Monday, December 27, 2010

Toy Review

Santa had a bit of a challenge determining which toys he should bring for S this year.  After all, he's the youngest of three boys; what could be gotten that hasn't already been gotten once, if not twice?

Santa went DUPLO.  Specifically, he got two sets for S:  5497 LEGO® DUPLO® Play with Numbers and 6051 LEGO® DUPLO® Play with Letters, along with 5636 Bus.

I wasn't entirely sure how these would go over with S.  He turns two on New Year's Day, so I worried that stacking and locking the bricks could be a bit of a challenge for his little hands.

It turns out that I was all worried over nothing.  The LEGOs were quite the hit with S.  Of all the toys he received, he has played with the LEGOs far more than any other toy.  As I watched S play with the bricks, I realized what it was about them that worked so well for him.

If you click on the links above, you'll see that the number and letter bricks are twice as tall as a regular LEGO brick.  This made it much easier for little hands to grab and manipulate.  While stacking the bricks was easy, it did take a few tries to master how to lock them together.  Once S got the hang of interlocking the bricks, he was able to make tall towers that he could knock down (by far his favorite part).

In addition to a fun building toy, LEGO also promotes the numbers and letters sets as educational (which, truth be told, was a factor in Santa's decision to gift these sets to S).  Letter bricks can be put side by side to form words, or put into alphabetical order.  The number bricks come with "partners" - like-colored bricks with the corresponding number of objects on them (one teddy bear, two rabbits, etc.).  These can be used to play a "memory" game (flipping over bricks to match a number with its corresponding picture), or have the child stack a number brick atop the corresponding picture brick.

I don't know how I'll use the LEGOs for the above games, but I do appreciate that LEGO offers an alternative to character-driven sets (Toy Story, Cars, etc.).

It's only two days after Christmas, but the LEGOs are by far S's favorite new toy.  Mom is very happy about that.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, That Was Short Lived stint as a regular blog poster.  You're shocked, I can tell.  You just *knew* that this time was for real, that I would stick with it, that I wouldn't peter out.


But seriously, the thought of blogging thrice weekly about my life forced me to consider some important questions, primarily:  Do I really want to share very personal aspects of my daily life with not just strangers, but with my friends and family?  Honestly, divulging personal details to a bunch of readers I've never seen or met before on the Internet doesn't feel very scary to me.  Change that to a bunch of people who know me and suddenly it scares the bejeezus out of me.  And that brings up a whole other level of privacy:  how fair is it to the Hubster and the kids to put some very personal and possibly unflattering things about them on the Interwebz for all time, and for all who know us, to read?

As much as I want to write, I don't want to unnecessarily cause discomfort or pain to my family doing it.  Besides, my initial goal was never to be a "mommy blogger."  It was to write more one-off pieces (eg, I wrote a piece on my perspective as the mom of three boys) or more research-driven pieces.

So now I go back to the drawing board, sort of.  I will still blog, but as of now I have no idea how frequently.  Sometimes I might share something funny that happened, other times I might respond to an article I read that got me thinking.

So that's that.  I suppose a good New Year's resolution would be to keep polishing my writing, and work on creating several pieces that could be published.  (Note to Sensei's wife - haven't thought about where just yet.  I'll get to that... eventually ;)

Oh yeah, and one last thing - a big special note of gratitude to Sensei's Wife - if not for her keen eye and honest criticism, I would not have given this a fraction of the thought that I have in 2010.  I couldn't ask for a better friend, not just as a writer, but as a human  :D

Friday, December 17, 2010

Can't Let the Turkeys Get Me Down

Been an interesting twenty-four hours.

Got an email from the parochial school where T goes to preschool.  They've decided to change the preschool schedule for next year.  Again.  Last year, they sent a survey to the parents, who decided that three days a week wasn't enough, so the fours can attend three or five mornings and the threes got moved to the afternoon.  Next year, the fours will attend three days, from 8am to 1pm with the option to stay until 2pm. 

This raises some issues:
  1. I cannot be in two places as once.  T needs to be in school at 8am; J waits for the bus at 8am.  I suppose I could take T to school first and then drop off J, but the elementary school doesn't allow dropoffs until 8:20, and the schools are five minutes apart.  And J loves riding the bus; why would I want to take that from him?  Why should I take that from him?
  2. What about the parents who have multiple children attending the school?  For some it may be convenient to drop off both children for an 8am start.  But won't it be rather confusing for the parents with two preschoolers, one child starting at 8am on MWF and the other at 9am on TTH?  And what about the parents with a child in the threes and an older child in the elementary school?  If the decision to start the fours at 8am is to accommodate the parents with children in the fours and in elementary school, what about the parents with children in the threes and another in elementary school?  Why make it easy for some and not others?  And why make an 8am start for the fours if the kindergarteners can arrive between 7:50 and 8:30?  This decision makes absolutely no sense.
  3. Most important to me, I do not think four-year-olds should be in school for six hours a day, even if much of the time is spent at play.  This is a preschool program, not a day care center.  (Note:  This is not a critique of parents who work; rather, a critique of parents who work who also expect their schools to function as day care centers as opposed to centers of education.)
I spoke to the teacher this morning.  She had pushed for a 9am start for the preschool across the board; she was not pleased with the varying start times.  She told me to complain to the principal about the new fours start time, and also told me that the 8am start was to accommodate one parent who complained about having to drive back and forth to the school multiple times. 
Seriously?  I am at that school four times on Wednesdays:  to drop T off, pick him up, then bring J to CCD and pick him up an hour later.  I don't complain because driving my kids to where they need to be is my job
The upshot is that the teacher has absolutely no problem with me bringing T to school after J gets off the bus.  She plans to spend the first hour in free play, with circle time starting at 9am.

So after making myself completely crazy, I feel better about the preschool issue.

And then one of the moms came in to share some news.  Can you guess?  I'll give you a hint:  she's pregnant with her third child and she already has two boys.  You don't still need a hint, do you? 

Yup.  She's having a girl.  Of course she is.  Right now it's just a dull throb, but this morning it briefly brought back some old feelings.  And it made me realize that perhaps my lesson from God is that the things I want are not necessarily the things I need.  It also made me wish that someone would experience the disappointment I felt, but then I immediately realized that not having felt that pang would mean that I wouldn't have S.

After dropoff, I went to the mall with S to get some teacher gifts.  Ran into three different people I haven't seen in a while.  I love random, unplanned mall reunions.

I'm glad that everything panned out as it did.  And I am ready for the weekend.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sleep Wars

Just when I felt that I had a firm handle on my life and on the kids' schedule, just when I thought everything was under control, it Happened.

The Hubster made a Decision.  He decided that S was getting too big for his crib and therefore should be transitioned into a big boy bed.  Starting Now.

Initially, he tried to convince me that we needed to go out Right There and Then and buy a twin bed that matches the older boys' bunk bed set (we got the bunk beds at BJ's about two years ago; they don't make a twin bed, just the bunk beds).  I told him that that was ridiculous idea since we not only already have a double bed in S's room along with the crib, but we also have a Little Tikes race car toddler bed that's gathering dust in the basement.  Either option was fine with me, but there was absolutely no reason to go buying a new bed.

Much to Hubster's credit, he didn't argue his point.  Instead, he brought up the spare crib mattress, spring base, and bed frame. 

I must say that while I was behind this idea in theory, I was not (and still am not) thrilled with the fact that Hubster either overlooked something very important, or very cleverly thrust it in my lap:  the aftermath.  Aftermath? What on earth are you talking about, crazy lady? you ask.  Well, think about it.  Who is home in the afternoons when S will be napping (or learning to nap) in this new bed?  And who will be putting S to sleep in this new bed when Hubster is working late?  Who's got two thumbs and the toughest job she'll ever love?  This gal!

Yep.  He pulled a seagull move.  Flew in, shit all over the place, and flew away.

Okay, that's a bit extreme and perhaps overly harsh.  Yeah, he did kinda crap on me by initiating this major transition that *I* will be managing solo, but let's be real here.  S is almost two.  He's our third boy, and he is far more adventurous than even T, our Fearless Child.  So much so that S makes T look cautious (seriously).  It was just a matter of time before S figured out how to scale the crib and forced the situation.  And the sooner we transition him to a bed, the sooner that brief period of naptime hell is over.

I suppose the true reason why I resist this latest transition is that it signifies the End of the Babyhood.  Of course I'm excited that my little boy is getting bigger (well, that all of my little boys are getting bigger), but there's still that small part of me that's sad that our crib's days are numbered.  The past six and a half years of my life, somebody has been my baby (well, my under-two-year-old).  It was exciting, exhausting, challenging, and worth every minute of it, but now it's time to look forward to the next phase of parenting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I'd Like to Know

I know how my marriage and family work.  I have limited knowledge of how my friends' marriages and families work.  But I have no idea if we are the norm, if we are normal for where in the US we live, or if we are complete outliers.

I want to know if the conflicts that my husband and I have as spouses and as parents are typical.  I suspect that they are, but I would still like to know how other marriages and families work:  Do dual income families have different reasons for the same conflicts than do families where parents fulfill traditional roles?  Are the conflicts specific to one or both of the parents' line of work?  Does the gender of the children play a part?

I realize that it is probably impossible to design an experiment that will find these answers using the scientific method, but I still want to know. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Had a very interesting conversation with a neighbor/friend of mine this morning.  She writes for some magazines you have most definitely read (perhaps in the dentist's office, hair salon, or in line at the grocery store), and she's a lot of fun to talk to. 

We've spoken about some of the topics I want to write about, and she has always been very supportive.  She mentioned the possibility of me blogging for a well known website, which I find both exciting and scary as hell.  I know this is all pie in the sky at this point, but still...  The spectre of writing for money (even if it pays $50 per blog entry) is very exciting, but the pressure of having to deliver a server-ready piece several times a week is a bit daunting.  Okay, a lot daunting.  Oh, and there's that bit about baring my soul to millions of strangers.  That is definitely a scary prospect, but what scares me more is knowing that lots of friends and family will seek out my writing. 

And if people I know are going to seek out my writing, and if I'm going to get paid for it, it's probably in my best interest to get back on the blog.  So here I am.

I'm thinking I might publish under a pseudonum.  That might work...  any suggestions?