Friday, June 15, 2018

6/15/18- Summer Activities Revisited

Wow, what a great kick off to summer time; our trip to southern California was pretty sweet!  We only brought home 5 sets of Lego (or systems as I've learned) from Legoland, which is pretty good for 2 engineers and a toddler. Although the trip out there certainly had some low points, Jack was a bit under the weather, once there we had a good time.  We hung out with friends, rode roller coasters, cars and boats, built so many Lego systems, and of course enjoyed the 70 degree weather! Man was it nice out there, and it's kind of a let down to come back to 107 degrees!

So what are we going to do on the weekends now that it's 107 out?  Luckily, Phoenix has many great options for indoor play and a couple of outdoor options.  Below is our list of planned summer activities and places we're going to visit locally to kill sometime in this heat. I think many of the places we plan to visit this summer are in most towns and cities, but let me know if you have some suggestions for fun summer activities. I'm always interested in recommendations and trying new things!  Hope everyone has a fun, safe and playful summer!

  1. Lego Discovery Center- Jack is older now and way into Lego, so I'm confident he'll enjoy the Discovery Center now vs. when he was an itty bitty toddler.  Also, we bought annual passes to Legoland, which includes the Lego Discovery Centers, so might as well capitalize on that. 
  2. Local Libraries- The libraries in our area have great children's spaces, like the Tempe Library and the Scottsdale Civic Center.  It's "free" (thank you to everyone who pays city taxes!) to go there too, so might as well take advantage of that. 
  3. Movie Theater- Incredible 2, I can't wait to see it! And both Harkins, AMC and Pollack Theaters do a summer movie pass for kids  Seems like a cool thing to do; literally, is there any indoor place cooler than a movie theater?
  4. AZ Science Center- We have a membership, and again, best to use it before we lose it.  Jack really likes the ping pong ball exhibit and outdoor water play area.  I think in general a museum pass somewhere is a must for the summer in a hot climate area. It's probably the same for a cold climate area in the winter. 
  5. Indoor Trampoline Park- For the past couple of years these indoor trampoline parks, indoor bounce house places and indoor play parks have been popping up all over the Valley of the Sun.  Some of them are only $5 for an hour or two for toddler, so pretty reasonable. 
  6. Chick-fil-A/McDonald's- Ice cream cones/shakes combined with an indoor play park... sold. 
  7. Splash Pads- The City of Mesa and Tempe have some large splash pads that are pretty fun for the adults.  And kids too. 
  8. Swimming Pool and Water Parks- We're blessed with a swimming pool in our backyard (so is half of Phoenix; it's a thing here), but I am looking forward to taking Jack to the indoor wave pool at Kiwanis.  They do movie nights, which should be fun.  Also, there's some decent outdoor water parks here (the water park at Legoland was really cool, for the record). I fear though that he'll want to ride a water slide that he's not tall enough for, and I remember how much that sucks.  Just happened to me at Legoland. πŸ˜‰
  9. Butterfly World- This place has been on my list forever.  We're going to make it this summer!  I also have lofty goals of volunteering more and writing more this, so hopefully I'm not all talk about finally going here.
  10. Bookstores and The Mall- We go to these places anytime of the year, (FYI B+N has a great summer reading program; kids get a free book at the end), but the air conditioning will be extra appreciated this summer.  We'll also have to see if we can leave the mall and bookstores without books and toys (I'm side eyeing myself right now as I doubt that).  
Abracadabra! It's summer!


Monday, May 28, 2018

5/27/18- Summer is Here!

Hurrah! Summer is here!  Okay, it's actually (temperature-wise) been summer in Phoenix for more than a month.  But this was the first weekend that we went swimming in our pool. And it was still too cold for me.  The pool thermometer read 80-degrees, but it didn't feel that warm.  I had actual goose bumps as Jack splashed me.

I always look forward to summer; it's a time to slow down and relax.  Spring is such a busy time of year for our family: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, festivals and more.  So when summer approaches, I know it's time to take it easy.  Lazy days by the pool, nothing on the schedule but possibilities, and plenty of time to reflect as I sip mint lemonade (spiked πŸ˜‰).  I love the promise of R 'n' R that summer brings.  Not too mention summer vacation!

This year we're going to Carlsbad, California for summer vacation.  We're going to visit Legoland, the beach, and (hopefully) friends.  We've been gearing up for Legoland on this three-day holiday weekend by watching (binging?) "The Lego Movie," "Lego Batman," and "The Ninjago Movie," and stockpiling Legos (woo hoo, we found a closing Toys R Us in Tucson, so 30% off Legos!).  We'll be going with friends who have a 5 year old, and I think Jack will like having a companion to ride the rides with.  But this trip is the first time Bobby, Jack or I have been to Legoland, so any pro tips would be appreciated.



Of course, the best part of summer vacation is basically getting to forget that you work a 9-5 job!  I've actually been doing okay mentally with my boring work the past couple months, but my physical health hasn't been the best, so I'm ready to not work for a week.  I'm not sure how my body will react to doing an amusement park; however, we're staying at a Lego hotel, so I can go take a nap when needed.  Plus, Advil.  Advil is the answer to my RA inflammation (I'm sure one day I'll need something stronger, but yay for Advil!).

Anyways, there will be time to rest on the weekends after vacation.  We have nothing scheduled on the weekend for months (she typed, intentionally ignoring the calendar)!  I love it!  Randomly deciding to go see a summer blockbuster, or go get Hawaiian ice, or even go play at the indoor playground (haha, like we'd dare go to an outdoor playground in Phoenix during the summer; that'd just be asking for dehydration and sunburn) is like the best thing in the world.  Despite the hundred degree plus weather, summer rocks!

Let me know in the comments your summer plans or what you look forward to this summer, and any Legoland tips are greatly appreciated!  I'll also being doing an updated post for summer activities in Phoenix here soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this flashback to when Jack was enjoying his 2nd Phoenician summer: Fun In AZ Sun. "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability!"-- Sam Keen.  May you all enjoy your respectable, lazy summer!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

5/16/18- Parent Confession 2

In my last post, Parent Confession 1, I confessed that Jack likes saying the word poop and that I don't really discourage him from saying it.  It's kind of funny.  And now I'm about to make my second parent confession... I let my 3 year old have way too much screen time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends only 1 hour per day of screen time for children ages 2-5-- Jack watches TV or plays on a tablet for about 2.5 hours a day on weekdays and more on weekends.  I supposed I should feel guilty about him receiving too much screen time, but I don't.  For one, I'm a working parent with a chronic illness, and two, Jack is learning academic and social skills 8 hours a day Monday through Friday at preschool.

Since Jack is at preschool learning reading, writing, math, and other development skills, I'm not worried that screen time is inhibiting his development.  Inhibiting development is one reason the AAP recommends only 1 hour of screen time.  The AAP says screen time should also be quality programming (like Sesame Street), and that other types of programming (like silly cartoons) could delay development. However, from what I can tell, my 2.5 hours/day screen time toddler speaks, reads and writes at the average 3 year old level.

He also seems to be receiving the social skills needs from interacting with the other kids at preschool, as well as his teacher does various social development lessons (like how to recognize your emotions with emotion faces, how to care for people and plants, and so on).  We also only let him watch shows and play games that are designed for preschoolers; most meet the quality programming for preschoolers, with one or two exceptions (train videos on YouTube probably doesn't qualify as quality, but I think Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Daniel Tiger, and Paw Patrol are probably fine/quality). So, for these reasons I don't really worry about the 2.5 hours/day.

Another main reason I refuse to feel guilty about Jack watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Paw Patrol for long periods of time is that I'm a working mom with an autoimmune disease.  After work, I barely have the energy to make dinner and watch Mickey with Jack, let alone put on an elaborate puppet show or full blown chemistry lab or whatever it is we're supposed with our children instead of screen time.  Like, I'm doing my best as a RA mommy, and sometimes my best is letting my child watch TV and play trains by himself while I sit on the couch, okay judgy AAP?!

πŸ’œLaying on the couch, watching TV πŸ’œ

While Jack plays and watches TV, I do engage him and ask questions about the show or his toys, but I already have so much guilt for not being down on the floor playing with him because I'm sick/tired that I don't need the added guilt layer that the TV is on too. I'm working to give myself a little grace and kindness on this whole screen thing because holding onto guilt is only going to make my body feel worse, making me a worse mom.  Being a guilty parent over a happy and healthy parent doesn't really do Jack any favors.

I think all of parents could use a little self kindness when they start to feel guilty over whether or not they're doing a good job.  It's tough to always follow all the parent guidelines out there, like give your child organic air and make sure they get 9.8 m/sof gravity a day, and trying to follow every single rule will just drive you nuts.  And again, a crazy parent over a happy and healthy parent won't be good for the child.  So I think just do you: do the parenting rules that won't drive you crazy and  won't make you feel guilty (of course always follow the no shark rules, like never abuse a children). For me that means letting my kiddo have more than the recommended screen time per day.

So, cheers to screen time!  And cheers to all the parents doing you!  There is no secret shame in being you: a parent who uses non-organic vegetables, a parent who lets their kid play with plastic toys, a parent who lets their kids watch too much TV.  Cheers to doing your best!  Cheers to being you!

*This was a great op-ed on parents with chronic illness. I'm a work in progress, but this op-ed was a good reminder to not beat myself up when I can't play with my kid and only lay on the couch (thanks Felicia for sharing this op-ed with me).  Why Parents With Chronic Illnesses Are Damn Superheroes

Monday, April 30, 2018

4/30/18- Parent Confession 1

I was going to name this post "Parent Secret Shame," but since I'm about to share it on the Internet, it will no longer be a secret.  And I'm not a shamed.  So instead, here is my parent confession: my child loves the word poop.  It's poop this, poopy that, and I find it entertaining.  Honestly the word poop doesn't bother me.  It's kind of a useful word when interacting with a toddler (have you pooped today? do you need to poop? did you just poop your pants?), so I'm not at all surprised he goes around saying the word poop a lot. And I mean a lot

Because for all of his life (all 3 years so far), we've been asking him if he pooped.  It started with his first poopy diaper.  Then during potty training, as a parent, you try to look for the poop face or the poop stance, and once your child is (mostly) potty trained, you're asking every hour if she/he has to pooped or if he/she just farted?  Was that a poop or a fart is a common phrase in our house.  So it's like no wonder the toddler is obsessed with this word-- we say it ALL the time.

However, the other day, I did a completely innocent and reasonable parent ask, of, Jack, do you have to poop?  I mean, it's an important question to ask your recently potty trained 3 year old, as it's really not fun to wash yet another pair of stained underwear. He turns to me and says (serious voice), "mommy, you can't say that word."  And I'm like, "poop? I can't ask you if you have to poop?"  "Yes mommy, we can't say poop."  And I'm like shark poop, we can say poop.  Of course, I phrase it a little different to him, explaining how everybody poops, bowel movements are part of the human antimony, biology, medical science, blah, blah.

He must have gotten in trouble at school for saying the word poop or poopy.  Sure, you shouldn't call someone a poopy pants (thanks Captain Underpants and fellow preschool friends for making that phrase popular). I've definitely drawn the line on naming calling. No calling someone poopy pants (omg, it's so hard not to laugh when writing/reading/saying poopy pants). We've talked how that hurts people/feelings, and he will get a time out for name calling.

But... I don't think it's improper to say poop when real poop is involved. Again, it's a very legitimate parenting question and discussion to be having with your kid.  I much rather he tells me he has to poop, then him pooping his pants in the middle of Target.  Nobody wins there.  Including the customers sensitive to the word poop (clutching their pearls, with their curse word meter set way too high) because their nose is going to have more sensitivity issues than their curse word meter if my kid does poops himself.

Also, I refer back to the science part of poop.   It's a part of being human that none of us should be a shamed of, especially if you are 3 years old and have just completed potty training.   If you've ever had serious medical issues, sometimes bodily functions (like poop) are involved, and you need to be capable of openly and maturely talk about poop.  In the medical sciences, prim and proper etiquette about bowel movements goes out the door; it really forces you to be a grown up about it and accept poop as human biology. So please just keep all that in mind if you get flummoxed about the word poop.

Of course, it doesn't help that I laugh when my child says let's ride the poop train or there's the poop dinosaur or poop flowers smell or other nouns getting a poop adjective attached to them. You kind of get desensitized to the word poop as a parent and an autoimmune patient, so I can't help it when a laugh escapes from my mouth when he says poop. And now that I've written poo a bunch of times, I bet you didn't even realize I switched it up from poop to poo just now. πŸ’©

I know I'm not alone in this kid loves the word poop.  I just saw a friend share a picture of a story/letter her child wrote, and it went: Poop poop poop poop poop.  Please feel free to leave your own best parent  poop story (life's bleach-able movements as Clorox so cleverly coined it) or favorite poop joke or any other favorite poop story (doesn't have to be about a kid in your life) in the comments.  Happy pooping everyone (seriously fiber and/or probiotics will help)!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

4/25/18- Science Experiment: Edible Starburst Slime

With Arizona teachers walking out tomorrow, which I totally support!, you might find your kid at home and looking for something to do.  Or maybe you're in a state where there is no walk out, but you'll need something to do this weekend.  Enter Edible Starburst Slime-- the science experiment is sure to give your kids a sugar high and then a sugar crash, so let's call it a win? 

YOU'LL NEED:

Starbursts
Powdered Sugar
Double Boiler Pot
Non-Stick Cooking Mat if you have one
Parental Supervisor for stove usage

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Boil a pot of water and place a glass bowl over the pot (hence a double boiler) to melt the Starbursts. I actually have a fancy double boiler pot from Sur Le Table, so that's what you see in my pictures, but a glass bowl works great too. 





2) Constantly stir the Starburst so that they don't burn.  Once melted, remove from heat (place on pot holder or a burner that's turned off).



3) Spread powdered sugar onto the non-stick cooking mat.  If you have those fancy silicon cooking/baking gloves, you can go ahead and grab your melted Starbursts. If not, then wait until you can touch it without burning yourself, but it's still melty (yep, that's a made up adjective).




4) Knead the Starburst into the powdered sugar until it's stretchy and mildly sticky... like slime. Actually, it will be more like play dough. So, we got cookie cutters out and cut shapes out of our edible Starburst slime.  



Note, it will eventually go back to a harden Starburst state; it won't be slime forever, but you can always heat it back up to make it sticky again.

Of course, on the favorite parts for us was eating this slime!  Happy science experimenting! 


Monday, April 16, 2018

4/16/18- The Great Parent Escape

So yep, it's been a couple of weeks since I lasted posted here.  Whatcha doing?  Me, I've been quite busy.  But don't worry, I was good busy.  It was my birthday!  Then, it was Easter!  Then, it was Bobby's birthday!  Then, it was Bobby and mine's wedding anniversary!  Then, this weekend happened... where I chose naps over writing!  So it's been a a really good couple of weeks.

Somewhere among all the festivities and celebrations (and naps), Bobby and I managed to parent escape and celebrate our birth-a-versaries. This great parent escape, as I have dubbed it, is our 3rd one since Jack was born.

What is a great parent escape you ask?  Well, it's were you sucker skillfully talk your family member or dear friend into watching your child for the weekend, and then you and your partner get crazy and wild at a hotel with HGTV and room service. And maybe a pedicure if the hotel has onsite spa. Shark yeah, we're not watching Paw Patrol for the millionth time!  And an uninterrupted meal in bed-- living large my friends, living large!

 Eating Room Service Food In Bed While Watching HGTV- Shark Yeah!

Okay, I'm getting a little tangent to your curve, but I think many of my parent friends, and super busy couples in general, know how hard it is to find time together. To just be a couple.  I remember going a work-life-balance/integration presentation thing a year (or maybe years) before having Jack, and I remember the woman talking about how important it was for her and her partner to take a trip somewhere just the two of them.

She also talked about how important just a friends trip is (something I need to do better of) and just a family trip to not see family is, and anyway, it was something that stuck with me for a long time. That how taking these trips really re-ups and strengthens your bond with family, friends and partner.

So the first year of Jack's life, I had planned to do all 3 special trips (family, friends and partner), so finally at Jack's 18 month birthday, Bobby and I took our kid free, couple's trip to Southern Arizona wine country (first family trip at 2, and still planning that friends trip, whistle, whistle).  While we missed Jack, we had a great time on our first parent escape.

I mean, I was bit drunk from all the wine tasting, so yeah, it was pretty fun. I don't think that Bobby and I realized how much we needed that escape until we got back home.  It reinforced our bond as a couple and recharged our batteries as parents, making us a happier family.  I refuse to feel guilty about taking a trip together just the two of us when it makes our family happier, healthier and stronger.

So, I recommend that parents (and busy couple and busy people in general) try to squeeze in one parent escape a year.  I know it will be hard to find the time, and I know there will be worry about cost. However, it doesn't have to be to wine country, beautiful Sedona, or a fancy Scottsdale resort; it can just be hotel casa, as long as your child(ren) is staying the night somewhere else.  You can make your house a pretty cool retreat for adults.

Put away the kid's toys, grab some 2 buck chuck (or 99 cent ginger ale) from the Trader Joe's, blast that "old time-y" music (since when did Prince become oldies local radio station, since when?), and stream HBO Go while eating BBQ chick pizza (cause yuck, your kids would never eat that). This little escape doesn't even have to be in celebration of anything, like how Bobby and I do it; it can be for the pure fact that your ready to escape.

The great parent escape doesn't have to be fancy or far away--it can be done at home and for cheap, as long as you remember the one rule: no kids.  So get ready for your great parent escape and bribe ask someone today to take your kid(s) for the weekend.*  Bon voyage to all the people that participate in a great parent escape--hope you enjoy your kid free zone getaway!

Thank you to our friends and family that have helped watched Jack during our great parent escapes; we sincerely appreciate what you've done for us. I'm not sure we can properly thank you for the precious gift of time that you have given us.** And happy birth-a-versary Bobby!  I am so thrilled for every year I get to escape with you!

We Made It!

*Warning, you may have to return the favor and take someone else's kid(s) for 48 hours.

**We are prepared to return the favor.

Monday, March 26, 2018

3/26/18- The Facebook Marketplace

I am in like with Facebook Marketplace.  It's the new Craig's List for getting rid of your stuff.  Or maybe Let Go is more hip, and the cool factor of FB Marketplace falls in between Craig's List and Let Go.  Anyway, FB Marketplace has been a great place for Bobby and I to find some nice toys and other items, as well as get rid of some our stuff.

We recently acquired some really cool wooden train toys, including Thomas the Train locomotives, through the Marketplace.  Sure, we had to drive a few suburbs away, but the price was fair and the condition was good for the items we acquired.  Jack was super happy to get new trains and train tracks.

We were also able to get rid of our old couch and sell some of Jack's baby items (Jack isn't a baby anymore, tear) through FB Marketplace.  These experiences were good-- we didn't have to go drop stuff off, and we made enough money to buy Easter baskets for Jack and our Godson.  Hurrah!

However, today I made a rookie mistake when making pick up arrangements for an item I was selling on the Marketplace.  So, seller and buyer can use FB Messenger to talk to each other and sort out sale details, like price and pick up details.  The mistake I made for the pick up is only rookie mistake if your a woman.

I agreed to meet the buyer, a man, at my house alone.  Sure that can be a little questionable if your a man home alone, but for a woman home along, it's just down right unsafe.  The situation becomes more unsafe if you decide to look at the man's FB profile, and boom, front and center on his profile is him holding a gun at a shooting range. Totally fine to be a man taking a selfie at a shooting range; totally not fine as a woman who is home alone to invite this male stranger who takes gun range selfies into your home.

Yeah, it sucks (sucks isn't even the right word) that there's the mentality "better safe than sorry" and "stranger danger." Unfortunately that mentality does exist, and unfortunately, it exists for a reason (hashtag MeToo).  Because I am full aware of the "better safe than sorry" and to be wary of strangers, I might have called Bobby in a panic and asked if he could make it home before the buyer arrives.

So while Bobby's on his way home, I pace the house.  The man arrives and messages me that he is here, at my house.  I call Bobby to see where he is; he is turning onto our street.  I message the man that I'm going to open the garage door. I ask my big, rotty/shepard dog to come into the garage with me.  She lays on the floor wagging her tail. Thanks dog.  As I open the garage door, Bobby turns into the driveway.  Bobby jumps out of the car to greet the man... and his wife.

They're both cordial, and we all make small talk about our kids while I had over the used baby items.  The man brought his wife so they could decide together if they wanted the stuff. Honestly, it was like all other FB Marketplace experiences I've had so, which are good experiences.  Everybody is polite, money and items are exchanges, and everyone leaves within a couple of minutes of the exchange. Really no big deal.

Some people are probably going to say I overreacted, but I bet most of my female friends, female strangers reading and some men reading this post, are probably saying to themselves thank goodness nothing happened and don't ever put yourself in that situation again Suzie (I know, I know, I know)! That is the reality of being a female in the US; you have to overreact and doubt every FB Marketplace interaction you have.

Shoot, you have to doubt any interaction you have with a stranger.  Make every meet up with a stranger in a public place.  Let a friend or spouse or parent know where you are when meeting up with said stranger. Pack mace. Pack pepper spray. Pack a Taser. Pack a gun. Learn self defense. Walk in groups when you can. Get Roofie coasters for your drinks. Check over your shoulder. Check around your car. Never been on your phone in a parking lot/garage.Push the light and sound on key chain, but not the unlock button until you are within a foot of door. Because Stay Aware. Don't Be Stupid (which translates to your nativity to trust people is stupid; trusting people/strangers is stupid if you're a woman who is alone).

It sharking sucks.  And again suck can't even describe it.  A couple of years ago, I learned about cognitive disconnect. The definition I learned was that most people believe that people are good and that world is good, but then something bad happens, and now you can't understand how the world can be good while something bad happened.  The two ideas are at odds with each other, so you have a cognitive disconnect.

But I think most women experience cognitive disconnect on daily basis. It's the don't be stupid enough to trust strangers/people if you're a woman, especially if you're a woman alone.  Even though most of us think people are good, it's stupid as a woman to trust that people are good.   It's like when you setup a Facebook Marketplace baby item pick up, knowing most likely it will all be okay, but then decide last minute you should have your husband with you just to be safe.  Better safe than sorry. That is cognitive disconnect at its finest. And we, women and  I'm sure some men too (hashtag solidarity, hashtag MeToo and hashtag feminism), experience THAT pretty much EVERY DAY.

I bet when started reading this post, you had no idea it would delude into cognitive disconnect and the reality of the cognitive disconnect women face.  Shark, I didn't really know that was where I was going either with this post.

So then, I will sum some things up. Facebook Marketplace is great for selling your stuff.  It's great for also getting gently used toys and furniture.  I've had some really good luck with it, and I'm in total like with Facebook Marketplace.  Just don't be stupid when setting up meetings for the actual in person exchange.  Do the exchange at a a public place.  Perhaps a Starbucks.  If you're the seller, you can get a coffee/sugar drink thing/scone/egg sandwich with your newfound money.  If you're the buyer, you can watch the seller use your money to buy a coffee/sugar drink thing/scone/egg sandwich, as you excitedly text your wife that you just got a great deal on more wood train stuff (hashtag because we totally needed more trains)!  Happy selling and buying!