Archive for the ‘The Rest’ Category

Horsing Around (I May Have Used That Title Before)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

I don’t often have a favorite child. Sometimes I have a least favorite child (defined as the one who is currently misbehaving/throwing a tantrum/crying/keeping me awake at 2 am) but that only lasts for a few minutes. Mothers have an infinite amount of love, so loving one kid infinite plus a little bit more is almost impossible.

That being said, I’ve been finding myself scheduling extra time with Caroline whenever possible lately. Four and four months seems to be a nice age for her. I mean, she’s still FOUR. Life is hard when you are four and you have to wear sneakers instead of sparkly shoes or can’t have candy for breakfast or have to go to bed when it is still light out or when the half-zebra is too far away from the fence and you can’t pet her. Caroline is the middle child, my only girl, the one who I worry about the most as she moves from being a baby into real life. She has so much confidence and curiosity and willingness to try new things right now but I know the day is coming when being herself will feel harder than going with the crowd. I want her to hold on to herself and be fearless as long as possible, so if she’s up for an adventure, I am up for an adventure.

She wakes up every day and wants to Do Fun Stuff. As soon as she hears about a cool place or fun activity it goes on her mental list of Fun Stuff We Should Do so if we have a whole in the schedule she is ready to fill it. And on the way to Doing Fun Stuff she wants to grab a frappuccino. Because who doesn’t love a frappuccino?

Our Sunday included TWO frappuccinos. We went to Target with the Starbucks at 8 am for the Lilly Pulitzer collection release but failed – our store didn’t even get any kid sizes in stock and the first 10 crazy women in the doors bought EVERYTHING else. There was one beach towel and a couple of glasses left at 8:05. Luckily Caroline found a couple of Easter dresses on clearance that she was perfectly happy to accept instead of Lilly (because she’s 4, she doesn’t care). Then when we came home she begged to do more fun stuff. I heard from a friend there was a fundraiser at Ray of Light Farm, so Caroline and I jumped in the car and went, leaving the boys at home. On the way back we had “frappuccinos” i.e. Coolatas from Dunkin Donuts and talked about what we would do for our next adventure.

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I made the mistake of telling her people sometimes have guinea pigs as pets, so obviously now she wants to know when she can get one. Maybe I should have told her some people eat guinea pigs instead.
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More goats. We really like goats. Also, they sold us that food for the special fundraiser day – I’m not THAT much of an a-hole to just feed animals right next to the sign that says don’t feed the animals.

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This horse was named Belle, which made her Caroline’s favorite.

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Waiting patiently for the half-zebra to wander over. She eventually did so our day was a success.

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Caroline’s outfit:
Hat – Gymboree outlet
Dress – Target
Leggings – BabyLegs
Boots – Zulily
Sweater (in the other pics) – J Crew Crew Cuts from the consignment shop
Glasses (in the other pics) – Zenni Optical

For the record, Caroline is only allowed non-coffee drinks. I’m not pumping my 4-year-old full of espresso – it’s mostly whipped cream and ice. And delicious.

 

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Happy 33 To Me

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Hey, it’s my birthday, I’m gonna party like I’m responsible for keeping 3 small humans alive on my birthday. So maybe a glass of wine after they all go to bed.

That song was actually really popular on my birthday the year it came out (which I believe was in two thousand and OMG I am old) so I think of it as my birthday song. Just like probably 1/3rd of girls who were in college in that year probably do. I am nothing if not part of my generation.

33 is not a big or special birthday. I don’t have anything big or special planned and we will probably not celebrate in any memorable ways. But a bunch of small things have come together recently that lead me to believe 33 might be the age which I am officially an adult. And not only that, an adult who is pretty good at adulting sometimes.

I have a skin care routine. I realized those spots on my face weren’t just big freckles and I bought two different kinds of cream that have the words “anti-aging” in them and I reliably both put them on AND take my make-up off. I’ve never done that more than two days in a row before, but it’s been a couple weeks so maybe it stuck this time. Plus I expanded my makeup routine from “mascara and sometimes foundation” to “expensive mascara, primer, foundation and eyebrow gel”. I am probably the only one who can tell, but I FEEL more put together.

Along those same lines, I also a) have a standing appointment for a hair cut/color maintenance and b) wear earrings. Both tiny things that I always felt like I was never going to manage and yet now I have and do and it makes me happy every time I look in the mirror. Earrings! A lack of noticeable roots and split ends! Like a real grown up!

In the less superficial department, I also used my phone as an actual phone several times this week. I returned a call to get the kids set up for summer camp. I answered an unfamiliar number that ended up being Evan’s teacher. I moved my hair appointment. I called Nikon to find out what I could do about my broken camera. I called the camera supply place to find out if they could rush-ship a new one. I called and made the dermatologist appointment I hate making. Ok, that last one is a lie, I didn’t call yet. I hate the medical care on base and I have to see them to get a referral to a real derm and I hate the dermatologist in general because having my skin examined closely by ANYONE is horrifying. But I also don’t really want to die of skin cancer, so I’m definitely calling on Monday.

Other adulting skills I’ve mastered this year: Mailing things without standing in line at the post office. Going to the grocery store and not buying mostly ice cream. Taking out the trash. Talking to my kids’ teachers without feeling like I’m about to get in trouble. Recognizing when buying the more expensive version of something might be a better choice than buying the cheap thing. Making school lunches. Not staying up too late (most of the time).

My goal for the next year is to be an adult about my own self. I need to make wiser choices to be healthier. I need to stop eating my feelings. I need to use that wine-drinking time after bedtime to maybe do some push-ups. I also need to buy myself a pair of jeans that fit – just ONE PAIR – so I don’t have to wear yoga pants to yoga pant inappropriate locations, like dinner at restaurants with real silverware or all the birthday parties the kids are invited to this month. I can beat myself up over the size of my pants and losing baby weight afterward (because I am not sure I will ever be adult enough not to do that) but at least I can do it from the comfort of pants with a button that actually buttons.

So it’s not like I’ve discovered the secret of life or become wildly successful or been a perfect human/wife/mother but this year was pretty OK and I hope next year is even OK-er. Maybe on my 34th birthday I’ll be able to say I’ve successfully learned to spell the words “apartment” and “apparently” right on the first try. It’s good to have goals.

 

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Easter 2015

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

This year, Evan’s birthday and Easter were the same day. We actually did his celebrating the day/night before and did Easter stuff on Easter, so these pictures are out of order but I’m hoping to put together a real birthday post with a kid interview before I finish it. So I’m starting with Easter.

The Easter Bunny was very generous this year and shockingly well-prepared considering how early the holiday fell. She was smart enough to buy several things on clearance after Easter last year AND THEN put them in a well-marked box in the basement AND THEN remembered to go down and LOOK in the box. Besides the last-year stuff and the standard candy, Easter Bunny also brought each big kid a Lego set because a) everyone loves Legos and b) spending money on Legos seemed like a wiser choice than buying $20 worth of junk they’d forget about instantly. So far it has worked out extremely well.

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Even Lincoln got a basket of baby-appropriate stuff (book, ears, finger puppets, rubber ducky). I was also SUPER excited each kid finally has a permanent designated basket complete with their name and everything. They came from Personal Creations and were perfect for egg hunting at church and filling on Easter morning.

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This chocolate bunny seriously blew his mind. It’s the solid kind, which means he ate appoximately a whole pound of chocolate before church. #eastertraditions

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Before we went to church I dragged the children outside for an Obligatory Fancy Clothes Holiday Photo. It didn’t go super well.

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Don’t worry though, I/they made up for it later.

After church we went to Mystic Seaport to run out a little energy before our 2 pm brunch reservations. E insisted it is no long “brunch” if it is served at 2 pm but I say anything with both a carving station and a custom omlet bar counts as brunch on Easter.

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Lincoln was D O N E by the time we actually sat down to eat, but it still went fairly well. I wish he would have nursed and then slept on me so I could have sent my husband to fill my plate with ALL THE THINGS from the dessert table, but there was way too much going on for a distractable 8 month old to nurse. He did shove most of a dinner roll in his face. Caroline ate all the meat. Evan mostly ate crudités (if I call them crudités I feel less bad about the cost of carrot sticks). I ate more than enough stuff to make it feel worth the effort and expense. Easter brunch at a fancy place has ALWAYS been one of my favorite things and getting to do it once a year with my own family is fun. I imagine in 5 more years when everyone eats more and sits still and is as excited as I am about the crepe bar it will be an even nicer tradition.

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Friday, April 3rd, 2015

So Caroline is now in glasses.

preschool glasses

 

I’ve had a few friends ask how we knew she needed them so I thought I might share here, in case anyone else is wondering. Caroline attends the public pre-K program in town. It’s really nice that they offer an early learning program but I suspect the purpose of the school has just as much to do with catching kids who need services as it does with giving kids a head start with their letters and numbers. The school is a great way to reach families who might otherwise get lost or not know they’re eligible for assistance. One of the things the school did this year was a vision screening for Caroline. In the fall she tested at 20/40 and then last month she tested at 20/50, so the nurse sent home a note suggesting we have her checked her checked by a real doctor.

I called our insurance to ask if they had suggestions and they gave me a short list of local offices. None of the options specialized in pediatrics so I just crossed my fingers and hoped we got someone nice. The receptionist asked if Caroline knew her letters and I said “Yyyyyyy…….eeeeeessssssss?? Probably? Maybe?” because I realized I wasn’t as sure as I thought. She suggested they use a tumbling E test instead of letters, in case she had failed based just on her knowledge of the alphabet instead of her sight.

The tumbling E – just turning a big wooden capital E to match the one on the screen – worked pretty well. She seemed to understand how it worked and I felt like it was a much better option than asking her letters.

The BAD parts of the test were that it was long. Way too long for a 4 year old. The way the chart was set up she was actually looking at it in a reflection, so the doctor could look at it on the wall behind her. But Caroline is a smart girl. She saw the chart was behind her and just kept turning around to read the E’s because THAT chart was way easier to read. The doctor was sometimes too busy looking at her notes to notice Caroline had turned so I was really doubtful of some of the answers. Then they did an up-close tiny-E reading chart but the way the doctor pointed at the lines was confusing. Caroline is 4. She’s a really vocal, smart, funny 4…but she’s still 4. If you’re pointing at a line with your nail but your fingertip is pointing at a different line maybe she isn’t sure which line to read and just says “No I can’t read it”.

The exam did include the “look through these lenses and tell me which one is clearer” part that I HATE at eye exams. It really stresses me out, but it was one of the parts that I felt really helped Caroline understand why glasses were important. They also had her look into a machine that measured the shape of her eyes and dilated them to get some more tests. Overall it was an hour plus for the exam before we got the verdict.

Caroline is both near-sighted and far-sighted, plus she has astigmatism in her left eye. Again, she’s ONLY 4 so there’s some doubt about her exact prescription right now and how it might change in the next few months and years. For now she’s in regular glasses, not bifocals. Even though I wasn’t 100% confident in her tests it was clear Caroline wasn’t seeing as well as an average person so I’m glad we’re addressing this now instead of waiting several years only to find out at 10 she’s never been able to read the board in class. We’re going back in 3 months for another evaluation, where she’ll know what to expect and won’t get so annoyed at the testing. I just really want her to be able to see.

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The optician in the office helped Caroline try on EVERY PAIR of kid-sized glasses they offer and she only managed to find one pair she liked. They cost $140, and that was after I asked them to put in the most basic lenses because a) she will probably break them and b) we’ll probably be getting different ones in 3 months. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days asking her where her glasses are, worrying about her glasses and freaking out that her glasses might be lost. Again, SHE’S ONLY FOUR. I need to just recognize that she will probably lose at least one pair of glasses before she learns to take care of them.

After MUCH internet shopping while Caroline sat next to me saying “Those are NOT my style”, we ordered some cheap extra glasses from one of the internet retailers (I’m not linking/plugging anyone until they get here – the reviews online are either REALLY GOOD or REALLY BAD). As long as they show up I’ll be pretty happy since they cost $19 each and she is fighting me a little on wearing her current frames all the time. We’re starting with for school, for books and for TV and working up to all the time. Obviously they don’t help SO MUCH that she put them on and said “Mommy, I can see everything now! The sky is blue! There are words in these books!” Which is good! I am glad she wasn’t blind! But also maybe that would be easier than worrying the glasses are making it worse! I wish eye stuff was an easy diagnosis you can just do with a machine instead of still counting on self-reporting. Four year olds are unreliable.

The good news is it’s 2015 and glasses are cool. She thinks they make her look smart and I totally agree.

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Oak Leaf Dairy Farm Visit – Baby Goat Cuddle Therapy Should Be A Thing

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

A few weeks ago a friend posted a photo on Facebook of her daughter surrounded by baby goats. I clicked the picture, which was geo-tagged, which led to a place name, which I then typed into Facebook and their page popped up. (Technology, man!) It turns out the place with the baby goats is called Oak Leaf Dairy and it’s only 20 minutes from my house. So after ballet class on Saturday I forced my family into their coats and put the directions into my phone and said “WE’RE GOING TO SEE GOATS EVERYONE IN THE CAR.”

I have about a 20% success rate with Family Fun Days. 80% of the time I am slightly-to-very disappointed because the Family Fun I had pictured never materialises. The kids are hungry, the weather is bad, my husband doesn’t think “wandering” or “browsing” count as fun activities at all. The more kids we add the more often I am stressed instead of relaxed and the picture perfect day trips I image for our family ends with everyone just needing a nap and a break from each other. It’s something I struggle with a lot – I WANT to be a family that loves to do lots of things together but most of the time we do better just watching a movie. That’s not much of a photo-worthy occasion.

BUT. Sometimes. Sometimes everyone remembers that they actually like each other and we have an awesome time.

The goats were an awesome time. Oak Leaf Dairy gets an A+ for Family Fun.

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Since it was snowing/raining we didn’t get to walk around the farm for the full tour, but we spent more than an hour in the baby goat shed just cuddling and petting baby goats. You can hold the goats. You HAVE to hold the goats, because they will literally leap into your lap. They also nibble your clothes and hair and phone and shoes but they have baby goat teeth and it doesn’t hurt. There were tiny babies literally born THAT morning in a separate quiet pen but the children could climb in and out of the other stalls (if they WANTED to be covered in goats) or hang out in the main room if they wanted a little more space. There were a few other people there and they were all as overwhelmed with the adorableness as we were – one of them FaceTimed her sister to show her how much fun the kids were having playing with the goats. Even my husband, who rolls his eyes at everything, loved the baby goats. BABY GOATS ARE THE BEST.

I would like to recommend baby goat therapy be added to Ways To Avoid Hating Everything.

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After we got in our baby goat time – even Lincoln liked petting the baby goats – we stopped at the cheese room to try out some samples: aged cheddar, cheddar curds, 4 kinds of chevre, feta, and caramel sauce. They also sell soap, but we couldn’t eat that so we didn’t buy any. We DID buy an obscene amount of everything else and then stopped for bread and ice cream on the way home so we would have cheese and caramel mouth-delivery devices.

It was an excellent Family Fun Day and we are going back as soon as possible.

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