Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's A Holly,Jolly Hausfrau

Things are getting back to normal here at Hausfrau Haus. We had a delightful Christmas, but I am eager to take down our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and vacuum the corner where it has been living for the past month.

Christmas was somewhat simple this year because the only family who came to visit was my mother-in-law. She is very easy-going, so I don't have to stress about the way my home is decorated or if the children have dirty faces when she arrives. It's also easier when she comes because I don't have to make sure to have four bottles of bourbon on hand for an eight day visit like I did for my mom last Christmas.

This year, Ella actually understood the glory of Santa. I previously struggled with the idea of explaining Santa to her. I went ahead and did it and proceeded to use the "Santa Card" whenever she was acting up. You know the card: "Ella, Santa can see you when you are having a temper tantrum." Or, "Ella, Santa can see you when you are pushing your sister. My personal favorite was, " Ella, Santa's not going to come to our house if you keep picking your nose and eating it." You get the idea. The mere threat of Santa not coming over the night of the 24th really set her on a path of good behavior, with the exception of the nose picking stuff--she just became sneakier about it. Ella was excited to decorate some cookies for Santa and had carrots in a bowl for the reindeer. The look on her face when she came down on Christmas morning and saw that the cookie plate was empty was one of such happiness and wonder. It was one of those moments that you want to bottle and keep forever.

The present opening circus was fairly well contained. I should first tell you that the kids got a lot of presents. A LOT. None of the presents under the tree were from us. The kids got no less than 30 packages under the tree. Each. Twenty-five of which were from Grandma. This is an issue I have struggled with since Ella was born. I should first mention how much I LOVE my MIL. I thank God every single day that I have the MIL that I have been given. I am truly lucky to have a MIL who drops everything to help her family. She doesn't intrude. She doesn't interfere. She makes the most kick-ass Beef and Noodles EVER. She is generous, sweet and kind. Her generosity, however, is her weakness. Grandma loves to buy stuff for her grandkids. I get it. But she is so worried about being fair to all of her grandchildren, that she will purchase all kinds of unneccesary crap to make sure all the kids are on a level playing field. It doesn't matter that we don't even see the other three kids at Christmas. I have asked her on more than one occasion to stop buying so much. I have asked her to spend just $50 on each child . Herr informed me that was "ludicrous" and not realistic (WTF?!?!). I have asked her to take half of the money she would spend and put it in the kids' college funds. I have asked her to just give the girls a hand-knit sweater and a doll quilt (she makes INCREDIBLE handmade stuff. She.will.not.stop at just that. Grandma always claims that, "this was only $7.00" or "books don't count." What she doesn't understand is that we don't WANT the girls to get a brand new life-size teddy bear every year for Christmas.

It's not just the money that she spends, however. My mother is not financially sound and often doesn't send gifts because she just doesn't have the money to do so. I asked my MIL a couple of years ago to stop spending so much on Ella because I didn't want her to ever notice that one grandmother gives her more "stuff" than the other. I told her that I didn't want Ella to EVER feel that one grandmother loves her more than the other because of the amount of stuff she gives her. Her solution to that issue at the time was that she would just buy extra presents and we could tell Ella that they were from my mother. That is probably the only time I ever lost my temper with her. It's obvious that it has done no good.

This year I decided to videotape the opening of the presents so that I could send it to my mom. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to edit out 80% of it because almost every present was from my MIL. My mother sent one gift to each girl. I can't have my mom looking at Ella hugging Grandma for each and every one of the 25 presents she got from her and only one,"Thank you, Busia" directed at the camera. It would break her heart. Herr said that his mother went overboard and that it has to stop. Good luck with that, Herr. In the meantime, I told Herr that Ella is old enough to understand that in the future, when something comes into the house, something needs to leave the house.

In other news, I have been searching for a new daycare for the girls. I have found one that has a fantastic facility and curriculum. I had planned on waiting to see if the new facility was feasible with my new commute that I will be making to King of Prussia, PA starting next week. That plan suddenly moved up this evening when Herr came home FUMING because, yet again, Ella was fed a sugared cereal for breakfast this morning. When Herr approached the employee, she stared at him like he was from outer space when he asked if she had been told of our request to not feed Ella stuff like Lucky Charms. She said that she hadn't but that they have an alternative--Honey Nut Cheerios. I am assuming that he stormed out of there because the Director of the daycare called us while we were eating dinner and swore up and down that Ella has not been fed Lucky Charms since I spoke to him last. He also indicated that they are at the mercy of their food supplier (WTF?!) and don't always have plain Cheerios, etc. At this point, it isn't the cereal that is the issue. Quite frankly, I am probably sounding like my kids live in a bubble and we feed them only organic food. That is so not the case.We are tired of paying a sub-par daycare $1100/month for 3 days a week to be ignored. I will not be ignored.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Uptight Mother or Justified Anger? You Decide!

I remember packing Ella's lunchbox on her first day of daycare when we first moved to Cincinnati in April of 2005. I packed the usual: cottage cheese, carrots, a hummus sandwich and some raisins. It was same thing I packed for her when I used to take her to daycare when we lived in New Jersey. It was a healthy lunch in my opinion, and I dropped her off at school without giving it another thought. Imagine my dismay when I opened her empty lunch box that night and saw a pre-printed note indicating that Ella's lunch had not met the State of Ohio's Nutritional Guidelines for Pre-School Children. Apparently they didn't count the hummus as a protein, so they counted the cottage cheese as a protein, meaning there wasn't enough calcium in her lunchbox. The note referred to the Goddard School Handbook for reference .

I remember being really pissed. How dare they tell me that I am not feeding my child in a healthy manner?! There were no cookies, chips or Diet Coke in her lunchbox. I didn't throw a Lunchables in her box and call it a day. I eventually got over it and made damn sure that Ella never came home with a note like that again.

When we moved here to Bethlehem in August, I started searching for a daycare for the girls since I was going to be going back to work. I found a daycare that was really close to our house. It was a happy environment, clean and fairly reasonable. The best part was that the weekly rate included everything--diapers, breakfast, lunch and two snacks daily. It was going to be GREAT to be able to drop the kids off three days a week without having to schlep food and diapers for them. Part of the information I brought home was a menu of the kids' meals. While I wasn't thrilled with the Beefaroni every other Wednesday and the canned fruits on the menu, I figured I would give it a shot.

Last week I was trying to coax Ella into getting dressed a little faster so that we could leave the house on time at 6:30 AM.

"Hurry up, Ella. We've got to get going. Where are your shoes?"

"I'm really hungry Mommy."

"I know, but you'll eat breakfast when you get to school."

"OH YEAH! We're going to have Lucky Charms for breakfast. Yummy! I do love those Lucky Charms!"

"Excuse me? Did you say you are eating Lucky Charms at school?"

"Uh huh."

"But Ella, are you sure you're eating Lucky Charms at school? I thought you eat Cheerios there."

"Nooooo Mommy, Cheerios are for babies."

"Honey, are you SURE? I mean, you ate Lucky Charms in Canada as a treat."

"I KNOW! Lucky Charms aren't just in Canada anymore!"

I chalked up our discussion to Ella's imagination and wishful thinking. While I don't feel I am a really uptight parent when it comes to food, I don't feed my kids cereals that have sugar. I just never have. I didn't think for one minute that the daycare was serving Lucky Charms to the kids, so I forgot about it until Ella brought up that she had eaten Lucky Charms for breakfast that day. I still didn't believe it, but I asked one of the daycare aides when I was there on Wednesday. Imagine my surprise when she said that they DO feed the older kids Lucky Charms. She asked if it was a problem. I told her it was and that I would appreciate it if she fed Ella only Cheerios. She said that it wouldn't be a problem, and that she would alert the other workers.

Friday night, Corey called me in the car to say that he had just picked up the girls and that the first thing out of Ella's mouth was that she had eaten Lucky Charms for breakfast.


I immediately called the daycare and spoke to Mr. Mike, the Director. I told him that I was willing to give the employee I spoke to that morning the benefit of the doubt that she had forgotten to inform the others to not feed Ella Lucky Charms. I did however, expect that it wouldn't happen again and that I want it made clear that my girls are to NOT eat sugar cereals. Mr. Mike apologized profusely and promised to make everyone aware that Ella is to eat Cheerios in the future. I was pleased that I had controlled my anger on the phone, yet made my request clear.

I'll give you three guesses as to what Ella had for breakfast this morning at daycare.

I'd love to hear how y'all would handle this.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Big Four

Baby Girl is going to be four years old tomorrow. I was completely fine during her birthday party on Saturday night. I was fine this morning when she came into our room and told us that, "I had the most WONDERFUL birthday party, Mommy and Daddy."

Tonight when I tucked her in, I told her that she was going to be four years old when she wakes up tomorrow morning. She gasped with absolute joy and said, "Oh Mommy, I can't WAIT to wake up tomorrow morning!"

I've been crying ever since.