Anatomy of a Birthday Weekend

Or, What We Did On Our Birthday Vacation

Thursday (our birthday weekends start early, by necessity)

  • Tour a school that we might want Baguette to attend next year.
  • Decide that we do not want Baguette to attend that school (it seems like a very good school–just not what we want for her).
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio and back yard.
  • Go to speech therapy and music therapy.
  • Go to Costco and buy food and birthday cake.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make items for party games.

Friday

  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Do some work that needs to be done even if I am on vacation.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Welcome grandparents and great-aunt, who are visiting from out of town.
  • Go out to dinner.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make party favors.

Saturday

  • Make party favors.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Make signs for food.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Locate the Happy Birthday banner we bought two years ago.
  • Put up the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Locate more tape for the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Make the salad.
  • Put the Happy Birthday banner back up.
  • Welcome guests. Realize again that we have invited a really large number of people.
  • Abandon hope of keeping the Happy Birthday banner up.
  • Make sure parents and children are enjoying themselves.
  • Call the pizza parlor and confirm that the pizza is actually going to be delivered.
  • Make sure that Baguette has the chance to find some quiet time.
  • Put out the pizza, salad, and signs for the food.
  • Realize that I have left another parent supervising Baguette in the front yard for far longer than is reasonable.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants pizza. (“No thank you.”)
  • Ask Baguette if she wants macaroni and cheese. (“Yes.”)
  • Bring a chair we took outside for the party back inside, because Baguette wants to eat at the table in the breakfast nook like she always does, not at the table on the patio where her friends are.
  • Make sure everyone gets food.
  • Eat one slice of pizza and some salad.
  • Realize that, in spite of all the cleaning, the living room still contains a case of baby wipes and a 3-pack of contact lens solution.
  • Decide not to care.
  • Bring out the cake and put candles on it.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light one candle, which is the most that we may be able to keep lit with the breeze.
  • Abandon hope of lighting the candles.
  • Serve the cake.
  • Encourage Baguette to say “thank you for coming to my party” to as many children as possible.
  • Say goodbye to everyone.
  • Try to get Baguette to nap.
  • Abandon hope of getting Baguette to nap.
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt when they come back from their hotels for dinner.
  • Order Chinese food.
  • Eat Chinese food (adults) and macaroni and cheese (Baguette).
  • Open presents from grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Accept that the most enticing part of presents is the paper, which tears interestingly and can be draped as a fetching hat.
  • Say goodnight to grandparents and great-aunt.

Sunday

  • Have morning meltdown (Baguette, with collateral damage to Mr. Sandwich’s hearing).
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Caravan to 7-11 for coffee.
  • Caravan to L.A. Zoo, because it is the weekend and therefore we go to the L.A. Zoo.
  • Look at zoo animals.
  • Get in line for lunch.
  • Take Baguette for a walk, because the line is too long. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Realize that Baguette is screaming, and Mr. Sandwich is waving energetically from outside the cafeteria.
  • Take Baguette and try to comfort her.
  • Realize that 5 feet away, a zoo docent is holding a small constrictor.
  • Consider one’s pathological fear of snakes.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants to touch a snake.
  • Confirm with Baguette that she wants to touch a snake.
  • Hold Baguette while she touches the snake.
  • Wash Baguette’s hands.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Leave zoo.
  • After Baguette falls asleep in the car, take advantage of the situation to trim her fingernails while Mr. Sandwich runs into the hardware store.
  • Go home and let Baguette unwind.
  • Make brownies for Baguette to take to day care the next day for her actual birthday.
  • Watch Baguette start to spool up again when grandparents and great-aunt rejoin us for dinner.
  • Try to prevent meltdown.
  • Fail.
  • Take Baguette into her room, comfort her, and tell her that she can take time to calm down, but that we will be in the living room so she doesn’t feel abandoned.
  • Give Baguette iPad when she asks for it. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Be grateful that, this time, the iPad helps her come out of the meltdown instead of exacerbating it, because there is no predicting.
  • Send grandparents out for In-N-Out.
  • Welcome Baguette when she comes back to the living room, feeling better.
  • Feed Baguette one of her favorite noodle dishes.
  • Tell Baguette that we will be on patio, and that she can come out when she wants to.
  • Eat In-N-Out while Baguette plays with party games on back lawn.
  • Say goodbye to grandparents and great-aunt, who are returning to respective homes on Monday.
  • Give Baguette a bath.
  • Open a few gifts for Baguette and talk to her about what they are and which of her friends gave them to her.
  • Write thank-you notes to those friends.
  • Wrangle Baguette into bed.
  • Sleep fitfully.

Monday

  • Put brownies in car.
  • Take thank-you notes to day care, along with party favor for one guest who didn’t get one.
  • Give brownies to teacher.
  • Realize that Baguette would still really prefer to have some quiet time.
  • Recognize that at this point there is nothing to be done about that.
  • Drop off thank-you notes.
  • Wonder how ABA will go tonight.
  • Wonder how birthday phone call with aunt and uncle will go tonight.
  • Wonder if Baguette will catch stomach bug that is running rampant through her school.
  • Think about how, at this rate, it will take several days to open Baguette’s presents.
  • Go to work.
  • Really, really intend to write the rest of the thank-you notes.

Little girl in chair, covering face with "Happy Birthday" balloon

BookTalk: Petunia, The Girl Who Was NOT A Princess

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for writing a review. All views expressed are my own.

Looking for new books to mix up your child’s library? Baguette really likes to revisit her favorites, but we want to add to the mix without taking away her comfort zone. So let’s kick off a new series with a book about broadening your comfort zone while being true to yourself.

M.R. Nelson is a technology management consultant who has two young daughters, and her daughters love stories. Her second children’s book is Petunia, The Girl Who Was NOT A Princess.

book cover for Petunia, the girl who was NOT a princess

Petunia prefers sweatshirts to frilly dresses and mud pies to tea parties, and she can’t understand the girls around her who love playing princess. Then Penelope moves in next door, and Petunia realizes that she may have been misjudging princesses and the other girls she knows.

The book is about growth, but it’s not didactic; it’s fun and funny, and I enjoyed reading it (and I enjoyed Holly Liminton’s illustrations). I also like that Petunia and Penelope’s world is multicultural, and that the focus is on appreciating both similarities and differences, not on changing who you are. “Princess” and “NOT A Princess” are equally valued and valuable–which is just what I want Baguette to learn.

So if you’re looking for a nice read about nice kids who learn to appreciate one another, this book may be for you and yours. (Available in hardcover and Kindle editions. Also available in Spanish.)

I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Baking with Baguette

Earlier this week, we were in the living room. Baguette came around the corner from the kitchen, waving a wooden spoon and saying, “Let’s bake a cake.”

From that point on, she refused to bake a cake. I would ask, and she would reply, “No, thank you.”

But tonight, I asked again, and she said, “Yes. YES.”

So she mixed (turns out she’s pretty good at mixing), and I poured the batter and put the cake pan in the oven, and then I frosted and she helped with sprinkles distribution.

This is either the BEST idea ever for Share Day at day care, or the WORST idea ever for Share Day at day care.

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and multicolored sprinkles

UPDATE: Good news! Her teacher was totally cool with getting a surprise cake. (I made sure to take in as many paper plates and plastic forks and spoons as I could find, so that she didn’t have to scrounge.)

Lifelong Learning

Baguette has a significant language delay. We do a lot of interpretation.

NighYouRah

She works so hard at communicating. I’m so impressed with her, and how diligent and persistent she is with any number of tasks. These are traits that are going to serve her well no matter what she chooses to do with her life.

These traits are invaluable with ABA. She makes no secret of the moments when she is bored, or frustrated. There are plenty of times when she resists completing a task or participating in an activity (to the point of banshee screams). But there are so many other times when she will Just. Keep. Trying.

She does this with speech, and I want to encourage her. So I try really hard not to tell her that she’s saying something incorrectly. Instead, I say things like this:

    “Mommy doesn’t know that one yet.”

    “Mommy still has to learn that.”

    “Maybe you and I can figure that out together.”

Because I want to let her know that communication is a two-way street, and the burden isn’t entirely hers. I want to let her know that I’m still learning, too. I want to show her that adults also struggle. I want to let her know that it’s possible to share tasks and work together.

Ultimately, I want to help her make herself understood to others. But first, I have to show her that I understand her. I have to show her that I’m going to work hard with her. I have to show her that I think hearing her, listening to her are worthwhile, even if it’s not immediately easy for me.

Oh, and Nigh You Ra? She requested it for days. I asked her ABA providers and her teacher and Bestie’s mom and a co-worker with a daughter slightly younger than Baguette. And then (as you can see above) I turned to Twitter–and I was not surprised at all when the answer came from Cloud, with an assist from one of her daughters:

Oscar Night

As they read off the nominees for Best Foreign Film:

Me: It’s going to be Tangerines. Or Wild Tales.

Mr. Sandwich: Oh?

Me: I know nothing about any of them. I’m just going based on names, like at a horse race.

Nicole Kidman: And the Oscar goes to Ida!

Mr. Sandwich: (pointing) You are WRONG!

Me: (shrugging) I’m often wrong at horse races, too.

On a more serious note, I get the point behind the #AskHerMore campaign. I do think that the work should be more of the focus for women, as it is for men.

But you know what? Those actresses didn’t accidentally fall into those designer gowns. They didn’t take a wrong turn and wind up on the Red Carpet. The gowns and the stupid questions are promotional tools for the actresses, the questioners (I don’t consider them reporters or journalists), the designers, and the event–and everyone’s been using them that way for years.

So if you want to change the dynamic, change it from multiple angles. Push people to #AskHerMore, by all means. But also forgo the gowns and the jewels and the shoes and the clutches. Because they’re going to stop asking “Who are you wearing?” if every time the answer turns out to be “David’s Bridal” or “J. Crew.”

I think this is going to work particularly well when everyone is prepared to say something of substance.*

*I agree that Patricia Arquette’s remarks backstage, after the ceremony, were problematic and at best poorly thought-out. But her overall point still is one worth discussing.

In Character

Baguette fell in love with Frozen this summer. I know, that sentence looks funny–but if you keep in mind that August is when she starts telling us, “Want to go play in the snow,” it makes sense for her.

It seemed like she identified with Anna, in no small part because every time she reenacted the first scene with Anna and Elsa, she made me be Elsa (probably a wise move, because I’m less crushable). So when we started collecting things for her to choose from for Halloween, we bought her Anna’s coronation gown.

She could not have been less interested.

But once she was done trick-or-treating (in her pajamas), she settled in to watch her favorite movie. And part way through, she looked over and spotted the Anna dress. It all clicked. She wanted to put it on.

little girl dressed as Anna from Frozen

Over the past several months, she’s worn that dress through quite a few Frozen viewings (yes, always over other clothes), acting out scenes in our living room as they play out on screen.

Then, during Friday night’s screening, she started reciting Elsa’s lines and announced, “Want Elsa dress.” Well, if my girl is going to ask–with words!–for an Elsa dress, then an Elsa dress she shall have, and as quickly as humanly possible.

As is often the case in our house, Amazon.com came to the rescue. So when she watched Frozen last night, she was dressed like this:

little girl dressed as Elsa from Frozen

But I did let her know that even queens have to help make their beds in the morning.

Thoughts on Measles

I have been vaccinated against measles four times.

FOUR!

The first time, I was one year minus three days.

The second time, I was going into the third or fourth grade, and my school required that I get the vaccination again because they required that you get it on or after your first birthday, and as I mentioned above, I got it three days shy of my first birthday.

The third time, there was a measles outbreak at colleges in the Midwest, and my mother decided that this put me in danger in California, and insisted that I get the measles vaccination again. The student health clinic asked me if I wanted the MMR, and I said, “No, just measles, please.” (The outbreak did spread. This in no way prevented me from being irritated with my mother.)

(Then, when I applied to grad school, they required that I also be vaccinated against mumps and rubella, but I couldn’t get the MMR because I’d gotten the measles vaccine that fall, so I had to get two more shots separately, which I also found irritating.)

(I am easily irritated.)

The fourth time was in 2011, when I got the MMR.

So that’s four measles vaccinations, which seems like plenty.

If I get the measles, I am going to be so pissed.

toy syringe from child's doctor kit

Grown-Up Day

Last Friday was my birthday, but I didn’t really plan anything, so Mr. Sandwich and I took today off. Baguette stayed in day care, which means:

GROWN-UP DAY!!!

Which, naturally, we spent watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sure, some people might schedule couples’ massages or elaborate al fresco lunches, but we live not in a commercial but in the real world of total exhaustion.

Also, we like superhero movies, and we never get to see them in the theater.

Plus, you know what you can’t do while watching a movie in the theater? Put all of your clothing in a pile on the floor and sort out what to keep and what to donate. Well, I guess you can, but only until you are thrown out of that aforementioned theater.

And now we are approaching the time to pick Baguette up from day care, which means we will finish the day of superheroes and wardrobe productivity with a trip to the pool.

It’s pretty much perfect.