Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 years ago - From 20s to 30s - My, my, my

A fun little look at aging from your late 20's to your late 30's. 

1999-2009

1999 - We ended it with a "Millenium Party."  75 people at our house, a karaoke machine and a contest for best "end of the world" item.  As in - if Y2K really happened (at our house, with those 75 people - at least 20 we'd never met, two of which used our spare bedroom turned coat closet to start the New Year off with a BANG, if you know what I mean), what would be our best way to survive?  By unanimous screaming, the blow up doll won.  The Viagra (yes, seriously) came in second.  The party lasted til 4 (that's AM people - we WERE still in our 20s), we allowed smoking in the house (Husband had obviously lost his mind) and found champagne sprays on our walls on sunny days for months.  Our neighbor told us he woke to a "cat dying" around 3am and realized it was just me singing "1999" by Prince over.  And over.  And over.  And linking to it on You Tube makes me want to start singing it AGAIN!  LOVE that song!  But, wait . . . didn't I just write a post about the ridiculous-ness of neighbors singing drunk - late night? 

2009 - We're ending with an early dinner, with kids, at a friend's house - our former next door neighbors.  Likely home by 9  tonight - latest.  Sad, sad, sad.  But happy, happy, happy.  No hangover = good start to 2010.  I always suspected I was starting the New Year off poorly when staying out until practically dawn on the 31st.  No worries about THAT any more!

1999 -  we'd been married 1 year, I practiced criminal defense law, and had recently lost 30 pounds. 

2009 -  we celebrated our 11 year anniversary, my "free job" is far from criminal defense (more like excessive volunteerism in early childhood education) and I've gained still undetermined because I'm afraid to get on the scale a little weight this holiday season.

1999 - sleeping in meant noon and sometimes getting up then was a challenge. 

2009 - sleeping in until 8am would be like winning the lottery.  It'd be like Christmas 360 days early!  Spa vacation!  Losing the holiday weight overnight! 

1999 - weren't we the selfish little punks with no kids yet?  Didn't we know how WE were going to parent kids when they came along?  Much better than everyone else we judged.  Mostly at church.  I've been learning about that karma for about 7 years, 9 months now. 

2009 - Have we now gone from BEING selfish little punks to RAISING selfish little punks?  Maybe not punks (yet - doesn't punkism occur in adolescence?), but I'm having a Circle of Life moment here!

1999 - I knew it all.

2009 - I have so much to learn. 

Bring on 2010 - with learning, living, laughing, loving.  In other words, maybe I'll win the lottery of life.  Or at LEAST stop alliterating with L for cripe's sake! 

:)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality

We came . . . to the airport.

We saw . . . a bunch of kooky people.  Airports are good for that.

We dodged a bullet . . . with the enhanced security.  Arriving during off-peak - very good idea.

We dominated . . . the flight.  My kids are good fliers.

We landed . . . safely.  Colder, but happy, rested and (pretty much) glad to be home.

:)

And dude, not reading other people's blogs for a week?  Makes you feel like you've missed out on a LOT.  Catching.  Up.  Now.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The clock's ticking and other musings

Remember my goal to complete at least 23 books this year because, for heaven's sake, the last time I read that few books I'd given birth to my first child who cried for 6 months straight? 

I have one more to go and 5 days to do it. 

Can I?  Can I?  Huh, huh, can I?

I'll let you know.  Gotta get back to the grind. 

On another note, here we are in Sunny Florida - if you've forgotten the obnoxious Frosty remix from a few days ago. 

I haven't been on Facebook for 5 days and guess what?  I don't miss it!  I'm kind of over Facebook right now.

What do I miss?  All of the little TLC touches I give my little bloggity-blog every day.  Sigh.  Guess I'll go back to the beach. 


From our last trip to Florida.  Because, sadly, I'm too busy drinking cocktails and sitting on the beach reading People to download pictures from this trip yet.  Oh wait . . . I still have young children.  I'm too busy drinking cocktails and yelling louder than the seagulls to tell my kids "WATCH FOR THE UNDERTOW" in the water.  Just kidding - I'm YANKING them out of the undertow. 

But I'm not too busy taking that puppy out at all hours of the night.  Ahhhhhhhh, sleep GOOD.

Next musing:  I thought people moderated comments b/c they wanted to make sure people weren't posting hate mail before publishing it.  So I was all about NO comment moderation for ME - I can take the hate mail if it comes.  I used to be a Public Defender for goodness' sake!  Talk about hate mail!  Since being here, I've gotten two spam comments - one about vegas gambling and one about someone asking if I think they're sexy.  What do you all do about spam like that?  SO annoying - here I'm all excited that I'm getting comments and it's fake-o ones like that?  Grrrrr.  I might have to moderate after all!

So, the next time I write a post we'll be back in Ohio - sigh.  Poor us.  Unless we don't get out of the airport because of the enhanced security thanks to that idiot who tried to blow up the Detroit airplane.  Seriously?  I thought we had that security stuff all worked out.  Grrrrrr again.

And finally, I hate cilantro.  Just had to get that out there.  I feel all better now.

See ya on the flipside!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Super Sunday Series Holidays and Routines



Super
Sunday
Series


Welcome to Week 4 of the Holiday Edition of the Super Sunday Series.  We've talked about sleep, nutrition and transitions this month.  Today, we close out the Holiday Series with the importance of routines. 


For any child, a predictable, consistent routine is paramount to their success as a contributing member of your family.  The importance is raised, however, for the gifted child.  A gifted child needs the consistency of a routine like a person on the beach needs sunscreen (get it?  Shameless reference to our current location).  In other words, it's pretty important for long term health.  Without it, you won't die (likely), but everyone will be much more comfortable and happy when it's provided (the sunscreen AND the routine, that is). 

Sticking close to a routine during the holidays is important (and a challenge!).  Just as important, however, is the transition from “laid back holiday routine” to “back to school routine.”

During the holiday season, try to keep mealtimes, snack times, rest times and bedtimes as close to the norm as possible. Right now, with most two week breaks at the blissful halfway point, it may be tempting to just go with the flow of wherever time off takes you. Or you may be so overscheduled with holiday happenings, that you feel like you can’t keep up with the normal routine. To deviate from it significantly would do a disservice to both you and your gifted child(ren). All children, and especially gifted children, crave the structure, the knowledge of a routine. They like knowing what’s coming next. To take that away from them can sometimes spell disaster (it actually always spells disaster in our house).




 The closer you stick to the routine, the more easily you will transition everyone back to “normal” when back to school comes.  Holiday time isn't like summer, where you can spend several weeks with late bedtimes and late wake times (if you're lucky!).  It's a short enough amount of time that sticking as close as possible to your normal schedule is your best bet.  





Finally, remind your children about the routine and what it means to get back into it as the holiday break comes to an end. You may not get back into the swing of things without a few bumps, but the more knowledge you arm your gifted person with, the more likely they are to handle the changes.



They’re smart that way. ;)

One more thing (added on location due to its timeliness).  Just last night, the 26th, mind you, with 9 days until school is back in session, Oldest had some moments (sobbing, actually) over her worry about getting back into the school routine, how hard it was going to be and how it is so close, how can she get ready for it?  We shared some tears and started the "this is what happens when you go back" talk.  So sometimes your gifted ones need that "back to routine" talk sooner than you may think.  Be ready for it.  Youngest?  She's just going to bed every night saying "tomorrow's my school day, right?"  Gotta love the age of two. 


P.S.  Don't know what's up with the font, I'll get 'er fixed when we get back.  :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dear So and So - 25th




Dear Santa -

Please keep the "hits" coming to my kids.  Dude, you rock.  How do you get them such awesome stuff year after year?  And please keep my 2nd grader believing in you one more year!  Like the Journey song says, "Don't Stop Believin!'

Signed,
One More Year!

Dear Florida -

Ahhhhh.  I love you. 

Signed,
The Former Ohio Dweller

Dear Ohio -

We'll be back when you thaw out.  Take your time.

Signed,
Winter Hater

Dear Busy Season -

You're almost here, aren't you, you sneaky little "taker of all things family time?"  Let's try to be friends this year, shall we?  You release Husband a little on the weekends and I'll still take care of the kids practically solo, no matter what you decide. 

Signed,
Nuthin' to be Done About It, Is There?

Dear God,

Thank you for bringing Jesus to save the world.  Much appreciated.  We will try to live up to your hope for us this coming year.

Signed,
Praying for Patience Again

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Great Day, filled with Love, Laughter and Joy.




Missy

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Big Man's Almost Here!

Santa comes tonight.  Our family already spent some QT with him a few weeks ago for the SECOND time.  Funny how Santa pops up all over the place in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  :)


First visit.



Second visit.


What's your fave? 

Don't drink too much Nog tonight!  ;) 

And thanks to Ann over at High Ability (http://highability.wordpress.com/) for allowing me the honor of providing a guest post - it's a condensed version of the last four weeks of Super Sunday Series, if you want to see it all in one place. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sing it to the Tune of Frosty the Snowman

Missy and family
Head to Florida every year.
With their pale, pale skin
And their bathing suits,
They long to see the sun again.

Riding the airplane
They fly all the way down South
Not worrying about ice and snow
And most definitely not their coats.

They must remember that their friends are still stuck back up North,
In boots and scarves and hats and gloves,
Just a-shiverin' with their loves.

Back in the sunshine,
The family quickly forgets the North
And they run and play, frolic every day
Til it's time to be on their way.

Sing it with me now:  Til it's time to be on theeeeeeiiiiiiiiirrrrrrr waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy!

See you from down South this week, friends!  I'll be posting, but not really monitoring, if you know what I mean.  Sumthin' about being in the warm weather, sunning, funning and forgetting about everything except our family. 

Hugs and Kisses.
Missy
:)

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Real Christmas Spirit

I've bellyached off and on this holiday season (more on than off, I suspect) about ungrateful children, too much to do and not enough time to appreciate the season for its true meaning. 

Last week, I saw a microcosm of the true Christmas spirit in my children.  You know, the ones who have been struggling (I'm practicing my nice words) with each other over, well, anything they can think of?   

Oldest spent the entire month learning Christmas songs on piano for one reason and one reason only.  To play them for her sister's class full of 2 and 3 year olds.  She was only there for 5 minutes, but it was 5 minutes of love and sharing that made this mommy a little weepy over their bond.

  Here are the pictures. 





The next day, of her own volition, Oldest decorated several cards to take to our local retirement community.  She visited there last year with her Brownie Troop (which didn't continue this year) and wanted to bring the residents some happiness. 

Two days in a row, I was blown away by Oldest's giving spirit. 

Then they got back to the basics in the car - arguing over who was talking during songs and who got to pick up Lilly first when we got home.  You'd never think these two were 5 years apart (and one of them 2, for goodness' sake!) with some of the verbal sparring they can muster.   But they are siblings, after all.  ;) 

So I'll take my victories where I can.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Super Sunday Series - Holidays and Transitions

Welcome back to the Super Sunday Series, where this month we're talkin' about the The Basics of Holiday Survival (say it with an echo to herald its importance).  The last two weeks dealt with those basic necessities in life, eating and sleeping.  Next week, it's all about routines.  This week - transitions.  Ohhhh, I shudder just saying it aloud.  It's one of our "hot buttons" here at Casa Fun. 

Practically everything around the holidays involves transitions.  It's no wonder they both stress me out a little bit.   

Interestingly, I don't find much on transitions in my gifted "go to" books.  I first learned the word transition (I'd been experiencing its impact for years with Oldest, but had no name for it) from Oldest's first teacher.  Amazing woman - see my Stone Soup entry.  She said to Husband and I, "Oldest has some challenges with transitions.  This is something that you are going to need to work on with her." 

Whoosh - in one ear, out the next.  Didn't really register until a couple of years later when someone mentioned the book Raising Your Spirited Child as a life saver to them.  The book has an entire chapter devoted to transitions.  According to the author, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, “A transition is a change or passage, from one place, action, mood, topic or thing to another.”  Page 137. For us, no matter how large or small, transitions were a battle. And they were exhausting.   In the early days it was something as simple as going from one task to another, turning off a TV show, getting out of the house, out of the bathtub, out of the car, out of a playdate.  And when I say "battle," I mean B-A-T-T-L-E.  One summer I took her to see Cars in the movie theatre and had to carry her to the car afterward, trying to hit me the whole way, because she "didn't want to leave."  Classic transition difficulty.  Because it wasn't that she didn't want to leave, it was that she couldn't emotionally do it at the time. 


Transitioning Oldest into and out of school from a long break has always been painful. Less so now that she’s older and we know what we’re dealing with. Thankfully.  We’ve been able to give her some coping mechanisms to minimize the challenges.  Spirited Child lists the following suggestions to help your transitionally challenged child.  These can be found, in depth, on pages 138-147 of Kurcinka's book.  I've added my own spin on them, holiday style, next to each suggestion.  Consider it my holiday gift to the adoring fans. 
  1. Using Words.  I call these the buzzwords (I know, I know, I should be copyrighting these monikers for their uniqueness!).  I have a little repertoire of phrases and sentences that I've developed over the years to remind Oldest a transition is coming.  So, for example, during the holidays, we'll start talking about school going back in session at least three days before.  "Remember, in three days, you go back to school," talk about the routine and what that means, etc.  Kurcinka states, "[a]s you point out to your child the transitions in her life she will begin to look for them herself.  Gradually her confidence and ability to cope will increase."  Page 138.   I have seen this with Oldest over the years.  Years, people, not months.  It takes a loooonnnnnng time to learn to manage transitions. 
  2. Establish a Routine.  I'll focus on this next week, getting back to the routine, that is.  During the holidays, though, try to make the routine as close to "normal" as possible.  Which means trying to stick to sleep schedules and eating regularly, not overdosing them on TV or computer if you find that they get a little wacky with too much of it. 
  3. Allow Time.  Kurcinka says that "every five minutes spent in prevention saves you fifteen minutes of turmoil."  Page 140.  Completely true here.  Even now, rushing = big problem.  It just needs to be built into the schedule, you don't have to allow hours upon hours.  Words, combined with a little extra time, can work wonders.  Youngest, who doesn't have nearly the transition issues Oldest has, did very well transitioning to Santa this year, after some hairy moments last year.  Instead of just throwing her on his lap, we discussed him in advance, waved to him and discussed him some more while in line and voila - no tears when it came her turn.  Plus I sat with her, of course.  But the book points this out about holiday gatherings with families - ask relatives to give your child a few minutes to warm up and hang out with mom or dad before being expected to give hugs and make conversation.  
  4. Forewarning is Critical.  This has been a lifesaver for us over the years.  I usually use "5,3,1."  I tell her when she has 5 minutes, then 3 minutes, then 1 minute before leaving somewhere.  I tell her before even turning on a show if we don't have time for the whole thing - after many meltdowns when she was younger.  Kurcinka states that the "timing of forewarnings is important.  Some kids need to be told hours, days, even weeks in advance what they will be doing."  Page 141.  This gives them time to process and ask questions.  Youngest is going through that right now with our pending airplane trip.  We're having daily conversations about what to expect at the airport.  One year I made a map for Oldest (I should find that thing!) giving her a visual guide of all of the transitions through the airport.  This was after a partcularly harrowing year trying to get through the metal detector in one piece.  It showed pictures of the bus ride to the airport, the check-in (including taking our bags away), stopping for breakfast, the metal detector (including a pic of Teddy riding through the conveyor alone), the line for boarding the airplane, the steps up the airplane, the works.  From that year on, we had very little airport transitional trouble.  Because Oldest just followed the map.  Thanks, Dora! 
  5. Allow Time for Closure.  I struggle with this one.  It often feels to me like I'm catering to her.  But because Oldest has so much trouble leaving something mid-task, I try to build in the expectation as well.  If, say, we're leaving in 10 minutes for church and she decides she wants to go online and study the Theory of Relativity (kidding, but you know what I mean - do something that will take longer than 10 minutes), I tell her she has to pick something different.  And if she's close to completion of something, I let her do it.  Mostly. 
  6. Use Imagination.  This is pure genius.  It seems silly, but it's magic.  Magic, I say!  Right now, Youngest's doll can get her to transition to anything!  I'll put on my best baby voice, pick up the doll and say, "Hey Youngest?"  At which point she gets this face - expectant, hopeful, anticipatory. 
  7. Then baby says, "will you take me to the potty with you?"  Or whatever she's balking at at the moment (she's 2, you know, lotsa balking these days).  She is usually nodding and racing to whatever baby's "invited" her to do before I'm even finished with the sentence.  Magic, I tell you.  Try it.  It worked with Oldest until she was, like, 5.  Seriously. 
  8. Limit the Number of Transitions.  Well, yeah.  It seems like common sense, but you have noooo idea how many times I tried to take Oldest on "errand day," (including things like dry cleaner, grocery, bank, post office) until I made the connection that she was always, always falling apart by the last three.  Kurcinka talks about the real importance of this during the holidays and makes the point that sometimes you will have to say no to an invitation or at least make sure you take two cars so that if your transitionally challenged child has had enough, you can make a subtle exit. 
  9. Help Them Deal with Disappointment.  Kurcinka talks about how hard disappointment, a change in plans or unexpected surprise can hit a child who has trouble with transitions.  "They experience a rush of emotions that easily overwhelms them."  Page 146.  I'd say!  Oldest still has trouble with this, though it's much better now.  Kurcinka suggests, and I have found this essential also, that when major disappointment hits, your child will need to release it somehow.  I have actually started saying things to Oldest like, "Ok, I know this is really upsetting, but you must keep it together now.  You can fall apart when we get to the house/car/someplace a little more private."  It helps.  A few years ago, though, it may not have worked so much.  I think the holidays, for all of their magic for children, can also be filled with disappointment.  Their expectations get raised so high and for a gifted child, sometimes one small change to an expectation can mean a major, devastating disappointment.  I've berated myself over the years for not anticipating various and sundry disappointment possibilities for Oldest and therefore not preparing her for it in advance.  But the truth is, she does need to learn about unexpected change and she does need to learn to cope with it.  Hopefully as the years go on, her coping skills will just get better and better.
  10. Working Together.   Remember to thank your child for "keeping it together."  Not in an ingratiating way.  Be sincere.  Really mean it when you say, "I am so pleased with how you made good choices today.  I hope you are proud of yourself as well."  Because they should be - it's just as hard for them to have transition trouble as it is for you, their parent. 

Holidays and transition aren't easy for any of us, really.  If you think of how much the holidays wear on you as an adult, is it any wonder our children fall apart one or multiple times throughout the "most wonderful time of year?"  They are little people who haven't had years to hone their coping skills, they are still learning.  It's up to us to help them and to remember to make good choices for them, not trying to do it all at the expense of their (and our) mental health. 

Does your gifted child have transition trouble?  Do you have any advice to share? 

Good luck this coming week and have fun!  Next week's Super Sunday Series is about routine - getting back to it after the carefree days of a holiday break. 

Tomorrow?  True Christmas spirit, as exhibited by my children.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear So and So



Welcome to my second week of Dear So and So.  It's gonna be hard to reach the level of wit from last week, filled with the Christmas cheer and all, but let's try, shall we?  Then, when you're finished here, head over to 3 bedroombungalow to see what other fun and games abound today. 


Dear Missy's Goal of 23 books by 12/31 -

Hello, big mistake.  How are you?  Me?  Stressing over you.  Today is December 18th and by my math, that means I need to read almost three of you in THIRTEEN days to reach my goal.  I just started Dan Brown's new one.  What's it called?  Oh, yeah, "fast paced action novel about codes and trickery, with a little murder and mayhem thrown in."  Plus I'm slugging through "SuperFreakonomics" and can you say, "Super Freako Good?"  Well worth the read.

Signed,
The Little Engine Who Better Get'er Done!


Is tonight the night for you, my little full bodied girl? You play your cards right and it just might be.

Signed,
Nothing like wrapping Christmas presents with Little Vino to help a girl out


Dear That Puppy of ours, Lilly -

We've had you for 2 months tomorrow, my poofy wittle friend.  Lucky for you, I now no longer hate you love you very much.  I'm actually taking the sign that said "free to any home, just take her" out of our front yard looking forward to seeing you when we've been apart ALL NIGHT LONG now.  Thanks for that, by the way.  I really can't explain to you the importance of sleeping all night without howling.  Your continued stay at Casa Taj Mahal is proof of my gratitude to you.  One tip - let's stop eating hair whenever any of us lie on the floor, K?  

Signed,
Kisses, but not in the mouth - that's gross



Dear Formerly Elusive Sleep -

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for coming back to me.  I will never treat you poorly, take advantage of you, take you for granted, or scoff at your importance again.  If you promise, (PROMISE ME I SAY DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA??) not to leave me so unexpectedly again.  I know you SAY you left because Youngest had three molars coming in at once and because that puppy couldn't sleep through the night.  But I think you were testing my love for you.  And I do love you, I DO!  Let's talk about it a little more.  First let me get my soft pillow and blankie, my ugly yet effective wool socks, my flannel pants and my overly-large University of Dayton sweatshirt on, then we can talk a little more.  Ohhhhhh, yeah, that feels good, doesn't it?????

Signed,
Missy and sleep are having a moment (possibly even 7 hours of snooze time), she'll be back on Sunday with the Super Sunday Series

Ta-ta for now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox? Not Even Close

I debated not writing this.  But I am.  It's a movie review, and it's not kind.

Background

We are really careful what movies Oldest sees.  Her brilliance notwithstanding, she is incredibly impressionable and feels things much more starkly than you would expect (like most gifteds do, I'll wager).  So we don't take her to many movies in the theatre.  Dark, loud noises, bright lights, smells.  All can create a very bad combination with the wrong movie plot. 

Most of the time she self-regulates.  Now.  With very good accuracy, she can see a movie preview and know if it's going to be too much for her. 

The movie

As you may have seen in my December fun calendar, Saturday I took her to see Fantastic Mr. Fox (rescheduled from Friday due to something that arose last minute - see how flexible I am?).   She's been asking to see it, convinced it was going to be funny.  I looked at the reviews, saw nothing about "dark" humor or adult content, it got 3 stars in the Columbus Dispatch.  Based on a Roald Dahl book.  Yes, he's a little dark, but nothing tipped me off that this was one of the darker ones.  Setting the stage for a good choice.  Right?

Not so.  Has anyone seen this complete rationalization of blaming others for your poor choices hunk o'junk disguised as a children's movie? 

The Plot

Mr. Fox makes a promise to his wife that he will stop stealing chickens for a living once they have children.  This lasts for 12 fox years until he starts back up again, stealing everything he can get his hands paws on, including alcoholic apple cider, from three local farmers. 

The farmers retaliate and it becomes a battle of wit.  Can the human farmers outfox the fox and kill him?  The fox joins forces with all of the creatures of the wild to continue to steal from the villainous farmers to provide for all of the wild animals. 

I won't ruin the ending for you by telling you what happens.  I'll just ruin the whole movie for you by telling you not to waste your money (the movie cost less than the concession stand stuff, which is another post in itself).

My list of [THIS IS SO WRONG] reasons

In Roald's defense, I don't know if the premise behind why Mr. Fox starts stealing again is the same as in the movie.  The book's online plot summary states it's because he can't feed his family.  So my "beef" is with the movie's adaptation, not the book, necessarily.  The reasons it's awful for kids:

First - glorification of living beyond your means.

Fox gets himself in trouble (and everyone else in the process) by living beyond his means.  He decides he cannot live in a hole anymore and buys the treehouse he can't afford against the advice of pretty much everyone.  Then he rationalizes stealing from the farmers to support his family.  And the farmers are portrayed as the villains in the movie, not the Fox who can't control his buying and gets everyone in trouble for it, blaming someone else for the problem.  How dare those nasty farmers want to keep a fox from stealing everything they have is the underlying tone.  Because he doesn't just steal a chicken here and there, he goes for the big score every time.

Second - Rationalization of stealing to support their lifestyle

See #1.  Plus - check the commandments.  Thall shalt not steal.  There's no caveat that says, "unless you can't help it because you made poor choices and now have no alternatives."

Third - The men are unreliable issue

He tells his wife that he just can't stop and he never should have promised her he wouldn't steal because "he's a wild animal and that's just how we are."  Ok.  On the wild animal level, he's certainly right.  But if we take it to a symbolic level (all good English majors do), he's basically glorifying a man's inability to commit.   "Hey, honey, I cheat because I'm a man and that's just what we do."  Or, a little less egregious, "Hey, honey.  I'm an unreliable jerk, instead of a family man because I'm a man and that's just how men are."  Way to help girls trust men and boys to have role models!  Good job, Fox!  And so many men aren't that way, why glorify that as well?

Fourth - The visiting cousin competition

Here is one of the only bright spots in the movie for me (the animation, or whatever it was, was pretty good too, so I will say the movie was wonderful without any sound, plot or dialogue).  Anyway.  A cousin comes to visit and is superb at everything, to the point where Mr. Fox is so enamored with him, he brings him on the "missions," thereby encouraging a child to steal also.  That's not the part I like. 

The son of Fox, Ash, is kind of offbeat and awkward.  He spends the majority of the movie hating the cousin because of his father's obvious infatuation with him, but he ends up **SPOILER ALERT** saving the cousin from certain death because it's the right thing to do - even though he still doesn't like him that much.  It's a good moment. 

Fifth - Language
.
The "grown ups" spend the entire movie saying "What the Cuss" to everything, meaning, of course, What the F**k.  It's offensive and just yesterday, Oldest asked me if I noticed and thought it was inappropriate.  Plus Fox gets hammered on the cider at one point and actually says, "I've had way too much to drink and shouldn't make this toast" or something wholly inappropriate like that. 

So there you have it folks.  Pick something else is my recommendation.  Fantastic Mr. Fox?  Anything but fantastic.  And certainly not for kids.  We'll go back to books again for awhile.

P.S.  Feel free to disagree.  First amendment guarantees free speech, which might be one reason this movie didn't get canned before making it to the big screen.

P.P.S.  fantastic mr. fox is not so fantastic any more!  (Oldest's review, written by her) 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa's Not Bringing Her a Zhu Zhu Pet

Oldest is going to have her first possible Christmas disappointment this year.  I'm not going to the ends of the Earth to find a Zhu Zhu pet for her.  Three justifications reasons:
  1. They look cheap and like they'll entertain for 5 minutes.  A waste.  Sorry, Zhu Zhu, just callin' it like I see it.
  2. I am appalled by the obscene markup some places are doing on them.  Ebay?  Doesn't bother me.  If someone had the foresight to buy several and are now selling them at a profit, go for it.  It's the new American Dream.  But I've heard of stores/shops who've marked them up significantly since the shortage.  Some people might buy at your obnoxious prices, but not this tightwad.
  3. I think this is a good must-have fad for Oldest to learn a little about needs and wants. 
But I'm nervous.  We're taking a calculated risk here, as this could be what leads her down the road to Santa exposure.  I hope that doesn't happen.  For a gifted, extremely, crazily observant kid, she is still very involved with Santa's magic and I don't want to see that end.   She still wants to believe with all her heart. 

And a feel a little guilty, truth be told.  Do we really want a lesson about wants and needs at Christmas?  Any other time, I would have no problem saying, "No cheap Zhu Zhu pet.  Tough."  But Christmas? 

I know I'm making a value judgment here.  If she, say, wanted a must have book that was virtually unavailable due to its popularity (which is laughable, I've never seen that happen), I would pay high prices to get it.

I just can't pull the trigger on Zhu Zhu though. The things are hunks o'junk, right? Right?

In a lot of ways, this pet has become representative of everything I loathe about the materialism of Christmas.  The frenzied buying of fad gifts with no real evaluation of their value to the child.  We don't buy those types of gifts, really.  We don't have Wii or the other gaming systems (I don't even know what they're called).  None of us own I-pods and I'm even having trouble pulling the trigger on my own present this year because I just can't quite cross the threshold that a laptop really is a NEED for me and not just a WANT.  Not to say that there's anything wrong with these things if they are in your house.  They work great for many people.

This little critter really is representative of the battles we will face in the future - sticking to our values in order to try to instill values in our children. 

Maybe it will all turn out ok.  She's usually so bedazzled by everything Santa "knows, just KNOWS" to bring her, she might not notice right away.  But she will eventually say, "Mommy, don't you wonder why Santa didn't bring a Zhu Zhu pet?"  I have my answer all ready.    I think.   But I'm thinking about having Santa write her a note too.  I just wonder which way is best. 

Thoughts?  What would YOU do?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Extremely Important, Random Thoughts

Is there a juxtaposition in the title?  Just asking.

Does anyone else wonder about this stuff?  (Submitted by a random sample of people in our family).

  1. Now that Grissom has left, is the original CSI jumping the shark?  Didja SEE Thursday's episode?
  2. Why are avocado pits so large?
  3. Will snail mail Christmas cards become a thing of the past?
  4. Now that I've had my H1N1 vaccination, can I stop washing my hands?
  5. Does everyone's dryer steal one sock per pair as slowly and relentlessly as ours does, eventually leaving all of us with no matching socks on a Sunday night before heading back to school and work?
  6. At what point does your drafty, old house get so drafty that you are actually living in a tent for the winter?
  7. Which would be the better reality show to compete in - Big Brother or Survivor?
  8. How long would it take to drive Route 66 from start to finish - with children <10 years old?
  9. What's more important in your child's school environment - the opportunity to develop socially or academically?
  10. And finally, did little Pluto's feelings get hurt when it got demoted from planet to dwarf planet?
Give me your answers!  Depending on the comments I get, one (or more!) of these lucky questions might become a future post - Random Thoughts - Solidified . . . or something super witty like that.  I will do it up right - theory, research, analysis, conclusion.  So make sure you vote!  (Even those of you who send me a separate email, rather than comment - you know who you are).  :)

Because it's all about the fun and games over here, people!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Super Sunday Series - Holidays and Nutrition . . . Or Not

Welcome to Week 2 of the Super Sunday Series on HOLIDAY SURVIVAL.  Or The Basics, as I so ingeniously titled it last week.  Wit 101, people.  Buy the book.

This week's topic is nutrition and its importance during the time of all things treaty, delicious and sugary. 

***Warning*** No expert references this week.  Pure, unedited opinion only.  With a little humble pie thrown in at the end.  Reader beware. 

Last week, in the sleep post, I talked about my long held suspicion that a parent can be really vigilant about either sleep or nutrition, but not both.  Frankly, I think there's just not enough stamina in each parent to do a bang-up job with both of these, all the time.   And still have a tiny bit of life outside of shaping children's lives, that is. 

And if you are able to do both, please, please, please leave me a comment with your contact information because I will become your marketing agent as everyone (everyone I say!) needs one or the other of your services.  Either that, or I'll write the best-selling book for you.  Because I'm so witty.  ;)

So nutriton.  What can I say?  What do we even mean by nutrition? 

Is it following the food pyramids correctly?

Is it making sure refined flour and sugar aren't poisoning our bodies?

Is it eating organic?

Is it avoiding chips, soda, frieds, candy, cookies, cakes, pie, ice cream?

It's probably, kinda, sorta, all of the above, right?

Let me tell you what I don't do, so we get that out of the way right away

I don't make sure my kids eat exactly what the food pyramid tells me they should eat.

I don't withhold refined flour or sugar from them.  At all. 

I don't give them all organic, all the time.

I don't avoid chips, soda, frieds, candy, cookies, cakes, pie or ice cream.

Christalmighty!  I don't do any of the important stuff!  I told you this post would be about my nutritional failings. 

Here's what I DO DO (and I don't mean the kind of do-do that puppy of ours hopefully deposits outside rather than in):

I do make a reasonable effort to hit the food pyramid numbers.  I'm just really glad Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has things like protein and calcium or we'd be in some deep trouble.  I'm also glad fruits AND vegetables are important because my kids, they don't like much green. 

I use desserts - sugary, sweety goodness - to get them to eat their dinner.  They are eligible for some kind of dessert every night as long as they eat most/all of their food.  And I do mean most/all.  They have to earn it.   I can take minimal pride in that.  But dessert is always on the table here as an option.  It's never extravagant - like 5-10 M & M's depending upon the size of the child, but it's amazing the lengths these two will go to to eat those M & M's.

I've tried to go organic more than once.  The problem, pour moi, is not the cost, it's the inconvenience.  I have two kids.  How do you travel to 2 or 3 different grocery stores a week with two kids?  3 lists?  How do you keep up with local organic produce?  I've tried.  It's.  sooooooo.  haaaarrrrrrd. 

And after seeing Food, Inc, I did make some hard and fast rules for our family.  We do organic milk, all the time.  Organic meat, all the time.  Organic seafood, all the time.  I try to hit Whole Foods and Trader Joe's once each month.  The problem is this:  THESE PLACES DON'T CARRY DIET PEPSI.  Nor will they ever carry Diet Pepsi.  And Diet Pepsi is ohhhh, sooooo goooooooood. 

And, yes, I DO let my kids have chips, cheetos, and sometimes (gasp!) a drink of my Diet Pepsi or Fresca.  Which, really, shouldn't Fresca be illegal because of how good it is? 

And truth be told, I give them the same foods over and over to get the proper nutrients in them.  That's where I'm the worst.  I don't push them to try new foods or make one meal and they "have to eat it or go hungry."  I am the quintessential short order cook.  I make a meal for Husband and a variation for the kids.  If we're having baked chicken, I make them nuggets.  That kind of thing.  I know, KNOW this is problematic.  It causes problems now when we're out. 

And happily, happily enough, they are picky about different things.  Isn't that so completely annoying great?  Example - Oldest never met a carb she didn't like.  Seriously.  Carboholic.  Youngest won't touch 'em with a 10 foot pole.  So if I make chicken nuggets and pasta, for example, Oldest will eat like a cup or more of the pasta and then bellyache about the chicken.  Youngest will outright refuse the pasta, but eat mass quantities of the chicken.  The other night she ate EIGHT nuggets.  Oldest could barely choke down one.  Without gagging.   Which tends to happen nightly.  Youngest ended up eating Oldest's nuggets and Oldest ate Youngest's pasta.  They look out for each other that way.  God love 'em.

So there you have it - bad nutrition confessions from a slacker Mom.  In many parenting areas, I feel like I do decent, or at least good enough.  Here?  I don't know, I think I'm pretty bad, really.  I am a reformed picky eater myself - used to be just as bad as them and now eat everything I can get my grubby little paws on.  So my thought, assumption, hope is that they will grow up and be the same way. 

And I worry that I'll notice the effects of this kind of slacking later in their lives.  I worry Oldest doesn't have a lot of stamina because she doesn't get enough protein.  I worry that Youngest doesn't drink enough milk.  I worry that their teeth are going to fall out.  I.  just.  worry.  period. 

But I don't know how to change it, besides the obvious.  Be the parent and do it already.  It's changing me that I'm worried about, I guess.  I like that junk too! 

So I haven't done a very educational Super Sunday Series this week.  Unless you count educating you on my failures. 

Maybe the only lesson I can give honestly here is everything in moderation.  I do try to adhere to the moderation rule.  Especially at the holidays when there are SO many bad choices everywhere. 

So how about everyone educate ME and our fellow readers?  How do you do it?  Do you have tricks or do you just do it?  Do you juggle multiple grocery stores, trips to local markets, farmer's markets?  Do your have picky eaters kids with "selective eating needs?" 
Sock it to me.  I need it. 

Missy  :)

Red Dye #5, anyone?  Cupcakes, anyone? 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear So and So Inaugural Edition


I am beyond thrilled, titillated really, to be jumping on the "Dear So and So" train.  I've been entertained (literally howling at times) over Jen and Laughing at Chaos for the last few months and her letters to people.  I hope to come up with letters that bring half as much mirth or empathy to your day as this subject's brought to mine.

So without further ado, let us begin:

Dear Neighbors,
Yeah.  You guys have been a little "out there" since you moved in.  Using one arm to cut down limbs with a chain saw while standing on the top rung of the ladder, other arm wrapped around the tree.  Building what Husband calls the "Stage" next to our driveway, practically giving you a front row view into both of our bathrooms.  We can live with you though.  What?  What did you say?  You decided the up the weird factor over the last few weeks?  How do you mean?  Oh, yes, I remember now.  Ringing our doorbell at 2am two weeks ago to have us pay your cab fare, then taking 30 minutes to find your keys to get in your house while we stood outside shivering.  That WAS a good one.  And we thought that was plenty, really.  Really.  What?  There was more?  Waking up that puppy of ours at 4 am last Friday night because your late night singing of Tesla's "Love Song" made her howl?  Oh, yeah.  We remember now.  I like the song too, you know.  Sober and before midnight are my requests for the next time.  K?

Signed,
Please stop. 

Dear Oldest, 
You know I love you, child.  But you have to stop freaking out on Youngest.  She's 2.  Can you cut her a little slack, sister?  Need I remind you that you were 2 once?  I know I've lived through the zany antics of a 2 year old and you haven't, but trust me, you were no walk in the park either, girly!

Signed,
Wondering how many nights in a row I have to send you to bed at the same time as your sister until you can stop

Dear Youngest,
I know you're 2.  Like I just told your sister, I've been through it before.  But here's a little secret.   Shhhh don't tell her.  It would go a looooooonnnnnng way if you just stop giving Oldest reasons to freak out!  Really, do you have to do the running, wrestler-move body slam on her head EVERY time she's lying on the floor?  Every time?  I think not.  We don't even watch wrestling and anyway, YOU'RE A GIRL.  Where are the babies little girls love so much?  Oh you love babies?  Especially swinging them around and into your sister's body, just for giggles?
Ok, at least we have that straigtened out.

Signed,
Wondering what is the world record for time outs?

Dear Gymnastics Mom,
Thanks for helping me complete my quest to find the most obnoxious kid names EVER.  Tegan and Buckley?  Really?

Signed,
Now I've heard them all, time to write the book

Dear my children's Doctor,
I appreciate your humor immensely.  Methinks we think alike.  Yesterday, when you told me Oldest has adenovirus and I gave you the deer in the headlights stare because I don't know what that is, your shrugging reply of "A den no" was quite witty.  It would have been less witty had you said she needed to stay home for the 7-10 days this is supposed to last, so lucky you!  And me.

Signed,
A girl lovin' humor on a day when she couldn't remember for the life of her what shirt she'd put on but refused to look because no one can be that absent-minded or pre-occupied 


Dear Jen at Chaos, 
Seriously, this was more fun than watching country boys mud wrestle pigs.  Thanks for showing me "Dear So and So" from 3bedroom

Signed,
Girls need to get their kicks somewhere

Dear Readers,
If YOU want to sign up, just head over to 3bedroom's site and do it!  Sooooo fun.

Missy  :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The $50 Bottle of Wine

In a moment of je ne sais quoi (what IS it with the French this week?), I bought a $50 bottle of wine.  In September.  For a special occasion.

What constitutes a special occasion for such an extravagance?

I've bandied about a few ideas, but just can't.  quite.  hit it.  Maybe part of the problem is that when you put a big expectation on something like this, maybe no occasion will make it "worth it."  Kinda like when Oldest used to build up her expectations about certain things and I didn't yet know that in order to avoid a meltdown, she had to learn to view things from a more realistic angle.  Like it's OK not to sit next to every child at every birthday party for the cake part.

Anyway.  Back to Vino - what I've named her.  She's a full-bodied kinda gal, she'd better be for that price.

Maybe I should just give her away.  Oh, but wait.  That'd be nuts.

So I'm gonna throw out a few ideas, you tell me what you think of them, or give me some of your own.  Keep it clean, people, I'm trying to run a PG ship here (Which is one reason I'm going back through my early  posts and cleaning up my summer time trucker mouth.  So if you want to see the "old posts" before they become "new, and less obnoxious" posts, read my early ones now.)!   

Idea #1 - When I finish the bulk of this strategic plan I'm chairing.  For many reasons, this is tough to measure as it's a fluid process, but for the most part, that would put Vino on tap for this week or early next week.

Idea #2 - When the strategic plan is approved by the Board of Directors - which will hopefully be mid-January.

Idea #3 - When I reach a certain weight on the scale.  Much easier said than done at this point of the year, my pretties.

Idea #4 - When that puppy, Lilly stops waking me up at night.  Has to happen eventually, right?

Idea #5 - When I get through a day without, at some point, showing my kids how frustrating they are right now.  Hmmm, incentive?    ***I might have actually done that yesterday, but I DID show "some frustration" with a dog who wouldn't stop running away from me in 50 mph winds.  F-U-N, FUN!

Get the idea?  It needs to be just right, but not over the top.  It needs to be during a day when I can do it without being "on the run."  Some kind of  "special reason" needs to be involved.  Or does it? 

Give Vino and I your thoughts.  We're holding our breath over here.  Actually she's holding her breath until she's corked, so don't worry so much about her. And yes, I'll share with Husband.  I'm nice that way.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Readers - Some Answers Pour Vous!

This one's for my comment posters.  So if you want a post dedicated especially to you, make some comments!  I love them.

Seriously, I aspire to respond to all comments, but right now, it's overtaking me.  Not responding to the comments, but Christmas, Oldest's current emotional state, LIFE, sleep, volunteering, you get the idea. 

Here are some recent comments that others might enjoy, so I thought I'd share, if you haven't seen them yet. 

Leo - Love your post about getting an extra hour (or more!) in a day on the Dear Santa post.  Yes, wouldn't that be dreamy?  Also, if you haven't checked out Leo's new site, http://www.excalibre.com/, go see it.  It's devoted to all types of gifted education resources.  I love it, not just because it references yours truly's blog!  It is a comprehensive place to find gifted info, which is great.  Nice going, Leo.

Holli - Thank you for your comment about interpersonal asynchrony.  I would love to refer you to a good resource for that.  I have some great books on behavior.  Would you send me an email at msbede@gmail.com and give me an example of what you mean so I can direct you better?  I might include the topic in a future post as well.

Kirsten - Seriously, I have had chills since reading your comment about the poisoned cookies on my Cookie Monster post.  Talk about scaring the Cookie Monster right out of a girl! 

Easter - Wait til you see my nutrional post for this Sunday.  You will be shuddering at my attitude and inability to follow through!  Thanks for laughing at my over the top sleep "advice," rather than telling me to stick it!  And, for those who haven't found Easter's site yet, check it out at Owl in the Library.

Anonymous Comment from the Sleep Post - I agree!  No matter how much I like Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I've had to modify it with both children at least a little bit.  It provides an excellent foundation for learning sleep basics, but you are right, everyone has different temperaments that need to be taken into consideration.

Thanks everyone, for staying engaged with Gifts 2 Love and your children during the "most wonderful time of year."  See you tomorrow!

Missy

Monday, December 7, 2009

Me LOVE Cookies, says Cookie Monster

Over the years, I've developed a repetoire of December baking that is extensive.  Extensive, I say!  One reason why I gain 10 pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  Lucky me. 

I make about 450 baked goods.  Here's the breakdown:

  1. Cutouts - 10 dozen
  2. Thumbprints - 3-6 dozen
  3. You Won't Believe 'ems - brown sugar, butter, chocolate and nuts over saltine crackers - about 50 pieces
  4. Lemon bars - 3 dozen
  5. Chocolate Turtles - 6 dozen
  6. Mini-Lemon Pound Cakes - 20-22
I carve out 2-3 nights a week the first two weeks of December, doing nothing but baking.  And tasting.  Then I go to the Container Store (talk about YUMMY, a girl could blow her bank account in THAT Shangri-La) and find the cutiest-patootiest baked goods holders I can find. 

I divvy up all of my treasures and give them to pretty much everyone I can think of.  Teachers.  Babysitters.  Friends.  Relatives.  Neighbors.  Make-up girl at Nordstrom.  Dog walker who goes past my house every day looking hungry.  People at the bus stop. 

It's a lot of baked goodies. 

And I'm not doin' it this year.  I'm devastated and ecstatic at the same time.  Devastated because I love the creating.  Devastated because at the time, I love the tasting, tasting, tasting.  Devastated because it makes me feel so fulfilled - in that I am a feeder.  MUST FEED PEOPLE to feel fulfilled in life. 

Ecstatic because I might escape with only a 5 pound holiday weight gain this year.  Ecstatic because the removal of that pressure to perform is quite delicious in another way, it's freeing, if you know what I mean.

So WHY did I give it up?  Two words. 

Swine.  Flu. 

I read an article predicting most people would pitch their homemade baked gifts this year for fear of H1N1 exposure (of course I can't find it online now, but I SWEAR I read one). 

Really, can I spend hours upon hours creating these labors of love to have them hit the trash?  I just can't and it makes me sad. 

So here's my Q of the day - do you plan to throw away homemade goodies this year for that reason?  I wonder where this article got the validity for a prediction like that - so I'm asking you good people what your plans are. 

For a Cookie Monster like me (Husband nicknamed me the Remorseless Eating Machine the first year he watched the Bake and Taste Fest - I love it THAT much), this is a hard decision.  But I would be lying if I didn't admit to a little relief (ok, a lot!) - this year especially. 

Maybe next year I'll double the amount and give them to some new people - airline pilots, check out clerks, friendly Wendy's drive-thru guy.  You get the picture. 


See you Wednesday!  Remember, Tuesday's bon-bon day, so no post.  Store-bought, sadly. 

Missy

P.S.  I won't throw away any bakedy-bling that comes through my front door, back door, side door, down the chimney, through the window, home in my children's backpacks, etc.  Just sayin,' in case you wanna deliver any to me. 

:)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Super Sunday Series - Holidays and Sleep

This month the Super Sunday Series talks about necessities for keeping your gifted children as even-tempered and emotionally grounded as possible during the holiday season.  Truly, the things I'm talking about this month are important to all children, however we know how important things like rest, nutrition, routine and transitions are to our gifted ones.  To me, whether these four are met or not can make or break a holiday or vacation.  I'll call them The Basics.  Nifty, huh?


Today - SleepIn honor of my personal quest to bring sleep back to my life. 


Everything I know about sleep I learned from the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth.  Just look at the peaceful little baby sleeping on the cover!  Isn't that proof of how well it works?  Just kidding, it does take a serious commitment, but I'm not talking about sleep training today.  I'm talking about recognizing every human being's need for proper rest


On average, up until 12 years old, your child needs at least 10 and up to 12 hours of sleep at night.  That's a lot of sleep!  Until age 4-5, they need a nap during the day too. 


I became, how shall we say it?  Completely obsessed with sleep after Oldest's first year.  Where I either wore her in a sling or held her all night long for the first 6 months.  Then the next 4 months she would "sleep" in her own crib, but I use "sleep" loosely because she would only sleep one cycle, then need yours truly to get her precious little self back to sleep.  Because she had no idea how to do it herself.  I thought that was just the plight of a mother - you had to attend to your child's needs, no matter how much it was affecting your mental and physical health.


I put up with this for 10 months.  Then I read Healthy Sleep Habits (when I wasn't doing things like running stop signs and crying over commercials in my fatigue) and after three long nights of crying it out, she became the world's best sleeper and I was a reformed mother. 


Why?  Because good sleep is really important for the kids.  But it's immensely important for the parent.  You can't think when you haven't been getting sleep for months and you're not a rational person.  Bad things happen and you're just not that happy.  Trust me, I'm living it at the moment.  :)


So while I'm a huge proponent of healthy sleep because children need it, I'm an even bigger proponent of healthy sleep because you're a better parent when you can do it. 


So here are some tips for decent sleep during the holidays:


  1. Stick to the sleep schedule as much as possible.
  2. If you deviate one day, try to make up for it the next.
  3. If you think you can seriously deviate the sleep schedule for the whole vacation, plan on having overtired, stressed kids and completely overtired, stressed parents by the end. 


That's about it.  I know that vacations and holidays need to be kind of different just by their nature.  I feel strongly, however, that staying as close to the sleep schedule as possible is paramount to having a halfway good time. 


Here's what Weissbluth says about this: 
Please don't think that it has no lasting effect when you routinely keep your child up too late - for your own pleasure after work or because you want to avoid bedtime confrontations - or when you cut corners on naps in order to run errands or visit friends.  Once in a while, for a special occasion or reason, it's okay.  But day-in, day-out sleep deprivation at night or for naps, as a matter of habit, could be very damaging to your child.  Cumulative, chronic sleep losses, even of brief duration, may be harmful for learning.


Healthy Sleep Habits, page 62. 


 We went to Florida when Youngest was 6 months old - without Husband.  It was an awful, awful vacation.  Seriously.  That kid woke up every 30 minutes starting on night 2 of 7.  Not wanting to wake up the whole stinking condo complex, I slept in the same room with them and replaced her pacifier every thirty minutes it fell out and she started crying.  After about 4 days, I called Husband at 6am, sobbing over wanting to come home early from the exhaustion. 



When we got home, I put her immediately back on her "schedule" and it was fixed rather easily (Weissbluth calls it boot camp).

So in regard to vacations and holiday times, I just can't be a parent who is all laissez-faire about the sleep involved.  I try to ensure my kids get decent sleep (and maybe we get a little break at night!).


I will even put them to bed earlier to make up for some of the holiday stress fatigue I know they feel (because I feel it!).  And they are fine with that - they've been sleep trained for years. 


Youngest still has her pacifier, and that's becoming a problem.  When should I yank it?  What do you think?  My thoughts are after the four airplane trips we take between now and the end of March, but that seems like a long time away.

And considering she was up 3x last night (1, 3,4), I'm debating doing it before we go to Florida (gasp!). 

I feel like I'm lecturing about this.  I don't mean to be - sleep training and the sleep schedule is that important to me.  Wait until you see my failings about nutrition next week!  I've long held the un-researched opinion that a parent is vigilant about one or the other, but not both. 

Tell me about your sleep experiences - good sleepers?  Challenging sleepers?  Do you dread bedtime or look forward to it like back in school when waiting for the bell to ring? 

I'll close with a quote from the former Executive Director of their school:
When my kids were young and would call me back to their bedrooms after I'd put them in bed for the night, I would say, 'Sorry, Mommy's done being a Mommy right now.  I'll be a Mommy again when you wake up in the morning!'
Sounds about right to me!  Besides the real issues that arise at night, like sickness, potty issues, etc.

See you for next week's Super Sunday Series - nutrition!  Tomorrow - to bake cookies or not.  Because that's some good nutrition - cookies.  Mmmmmmm. 

Missy

Friday, December 4, 2009

I am Invisible

So I'm not gonna sugar coat it.  I'm struggling right now.  Lack of sleep is the big issue.  Sleep deprivation . . . does things to you.  Ugly things.  Fuzzy things.  Not warm and fuzzy things either. 

It's the classic December pain of too much to do.  But it's more than that.  It's feeling a little bit alone, a little bit unappreciated, a little bit overworked and not paid.  A lot invisible. 

This video is well worth the watch if you've ever felt this way.  I've never watched it as a video, but received it over email a few years ago and I cried so hard, I immediately saved it to my computer so that I could have a good, cleansing cry whenever necessary. 

It's called The Invisible Woman by a woman named Nicole Johnson who has a website called Fresh Brewed Life.  Ever heard of it? 

So I needed the cry yesterday - and this made me feel better.  Her words, the concept of mothers being invisible women is so true.  As unheard as we all feel sometime, we must remember that we are building something great with our sacrifices.  Something we will never see completed.  And that's OK. 

Watch the video.  It's 5ish minutes long and well worth it.

Let me know what you think.  And telling me to stop the whining is fine.  I plan to - as soon as a get a little more sleep.  And thankfully, last night I got 3.5 extra hours.   


:)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Defining Selfish

If I can recognize that I'm a better Mommy because my kids are in school certain hours, does that make me self-ish or self-aware?

We had a great Thanksgiving Break.  All 5.5 days of it, but who's counting?  And as of yesterday morning, Youngest hadn't been at school for 11 days (including weekends).  She goes W/Th/F and when Thanksgiving Break starts on Tuesday afternoon, that means she has a whole week off, doesn't it?

Interesting that when I was growing up (you really DO talk about the good old days when you get to a certain age, don't you?), we didn't have 5.5 days off, we had 4 - Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.


Monday was Oldest's first day back in 5.5 days and yesterday was Youngest's first day back in 11 days. 

Oh bliss.  I showered.  Went to the post office and bank.  Alone.  Chipped away at that 31 item "to do" list - which actually grew to 43 by the time I started on it.  Listened to . . . silence.  Bliss I say.

I admire home schoolers and get to see it first-hand - I have one in my family.  But me?  I need, need those hours (even when it's only 2 hours) to collect myself and feel like I am the master of my ship. 

And I'm pretty darn sure they need it too.  Once kids get to a certain age (IMO that is 2 years old), they need more social stimulation than "Mommy or Daddy."  We are still important, essential characters in their life story, but socialization is practically as basic a human need as food, clothing and shelter.

Why else would I have started this blog, joined Facebook and Twitter?  Because of the need to connect with others.  To feel heard.

So to get back to my original question today - I choose self-aware.  I want to believe it's not selfish to need this time "off" in the morning from them as much as they need to be away from me in order to grow and develop.  It makes us all better at our jobs.  Me - Mom.  Them - kids. 

And I'm SO self-aware, mind you, that I can recognize how badly I need my hair done.  THAT'S on tap for this morning's 2 hours "off" while Youngest is at school.

Bliss.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to Appreciate December . . .

  . . . without TOO much over-the-top material goods wanting, painfully whiny behavior.  And that's just talkin' about me, friends! 

Kidding.  I don't give a fig about getting material goods for Christmas, but I do like to painfully whine and methinks this might be a month of Guiness Record material in that department, if yesterday's kick off was a good indicator. 

Anyhoo.  Here's my little spin on advent.  I just don't call it advent.  Don't know why.  We celebrate advent, so why wouldn't I call it advent?  Dunno, I'm too tired to think through that one this particular morning. 

Maybe we DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.  Maybe we MARCH TO THE BEAT OF OUR OWN DRUMMER. 

Maybe I can't stop digressing today!  Here it is.  I tape a bunch of folded squares to a window and let a child peel one off each day to reveal that day's special surprise for December.

Wanna know what special surprises are in store for my little ones this year (besides, clearly, Mommy losing her mind JUST in time for Santa's arrival)? 

They're a mix of philanthropy, sweet treats and special family time, maybe with a little materialism thrown in for reality.

December 1 - Trip to the Pet Store for Our Smallest Family Member's gifts
December 2 - Extra TV OR Extra Mysterious Benedict Society (for Oldest)
December 3 - Put up Xmas Decorations - with Music
December 4 - "1/2 Sleepover" for Oldest (I try to incorporate things already on the docket!)
December 5 - Family Trip to the Conservatory
December 6 - Christmas Craft - Make Your Own Cards (this year's special craft)
December 7 - Pizza Dinner
December 8 - "Holiday Happenings" Gymnastics Class for Both Girls (they've earned it - Oldest should get
                       most improved after her progress this fall)
December 9 - Drive Around and Look at Lights (after dark - which is soooo early now)
December 10 - Hot Chocolate Party & Bake Cupcakes (it's amazing what adding the word "party"  does to what could be a mundane event - this is one of Oldest's favorite ones every year.  I make hot chocolate, add a bowl of "add your own marshmallows" and voila!  Kids are ecstatic.)
December 11 - Mommy takes Oldest to see "Fantastic Mr. Fox,"  Daddy and Youngest Have a "Special  Night" (which, of course, consists of just those words - she's two, she doesn't need much to think it's a big deal - LOVE that)
December 12 - "All About Others Day" - Turn in our Giving Tree Gifts at Church, Attend Reconciliation,  Daddy Takes His Girls Christmas Shopping
December 13 - Later Bedtime Night!  (15 minutes for Youngest, 30 minutes for Oldest)
December 14 - Browsing at Barnes and Noble After School
December 15 - Free "Skip Piano Practice" Day (we have something else planned that day, so no time - see?  I'm crafty with the scheduling)
December 16 - After School Ice Cream (Mommy needs treats too!)
December 17 - Trip to Target for Final Supplies/Extras (do your kids love Target?  Mine do - just entering the doors is a gift to them)
December 18 - Doughnut Bakery for Breakfast  and Extra Computer Time
December 19 - First Watch for Breakfast and Oldest Gets Sleepover in Mom and Dad's Room (it's like
staying at the Ritz for the way she acts about it)
December 20 - Bake Cookies and Special Christmas Dinner (a fun little kid friendly buffet of choices - Oldest will help plan and prepare - loves it)
December 21 - Go on a Carriage Ride (new this year - at our local outdoor mall - $10 for adults and kids free)
December 22 - Later Bedtime! (15 minutes Youngest, 1 HOUR Oldest)

And that's it!  Why do we stop at the 22nd?  Because we travel for Christmas and I've found that it's completely unnecessary to do this once we hit the road - that provides excitement enough.  Maybe that's why I don't call it advent - I tried to take a calendar with us one year on our trip to finish it off and it got smashed in the suitcase (with chocolate - ugliness), so we didn't even get to finish it when we wanted to finish it.

I think the magic is the "not knowing" for them (well, Oldest - Youngest is still too young).  They love wondering what each square will bring.  Even ones that aren't very jazzy are greeted with excitement because, to a child, this whole season is filled with magic.

So, what do YOU do with your family in these days leading up to Christmas (or Hanukkah)?  None of the above takes into consideration gift wrapping, Christmas card preparation, baking (though I've tabled that for this year - I'll talk about why another day). 

Let me know!

Missy
 
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