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11 posts from September 2009

September 29, 2009

Kids (where did I put those darn instructions?)

We'd only just arrived at the ticket counter to check luggage and get our boarding passes for our trip home when a woman came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said something.  I heard it but didn't think I heard it right so I must have looked confused and that prompted her to repeat it: 

"I just want to say that I think you're doing a great job with your children."


I struggled to get my mind around it.  What she joking?  Being sarcastic? 

No, she was smiling and this seemed like a sincere compliment.   I smiled back and thanked her then did a quick mental review of the last few minutes to figure out what the heck she was talking about.

We'd just finished navigating the ticket line at the airport in Las Vegas for our return flight home.  We had our luggage and our kids and, like most of our excursions, it took a great deal of physical and intellectual strength to get everyone and everything through the line and up to the agent at the counter.  The luggage was willing (and on wheels) but Maddy and Gwen weren't so easily maneuverable.  We'd push a suitcase a few inches and then there would be a complaint from one or both of the girls about an unfairness or hardship!  Honestly, I can't remember any of the specifics and it does't matter because it could have been anything.  I did the best I could to deal with it.  I tried calmly reasoning with both of them.  Giving them plenty of easy options to make a good choice and be happy.  But over and over again, they chose misery.  Maddy was especially hard that morning and I finally had to pick her up and put my nose about 1/8 of an inch from hers and sternly demand that she be respectful.  I told her that she didn't have to like what we said to her but she had to do it anyway and she wasn't allowed to be rude to us about it.  Period.

Mad grumpy blog

This is the trend, lately.  The girls have stopped getting mad about the foot-stomping injustices in their life (crust on sandwiches, who holds the car keys, etc) and have focused all of their rage completely upon us instead. 

We've become the evil Mom and Dad who inflict these terrible injustices upon them and they don't waste any time telling us about how much they hate every minute of it.  Maddy has even started telling me that she doesn't love me anymore (but I'm immune to that particular form of psychological warfare). 

We've offered empathy and sympathy and acknowledged their angst in every way possible.  But, in the end, we've held fast to our vow to never negotiate with terrorists.

When they were younger, we cut them some slack but those days are over because they're certainly old enough to take "no" for an answer now.  And we're trying to be consistent with our insistence that they do just that.  They can disagree but they have to do it respectfully and they have to ultimately accept our final decision because (call the social workers!!!)...  our family isn't a democracy.   

Most recently, we're helping Maddy to say "Oh, I'm so disappointed!" instead of getting red-faced angry at us every time we have to curb her behavior in any way.  It's ridiculous that the smallest correction brings about the biggest huff from her.   I can't help but wonder if she would be behaving this way if she was still in China, living with her birth family in rural Qinzhou.  Really, I don't know the answer to this but I do wonder about it quite often.  I have similar questions about what Gwen would be doing today if her birth family was able to keep her.  Would she not eat rice?  Weird thing to wonder, I know, but she absolutely won't eat it for us.  But I digress... 

As you can imagine, drama is the noun of the year in our household.   Hopefully we'll save ourselves some anguish later by laying down some ground rules now. 

What works with your kids?  Any pointers or tips?  Any good books to recommend?  Please!  Fresh techniques benefit everyone!

UPDATE:  I listen to podcasts of my favorite morning talk-radio program and just happened across an interview with John Rosemond and really liked what he had to say.  Specifically, that the advice Great Grandma gave Grandma back when Grandma had her babies was superior to the advice of most of the parenting "experts" today.    I can appreciate that!    I may even buy one of his books!

Speaking of books, there's one in particular that I consulted many times while Michael was growing up.  It's called "Who's in Control?" by Lawrence Balter.  You may have to contact the author directly to get this book since Amazon says it's out of print.  I really give the book high marks though.  It's funny and practical and divided into chapters that deal with issues specific to certain ages of children (so you don't have to read the whole entire book to benefit immediately from it).

September 27, 2009

guess where we are

Disney sept 09 blog

We've sure been spending lots of weekends away from home this summer!  In June, we flew to England and Paris, July was Scotland, August was San Luis Obispo and Seattle and September was Vegas and Disneyland.  Phew!  It's fun and exciting to do this much travel but it's feeling pretty good to know that we'll be home for a good long stretch for most of the rest of this year. 

This weekend's adventure was scheduled for many months and part of the appeal of a late September trip to Disneyland was that it would be cooler and the park would be less crowded.  Well, surprise!  Neither of those two things happened. 

The weekend started off pretty easily.  We arrived at the airport in good time and made our way to the gate only to learn that our flight into Orange County Airport was canceled because of fog so we had to switch at the last minute to a flight to LAX instead.  For a while, we weren't sure our luggage (including car seats) also made the switch (fortunately it did).  

After landing, we straightened out the car rental snafu and headed for Mouseland and only got there an hour later than we'd originally planned.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that we then stood in near 100 degree weather for 45 minutes and sweated all over the fistful of hundred dollar bills that we eventually traded for park tickets.  Funny how the Happiest Place on Earth doesn't offer convenience and comfort until after you give 'em the cash and elbow your way into the park, huh. 

Okay, I know that sounds like a big fat complaint but it really didn't adversely affect our mood since we don't do stuff like this with any expectation that it'll feel like a warm and fuzzy blissfest.  If we wanted that, we'd go to a Yanni concert and not Disneyland.  Nope, we do this for the FUN and we've long known that the best kind of fun is pretty often accompanied by a certain amount of sweat and misery. 

We were supposed to meet a half dozen other families from the China adoption community.  Some we knew already in real life and others we were excited to finally be meeting.    But we were late and the park was insanely crowded so it took some time to finally get all of the kids together.  Hey, but it happened! 

It was really fun to get to meet Samantha and her mom and dad.   I've been a fan of their blog for years and my favorite part has been following the amazing transformation of Samantha as she poses on the same white chair every single month.  I can't help but regret that we didn't do something like this.  Seriously, it's amazing!  Obviously, they can't ever get rid of that chair! 

After a little nap back at the hotel, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to Disneyland.  It's the first time any of us have visited after dark and it was wonderful to be out there and see all the beautiful sights and not be sweating and constantly looking to stand next to anything that casts a shadow.  It was about 75 degrees at 9:00 PM and we couldn't have asked for a more comfortable way to walk around in elbow to elbow pedestrian traffic!   

The girls loved the fireworks and it was fun to watch them stare up at the sky in complete amazement.   The sheer number of people at the park was almost comical though and it probably took us a full hour to get to the exit when the fireworks ended.  Without the crowd, that walk would have likely been about 5 minutes.

A good night of sleep and an impressive breakfast buffet later, we were ready to hit the road for another day of fun.  This time we picked the Los Angeles Zoo since it seemed much less intense and carried the additional attraction of being about a fifth the cost of a 2nd day at Disneyland.  This is our favorite zoo and we had no regrets about spending an entire day here.   Six hours later, we were all loaded into the rental car and headed for the airport.  The kids were asleep almost immediately.

After an airport dinner, a 1.5 hour nonstop flight and a 30 minute drive home, we greeted a very appreciative kitty and kicked off our shoes!  We were HOME!   For what it's worth, I wore a pedometer for most of the weekend and logged a bit over 20,000 steps yesterday at Disneyland and another 15,000 steps at the zoo today!  Sigh.... almost enough to burn off all of that amusement park food! 

September 23, 2009

Kindergarten Field Trip to .... Las Vegas!

Vegas minivacation 2009

Click the image, above, to see a slightly larger view of the entire two page spread.
Or you can click <here> to see a larger view of the left half.
Or you can click <here> to see a larger view of the right half.

A few months ago, we planned a mini-vacation with long time friends, Chris and Phyllis.

Chris went to Grad School with Andrew and participated in our wedding back in 2001. Then we went to his wedding a year later! Now we all have busy blossoming families with Kindergartners and (in the case of their daughter, Cassie, toddlers too!).  Since schedules are starting to finally look manageable, we thought it might be fun to attempt a joint family mini-vacation. This trip was the fruit of that effort!

We picked Vegas because it's pretty family friendly. 

None of us gamble so it's relatively inexpensive too. 

There's fantastic shopping and plenty of eye candy to keep the kids amused and great deals on hotel and restaurants.  Perfectamundo!  And, thanks to Phyllis's super-thrifty-sleuthing efforts, we were able to find a 2 bedroom suite at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas. 

Two bedrooms worked perfectly for our two families and our half didn't cost any more than we might have paid for two standard rooms (our usual hotel preference).   And the best part of the arrangement was that we didn't have to split up and call it a night when the kids went to bed since we had space to hang out between the two bedrooms.  Room service was embarrassingly fantastic too.   Seriously... I've never felt so pampered!


There are lots of kid-friendly shows in Vegas and, since Gwen is our little Knight in training, we had to go to the Tournament of Kings dinner show at Excalibur.   She didn't blink for the entire 90 minutes!  Afterward, we shopped for accessories for her halloween costume --- yep, she wants to be a Knight.  No surprise there!   

We also visited Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and really LOVED the Mystere show (Circ De Soleil).  That was an amazing and worth every penny but I have to say that the highlight of the weekend was Mandalay Bay's Lazy River.  It's a quarter mile (or so) of meandering water-way with a nice swift current and a depth of not more than 3.5 feet.  The idea is that you ride the impressive current on an inflatable ring (for maximum effect) or you can just swim along on your own.  When we first saw this so-called "river", we were doubtful since the water was a bit cold and we didn't really understand that there was a current beneath the surface.  But when the kids were swept away (with the rings we brought with us around their chest), their shrieks of delight won us over and the fact that we had to leap in and float along with them was more than just a parental responsibility -- it was FUN!  I think we spent 2 hours going around and around in this thing and it's probably the part of the weekend We'll all remember most fondly.  And, with our hotel key, it was free.   

Next time, we'll just pack a bathing suit and some sun screen and skip all the fancy shows and spend our entire weekend gorging on room service and drifting on this on this fabulously fun Lazy River!

The plane touched down yesterday morning just in time for us to grab our luggage, scurry to long-term parking then whisk the girls off to school at noon.  They missed one day of Kindergarten because of this mini-vacation but we hope that won't ruin their chances of getting into an Ivy League college in 13 years.   Truancy certainly isn't something we plan to make a habit of (so please spare me the lecture in your comments) but there were good lessons learned on this trip: 

We don't gamble and we were able to show our kids hundreds (thousands?) of adults sitting in a stinky noisy smoke-filled casino dropping coin after coin into a machine and getting absolutely nothing other than dashed hopes in return.    I know the thrill of victory (however remote) is fun to some folks but it's never been fun to us and it's kinda nice to have the opportunity to impress upon our kids at this tender age that it's a vice that's easy to avoid.  A rather good lesson for a missed day of school, I think!

Monkey knight 016

PS:  When school was out, the girls wanted to play with Gwen's Knight accessories.  Maddy was a bit unhappy that she didn't get something like this but she was happy to share some of her sister's abundant bounty.  Since less is never more with our girls, they wanted to layer the shields and swords and chest protectors over some historical halloween costumes.  I can't belive last year's monkey costumes still fit! 

The result?  The Monkey Knights you see pictured here! 

September 18, 2009

"Adieu to you, and you and you and you" (any sound of music fans?) !UPDATE!


I'm not sure how it happened but my RSS feed subscriptions are totally out of control.  Again.  

The last time I complained about this, many of you suggested that I switch from Bloglines to Google Reader and I took your advice and, gosh, it was so much better!  Heck I could even read my favorite blogs from my iPhone while I stood in sweltering 99 degree direct sunlight waiting to pick up Gwen and Maddy from Kindergarten each afternoon.  An invaluable opportunity to reclaim some lost internet time were it not for all that annoying glare and drippy wet sweat.  

Every morning, I wake up my girls and grab my laptop and we all snuggle in bed with one kid on each side while we watch Curious George on PBS.  Every now and then, they'll glance over at the computer screen and gesticulate enthusiastically and ask about the cute kid they see in the blog post I'm viewing.  They know all of you and almost never say the wrong name. 

And I just sit there feeling guilty because I can't seem to carve out the time to individually open any of those blogs to comment on anything you've written and this really presses hard on my guilt-button because there are so many blogs out there and I've come to know and care about so many of my blogging friends over the years and I appreciate how much time and emotional energy goes into the posting on a blog and I want to participate in what you're sharing. 

It's been weighing heavy on my heart and I've given it lots of thought over the last month or so and I've finally decided that I really need to start fresh and delete ALL of my subscriptions and only subscribe to the blogs of people who are currently reading mine.

So let me know if you're reading this blog or interested in having me follow yours.  You can comment or subscribe to my list of "followers" (see list on the far left menu).  From now on, I'm only following my follower's blogs.

As I type this, the girls are in the playroom watching "Sound of Music" for the thirty-eleventh time and the "Farewell" song is playing.  You know, the one where they all say goodnight and run upstairs?  It's ringing through the house and it's pretty much impossible to get out of my head and it really does seem especially poignant because I know that there are some old blogger friends that I won't see anymore after this post.  Sad, but I sincerely wish them well.  

In the morning, I hope to have a much shorter list of RSS feeds and a new level of clarity and deeper appreciation of all of my blogger friends!

UPDATE:  I'm deeply touched by all of the comments and private emails and additions to my "follow me" list.  Really, I couldn't have ever anticipated this!  But as flattering as it is to have so many wonderful blogger friends, it's just not really helping me to pare down my list of blogs that I follow!  I still have no idea what I'll do since it'll take a week (that I don't have) to try to add and remove blogs based on what I've learned from all of this.   I'm still not sure what to do.  Maybe I'll just 'visit' the blogs of people who comment until I figure out a better method.   

September 16, 2009

Hairbands, Bandaids, Bad Boo-Boos & Bento

In any given day, we're likely to snap 100 photos so tagging them is always an interesting challenge. 

Today's batch was "Hairbands, Band-aids, Bad Boo-Boos & Bento".   Interesting combo? 

Here are the details:


We have quite the assortment of hairbands around here.  We've tried to sort them in various ways but this one seems to work best.  It's a belt organizer called "Round a Belt" from Bed Bath & Beyond and it works perfectly to keep our pretty elastic bands in order.  I can carry it into the playroom while I do their hair in the morning before school or I can toss the whole thing into a suitcase and take it with us on a trip.  It's perfect!
Today, our day started like any other which included my usual ritual of turning on the curling iron (like I have for the past 30 years).  But, today, Gwen learned firsthand why I've always warned her to keep her distance.
She brushed against it but never made a peep.  Then she ran to the bath tub to swish some water over her injury (still no peep) and finally came to me and 'confessed' that she'd burned herself. 
She was SOOO SOOO SORRY!  As if she'd done something wrong but, of course, I reassured her that it wasn't her fault and was just a bad accident.  Then I resumed my worry since I could see how bad the burn was (her burned skin was turning blue!).  I rushed her into the kitchen and found an icepack to apply to her burn and that bought me a few minutes to figure out what to do next. 
Unfortunately, I picked the TOTALLY WRONG THING.  
We have a big collection of band-aids and I was sure at least one type was for burns but I picked the wrong bandage. I didn't have the boxes so I had to go off of a visual and I ended up picking one that was for blisters and not for burns.  Ohmygosh!  NOT right!
After I applied it, I kept looking at it and finally had to admit to myself that I picked the wrong one. 
Then I had to remove it. 
Oh man, it was difficult!   I pulled it off under a steady stream of cold water (which felt good) and she just cried and cried the whole time.  Afterwards, we all loaded into the van and headed to the drug store to find something more appropriate as a wound dressing.  The Pharmacist recommended Neosporin and a simple adhesive bandage and that worked perfectly so we applied it and wiped our tears and off to school we went. 
After school, Gwen was her usual happy self and I snapped a few of these photos just before nap time today. The first one is our collection of bandaids.  Usually, this serves us well.  The rest were Gwen hamming it up for the camera.  She was pretty happy to show off her injury but it looks worse because I applied a bunch of Neopsorin ointment before slapping on the bandage.
Burn crop
After nap, we had dinner and that brings me to the last part of this post..... Our Typical Dinner:
Gwen loves her carbs and Maddy loves all that --- PLUS everything else. 
Can you tell which plate belongs to which kid? 
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