Tag Archive | family

Dear Fiona

Dear Fiona

Last week you turned 5 and it happened to be in the middle of us getting ready to move so it was not an ideal day but I think you really did like it.  Becki took you out for the day and you came back tired and happy but 5 year olds don’t stop – you went right out to Jujitsu with your sisters and came home exhausted and ready for cake (brownies) and bed.  I wonder if your whole 5th year will be as crazy.

img_2958

You are the child I think I have spent the most time with.  Somehow though you feel like you need me most still.  It is a little the age, a little bit you.  When I am around and something goes wrong I am the embodiment of a bunker, a band-aid, and teddy bear all in one person.  I have seen you work out problems and not fall apart so I know you can, but, I don’t mind being here for you always.

Preschool is over for the year and you did great.  Not a bit of separation issues beyond an extra hug every day.  Your teacher Ms. Kayla was fantastic and loved you and you loved her.  Now you know every letter and number and can write most of them very well.  You love to write actually, you write all the time.  Sometimes even on walls…  Your hobby right now is to cut interesting shapes out of paper so your cutting skills are very good.  When you draw and paint, and that is as often as I let you, you are making people and families and noticing odd little things about a person and adding them into the pictures.  Gone are the days of abstract, hello 10,000 pictures of our family 🙂  You are also getting decent at sounding out small words when you are in the mood, I hope you have fun in Kindergarten next year.

You did great with the carpool and you and Reilly are super good friends even though you are pretty different kids.  In school you made some true friends, friends I get the feeling we will be seeing a lot of over the next 6+ years.  I love when kids make friends completely outside of family influence – these are not the children of my friends or the siblings of sisters friends.  Selfishly, this usually means new friends for me because cool kids usually have cool parents and 5-year-olds can’t do playdates alone.  You think you can though, you think you can do nearly anything your sisters can and your TV  and music taste has been artificially aged.  Where Niamh was singing Laurie Berkner and Disney at this age, you sing “Way down Below” and “Cheap Thrills”.  The best was when you sang the same bit of another song; “1,2,3 your gonna come back to me, I’m the best baby you will ever ever see” when you were sure it was just a counting song for babies.  Oh well, that is what happens with #3.  You also have a better vocabulary and listen to audio books intended for kids 8+.  I never know how much sinks in but we recently listened to a Greek Myth book and just yesterday you told me that Zeus was God’s (Baby Jesus God you made clear) Godfather.  I’ll take that, seems like a realistic situation…

img_191518765708_10155336924787801_6037254415082674931_n

img_1920

As #3 you do tend to almost always have sisters around but this past two years you had significant time as the only child all day while they were at school.  Yes, we did tons together and you did want (and get) books and snuggles but for large chunks of time you like to do your OWN thing.  You don’t even want the puppy out with you.  I’m not sure what fantastic game is going on but you will swing on the swings and run around the yard for about 40 min happy as can be.  Same with your room – you go in there and have elaborate games with all the toys.  Eventually, you get bored and want to do things with me and there is almost always things to do.  You are probably the best at cleaning and loading the dishwasher because we do a lot of that.  Sometimes you even do chores all on your own, other times you still claim to be the baby.  Your view on life is usually 110%

Speaking of babies.  You still LOVE them.  You don’t actually have to have your 2 baby dolls at ALL times anymore and you actually are ok with missing any favorite toy at bedtime for the most part, but you still love them.  Our friend had a real baby and we would watch him and a real baby was a horse of a different color… you did have some jealousy for sure but you also had that internal protect the small thing instinct and did plenty to help him be happy and me take care of him.  I’m really glad we got that experience for you and I’m glad we could help a friend.

img_2751

Jumping over to gross motor (ha ha) this was a big year for you.  You can now swim pretty ok; we started in January and you didn’t really even want to get in the pool and now you bob and actually swim.  You are well on the way to really swimming, thanks, YMCA.  You are learning your bike but like your sisters, you are faster on a scooter or even just running.  You can monkey bar the whole way across and you will jump off way too many things.  You started Jujitsu 2 weeks ago and you’re not quite sure about it but I needed time to pack so you needed to go. You also just started archery and knife throwing with Dad, he says your are pretty good. For a large chunk of the summer and fall, we did Pokemon hunting, great reason for a walk and we walked all over town, miles a day most nice days.  I’m glad to have 3 active girls and I hope I’m a good role model even if I can’t do the monkey bars.

I’ve been writing on this for a few days so it is getting long.  I should really stop so here are some quick other things that were you at 4;  you still wanted to sleep with me and would often sneak in around 3am.  You fall asleep really fast most nights but 1 in 10 you stay up until 11.  You still have allergies and all colds turn into nasty chest issues and you need your machine.  Your favorite color is changeable, you love Addie and Reilly as your friends, and you still take baths mostly and are growing out of hair twirling so we might see you with longer hair someday.  In your 4th year you went to Hawaii, NY, PA, ND, WI Dells and WI in general, and all over MN.  You are not the weakest link on a road trip and you are getting pretty good at operating all the electronics solo.  There are still tantrums but you actually lean more toward surly sadness.  You mimic and tag along and drive your sisters crazy but you also play with them – the destruction phase is over.  You still put way too many things in your mouth and absently pick at things until they are in bits.  We get you gum to try and help and it actually does.  Your well child is today and I expect them to report that you are 40lb because we just weighed you at the vet Tuesday.  You love to snuggle and cuddle and even if it is tiring for me, I am still the answer to most of the problems of the world for you.

Love

Mom

Head still above water

Hello!  Guess what?  I have a 5 year old!  and she isn’t the oldest, she is my youngest.  Fiona, my change baby (not that change…) is again having a birthday in the middle of a giant life change.  She will get her birthday post and I’m also full of other post too, much like the pairing down of possessions one wants to move I have had to pare down what I can actually do in my life.  My normal workouts have been dropped to what I can do while they are at swim lessons and 2x other people have brought them so I could do more house stuff.  Blogging is on the casualty list too and unfortunately, so is watching TV or reading so busy with all the things!  Today I’m going to use my WHOLE computer hour on the blog so get ready for lots of words.

I am getting feeling flashbacks from other times in my life when many important things were going on at the same time.  I used to make lists of the major things and their due dates and I did actually get every paper turned in, was on time for every exam, and moved out in good order in college.  This is a whole new level of the game though because those things were black and white – move out meant take all your stuff and put it in the car and drive home to Long Island.  This time I can’t just clean sweep it all, I need to stage in my wake AND we are living her AND we don’t know where we are actually moving to OR when.

So to the people that I’m not there for like normal,  I am very sorry…  I hope this is all for the good and I can get back to being a good friend again.

On the positive side – I am not pregnant!  that was not actually a concern at all but this would be WAY worse if I was and when you are in birthday season you think about that 9th month and the tiny baby and resulting world shift and this is not that.  It is something different, but, it holds the same promise of a new beginning and the waiting and the uncertainty of ‘when’ and ‘what’ have a lot of similarities.  I also have kids that while not totally helpful are big enough to not need my constant care.  5 years ago I was starting the stay at home mom life and that was another giant shift in my life.  All 6 little eyes on me for all the things.  No break, not a lot of help, and the brain activity of trying to make all the things work in a new envelope of time without dropping too many important things too often.  Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with

Like I said, I am having feeling flashbacks because this is not the first time I’ve done something stressful of juggled things or worked with uncertainty and major decisions.  Thankfully they are all things I think I managed to get through pretty well and hopefully this one is no different.

90e3863f-9139-4781-888f-d0f3c628c600

all the way across our monkey bars solo!

Sine this is my blog I’m going to pat myself on the back for my yesterday achievements.  5 years ago I produced a person from my body who knows the alphabet and can do the whole monkey bar solo but still eats boogers.  Yesterday I got up early to do my contract work, then greeted the birthday girl.  We made pancakes and whipped cream and sang and she was happy.  Dealt with some sister jelly attitude without losing it.  Got all kids and pup into the car and to carpool on time and to school perfectly.  Had coffee with a Vacation Mom who took Fiona out for her birthday (and my work day) and they went to the zoo and dairy queen while I finished contract work, got all the things on cabinets or walls or hooks in the entire kitchen level packed or put away or in the sell/donate pile.  I cleaned up days of ignored kitchen.

img_2953

In the afternoon I met the kids and kept working on the kitchen.  When the painter got here it was at least at 90% ready and coincidently Lars was done working so we did Fiona gifts outside under our favorite tree.  She loved everything from everyone, 5 is a happy age.  She was as happy with the pack of gum as the scooter.  They played and I went back to chipping away.  I paused to help all 3 girls get ready for jujitsu – you heard that right all THREE of them went to jujitsu with Lars.  The plan was for them to get birthday dinner out after as well as a trip to storage and be home for cake.  I moved on to the green room where I started packing and styling the giant built in book case while the kitchen was painted.  I threw in a batch of brownies that was done just as they came home and we sang happy birthday with my parents on the iPad on our back deck and then the girls enjoyed our long daylight with playing outside until nearly 9.  Not done yet!  I actually looked at Zoe’s folder and noticed she was on the 1st for snack in June and I actually remembered in the store on Tuesday night so I had things in the house to make the final cute class snack.  Niamh was the trooper on this, delaying her own bedtime to help me do them.  The day was finally over and the living room was enough together we could actually watch 1 tv show.

img_2957

In more full truth, because that really does have the ring of super mom, I’m like a duck with the frantic feet but the top level looks pretty good.  We did gifts on the lawn and ate on the deck because there is not one place to sit in the entire kitchen because the table and chairs are holding all the things either unsorted or normally on a wall that plan on going back.  I put in brownies 15min before they got back because I completely forgot until that second.  Seeing Zoe’s snack day was more happy accident than good parent that looks at all the papers in the folder.  Gifts were purchased 2 days in advance via amazon and 1 I knew would be late and 1 just didn’t show up yesterday…  the others were gotten in a walmart trip the night before that I made after seeing a house.  I’ve gone to lots of hardware and paint stores in the past 2 weeks but we are pretty low on groceries – good way to get the refrigerator and pantry clean!

I think that I’m doing ok but there are pinch points where I just wish it were easier.  I am making progress but the list is still very very long.  Vacation mom and Lars are both makigng it much better and I’m happy we have a painter friend who can help us because if I was doing this all alone I would be a giant mess and I’m glad his wife is ok with him being here so much. The goal is to have the house ready to have pictures on Tuesday and start showing when we are gone to NY.  I’m torn between wanting to be here to make sure the house is perfect and wanting to remove 3 kids and a puppy from the equation….  Any crossed fingers or good wishes are welcome as we keep doing the do.

I’m a little insane

img_2709

Because I said yes to a puppy.  This puppy came with the perfect set of circumstances and Zoe has been begging for a dog for years and years and years.  The dog is a toy breed so she will never be the dog that jumps and knocks you down or pulls too hard.  She has hair, not fur, so she is not going to leave fur on everything and is better for the allergy girl in the family.   She was born into a house with little kids so she is super social and happy to be held.  And, for a toy breed, she is one of the more sturdy ones (no skinny legs) so she won’t break when she is played with.  In a moment of weakness, we said yes.

img_2705

Thus the countdown to puppy began, but, given all the other things going on, it almost felt like she instantly appeared.  Our friends brought her and her single litter mate out to our house and the other friends adopting the other one came up and we had a full house of 15 people and 2 dogs (and 1 annoyed cat who just lived in my room) for the weekend bringing a festive air and a gentle transition to the puppies new lives.

img_2713

Last night, when everyone left, we were like new parents left with that newborn that didn’t come with instructions.  Kids went to bed, puppy…. did not….  Apparently sleeping with your puppy sister your whole long life makes you pretty sad when you are alone.  She cried for 2 hours and while we didn’t want to encourage more crying, we also didn’t really do a great job of putting her ‘to bed’ so we did a bit of a re-do.  Lars took her out to the bathroom, I put 3 cups of rice into a baggie and microwaved it and then wrapped it in the shirt I had been wearing all day.  When she came in we did the calm ‘good night’ and put her into her carrier with the fake puppy, and to top it off we put a kindle on top of the carrier with a 1-hour youtube of heartbeat sounds.  (I have absolutely nothing in the house that ticks).  So, from 12:30 to about 4am all was well, then, she busted out of the door and went to Niamhs room and wanted to play.  Process repeat – and she was back to sleep, or, at least not crying, until about 6:30.  At 6:30 we contemplated waking up Zoe to take care of her puppy but Fiona woke up and they watched some TV together.

img_2712

Today is day 1 of puppy life.  It is just Lars and me I at home and she wants more!  I took her for the car ride to school and once we got home she just looked at me like ‘now what?’.  I’ve been keeping her near by for my work morning but now she is asleep by Lars and I can get moving on the massive list of things to do to sell a house.

Oh! house update – the builder didn’t offer on the house so in some ways that is a relief because he said upfront that he would not pay market price.  It would have been nice to skip the staging process but on the other hand, I have to pack anyway.  It also meant we could go with the agent we liked and she and I will do the front end looking to make sure there isn’t an existing house that is perfect before we go back to look at the building scenario.  She is also backed by a great team to make the house show ready and I am glad for that too.  Not really the time for me to get 4 hours of broken sleep, or, have a puppy on my heels but there is really no perfect time for anything so we are rolling with it.

Back again

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.img_2087

img_2117

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’.

 

img_2030

this is right outside our room, overlooking the lobby, completely inside.

 

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.

img_2072

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.

Happy Valentines day!

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;

  1. 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 frownsimg_6013
  2. cropped them to be square in my computer
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
    1. 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.
  5. Cut up some pretty washi tape so the kids could tape on pencils (totally optional)
  6. They wrote names and taped pencils no problem and it only took about 20min

img_1904

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.

img_1903

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.

img_1908

giraffe mail box – excuse the mess below, that is how creative tables look.

 

Ticket to Ride with little kids

I’m talking about a game, Ticket to Ride, not an actual outing.

 

tt-box-462

picture from the official site, check them out for all the versions of the game.  

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 modifytt-inside-940

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;

Skills;

  • 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)

  1. 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…
  2. Play open hand, show all the cards and be kind about placing routes
  3. 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)

  1. 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.

or –

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!