Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Help! I Need Somebody!

I don't know how many times I've wished (and commented) that there need to be parenting books for more than just the first few years of your child's life. For instance, how do you get your kids from super-dependent babies and toddlers to self-sufficient adults?
A bit of background... I was a stay at home mom for four years. I felt that part of my job was doing all the things around the house. And when I started as a SAHM, Sam was two and Rachel was a baby. There was no way I expected them to help out with cooking, laundry, and cleaning.
But suddenly, the years have passed, Dave is working full-time, I am working part-time, and Sam and Rachel are almost nine and almost seven. And I don't have the time to do all the things anymore.

For us, a turning point came this summer when Dave had sciatica and couldn't bend below his knees. Because of this, at times, I felt like I had three dependents. And one night, I completely lost it. Something was on the rug in the playroom, and I asked Rachel to pick it up, and she said, "I didn't drop it there." (And while Rachel was the one who gave the unfortunate response, Sam was not an innocent bystander.) I went into a fifteen minute ranting, screaming fit about how many things I dealt with that I didn't do -- messes I cleaned up, laundry I folded, dishes I washed, etc, etc. Let's just say exhaustion and stress were large motivators in my completely losing it.
The kids still talk about the night, "Mommy got REALLY REALLY REALLY mad and we started doing dishes."

While I wouldn't recommend this as a good tactic, I will admit it was a highly effective one.

After that, whenever I asked the kids to do something, they said, "Yes, Mommy" and got to it. I didn't take advantage of it, but I did realize that they were quite able to do many things. And once I... empowered them... as I now refer to it, to step up around the house, they also found things to do on their own.
So what do our kids do now?

We have no dishwasher so they wash all the plastic dishes, their lunch containers, some pots, and cutlery. We have soft water and sometimes Dave and I drop the heavier, breakable, dishes, so I haven't had them do glass or knives at this point. They also put away all the dishes they can reach (our plates, bowls, pots, and glasses go on higher shelves) but they do most of the rest.
a selection of dishes the kids don't do
They can gather the garbage and recycling from around the house and take it to the curb.

Between the kids and I, Dave has rarely shoveled snow all winter. We each have our own parts of the driveway and sidewalk we do and it goes quite quickly.

In the summer, they helped weed the hedge (as Dave couldn't bend below his knees.) Sam did try mowing the lawn but we have a non-gas/non-electric push mower and he was a little short for it. But he tried.

Rachel hung out laundry on the laundry line without me asking her and now one of them is responsible for putting all the underwear and socks on the drying rack.
They clean up their own messes in the playroom, the basement, and their rooms.

They pack their lunch containers into their lunch bags and we are looking at ways of empowering them to pack more of their lunches into the containers.

They grate cheese (a job I HATE WITH A PASSION) and assist with other supper chores as I think of them -- ripping spinach, getting cans of stuff from our pantry, peeling vegetables. In fact, for tonight's supper, Rachel broke the pasta into pieces and Sam grated cheese for on top. And they did this last night so I can just throw the rest of the meal together tonight.

I have discovered that they can do, and are interested in doing, a lot more than I give them credit for. And they don't do all of the above every day, or even every week, but that is just a small sampling of things they can do and have done.

I could get them to put their laundry away and make their beds, but I am a little (a lot!) OCD when it comes to these tasks so I really like doing those jobs myself.

All this is to say, that I'm no expert but that is a small sampling of things Sam and Rachel can do, and have been doing on a fairly regular basis since about July 26 (AKA "The night of the big meltdown") of this past summer :)

All the pictures in this post are from this past Sunday when Sam and Rachel did the dishes on their own -- the first time they were excited about doing them together, which of course, I had to document.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Disney Cruise: Wanting To Stowaway On Castaway Cay

After we dropped the kids off at the kids' club, we decided to catch the trolley to the adult only beach!
The water was really cold but I couldn't resist the chance to stick my feet in the Carribbean!
This is me and our friend, Jen, who cruised with us.
This was amazing enough without being warm. Can you imagine how incredible it would be with some heat and some sun?!?!?
Dave and I decided to indulge and get some drinks. I was cold but determined to fulfill my fantasy of sipping a drink while looking out over the ocean. Ha!
That night we had my favourite meal ever at Lumiere's. I had escargot, French onion soup, and a salad. I didn't even want the main course. Yummmmm!!! Sadly, Rachel fell asleep in my lap at 6 and didn't eat a thing.
However, she woke up briefly for souvenir shopping and to get one last autograph and picture with Pluto. The kids thought it was hilarious that he balanced their autograph books on his nose to sign! (By the way, Disney Cruise Line has a PDF of "My First Cruise Book." We printed it out, bound it, and gave it to the kids for Christmas, along with pirate outfits. That's how they found out we were going on a cruise! The back page of the book was perfect for all the autographs they wanted. You can find the printable here.)
The next day we had to end our cruise. It still makes me sad to think of it :( We had an extra day in Miami but we didn't find much to do. We walked around a whole bunch and wished we were back on the ship.
Eventually we found a park for the kids to play at. Then we headed back to our hotel and ate McDonald's while we watched the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Whooo hooo!!! Sam, who was cheering for the Patriots, was not as excited.
The next morning we headed home. We were exhausted but we'd had so much fun.

I didn't know what I would think of cruising but honestly, I LOVED it. It was like all the adventures of a road trip without having to make all the decisions about where to eat and when to stop for night, and without all the driving. We enjoyed discovering a new place every day and Sam, especially, loved the freedom of the ship.

It was the perfect Disney experience for us because we got to meet all the characters without having to deal with insane crowds, without needing to ride the rides (because why else are you paying the park admission?), and we were able to take some downtime whenever we wanted.

I would LOVE to go again. Next time I'd like to do a longer cruise (this one felt a little short) and have some "at sea" days to enjoy the ship a little more. The kids want to spend some more time in the kids' clubs and I want some time to relax on a beach chair and read.

So if you're wondering what I'm doing in my free time over the next few months, I'm cruising (see what I did there?!?) the Disney website and dreaming about our next adventure. Ha! Dave wishes I was joking about that :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Disney Cruise: Observing Castaway Cay

This was the day we visited Disney's private island in The Bahamas. Sadly, it was cool and windy so we didn't go swimming at all. However, we found lots of other things to do and, thanks to lunch being provided, we spent the longest time off the ship this day.

One thing I want to remember for next time is the Castaway Cay 5K. You have to get off the ship first thing to be able to participate but you get a medal. Sadly, I didn't know about this until it was too late and we'd already booked our Frozen gathering for that morning. Next time however I will be out there jogging (Ha! Okay, walking) the 5K.
We got off the ship and got to see Donald right away. Rachel was so excited she was jumping! And right after he'd signed the kids' autograph books and posed for pictures, Daisy showed up and we got to see her too.

I was really sad because Donald and Daisy did a quick kiss as they changed places but some other kids were in the way so I didn't want to take pictures. But then they wouldn't do it again. I learned that the Disney couples aren't supposed to pose together and we were really fortunate to witness a cute interaction. I was still bummed about the lack of the picture though :(
Dave didn't pose with a lot of the characters but for some reason he wanted his own picture with Daisy. And then she started flirting with him and Dave and I were completely laughing. Daisy was pretending to be abashed and it was really funny!
Now we're officially on Castaway Cay! I have to give Disney props for doing such a great job with... well, props! Ha! But they really set a fun scene.
Everything on the island, except excursions, alcoholic drinks, and souvenirs, is free. We opted to walk instead of taking the trolley though.
I'm half tempted to do another Bahamian Disney Cruise just to have another chance at Castaway Cay. I'd hope for warmer weather and plan to do the 5K. See, I have my itinerary set -- I just need to get there!
 Such a tropical looking paradise.
And I can't go too long without taking pictures of flowers! Ha!
It was always fun to get pictures of us with the ship. It's still kind of hard to believe we actually got to do this.
It's a long standing joke in our relationship that Dave hates couple selfies so I know he's in a GREAT mood when he lets me take one of us. And the ship! Ha!

Our whole family on Castaway Cay

The picture on the right was taken by Rachel, in case you couldn't tell. I'm sad we forgot the kids' cameras because they loved taking pictures and always wanted to use the big camera.
We walked out to the Observation Deck which I think was also the route of the 5K. It was a lovely walk. And from the deck we had amazing views over the island.
Did I mention Disney does a good job of setting a fun scene?
Views of the island, and below, our ship, from the Observation Deck.
After lunch, the kids wanted to spend some time in the kids' club on the island, and on the way we found Mount Rust-More!

We dropped the kids off at the kids' club and headed out for some adult exploring which I'll tell you about tomorrow because this post is already pretty long!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Photo Of The Day -- March 3 - 11, 2018

March 3, 2018 -- It was the Jewish holiday of Purim so Rachel wore her ballet costume all day and had her face painted at the Purim party. Then she got to lick out the muffin bowl and it was basically the BEST DAY EVER!

March 4, 2018 -- Between a church meeting, a play date, and a birthday party, I completely forgot to take a picture this day. I didn't even realize I hadn't taken one until I was trying to find it on the camera for this post.

March 5, 2018 -- I just love how these tulips look. The highlights of yellow are so pretty. And thankfully Spring is going strong in our house because outside we're still snow and cold (not unbearable but not nice) all the time.

March 6, 2018 -- I should really start a series on Sam's interesting reading positions. This is just one of many! And yes, he was rocking while he read.

March 7, 2018 -- Rachel was announced as "student of the week" at the kids' school this day. She got recognized for her citizenship and for being a good friend and role model. We're so proud of her.

March 8, 2018 -- For some reason the kids decided to share a bowl of Cheerios this day. They got themselves their own after school snack so I wasn't complaining!

March 9, 2018 -- I was too busy reading a good book (The Address by Fiona Davis) and trying to finish our Kenya photo book to take a picture this day.

March 10, 2018 -- After a full day, Rachel and I enjoyed tea in our mugs from the Giraffe Centre in Naroibi. I love drinking tea with her.

March 11, 2018 -- To combat time change grumpiness we took advantage of the lighter evening and went for a walk to pick up one thing. And get ice cream. Because even if you're wearing a snowsuit, lighter evenings make me want ice cream!