Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Girls and Boys

Lately I've found myself preparing for the mind shift of having a boy soon.

DH takes the girls to Lowe's and Home Depot on most Saturday mornings for their build and grow workshops. He couldn't go last weekend, so I took them instead. S can do a lot of the building herself now. The directions are pictograms and she handles the hammer well on her own, so I spent most of my time helping Baby R. S was struggling a bit with some of it, so I finished Baby R's plane and then turned my attention to S. While working with S, Baby R was playing with her plane - flying it around, landing it, rolling it along the ground, then zooming it back up into the air.

And then...

She put it on the ground, stepped back, then scooped it up in her arms and brought it to me.

"Mama," she cooed. "Look! I found a baby plane! Can we take it home with us? Can I name it Pocahontas?"

I told her of course she could, and she cradled it in her arms all the way to the van.

I imagined the same scenario with Cinco in a few years. It's possible he could have a nurturing approach to the plane, but it seems that a boy's first inclination is to zoom it back up in the air.

And then...

Hurtle it down to the ground for a crash landing.

It will be an interesting scientific experiment when the time comes. I don't mean that in a sexist way to say that girls are always nurturers and boys are always destructive. But having seen small children play differently with the same toys leads me to believe that some of their play style is innately different. I'm intrigued to find out the results of this experiment in a few years.

I also find myself considering the implications of the male side of stereotypes and sexism like in this week's drama over Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance on MTV's video music awards. My first reaction was to Miley's role only. I've worked so hard to minimize the princess influence and promote modesty and appropriateness with the girls. Luckily they're too young to know much about what happened, though I'm sure S probably has heard something about it at school. But then I realized that I need to start thinking about how to talk to Cinco about his role as a man and how Robin Thicke was equally at fault in the performance.

A blog I follow, Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, had the following comments in her post about it.

Here is what I asked of my facebook community, and you can see the discussions play out here and here.
1. Give examples of how we deconstruct this kind of media and its messages to our kids.
2. How we differentiate sexual expression vs putting raunch on display for ratings.
3. How you explain to kids why they might hear Miley taking so much heat but not Robin.
4. How you explain the difference between critiquing media and critiquing a person to your child.
Nearly everyone is focused on Miley and girls. Well, what about Robin and boys? Let’s look at this….
- How would you talk to your tween/teen BOYS about older men using younger girls like sex objects and male performers being surrounded by barely-dressed female backup dancers?
- How would your boys answer: When so many of the female performers are so scantily clad, is that self expression of sexuality or the symptom of something larger? Why were none of the men nearly naked?
- How would your boys answer: How do you feel the representations of women last night affect your female friends and family members?
- How would your boys answer: What expectations does our family have around how you will treat girls and women? Did what you see or heard about from the VMA’s live up to that or fall short?

I think these are good points to keep in mind.

Friday, August 16, 2013


What? I don't look old enough to have attended my 20th high school class reunion last weekend? Aw, thanks! So sweet of you to say. Actually, I usually don't think I look my age, or act it, for that matter. Or feel it. Time is weird.

The reunion was fun! Facebook makes it so much different than our 10 year. At that one, I hadn't heard from most of my classmates since graduation. It's a little awkward to catch up - you have no reference point, no start. But I'm friends on FB with quite a few fellow grads who I wasn't close with in school, but we've bonded over sleepless nights from uncooperative kids and acquaintances we have in common. So it felt a little warmer, a little less like strangers.

And I still say the most fun is seeing kids I went to school with from kindergarten up. You're familiar with their siblings and parents, and as one guy said, have known them for almost 35 years. Crazy! For everyone else, though, I had a much harder time remembering names or even recognizing names as being people from our class. But then stories would come up, and others were mentioned and some of the holes were filled in. Glad I was able to attend and thankful for the team who organized it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Parent Update

So my parents' well-being continues to decline. I had hoped to get them moved this summer, but that didn't happen. I did go to several retirement communities, but ultimately, it comes down to finances. They just can't afford what they need. Dad was let go from his last job because he couldn't pass his physical (failed the eye test and has heart problems), so I'm looking into getting him disability, but I think that takes away from his social security. Not sure.

Mom's dementia is much worse. She has good days, but in general, it's looking pretty grim. She needs more care and attention than living with Dad. I started Medicaid paperwork, but after doing more research, discovered it usually only covers skilled nursing care, not memory care or assisted living.

Monday Dad had to go to the hospital to have his heart shocked back into rhythm. He's been in A-fib for a couple of weeks again, according to his Pacemaker. I wasn't able to go with him and Mom because Monday was S's first day of school. I needed to drop her off at the same time as his check-in, and pick her up over my lunch since they had early dismissal, and I had my own doctor appointment that afternoon. (I'm seriously so blessed to have such a flexible boss.)

Luckily, my older sis, D, was able to go with them. Dad called that afternoon to let me know all went well, and said D was annoyed with him. When I asked him why, he said because he mentioned something about driving. She said, "Dad, you're not supposed to drive today." He said he felt the same this afternoon as he did this morning. I told him that if the doctor told him not to drive, he shouldn't drive, and asked him where he needed to go. He said he was going to go to the store to get cookies. Oh, for the love. Yes, Dad, that makes perfect sense. You have heart problems, vision problems and are diabetic. Please drive to the store to get cookies. Sigh.

Hope to have more progress to report next time...

Monday, August 12, 2013

6th Birthday Survey

Last year, I did a survey with S on her 5th birthday. I asked her (mostly) the same questions again this year on her 6th birthday. Here's what she had to say this time around:
  • What's your favorite food? Spaghetti.
  • What's your favorite restaurant? Red Robin. (The result may have been skewed since we were at Red Robin when I asked the question.)
  • What's your favorite TV show?  No answer.
  • What's your favorite song? Journey's "Lights."
  • What's your favorite movie? Monsters University
  • Who is your best friend? P.
  • What is your favorite thing to do? Go on bike rides and run with Daddy, and every day I want to go outside.
  • What's your favorite game? Monopoly.
Next year I need to go back to the original list and ask all of the questions. Still fun to hear which things change and which stay the same. Love watching her grow up!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

S's 6th Birthday Party

When S and I talked about what she wanted to do for a party last year, one of the ideas she had (ok, I suggested after seeing cute stuff on Pinterest) was superheroes. But Dora won out. This year, I asked her if she wanted superheroes, and at first, she said yes. Then after I'd designed her invitations:

She said she wanted to do a princess party. One of the reasons she was excited about the superhero idea was the capes I told her we'd have for all the kids. I reminded her that most of the kids she was inviting were boys. She said it could be princesses and giants. Sigh. I told her we could do a princess/giant party, but I couldn't do costumes for giants so that part wouldn't happen. She went back to superheroes. Whew.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to start preparing as early as I usually do, so I didn't get everything done that I wanted to. And I hardly took any pictures. :( But it turned out pretty well overall. S enjoyed it, and that's all that really matters.

A friend of mine did a superhero party for her son a few years ago, so I stole some of her ideas. We had the party in our backyard, so I put the girls' easel in the driveway with the following note on the dry erase board:
Welcome to S's birthday party. We can't wait to celebrate with you. But first, you must make your way through the 4 tests every superhero must face:
  • Agility
  • Marksmanship
  • Balance
  • Bravery
So grab a cape and get started. Good luck!
The capes were hanging on the easel, in the five colors S had decided she wanted for her theme - pink, black, blue, purple and red. I ended up buying solid-colored, large handkerchiefs in the craft section at Hobby Lobby for 99 cents each, and then using velcro on two corners. Unfortunately, I'm slow at sewing - I only got three capes done one evening. And since I'd waited til four days before the party to start making them, I had to switch to fabric glue. That worked for the short term, but didn't last. Give yourself time to sew them if you go that route. We ended up just having the kids tie them if the velcro fell off.

Once they had their capes, they started the first challenge, which took them across the driveway to the side yard.

Then moved on to the second which took them further along the side of the house towards the backyard.

I had originally planned to use water balloons or wet sponge balls of some kind and have a target that looked like Captain America's shield, but I couldn't figure out how to prop it up, nor did I have time to buy plywood, cut it out and paint it on my tight schedule. So I switched to something more basic.

The third obstacle was my favorite, and one of the ideas I stole from my friend's blog. She had used red food coloring and dry ice to make water in a kiddie pool look like hot lava. But the kiddie pool I found was blue (the perfect match to S's color palette coincidentally), so I was afraid food coloring would just make the water look purple. So I ended up putting a red plastic tablecloth in the water instead which worked well. 

Unfortunately, the uneven terrain of our yard and my inability to acquire cinder blocks in a short time span resulted in a wobbly alternative that we had to dismantle minutes before the party began for fear of someone being injured. I was disappointed, but safety first. 

Then it was on to the last challenge, and I'm bummed the photo only shows the sign because the cave turned out pretty cool.

I cut out about a dozen craft foam bats and bought some crepe paper. I hung black, two-foot streamers and the bats at varying heights from the ceiling of the girls' play set. The kids had to climb the ladder, walk through the Batcave and then go down the slide where they saw the finish line:

The great thing about having this as the intro to the party was that it kept the kids entertained while everyone was arriving. And they went through it more than once if they wanted to. I had a table with coloring pages of superheroes as well as craft foam mask kits (also from Hobby Lobby) to keep them busy til everyone was there. Then we immediately had cupcakes and bomb pops and opened gifts. The cupcake toppers looked like this:

In addition to Captain America's symbol, I made Superman, Batman, Robin, The Flash, Spiderman, and The Green Lantern. I would have liked to have incorporated more girl heroes like Elektra or Wonder Woman, but I didn't think their symbols would be as clear and the photos I could find were too adult. The cake table had water bottles with masks cut from black craft foam, and a skyline of boxes spray painted black with white paper cutouts for windows. The blue tub on the right was for the bomb pops.

I started to make a banner out of comics but didn't get it done. Which was what I was most disappointed in since I went to the trouble to find and buy some. Oh well.

The party lasted about 1-1.5 hours which was all I had energy for this year. And as usual, I forgot to pass out the party favors until after several kids had left. Doh! Since they already had their masks and capes, I just did little favors this year, plastic cups with superheroes on them from Walmart (I know! I actually had my friend take my picture to prove to my husband I really went there), superhero pencils from Michaels' and a sucker. I was planning to do these cute masks and capes on the suckers, but ran out of time. (Check out the rest of that board and the I Did It board to see where I got lots of ideas.)

For the first time in her short little life, it was not 100 degrees on the day of her party. As a matter of fact, since we had it at 9:30am like usual to avoid the heat, the kids were complaining about being cold since it was only in the 70s. Beautiful!

Thankful for the opportunity to celebrate our big girl. She's amazing, and we are so blessed by her.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pregnancy Update

Well, they did tell me I could drop my testing down to three times a day - hallelujah! And the one plus to having the diabetes, as my OB said, is that I'm already on my post-pregnancy diet. It's turned out to be working all ready. I've only gained 7lbs, and I only have 6.5 weeks left. Granted, I'll probably gain a pound a week now like I'm supposed to, but that's still a small total. Trying to focus on the positive!

The other nice thing is that I have to get a sonogram every week. It's such a relief to see our little guy's organs pumping away each time.  He doesn't move very much compared to the girls, and because of where he's positioned, I can't always feel his movements. He's especially still in the morning, so it's comforting to have the visual confirmation.

Other than that, just really struggling with my hips and back hurting. I've scheduled a massage for Sunday, so praying that does a world of good. Especially since school starts for S on Monday - eek! First grade! Will try to post more often. Definitely need to do one soon about S's 6th bday party!
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