Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just Say Yes, Of Course

The Pumpkin has been in a phase where instead of saying "yes" she answers "of course." Like most phases, it started out cute, but has become a problem.

At first, she just said it ocassionally. "Pumpkin, can I have a kiss?" "Of course!" It was adorable, and we would laugh. The girl loves to make people laugh. She said it in response to sweet questions, and we found it adorable.

But then she started saying it more, and it was a little frustrated. "Pumpkin, do you want milk?" "Of course!" She didn't say it all the time, but just enough to cause Londo and I to sigh. How would we know if she wanted milk? There was no "of course" about it.

I'm sure you can guess what happened next. She started saying it all the time. So much, that it has started driving us crazy. "Pumpin, are you going to do what I've been telling you to do?" "Of course!" Now, she was using it in ways that were in way "of courses." Things she was ignoring until we practically had to force her to do or answer, and we'd get "Of course!"

Finally, one day I'd had it. I responded back that it was not "of course." That "of course" was for when the answer was pretty much known, and that I had no idea that she had heard me and was going to do what I told her or that I didn't know for sure that she wanted milk. I old her that instead of answering "of course" that she should just say "yes."

She seemed to get it. And the next few times she said of course, I said, "Not of course. Just yes." And she'd say, "Oh, right. Yes." And after a few times of that, she stopped herself from saying of course and said yes instead. I noted it and praised her for remembering.

There has been a noticable difference in the last couple weeks. She really has cut way back on "of course" and mostly just answers "yes." This is how I know we are in one of those equilabrium stages, because she is making the adjust quickly, easily and without big arguments or meltdowns.

So let's hear it for the ability to modify behavoir at age 4! She listened to what I wanted, paid attention to why I wanted it, and has worked very hard to stop doing it. Do you think I can translate this ability to other areas of behavoir? Of course I'm gonna try!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Re-Thinking This Year's Vacation

Years ago, my dad (and mom) and I (and Londo) decided to buy a timeshare at a nearby beach from a family friend. It is a duplex with a deck overlooking the 9th green of a golf course, and has 3 bedroom, 2 bath, a kitchen open to dining area and family room. We would have it for one week and the end of May/beginning of June every year. It was a good size for us and our plans to grow the family. It was a set week every year, so that my dad and I could plan on our vacations way in advance.

This worked out perfect for me and my dad. I didn't have to worry about finding a place at the beach and coordinating the week and location and price and everything else, because it was already taken care of. It had access to a parking lot right on the beach with a clubhouse that included a bathroom and cafe. It was right on the golf green, and an easy walk to the golf course's clubhouse. There were lots of amenities that both my dad and I were very happy with.

Though it wasn't a good time of year for either my mom or for Londo, my dad and I have gone every single year since we got it, except the one when I was due any day with the Pookie (my dad went with my SIL and her twins).

In fact, the fertility cycle which we got pregnant with the Pumpkin was while I was at the timeshare. I did the 2.5 drive back and forth for two appointments and gave myself shots while at the beach house. The year after having the Pumpkin, we brought her to the beach house at 3 months old--her first beach experience. A couple years we had friends and/or family stay with us with their kids.

I love the place. I love the specific time set aside to go to the beach. I love hanging out with my dad and mom. I love bringing the kids, even though it's difficult to get them to sleep and the place isn't really kid-proofed. I love that it feels like a family vacation place.

But this year, I had to re-think the family vacation I had been planning all year. I had to re-think a lot of plans I had for May and June, which my half-organized closet can attest to.

This year, there was no way I could take the kids for any of the vacation as the only parent with my torn meniscus. My parents a great help, but I literally would not have been able to do any parenting of the kids. And this was their vacation, too, and it wouldn't have been fair to ask them to watch my kids and wait on me all week.

Londo and I had a big discussion about it. The beach is not his ideal vacation, and he didn't exactly relish the idea of spending his vacation days from work chasing both kids around in the hot sun with sand getting everywhere then going back to a place that wasn't kid-proofed. He would much rather stay home with the kids, where they would continue going to school during the day so he could work and where everything was set up to meet their needs at home. But he told me I should go with my parents.

In fact, he pretty much insisted on it. Saying it would actually be easier for him, because he wouldn't have to take care of me in addition to the kids! The vacation was between the time I had the MRI and my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, so I was free to go.

So I went. Sounds fantastic, right? Almost a full week at the beach without the kids and with my parents taking care of me!

The problem was, that was not the vacation I planned. It was not the vacation I wanted. It was not the annual family vacation that it was supposed to be. Stupid meniscus.

All I could see on the drive and at the beach and everywhere I went were the adorable kids. Moms were everywhere, and most of them seemed to have kids right around my kids' ages. As I hobbled around with my cane, I watched the kids longingly. When I was back at the house, I remembered how cute my kids were at the table there and playing in the family room. At the beach, all I could think about was how the kids played in the waves and dug in the sand the year before, and how I had envisioned taking them again this year. Heck, I even reread my own poem about it! It was tough, believe it or not.

I must admit, I did have a wonderful time. Just because it was not the vacation I planned, doesn't mean that it wasn't a good vacation. I actually spent the first couple days with two of my best friends from junior high, who also happened to be at the beach that same weekend. My parents really took wonderful care of me, making sure I didn't push myself and hurt my knee worse. Best of all? I actually got to lay down on the beach, read and worship the sun like I haven't been able to since having kids. I was even able to dig a hole just right for my knee so I could lie on my stomach.

The only reason I was even okay going without my kids and husband is because, as Londo pointed out, my parent now own a house 2 miles from a beach just a town up from the one where the timeshare is. He promised we'd take our family vacation for a week in August at my parent's house, when the kids were on summer break and my knee was healed up. After a bit of talking, I realized that this was the better plan for the family vacation.

I had thought I would go to my parent's beach house just about every weekend, from May through September. The torn meniscus changed my plans, and I've had to re-think my entire summer. I am glad that I got to go to the beach in June, and I'm looking forward to the family vacation in August.

And now my recovery from the surgery and the physical therapy I will be doing is of even more importance to me. If they go well, and quickly, I believe that my weekend plans in July will involve a lot of trips to my parent's beach house with the kids, and hopefully without Londo since goodness knows he needs and deserves a lot of time for himself as soon as I possibly can give it to him!

Originally, I had figured I would go to my parent's beach house without kids a couple of weekends in July or August. I was not ready for that time in June when I hadn't even gotten to take the kids to the beach by myself even once. I didn't need the time away from the kids I had barely been able to play with or put to bed for weeks. But that's how it worked out. Now, I can't wait to spend my weekends with my kids, at the beach and at home, with two working knees.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Question of the Week - There's an App for That

Well, I did it. I got an iPhone. For years I had been balking at the idea of "smart phones." I didn't need a phone that was smart. I need one that would make phone calls. And maybe take pictures. Okay, I liked the texting ability too (though not while driving). But that was IT. That was all I needed. When I was off the clock, I wanted to be disconnected from the world! Unlike all those people (*cough*Londo*cough*) who couldn't get away from work, I was happy to say that I wasn't on the computer so couldn't get my email.

But then these "smart" phones started having more and more cool stuff. And the designs were getting really usable. Touch screens? Very cool. Connect to the internet and look up information whenever you want, settling arguments and resolving brain farts in an instant? That'd be pretty nice. Ability to take high-quality pics and load them directly to Facebook? Keep talking. Being able to tweet from where I was with funny thoughts that my fellow tweeps might appreciate? I'm getting there. A calendar that I can take with me and send invites to my hubby's calendar from whichever doctor's office I'm in? Um, well, that DOES sound convenient. Games and entertainment for myself the kids while we are waiting in some line? I could really use that. The ability to pick up my Nook book and continue reading it no matter where I am? SOLD!

Really what did it for me is when I realized that this little pieces of technology were not "smart" phones. They are barely even phones. These things are Pocket Computers! So let's phrase the question this way: caramama, do you want a computer that fits in your pocket? HECK YEAH, I DO!

And that is exactly what it is. It's a pocket computer like on all the sci-fi shows that take place in the future. But... THE FUTURE IS NOW!!!

Londo and I had been talking about upgrading our phones because mine was totally outdated (and not smart at all) and his crackberry blackberry kept crashing. Plus we had these credits towards new phones that we needed to take advantage of. We put it off for a few months mostly because of money, but also because I was researching which Pocket Computer would best meet my needs (turns out, any of them!).

Finally, I was about to go to the beach for a week without hubby and kids, thanks to my torn meniscus. I wanted to be able to be in touch with them regularly. And I knew I'd need surgery when I got back. With little movement possible while on vacation and laid up in bed after the surgery, a Pocket Computer would sure come in handy! And we finally made time to go to the store before I headed to the beach.

And thus began my love affair with Polly, my Pocket Computer (get it? Polly Pocket? Pocket Computer? Well, I find it amusing). Oh, the apps I can download! The music I can listen to! The calls that work good enough to get by. I love it more than I even thought I would!

I know that many of you out there have had a new-fangled Pocket Computer for a while now. Londo, for example, keeps chuckling at my amazement that it does this or that, since his smart phone has been able to do that for years, yet I would hear none of it before. And others out there do not have one of their own, but surely have seens these devices do some pretty awesome things. But I am new to this world, and I am happy to discover more and more.

So this week's Question of the Week is:

What is your favorite app for smart phones/pocket computers? Feel free to tell me about more than one!

Of course I love the Facebook app and the Twitter app. But oh how I love the Pandora app! Right there on my Pocket Computer! And the Nook app makes me so happy and has been so useful that I want to cry tears of joy! Games, notes, calendars, alarm clocks--they are all cool. But my favorite apps so far are the following:
1. iPeriod - This is a period tracker app, which not only accurately predicted my last period and ovulation, but also allows me to track all the symptoms which I've suspected are related to my cycle AND forcasts my period/fertile days 12 months ahead. When I told Londo about this app, he immediately requested that I download it to his Pocket Computer, and I set it up with a 7 day notification to be sure he was aware of my PMSing!
2. Money Journal - We have been working incredibly hard at paying off our debts, and it's been critical that I budget my money by getting out only a certain amount of cash each month, and that I keep track of exactly what I'm spending my money on. For example, I've had a lot of doctor's appointments lately, and that comes out of my overall budget. Thankfully, I've not been driving so I haven't had to pay for gas in a while, which is where I'm making up for the doctor co-pays! This app was easy to set up and it's always with me on my Pocket Computer, so I don't forget about the coffee and dessert I splurged on which is why I have only $10 left in my purse. I track by categories, and I was able to set categories for the kids' expenses I take care of too. I now know ahead of time how much I have left and where I need the money to go, thanks to this app.
3. CardStar - I scanned in all those bonus cards I use, and don't use, into this app. Now I don't have to clutter my purse with them or dig around to find them when in the store! It's really handy!

Yeah, it's a Pocket Computer. It's not the games and contact lists or even email that gets me all excited about having it. These little "smart" phones are what the Palms were, except more and better. This little personal assistant I carry with me helps me keep track of my life, entertain my kids and keep in touch with work my husband. I seriously am in loooooooove with it and keep it by my side always.

What about you guys? What apps float your boat? What do you use the most or have lusted over when you've seen it elsewhere? Are you all with me in loving these Pocket Computers? Do you believe the future is now?!? Or are you still carving out messages in stone?