The busy!

I thought I knew busy but TODAY is busy!

Fiona is requiring some sleep training in the morning… she has been getting up earlier and earlier and earlier and today it was 5am.  I said NO.  We listened to a siren song – and not like the good one that just brings you on to your death; the worse one that sounds like a firetruck is in the room next door.  To make things worse Lars forgot about the ‘play dead’ theory and got up and went to the bathroom just rialing her up more.  On the bright side we call this day 1 of 3 of morning sleep training.  She is not a baby, she isn’t hungry, she has a diaper, and she is totally safe in her crib** so she can just work it out with her own self until 7am.

 

Fortunately, Fiona was feeling much better and was basically telling me that she wanted to go to school today so off she went, blanket in hand, for a day with her peers.  For a fairly capable little girl, she is our weakest link somehow.  I don’t know why, but, she is often 100% dressed (I do that) but with shoes and hat by the door before her sisters have even moved BUT when she is not here the other two were ready to leave the house in a record 7 min.  That included dressing, getting lunch, hair brushing, and getting in the car.  Crazy… I have no idea how that happened but it works for me.

 

Fiona free days are nice because we have no diapers or nap and we cut down on the people interested in random rocks on the road.  Today we went to the childrens museum and time just flew while we were there because we had to leave by 12:45 to make it to sports camp on time.  We did it, the girls were awesome with knowing it was time to go and coming right away!  They are at camp now and I just finished up my working hour.  I’m actually getting really efficient on what I budget for my hour so I’m getting to do more and extra cool stuff for the client now.  Eye on the clock though because I still have a house to clean and off to get the kids back before I blink 3 times.  THEN they have karate tonight with dad and Fiona and I have been running around the neighborhood after dinner.  This is a busy day!  I can’t complain, I like busy, I like things to do, I just wish I had a magic house cleaning genie.

 

Tomorrow and Friday we have morning outings planned and the sports camp in the afternoon so summer is in full swing.  We do have a new project – I ordered Zoe a mattress so it is time to make her bottom bunk a reality.  I’m contemplating the two paths;  The RIGHT way would be to empty the room, paint the whole bed and then put it back together.  The EASY way would be to assemble the bottom bunk, plop the mattress on top, and call it a day.  No matter what there will be some reorg in the room but the right way will take 3 days or so and the easy way will be an afternoon.  I’m thinking about it.  Votes?

 

Time to get back to the battle of me v house (or, time to read my book in the blissful silence of the house).

Era of Camp

There was a haunting feeling when I realized that although I love my children, I would have them 24×7 once summer hit….  Way back we (I) quested for the ‘perfect’ summer program (remember Lars thought the computer full of games was the summer program ((boys ::sigh::)) and by perfect I wanted something that would;

1. get them out and doing something without me.  Not that I don’t adore their every utterance, but, they also need time away from me

1A Together if possible – Zoe is only 4 and I would feel weird with her in an independent program and Niamh is still a bit shy but together they are a real team

2. learn something I can’t really/don’t want to teach them

3. NOT take up all day – I know the majority of summer programs are for kids with working parents so they have to be all day, but, I wanted some summer with them

4. Had to work around the sacred NAP time

5. Did not cost an arm and a leg.

 

The YMCA in Lino lakes is holding its first, and possibly only, mini sports camp.  It is at the Y (criteria 1) and the age group was 4-6 (1A). They were teaching various sports (2) for 1 week sessions.  The sessions are in the afternoon; 1:30-4:30 (3+4) so great timing for me around naps, and, the time of day where they would devolve into TV watching and/or fighting.  I am great with morning activities but with the NAP afternoons are kinda shot anyway so this really and truly was perfect even if they never actually learn anything they will be active for 3 hours.  Oh, and it costs $80 more then I was paying for Zoe to be in 2 days of daycare for both girls. (5)

 

My first clue that this would be small was when they canceled 3 weeks of camp – the 2 in June and the first 2 in July.  I had registered for 1 of those weeks and it was supposed to be Hockey and Soccer my two FAVORITE sports.  They were canceled due to low enrollment so last week we winged it and had some lazy afternoons and the girls and I were all very excited for camp to start today.  My second clue should have been that I had to e-mail them for more info on the camp… little things like where in the building I was supposed to bring them and pick them up and if they needed snack or sneakers etc.  That did prompt a good reply from the teacher with some lofty intentions that I silently scoffed at since he was running a bunch of 4-6 year olds…

 

We got there just on time today after the normal rush and hurry to get going after dwalding all morning doing nothing much.  Once I got there it was apparent that this would be VERY small when we were 1 min late and nobody was there except a green looking teacher. Two other kids turned up and that was that – 4 kids; 2 boys, 2 girls.  I did think, as I left, the odds are actually in his favor!  Upon returning and seeing the face (you know THE FACE) on the poor young man I asked if there was any problems etc and he said no…. and then I asked about listening and he said is started well but…  Then he mustered a cheerful good-bye and said “see you next week!”.  oops… slip there buddy, we are all coming back tomorrow.  I did tell the girls that they would need to be nice to him and there were some sheepish looks from the back seat.  People underestimate kids constently.  They are not just little sheep that say cute things sometimes; they are sharks that talk and have quick brains and are unburdoned by any other thoughts so all their focus is on YOU and NOW.  Get that and you get them, but, a little blood in the water and they will frenzy.

 

They did seem to have had fun and that is what I was after.  Fiona honestly needed the extra time with me too, she has been fighting something and is in a foul mood, bad appitite and low fever.  Post nap she wanted nothing more then to cuddle and I was glad to be able to with no guilt whatsoever.  When it is 3:1 it is a rare thing.

 

The next 3 weeks I sacrifice 1/2 hour of my nap time to drive to and fro so blogging will be delayed until later in the day.  It makes every day feel busy now but in a good way.  I had planned on blowing off a season or 2 for all day things with the girls, but, with only 2 kids I would feel bad.  Hard enough for him to make a ‘game’ with so few kids I can’t take half.

No pictures of the event but I’ll try tomorrow.  It would look a lot like 4 kids standing in a gym with a queasy looking guy.

Games reviewed by a mom/not serious gamer/wife of a game whore

I grew up playing the standard assortment of kids games.  I totally ruled in hearts and spades in the college years and at many rainy days while camping.  My uncle (who is only 15 years older than me) did D&D in the same house as me but I was not old enough to do more then notice it.  There was one summer we obsessively played Illuminati with my cousins from Ireland (a gift from the first gamer guy in my life).  HOWEVER games were not really a central part of my life so when I ended up with a guy who had significant space and money invested in various games I decided to join in rather than protest.  Normally we play a game or two a month with friends but when his friend Konrad visited it was game-a-paloza here and we pulled out a ton of fun unusual ones.  Since they are still sitting in a nice stack I think it is time to share my opinion on each with the public.  Who knows, might help someone out there find a cool game!

 

 

In order from bottom to top;

Blokus – This is a game like tetris but on a board.  It is easy enough that Zoe (4y) plays (not super well but she gets the rules) and challenging enough that we have had plenty of fun rounds with all adults.  It has zero reading or math, it is all spatial relations and some tactics.   It is actually a really hard game to have anyone really WIN so good lesson in good loosing.  It can get tedious if people over think their moves so someone sometimes has to play timekeeper.  The board is grooved so the pieces stay put but it is not toddler safe at all.

Runebound – the LOOSER of the stack.  We have played this 3 times over 10 years, never finished, never won, and basically hated it every time.  It has a cool concept but it is super slow, not cooperative and also not competitive…. it is kinda like playing your own little game all alone with long spaces between your turns when other people go.  You wander around the board and things try to kill you and it does not scale well – some things are super easy and then others are unbeatable.  It has pretty artwork but that is the nicest thing I can say about it.  This is a game for people who have entire weekends to kill and are not creative enough for D&D .

Enchanted Forest – This is billed as a kids game but is fun for adults too.  No reading, mostly memorization and fun math – you roll dice and can use your roll to move in any direction so more than just counting spots it is about planning.  When you land on a tree spot you get to look at the bottom to see the treasure.  There was a lot of attempted cheating and accidental cheating when a tree was either shown accidently or blatantly told to the group (Niamh… Zoe and Zoe…)  It is on the long side for the kids but they still enjoy playing.  The biggest problem with the game is that the pieces that are supposed to stay put move too easily.  The biggest positive I think is that the game is always different because the board is different every time.

Lords of Waterdeep – Probably the winner of the weekend and one of the games we play most often.  It is simple enough to pick up in 1 round and complex enough to change each game.  It has cards and tokens and various bits and pieces and the BEST designed packaging I have EVER seen.  I like that it has something to ‘do’ each turn and sometimes you get things when it isn’t your turn depending on your cards so you pay attention to the game more.  As always, slow slow methodical over analyzing people playing this game are annoying (ahem… we had two) but it usually moves along quickly enough.  It is a game that I’ve tried a few tactics for and have not hit a clean winning strategy but it is fun that there are so many options.  The real down side is that if you are behind you can’t really catch up and there is a certain amount of luck to the game.  While there is always a winner it isn’t mean competition and people don’t tend to block a move and can’t really gang up on the person in the lead.

Little Cooperation – This was a gift for the girls birthday from our gamer friend and it really is a sweet little thing.  Super simple, no reading, no going backwards in the goal (like down a shoot in shoots n ladders) and 100% cooperative.  The pieces are really well done and look like toys themselves and the game is easy enough for Fiona (2y) to actually play it is challenging enough for Niamh to enjoy.  There is actual strategy to the set up of the bridge and the balancing of the animals. The game is about turn taking and working together and is a great first game.  ps.  I’ve played about 30 times now…

Forbidden Island – We actually bought this game while Konrad was here and it was worth the cost.  It is deceptively easy – we won the first game super fast but then Lars and Konrad lost the next one spectacularly.  It has a big luck element but is also all cooperative so you help each other win rather than revel in someones bad luck.  (can you tell what I like in a game yet?).  Game play is quick, the whole thing is around 30min

Suspended – aka the ‘hooker’ game.  Another impulse buy but the kids love it.  Easy to play with many levels of challenge and all the kids love it.  It is like jenga in a way that you need to balance but more fun and less predictable.  Zoe constantly calls it the Hooker game because you hook things onto things, thank goodness she has no knowledge of any other meaning for that word.  We do need to keep Fiona away from a ‘real’ game but we give her some pieces and she hangs them from my cupcake stand.

One of my more favorite games got put away so I’m not going to review it today but I will some day.  All of these games have the ability to pause because we have kids who need things and they come first.  That was the death nail in online MMO’s for me, I can’t handle letting a kid wait because if I don’t keep mashing keys I’ll ‘die’.  Personally I like games that move fast, have variety, have things to do for everyone all the time and that people work together to win.

Feel free to ask me my opinion on any of these game and let me know if there is something we should try!

 

ps.  many thanks to the youtube channel TableTop for helping us find some of these games.  Rules are far less daunting when you have already seen Will Wheaton playing the game

Exercise blitz

I’m paying today, but, I’m pretty happy about my exercise this week;

Sunday – run 3mi in 26 min

Monday & Tuesday – didn’t do much more then live life….

Wednesday – 3mi pushing Fiona

Thursday – 54 sets of stairs; I braved the stair machine at the gym then I did 30ish pushups and tried the new ab machine!  THEN in the evening Lars wanted to bike ride but we can’t move 3 kids with us so Lars biked 2 kids and I ran with the stroller with the third.  Niamh actually ran with me for about half and sat in the jogger the other half.  I did 2m to the park and 2m back making Thursday a very full day.

Friday – I’m moving, I call that good ;)

I still did not get back to the morning fitness blenders but hope to add that back in soon.  Our morning routine is so upside down right now with no school and late sleeper Niamh and early riser Fiona that I have not found a good spot yet.

 

I don’t want to devolve into an exercise blog, and, I have not had lunch yet so have a great weekend if I don’t end up posting~

Stay at home Mom and work from home Dad

I’ve been asked this; How do you make it work?  You are a stay at home mom and your husband works from home so how does it work?” Enough times that I think I need to answer it, and, I think I have an answer.

I had this fear of it ‘not working’ too.  This amorphous fear  that we would bother Lars or we would be loud or we would have to tiptoe constantly.  I worried that I would be second guessed or judged because he would walk in right when one child was pouring paint on another while the third was naked and dancing in it (not a real example).  I also worried that the kids would go to ‘daddy’ if they didn’t like what mean mommy was telling to do or not do.

This is a pretty common situation and getting more common.  When I worked in an office there were plenty of times people ‘worked from home’ and it was often code for ‘I’m doing the minimum for work while I slack off’  Personally when I worked from home and felt I had to PROVE I was working and actually got tons done and I know I’m not alone with that.  Anyway, more jobs are offering the perk of working from home and that ‘perk’ means that you get the opportunity to work 24/7.  I was SURE there must be dozens of essays or posts on this topic but I googled (and binged actually) and found a big fat nothing on the topic.  Maybe my search string is wrong or maybe nobody else wonders but someone asked me so here is my answer to the question.

Mom rules

1. Create a defined office area with a door – we transformed our lowest level into the office. Before I stayed home his office area was in our middle level (4 level split) and we liked that it was in the ‘middle’ of everything and that is great for playing games etc on the weekend but not working.

 

2. Pretend your husband is not there – I imagine that when he goes down to the office that he is just gone.  I never call to him, or ask for help.  I also don’t tell him where we are going or say good-bye.  The exception to this rule is if he comes out to see us.  ** when we were talking about me staying home one of my big reasons was to get to know our kids more, and, I think he can have the same opportunity on a smaller scale by interacting at lunch time or a random little break here and there.

 

3. Set a time to ‘come home’ – When I came home with the kids from daycare that was the ‘end’ of Lars’s working day in the past.  Now we had to agree on a time that he would emerge and be ready to parent.  For us that is 5pm and if he does not come out by 5:15 I might inquire if he is busy or just lost on the internet.  This end time gives me the info I need to plan around things.  I also try very very very hard not to do the cliche throw the kids at him and run – I only think I’ve done that maybe 4 times in 2 years.  I try to give a 15min buffer and then say what I’m doing like “I am going to start kid dinner” or “Lets go to the store”.  Co Parenting is a nice thing, I prefer to have the whole crew together then divide and conquer and 100x better then timeshare parenting.

 

Working from home is not for everyone.  Some people are too distracted by things gong on but fortunately Lars is a focus fiend. There has been a time or two that he had a conference call that was not on mute and some coworker may have heard that someone went poop and needed their bum cleaned, so, he needs to be aware of ways to make working from home work for him.

Dad rules

1. Say goodbye just like your leaving – tell the kids when you will be ‘home’ and if there are any special things for the evening to look forward too (swim lessons etc).

 

2. Try to keep in the office. If you wander around the house on a call you will get noticed.  Not that you need to sneak around the house but be mindful of what is going on when you stick your head out and if everyone is in the kitchen think about if you have time for a quick interaction or not.  This might sound crazy but if you were in an office and you had a meeting in 5 min and you saw a gaggle of chatty co workers gathered by your preferred coffee spot you either avoid or interact fast.

 

3. Use the mute button always.  Make sure your phone has one, learn it, use it.  Good for at an office too really.  Ignore all sounds of mayhem, your wife will not thank you if you swoop in.  If there is noisy mayhem we have found that a quick text or phone call to say “hey, your shaking the ceiling fan loose down here, can tango class move?” works better.

Why working from home and a stay at home mom actually mix well.

 

1. Daily meals together.  If the mom can actually swing getting everyone sleeping/resting at a good lunch time then yippie! Lunch together!  Like a mid day date! Provided your start timing works, dads can have breakfast with everyone before they say “goodbye” and that helps mom not have to handle 3 kid meals solo.  With no commutes there is an extra 30-60 min reclaimed in your day that you can spend with your wife and kids.

 

2. Random interactions.  At most office jobs you will often find yourself talking to a cube neighbor between projects or calls or meetings.  It isn’t cheating to surface for a quick interaction with your family~  If you really can’t leave your desk all day, even lunch, your job is crazy!

 

3. You can cover for your spouse 10x more easily.  Not that I recommend mom’s using naptime to run errands because dad is physically in the house AT ALL.  (see rule#2) However, it is standard that a few times a year you need to go home early or work late to let your stay at home wife go to a Dr apt or something and you miss half the day for the 1 hour event.  If you are working from home no extra driving and you only really miss the work time she is actually gone, and, you can still check in on work during that time if the kids are being calm and happy.

 

This general plan has worked for us for over 2 years with our kids growing from newborn, 2, 4 until now with a 2, 4 and 6 year old.  They are good kids but they are not silent.  I go out every day for our sanity and we have a good scheduled nap from 12-2:30.  I’m not making any judgement calls on if you should stay home with your kids, or, work from home BUT I do want to say that it is not as daunting a combo as I expected.  I hope if you find this by google it lets you know that there is a way :)

 

ps. I use the terms Mom for at home parent and Dad for working parent but it could be the other way and work just the same.

 

 

 

normal? What is that?

I am finally on a something of a ‘normal’ day – house guest delivered to the airport and Lars back to work.  However pushing myself to actually work out during kids swim lessons (right now) is proving too much, so, I guess, I’m not ‘quite’ back yet…

Daddy+ vacation was totally different from JustGirls vacation.  Adding in his BFF, who is Niamh’s Godfather, was like mixing in a random good yet chaotic element to our world.  We rolled with it and had a ton of fun but it was tiring fun with lots of late nights playing games and then I was the one to greet the sun with #3.  I did get some naps in and that is why there was less blog than average because in the sleep v blog  equation sleep had to win a few times.  The kids are rebounding too from the excitement and changes for over a month and today I ended up bailing out on a Como Zoo trip 20 min after I got there because they were more than I cared to handle.  They were tired, I was tired, mapquest led me astray, parking was horrible and when they were just walking the line of pushing buttons in the crowded zoo I decided it was time to retreat  tactfully change direction before there was a real meltdown from any of us.  Recognizing when mommy needs a timeout is a real thing too!

Afternoon progressed much better, 2 of 3 napped out in the car and stayed that way until 3.  Husband produced food and attention for me during his lunch and everything was going well leading into swim lessons.  Still going fine as far as I know for them, for me I’ve read my book in peace for 30 min and then did a few money housekeeping things and now I blog rather than work out and clean.  I’ve been blitzing the house zone by zone reclaiming it from the frat level of clean (a nice frat; engineers not lacross players if you know what I mean) but it still a job to get done while also parenting and visiting and hostessing.

 

I’m looking forward to getting back on the bandwagon of Moms club and all the things I know and love here but I can’t help but miss the grove I got into in NY.  Good thing I can facetime and keep in the mix!  My girlfriends today asked me where I like better and that isn’t something I can even answer.  Here I have a house, friends, knowledge of the area and cool stuff to do, memberships to clubs and parks….  There I have my parents, my sister, my extended family, the big beach, and the limo equivalent of a boat (owned, maintained and skippered by dad but I get to take rides).  Focusing on what I miss does nobody any favors so I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to have been there for a month.

 

I hope to also get back on the blogging bandwagon.  I even got a concerned em from a reader asking if things were ok.  Yes, totally fine, I’m ready to bet back to boring, innodating, entertaining you all with summer midwest fun and excitement with a sprinkle of political, social, and crafting thoughts.  We have no significant plans for the foreseeable future,  I would love a weekend away with just Lars but finding someone to watch the three will be the trick.  People might visit, we will go to nearby attractions, summer will roll into fall and I hope to keep being happy with today as it happens.