my friends of young children.  Our conversations are divided.  Usually we are talking while watching our children, one ear on the conversation, one year listening for an injury or cry or impending disaster or argument.  But, even in those rare moments when we are alone, are thoughts are divided between the conversation and the endless list of items that must be attended to -- so much more than just the things required by work.  My work list, while long and overwhelming, is rarely the thing that distracts me anymore.  That, I can compartmentalize.  That, I'm good at. 

Even as I sit here, typing these words, I'm thinking of the bill language I should be drafting, the doctor appointment still to be scheduled, the taxes to be paid.  I can scarcely afford to steal the time necessary to write this blog. 

But this last month, when these stresses threaten to overwhelm me and the work of it all tests my patience -- I have tried to stop myself.  To embrace the chaos.  Because these moments will never come again.  The pace of life will eventually slow again.  And, if I'm lucky, I'll get to experience that natural slowing.  My fear is a dead stop.  What happened to Fiza is so unfair.  She was in the middle of it.  At the height of the chaos.  It wasn't a natural stopping place -- it was the middle.  The middle that is hard to embrace because it's the middle -- but in many ways, it's the best part.  Fiza knew that.  In the year between her diagnosis and her death, she made the most of every precious second she had as she fought to extend those moments as much as possible. It's such an important lesson because no one knows what the next day will bring. 

But all of this is really of little comfort.  Because, the hard reality is, now, she's gone.  And I'm beyond sad.  I feel guilty for resenting the constant demands on my time and person -- because I'm so lucky that I get to have this time.  This time in the middle of the chaos and the storm when life is at it's busiest and most intense.  It's the most precious of time. 

And, I know, that if I'm lucky, I'll get to experience a slowing of the march.  I'll regain my solitude and likely miss this chaos once it is gone.  No little hands gripping and groping for me during the night.  No "mamas" shouted out needing something, whatever it is, in the most urgent timeframe possible. 

If I'm lucky, I'll regain that time and get to see my kids grow and change and become independent.  I hope I get that, and I feel guilty for hoping for it since my dear friend has had that opportunity stolen from her. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Traveling Mom

When I was a younger person, I thought it would be glamorous to have a job that required me to travel.  Well, I thought that, but I also was terrified of flying so I wasn't interested in the flying part of the glamorous jet-setting job.  But, I liked the idea of working in many locations.

Fast forward many years -- and I'm six years into a job that requires me to travel all of the time and I can say, it's not glamorous at all.  I have 11 trips planned in April - June.  There will likely be more.  It means being on a plane every week.  Each trip represents numerous meetings and presentations, all which create a cascade of additional work that has to be crammed into the non-travel days or those hours spent on the plane.  I try to keep my weekends free to focus on family stuff and try not to do my job in the evening -- but, it leads to a stressed out and distracted mom.  And the traveling means missing out.  I've missed school performances, sporting events and parties.  I'm constantly scrambling to try to figure out everyone's schedules and make sure everyone knows mine.  And, traveling for work is just not fun. 

This week (as in the last seven days) is a perfect example of how my year is shaping up.  I was in Los Angeles on Thursday and Friday last week.  It rained in LA on Friday resulting in traffic coming to a complete stand still because the Los Angolans have no idea what to do with their cars when it rains.  I would have missed my flight, but the pilots and airport personnel in Los Angeles also have no godly idea what to do with a plane in the rain, so my flight was also delayed.  Score.  I got home at about 6 PM (not bad, really).  We spent the weekend catching up on projects, shopping, and going to a friend's birthday party (it was a fun party -- our friend Julie really knows how to throw a children's birthday party):


Then Monday, the day after we switched to Daylight Savings Time resulting in a lost hour, I had a 6 AM flight back to Los Angeles.  Which required me to get up at 4 AM.  Which felt like 3 AM.  And then I had meetings all day.  Literally, until 6 PM.  And then my 9:30 flight got delayed until 11:30.  UGH.  I got home at 1 AM. 

This morning, I woke up to a text message from our nanny saying that she had a fever of 104.  Seriously, I think the universe is testing my ability to roll with the punches.  The people we do a nanny share with have a friend that runs a daycare that they've used as a back-up in the past.  Given that I was facing another full day of meetings and Eric had deadlines, we decided to call the daycare and try to get Alden there for the day.  I texted her and then a reminder popped up on my phone that we had to have the kittens to the vet by 8:30 AM to get fixed.  Deep breath. 

The daycare owner texted back and she said she couldn't accommodate Alden because she'd have a full house that day.  So, we started on an alternative plan -- which amounted to Eric taking Alden to work with him.  We split up, Eric taking Alden with the kittens, me with Kai to get to school.  After dropping Kai off, I got another text from the daycare saying that Alden could come after all because another one of the kids wasn't coming in.  Yea - but now I had to get to where Alden and Eric were to retrieve Alden and get him across town to a new daycare with new providers -- people I had not personally vetted.

It was not my best morning.  And it was compounded by the late night/early morning.  The traveling just gets me off on the wrong foot making it harder to deal with the chaos of being a working parent.  It adds insult to injury.

I'm whining because I just looked through my upcoming trips through June and I have a LOT of travel coming up.  It's going to mean a lot of weeks like this one - of trying to keep a million balls in the air at once while being gone half the time. 

Luckily, Kai and Alden are awesome . Alden did great at the new daycare today.  He fit right in.  He didn't cry. He wasn't scared.  He rolled with it. The only issue was at naptime when the daycare providers reported he seemed a bit confused.  They put him in a pack and play and he didn't cry, but he didn't go to sleep.  He just stood there, staring at them, as if wondering what they wanted him to do.  They said after about a 1/2 hour, he sat down and then eventually sort of toppled over, exhausted.  Alden has never really been a good sleeper and I can see that sleeping in a room full of other children might have seemed a bit out of the ordinary.  But, he still went with it.  He didn't fuss.  He just took it all in. When he got home tonight, he threw a massive fit to let us know that he'd been super good all day. 


Kai also is flexible and able to adjust to the chaos with little problems. She always has been.  Just like Alden, she took to new settings with a flair and has always had the ability to make instant friends.

Thank goodness for them.  I love my job and the people I work with, but it drives me to the brink sometimes because it is so demanding both in terms of my time and energy.  We are so lucky to have children that are so good natured and flexible. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Musical


Alden seems to have a thing for musicals.  Last weekend, I took the kids to see a musical at a community theater called, "How I Became a Pirate."  I wasn't sure how Alden would do, so chose a seat on the aisle where I could escape with him if he started squirming or whining.  But, there was no need to worry.  He loved every song, clapping enthusiastically when the song ended and then signing the word "more" while saying "more, more!"  Luckily, there was a new song every few minutes.  He made it through the whole play, swaying along to the music the whole time.

Last night, we decided to have family movie night and rented the Sound of Music. Many family movie nights have really just been one of us watching a movie with Kailey while the other one chases Alden around.  But, last night, he mostly stayed put, swaying once again to the songs and asking for more when one concluded.

He repeats melodies that we sing, often getting many of the notes right.  He doesn't sing the words, but he sings the melodies and repeats the rhythms with a good deal of accuracy.

Kai taught him the hand motions to itsy bitsy spider, and they spent a car ride singing the song together doing the hand signs over and over.  It was so cute.  If I hadn't been driving, I would have tried to get it on video.

In another week, Alden will start another round of Music Together.  We haven't done it in quite a long time, since right around his 1st birthday.  It'll be interesting to see how he engages in it now that he's a bit older.  I have a feeling he is going to be quite excited about it!

Positive Attitude


Every month at Kai's school there's a monthly character assembly.  They give out awards to the kids from each grade who best exemplified the character trait they were working on over the course of the last month and then introduce the character trait they will be focusing on in the coming month. 

In February, the character trait they were focused on was having a positive attitude.  Kai and her friend, Leanna, got the award for best exemplifying that trait.  In introducing her to give her the award, Mr. Cunningham said that they do a lot of thematic units in the class that cut across subjects, like focusing on polar bears, the Yuork Tribe, and - currently - steelhead.  He then said that no matter what the subject matter or theme, Kai is enthusiastic and brings energy and excitement to the subject.

I have to agree -- Kai generally exudes positivity.  She has been loving school this year and truly has been excited about each of the units, jumping into the car in the evening and chattering excitedly the steelhead that opened their eyes, or the dioramas they're working on, or the math book she's completed. She brings energy and cheer to nearly everything she does, sometimes it spills over into bossiness as she tries to rally those around her to be engaged in the work (and, to do things the way she wants them done!).  But, she's working on that. 

Here's to our positive girl!