Monthly Archives: March 2016

kids and books

I’ve just started reading James and the Giant Peach to L, and we are both tremendously excited about it.  I think we were still in our old house when I first read her Little House on the Prairie, so she was just 2.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed reading a fair few chapter books with pictures – LHOTP twice, On the Banks of Plum Creek twice, some Galaxy Zack books, and a few of the Frozen books.  (Frozen is a very big thing around here lately, but more on that later.)  We still read lots of little kids books as well, and she enjoys listening to the books I read to B, too.

We tried Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year, but she just wasn’t really ready for it.  She’s older now, though, and JATGP has more pictures than Charlie.  James is illustrated by Quentin Blake, unlike Charlie.  We’ve only read the first three chapters, and I’m delighted with reading it already.  I did have to gloss of James’ parents getting eaten by an angry rhino.  Eek!

Meanwhile, B has mostly graduated from board books and is starting to enjoy simple children’s books.  She loves all the Jane Cabrera books, and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site is a new favorite.  We’re also reading Where the Wild Things Are, Chicken Soup with Rice, Ferdinand, Madeline, and Blue on Blue.  How I love Madeline!  Some of the old classics are just unbeatable.


H is away for about 24 hours.  He left this morning and will be back tomorrow mid-morning.  One of the most challenging parts about his trips is that I have to put the girls to bed, and it can be tough to leave L on her own while I put B to bed.  (The opposite is impossible.)  L can play on her own for long periods of time, but there’s something about knowing that I can’t / won’t come to her that makes it tough.  It’s gotten easier as putting B to bed has gotten quicker.  Currently it takes about 30 minutes.  Tonight, I read to both girls, then sent L out to entertain herself for half an hour while I got B down.  She tapped on the door for a while at one point saying she wanted her book, and I told her to go away, that I’d get her the book after B was down.  I came out and found her kneeling at the foot of her bed in her room crying because she was lonely.  It was so sad!  She is so sensitive sometimes, it just pulls at my heartstrings.  All was well shortly thereafter, but still.

We went to a neighborhood easter egg hunt today, a private event hosted by a neighbor across the street.  Like all social events featuring people I don’t know well, it caused me a ridiculous amount of stress.  There were a few kids there around L’s age that I hadn’t met before.  She was shy and reluctant to join in many of the activities, and I just really didn’t know how to help her.  It’s like the blind leading the blind.  The whole thing was actually organized by a 12-year-old, and I was very impressed.  It was cute watching her stage-manage everything.

no contact?

A fascinating article about a primitive island tribe in India that has had limited contact with the outside world.  It seems they kill mixed-race babies, which are occasionally fathered through the limited contact they have with outsiders.  Murdering babies based on their race our fatherhood is clearly beyond the pale for most of us, but is it really right to again try the “civilization” experiment?  I think we can agree that has had mixed results.  Fortunately, this one is not an American problem but is up to the Indians to figure out.

the man in the high castle

I read a book recently that took place in a rural location in an oppressive regime – perhaps a former Soviet state.  I don’t remember.   A man who lives in the community is pick up by the government and tortured to give information about his neighbors.  He refuses and is badly damaged.  He is castrated.  The man returns to his home where is neighbors, who do not know what has happened, mock him and make him an outcast for being a eunuch.  When the government comes back for him, this time he decides to talk and accepts food and other bribes to rat out his neighbors who are then murdered or taken to concentration camps, one by one.

It makes me wonder how I would act if I lived in an oppressive regime.  Would I try to resist?  It’s all well and good to risk your own life, but there are some things worse than death, like your family members being murdered, or even being tortured.  On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine collaborating with, say, the Nazis.  I imagine, like most people, I’d just try to keep my head down.  But sometimes that doesn’t work.  Some people try to keep out of the way but find themselves, for whatever reason, having to make a choice between hero and traitor.

(The reason for this little reflection is that I’m watching The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.)

I loved the post Sarah wrote on how things work in her house.  I’m just fascinated by how other families do things.  Anyway, here’s how things go in our home.


I work Wednesday through Friday.  Two of those days, I’ll work 8:30 to 5:15 or so, and one of those days, I go home in the early afternoon.

H works from 5:15 to 6:30 or 7, then 8:10 to 5:30 and he’ll usually find time to do another 30 minutes to an hour at night.  He works in the early morning on the weekend and will try to find some time for a few more hours on the weekend if he can.  It is worth noting that he’s paid by the hour.  H is currently working three different companies, though he spends most of his time on two of them.  His two primary customers are based in CA, which means periodic business travel.


Our nanny comes Wednesday through Friday,  8:10 to 5:30. One of the things we love about her is that she is never late.  We panic when she is sick,  but on the flip side,  she takes care of the kids even if they are sick.

At night, I read to both girls and then put B to bed.  Then H finishes up L’s bedtime routine and puts her to bed.

On the weekends, H will often take both girls in the morning for an outing, and I’ll usually take them in the afternoon for a while so he gets a break.

While I probably spend more time caring for the girls in total because I work part-time, he probably spends a little more time than me watching the girls on the weekends.


H will usually get the girls breakfast, though I do sometimes.  On days I don’t work, I usually finish up breakfast with them.  On days I don’t work, I do lunch; otherwise, our nanny gets them lunch.

I plan our meals for the week on Monday mornings and do the shopping for the week.  I cook Monday and Tuesday.  Our nanny cooks Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Fridays, we have pizza.  Saturdays we eat out.  Sundays, I will usually cook.  Sometimes H will cook.

Until recently, H would usually do the cleanup while I took care of the girls, but recently B has been preferring to be with H, so I will do the cleanup.

House Cleaning & Laundry

As I mentioned, H did the kitchen cleanup until recently.  I usually do the bathrooms, which means they really aren’t that clean.  H does most of the vacuuming.   We don’t really dust.  Perhaps we should start.

H and I split the laundry.  I feel I should really do it, but H’s tolerance for laundry buildup is less than mine, so he often does it.  One of my ongoing resolutions is to do the laundry before H beats me to it.


Last summer, H did most of the yard work while I watched B.  Traditionally, I have done a lot of the gardening – planting flowers and caring for them, and I’m hoping to get back on top of things this summer now that B is older.  It’s still cold, so we haven’t really done any yard work of note yet this year.  Our new house has an irrigation system which I love so much.  Watering in the summer used to be a major effort.


H often will take care of major maintenance for the cars.  We tend to take care of minor maintenance for the car we drive more often, except for oil changes, which H has been doing lately.


H pays the family bills.  I pay my personal bills and some of the kids medical bills or just things that happen to fall under my name.  I track our net worth every month or two and review our accounts to make sure there are no unexpected or unaccounted-for expenditures.   I watch the market and invest money when it dips in our various education and retirement accounts.  Neither of us has any kind of pension, so we’ll be entirely reliant on social security and savings when we retire, so this is rather important.    (Using a rough rule of thumb, if we wanted to live of $100,000 per year in retirement, we’d need to accumulate $2.5 million in savings, all in 2016 dollars.  That’s all a bit conservative since we’d presumably own our house by then and might have social security.  However, it doesn’t account for taxes, and depending on our health, medical costs could be very high.)  We don’t have joint accounts, but we have access to each other’s passwords.


I take the kids to all the doctor’s appointments.  (We have one pretty much every other week.  If you add in mine, it’s nearly every week we have some appointment to go to.)

I do all procurement in our house, from clothes (including my husband’s) to diapers and wipes to food to shoes and toys.  Basically, if it gets bought, I buy it.

I usually plan our vacations, buy the plane tickets, pack, etc.

Life doesn’t feel easy to either of us, but we are happy.  We both think that this time of having very small children will likely be one of the more difficult, but also one of the more joyous times, in our lives.


We are enjoying one of the pleasures of parenthood at the moment – the family illness.  You know, it starts with one kid, spreads to the other, and then the parents get to join in the fun, having already been exhausted and deprived of sleep by their kids’ misery.

We were out last Sunday at the salmon hatchery having a little family outing when I noticed B was shaking.  I mentioned it to H who thought I was imagining things.  It quickly became obvious she wasn’t feeling well, though, so we heading home shortly afterwards, where she spiked a fever in the 103s, maybe 104.  She was burning up and lethargic.  Thankfully, it came down quickly with Ibuprofen, and she was her old self quickly enough, and the fever broke.  Then she developed cold symptoms.  Now it’s worth mentioning both kids had spent the previous two weeks snotty-nosed with another nasty cold H and I had managed to avoid, so B’s lip was already sore.  Well, she developed a nasty rash on her lip and cheek, so I took her in to the doctor due to concern about the rash.  Dr. Google and I explored all the possibilities, but none seemed to fit.  Hand, foot mouth?  Chicken pox?  Measles?  Roseola?  Impetigo?  No, no, no, no and probably not.  The doctor told us it was most likely just an irritation but that she had a double ear infection, the first we’ve had with either kid.  This was a bit strange to me since she showed no sign of pain in her ears.  The fact that we have all since had the fever makes me wonder if the ear infection came from her previous cold.  Who knows.  Anyway, the doctor prescribed an antibiotic, but the next day B’s rash was much worse.  I have now concluded she has impetigo.  Conveniently, the treatment is the same antibiotic that was prescribed for the ear infection.  Interestingly, if it hadn’t been for the impetigo, I probably wouldn’t have taken her into the doctor, since the fever went away within 24 hours and all she had were cold symptoms.  Would the ear infection have gone away on its own?

L followed, and then me, though thankfully without the impetigo.  I spent yesterday in bed with a fever close to 103 despite Ibuprofen.  I thought that getting fevers was a kids thing, but now, having had several fevers in the last four years, I’m realizing it’s a kids thing or a parent or kids thing.  Both kids have developed a cold after the fever that made them completely miserable and unable to sleep.  I just hope H can avoid catching this until I’m over the worst of it.

20 questions with Isla

1. What is your favourite color?
Mulberry (Mom’s note: purple from her colored pencils)

2. What is your favourite toy?
Her Frozen music book

3. What is your favourite fruit?

4. What is your favourite TV show?
Doc McStuffins (Mom’s note: Allowed on sick days only.)

5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch?
Jam sandwich  (Mom’s note: She almost never has this for lunch!)

6. What is your favourite outfit?
My Doc McStuffins dress-up set (Mom’s note: Really?  She never puts this one!)

7. What is your favourite game?
Candyland (Mom’s note: We have the original.  But I think it’s lame.)

8. What is your favourite snack?
Pretzels and raisins

9. What is your favourite animal?
Elephant and giraffe

10. What is your favourite song?
The CD that goes with her Angelina book

11. What is your favourite book?
The little one I got at the library.  (?)

The other music book (Mom’s note: It plays music when you press a button.  Really?  This is her favorite book?)

12. Who is your best friend?
Sylvia and Emily.

13. What is your favourite sport?

14. What is your favourite thing to do outside? ?
Making the ant preschool

15. What is your favourite drink? ?
Orange juice

16. What is your favourite holiday?

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
I like to take to bed Boy (Mom’s note: her purple unicorn stuffy)

18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast?
Shredded wheat

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A doctor