edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

A Journey Through Movie Season November 9, 2014

I: Independence

It’s movie season in Minnesota. It’s Option A for cold-weather climates. This season, our family is in an interesting era for appropriateness and interest-level for movie-going.  I’ve had my eye on the PG-13 movies for years, even more so now that my daughter is 11 and my son is nine. Just maybe they’re old enough to see some PG-13 movies. I push the boundaries because I’ve paid my PG dues for seven years now.

 

Lego Movie FansI’ve seen everything from Happy Feet (my daughter’s first movie in a theater when she was four) to Yogi Bear (2010) and Rio (2011) (don’t bother seeing Rio 2; 2014) to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) (don’t bother seeing Cloudy 2). I guess I should be thanking my kids. There were some great films along the way. Their dialogue remains part of our vocabulary and voices inspired by movies like Cars, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Ratatouille and more recently The Lego Movie.

 

We own a modest amount of movies on DVD, but I prefer the theater experience. It used to be that my kids really didn’t have a say in the matter of movie selection. I’d choose a movie, they’d happily go along. Now, I have to make a case for the movie. The little critics both have to watch the trailer and it goes up for a vote. Often times, I lose. Their movie over mine or not to see one at all. Sometimes Calvin, my son, will cave with a little pressure because he’s craving popcorn or Gummy Bears. Truth.

 

Loaded Up with Popcorn for Despicable Me 2A few months ago we saw Captain America based on a family vote as our collective second choice among a list of movies. I went into it with the expectation of seeing yet another superhero action-packed movie. I was pleasantly surprised.The kids both liked it too. It was PG-13, but I still felt it was suitable for them. I thought back to a few PG movies that felt PG-13 to me, like Where the Wild Things Are. Everyone has their own opinion on what’s appropriate, but websites like Is This Movie Suitable and CommonSense help parents sort out movie subject matter, so parents can determine appropriateness. It’s still a bit of a gamble.

 

The next gamble I took occurred last week when I stumbled on The 100 Foot Journey. No, it wasn’t PG-13, merely PG. Critics and audiences alike gave stars freely. As I read reviews other elements aligned. My daughter takes French, the movie takes place in France. The family in the film is from India with an accent we’re very fond of trying to replicate based on several viewings of Life of Pi. My case was built, but could I convince the kids to go?

 

Riverview: Our Fave Movie TheaterMy son was an adamant no when I first pitched the movie to him on a Tuesday afternoon. Then he studied the trailer, paused a moment and said sure, we can go. My daughter was swept away from her homework and en route to the Riverview Theater, she watched the trailer. She was an easier sell. This drama film fell into a divergent category outside of our norm. Plus this film runs 124 minutes (as opposed to our usual PG average around 90-100 minutes). I crossed my fingers that it would all go well. Otherwise, who knows when I’d earn their trust back.

 

This film was a good gamble. All three of us enjoyed it and I found myself wishing for more films like this. The characters were so believable. Every element from culinary to scenery (South France and Paris) enticed me. The family feud was full of life lessons played out meaningful ways. And most meaningful to me: to produce a film with passion and deep context, without the swearing and sexual content that accompanies most dramas of this type. It was simply refreshing and uplifting.

 

The kids’ review: my son caught that Steven Spielberg co-produced it (with Oprah Winfrey for DreamWorks Pictures) and that meant something to him. He said something like, yeah, well Spielberg produced it, it has to be a great movie. My daughter replayed a few scenes in the car ride home. She thought the relationship between Helen Mirren and Om Puri most curious as their characters cleverly take their status from hate to love.

 

It was a good adventure in film for this family. What movies are you parents taking your tweens to this season? We are open to recommends.

 

Blogging: A Three-Year Disappearing Act February 1, 2014

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 9:25 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I: Independence

It’s been eons since I’ve posted a blog. Since my initial blog in November 2010, when the kids were five and seven, I went from weekly postings (Nov 2010 – Oct 2011), to bi-weekly postings (Nov 2011- Dec 2012), to monthly (Jan 2013- Oct 2013) to a significant hiatus (Nov 2013 – Jan 2014). Now, three years into edamomie, the kids are eight and ten. I’ve posted 102 blogs and seen almost 20,000 views. So what’s with my three-month leave of absence? I’ve been pondering this for a while and recently, when checking out 200 some food-oriented bloggers for a client, I discovered a pattern. Many blogs run about three years, then disappear.

 

When these blogger’s posts trailed off, they acknowledged this gap, explained their absence – I moved, new career, no time/something had to give, started a new blog, etc – and either recommitted or as in most cases, disappeared. I’m not sure which category I’m in yet.

 

What’s behind this common disappearing act?

 

The Fun-Factor and Freedom of Choice:
Bloggers all start with a passion to share their thoughts and ideas and many of them set a consistent schedule, i.e. committing to one post a week for one year, like I did. No one’s forcing a post. It’s sharing for fun. When the novelty wears off and there’s no one telling you that you have to post something because they desperately miss you (although my family and friends have wondered, What’s up?), you can stop. That’s the beauty of it too — free choice.

 

Forced Exploration:
For many, adhering to a schedule and generating content forces the exploration and discovery process. When I was blogging weekly, I was engaging the kids in projects, ideas, outings, etc. Some of this happened spontaneously while other times, I deliberately sought out content for my blog. Either way, it caused me to be thoughtful, frequent and proactive in planning in the types of activities we did.

 

The Purpose:
Bloggers don’t always receive comments and the futility of posting something no one will read weighs on us. For me, I started writing about my experiences with my kids as a form of scrapbooking, which I abandoned shortly after their third birthdays (read: guilt complex). My purpose for blogging was to create more of a picture album and diary of our lives. Of course, my family soaked this stuff up, but beyond that, what did I care who read my blog? It was a positive, creative outlet for me and a glimpse back into the kids’ lives for them at some future date.

 

Community and Interaction:
There’s also this blogging community where bloggers of like-minded subjects follow and comment on each other’s blogs. Interaction happens and this is rewarding, inspirational and educational at times. In the absence of interaction, we look at our stats and if xx people viewed us yet we have no comments, we tend to be okay with that. However if our goal is to gain likes and comments and there are few, this becomes a reason to jump ship.

 

Stop the Photo Madness!

Stop the Photo Madness!

Social Networks:
I also considered how the rise of new social networking channels played a role. For me, I became an avid Instagram user in Nov 2012 and essentially started posting my stories previously in blog format, with instant, filtered photos that captured an immediate slice of our lives. Did I really need to blog about the entire experience?  It seemed redundant and less compelling. Or maybe I was just getting lazy.

 

Other:
To top it off, my subjects who started as my five year-old son and seven year-old daughter, grew up. Last year at ages seven and nine, they turned into sometimes non-compliant participants who did not always want to have their picture taken or their lives documented in detail. Often times, I would take photos of their silhouette or obscure them in the background, but when they began expressing their concern with my writing/posting, it became clear I needed to back off.

 

In summary, the causes cited for a blogger’s exit include lack of interesting content, fading fun-factor, disinterest in the topic(s), shortage of time, decreasing rewards and interaction, new and improved social channels for sharing and other focuses. And in general, it takes about three years of blogging for these causes to equal an exit.

 

I talked with my kids about my (our) blog. I told Ava, As a parent, I have so many concerns about issues, I could refocus my efforts there. She asked me, what do you want to write about? I listed a few topics like super-short school recess, parental slavery to kids’ athletic and extracurricular pursuits, allergies: food and environmental, online and technology norms and behaviors and how to make dinner when your parents are out. She said, Cool, you should write about that then. She would say that.

 

The Dogs are Barking April 22, 2013

I: Independence (or lack of…) and U: The Unknown

Dreaming of Dogs: All About Brand Loyalty

Dreaming of Dogs: All About Brand Loyalty

My nine year-old daughter, Ava, has  been dreaming about dogs for a good year now. Off and on. From Yorkies to Pomeranians. Dinner-time quizzes and questionnaires, weekend bursts of chore-activity to show stellar responsibility and more.

 

After a recent trip to the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, she is slowly swaying me toward strongly considering getting a dog. Her interest level is so keen right at this moment. Her younger brother, seven year-old Calvin, is not quite as keen. He’s a bit lukewarm, in fact. Ideally, he’d have the same level of interest as her. Or I would, for that matter.

 

Pitbull Mix

Pitbull Mix

My husband grew up with dogs. I did not. I am definitely a tougher sell.  I think I’m being hit up now because the family thinks the sleepless nights of the toddler years are long forgotten. I’ve had a good solid four years of predictable nightly sleep patterns. Am I ready to be sleepless again?  …maybe let’s forgo puppy stage and get a fully grown dog then? It’s an option, but not one that Ava is too excited about.

 

Pleeeeease take me home!

Pleeeeease take me home!

For the sake of pursuing this dog-scenario, let’s say we all agree to get a puppy. How to find the right one for our family is the question. The humane society doled out sheets of info in helpful categories based on dog traits and characteristics: Toys, Spaniels, Retrievers, Property Guards, Pointers*, Sled Dogs, Herding Dogs, Scent Hounds, and Sight Hounds.

 

Then we hit up the library straight after our visit to check out “Everything Dogs,” “Dogs for Dummies, and my personal fave, “Weimaraners*.” Ava is also able to reference recently library books from school: “Yorkshire Terriers Are the Best!” (mid-March) and “Pomeranians Are the Best!” (mid-April) and multiple online sources.

 

I would say we’re an active family. Active in two senses: 1. we’re on the go (weekends at the grandparents; sports/eve activities, etc) 2. we’re physically active (running, biking, etc). So we need a dog that is fine being on their own for long stretches of time, but when we’re around, they’re eager to be very active and run fast! Leaning toward Pointer here with top as Weimaraner. But would our city lot allow for enough fenced-in outdoor space (which is a requirement for this breed)?

 

Just try and say no to me!

Just try and say no to me!

We do not need barking. This would rule out Ava’s front-runners in the Toy category including her beloved Yorkie. What about allergies? In this case, Labradoodles are the preferred choice for low-dander coats. However, they fall in the Retriever category which warns “Don’t expect unsupervised freedom in the house until after two years of age.” I’m beginning to believe it’s like finding a mate  — you definitely have your must-haves and the rest of the stuff, you need to overlook!

 

To dog-lovers out there: What’s your advice on breed, appropriate age for kids to have a dog, puppy vs dog, over-thinking, costs, training, etc? Need to be enlightened so we don’t end up barking up the wrong tree.

 

— all photos via Instagram and Instapics at instagram.com/jengilhoi

 

Puppies, Pantones and Piercings December 7, 2012

I: Independence

PBTeen Graphic Patch Quilt Purchased, Potentially Returned

PBTeen Graphic Patch Quilt Purchased, Potentially Returned

I’m not sure what switch was flipped at age nine and a half for my daughter, Ava, but it’s causing a newfound need to be more grown-up.  From nightly dinner conversations about getting a puppy to updating her room decor so she can lose the baby pink pantone, it’s constantly called to my attention that she growing up.

 

To agree to all of these requests — a new puppy, a new room, a new route home from school with a friend, and new and permanent bling in her ears — would most likely overwhelm our entire family. Over the past month, we’ve been working though everything with some careful compromising, added responsibility and sound reasoning.

 

Ava cleverly submits me to online survey-taking to determine the type of puppy I (nevermind her) would be most compatible with and works hard to sell me on the idea that she’d be the one taking puppy out for walks at 7:00a.m. in the winter. Once we revisit our schedule, turns out that yes, it would be me doing those early morning walks/runs. We table the puppy purchase for at least six months.

 

Next we turn our focus to redecorating her room. After seven and a half years of what we call watermelon decor, she insists she’s ready for something new. We scout out PotteryBarnTeen and find a few options (black is a necessity) before ordering the Graphic Patch Quilt and Sham as a starting point for the paint selection and decor. We cannot agree on paint selection, but we eventually agree that maybe it’s too soon to redecorate given all of the things we’d have to replace and buy. We could wait until she’s eleven and revisit it as we’ll probably only do the decor over once while she’s living at home. It’s kind of a relief, truthfully.

 

Thirdly, we discuss walking home after school with a friend to her friends’ house. She insists she’s totally ready for this. I, however, am not. Instead I offer to pick up her and her friend one day each week and bring them to our house so they can hang out. She’s kind of heartbroken over this and I would love to say yes. Maybe next year. Maybe when you have your own mobile phone.

 

Piercing Tech Alicia Measures and Marks with Purple Ink

Piercing Tech Alicia Measures and Marks with Purple Ink

The final quest is for ear-piercing. We create a reward system around this – practice your piano and clarinet frequently and without complaint and you may get your ears pierced. She is game for this and follows through for a month before the assessment date arrives. She gets a passing grade from her Dad and we immediately head for Claire’s the next day.

 

I question the training and skill sets of the piercing technicians at Claire’s, but I am mostly satisfied because of the girl’s optimistic and friendly attitude. She claims she’s a perfectionist and re-does the purple ink dot markings 15 times to ensure the correct and matching placement. When all is perfectly marked, we call on another tech so they can simultaneously perform the piercing. Ava seems a bit nervous, but doesn’t let on. Her seven year-old brother is pacing the store and continually asking if we can buy candy.

 

"I Just Got My Ears Pierced" and now I'm at Starbucks

“I Just Got My Ears Pierced” and now I’m at Starbucks

We settle on the mid-to-high price range earrings although all in their arsenal are hypoallergenic. I talk Ava down from a square cubic-zirconia looking studs to flatter, yet still shiny, daisy-shaped earrings. On the count of three, the techs fire their earring guns. Ava looks a bit flushed. The tech reviews the cleaning process and we walk out $55 later. We opt not to redeem the 50% off coupon for new earrings just yet as she has to keep the studs in for six weeks.

 

She shares the news with her family and fellow fourth-grade friends. She’s slightly worried about her Papa calling her a gypsy, which is what he called me in newly-pierced ears in sixth grade. The girls just say cool. In the next breath, all is well with the other denied and compromised requests for the moment. I’m safe until the next grown-up must-do/ must-have comes along.

 

Candy Plan November 5, 2012

Filed under: Eats,Independence — edamomie @ 5:39 pm
Tags: , , , ,

E: Eats + I: Independence

Carving and Removal of Guts

Carving and Removal of Guts

Halloween ranks second only to Christmas as the holiday when most retail consumer dollars are spent. People buy costumes not only for kids, but grown-ups too; more decorations for parties and bucket loads of candy. Halloween costume stores pop up  in various locations and we stock up and shop early. For this family, I think our Halloween storage outweighs our Christmas storage. As follows is a Halloween recap on carving, costumes and candy handling.

 

Overly zealous in past years, we’ve had to restock on candy and be faced with carved pumpkins whose insides have turned to mush by Halloween if they haven’t already had their decoration chewed off by squirrels. This year, I bought pumpkins and candy ($14.98 value pack) five days before Halloween. The hidden bag is uncovered and ripped into the next morning at about 3:00a.m. by my 7-year-old son, Calvin, who had been obsessing about it. The carving takes place four days prior to Halloween and the Jack-o-Lanterns serve as a centerpiece days before moving outdoors on Halloween, in fine condition.

 

Witch and Gangsta

Witch and Gangsta

Weeks prior we had pulled out our Halloween bins of costumes past and tried to sell the kids on resurrecting all or portions of them for this Halloween. Tough sell. My son wanted to be a gangster and needed a whole new pin-stripped suit because the pink-stripped gangster outfit my 9-year-old daughter wore the year before would not suffice, of course. Even the cheap plastic gangster weapon – found in pieces – needed replacement. My daughter, Ava, was thinking witch. We found two respectable witch hats, six black cloaks and a black wig in the arsenal. We knew our options before heading to the Halloween store. Upon arrival, it was all too tempting to not stick with a costume re-run. Calvin got the gangster and Ava, due to indecision, ended up empty-handed on a new costume and committed to the witchy mix of options at home.

 

Halloween Grub

Halloween Grub

With Halloween on a Wednesday this year, the usual annual parties in the neighborhood occur on the Saturday prior. With minimal effort, I dress in black and add a witch hat to head to the first party with the kids. This annual party with a 2:00p.m. start time comes complete with a fog machine and elaborate Halloween fare from gummy worms in crushed Oreo crumbs to eyeballs conveyed via mini-powdered donuts topped with an M&M as the pupil, red gel lines for the veins. We last about two hours.

 

We regroup at home and try to have a substantial meal before the next party. There is little interest. Now I’m ready for costume two of the day – Elastagirl (recycled from five years prior). My husband, who has costumes set in May for the next Halloween, is suffering a set back. Apparently fabric spray for clothing is not all it’s cracked up to be. Cutting it close at 5:30, his Plan B emerges. We all take over one bathroom and finish applying hairspray, face painting and powdering. The witch turns into a mime of sorts simply because she wants her face white not green. We head to party #2 around 6:45p.m.

 

Haunted House on the Block

Haunted House on the Block

This annual party has another great spread of food – little tacos, artichoke dip and of course mummy dogs (formerly known as pigs in a blanket). Grown-ups gather around the outdoor fire pit and the kids run wild between the bouncy house, playhouse and basement. The kids are sneaking soda and snacks at all times so it’s pretty tough to monitor what they actually consume. We last til 8:15p.m., then it’s time to head out. After all, the adults need Halloween fun too!

 

With sister-in-law set to watch kids, we’re out the door by 9:00p.m. to an old-fashioned Halloween house party where we’re greeted by host Gene Simmons. We meet many bizarre characters that make the evening very entertaining. We’ve had our fill and are ready for a break from Halloween, at least until Wednesday the 31st.

 

As is tradition, I make some sort of casserole or hotdish. This year it’s Aunt Rose’s Easy Cheesy Lasagna. It’s ready to go in advance so we can be ready for the 6:00p.m. trick-or-treaters. They still catch us off-guard. We debate every year if we should go out in shifts so someone can be home to hand out candy. This year, we choose to all go out from 6:30-7:15p.m. Our neighborhood really goes all out so we don’t have to go far. We never miss the house on the block complete with staged outdoor lighting and Thriller on a loop. Ava takes her time and Calvin sprints between homes. It’s challenging to keep up with them and chat with neighbors too.

 

Candy Plan

Candy Plan

At home, we heat up the lasagna and have a fire in the fireplace. My husband also sets a major fire to one jack-o-lantern to creating a flaming pumpkin, which to me looks hazardous and threatening to potential visitors. Trick-or-treaters still come. We hand out candy til 8:30p.m., when we finally turn out the lights. The kids sort and organize their candy, eating as they go, especially the items like KitKats which are pretty popular this year. We try to bribe a few of their 60+ pieces of candy from them.

 

They kids are so worn out, they actually head to bed on their own. Ava doesn’t even take off the white face paint. Calvin puts the tooth he lost that day under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy who actually forgets to come that night. I reason with him on November 1 that too many kids lost their teeth yesterday, bobbing for apples and whatnot. The Tooth Fairy will come tonight.

 

It’s four days after Halloween now and we’ve just taken all of the decorations down. The candy still lingers. This year, rather than limit it to one or two pieces after dinner each night, I’m being much less restrictive. They can have access to it through Tuesday, then it’s gone. Otherwise, they drive me crazy obsessing about it all day and it lasts for 2-3 weeks, making the after-dinner candy treat a tough habit to break. So we have two more days to consume, then I’m getting rid of it. Their uncle offers to buy it for $5, but Ava pushes back, it’s worth much more than that. I’ll sell it to you for $20. I’m glad she negotiated. I’ll just put that money directly to their dental bill or next year’s costume purchase.

 

Breaking Board February 7, 2012

A: Activities

Precision Movements

Precision Movements

As adults, we’re expected to set and meet goals. You don’t just wake up with this innate sense of drive and the motivation to accomplish, nor is it handed to you when you graduate highschool. I have parent envy for those who begin teaching their children at an early age consistently how to set and meet goals.  I could do better.

 

Typically the goals in younger years are a duality of parents incenting kids to meet daily or frequent must-dos, while the kids are simply driven by the end reward. Example: Brush your teeth every day, kids, and you’ll get a reward, like a sticker, at the end of the week. I actually like this example because even though it’s end reward is nominal, the reward doesn’t come until the end of week. Mine goal/reward propositions tend to be a bit more immediate gratification-like, which can be effective but may also backfire when they start lobbying you for rewards for every little thing they are supposed to do without question.

 

My kids at 6 and 8 might have some catching up to do. I struggle with having to incent them to do daily tasks. I’d rather just say, “Fine don’t brush. It’s you and your placque-covered teeth at your next dentist visit.” I’ve tried to be creative – – selling them on the fact that the activity I’m pushing them to do is SO much fun whether it’s teeth-brushing or washing dishes. They are on to me. In hindsight, I can see where their association with the goal/reward process, no matter how counterintuitive enforcing it may seem, is a stepping stone for larger things.

 

Post Board Break Testing

Post Board Break Testing

All is not lost. As mentioned, we’re not into rewarding them for every little thing they do, but at ages 6 (Calvin) and 8 (Ava), my kids recently surprised me by what they had learned through their TaeKwonDo practice. They did daily lessons all summer as part of a day camp, then continued on, twice a week when school started.

 

 They’ve participated in a gamut of sports from team to individual, each with their valuable lessons.  The noticeable difference TaeKwonDo brought was a focused connection between mind and body – – the power behind a swift kick, the element of self defense, the importance of a repetitive, specific movement to achieve a result and the follow-up of moving on to the next belt level after a mastery of required skills is reached.

 

My husband and I recently joined their class for a special “Making the Yellow Belt” testing. The testing took place in sparring pairs, two per 25 minute testing session. They “hupped” (vocal call that signifies movement and order), roundhouse kicked and channeled some Danielson (from Karate Kid fame) for their tests. At the end of these precise movements with partners, they each went on to the ultimate – to break a board.  They had already broken a board – each a lighter weight one – for their first test. This board was heavier. They checked their alignment, did a few practice kicks and went for it. They each broke their board first try. (thus Breaking Board title with reference to Breaking Bad just because I like it)

 

 

The highlight for me is the follow-up after the physical portion which quizzes each child on some basics and prompts them to answer how they felt before testing – scared, nervous, anxious, doubtful – and after testing – proud, confident, satisfied. The instructor and owner of Classic TaeKwonDo Studios, Carolyn Boston, paralleled the practice to some daily situations kids could relate to and also encouraged them to channel the right attitude about applying themselves in all aspects of their lives to make things happen.

 

There are other types of practice that evoke this same sense of discipline, most certainly. What other sports and activities do your kids do? What are some meaningful ways to have them set goals with appropriate rewards?

 

Playtime’s Over January 3, 2012

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 10:07 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I: Independence

Ticket to Ride... For Hours and Hours

Ticket to Ride... For Hours and Hours

Every time the holidays are upon us, a pang of anxiousness sets in. I swear I will find the perfect blend of relaxation, activity, productivity, festivity and refocusing. Add a husband and a few kids to this equation with no where to be and zero routine – – it can actually create stress.

 

Seriously, time off from hectic schedules is the last thing I want to complain about. So a bit of reflection on how our family fared over nearly two weeks off is as follows.

 

Relaxation: four movies in one day for the kids (not a proud parenting moment); yoga, running and reading for me.

 

Activity: games! Ticket to Ride, Europe ate up nearly 3 hours of our New Year’s Eve. We played two more times throughout the week before Tweety Bird on the iPod won out. We also roller skated with hundreds on the 31st – the challenge of avoiding collisons the main focus.  And some swimming and basketball.

 

New AG Family

New AG Family

Productivity: shopping. Lots of it. Ikea for desk chairs for kids that took a few hours of assembly. A visit from a measurer for new blinds. Mass purging and organization of files with some help from Ikea. For my 6-yr-old son, building Legos; for my 8-yr-old daughter, taking care of an additional, high maintenance American Girl.

 

Festivity: gatherings. Entertaining at our home, a visit to our extended family for two more celebrations. The usual continuous stream of food.

 

Refocus: The 2011 Love Hate List. We could all agree we hate our school’s early start time. We talked about some household improvements for 2012. Things got negative so the conversation ended quickly.

 

Threatening Elf on the ShelfOver the course of our break, our normal routine got seriously out of whack. I tried not to feel guilty about sleeping in and taking a daily nap. I realized how unproductive and listless children (and adults!) can become when left to their own devices. From all the gifts at the onset of break, I could hardly believe it to hear they were bored. I found them bickering with each other often. The magic of The Elf of the Shelf had all but worn away.

 

My son assembled numerous Lego contraptions, one of which I barely captured on film – the Dinocopter, and a few Lego monster transformers from the Lego HERO collection. My daughter welcomed Piper (a brunette American Girl doll) and Honey (a golden retriever also by American Girl) to the family, along with clothing, suitcases, sleeping bags and pet carriers for them. Judging from some informal polling and lines at both stores, Lego and American Girl were the tops on boys and girls’ Christmas Lists this year.

 

Lego Dino Transporter

Lego Dino Transporter

Tradition is, the kids always get a board game from us parents. This year, Ticket to Ride, Europe, was the choice. Even though for players ages 8 and up, I decided to get it anyway for them. It’s a strategic game with a lot of options and choices. It took much patience to learn and time to play, but it held their attention for hours.

 

Now, this week, parents are happily back to work. Kids are off for yet another week and having a blast at their grandparents. I am relieved to have a plan for the week: work and work out. We do better in our household with a bit of routine. We know this about ourselves. It’s tough to get into total guilt-free relaxation mode.

 

I’m always curious to hear how others handle a week or more time off at home. How do you fare?

 

 
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