We are home!
One of the tricky things about travel over Christmas is what to do about gifts. Do you do them before the trip or after or drag them along on your trip? This is doubled or tripled by what does your family do? Give in person or ship to your home? Complicate that more by variables unique to each situation and you get quite a situation.
We have been doing this for years and have come up with a few things that seem to help so if you are thinking of traveling during Christmas and wondering what to do here is what works for us;
- If we are traveling very close to Christmas we do gifts before we leave
- Also if something that is a Christmas gift but also needed on the trip
- If we are leaving well before Christmas (like this time) we told the kids the gifts would be waiting when we got home and we would do Second Christmas
- To make this work well I wrapped gifts well before we left and put them out so they could be shaken and wondered about, physical proof gifts exist
- Had a friend put out the last few gifts and arrange them a bit and text a picture so on Christmas morning I could show the kids that Santa had come and set the gifts out just like normal and there they were, waiting for them.
- “santa” still came to us in Hawaii, but, for us Santa fills the stockings so that wasn’t hard to do there
- Make Second Christmas a real deal – We got home late and groggy and cranky from travel and I made the kids wait one more night so this morning we woke up to Second Christmas where we had fancy pancakes and talks with relatives as we opened gifts and I’m treating the whole day like a private Christmas.
- Also talking up the fact that we have an extra Christmas day full of family time and nice food etc helped them feel good.
Bottom line is that we talked honestly about what would happen and how and why over and over to make sure they knew. Also, a good time to work on the fact that a trip to Hawaii and all the fun things we did were part of their Christmas, and, spending time together is better than spending money on gifts… However, that is a concept that is beyond many adults so I had realistic expectations for my kids and they did really well. Especially well now that they have their second Christmas 🙂
They did thoroughly enjoy what we got them and what was sent from family. It seriously sounds like Christmas here today with all the playing with all the toys.
Next I need to tackle the unpacking. Our flight was nasty timing, departing at 11:50 pm meant that we couldn’t really have a normal bedtime but on the positive Zoe and Niamh and Lars slept. Fiona kept half waking up and freaking out so she and I did not get much rest. Landing in LA at 7:30am with a 2-hour layover was not too bad. You need at least 30min in LAX to get to the right place so we had enough time for a little breakfast and getting where we were going. I was a zombie and Niamh kept falling asleep everywhere but we did ok. Thankfully we had Vacation Mom to pick us up and we got home and ordered pizza and told the kids to eat and watch TV while we went to sleep. Lars actually ended up sleeping on both flights so he was reasonable when we got home and went to work to pre-catch up.
I’m, not unexpectedly, unsure on what day it actually is but I know we have a weekend and new years day to go so we have plenty of time to readjust to this time zone and weather. The house is decent, I need to grocery shop, but I did leave my sisters with clean laundry so I’m going to enjoy this day.
PS. this day for me made possible by my prents getting married 38 years ago. Happy Anniversery!
You turned 4 on May 31. Right now we call you Fiona, FiFi, Feefers and you also like Fi-yonce. I should add that if we call you anything but those names you object and announce the list of acceptable names. In the last month you saw your sister’s birthdays and have a good concept of what was going on this time. When we asked who you might want to invite to a party your exact words were “the people in this house” and to clarify you said “You, daddy, Niamh and Zoe”. I suppose for you the world is very full of your sisters and parents and while you enjoy time with friends you never really ask to go play with anyone (yet).
Speaking of sisters, you spend a vast amount of time and energy trying to get them to notice you and you have not figured out yet that being mean or loud won’t really help. You steal the ball and run away, you tag along when they try and run and if they out run you, you cry loudly. Cry loudly is still your #1 offense and defense and fall back position when tired or hungry or just woke up or the stars don’t align…
On the positive side, you are probably the most housekeeping minded of all 3. Maybe I don’t remember your sisters at 4 clearing their plates or putting things away but you are actually quite good about it. I doubt you remember when all three of you were home all the time and the majority of your memory has Zoe away at school too and you and I spend our days together doing things. You mimic my cleaning, you help me fold, you are still in love with watching the washer fill and spin, and I have a feeling you could probably bake a cake given the number you have helped make. Like a cat and the can opener, you hear me take out the kitchen aid and you are at my side with your stool ready to pour, watch and most importantly lick. When we make other foods you taste all the way too, including uncooked rice and other things I tell you won’t taste good. If I’m being slow about things you go smell all the spices in the cupboard (learned about tasting those at least). We spend the most time together alone, more than either sister, because in your entire life I’ve only worked from home during your rest time.
In so many ways you get babied still, but, you are pretty accomplished. There is nothing you can’t climb if you can even reach it at all and if you can’t reach you are very good about finding something to stand on. Your legs are super long, they just sprouted over night rocketing you from 24m to 3T completely skipping 2T size. I think your legs (or sisters) make you a good runner too, but, you walked early and ran before you were 1 so you had no place but faster to go. We often walk a mile to the park and you are just fine with that. Physically you can also mix, stack, build, use the remote for easy things, operate the iPad and Kindle, and navigate netflix no problem. Some days you watch a bit more tv than I wish, but most times you will choose to play with your babies or ponies or barbies – of which you have co-opted every one in the house to live in your room but you have no problem with sisters joining (until they feel you are not following their rules and then please see the screaming section of this note)
You can spell, write, and recognize your name and you have about half the alphabet actually known (you sing the song no problem). Memorizing stuff is a cool feature of 4 and you can sing the entire Frozen “Let it go” song pretty well and you will often have a factoid that you tell everyone like when we were going to Texas you would tell everyone “its a state”. Since before you were born you have heard the state song I sing and a few months ago it became clear that you knew the words but not the meaning so that leads to some cute mispronouncings like ‘Clover’ Deleware and ‘indi-apples’ Indiana. You speak well enough that everyone understands you no problem but you still have a few baby words here and there. You can’t say pancakes, you say something like pampams and you are absolutely positive that Gatorade is pronounced AterGater and has magical properties (we even gave you a bottle for your birthday). Zoe actually made up the word ‘snoot’ as her word for the male organ, but you have taken it and ran. The topic of snoots come up way too often in conversation so we had to ban it as a ‘potty word’. Funny story, you decided that potty words were ok to say in the bathroom so every bathroom we enter you immediately start yelling POOP! among other, as you exhaust your potty word stockpile. I applaud your finding of the loophole and I’m pretty glad your vocabulary in that area is limited enough not to be super embarrassing!
Since we are home together you remain a snuggle bug. You want to sit on me all the time and that’s just fine with me. I’m not keen on your ninja ability to sneak into my bed at night but we are working on that. Bedtime has gotten pretty easy recently and unless you get over tired you are ok with it. Earlier this year was a horror and if I never hear the “I have to tell you something” phrase after 9pm again it will be ok by me. Bedtime over the year of 3 started good, declined to bad, spent a month or two in terrible, and after some retraining and long talks got back to ok and now are actually good. Good thing you are not my first, I had some tricks prepared, but you still conned me into sitting and watching you fall asleep and I still end up cleaning your room singing all the songs while you drift off because the entire thing takes about 7 minutes now so I don’t mind. I sing you your ‘I’m a little tiger’ song and then ‘Wonderwall’ and often both sisters songs too and occasionally you want the states song but then you are out like a light for the night (or 3am). Back to the snuggle, being the youngest you claim my lap and since nobody forced you out so you end up being held or sitting on me 110% more than either of your sisters.
It is hard to say what your personality ‘is’ right now because you are pretty different depending on the situation. You are goofy, adventurous, outgoing, independent with regards to helping yourself to snacks or playing alone, easy going when the mood takes you and you know what to expect, loving and even helpful. You actually do a decent job at finding things and follow directions pretty well. Tantrums have more or less degraded to anger or frustration fits but you can be talked down in under 5 minutes and unless you have a good audience or are at the end of your rope, you get over things pretty quickly *only to bring them up many many times in the future*. Places are defined by what we did there or if something happened to you.
This is getting long but you are only this age once… You like dancing and dance to lots of music. You adore the movie Home and Shark Boy/Lava girl. You read every night to your babies and babies are still the toy you go to first. Next year you will go to school 3 days a week and you are both excited and scared. You are just starting to realize that I won’t be there to wipe your bottom…. (oh, 100% potty trained day, not so much nights). You reluctantly gave up your crib this year and we are talking about a big bed soon. Naps still happen but you fight them hard, however you like the down time at 1 and request it still. Tomorrow is your well child and I expect you to be 50% finally for height and probably low for weight but thats ok by me.
We love you all the times. Even when I’m sleeping and you whisper, because I’m sleeping, and ask me questions that you expect answers to. You changed our lives, all of ours, and we are super happy that you are here.
Mom and Dad
ps. I forgot your fashion!!! you look adorable in everything, your short hair is because you twirl your hair and break it but it looks perfect on you. Basically every day you wear a skirt but you also want layers and have no fear of mixing every color or pattern. Unfortunately your only real issue is with breathing and allergy but they don’t keep you down, you can even do the breathing machine alone now and we zertec every night.
so want to know about lice? I know a ton now, I took a crash course! As I walked out of Costco on Friday with a detailed yet doable to-do list Lars called and said the school nurse found a live lice on Niamh and he was going to go pick up Niamh and Zoe.
Que the over-reaction. The stress reflex. The idiotic shame over something I and they can’t control. The google of ‘lice removal’ and ‘lice today party tomorrow?’. Oh, and the laundry.
We called in Vacation partner (because life isn’t always a vacation) because she knew more than I did and we team washed, treated, inspect/combed all 3 kids and ourselves AND based on CDC saying kids can go to school post NIX treatment decided to have the party. If you are googling and find this here is what we thought;
- CDC recommendation of treatment seems reasonable
- We were going to keep Niamh – the only one with any real sign – with hair up tight and away from the kids
- It was Zoe’s birthday and we really didn’t want to wreck the sister bond they have by having her big sister need to cancel the party.
- Almost all the party guests are classmates so they saw Zoe yesterday, and, as one parent said “we roll these dice every day anyway with school and gymnastics and sports etc”
So we greeted each parent with the situation and I think the winning line was “better yesterday than tomorrow” because, in reality, we were very safe post treatment. It didn’t change the party really, the weather was nice so we were outside a bunch and they loved all the party games and activities. I wish I could have enjoyed it more myself but I think they all really did. There were many moments throughout Friday and Saturday getting ready that I wished I could quit but there is no quitting in baseball or motherhood and I powered through.
Sunday, the actual day of Zoe’s birth, we all woke up still stressed out but with some nice plans. The way the killing shampoo works is that it kills everything alive BUT it does not kill eggs so you have 3 days or so before eggs hatch to get rid of the eggs. I was under the impression our NIX killed the eggs BUT NO OVER THE COUNTER BRANDS DO THAT!!! so hello stress again! Clock ticking I try the dr to call in a prescription. They refuse because they have not seen Niamh in a year (her well child is next Monday by the way) and they say to go to urgent care. Fat chance… Then I find a place locally that will remove the eggs. I mention it to Lars and Niamh over hears and jumps on it like a starving lion. She is feeling guilty and sorry and like she caused it all and she just wants it over. They have Sunday hours so I book it and we head out. Sorry Zoe… your birthday just went off the rails.
The place we went, nitpickers, could not have been more professional and understanding. It is expensive but I think worth it to know that we really really are clear of it. Fortunately, Lars finished the event he was at and joined us in time to take Zoe and Fiona out to the mall for some birthday fun while Niamh and I finished our treatments. Poor Niamh, waist length hair is not easy and she had a lot to get out. They did me because they found 2 eggs and probably more because who would take care of the mom in a family? Fiona had zero, and Zoe had 6. After dinner when they usually get a show Fiona actually said she already watched too much tv because for 5 hours that what they did to stay still…
I think Zoe still had a decent birthday, there were presents and cake and all but it was not up to my standard. She opened brown packing boxes from amazon and closed her eyes as we handed her unwrapped gifts. She accepted brownies with a single candle and pizza at the mall instead of the out to dinner we were planning. We held it together… just… but I’m holding on to my sanity with a slippy grip. What is NOT helping is the freakouts from everyone else around me. Guess what? they can’t live off a human head so rather than bleaching everything; get a good check of your head if your head touched her head.
Today I called the school nurse to tell him what we did but also confirm that he checked the rest of the class and he avoided that question. I forced him to answer and even though he told Niamh he would, he did not. Poor guy – he got a bit yelled at. They are ‘keeping an eye on people itching’ and I told him that was not even really a good symptom because plenty of people never itch! lice are nocturnal and are dormant in the day… I read a very informative book on the subject in the 5 hours I was sitting there. I’m not an expert but I know a lot more now and I feel like I might as well turn this horrific stress party of a weekend into a semi-positive that now I know how to deal with something and I can also list here some facts I got from the book that might help you not be so much of a stress ball.
- lice like to, no love to, stay on the person they are on.
- they actually CAN’T feed from a person with a different blood type, it kills them
- they could lay eggs and then die and those eggs would tune to the first meal so that is probably why I didn’t get this much because I’m O and Niamh is A. Rh factor is also a thing too so different is good here!
- they actually CAN’T feed from a person with a different blood type, it kills them
- They have to feed every 4 hours but after 2 hours they are so dehydrated that they can’t lay eggs so you don’t have to go crazy cleaning because if they somehow got off, they are basically dead
- eggs can’t hatch once they are out of the ‘goldy locks’ zone of perfect heat about a quarter inch off the scalp.
- unfortunately if you think “I’ll just shave my head” you need to bic it to skin because you will miss eggs if you don’t.
- eggs can’t hatch once they are out of the ‘goldy locks’ zone of perfect heat about a quarter inch off the scalp.
- They move to a new head by hair or head touching when there are too many on the host head because remember, they love to stay where they are.
- Lice prefer dark so thick hair is their favorite, and, they dislike curly hair or dirty hair. Short or thin hair where you can see the scalp are not a favorite either so if your balding (male or female) think of this as a side bonus.
- However! live lice can’t be showered off, they can survive 2 hours under water and cling like crazy to your hair.
- the olive oil or mayo method is a maybe because it makes it too hard for the eggs to adhere like ‘dirty’ hair
I can’t really describe what each stage looks like any better than the internet at large but I hope these tips help you not freak out like I did. You don’t really need to wash everything they ever touched. You don’t need to take things away for weeks to ‘be sure’. You DO need to clean where they have been in the past 4 hours – I was cycling things through the dryer and hot washer until midnight the night before a party and then all morning too and that was just wasted energy!
Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll be back to normal. I didn’t get to work out or eat right all weekend so that added to my stress load. I had a nice morning with some friends and Fiona is being sweet and the sun is shining so I think we will have good afternoon and an early night and tomorrow I can be happy-shiny about Zoe’s puppy party. I’m also buying a pro lice comb and we get to do some checks every 2 weeks for the rest of their lives…
with twisted teeth to really kill the buggers!
Sometimes when I check the kids into kid-care to work out, or, put on a show after dinner and go run on the elliptical I feel like maybe I’m not doing the right thing. I know that being healthy is part of being a good mom but what do the kids think?
today I got a little bit of an answer…. I was doing a little work and Fiona came down and hopped on the elliptical and said she needed to work out. She lasted about 65 seconds but hey, she is really short. Since I still had a little bit of work to finish (taking down the townhouse add, I wish I had 3 to rent!) I gave her my phone and she asked me to smile and show my muscles. Not really the best picture ever but my photographer is 3.
I think that they know exercise is important. I’ve heard them all choose water because it is ‘most healthy’. I’m sure I’ve messed them up in other ways by calling the cute or pretty or praising a 100% on a test rather than the work or effort that went into it. (aside, so what if no work went into getting that 100? What if the test is so easy that anything less than 100 for her I would ask if she got distracted? Still awesome that she followed the rules and got 100% but can’t exactly praise her ‘effort’). The other day they had a push up contest and in 4 one min tests Nimh did 80, Zoe did 100, and Fiona did 40 – I didn’t witness this so no idea on the quality but they wanted to do this! I could be doing worse raising kids with fitness on the mind – I’m balancing it with absolutely no
health – still have a cold, so does Fiona
naps – we both got one! (because we are sick)
house – staying in 2 days in a row does good things
diet -weighed in down .5 of a pound, so 8ish total
Yesterday we decided to not go out since we had colds and I didn’t want to get worse and I didn’t want Fiona to spread it around by licking unsuspecting citizens/shopping carts/doorknobs. I have a list of things to do, one was sew a set of blankets and while I was doing that, and, Fiona was about 2 steps away doing a puzzle she pulls a new one out of the kid disaster bag;
“mom, there is a pony tail holder up my nose and its stuck!”
For the next 45 minutes we got to know the inside of Fiona’s nose very well. It was a clear tiny pony holder, not easy to see, really not easy to grab.
On top of it all she is a snot factory at the moment.
We tried many things, booger sucker, tweezers/flashlight/magnifying glass, and even a small straw attached to the Dyson hand vac.
In the end, the snot did it. She ended up falling asleep and when she woke up she had a ton of phlegm and after that the problem was no more. We believe she swallowed it…
I’m hoping this is a happy ending and if you found this post because you have a similar problem my nurse sister (after she stopped laughing) reminded me that your nose and thought are way more connected than your nose and sinus so it is far more likely to go down than up.
ps. her breathing was never ever impacted, there was no blockage.
pps. she probably breathed better after aggressively suctioning her nose…..
ppps. Later that night she had a scrap of fabric and I asked her “where are you going to put that?” and she said with an evil gleam “in my nose!”. Then she said, “no, never in your nose, that was a bad joke”
Face- gargoyle but maybe better than yesterday
pills – 5 of 40 done
writing – not much but we are offical count of 7257. It totally helps to have a co-author
house – Halloween is down, Thanksgiving/fall is half up meaning there are random bits of decoration ‘around’
hours sleeping/in bed – 407, the most ever in years. I don’t think I even spent this much time in bed when I gave birth… I have been either napping, or resting and going to bed early. I might look frightful but I feel rested
Hey, I’m still winning on NaBloPoMo and everyone is fed so that’s two more for the win column.
oh, did you know the kids had off tomorrow? It isn’t just my kids tricking me… I checked, they really have off. Don’t know why but they do~