A Father’s Day Story

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up last Sunday, June 16th. You may also be interested to know that I wrote most of it last year but saved it because I couldn’t find the shirts I wanted to give Glad and the kids for the occasion. I’ve since edited and updated it. )

 

Today is Father’s Day and I’m going to tell you a story about my husband.

Before I met Glad, I knew very little about superheroes. The only ones I was familiar with were the ones I saw movies of – Superman, Spiderman and the X-men. I had no idea any of them were interconnected in any way. I never read the comics or saw the cartoons.

When I met Glad, I thought he was an adult, and for the most part, he is. He works hard, single-handedly supports us, and takes care of bills and business and legal work.

But when it comes to superheroes, he is the biggest kid around!

My introduction to this love of his began when we were dating. He would bring movies for us to watch – Superman Returns and Fantastic Four are two I remember clearly. Then he began buying movies on CD – the Spiderman series, the X-men series and so on.

As new superhero movies came out, he taught me more about each one. The first lesson I learned was to never diss any of them. Ha. They are gods to him. Over time I learned that it was better to ask questions and learn about them rather than tease him for being into something so intensely.

When The Incredible Hulk was released, he went gaga, quite literally. I learned that he will attach himself to certain scenes once he has seen the movie and will re-watch those scenes hundreds of times over. I also learned that the Hulk is his favorite of all the superheroes and he sees himself as the Hulk. Yes, he does!

Marvel Studios taking over the stories of his favorite heroes made him so happy. He would literally dance in anticipation of the next movie and scour YouTube looking for trailers of the movies he was waiting for. When he is watching one of these movies, he gets as excited as my kids do when watching something they love. He will clap his hands and cheer and tell me how perfect the movie is and how Marvel got it exactly right.

So you can imagine his excitement when he first heard that The Avengers movie was coming out. For no less than a year, I had to listen to complaints about how long it was taking to release and why can’t it come faster? In the meantime, he enjoyed the Iron Man movies, Thor and Captain America.

As The Avengers release date drew closer, he imagined how he would get to the theater to see it. He actually planned to take a day off work and was going to see it more than once, but it didn’t happen. Finally, some friends of ours got him a ticket and the look on his face was pure ecstasy! He was speechless when he got home. All he could say was that it was perfect.

He claims that no movie will ever match up to The Avengers so he doesn’t want to see anything else, except, of course, for the next few movies Marvel Studios has lined up for release over the next few years. He tells me how he thinks they should go, who should be in them, and how the story should be. I told him he should just go get a job with Marvel Studios so he can get his two cents into every movie.

He loved Iron Man3 and last year’s Spiderman, and is waiting in anticipation to see Man of Steel (it’s in the theaters here now). Yes, I know Superman is not from Marvel comics. I have been paying attention to my lessons.

Over this past year, he has taught the kids about some of his favorite superheroes. Logan and Lila have seen scenes from The Avengers, know the names of all the characters, and are eagerly waiting for the day when daddy will say they are old enough to watch these movies with him. Logan claims to be old enough, but he sometimes has bad dreams with characters from movies he watches, mainly Rudy the dinosaur from Ice Age 3, so he isn’t quite ready for the intensity of The Avengers.

They pretend to be the various heroes; Logan is the Hulk and Lila is Iron Man. It’s really cute how Lila has gotten Logan into eating more green veggies so that “you can turn green like the Hulk”. Move over, Popeye, there is a new veggie-eater strong man in town.

To celebrate Father’s Day, I got Glad and Logan Hulk t-shirts, and I made the girls some special shirts that say “Daddy is my superhero”. I think they loved them, don’t you?

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Love those smiles.

Love those smiles.

Thank you for being there for us, Sweetie. You are truly our superhero! We love you!

Click here for more pics.

Scarlett’s Accident

(This is a backlog post. It should have gone up June 3.)

There comes a time in every child’s life when they experience something that can make a mother’s heart stop.

With Logan, it was his premature birth and 10 day hospitalization. With Lila it was the time she drank turpentine at 2 years, 1 month old. Scarlett had yet to do something to freak me out severely (other than running off in a bookstore and hiding when she was 18 months old), but that changed last week.

I will have to begin with some background.

It was Monday, a rather stressful day for me because it is grocery shopping day. I used to shop alone with Scarlett while the other two were at school, but now with the arrival of summer holidays, I have no choice but to shop with all three kids.

Logan was already fussing when we got to the mall because we were only doing grocery shopping, and he wanted to go to the arcade and toy shop. He has no patience for shopping so he was running around, touching everything – every display, every shelf, every food item. He broke candy bars, crushed bags of chips and grabbed everything he could. Normally he is fairly obedient and can manage a trip to the store without too much wildness, but this day his hyperactive nature had taken over and it was all I could do to not yell at him right there. (He has ADHD.)

He continued to be wild during lunch and rest time, and on into the afternoon. He was mean to the girls and kept making them cry. Any sort of punishment didn’t faze him at all.

I finally decided to take the kids to the playground near our house, hoping that some outdoor play could burn some of his energy and tire him out. Yet he continued to be wild. Several times I had to pull him aside from his play as he was biting and pinching the other children. He even bit his own lip when he fell as he was racing up the slide.

The whole time I was keeping half an eye on the girls as they climbed the jungle gym. They are both quite good at it, so, while I stay near them, I don’t have to be right there. At one point I had to go to Logan again, and I didn’t see Scarlett follow me, nor did I see her climb the straight metal slide (not the ladder but the slide) until she was at the top.

She learned to climb the slide some time ago (barefoot), but I’m always next to her as there are no safety rails and she hasn’t yet figured out how to turn from her climb to sitting without putting her butt over the side. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

It was almost like seeing something in slow motion. I saw her at the top of the slide. I saw her begin to turn, and then I knew she was going to fall. I was too far away to get there in time to catch her. I left Logan and forgot his naughtiness as I ran to my baby.

The slide was about 6 feet at the highest point and she fell from the top, landing in the sand flat on her chest and tummy, hitting her lips hard on one side. Horror stories that I had heard of kids dying from falling off a slide filled my mind, and I struggled to push them away so I could focus on Scarlett. At first she cried while I carried her to a bench and tried to clean the sand off her face, but then she was quiet, scarily quiet. She just sat on my lap and looked at everything. I kept asking her questions but she wouldn’t answer. I managed to round up Logan and Lila, and we rushed home. All I could think of was getting her home, putting ice on her ever-swelling lips, and helping her recover from the shock she was in.

She wouldn’t let me put ice on her lip, nor did she want me to get the sand out of her mouth, both of which made her cry. I was afraid she had some internal injury since she was so quiet. I called Glad, who was working on the other side of town, and told him what had happened.

He asked some questions and then reassured me that she was probably fine but to keep an eye on her.  I held her close and told her how sorry I was that I hadn’t been close enough to catch her. I couldn’t do anything but rock her. After about 30 minutes (from the time she fell) she began to move around. I put a video on for her and then went to my room to cry. The guilt I felt was massive. How had I not noticed her following me? Why wasn’t I paying more attention? Why hadn’t I been right there to catch her? It was awful.

Finally I realized I had some hungry kids on my hands so I forced myself to get up and cook dinner, even though I wasn’t very hungry and could hardly stand to look at food. Surprisingly, Scarlett ate a good dinner! I thought she might just have some yogurt because she could hardly open her mouth, but she figured a way to slip the food in on the side that wasn’t sore. (Fried chicken liver, French fries, and cucumber slices.)

Afterwards she was perky and climbing around, even jumping! She was fine as I showered everyone and got them ready for bed. I let her lie in my bed and she went to sleep quickly.

Glad kept checking in every hour, and he was sure she didn’t have any internal injury, since she was breathing well, had eaten and didn’t throw up, nor was she complaining of any pains other than her massively swollen lip and a sore chest. I, however, was still freaking out inside.

I kept her in bed with me all night. At one point she scared me by waking up and just sitting there and staring straight ahead. After what seemed like forever, she told me she wanted water and to get up, but it was only about 4 in the morning so I convinced her to go back to sleep.

In the morning her lip looked scary. The top one on the right side was big and puffy, the bottom about half the size. Above, below, and on her lips were all the tiny scratches that had scabbed overnight. Scarlett herself was perky as ever, ate a good breakfast, had a normal bowel movement, and showed every sign of being ok internally. But just to be safe, Glad took her to the hospital for a checkup.

I didn’t feel relief until they got home. The doctor had confirmed that she had no internal injury, and her lip was going to be just fine. The swelling went down rapidly over the next two days, so fast, in fact, that we could see a difference from one hour to the next. Now, exactly one week later, all the scabs are gone and there is no evidence that she had such a bad fall.

Since that day I’ve made sure to stay right next to her at the park whenever she is climbing. She is daring, like Lila, and will climb on most anything, so I can’t let her out of my sight. She may be a good climber, but she is still a toddler and doesn’t have as good balance as Lila does.

I shudder every time I think back on that moment when she fell. I’m thankful she fell from the 6’ slide and not the higher spiral one that she so loves. I’m thankful I wasn’t far when she fell, so I could pick her up right away. I’m thankful she wasn’t seriously injured. And I’m most thankful she is still here.

What has your child done to freak you out?

We Finally Paid the Internet Bill

It’s been over 4 weeks since I’ve posted, not because I had nothing to say but because our internet was down. Well, we had to pay the bill but money was tight and it had to wait. There were some timely things that needed to be posted but they, of course, had to wait. I’ll be putting them up over the next few days (I did write them) and I’ll mention that it is a backlog post and when it was supposed to have gone up.

Other than that, life is pretty normal right now. Well, almost. School has begun but because of our pending move, we have opted to not enroll the kids for the new school year. The kids and Glad’s passports are at the visa office right now and we are waiting to get them back. After that, we will be free to make our move. Since we have no idea exactly when they will get here, everything else is kind of on hold.

I am doing some reading and pre-writing practice with Logan and Lila, just to keep the idea of “school” in their heads, and also because I want them to make some progress in those areas. Logan was reading well when he finished kindergarten, so we are continuing to practice with the Ladybird reader series. Lila is just learning to read with the same series. Both kids are learning phonics from this phonics website, Starfall.com.

For writing, I got them both some pre-writing practice workbooks. Logan especially needs to get the basic lines down. He was writing letters in kindergarten, both print and cursive, but it was difficult for him as he missed out on this basic training. So I am working slowly with him to get him comfortable with drawing lines. Even something as simple as a top-to-bottom or left-to-right straight line is difficult for him. Hopefully this practice will make it easier for him once he begins grade school.

So today you get two posts; this one and one backlog. The other backlog ones will follow over the next few days.

Lila’s Fourth Birthday

Another year has gone by and my baby is now 4. This past year, I think the best word to describe her is stinker. Yes, she has always been trouble incarnate, but this year especially so.  The terrible twos are nothing compared to the terrible threes!

So this year she chose butterflies for her birthday theme. She wanted a butterfly cake and butterfly gifts. That gave me a rather broad spectrum to work with, but I managed to get some things that she loved.

The day before her birthday, we took these butterfly cupcakes to her school so she could share them with her classmates in the summer camp.

The body is chocolate gems, the wings are mini-cookies, and the antennae are fruit rolls cut into tiny strips.

The body is chocolate gems, the wings are mini-cookies, and the antennae are fruit rolls cut into tiny strips.

Then on her birthday, I made this butterfly cake. I used my carrot cake recipe, swapping half the carrots for zucchini, and using cheese in the frosting instead of it all being icing sugar. It tasted quite nice, but I want to experiment with it and find a way to eliminate the icing sugar and make it with honey instead.

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In the afternoon we went to a fun play place, Bunny Bounce Funland. They had an inflatable bouncy house with a slide, a play area with a ball pit, trampoline, small swing and various other jungle gym toys. There were also a few arcade games and mini basketball/bowling games, air hockey, etc. that you could get tickets from to cash in for various items.

The kids had a load of fun, and Glad passed the time playing some arcade game. We had planned on staying 1/2 an hour, but ended up staying 1 1/2 hours. None of them wanted to leave even though it was past their dinner time.

At home we cut the cake and they decided that on birthdays, dinner should just be cake. 🙂 All the more reason for me to make it healthy.

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Then came the gifts. Lila had already gotten some before – a bubble blower set from daddy and an outing with me to a shop she had repeatedly requested to go in. It was one of those small costume jewelry/makeup/hair stuff places. She picked out a large pink hair clip, a set of clips and elastic’s with strawberries on them, and pink nail polish. In her words, “I have to have nail polish, Mommy, because I’m big now.” Ha.

The ones she opened were a Winnie the Pooh puzzle set, matching earrings and necklace set, faux gold butterfly earrings, a shirt with butterflies on it, and a mini purse that contained “makeup”: some chapstick and sparkly pink pressed powder.

She has wanted to play with makeup for some time, and once climbed way up to the high shelf in the bathroom where I keep my makeup (to keep her out of it) and took my bag down. When I found her, she had eye-shadow all over and black waterproof mascara on her face, lips, and legs. What a cleanup job! So I figured it was best to get her something she could safely play with.

She had a fun day overall. She is already talking about what she wants to do on her 5th birthday. Slow down, girl, and enjoy being four.

Our Healthy Diets – and Aspartame

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing my best to change the way we eat at home in order to improve our diets and make sure they are the most nutritious they can be. Since I found that I needed to change my own diet in order to lose weight, of course I wanted everyone to eat better. So I began to see how I could change my shopping list in order for this to happen.

It was a slow process, changing one or two items at a time, eliminating the less healthy options and replacing them with healthier ones. For example, I switched jam for honey. At first I thought the kids would prefer the jam, but they don’t. They love honey and pick it all the time, so now I no longer buy jam. Though I was buying the healthiest jam I could find, it was still high in white sugar, so I’m happy they love honey. I recently found a place that sells brown sugar so I was able to stop buying white sugar, too.

I also searched until I found real cheese and totally stopped buying the processed stuff. Real cheese is quite expensive here, so it took some time to find one that was in my price range, but it was worth the search.

I do most of my cooking with olive oil, and I keep on hand some sunflower oil for making baked goods, or else I use real butter. I also have a small jar of extra virgin olive oil for salads and hummus and stuff like that.

I used to buy a lot of cookies and other snacks (that I mostly ate), but now I’ve replaced them with more fruit. Good thing my kids are fruit lovers. They will eat it any time. Their preferred snacks are peanuts, raisins, dates, plain crackers (whole grain ones), chikki (a treat made from peanuts or sesame seeds and jaggery), granola, and of course, fruit.

While I used to buy certain items because they made meal prep easier with small kids, now that my kids are older I do make some other things since it is healthier, and often cheaper, than buying them already made. For example, I began making peanut butter this week to cut the cost of what we were spending on it. Logan loves peanut butter and will eat it every day if I let him. But the one I was getting kept going up in price and for one small jar of 460 gr. I was paying the same as for a kilo of chicken. It was way too much. I found that I could buy 1/2 a kilo of plain peanuts for less than half of what I was spending on peanut butter, and it only took me about 10 minutes to whip it up in my blender.

I have one of those blender sets that comes with different cups and blades, and one is specially for grinding. I just put half the peanuts in with a little salt, then slowly worked the blender until it came to a spreadable consistency. It is lighter than the store bought stuff and not sweet, but the kids eat it with honey anyway so why keep buying something that has extra sugar and is breaking the bank when I can make it for less than half the price, and it is healthier to boot!

I still make my own yogurt because it is cheaper, and I make granola for that reason as well. The plus is that I can make the granola how we like it and it is very healthy.

Learning to like veggies is a little harder since they are not sweet like fruit, but my kids are slowly progressing. Logan was stuck on only having carrot sticks for a long time. They had to be raw (he never ate them cooked) and the only other veggie he sometimes had was cucumber. He is slowly coming around and is trying new things here and there. He now claims to like lettuce, and wants to eat green veggies in order to turn into the Hulk. (Who says superheroes can’t do anything for kids?)

Lila and Scarlett will try more veggies. Lila loves most raw veggies that I serve, including spinach, but tends to pick out cooked ones. Oh, the other day I made a carrot and cabbage coleslaw, with the cabbage being finely grated instead of chopped. Logan only saw the carrots and raisins, and claimed he loved it. Big win!

It is great to see them eating better, and I am feeling better knowing we are on our way to healthier lives through eating better.

Now onto what I really wanted to write about today.

Despite making all the above-mentioned changes, along with getting more exercise, I was still not feeling as good as I should have been. I really can’t explain exactly how I was feeling, but it was a general “could there be something wrong with me” feeling. At the end of each day I felt blah. I would feel better in the morning but by evening I felt weird again. To top it off, I began having fears I’d never had before, fears of instant death, fears of leaving the house, leaving my kids, being alone in the house when Glad was gone, constant thoughts of “you’re going to die right now”, etc. It was really weird.

Then one night I had something happen that had never happened before – I had a panic attack. I tried to go to bed, but every time I laid down I was sure that was it for me, that I was going to stop breathing. I kept getting up and lying back down, and each time I laid down it would hit me again. I prayed hard and the feeling finally went away.

It continued to happen several times after that. I never knew when it would hit, and I couldn’t figure out what could be the cause. I was beginning to wonder if I was seriously sick or something. I spent a lot of time praying just to get rid of the fear and it helped some but not completely. I also found myself getting upset with the kids more easily, losing my temper and yelling, screaming really, at them for minor things, which was really odd. I’ve never been one to get upset so easily over such small things.

Since I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t tell Glad what I was feeling until about 10 days ago when I began to feel this odd pressure in my nose and forehead. We talked about how maybe I should have a medical check up  but the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced there really wasn’t anything physically wrong.

The day after we talked, I was on Facebook and happened on a picture of diet sodas that had a list of the side effects of Aspartame, and one of them was – get this – panic (anxiety) attacks. Now, I don’t drink any soda at all, and have never touched a diet soda in my life, and with all the mostly fresh, natural food I was eating, how could I possibly be getting Aspartame in my diet?

Then I remembered the gum I was using. I like to have some when running to keep my mouth moist, plus I would have one when out with the kids, or at the park, etc. I was chewing two to three pieces of this sugar-free gum daily. So I checked it and, sure enough, the sweetener was Aspartame. I had used this gum for months but was only recently hit with these odd things, so my guess is that it took time to build to danger levels in my body since I wasn’t getting it any other way.

I stopped using it immediately, and now, roughly 10 days since my last piece, I feel better. I can’t prove 100% that the Aspartame was the culprit, but I can say that I am beginning to feel like myself again. The fears are slowly going, since they kind of got stuck in my mind, but now I find it easier to fight them off. I am also no longer having panic attacks. And yes, I’m not yelling at the kids like I was.

I am now becoming a label-reader in the store. I check the ingredients listed in any new item I pick up to be sure there is no artificial sweetener of any kind. I buy very few pre-packaged items these days, so it isn’t too hard to avoid. It’s so sad, though, that the general public is subjected to these types of dangerous food ingredients, all for the sake of skimping on calories.

What is your home diet like? Do you avoid junk and eat healthy? Have you had any problems from using artificial sweeteners?

What My Kids Have Been Up to Lately

School is now out for the summer. Lila’s last day was the 10th and Logan’s was today, the 12th. With summer comes setting up the pool and water play, making popsicles, summer camps and more. Lila’s birthday is also around the corner.

I figure now is a good time to write up some backlog of what the kids have been up to recently.

February 17th: Logan and Lila began roller skating lessons. They have made a lot of progress in this short time. Logan doesn’t fall as much as he did at first and Lila is getting fast. Her role model is a girl probably no more than a year older than her who skates like a pro already. Lila watches this girl zip around the rink, rarely falling, and tries to imitate her.

February 21st: Lila had her first sports day. Unlike Logan last year, she did a great job and ran when she was supposed to. I missed seeing her dance since I had to drop Logan at his school first, but saw it later on video.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right. You can also see Glad back there directing things.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Lila's class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

Lila’s class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

March 30th: Lila’s preschool graduation. I still don’t get why they do it two weeks before school actually lets out. But Lila was super excited about it. For about a month before it happened she asked me daily, “Is tomorrow my graduation?” We took a family photo together like we did last year, and we should get it soon.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

April 4th: Logan had a dress rehearsal for his school’s annual day. Scarlett and I accompanied him for the long bus ride to the place an hour away from his school where the children from all the branches of his school were practicing their shows. Last year at his annual day performance, daddy had to stand with him to get him to even stay in place to perform. This time it was great to see him stand in place and dance with his class.

On the bus.

On the bus.

April 6th: Logan’s annual day performance. It was being presented in a large theater and there must have been over a thousand people there – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, etc. All the children did so well. For some of them it was their very first time on stage.

Logan danced really well with no prompting needed from the teachers. We didn’t stay for the full performance as it was 1 1/2 hours and Scarlett was fussy from the beginning, though she did pay attention during a few of the dances when they were songs she knew.  We saw the full performance from one school and half of the one from Logan’s school, as his dance was in the first song his school presented.

Afterwards we went out for ice cream, partly to celebrate and partly to cool off as the day was a sweltering 36C. We went to a place that sells the ice cream by weight, so they give you huge scoops. The kids each got two, and surprisingly, both Logan and Lila said it was too much and couldn’t finish. 🙂 How often do you hear kids say they have too much ice cream? Ha.

Logan’s school didn’t have a graduation ceremony like Lila’s did, but they took a class photo (print only, I don’t have a soft copy), and had a party with the kids on the last day.

And those are the updates to date. I will include more photos as they come. Monday summer camps start for Logan and Lila; they are excited to go again, and I’m happy because it will give me some time without them daily – for the next two weeks. I really need my sanity so it is good when they go places.

Mommy Fears and Heart-stopping Moments

From the time Logan was small, one of my greatest fears was that someone would grab one of my kids in a public place and run off with them. When Logan learned to walk and could get away from me, I kept my eye on him like a hawk. I remember so clearly how hard it was for me to turn my back for even a second. I literally would have to tell myself it wasn’t awful to glance in another direction for a second.

It got harder when Lila came along and began walking and both wanted to go in different directions at once. I think if it had been possible, I would have turned into some version of Inspector Gadget with extendable arms and a 360 degree rotating head. Ha. Taking them to the park was crazy, and we only survived the mall because of the stroller where one of them would always be confined.

I’ve since learned to watch them closely but I don’t have my eyes glued to them at every second. I spend most of my time anywhere moving my eyes from one to the other to the other and back to the first one again. 🙂 Well, I can sort of trust Logan, and sometimes if the girls want to run to the small lake and Logan wants to be in the adjacent playground where I can see when he is on the top of the slide, it’s okay. Or if in the toy shop he wants to look at books over in the next aisle where I can’s see him while the girls play with the Lego display, it’s okay. I do check on him often and he’s fine. But I can’t trust the girls.

Scarlett loves to run as soon as my back is turned, and has given me more than one fright at the skating rink. Often someone will see me looking wildly for her and will point me in the direction she went. And last week at the rink, Lila decided she didn’t want to finish the exercises with the teacher so came looking for Scarlett and I. I was at a place where I could see them with the teacher, but she managed to sneak out, and then went and asked some lady to help her find me. I was proud that she remembered what color I was wearing but upset that she left, and after I spotted her and called her back,  she got strict instructions to never leave the rink if I wasn’t in sight.

What makes it harder for me is how people here in India are so attracted to them, because of their light skin color. People constantly sneak photos of them, touch them, pinch their cheeks, and want to be near them. The very few who do ask for photos first always get denied. I mean, why do they need pics of my kids? The rest can be glad I don’t go smash their phones. It’s so rude of them to just take their pics but what can I do?

Kidnapping is a very real fear here. At least once a week I read about one in the paper, often with sad results for the child. My kids being white could be targets so I do have to be careful. Even though most people are just being friendly, it’s better safe than sorry.

Just last Friday, while at the skating rink, I saw what I thought at first glance was my nightmare coming true. There is a balloon vendor there every day, and of course Scarlett spends lots of time watching the balloons. I was seated on one end of the rink, further from the balloons than normal, but I could still see her clearly so I let Scarlett walk over. I was watching her the whole time, so I jumped when I saw a man run and grab her real quick. I ran through the rink to where he was standing, but before I could exit the rink, a cow with large horns ran in front of me, with her owner at her heels.

Once realization dawned, I was grateful to this man for having gotten Scarlett out of the way in time and I thanked him, knowing that he wasn’t trying to take her but was saving her from being injured. But those few seconds when I didn’t see the cow and thought he was running off with her were heart-stopping.

What is your biggest fear regarding your child’s safety? How do you deal with it?

Then and Now

Do you ever take photos of your kids somewhere and then take them again in the same place a year later, just to see how much time has flown?

 

Pic #1: Logan was 4 years, 3 months; Lila was 2 years, 10 months; and Scarlett was 1 year, 3 months.

Taken February 14, 2012

Taken February 14, 2012

 

Pic #2: One year and one month later: Logan is 5 years, 4 months; Lila is 3 years, 11 months; Scarlett is 2 years, 3 months.

Taken March 16, 2013

Taken March 16, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

No More Naps – And My Schedule

Not long ago, I got frustrated with the schedule my kids were on. They were up at a decent time, but then they would nap and not fall asleep until almost 11 p.m., meaning that, even if I had them in bed by 9, they were still awake and playing around, and I’d still be busy instead of having some time off.

Last year Logan pretty much quit napping. Some days I’d make him nap just so I could have a break in the afternoon, but he didn’t really need it any more. Then Lila began to nap less frequently, so I decided to take them off of naps altogether. They were so happy the day I told them they no longer needed to nap! Of course Scarlett still needs a nap, so I put her down in my room while Logan and Lila play in their own room.

Then the kids began taking the skating lessons. Where we used to go to the playground near our house almost daily and then come home early enough for me to cook dinner, we now have to go to the slightly farther (but still walk-able distance) sports park for the classes.

They skate from 5 to 6 p.m. and then do some exercises with the coach for 30 minutes afterwards. While we don’t always stay for the exercises (how long you stay is up to you), most days the kids want to and Scarlett joins them too, so we only get out of the park by 6:30 or so. While we can walk there in 10 minutes (at Scarlett’s pace), going home can take upwards of 15 minutes since it is peak traffic hour and the area is full of construction and bad sidewalks, and I am dragging three tired kids while carrying a heavy bag full of skating gear and water bottles.

By the time we get home it is almost 7 p.m. Everyone is tired and hungry and can’t wait for me to cook. So from the beginning I switched to cooking dinner in the afternoon so that we can eat just as soon as we get in. It takes more planning for me to make dinner before going, but having food ready to feed starving tummies makes it worthwhile.

While we were happy with the skating lessons, it did take a little longer for them to settle into their new schedule of no naps and making it through the day. The first 2 weeks were tough, since the kids were adjusting to a different sleep schedule and more exercise, but now things are settling down.

Changing the schedule has meant moving dinner and bedtime up but that was the plan – to have them actually fall asleep at bedtime so I could have some time to myself. (Tonight I had them in bed by 8 since Logan had gotten up at 6, and he and Lila were asleep within minutes.)

 

Here is a peek at what my schedule looks like right now.

5:50 a.m.  My alarm goes off and I get up for exercise.

6:05 a.m.  I am out the door to the park for either a run or I do some strength training exercises at home.

7:00 a.m.  I get in just as Glad is heading out to the gym. Kids are (hopefully, usually) still sleeping. I shower and dress, then have my coffee and read the newspaper.

7:45 a.m.  If the kids aren’t awake already, I get them up, feed and dress them, pack their snacks for school, put on a load of laundry, eat my own breakfast, clear the table, stop a fight or two, maybe tidy up a little, and make sure they are ready to go by the time daddy is.

9:15 a.m.  Kids are gone to school with daddy. I find things to keep Scarlett busy as I clean and tidy the house. Once a week we go grocery shopping; once or twice we pick up anything else we need, like fruits and veggies, at the local shops. Sometimes we call off all work and go to the park for an hour or two. I also plan what I will make for dinner and take out meat that needs thawing or soak chickpeas for pressure cooking later.

12:00 a.m.  Prepare lunch.

12:45 a.m.  Glad and the kids are usually home by this time, so we eat right away, since Glad has to run back to work shortly afterwards. This is our family meal since daddy isn’t home for most dinners and he is at the gym while we have breakfast.

1:20 p.m.  Clean up lunch mess. Find a way to keep Lila out of trouble since she no longer naps (Logan plays well on his own so I don’t have to worry about him.) Put Scarlett down for a nap and take a short one myself for 15 – 20 minutes.

2:00 p.m.  Sit with my coffee and try to clear some cobwebs from my brain. I always need more sleep, but if I sleep longer, I can wake assured that Lila is up to no good. Just this past week she played with my glasses and broke them, put a mobile phone in the washer (we had to wait 3 days for the repair man to come get it out, meaning I had to add hand wash to my list of chores), and dumped a whole packet of glitter on the balcony. I lock the kitchen door, but she climbs through the small window between the kitchen and dining room to get into food and such, and sometimes can’t get back out. The other day I woke to the sound of her and Logan heading out the front door. No more long naps for me.

Once the cobwebs are gone, I help them with their homework, if they have any that day.

3:00 p.m.  I wake Scarlett from her nap, and then work on dinner. Meanwhile the kids entertain themselves with play or coloring or teasing each other and making it hard for me to finish quickly. Somewhere in there I give them a snack and that keeps them quiet for a while.

4:20 p.m. Roughly by this time I am done with the cooking, depending on how many times I had to intervene with the kids. I have a snack myself and then we get ready to go for skating class.

4:45 p.m. We leave the house. The sports park is close so we get there quickly. On Wednesdays we skip skating and go instead to the playground.

6:30 p.m. (or so) Head home. Wash up. Heat dinner and serve.

7:15 p.m. Kids are done eating so they have some playtime while I clean up. I also use this time to boil the milk for the next day, make yogurt (as needed), etc.

7:45 p.m. Shower time for the kids. Sometimes this is a happy time and other times they are crying until the moment they are in bed. Get into pj’s, brush teeth, have a story, drink some water, milk every minute they can of being awake. 🙂

8:30 p.m. Kids in bed. Since Logan and Lila no longer nap, they go to sleep quickly. Scarlett takes a little longer, and I often hear her singing to herself, or I catch her looking at books or playing. She is usually asleep by 9.

As soon as the kids are in bed, I jump in the shower, and then head for the computer. That is my only time most days. Sometimes I’d like to go to bed early, but Glad only gets in at 11 p.m., and because of the type of lock on our door, I have to stay up to let him in. We aren’t going to change it now that we are moving. If Glad is home that evening, I will go to bed earlier. Sometimes we will both be in bed by 10, or we relax with a movie together. (If I’m desperately tired, like during PMS, I’ll get into bed early and send Glad an SMS to call me when he gets home. That way I get some extra sleep.)

This is my weekday schedule.

On Saturdays we go to the park for a few hours or maybe the mall, just to spend the morning out of the house. Then I use the afternoon to catch up on stuff I can’t normally fit in.

On Sundays I work for a few hours outside the house, so daddy is in charge. I take full advantage of this “day off” from being mommy. I leave the house at noon, finish work by 3:30, eat lunch, and then take some time for shopping, visiting a mall by myself, or just walking around and enjoying the peace. I am home somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Daddy takes the kids skating this day, so that they can fit in 5 days of lessons a week.

The classes last for 3 months, so after that I’m sure the schedule will change again, as summer will be here and school will be out. And there are more changes to come involving our move to Canada. But I’m not letting them stay up late ever again. 🙂 I love the quiet.

Life Lessons Can Be Found Anywhere

Last Sunday, Glad took the kids to a sports park that is not far from home. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a roller rink, a path circling the entire park for walking, and lots of grass to run in. We have been there many times before but this time, Logan had a request.

Ever since he saw Twice Upon A Christmas and watched Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck skate with ease, Logan has wanted to skate. In his mind it was effortless fun, and after watching the more experienced children zip around the rink, Logan asked to learn to skate. Of course, Lila asked to learn too. She loves skating and was happy to get skates for her last birthday, but has not learned to use them properly. After some thought, Glad decided we should go for it.

The next day, we met at the park and signed the kids up for the class. They provided a basic kit for each of them – skates that attach to your shoes, elbow and knee pads, hand guards, and a soft helmet. Once dressed, they both got in line for their first class.

Logan immediately realized that skating wasn’t as easy as he had imagined. He wanted to go fast like the other kids and was upset to find he couldn’t. Logan has balance issues and trips easily, so our hope is that learning to skate will help improve his balance. But more than that, Logan needs to learn perseverance.

After the first lesson, he didn’t want to go back. The next day when I took them for their second class, Logan cried to whole time. He refused to join his group or even try to walk on the skates, which is what the other beginners were doing. It was one of those embarrassing moments in a parents’ life – your child is throwing a fit and you are just praying to keep your composure and at the same time not give in to the tantrum. Since they were just starting out, I had promised them a small treat for doing a good job, but since Logan made such a fuss, he missed his treat and his video time. He didn’t even seem to care that Lila got a treat.

The next day (day 3 of classes) we discussed why he wasn’t yet able to skate fast or backwards like he wanted to. I told him it would take time and effort on his part and that he couldn’t just quit. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of discussion. I also told him that if he threw another fit at class, he would miss our special outing to the mall. I needed to do something to get him to stop saying he couldn’t do it and agree to at least try.

Just before the class started, I asked him what would happen if he threw a fit again. He said he’d miss his treat, video, and mall outing. 🙂  Kids can be so much harder on themselves than we are. Anyway, he did great. Not only did he make good effort, he was happy and smiling the whole time, and he did get a treat this time, plus of course the promised mall outing. We used the outing to take a break from skating class, since classes are on daily but they only need to come as often as we want them to.

Getting Logan to persevere at something has never been easy. It takes loads of persuasion, encouragement, discussion, and simply saying “You can do it.” Once he learns how to do whatever it is, then he’s fine, but until he learns it, he wears me out with how hard he has convinced himself that he can’t do it.

It isn’t a new lesson, but perseverance is an important one. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to teach him something, like buttoning his shirt. I did it for him forever until daddy asked why. With some effort on daddy’s part, Logan learned to do buttons himself. I’d probably still be doing them for him if daddy hadn’t pushed him. I pushed him with learning to write,  among other things, but I foresee this will be a lifelong lesson for Logan. He wants to quit kindergarten now, so I encourage him by telling him the school year is almost over and that he will get a long break. (School lets out in April here.)

I guess the title of this post is its point – life lessons can be found anywhere – even on the roller rink.

My little skaters.

My little skaters.

 

You can see more pics from the skating here on Facebook.

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