Monday, October 24, 2016


Alden loves horses.  He has a couple of toy horses that he plays with all the time.  But, he prefers real horses.  He often wakes up and one of his first requests is to, "go ride horsey!"  When we're driving around time, he'll shout from the backseat, "ride horsey?" We got invited to a birthday party recently that had PONY RIDES.  This was great for a multitude of reasons.  First, because I had started entertaining the notion of throwing Alden a party with pony rides, but I feel like now that he's done that, I can save that pretty penny. And, who knows if this will still be his obsession come March.

We got to the party, and Alden's face lit up when he saw the pony.  No one else was taking a turn, so Alden offered up himself.  During the course of the party, there were many points where no one was riding the pony.  Alden wanted to hang out nearby in case there was an opening, and the owner of the horse was so nice in obliging him whenever there weren't other kids in line.  She also let him hold the reins while other kids got off and on and let him help to load the pony into the trailer at the end of the party. I felt a little bad -- it was almost like it was his party.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the birthday girl never went on the pony.  She was in tears for much of the party and had no interest in the pony. Alden was more than happy to take her place of honor in petting, feeding, riding and looking after the pony. And, there were so many kids and other things to do at the party (including a petting zoo), that no one seemed to notice Alden dominating the pony.  Look how happy he is!

Alden also had fun petting the animals and playing with his friends, when he wasn't lurking around the pony:

Alden's obsession with horses gave us the perfect Halloween costume idea -- a cowboy riding a horse!  I wasn't sure how Alden would feel about a pretend horse to ride -- but he LOVES it.  He asks to put on the costume all the time and goes galloping around the house, making his "click click" sound to imitate the sound of the horses' hooves.  I'll have to post pictures after Halloween night to capture the full cowboy costume.  He tends to reject the boots and hat -- he says, "I don't need those" and tosses them aside before setting off for another gallop around the house. 

The Dilatory Tooth Fairy

I've written before about how we don't really do Santa Claus at our house.  Heck, for the first four years of Kai's life we barely celebrated Christmas.  We didn't get a tree.  We didn't really do presents.  She didn't notice -- and we still did plenty together as a family over the holiday period (camping, Timberline, visiting family, spending time together). 

We also don't celebrate Easter.  There's no Easter Bunny at our house. 

But, somehow, the Tooth Fairy is a thing. I'm not really sure how that happened. I think with the other holidays, we were more in control.  We just didn't really do the traditional thing so the thing we did was what became normal.  But, Kai was not the first among her schoolmates to lose a tooth.  Not even close.  She has many friends who were visited by the Tooth Fairy and was eagerly anticipating her turn.  So, the Tooth Fairy gained prominence in her mind before we had a chance to come up with our alternative. 

Anyway, Kai has lost about 8 teeth now (I think -- I'm really not sure.  I don't like teeth once they have fallen out of someone's mouth!)  Anyway, for the first 6 teeth, we were on it.  She'd leave the tooth under her pillow.  Then the Tooth Fairy would take the tooth away and leave her a silver dollar.  Then we ran out of silver dollars.  And we had a big lag between teeth falling out. 

Anyway... Kai has recently lost two more teeth -- in the same week but on different days.  With the first tooth, she left it under her pillow and woke up in the morning to find the tooth was still there.  She was crestfallen but concocted a story, with the help of Eric, that the tooth was so small and had gotten knocked out of the bed and so the Tooth Fairy couldn't find it.  I told her to put it in an envelope and write the Tooth Fairy a note so that she'd be sure to locate it the following night.  And, I put a reminder in my calendar to make sure the lazy little fairy did her job.  That night, all went well and Kai was thrilled with the $2 she found under her pillow the next morning.

Fast forward a couple of days and in the morning -- really, at the crack of dawn -- Kai comes bounding into our bedroom declaring that she lost another tooth.  I was barely awake but told Kai that was awesome.  She hollered something about going downstairs to write the Tooth Fairy a note and make an envelope so the Tooth Fairy would be sure to come the next night.  The next night that wasn't going to start for another 15 hours.  I thought to myself that I should probably create a calendar reminder since 15 hours is a long time to forget something, and then rolled over and went back to sleep for another half-hour until Alden woke up with a fever, throwing the day for a bit of a loop.

The next morning, Kai woke up distraught yelling -- "the TOOTH FAIRY DID NOT COME."  Crap.  I kicked myself for forgetting AGAIN and also cursed whoever it was that made ME the tooth fairy!   I went downstairs to shower and, before hopping in the shower, ransacked Kai's art desk locating a piece of paper and a felt tip marker in order to write a quick note from the Tooth Fairy.  Then, I scrounged up $2 in quarters since we were out of dollar bills.  When I got back upstairs, the envelope tucked under my towel, Kai was in our bedroom complaining to Eric about the Tooth Fairy.  Perfect!  I snuck into her bedroom, grabbed the envelope with the tooth, crammed the enveloped with the quarters under the pillow in its place, and walked back into our room without being noticed.

"MOMMY!!" Kai yelled as soon as she spotted me.  "The Tooth Fairy did not come... AGAIN!  Come see!" 
I followed her into her room and she yanked away the pillow with an annoyed flair and then stopped in her tracks. "WHA?!  Mommy!  Look!!!  She must have just been here."

And, indeed, the note said, "Kailey -- I'm so sorry this is late.  I had a crazy night.  Thanks for the tooth!  Love, the Tooth Fairy"

Kai was so excited.  The Tooth Fairy's sub-par performance was immediately forgiven. 

I walked back into our bedroom, glad to have averted another Tooth Fairy meltdown of a morning, and Eric said to me, "what we are observing is why religion continues to exist." 


Also, our Tooth Fairy sucks.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sibling Love

Alden has started saying "I love you" - unprompted and unsolicited.  He'll turn to one of us and say, "I love you."  Or, he'll be petting one of the kittens and say, "I love you".  He also loves different shows and songs.  I tried to skip a song on the Music Together CD that was on loop in the car (Music Together is really all we listen to), and Alden shouted out in protest from the back seat, "Hey! I love that song!"  So, we listened to it. 

I've written before about how Alden radiates love and joy -- he is such a cuddly, sensitive and sweet boy.  At preschool, they report that whenever someone gets hurt, they know that Alden will be the first on the scene.  He kneels down in front of the injured child, inquiring, "what happened" while patting them reassuringly.  I have seen Alden attend to Kailey when she is inured in exactly the same way.

Kailey has always had these protective and empathetic qualities as well.  When she was Alden's age, her teachers reported the same thing about her attention to others. Just the other day, Kailey's preschool teacher from Kids Into Speaking Spanish emailed out of the blue.  She wrote, "I was talking about Kailey to a new teacher and how smart and beautiful she is and how she learned to speak Spanish so fast.  I watned to say hi to tell you guys and tell you that I really miss my sweet Kailey.  I hope she is doing well.  If you can please say hi to her and send me a picture." It was the sweetest email to get out of the blue -- and a real testament to Kailey's character.

Kailey remains one of the biggest recipients of Alden's love and admiration (and he hers).  Sometimes he expresses that affection in ways that are rather imposing.  For example, for the last few months (and with increasing frequency), he wants to "sit with Kailey" (his words) while eating his meals.  And, he means it quite literally.  He doesn't want to sit near her.  He wants to sit WITH Kailey.  As in, on the same chair, basically shoving her aside so that she is balancing, one leg straight supporting her, while she attempts to balance on the chair.  I know very few siblings that would tolerate sharing their seat at the table more than a few times.  But, this has been going on for weeks, and Kai just says, "it's fine.  He can sit with me."  More incredibly, he likes to eat off her plate, and she allows that too (of course, when he's eating the broccoli that she is trying to avoid, it is a bonus to have Alden sitting next to her!)

Kai and Alden argue now more than they used to - often vying for the same toy or treat.  But, they continue to be very mindful of one another and loving, too.  I love watching them cuddle up together and I love the way they look after each other, inquiring about each others injuries, providing comfort, and enjoying one another's company.  Who knows if it will continue as Kai moves into pre-adolescence and then the teen years -- but, they've built a strong foundation.  These pictures are just a few of them together.  I love how they look at one another (see the picture at the top, too).


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Worst Travel Day Ever

I travel a lot for my job.  Usually just to Los Angeles and back in the same day.  Sometimes a night away in Los Angeles.  Occasionally to other parts of the country. I can be a bit of a control freak and a fairly anxious person, so traveling doesn't bring out the best in me.  Although, six and a half years into this routine, and I'm much calmer about things (like turbulence, keeping track of schedules, needing to check in the moment I land and the moment I'm about to take off) than I used to be.  But, still.  I'm always a bit more anxious that things will go awry when I'm away.

And then, last week, as I'm landing in Baltimore for a layover on my way to Albany, NY (yes, Baltimore -- the one that is on the East Coast.  6 hours of flying between me and home) I get a text from Eric asking for Alden's medical number and telling me he's on his way to daycare to pick Alden up because there was an accident at school and he needs stitches.  ACK!!  I'm in BALTIMORE.  Alden cannot be going to the ER. 

As soon as I landed, I started frantically calling Eric, who wasn't answering because he was in the car driving to the ER, and Alden's school, where the Director sounded beyond apologetic and frazzled by the whole thing. 

Alden had been hit in the head with a metal hoe by another little kid.  An accident, for sure.  They're two.  But, the metal hoes have since been done away with.  And, she really got him.  Apparently, there was quite a bit of blood.  But, Joan said Alden handled it so well and stopped crying really quickly and let them clean him up, change his shirt and put ice on the wound while they called Eric.

Eric got him to the ER and they glued the wound shut and applied butterfly bandages.  Alden has been totally unfazed by all of it.

But, it was traumatic for me.  I was landing on the other side of the country.  It was a Thursday morning and I wasn't due home until Saturday after bedtime.  It was horrible to be so far away.  It's the worst part of being a traveling/working mom.  You miss out on a lot of moments -- I've missed trips in order to stay home for school plays and other events. But, I've also missed a lot of Back to School nights, performances, and other events.  Not usually the big ones that are planned for, but as this injury demonstrated, sometimes the big ones that are unplanned. 

Alden has been to the ER FOUR times in the last year and a half.  For pneumonia (which he has had 3 times, but only the once that required hospitalization), a burn, a concussion, and now a deep cut.  I'm not sure if it's the boy factor of the second child factor, but it definitely makes me feel like a bad mom.  And, it makes getting on the plane for each trip that much harder.  Because it's hard to be away and not know what's going to happen while I'm gone. 

But -- I cannot control what happens even when I stay home.  And, I like my job.  A lot.  And it's good that I like it so much because being on the road gets to be so tiring and I do feel like I miss out on all sorts of things.  It also just makes it harder to stay connected to our community here because when I'm home, I'm always playing catch up with work, chores, shopping and other household things.  It's hard to make time to see people and be social -- especially when I'm not naturally inclined towards being social.

When we first moved here, we were doing a pretty good job.  But, my travel schedule this year had been a lot more demanding and I've found that I have less energy to spend the more limited moments I have at home socializing.

Another friend of mine that travels a lot says that it's all about the OLP rule -- One Loving Parent.  We provide back up to one another and there's never an event that we both miss out on.  Last week, Alden had OLP on duty to attend to him.  It was hard not being there -- but, it would be impossible without having a partner there alongside me.  Still, it was the worst travel day ever.