The Older We Get

Birthday Candles courtesy of BHMPics. Click for link.

Today is my birthday. My 36th birthday. I was almost 35 again this year, until a very dear friend reminded me that I was older than she was… and she is turning 36 this year. That was nice of her, sort of. You see, I am the type of person who has a clock in every room in an effort to try and be on time. (I make it about 50% of the time.) I have a plan A, a plan B and sometimes even a backup plan after that. 

I have realized something over the last 6 years, and have tried to live my life by this philosophy:

Women are like a fine wine, we only get better as we age… until we get old enough to turn to vinegar. 

I haven’t reached the vinegar stage, no matter what my kids tell you. But, I have reached the stage, thanks mostly to my husband, to try and be a bit more flexible with plans. So what if I might not be done with babies by the time I’m 35? So what if my career isn’t exactly where I wanted it at this point. I’m ONLY 37! I have continued a great journey with the help of some wonderful ladies to become healthier, and I’m trying to be a more available mom to my kids. I’m trying to do more homework, reading and after school activities with them especially now that the husband will be travelling for longer periods of time. Come this time next year, I won’t have ‘made it’, but made progress. It is a journey after-all. 

Funny Around the House

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The in-laws showed up yesterday. The hubs is about to go traveling again and they hadn’t visited for over a year, so it was a good time. When I showed up at the house, the kids were showing grandpa how they have learned to scooter and bounce on the trampoline in the garage. (It was raining, not a shocker in Western Washington.) As they migrated into the house, I heard my father-in-law say this:

“I forgot how much patience it takes to be a father”

This, I thought was hilarious. As someone who is immersed in their chatter ad frequent “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” every day, I am mostly immune to it. The baby Toddler is now asking “Why…Why…Why”.

At the end of a book the other night, I ended with “The end”. Oliver said “Why the end?” I replied “We ran out of pages.” Oliver: “Oh, okay.”

So, for someone who isn’t immersed in the nutty level of chaos that I live in, the statement my father in law made sense. Funny, but it makes sense.

An Au Pair Experience

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Kids at the fair with the AuPair, day after she arrived! What a trooper!

Have I mentioned that my kids went to a ghetto daycare? I’ve had troubles with them not making sure kids were buckled before taking off to the next pick up point, letting the kids, even the 2year old, watch a PG13 film in the morning before school started. Why would I. Booze such a daycare? The location was close to the house, they transported the kids to school, and they we’re open when I needed them to be open.

Then, a friend turned me on to the possibility of an Au Pair. The Au Pair lives in the home, gets the kids ready for school, watches the little one all day, fixes lunches and feeds them dinner, throwing a load of laundry in along the way. Seems like the perfect set up. There are a few rules. The Au Pair cannot work more than 45hrs per week and not more than 10hrs in any one day.

AuPair MYTH: It’s too expensive
Our current schedule at the daycare was not sustainable. We were all tired, cranky and stressed out! This was the solution, but I assumed it was too expensive. It wasn’t. The cost of an Au Pair is set, not based on number of children. So, for the same cost I was paying for full time ghetto daycare, I could have someone live-in and our lives would be SO much easier! I was sold!

There are some ancillary costs, like car insurance because she drives the kids to school and the cost of feeding and housing another person, e.g. water, electric etc. But the cost of those things are negligible to my family’s peace of mind.

We went with Cultural Care, chose a French speaking Au Pair (the older boys take French in school) and waited 6 weeks for her to arrive. She arrived last Friday and the adventure has begun! Stay tuned for more on our adventure, how we merge our lives with this new person and how the AuPair experience is for us.

***If you would like a referral, please let me know as I could receive e a small credit for anyone who decides to use their services. Or, keep reading before making that decision.

Fit and Fresh Lunch on the Go

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School has been in session for about 3 weeks now here in Western Washington. Oliver, my youngest started Montessori school. Archie and Sean started 1st grade. Neither school has a lunchroom set up, and we are required to pack lunch every day. Yep every day. Our challenge this year was to get a lunch box that would fit reasonably in the mini-fridge for the Montessori school. I also liked the idea of a bento style box to move away from all the little plastic baggies that seemed to be a waste.

I would use 5 plastic baggies per lunch last year, between sandwich, veggie, fruit, cheese, snack etc. To save on money, I would buy bulk and parse out to lunch sized portions. Now, with 3 lunches to pack, I could see myself wasting the money saved buying in bulk on little plastic baggies. My hidden granola hippie child was screaming in pain.

So, I started researching and asking around about the best, most cost effective bento boxes. I saw some really great ones for $30+ each. I needed at least 6 considering I don’t run the dishwasher everyday. Waaay out of my price budget. And, I saw some really fragile, but inexpensive ones. Then, I went shopping at Wal-Mart for school supplies and found these. These boxes are perfect. So perfect, I only found 1. So, I ordered the rest for $9/ set on Amazon. (Score!) I even bought enough so I could take some to work!

What I like about these boxes is that there is room on the bottom for a sandwich, a yogurt and a veggie. Up above in the little boxes I put an extra snack like trail mix or fish crackers and some sort of fruit. In my lunches, the bottom is full of lettuce, and a small amount of dressing. Up top, I have chopped veggies, like peppers, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and then a later afternoon snack like almonds or cut fruit. There is plenty of room for the anything you want, and it helps me keep my portions on track. Because you can configure the box(s) with the ice pack or not, you can make sure it fits for whatever you are packing that day. The boxes are sturdy and include the icepack to keep things cool.

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The only thing about these boxes is to make sure you keep them on the top shelf of the dishwasher. The heat, if on the bottom, will warp the container. I had one of my boxes wedged in the top rack, but the heat bent the side a bit. The lid still closes, so its okay. Also, I haven’t tried to keep any big liquid type items in the little boxes, but my sense is they are not leak-proof. So I would put any soups or loose yogurt in separate containers and nestle them in the large section of the box.

All in all, we really enjoy using our new lunch boxes. They are versatile, sturdy, dish washer washable and have room for everything that we pack. Best of all, they are decently priced!

Open Letter to a Teacher – Sean

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In a prior post, I wrote a letter to Archie’s teacher. This is the letter to Sean’s teacher. In an effort to increase the appearance of their individuality, I am writing two letters, not just one letter for both children.

Dear Teacher

Sean Patterson is in your classroom this year. He is a bright boy and so kind. He is generous in spirit and loves to please. His desire to please will lead him to frustration. If he thinks a project isn’t going well, or if he thinks he is disappointing you, he will not do his work. Please remind him that his work doesn’t need to be perfect.

He is a good big brother to the youngest in the family and a great helper when asked. But he tends to take too much on himself. He helps others, including Archie, so much that others depend on him. Please keep an eye on this. Others, including his brothers, can take advantage of his peacekeeping tendencies and take too much upon himself.

To encourage Sean, he loves words of encouragement, atta boys. When he is tired or hungry, as with most growing boys, he can get a little over the top and fussy. Quiet time for him is the best option. He simply can’t process anything while in this state. After he quiets down, he is ready to have a conversation. If he can understand the ‘Why’, you’ve got him, hook, line and sinker.

Also, when a big event is coming up, like the fall or spring recital, it’s important to keep calm and limit the sweets. He tends to build up in his head and go slightly spastic, in a little-boy-misbehaving kind of way. He gets nervous and will take it out on whoever is handy, most likely his brother. Once the stress or excitement is gone, he is back to his old self. He actually had to miss last years spring recital because of this.

Sean is a good boy and his first reaction is ‘Why’. You might have to connect some of the dots, or explain what things are functionally good for, but once he has that concept, he is raring to go. Sean gives the best hugs because likes to show his affection for those he cares about.