Monday, April 28, 2014

To Party Or Not To Party

That is the million dollar question of the day.

This morning when I got to work I found an invitation to a students 3rd birthday. I walked over to my sons file and found that Animal had also been invited (along with the whole class). I immediately thought two things.

1) She doesn't realize he's my son.

2) I have a dilemma.

The party happens to be on the last Sunday in May at 1:30. Posing a few problems. The time is during Animal's nap time. We put him down at 1. If he sleeps he's down till 3-4 missing party. We could skip nap, he's kind of transitioning out of them. The problem is he needs it. In fact he's hard to tolerate without one that I'm afraid to have my highly excitable toddler out in a yard full of other hyped up 2.5-3.5 year olds.

It's a kid's birthday party, and to me that means sugar. You may or may not know how I feel about that, but the short if it is it is, we keep that shit down to a minimum. We don't serve juice in our home, I bring water to any event we attend and I water it down when I'm forced to give in. The hubby and I don't allow fruit snacks or marshmallows, and we keep other sweets to one on special occasions.

I don't say anything to anyone else about it. I don't make loud (or even quiet) comments about why or how. We just say, no thanks. Does Animal happily shrug it off? Sometimes, but he's a toddler and sometimes he cries when we say no to a second helping (or a first). It's hard because he's two, he wants, what he wants, when he wants it. It's also hard because we provide a lot of nutritious food and we don't limit it. We don't force him to eat either. If he takes two bites of lunch and says "I'm done", we say okay. He'll eat when he's hungry. It's an issue for some people. Maybe they think we're dicks. Maybe they think  we think they're bad parents. I don't ask you to defend what you feed your kid, and I would appreciate not having to defend what I don't feed mine. It's just easier not to deal with it.

The fact that we got two separate invitations let's me know these parents (and I know they're not the only ones) don't know Animal is my son. The teachers son. I'm not in the mood to broadcast that. Especially when he'll most likely be batty from no nap.

Last, the last Sunday of every month is family day. My siblings and I go to my parents house and have a meal together, and catch up. It's a rare occasion we are all in the same place at the same time. Or it was until family day started last year. I don't want to miss it.

What say you? Please comment or tweet I really need opinions. Am I just being selfish? Or do you agree there will be other parties?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chi-Chi Cocktail Hour

Remember South Park? The cartoon with the foul mouthed kids. Well the hubby and I still watch it. It's not on the DVR, but when we see it's on we watch it.  Recently the hubby watched an episode he really wanted me to see because there was a drink on there he wanted us to try.

I finally caught it and as usual it cracked me up. In this episode Butters returns to his "native"  land Hawaii. All the "natives" drink a special drink called a chi-chi in a coconut. The drink is made from coconut milk, pineapple juice and Vodka.

The hubby couldn't stop talking about how tasty it sounded and how much he wanted to try it. Being the good wife I am. I went out and bought all the ingredients including fresh coconuts to pour our drinks into.

Saturday night after Animal went to bed, I googled chi-chi recipe and found several recipes along with some fun facts. Like the chi-chi was once a popular cocktail and has recently started to see a comeback (because of South Park? I wondered). Also if you happen to have piƱa colada mix, all you need is to add some vodka for an instant chi-chi! Lastly most recipes call for coconut cream, not coconut milk.

Here's the recipe I made:

1 measure vodka
4 measures pineapple juice
1 measure coconut milk
Blend with ice, then pour into your coconut and add a straw. Enjoy!

This cocktail is great! It's creamy, sweet and the perfect amount of liquor. You know, not so sweet you wonder if someone forgot to add the spirit, and not so strong you wonder why you bothered getting a drink instead of a shot. Even my dad drank one. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but he rarely drinks, so this was a big deal to me. Added fun, when your done you can scoop out the tender coconut meat and eat. Double yum!

This drink was so good in fact, we're cooking up a plan for a chi-chi night. The hubby wants to BBQ pig, and I'm wondering if I should find a Tiki bar. This is an excellent drink to make a pitcher (or 2) and just refill the guest coconuts. Very low maintenance summer night drink.

I can't wait to host now that I have a back yard. With potential to be lovely backyard.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Do It Too

You know what really chaps me hide?

When a kid is crying and a well meaning adult says, "You don't need to cry about that". Or some variant sentence that means shut it down. It bothers me so much.

The worst part is I do it too.

Children cry for so many reasons. Sadness, confusion, feeling misunderstood, left out, scared, exhaustion, to release pent up energy. Why do we devalue their feelings? Why for our own comfort or sanity do we ask them to bottle up their too big emotions? Sure sometimes the little buggers are just trying to manipulate us into giving them their way. Of course we should not give in to the tears, but why not just let them cry? What's the real harm? Is there real harm?

I know it grates on your nerves, as it does mine, when your little person is crying cuz it's nap time/diaper changing time/ time to turn off the God forsaken Bubble Guppies, but can't we just send them to cry in their room/a chair/or some other area when we can't tune them out?

Could our need to stop their tears come from our desire to spare them pain?


Do you hate cry babies too?

I really hate whining. I don't want my kid to be a whiner and I don't want him to cry over every little thing. Sometimes life is disappointing. Sometimes people are assholes. Sometimes you gotta just get on with your life and not care about every little thing.

Plus there are better ways to deal with things than sitting and crying. Better ways to ask for what you want.

The thing is don't you need to cry, to learn that doesn't solve the problem? Or to see tears don't make people do what you want. They (our children) are just learning by trial and error.

Just like we understand we'll be changing many, many, many soiled diapers, then washing many wet (please only wet) underwear, pants and floors before finally graduating to, in the toilet every time.

Lest you think this analogy doesn't apply, I'm not saying that you'll listen to all this whining and crying till your child finally learns to control their emotions and then it's over. Home free. No. I'm not saying that, I'm saying just like with potty training, it gets better. There will still be surprises and hiccups, maybe even lifelong ones.

Just like with potty training, I need to have some patience and I would wager I'm not the only one.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Buying Children's Books Cheap

Acquiring an assortment of books for your child(ren) can get very, very expensive quickly. In order to do so on a budget will require some thought and planning on your part, but can certainly be done. Here are a few helpful tips on building a library for your home.

1. Buy (or get) used. Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, craigslist, freecycle, friends, family (because fellow book lovers hate to get rid of books, but love to pass them on to a new home) and even your local library. They are all great places to find gently loved books. Kids don't mind a few scribbles or a bent corner. They only care about the chance to read a new story with you.

2. Check out the bargain section at your local big box store. You can often get some great hardcovers for as much as 90% off retail price.

3. Costco has an amazing assortment of books for all ages. Instead of buying those giant delicious (and alarmingly addicting) muffins pick up a new book for the kids. Also why not let them look through while you finish your shopping so you can get through your shopping list little faster (expert tip: if thumbing through the pictures doesn't keep their interest, don't buy it).

4. Add books to wish lists and registries. We added all our favorites (that I hadn't already purchased) to our baby registry. Not everyone can afford the crib bedding or stroller you're dying to get, and those bottles, pacifiers and bibs are snatched up quick, what can a well meaning acquaintance pick up? How about a hardcover of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. I love to gift books to all the children in my life and while I'm fortunate enough to work with young children and know what most preschoolers are into I have a harder time shopping for teeny boppers, so a tip from parents is especially helpful.

5. Lastly my favorite, Scholastic Book Clubs. Remember those awesome flyer's that you used to get sent home monthly when you were a kid, with all your favorite Judy Blume books? Or was I the only dork begging my parents to spend 50 bucks on all the books I couldn't live without! If your child is in school and brings these flyer's home, use them. They have incredible deals. Also they allow your child's teacher to build their class library like no other. Giving your child the most books for your hard earned buck. Every month they have at least 1 book for a dollar each. I snatch up these deals for stocking stuffers, party favors, student gifts and just because gifts. Also the variety of books, hard covers, books on cd, books for your tablet and boxed sets are great. I have several boxed sets waiting for the day when Animal starts reading to himself by lamp curled up under his blankets words blurring into each other, chin falling into his chest as the book drops out of his hand from exhaustion. I digress. Is your child not in school yet? Don't fret, you can get a scholastic parent account. Full disclosure, I don't know the details of buying straight from scholastic from a parent account, but I have been a teacher running a scholastic account for my class for 14 years and they blow me away. Every. Year.

I have been collecting books for my child since I was 18, so it's no wonder he has so many books available to him. I know however that it's never too early or too late to fill your child's life with words, stories, and imagination builders. As an early childhood educator believe me I know how pricey and beyond you it can feel to provide your child an assortment of books. So use these tips. Read with your child. I promise you will see it was money well spent.