A Little of This, A Little of That

Friday morning, I went to The Help Group Summit. For those of you not familiar with The Help Group, it’s an organization focused on research about and support for autism and ADHD. The annual Summit presents a variety of topics for researchers, care providers, and parents. Because of some scheduling conflicts, I could only make it to one session. Fortunately, it was the one I wanted to go to most, about tactics for handling feeding issues with picky eaters.


Baguette’s appetite is expanding. This may be the perfect time to try out some of those tactics.


Afterward, we packed up the car (very full), picked Baguette up from day care, and drove up to Santa Barbara. The next morning, Mr. Sandwich left very early to compete in the Santa Barbara Century. Baguette and I left not very early to go to breakfast and the Santa Barbara Zoo, where she saw “wions, and ewehphants, and giraffe, and sheeps, and fwamingos, and penguins, and goats.” The next day, we had breakfast with friends, made another trip to the zoo, and drove back to L.A.


Baguette is sleeping on the couch. This has been going on for a few weeks. It’s not as magical as it sounds; often, one of us has to sleep there with her, sometimes for more than one stretch per night. But it’s still better–and we all get more sleep–than when the three of us are in the same queen-sized bed.

Next up, moving Baguette into a twin bed in her room. Mr. Sandwich is building her a bed.

Yes, you read that right.

But I can tell that I have more energy, because I’ve been wearing contacts on a semi-regular basis. Next up, I may actually manage to put on lipstick.


None of this keeps me from drinking a lot of coffee.


small girl leaning on elephant statue

 

Leaf Bag List – Fall 2014

Illustration of bag full of autumn leaves

This summer my goals were to go to the beach (we made it two or three times), go to the pool (we went a lot), and learn to make a really good hamburger (turns out the answer is fry, don’t grill).

So what’s on my Leaf Bag List for this fall?

1) Use the slow-cooker more.

2) Set aside weekend time for batch cooking–I may start with this breakfast recipe.

3) Inventory the kitchen freezer and chest freezer so that I can effectively store what I prepare while pursuing goal #2.

4) Learn to make a good pot roast. (Any recipes to recommend?)

That’s a food-heavy list, but, hey, I like food. And I want to come up with more Mom-Friendly Meals. So let’s see what happens.

Friday 5: September 26, 2014

Thoughts from my week (or two):

1) I’m a little concerned about the nature of Baguette’s relationship with Bert from Sesame Street. She keeps kissing him and then feeding him to her dragon.

2) While I think she has a point about the animation style, based on her criticism of the plot and themes, I’m going to assume that Mayim Bialik has not actually seen “Frozen.”

3) Speaking of “Frozen,” there are lots of ways to interpret that movie. Personally, I see it as a sharp criticism of helicopter parenting.

4) We went to visit my dad and stepmom this weekend, and on the drive back, Baguette let us sing with her. While we have found the Busy Beavers “Color Songs Collection Volume 1″ to be maddening, we are delighted that she was willing for us to join in–even choosing which colors she wanted us to sing about.

5) This fall, I really want to get better at meal planning, and I want to use the slow-cooker more. Which means I probably ought to clean off the kitchen counter. Hey, time for a Leaf Bag List. Maybe I’ll get to that soon.

the number five

Friday Five, September 12, 2014

Here are a few things from the past week.

1) Baguette is perfectly fine with cold macaroni and cheese, except when she’s not okay with it.

2) I have some really good support at work. That’s good to know.

3) Baguette hates pigtails with a passion. I knew this, because she would never let me put up her hair. But today it turned out that this is also true at school. When I picked her up, she was sobbing–almost keening, in fact–in front of the mirror and trying to get the rubber bands out of her hair. Fortunately she sat very still while I took them out, and calmed down shortly thereafter.

4) This bed isn’t big enough for the three of us.

5) I’m starting to wonder if I will ever not be tired.

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Will Disneyland Be the Happiest Place on Earth for Baguette?

A through E

A lot of Baguette’s peers have been to Disneyland–many of them, more than once. My parents first took me when I was four, and we had annual trips until we left California a couple of years later. I’ve been a handful of times since, as a teen and as an adult (most recently with Mr. Sandwich and one of my college friends, about seven years ago), and it continues to be an amazing experience.

Baguette is four, and we have no plans to take her to Disneyland. It’s not that we have any objection to Disneyland. It’s more that we’re not even remotely sure that she’ll like it.

She’s just started to discover Disney movies, and she’s really only interested in Frozen. While she does know Mickey and Minnie, I’m not sure she sees them as anything more than two of her (many) plushes.

Disneyland is crowded. It has innumerable lines. While there is a program to accommodate people with physical disabilities and special needs, I haven’t yet figured out how it works, and it still sounds as if there is a lot of line-standing and coordination required to navigate the program and the park.

Will Baguette like any of the rides? Will she be okay with having a lap bar that holds her in place? Will flying on the Dumbo ride completely terrify her? Will Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride be a little too wild? Will Snow White’s Scary Adventure give her nightmares that she can’t tell us about? After all, this is a kid who won’t even ride one of the moving animals on a carousel.

Also? Disneyland is freaking expensive. $96 each for Mr. Sandwich and me, and $90 for Baguette. That’s $282, and we haven’t parked. Or eaten. Or bought a single souvenir. $282 and a drive that isn’t short, for a day she may find frustrating and frightening.

We’ll wait. Disneyland isn’t going anywhere. Plus, that gives us time to save up for it. Because entry will probably be $500 for the three of us by the time we’re confident about her readiness.

Photo by Andy Castro, via Flickr. Creative Commons.

Friday Five: September 5, 2014

Things that come to mind:

1) We took a trip to visit cousins over Labor Day weekend, and had a wonderful time. I grew up across the country from much of my family, and didn’t know what I was missing. Fortunately–and thanks in large part to Facebook–I’ve gotten to know quite a few of my cousins now that we’re adults. But I want Baguette to just not miss it to begin with.

2) Someday all too soon, Baguette is going to stop singing “Wet It Go,” and I’m going to miss it So Much. Just as I will miss it when she no longer says, “Want get wemon” at the grocery store.

3) I wonder how many times I can re-read Cryptonomicon. So far, the answer is “a great many times.”

4) It is becoming clear that we are about to enter a Winnie the Pooh phase. And because it’s the question everyone asks next, I mean Disney Pooh, not Classic Pooh.

5) Mr. Sandwich’s hugs are like being wrapped in a hug. That sounds like it is circular and self-evident, but in fact it is just the best.

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Back to School

Baguette is four. Today she started her second year in a 3-year-old room at her day care.

In fact, she’s been in a 3-year-old room for close to 18 months already, because she moved into that group just before her third birthday. So why are we keeping her there?

Because it’s the best solution for her, although we didn’t arrive at that in a straightforward way. If it weren’t for a screwup on my part, she’d be in pre-K today. But that would be the best solution. It was a fortuitous screwup.

Baguette’s day care has a re-enrollment system. Each year, in the spring, you pay a fee and file some forms to indicate that your child will be coming back in the fall. (My friends with children in similar centers find this surprising, but it’s how Baguette’s center does it. And, yes, I do think it’s weird considering that we paid a deposit up front when we first enrolled her four years ago, to cover her last month, but that’s how the center does it. Fine.)

The director sent out the re-enrollment information, and I submitted the form and paid the fee. Later, she sent out a reminder, and I thought, “Should I confirm that I submitted everything? No, I know that I did.”

Except I was wrong. I hadn’t sent them in. We learned this in June, when the director emailed me to ask if Baguette would be coming back in the fall, because there was no re-enrollment form for her. Oh, and all of the pre-K classes were filled, but we could be first on the waiting list.

Cue discussion of how we’ve been there for four years; how we’d paid for a year of Friday pizza at the school fundraiser in the spring, and maybe that indicated an interest; and how the policy really makes no sense to begin with; and so forth.

Also, cue panic. I sent off inquiries to a number of other day care centers, one of which we later toured. Mr. Sandwich and I each sent emails to the director to get clarification on our options. Finally–maybe a day later, but it felt longer–the three of us had a conference call.

The director offered us a solution: One of the existing 3-year-old classes was very large, and was being split into two. While pre-K did not have any open spots, one of the new 3-year-old classes had room. Baguette already knows the teacher, who gets her and who she loves. The class, while still for a 3-year-old bracket, is a little more academic than the developmental class she’s been in for the past year and a half. So she’ll get new experiences and challenges, but in a more comfortable and familiar environment.

Pre-K would not be as good a fit for her this year. The thing that stands out for me is that the children are required to sit still at a table and work in workbooks for 30 minutes at a time. And each week, they have homework.

I don’t think 4-year-olds should do that, period. That’s not how they learn, and that’s not how they should be taught. But I really don’t want to ask that of Baguette. She loves to learn new things, and she has an amazing memory. She’s much better at listening and following instructions than she used to be. She should not be asked to sit still for that long so that she can complete worksheets.

I also don’t think that they should be doing homework. At this age, they should be learning through play, and they should also just be playing. In Baguette’s case, she gets 10 hours of ABA at home each week–on top of the 15 hours per week she’s getting in the classroom. That’s enough homework. She’s doing enough.

If I’d turned in that re-enrollment form when I meant to, she’d be in a pre-K classroom right now. And that would be wrong for her.

I want my girl to be confident, to be capable, and to have the skills she’ll need to succeed in whatever way she chooses. She doesn’t need to be doing worksheets and homework this year in order to accomplish that.

Next fall, she’ll be 5. She’ll be old enough for kindergarten. Will we have her go into pre-K instead? I don’t know. We’ll figure that out over the next year. And we’ll decide based on what seems best for her at that point. I have the feeling that this is going to be a big year for her. Without worksheets.

Rediscovering Disney

We’ve started showing Baguette some other Disney movies, both to broaden her exposure and to save our sanity. Last night’s movie was “Cinderella.” I’d forgotten how sidekick-heavy that movie is.

Tonight’s movie? “Sleeping Beauty.”

Here’s what I noticed (beside the fact that Briar Rose looks really alarmed in that thumbnail):

  • This movie is not so sidekick-heavy, but there sure is a lot of narration.
  • Maleficent’s horns are much shorter in this movie.
  • I wish more forests looked like this. I’d be much more enthusiastic about forests if they did.
  • Samson is clearly the prototype for the horses from Tangled and Frozen. Samson is the Ur-Horse.
  • Even with magic, that cake still isn’t baked.
  • Briar Rose has a really nice bed for a peasant girl.
  • “Now, now, Father, you’re living in the past. This is the fourteenth century.” is still my favorite line from a Disney movie. But you know what that means:
  • Plague’s coming!
  • There really aren’t that many songs in this movie, are there?
  • Maleficent shows Prince Philip the vision of Aurora and refers to her as the “peasant girl who won the heart of our prince just yesterday.” But I’m pretty sure it was this morning. Maleficent has no sense of time.
  • Also, if Maleficent is so powerful, why isn’t her castle in better shape?
  • “O Sword of Truth, fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure” is the incantation I’m going to use if I ever have to combat evil. Combat it with a sword, I mean.
  • I am absolutely sure that Aurora’s dress originally was blue when the movie ended, and that the final change to pink is a result of Disney Princess-ification, because Cinderella’s dress is blue. I don’t like that.

Friday Five: August 22, 2014

Here’s what I ran into this week:

1) This is not an article from The Onion: One of my old school districts banned sunscreen because the kids might eat it. I’m so proud.

2)

3) I like the idea of a cleaning planner. But what I really need to do is clean.

4) At the beginning of the summer–Memorial Day, or June 1, or thereabouts–I announced that I had a goal of losing ten pounds by Labor Day. So far, I’ve lost two. I’m going to have to extend that deadline.

5) Today we inadvertently discovered that Baguette knows the story of Snow White, and that it includes a queen and a kiss. We will be buying more movies and books shortly.

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On Gifts

birthday presents

Baguette loves gifts, and she gets a lot of them. Mr. Sandwich and I are constantly buying her books, and she had grandparents on both sides who are always on the lookout for toys and games that will capture her interest.

What we’ve learned, though, is that giving Baguette something, and having her get it–well, those are two different things, and they happen in very different time frames.

For her birthday, in April, one pair of grandparents gave her a Monsters University Scare Factory and a Rescue City Center set. She started playing with it last week. This is August.

This week, four new Wibbly Pig books arrived in the mail. I suspect it will take us several weeks to get all of them into rotation, and Baguette loves Wibbly Pig.

We’ve seen this before, and we expect it. Baguette needs time to warm up to toys and books. She needs to decide how she wants to play with them. We’ve tried showing her, and it just doesn’t seem to work–but eventually she’ll figure it out and incorporate it into her play.

And while she’ll lose interest in a particular toy, the odds are pretty good that she’ll come back to it, months or a year later. You never know when that set of stacking rings is going to re-emerge.

I also understand, though, that as a gift-giver, people want a reaction. They want to see that they did actually pick the right gift, that they’ve brought happiness to the recipient. It’s hard to give something and feel like it didn’t even register. (We do have her say “Thank you,” but some enthusiasm is usually nice.)

Every once in a while, though, that magic moment happens. When Baguette was two and a half, we had a playdate. The other little girl had a Rockin’ Elmo that Baguette just loved. So I told my dad about it, and he bought it for her as a Christmas gift. And when she unwrapped it, and it started to sing and move, she was in raptures–delighted shrieks, beaming smiles, the works.

We got to see it again last weekend, at Mr. Sandwich’s 25-year high school reunion. It was at a restaurant, so we got a table and ate dinner there. That gave Baguette time to settle into the space and enjoy herself. Then we went out on the patio and mingled with the rest of the alumni.

One of his classmates, having heard about Baguette’s love of “Frozen,” brought her a set of character finger puppets. Baguette lit up and gave dazzling smiles. She even stopped eating her Pirates’ Booty for a moment (and let me tell you, it is hard to get her to respond to anything when she is eating).

And those finger puppets? On a nightly basis, in tiny, high-pitched voices, they act out this exchange from “In Summer”:

Kristoff: I’m gonna tell him.
Anna: Don’t you dare!