Thanks for sucking the fun out of it…

fun sucks

I like a good laugh.  I really do.  Many may not believe that because I am Captain Serious in my household and work, but I do like to laugh.  I play little pranks at work.  I prank my daughter.  I’ve never successfully pranked my husband, but I’ve tried.  I like to laugh at funny memes, jokes, etc.  And, sometimes adults and kids just do funny things and you have to take it at face value and laugh.  You have to laugh at the irrational moments.

But, then comes along those that can suck the funny out of an innocent situation.

Case and Point:

On Sunday, Mom took Munchkin to the local dog park with Pup-Pup.  There is a fun new online group that is painting rocks and hiding them for people to find.  We’ve found some really cool ones!  I’ve seen people from all walks of life get into this and it is fun following online.  Well, Munchkin found a rock IN the dog park and brought it home.  She laid it on the kitchen table with our food.  She proceeded to tell hubby where she got it and he completely overreacted.  It was cartoon comical.  Truly.  It was.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  He yells, “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY DOGS COULD HAVE PEED ON THIS ROCK????” and then fired it out the kitchen door. Bye, bye rock.

Just the look on his face, the way his voice stressed the words, his irrational reaction—it was just plain funny.  It’s like he could see the germs jumping off that rock and onto his steak.  Come on people, it was steak and shrimp night!  You do not mess with steak and shrimp night.

So, I thought it was funny and posted it to the online group that we were down one purple sparkly rock because my husband wigged out.  Well, you can only guess what happened next.

First, I had those that thought it was just as funny as I did.  Thank you, people.  Thank. You.  You saw how funny this really was.  You saw this was not life or death.  You just saw the humor.

I then had those who felt sorry for my daughter and said it was sad.  Ummm…WHY?  How in any reality is this sad for my child?  Does this impact her physical, social, emotional or psychological well-being?  NO.  Does this scar her for life that her father threw a purple sparkly rock out the kitchen door?  NO.  So, I do not get the sadness.  But, if for some reason it does leave her impaired, I have good insurance.  I will get her a good therapist that she can tell all about the time the purple rock got hurled out the door.  I just hope it does not impact her college chances.

Then, there were those who took me to task because I was supposedly concerned about pee being on rocks and “What happened to the good old days where kids could eat dirt, oil, play in the polluted streams and it made men out of them?”  Ummm…my child gets plenty dirty.  I used to catch her licking trees for goodness sakes.  She plays in the mud constantly.  My husband had an irrational moment and saw a peed on rock next to his steak.  It was funny.  It does not say anything about our parenting and it certainly doesn’t say we are raising a “pansy” as the one commenter noted.  Oh the sexism and gendered norms present in that comment, but I will not get too sociological.

And then, there were those that were angry because we were down one sparkly purple rock that won’t have a picture online.  I have no words.  Did I mention we were painting and hiding ROCKS?

If I had known Sunday night that sharing with the group something I found funny with the rocks was going to cause such backlash, I would have kept my trap shut.  I didn’t realize this business of painting rocks and hiding them in parks was such intense business.  Since I was looking for something a little more lighthearted, I guess I will need to leave this group.  It’s even too much for Captain Serious.  🙂

The Road to Independence

Abigail

First Day of Kindergarten!

 

When Munchkin went off to kindergarten 2 weeks ago, she did so excited, confident and, frankly, like a boss.  In fact, she told me after we brought her in, “You can go now, Mama.  I’ve got this.”  And, she certainly did.  On day 2 she didn’t want us to bring her in.  She wanted to be dropped off and walk in on her own.  By Tuesday of the next week, she decided our flimsy excuses of why she couldn’t ride the school bus didn’t match up and so she started riding the bus home.  Part of me, like any mother doing this for the first time, was a little sad that she did all of this without needing her old Mama very much.  The other part of me was reminded that this is what I am training her for.

At 5 it seems a little extreme to say I’m training her for independence.  She still needs Mommy and Daddy in so many way and will always need us as her parents.  But, even as she hits kindergarten there are things we are doing that increases her level of independence and self-sufficiency a little more each day.  She thinks it’s complete crap that I won’t jump up and get her whatever she needs.  She is perfectly capable of getting herself a drink, getting her snacks and, as her Daddy wants to push, even start making her own sandwiches for lunch.  We war over cleaning her room, picking up her toys and doing chores around the house.  She looked at me a little shocked this summer when I told her it was part of the gig of being the younger cousin that you sometimes were teased (in a loving, but definitely older cousin kind of way).  I am reminded of my own days of being “Donde-Magombe” though now when they try to call me that I tell them it is “Dr. Magombe” to them.  Good laughs.  Good memories.  Horrible nickname.

But, she is perfectly capable and needs to learn from these early tasks that she can take care of things herself.  It starts now so that it is not a complete surprise the first time she is told to figure it out for herself.  She needs to learn the skills early on so that when bigger challenges come up she can feel confident in creating solutions on her own.  This includes learning to deal with conflict in school, being able to handle it when she fails at something, working hard toward a goal and feeling the great sense of accomplishment when she does it and learning, as much as I do not want to think this way, that Mommy and Daddy may not always be around to fix life’s challenges.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have always felt this way.  I was raised with an emphasis on independence and self-sufficiency mainly due to circumstances.  But, this was brought to the forefront again this week with seeing the devastating loss 11 children are going through in Oxford, MS.  It was brought to the forefront with the responses of those children in the light of tragedy in considering how they will take care of their brothers and sisters.  Those kinds of attitudes just do not appear in children.  They are carefully cultivated by parents.  I was reminded once again in a very stark and sobering way, that as much as I want to be there for Munchkin and be the one to make sure she’s never hurt or in trouble or has to need for anything, life may deal a very, very different hand.  I was reminded once again that my task is not just to love my child unconditionally, but also do the very hard work of building all of those really hard, difficult skills they need.  I have thought of those children constantly and also of those parents who probably never dreamed of this outcome.

I was much older when I lost my precious father and there were many things I still depended on him for—a listening ear and his humor just to name a few.  That void alone has been difficult to manage.  But, again, those skills of coping do not just happen.  You do not suddenly reach a specific age and BOOM!  Coping skills!  Those are also learned through a life time of challenges and problem solving.  So, next time when she yells that I am, “Completely unfair and I am ruining her life!” over making her do something she does not want to do, I’ll just keep remembering that one day she may still yell that something is ruining her life, but she will know how to pick up and get to figuring it out.  And, it is with all of my hope that I am the one there to provide a little humor and a listening ear as she rants and raves about whatever it may be she is facing but also with pride as she figures it out.

Disney Extravaganza!!

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A dream is a wish your heart makes…

 

This BLT Mom blog post is very different. It is my trip report from Disney World to share what I learned and our experience with my fellow Disney addicts. I will say–we picked a great week to go crowd wise. We had our moments–this was our first major trip as a sandwich generation family and so we learned a lot about traveling together. I felt my Dad a lot throughout this trip. In fact, right after a character meet and greet in Animal Kingdom Munchkin and I were walking up a tropical path alone and a single white feather floated down in front of us. Feathers have always been my sign and I just smiled and teared up. Always close at heart…

I am thankful that we were able to take this trip. It was everything I’d hoped and more!

Trip Report 12/10/15—12/15/2015

Travelers: On this trip it was me (36), hubby (35), my mother (58) and our daughter (5). This was the first big trip for our new sandwich generation family and Mom’s first trip using a scooter due to mobility issues. Hubby, Mom and I have been to Disney several times. Most recently hubby and I took a trip in 2013. This was our daughter’s first trip. I spent months creating touring plans through http://www.touringplans.com. I had it down to a military science. And then we arrived.

Method of Travel: drove 12 hours from Kentucky in a rented van and then used Disney transportation for the rest of the trip. From our resort (All Star Movies) we did not wait any more than 10 minutes for a bus. Our longest wait was an evening wait for a Disney Springs bus. For our return trips from the park we tended to wait in the parks shopping while the bus lines went down. This was a great way to do a little shopping and avoid a long line. I don’t know that we will drive again from Kentucky. The trip down was just fine. The 12 hours back was pure torture. I didn’t think too hard on how tired we would be after 5 days at Disney.

Accommodations: We stayed at the All Star Movies. On previous trips I’ve always stayed at either moderate or deluxe resorts. However, because on this trip we would need 2 rooms we decided to stay at a value resort. The rooms are fairly basic (think Holiday Inn Express but smaller). They have a refrigerator. We paid for preferred rooms and were in the Toy Story section. This was a quick 2-3 minute walk to the pool, transportation and front desk area including cafeteria. The outside of the hotel is very neat. Our daughter loved walked to the different sections and seeing the huge characters in the courtyards. I used the touring plans fax room request option. I intentionally selected rooms on the backside of the resort to hopefully have a quiet room. We got the exact rooms I’d requested and they were very quiet. We ate in the food court one evening. The food was ok—nothing spectacular, but filled the void. They had kid’s activities going on and our daughter had a blast watching movies and playing video games with the other kids. It gave me a chance to kick back and enjoy a hot cup of tea and talk to the other parents.

Magic Kingdom: We did MK 2 days. One regular park day (5/10 crowd level) and 1 Christmas party (sold out). For the Christmas party we focused on rides and not the special meet and greets. We walked onto several of the big rides but for others had no more than a 10 minute wait. We also did Be Our Guest for dinner before the party started. It really is about the experience. I ordered the Shrimp and Scallops as did my Mom. The food was overall pretty good just really small portion sizes. Hubby ordered the braised pork and said it was seasoned well. Our daughter had the steak and it was a little on the dry side and over cooked. BUT, our daughter was just so happy to be in Belle and Beast’s castle that it made everything seem insignificant. We watched Wishes from what is typically the Fast Pass spot for Wishes. It was a really great spot. We then moved to main street for the parade. As expected, fireworks and parade area were very, very crowded. But the fireworks were the best we’ve ever seen at Disney and the parade was a lot of fun. I do it again.

On day two we had a 10:35 Boutique appointment for our daughter. My plan was to be in the park by 9:00 a.m. and do a FP at Peter Pan. She was so exhausted from the party the night before that my plan went out the window not only on this day but every other day too. She and I went on our own as a special mommy/daughter date. We arrived at 10:30 and by 10:35 she was in her chair. Our attendant was FANTASTIC. Her name was Kelsey. She was so much fun and Abigail just adored her. They had the photo pass photographers so I just got to enjoy and not worry about taking pictures. We finished within 40 minutes and then met the rest of our group. We did Fantasyland and then had lunch at Cinderella’s Table.

Abigail loved meeting all the princesses. This was our main reason for doing it. The food was nothing to write home about. Mom & hubby had the special which was salmon and I had the chicken. Abigail had steak once again. She ended up eating my chicken and I her dried out steak. Salmon was tasty. But, again you are paying for the princesses and the experience not the food on this one. But, honestly, I felt rushed at CRT. Snow White was by so quick I barely had time to snap pictures. Aurora and Jasmine stayed a little longer and Ariel was great—she stuck around a good bit.

The rest of our day we did Frontierland and Tomorrowland. Abigail is big on rides so we did all the must do big coasters. I had FP for Mine Train, and splash. Everything else standby and waited no more than 15-20 minutes. I was really impressed that there were very few rides where Mom couldn’t ride her scooter right into the attraction. That really helped her. We finished out MK by eating at Cosmic Ray’s—typical fast food. We met a few characters, but the Tremaines were the BEST! Really try to meet them. We were back at the hotel by 7:30 p.m.

EPCOT (7/10 crowd level): This day was a bust for us. Abigail did not like this park at all. She normally likes science, but just wasn’t feeling it. She did Test Track, Mission Space and Spaceship Earth. We convinced her to wait to meet Belle—line was too long for Mulan. We canceled our ADR at Teppen Edo (thankfully they waived the fee) and my Mom took her back to the hotel pool while hubby and I enjoyed an evening at the World Showcase. It was packed, but we still enjoyed eating our way around the pavilions. Definitely try Tangereine Café in Morocco. VERY good counter service place. I got our spot for Illiuminations about an hour before and had a great view beside the Mexican pavilion. I think this is a toss up park for young kids. I thought she’d like the KidCot stations, but again she just wasn’t interested. Her most fun was the fountain in Morocco. I finished her KidCot Duffy bear with stamps and signatures. It was fun! And traveling with Nana had its perks–a date night at Disney. WHAT?!

Animal Kingdom (5/10 crowd level): We arrived in the park about 10 a.m. and Kilimanjaro Safari was down. I took a chance on Conservation Station because Abigail loves animals and science. It was a GREAT idea! She loved every minute of collecting her badges and learning. She got to pet a snake. She also got 5 meet and greets on the island—Miss Bunny, Thumper, Chip, Dale and Rafiki. She got so much time with them since there was no one around. By far the best character interactions of the trip. We spent nearly 2 hours over there and then hit Festival of the Lion King. If you can get near the front your child has a chance to participate. Abigail got selected and she was thrilled. We did lunch at Tusker House. Once again, fantastic character interaction. We didn’t feel rushed at all and I was glad for that. Each character took their time. The buffet was pretty good. Lots of selection. I enjoyed trying the specialty dishes. We did Expedition Everest twice—1 fast pass and a 30 minute stand by. We ended the day by meeting Pochahontas who, again, just spent a lot of time with each child.

I felt like we packed in a lot that day (even though we didn’t remotely see everything), but didn’t feel the rush I felt at Magic Kingdom. I think that disappointed me. Everything from character meet and greets to rides to meals just felt like we were in a constant race. I know they are trying to get a lot of people in, but it really all seemed like a blur. After our day at Animal Kingdom I really noticed it.

Hollywood Studios (6/10 crowd level): I’ve heard people say this is now a ½ park. I don’t see how. We really enjoyed our day here. We did Star Wars, Toy Story, Rockin Coaster (standby—1 hour but I didn’t get FP because I wasn’t sure Abigail would make the cut height wise), Launch Bay, Frozen Sing along, Tower of Terror, Osborne Lights, Fantasmic, Honey I shrunk the kids playground and I know I am leaving out some other things. I think we did the most actual shows/activities this day and it didn’t feel rushed at all. Maybe we were getting into the groove? Our wait times were pretty low even on a 6/10 crowd level. We waited 20 minutes for Chewy and 30 for Darth Vader. But, I didn’t think anything was outrageous. We wouldn’t have waited so long on the Aerosmith coaster, but it broke down for about 20 minutes making our wait an hour instead of 40 minutes as posted. The dance party is a really fun thing for the kids. I’m so glad we got to see the Osborne lights before they are taken down. Though **rumor alert** a CM told me lots of people were murmuring that they may be relocated to Disney Springs. Take that for what it’s worth—haha. We did Minnie’s Holiday Dinner. The food was good—very similar to Tusker House. Abigail had a great time meeting Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy. We saw them all twice. I didn’t feel rushed in the least bit.

Disney Dining Plan: We did the plan this trip. We did 3 character meals and knew we wanted to snack our way around EPCOT. We didn’t leave behind a single credit and even used our resort mugs quite a bit. In the end it was worth it to us. Next time we go we likely will not do as many character meals so I will probably not purchase it. So, just do the math for your family. I will say this—for my price conscious hubby it was great because when the $200 bill for a buffet came to the table I could say it was paid for. This mattered to his attitude and my happiness a lot. 🙂

Scooter: We rented from Buena Vista Scooters. The scooter was waiting on us. We never had a problem out of it. It took her some time to get used to it. It made the trip possible for her and she got to enjoy every minute with her granddaughter. So, when someone accidentally cuts in front of you in a scooter or you get behind one who is going a little slower just remember they are trying to have some magic too.

My last thoughts:

1. Remember to bring allergy meds that work best for your family. I didn’t even think about the weather change and Abigail was miserable the first full day.

2. Plan an extra day just to hang out at the resort. Other than the EPCOT meltdown we didn’t see much of a really neat resort not to mention all the other great Christmas decorations.

3. Plan! Plan! Plan! What!? I thought you threw out your touring plan! I did. But, because of all that planning I still had lots of ideas of how to handle the changes and didn’t just feel lost.

4. Touringplans.com—I used this website obsessively in the months before our trip. I learned so much from the chatboard. I don’t think our days would have been near as successful without the time I spent with the people on this website. I was thankful one of my Facebook friends turned me onto it. After checking out the statistical models they use to predict crowd levels, etc. I was hooked.

5. Expectations: This is Disney World. People expect them to hang the moon, rotate it and then put it in their room at night. Disney is a special place. It is magical. But, there are also jerky people, melting down kids, grumpy CM’s, rides break, etc. You have to temper your expectations that everything will be perfect. We had so many imperfections on this perfect trip. It was perfect because we spent 5 days together not worrying about work, the outside world, etc.

6. I bought Memory Maker. I LOVED this product. I simply wish they had the photographers in the character meals as well. It is a pricey product and the meals are pricey. We should have access to the photographers. I came home with 369 photos where I completely enjoyed the experience and not worrying about capturing it. For that—it was worth the money.

7. I’m a foodie. I like good, quality food. I think I’ve changed in my definition of quality food because my 20 year old self thought the food was fantastic at Disney. My 36 year old self not so much. I ate some really good things (bakeries in EPCOT, Tangeriene Café), but they were the unexpected places and not the places that herd through 500 people in a seating.

8. I’d stay at a value resort again. Without reservation.

9. Weather: in December pack for it all. It was 80 during the day and 60 at night and we needed a light jacket.

10. I think my biggest mistake in Magic Kingdom is I let the CMs rush me. I can think back now to times that I should have spoken up and just taken a few more moments. Don’t be afraid to speak up and take the time you need.

Well, hopefully something I said is useful to you. Enjoy your trip. We loved ours and Abigail is still humming Disney tunes. I have my Mickey ornament on the tree and I smile every time I look over to it. Eight months of planning for 5 days of pure joy. It was well worth it!!

When Kids Adjust: Help Us All

baby and mama

My happy Munchkin

With any great change kids adjust just like the rest of us.  It just seems we like to try to hold kids to a higher standard when it comes to these life changing events.  When my Dad got sick last year I was angry, heartbroken, frustrated, sad and not to mention the thousand other things I was feeling at the time.  I cried at a drop of a hat.  I lashed out at my husband.  I was exhausted.  I was eating pie for breakfast, chips for dinner and cold pizza as a snack.  With a role model like that it was no wonder Munchkin was clingy, downright mean sometimes, peeing her pants and a host of other emotions.  But, I still remember feeling frustrated when she did those things.

We are now experiencing some of that once again with Mom and Pup-Pup moving in.  Our routine of 3 people has now been expanded to 4.5.  We haven’t been as diligent about our rituals and routines.  Our house is slightly more chaotic.  And this all has an impact on our smallest member of the family.  I can see her testing the boundaries and wondering, “Will I really get in trouble with Nana sitting right there?”  See, she knows front stage and backstage as well.  She has a new defiant glare.  She has also started the “If Mama and Daddy say no, let’s try Nana.”  All of this on top of the normal 4 going on 5 stuff that a parent encounters.

In times of change or crisis, we most of the time just figure it out on the fly.  There is no time to consult blogs, experts, articles and such because you are just trying to survive.  But, this time around I can be a little more intentional about how we handle her adjustments.  I can use some of what I learned last year and also what the world wide web can offer.  So, here are some of the things that worked for us in the past and we are trying now as Munchkin adjusts and tests every ounce of our patience.

1.  Listen

We expect our kids to listen to us.  But, I think sometimes we forget that we must also listen to them.  They speak a different language than us though.  They cannot express the anger, sadness and frustration they are feeling in the same way.  They scream at you and then chunk their favorite toy at your head.  My first inclination is to lose my cool.  But, she is telling me something and I need to listen.  Last summer my baby girl was also broken about how sick her Granddaddy was at the time.  She was not acting defiant to spite me or make life harder she was simply dealing with the change in the only way her little mind knew how.  And, she is doing the same now and I need to listen.

2.  Work with them in how to express their frustration

Last year this was difficult because she was still 3 and it would really be asking too much for her to sit down and think about how she was reacting.  But, this year I can talk to her about why the specific way she is reacting to the change is not good and suggest other ways to deal with the chaos.  So, with this is a mixture of both listening and correction.  Munchkin responds best to these talks after she has time to calm down which I will make her to go her room to do.  We still need reminders and follow up but she is more capable of listening and correcting her behavior at this age than she was last year.  But, I have to remember it will take time and patience which are short when you yourself are also stressed out.

3.  Make time for just you and your child

This has probably been the most effective for us.  Last year it was simple ice cream dates or just going outside and playing when I couldn’t leave the house.  This week Munchkin told Nana point blank that she didn’t want her to come to the pool that she wanted to go with Mommy only.  As Mom wisely told me, we just need to let her tell us those things and not make her feel like there is anything wrong with that request.  Munchkin needs the security that she can make those requests without fear of hurting anyone’s feelings.

4.  Make sure you are taking your own time

This is something I did not do last year.  I rarely left the house the house on my own.  If I left the room the baby monitor was right next to me so I could monitor every sound Dad made.  If I left the house my phone was in my hand. But, this time around I can take more time for just me.  So, some days I leave work an hour early and just go walk around a store.  Or, I will write in my journal in the local park and then come home at my regular time.  I also need to remember that J and Mom also need that kind of time as well.  When we are relaxed our children take their own cues from that feeling.  I know, easier said than done but in order for all of us to keep our cool we’ve got to take this time.

5.  Keep laughing

My Dad taught us that humor can do a lot in a situation.  When I want to blow my lid I have to find the humor in the situation.  My Dad even did that as we were facing his death last year.  I have to remember this when I want to pull  my hair out on rough days.  I’m not as easy going as my Dad was (okay, understatement of the year), but I need to try to relax and calm down as our household gets back into a routine.  Dad would always try to get me to slow down and see the humor in life.  I need to constantly remind myself of this or I can work myself into a nice little rage.

I am also going to try a new behavior chart I saw a colleague doing with her child who is the same age.  This visual reward system may work well for Munchkin.  I’m scouring the internet to find other ways to help her to learn healthy skills at adjusting to the curve balls life throws.  What have you done with your own child in times of change to help them?  Help a mother out!

Until next time…