Monday, July 28, 2014

Doggone It

Anna loves animals so much. She is really great with all the animals that she meets and she'll gladly spend hours playing with my mom's dog or my sister's cat. I feel like animals calm and center her, I love seeing her with them. We're doing horse camp next week and I think she'll really love it. When we were on vacation, she spent about half an hour playing with a little Corgy when we were out on a morning walk. As we were walking away, she said "I wish I had a dog like that, then I'd never be lonely again." Ugh, it was like a stab to the heart. That night, after a few glasses of wine, I busied myself looking at Corgy rescues online. I told Uri how maybe Anna would really benefit from a dog. I grew up with a family dog and I loved him. He slept on my bed and I remember lots of fun times playing together.

If the kids were the only consideration, I'd definitely get a Golden Retriever like my mom has. Anna loves and plays with her all the time, and she puts up with Ethan's body slams and his pulling on her face and legs. She happily plays fetch with both the kids. She is like a caring nanny.


But, I'm allergic to her. I can't even touch her without breaking out in hives. And, she sheds. A lot. I don't think I could live with her. I feel grateful every day that I wake up breathing clearly. I haven't had a sinus infection since we re-homed the cats. I know that allergies are a big part of the story for me and I wish it was otherwise but it's not.

So I looked into dogs that are typically less allergic. I fell in love with adopting a retired Greyhound.  I looked at Standard Poodles, English Bulldogs, Brussels Griffons, the list goes on. There were so many fun options. But at the end of the day, I'm really busy. Ethan is so, so active and I don't think I have the energy to raise a puppy or even get an older dog used to our home. Plus, so many dogs that would otherwise be a good fit for our family have features that I don't want to deal with. Like English Bulldogs - you are supposed to wipe their face creases daily with alcohol and then put gold bond powder on them? Ugh, I just can't. Also, with rescue dogs, most of them probably couldn't handle a baby pounding them on the regular, it wouldn't be fair to anyone.

At the end of my crazed research cycle, I realized that I can't really deal with the upkeep of another animal that poops and needs regular grooming. I've got my hands full as it is. I wish there was a way I could do it, but for Anna - looks like her fish is it. I have to admit, it was pretty easy to drop the fish off with our neighbors for the week we were gone. He lived, but it wouldn't have been terrible if he didn't. And the allergy thing is non-negotiable. My allergist was pretty adamant about my strong dog and cat allergies and insisted that my life is better off without animals. How about you? What pets do you have or wish you could have?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Little Family Vacation

We just got home from our little California vacation. We drove down to Shell Beach and stayed at a lovely place. We plan to return because it was not too bad of a drive, and the hotel was a great fit for our family. We had a nice kitchen and balcony, and it was an enjoyable place to chill for a few days.

Enjoying the balcony
Just like the Onion article and hell yes I brought gloves


Bluffs by the hotel

Little beach by the hotel

We spent the first part of each day sight-seeing, we visited Avila Beach, a little farm, Morro Bay, and did a little driving on the coast. In the afternoon, we'd play in the pool.

Mural in Morro

Tourists

The Shell Shop

Such a cute and kitschy little place

Sad little aquarium, but fun to feed the sea lions
We love feeding goats
Hay ride

Ethan loved it - especially the tractor
After four nights at the beach, we drove down to my mom's house. We definitely hit some LA area traffic, ugh. Glad to be out of that. We had a stop at Aunt Marguerite's house and Anna had so much fun looking at all her collections - Marguerite even gave Anna lots of rocks and shells from her own stash. We finally made it to my mom's, and she had birthday presents for the kids because we won't see her again before their birthdays. They both enjoyed their gifts.



I was able to spend most of the day Saturday doing spa and lunch with my college girlfriends and it was so nice. It was the longest I've been away from Ethan his entire life. Quite a treat. I love my little guy, but man, 7 hours away was nice. He had a great time anyway:

Clothing optional
We did the whole drive home in one go on Sunday and it was not too bad. It was so nice to get away and spend some family time together as well as seeing my mom and old friends. Just a few weeks left of summer and then on to the new adventure of Kindergarten!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Last Day of Princess Camp

Today was the fifth and final day of Princess Camp. The girls were encouraged to wear princess dresses so we did it up:




I thought it would be fun to try and curl Anna's hair, as she would be wearing a Merida dress. I did it using ripped up pieces of t-shirt and it worked out pretty well. I twisted it around the t-shirt pieces when it was wet, then tied the ends together. She slept on it and I think it was comfortable enough as she didn't complain. I used to have to sleep with those pink spongy curlers and I remember it wasn't great.

Before

After

As much as she loved the camp, I'm so glad to be done with that drive. It didn't seem so far, but loading everyone into the car, driving for 15-20 minutes, getting everyone out to check Anna in, loading Ethan back up for home... then doing it in reverse less than 3 hours later, it was a pain in the neck. I am so glad it's Friday and on Monday we go on our little family vacation. I'm really looking forward to it.

And since I had the camera out, a picture of the buddy:

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Some Things

Well, today you get another rambling post about things in general.

First, some things that are not great:

I was so tired this week. On Monday, I had a sitter for a few hours and I had some errands I needed to do - like grocery shop and go to Home Depot.  I took a shower and then I realized there was no way I could do anything. I put my ear plugs in and took a nap. It was delightful to take a nap, but kind of a waste of babysitter time. On Tuesday, I was really dragging. I couldn't believe it was only Tuesday. My boob was hurting quite a bit. I thought that maybe Ethan had been biting me a little, since he now has chompers on top and bottom. (I never thought I'd nurse a kid with teeth!) Tuesday night, I finally took a look at myself and my right breast was all red and inflamed. Ugh. That with the pain, I figured I'd run to the urgent care. I'd never had mastitis before but that's what it was. I got some antibiotics and am doing better today, but still pretty tired.

Ants. We don't have a lot of ants, but we've had some here and there. I'm already pretty fastidious about the house but man, ants make you take it up a notch. Leave out one little crumb, and those guys are all over it. Ugh, I hate ants. I've been cleaning and spraying, and today I bought some little bait things for the outside. I called our landlady about it a couple of weeks ago and she isn't inclined to do anything. To be fair, it's not too bad and I guess it doesn't affect her property, so I'm going to try and treat it myself. I did call some exterminators but I don't think it's gotten to that level yet. Also, the little buggers haven't found the kitchen yet. So just lots of cleaning and being alert.

Also not great, I wasn't happy about my post about moving to our neighborhood and my thoughts. It really didn't come out like I wanted it to. I realize that I'll just make it worse if I try to explain because it's one of those loaded topics. So I just took the post down and I'm going to leave it at that.

Okay, enough bummer things. Some other things!

Princess Camp

Oh my, Anna's princess camp has been hilarious. It's just 3 hours, and two rec center employees do crafts with the 10 girls. They've made crowns, goblets, wands, lotion, they draw castles, color in coloring books, listen to princess music. Anna loves it. Today she pushed me out the door when I dropped her off. I never thought I'd be in for princess camp. But Anna made it all the way to almost 5 years old before princesses even came on her radar. She's not too obsessed with it and only really got into it because of a neighbor. The camp is nice and I'm okay with it. The only problem is, it's 15 minutes away. So it takes Ethan and I about 40 minutes round trip with drop off and all and then it's over so soon, we're back in the car doing it all again. Next time I sign up for a camp like that, I'll try to make sure it's closer to the house.

Ethan the Sneaky

Oh my, Ethan has entered a crazy phase. He's extremely mobile - fast with crawling, can pull to standing, and it starting to cruise a bit. He also has learned how to open cupboards and drawers, and is always on the look-out for an open door or a bit of something he isn't supposed to have on the floor. He loves getting a hold of paper and I generally don't let him because he just tears it all up and sometimes chokes a bit on the pieces he saves in his mouth. Here he is with one of his treasured pieces:

Tricksy Baby
You can tell when he's got something he doesn't think he should have, he starts crawling gleefully away at a break neck speed, making this funny grunting noise. It cracks me up. He's such a good, happy guy in general. We had some bad times when those two top teeth came in, but now we're all okay. I realize he's got 16 more damn teeth to break through, but I'm hoping the front two were the worst as they are so big and came in together.

Hobbit Music

When we were at the art festival this weekend, I bought a CD from a street music guy. He was playing this funky instrument from Sweden that was invented in the 12th century and I don't know, it was nice. He had a bunch of CDs and one was called Music from the Shire or something like that. I'd had a few glasses of wine and was feeling the love. I bought it. It's been kind of delightful driving around to it. I think I need more relaxing instrumental albums.

Also on the topic of music, Anna has been enjoying listening to tunes at home. I should have done this long before, but she's been asking for it since her K summer program. I guess the teacher would play music during free choice time. They play music at princess camp too. It makes total sense. I play Raffi for her a lot. It makes the day much more pleasant.

Birthday Plans

I know many of you were waiting on pins and needles to see what I was going to do about the kids' birthdays. For Ethan, we're just going with a cake with our family only. I will probably just make it myself. I think I'm going to buy him a sand box for the backyard. I saw this cool pirate ship one and I'm debating on whether we need that or just a regular small one. I am so drawn to the pirate one though.

For Anna, I realized there is no way I could wait until the week before to invite people from her new K class and hope some showed up. I decided I'd just invite her preschool friends and the few other friends she has and see what happens. I also invited family that's local to the area. We're having it at the pool so I don't have to clean the house before and after. I'm going to buy a cake at the grocery store but bring Anna with me to pick the design out. I think we're just going to order pizza and do snacks like pretzels and goldfish. Three girls she really loves have already RSVP'd so I feel like even if no one else came, it would be a fun party for her. I'm not going to get her a lot of presents from us. We already bought her this animated cat that she wanted, I feel like her party is a present. I will get her a few more little things, but I don't want it to be all about gifts. Oh and I want to say thanks for all you that chimed in on Anna's party. The ideas were excellent and I used all your thoughts and comments to arrive at the decision I made. You can't even believe how much I pondered this party. That is one thing that happened to me when I quit work to stay home with the kids. My mind was freed from all the complex (and not so complex) work stuff - so it began to busy itself with the only stuff that was left. I think a lot about kid's parties, chores, running errands. I think that's one place where work is really good for you - it keeps your mind alive. Perhaps I need to read more books.

Vacation

We're going to Shell Beach next week, a little beach just north of Pismo Beach. I've never been to that area so I'm looking forward to it. I was so mad because we're leaving Monday and it turns out Uri has to work that afternoon. I wanted to leave around 11:30 because it's a 3ish hour drive. It doesn't look like there's a way for him to get out of his afternoon meeting - so I told him to rent a car and meet us there. I feel like that's kind of bitchy but I don't want to get there at 7 with the kids and arrive just in time for bedtime routine. I want to get there with enough time to still have a nice day. I feel like I've been so tied to this house, I'm so excited to go somewhere different. So I guess we're just driving separately. We also have been on a vacation planning spree and booked a trip to Cabo for Thanksgiving and Maui (love, love, love) for February break. At first I thought I'd prefer pulling the kids out of school so we didn't have to pay the inflated prices of traveling on break. But now I realize how good of a thing school is with the routine and all, so we're just going to have to book our trips more in advance and suck it up. I'm happy to have these trips to look forward to. Sometimes my life seems so mired in the every day, it's nice to break out of it.

Well, that's about it around here. What's up with you?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Terrible moment, pretty good weekend.

We had a pretty nice weekend. The weather was lovely and we got outside quite a bit. I did have an awful thing happen though. On Sunday, we headed out to the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival. Not much better than art & wine, especially when they have a whole kids' fun area. We got both Anna and Ethan into the sit and stand stroller, and had just left the parking lot. I sped up a bit to catch a green, and in the middle of the street, the stroller started folding back up - it hadn't been fully clicked open. Ethan was moving quickly towards the asphalt, with Anna's weight on top of him. I threw all my weight into it, pulling the stroller back up, in the process dumping Anna into the street. Everyone was crying, it was terrifying, I yelled for help. It was wonderful that so many people came running to help us. We had to get the partially folded stroller and kids out of the street and back to the sidewalk. Then I worked on getting Ethan out while a kind lady helped. Uri was a bit behind us so while he was getting to the situation, another lady picked up Anna (all 47 pounds of her), and was just holding her tight. A cyclist even clipped out of his bike and came over to assess the situation. Eventually we were able to breathe again and got the stroller opened properly. Just one of those things. Ethan was afraid of the stroller for the next hour so I had to hold him. Luckily no one was even scraped.

The rest of the day was delightful. We saw art, heard music, and watched a nice children's show. Anna went on some rides and everyone had a great time. I learned (as I had already suspected), that Ethan is not one of those kids who will sleep in the stroller. Although both kids fell asleep minutes after getting in the car. Just one of those really nice summer days.

Uri (and Anna) on the big dragon

Back in the saddle again

Anna in the big inflatable bubble

These things are crazy!

Kids in bubbles

Ethan enjoying the show


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Baby Painting

Baby painting, while a cute idea, didn't turn out terribly well.


It was more like baby paper eating.


Also, not the best play time to clean up time ratio. Lesson learned.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Raising Kids Right

I have been thinking more about discipline and child rearing lately and it colors everything I see and read. Having Hillary and her boys here, seeing how other parents do it differently, it was interesting to see. I mentioned that I was more lax with Anna, but I want to add with that the caveat that I've tried both stick and carrot with her, and carrot seems to work much better. Back in the epic tantrum days, raising my level of cracking down only raised her level of acting up. Maybe that was a sign to crack down MORE, but it didn't feel right to me.

I don't want people to think that this is a crazy, no rules house. I do have some rules - like the couch is a sitting space, no going out into the street, no food in her room, bed time is bed time, etc. But also I don't like making arbitrary rules. For example, I don't have a rule about only eating food at the table, because I sometimes grab snacks around the house and I don't think it's really important to only eat at one place. I don't have a rule about a certain number of hours of screen time - some days we hardly have any, and some days we need more. It all depends. I had a family member (not my mom this time) suggest looking into "disciplinary nannies", and I tried looking it up online without much success. (I appreciate the tip and concern though!) I think they were suggesting someone kind of like that nanny reality show where a Mary Poppins lady comes in and turns a whole family around. I haven't seen one of the shows, but I have a hard time believing that lasting change can come from one person coming in and laying down a few rules. Plus, the rules have to make sense to me! I've had babysitters stop Ethan from rummaging through my purse or try to stop Anna from getting her own fruit for a snack and well, those things seemed like a waste of effort to me. Babies are curious and the more I can get Anna doing on her own, the better.

I do realize that kids need guidelines and rules. I feel like Anna has been doing a lot better since we've had the daily routine of summer school. That gives me a good feeling about when regular school starts up in August. I know we'll have homework then, and more structured things to take up our day. We won't have so much free time yawning before us all day, every day. I think that will help.

I started reading the Amanda Knox Memoir and whoa, I realized that this stuff with little kids is just peanuts compared to what you need to teach your children as they are older. I couldn't even keep reading the book, as she was coming off as so absolutely naive, it was painful to read. She went through days of police interrogation in a foreign country without ever requesting a lawyer, calling the embassy, or exercising her right to remain silent. I thought shit, at what point do you remember to teach your kids about what to do in confrontation with the law? What other important things are there that might not seem obvious to discuss?

That's kind of where I'm hoping that my parenting style of reason over straight rules will win out. As the kids age, I hope they see me as a reasonable parent. I want them to listen to me because I'm working in their best interest, and see me as a person that gives them tools for success. Even yesterday, I was upset with Anna for putting her used yogurt smoothie container back in her lunch box. (She comes by it honestly, as at preschool they told them to put everything back in their lunch box so parents could see what they ate and didn't eat. Most annoying practice ever.) When she brought her lunch box out of her cubby to go home, it was covered in ants for the second time. I said "see, this is why I tell you to throw everything away, so you don't get ants." I know this example is a small thing, but it's where I'm going generally with parenting. I make a rule because it makes sense and is helpful. "Because I said so" is never an answer around here. Maybe that will get me into trouble down the road, but it's just what I feel in my heart. I don't want to be a friend instead of a parent, and I'm not afraid of my kids not liking me if I say something that I don't want to hear. But I know that discipline, as everything, is a sliding scale and I am on the more lenient side of it. I think it makes things a little harder now, in the younger years, but I hope it will pay off later when the kids have to make decisions on their own. I guess only time will tell.

How do you see your parenting style? What are some disciplinary challenges you face?