That was a long vacation. After 11 days off they are now back in school and it is just Fiona and I again in our normal Tuesday.
I actually spent quite a bit of time with just Fiona at the waterpark since Niamh and Zoe have passed the height mark that lets them do nearly everything and Lars is the parent that prefers the crazy slides, so Fiona and I kept to the tame things. Niamh also was at the great personal level of being allowed to be solo in the park as long as we had a good idea of where she was. Mental note for next time – buy inexpensive waterproof watches for all, meeting at certain times is very hard when there are no clocks. Since only the inside was open, and, it was very not crowded we could usually find everyone easily enough but the outdoor section is 2x the inside so if we do this again in the summer electric leashes are needed.
After the first day, Fiona tried a big raft ride (3 stories high) and LOVED it. Even after the 50th time she was still a giant grin. I risked my phone to take pictures on the way down. There were 2 other similar ones she also loved as well as well as an entire ‘island’ of slides and play things intended just for people 100lb and less. I made her go there a few times so I could have a little rest sitting on the side. Since I thought I would be doing nothing but sitting and watching her paddle, this was a big surprise.
The resort itself was mostly well done. I appreciated their efforts to make inside seem like outside because it is a long winter inside. The hotel itself has plenty of open walkways that make you feel like you are walking ‘outside’.
The downside is that in the winter, there isn’t quite enough for more than 2 days and since we were there for 3 we ended up paying for the attached (but not included) amusement park. Here is where Fiona got the worst end, she was too short for most of the fun stuff so we left her sisters and went on long pokiwalks and disrupted (not really) a conference of farmers learning about seeds and stuff (I assume, we didn’t actually attend). We also had coffee and donuts by the fountain – the kalahari had very good sweet shops all over the lobby.
We got back in town just in time for our friends to have their baby. Since we were not part of the production, we just got to be around for the fun after part where you get to snuggle a teeeeeeny tiny baby and reassure the new parents that they are the best parents for this baby, and, they have the most experience with him because they have been with him for 9 months already. I also got to run them down a nice dinner the next day and be on hand for the first at home diaper change – the thrills in my life never end 😉
I’m glossing over the annoying bits of the break like the fact that even if we are on vacation, I get woken up by 7am and often 1 or 2 times a night. Travel went well overall but I always get home more tired than if I had just stayed home. Time change weekend did not help at all because my normal 5 hours of sleep got shrunk to 4 and by the end of that day I was sick of it all and needed a break from it all. The super power of motherhood is the ability to find a way through the day because I did make it all the way through that final day and today, there is semi-normal life.
ps. In case you are new to my vacations – I go with a fellow mom and her son and sometimes we take Lars. Two moms are better than one
pps. Possibly the best thing was the huge number of pokimon, I could even get a pokistop from bed!
ppss. Happy pi day, I’m making some pie later I think but can’t not mark the date.
This year, I’m not sure if because it is a Tuesday or what, I’m not doing as much as usual. I’m actually not even going to see Lars because tonight is the SCA kids practice and also my PTO meeting so we will be in opposite directions until about 8:30. After that we plan on a nice take out sushi dinner but really, I don’t doubt his love in general.
I did have fun with valentines for the kids. I took a cue from all the cute photo strips we have as favors from recent weddings and decided to DIY one. The internet is full of other people who thought of this first but this is how I did it;
- Took a ton of pictures of each girl holding a dry erase board where they wrote each part of the message. Take A LOT because half of them will be too silly or full of frowns
- cropped them to be square in my computer
- used the collage option to line up the 4 pictures in a strip. I choose to have white borders on a pink background. You can also do this in excel, sometimes it is easier in excel!
- Sent the image to our local UPS store and then talked to them so they knew what I wanted, and, printing is one of those things personal attention is worth doing.
- Paid a whole $10 for 35 strips (2×8 if you are looking for dimensions) for each of the kids. That is $10 for 105 strips total.
- Cut up some pretty washi tape so the kids could tape on pencils (totally optional)
- They wrote names and taped pencils no problem and it only took about 20min
I love that getting them printed is so economical because I figure I would have spent $3 per ‘kit’ at walmart and I would have needed 4 at least since they are usually only 24 so I’m saving money, and, it is something I get to keep and love. I know, there is a ton of time involved between taking pictures and edits but for me, that is the fun part. This didn’t even need hot glue so I consider it an easy one.
Finally, I must add a new addition to the valentines traditions. Apparently, as they get older, the valentines box becomes homework, and Niamh had her heart set on a Giraffe valentines mailbox. It is a STEM school and I like that they described this as a building project and include the design-refine-spend time method. I talked her out of having the mouth be the mail slot because… engineering… but I do like the final result. It could be better but she procrastinated until yesterday afternoon to even start and I refused to do it without her (because I wanted her to do it over the weekend when we had time).
So I hope you all have nice days and nights and a pleasant February 14th in general.
I’m talking about a game, Ticket to Ride, not an actual outing.
We call it the train game because, you know, it is all about trains! And when your kids can’t read yet, whatever is on the cover becomes the name of the game.
Officially, this game is for ages 8+ (now they actually have a kids version, this is a modification of the original). When we got it was my job as game-mom to find a way to play with (2,4,6 year old) kids. It actually was VERY EASY to modify
In ticket to ride, the main action is collecting cards of different colors that you use to make routes between cities, some routes are ‘any color’ (gray) or a specific color as shown on the map. There are points earned for completing routes and more points for bigger routes. There are also specific route cards (tickets) you are dealt like “NewYork to Seattle” that give you MORE points if you complete. This is a fun game for adults but for kids it has some really great skills that can be learned;
- color matching
- counting – both for how many cards you need in a route, and, in scoring
- minor geography – unlike Pandemic, these cities are pretty much where they should be so learning where NY and Seattle and Dallas are in the US is a good thing to get a head start on.
- Strategy/map reading – you need to plan your route, in an era of GPS I need ways to teach this.
- general sportsmanship, the game has a score and you need to be ok with that. <- some adults need lessons here too
My Theory on game modification;
- I want the kids to be able to play the ‘real’ version when they are able so I can’t change too many rules
- I want to keep the spirit of the game
- I want them to be able to play independently so I made two levels of modifications
Modification for ages 4-7 (before good reading skills)
- Each child gets a different coin (or other marker) that gets placed on the cities they are building routes between. yes, this eliminates the secrecy of what your route might be, but, see my next modification…
- Play open hand, show all the cards and be kind about placing routes
- That’s it, play as normal, kids are pretty good at turn taking and card collecting.
*Sometimes if attention is waning we just say we are playing ‘first to 100’ so in that case we get the points for route completing right away, or, we put a time limit and score at the end of 20 minutes.
I’ve found that other than reading level, games have age minimums based on ability to pay attention for any length of time, not intelligence for the game dynamic.
Modification for under 4 (but old enough not to eat the pieces)
- throw out the concept of special routes and just collect cards and connect cities. Still gets the color matching, card collecting, and fine motor coordination.
2. give them all the extra trains and let them make patterns on the table. You would be amazed how well they like that. They can also be ‘in charge’ of putting out the next card, or, you can give them the discards to shuffle until you need them again.
I believe in family games and time together and with just a few modifications most games can suit most little pre-readers. Now that the kids are older they are wicked good at this game and you might think I coddled them with kind playing, some innate competition gene is expressed as they cut off off each other and see the value of getting a contested section of track asap just like any adult. Give it a try with your younger kids!
nothing super exciting happening here. We have a busy night tonight with 2 things semi-conflicting, but, we worked it out. The weekend should be full of getting ready and holiday cheer. This ‘normal’ week has been nice for getting things on track and I needed it! here is a fun picture of Niamh’s hair, I love the clip in color, it looks awesome on her.
In other generally dull news here are some updates/happenings for those of you who need something longer to read on a break in your day;
- The dishwasher magically healed? Or I cleaned it enough that I got whatever the clog was out. All hail the shopvac! For good measure, I did the baking soda, viniger, and boiling water trick too.
- Hot tub – fixed – it was a switch that got crudded up because of our hard water. Oh well, fixed now and I do enjoy having it back.
- Cutting the chord. I guess I didn’t tell the beginning here but I got mad at our cable company for all the normal reasons. I’m definitely not the first nor the last. I know that there is a price that will make you go to a company and a price that will make you leave. I am now firmly in ‘leave’. Lucky for us, a ton of others have blazed this path already so it really is not a hassle to dump the cable and phone. We expect to do it post-holiday travel though, just no time between now and then.
- Since I’ve been watching the hour for my fitbit I’ve made improvements on that stat. That tells me I sit by habit too long. If the kids are home I have no such troubles, 10 min sitting still is a lot if they are all home!
- Fiona overnight dry is in process. We have mixed results. On the bad side there was the 3am wake up. On the good side, there were a few totally dry wakeups. In between was waking up wet, but, at 7am. Not a win for dryness, but, a win for sleeping mom.
- Christmas card address, envelopes, and cards are actually in my hands – they will get put together tonight and hopefully mailed tomorrow.
So thats the run down off the top of my head. My brain is a series of lists, my house is covered in lists of things to do or bake or check. Far better than dull!
You know, I look forward to the challenge of blogging every day for a month. I know, I could do this any month or every month but the community of doing this together is part of the fun. I know the original concept was to write a novel of 10,000 words in the month of November and I think that might be either a ‘get it done before the year end’ for last minute publishing dollars, or, ‘I have no family so lets do something else’… Either way, 10k words or every day posts with basically a WEEK of real life in the middle is asking for trouble~
I’ve done it every year, but, every year are days with almost nothing or just a picture. My computer is far away from the family center (on purpose) but when my kids are home and parents are visiting I’m just not creating time to run away and post. I actually have posts in my head that I planned on doing this month but I think they will wait, or, they weren’t that important in the end. 🙂
So Thanksgiving! Parents were here for a week, kids were home, we went out a few times and stayed home and visited a bunch. We did the normal things like games and puzzles and watched some John Oliver highlights. I can’t exactly take a week ‘off’ but the load was shared among more for a week. Grandparents love to hear kids read (or at least its novel and they are willing) and every time I turned around my Dad was tidying or making tea, making it way easier around the house. He also did a minor project that he had an idea about using a real tool and not just the saws-all that I had planned. Mom re-taught the girls knitting for the 5th time and she knows that it takes about 10x so she is half way there. Cooking was a joint effort and while it was not a giant fancy crazy vacation week it was a nice and happy and home vacation week.
On the other hand…. while I did pre-do 95% of my paid work, I had a big pile of things to sort through today, and, more for tomorrow. Today I skipped the gym but I did 7 loads of laundry, took down all the thanksgiving and started putting up a bit of Christmas. Washed all the dishes, did all the baking, wrote a press release for Turkey Bingo as well as edit and post a ton of pictures from the event. I also got in a good walk with Fiona and we got two Magikarp, and tonight before I sat down here, I did 45min on the elliptical and rounded out my 10k steps for the day. Not too shabby a start on the list.
Speaking of ‘the list’ the next countdown in my world is not to Christmas but to our trip to Hawaii! In 16 days we leave so that is not a lot of time to get quite a bit done. I’m toying with the idea of not doing all the decorations this year, but, I do need to get on the ball about shopping and some crafting etc. Same with Christmas cards and teacher gifts, my timeline is pulled up a week at least. I’m sure the trip will be worth it, I’ll swim in the ocean on my birthday (a once in a lifetime event) and be ready for a Christmas on the beach picture in 26 days.
To anyone who found me during NaBloPoMo, I don’t usually post daily but I do post often so I hope you don’t leave. I hit 1000 followers this month, something I intended to post about but obviously did not. That is a pretty big number and I’m sure not everyone actually reads often at all, but, I hope you that do feel you are getting your monies worth.
It is time for me to wrap this up and expedite bed time and then back to the list. That laundry won’t fold itself and I have 1 season of Gilmore Girls to finish before I can watch the new movies. (ps. saving the movies for Hawaii with my sister, can’t wait!)
I want to wrap up all the Halloween culminating with yesterday, but, I can’t not acknowledge that we are continuing our version of dio del los muertos. Since our day of the dead is pretty low key this year I can start there. Years ago I started a family tradition of remembering our family and friends especially on this day. I have an album we look through, we talk about everyone. I try to keep the conversation to the things each person did in their life but we always end up with cautionary messages around how each person died, probably not the worst thing to discuss. I get a bouquet of flowers and plan a nice treat and that is what we do. This year we added zero people to the book and I am very glad. There are one or two people on the roof, but, they are really doing well all things considered. It is a reminder though that we need to love people in the moment because you don’t quite know when it may be over. Two people in my book were alive one day and gone the next with zero warning. Can’t be scared, can take care of yourself, can be mindful of friends and family.
Yesterday, as Zoe said, was the last day of Halloween. It was a fun Halloween season but I’m glad that I can put it away. After a while, the decorations turn into clutter and I’m done with them. I volunteered to help at school and I basically spent alllllll day there and it was fun but exhausting. I started in Zoe’s class working at one of the stations in the Halloween party. Ironically the other parent I was paired with was a dad, and, his daughters name is Zoey – no end of silly questions from that – but he was a great partner and we ran that marshmallow slingshot event like champs. After 60 kids routed through they all went to a little movie while I and two other moms helped them make Frankenstein hand prints and after it was obvious help was needed with the hands washing part I moved over to that job. Little kids have an amazing range of hands! You get used to your kids but looking at about 50 different hands yesterday there was just a real diversity of size and shape.
Anyway, then I went to lunch with the kids but they don’t eat together so I had 2.5 lunch periods. Fiona actually bridges the two lunch times so I didn’t have a full 3 lunches in the cafeteria. After lunch, I helped a dozen kids get their costumes in order and when Zoe’s class went to the library I thought I might check in on Niamh’s class. They said they didn’t need help earlier but when I got there I was sucked right in because they absolutely needed me to run the candy decorating buffet. Things ran really smoothly but again, its fun to see how different kids that are all basically the same demographic can be.
The 3rd grade party complete I had just enough time to stake out a spot with Fiona to watch the Halloween parade and then I collected my children and came home to collapse. And that is all BEFORE trick or treating! I took a little break and let them zone out to TV while I thanked my lucky stars I didn’t become an elementary teacher.
Back into costumes and the special Halloween makeup and I sent the kids out with Lars while I got myself ready and ate a bit of dinner (so I would not eat all the candy). Lars was semi dissapointed I didn’t have time to make him a costume so I pulled this together in about 5 minutes and it made him so happy. Half to have a costume and half because I didn’t forget about him!
We seriously had more candy than we eat in 6 months from just our block but we went out to the big party anyway. It was very festive and fun and well lit and warm, just like every year I’m glad we go. The candy is bountiful and on our way out they topped up every trick or treater with a giant scoop to fill their container. We have soooooo much candy! Back at our house, we had about 10 kids come and take from our plate and I’m happy to say that toys beat candy in the selection. We got bendy skelatons and choclate eyeballs and there is only one bendy left~ The kids fell into candy comas and I followed them not too long after.
Halloween is not quite over since I didn’t get good pictures of the costumes all together. The weather yesterday was foggy and dim and I needed that down time between school and going out to NOT be direction a photoshoot so this weekend we will get offical pictures and be finished 🙂
Oh, this weekend we had an excellent time out at a costume party where we left the kids at a friends house so I slept until 8am, undisturbed, for the first time in 8 years. We also brought this ‘winekin’ (a pumpkin that has a bag of wine inside) and it went over quite well.
And that gets us basically up to date.
For the next month I’m going to try and post daily for the November challange. It will be harder this year since I’m not in the daily posting grove anymore but I’ll give it a try. There was someone onver the weekend that was very bored and read nealry 500 of my posts so if that person is here agian, I’ll be writing more, don’t worry – the story is not over!