edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Playtime’s Over January 3, 2012

Filed under: Independence — edamomie @ 10:07 pm
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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?

 

I’ve Got A Bright Ikea July 6, 2011

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 10:03 pm
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O: Outings

Value Breakfast

Value Breakfast

Unless you’re a professional shopper or have several trips to Ikea under your belt, I have some insight to offer that could be useful. Since Ikea came to the Twin Cities about five years ago, I would venture to say we’ve been there about 20 times. The key, as with many over-sized shopping experiences, is not only to pre-shop but to measure, make a list at home as well. And finally, when entering the store: be realistic, allow time to hit all the shopping and warehouse areas, lower your expectations and go in with high energy and decision-making powers.
 

It was a summer Sunday morning and my Mom, daughter and I were on a small home improvement project kick. My parents’ extended stay of five days opened it up to actually take action on the projects we talk about but never get to. So while the boys worked on exterior project, us girls lit up at the prospect of a visit to Ikea.
 

I pulled out some pictures that needed framing and a set of five wall hooks from a previous overly ambitious Ikea trip months ago. Where to commit to hanging those hooks? Goodness knows without a modern day mudroom, this family is challenged. We brainstormed a bit and opted to look for additional hooks so one set could go in each of the kids’ rooms. An ah-ha moment. We also measured the distance from the floor to my son’s bedframe – we’d be ready to pounce on the perfect baskets that would clear the opening. The list was comprised of frames, hooks and baskets.

Bibs for Tots

Bibs for Tots


 

For a fourth opinion, we brought my 8-yr-old daughter’s American Girl doll, Mia, with us. We arrived about 15 minutes prior to store opening and headed for the Ikea Cafe. I’d eaten here just months ago with daughter Ava for breakfast. I assured Mom, this would be a value-driven meal. $1.99 for eggs, bacon and french toast sticks (2 orders) and coffee, an order of Swedish pancakes with lingonberry jam, chocolate and cookies (for later!) all for less than $9.00. I already feel obligated to spend $30 shopping. The cafe is clean, bright and optimistic. It feels European, yet like a neighborhood cafe. I even run into a friend who’s there in search of a toddler bed. I can’t help but give her some advice.
 

At store open time, we shop. As tempting as it is to go through the entire top floor, which is furniture and larger ticket items, we do a quick run-through of the Children’s section on Floor 2, then head down to Floor 1 for home accessories. I pick up an outdoor rug ($5) and briefly scan the lighting possibilities to see what’s new. In framing, I find a three picture opening frame ($14) for 5×7 photos and decide I can make my 4×6’s work with some clever matting. We move on to search for a set of hooks to match the others – no easy task – they’ve moved, but luckily they still have them ($10 each). Note: turnover is high here – if you have any inclination you’ll come back to get matching items of a set or more of something, don’t count on it.
 

We get a little caught up in framing – no luck finding the odd size frame for a USA map of my son’s that needs a 20 by 38 frame. I let it go, we move on. Baskets are next. I check out wicker baskets that I saw on the last trip that would fit under Calvin’s bed. They are still $20 a pop and I’d need three. I decide to wait. Risky, I know.
 

Fave Storage Bins

Fave Storage Bins

If you think you’re done shopping when you hit the warehouse entrance, this is a rookie mistake. Everything is displayed as assembled and you might find some things you missed in the furniture section. Or maybe you’ve carefully marked what aisle and bin to find your items in from your shopping tour only to find out that they’re sold out or discontinued. Disappointing, but that’s how it might go.

Two Bright Ikea Ideas

Two Bright Ikea Ideas


 

Proceed to checkout. Don’t be afraid: do the self-check-out, especially if you have an impatient child. Ava loves to scan, she’s got a knack for it. We don’t have a kid to pick up in the play area today (in the past, I’ve checked them in there while I shop – slick!), so it’s an easy exit to the lot. I think we spent about 1.75 hours there.
 

Over the next days, we paint the wooden boards that will hold the hooks – green for Calvin and hot pink for Ava – to match the stuff already in their rooms. No more excuses for stuff on the floor – the five hooks have two prongs each, so 10 places to hang towels, backpacks, robes, hats and lunchbags. Each board needs three coats of paint. We plan out positioning from floor and location behind each door. Papa assembles them the next day, while I’m at work. A satisfying two-day turn-around on that project.
 

What’s your Ikea experience? How do you shop there? Do the store and products give you inspiration or make you overwhelmed? Scale of 1 to 10, 10 being brightest, is Ikea a good idea?

 

 
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