Saturday, March 5, 2016


We had a few highs and lows in December. Rather predictably, Josie was thrilled with Christmas, as she loves anything having to do with presents and special treats. However - and probably not that coincidentally - Josie was actually a bit more difficult around and just after Christmas, pushing her boundaries more and actually being a little unpleasant (so unusual for her!). She started copping more of an entitled attitude, and began learning the unpleasant (but oh-so-necessary) lesson that the things she's given or earned still need to fit within the normal rules and routines, since she had determined on her own that she got to do whatever she wanted with her presents and didn't have to listen to us when she played with them.

Things came to a head just after Christmas, with the giant blowout fight she had with Ryan (when she wanted to play with some new toys in a way Ryan specifically told her not to do, otherwise he'd throw them out... and then she did, and then he did), which led to her threatening retaliation against him, and then saying that she wanted him to go outside and never come back. It was ugly. We also realized that her attitude seemed to deteriorate the more screen time she got, so we had to make a few quick adjustments to get things back on track.

So we implemented a marble system for screen time: she gets three marbles each morning, with the potential for more if she does something extra special, or fewer if she's particularly poky or obstinate, with each marble worth five minutes of screen time. I was afraid there would be too much complicated accounting of marbles, but it has actually worked surprisingly well. Essentially, she's back to not having any screen time during the week unless it's during the 20 minutes I walk on the treadmill a couple of times a week, and then she gets some time on the weekends, with very little negotiations since she understands the assigned value of each marble and what happens when the time runs out.

Happily, her attitude has improved and she's back to talking and singing to herself incessantly whenever she gets a few minutes to herself, rather than her always trying to play on her tablet. And we also gained a family shorthand to understanding just how mad Josie is - if she starts suggesting that the offending party has to sleep outside, then we know she is VERY mad.

Before all that, we did have a very nice Christmas ;) We had Christmas with my family just before Christmas, then Christmas morning at our house, and the rest of the day at Ryan's parents' house. Josie was so excited about just about all of her presents... until she got to the end of the first present-opening session and asked where her yoyo and lip balm were that she had asked for, so she got an early lesson in disappointment ;) She got the yoyo from us later, though, so at least there was that.

Christmas, Part 1:

Christmas, Part 2:

[Needs more cowbell!]

Christmas, Part 3:

Josie's school had a holiday party that I went to just before Christmas, which was just adorable. I gathered that she was working on something at school for the party, given that she told me pretty much every day leading up to it that there was a surprise that she's not supposed to tell me about ;) The kids had learned a medley of Christmas songs that they performed (Josie's very serious exaggerated enunciation of "button nose" was unexpectedly hilarious), and then we did a craft afterwards.

This year was also the first year that she went to "The Nutcracker" with Ryan's side of the family. She did really well for the first half, but then she got pretty antsy during the Sugar Plum/Cavalier dance(s), and kept saying it was the longest dream ever and why wasn't the dance over... I sometimes wondered the same thing during that part, so I don't blame her, but I wish she'd hadn't announced her impatience quite so loudly ;) Other little tidbits from her first Nutcracker experience: asking why the mouse was so angry, squealing "oooh, pretty!" at the different outfits, asking why the dancers were showing their belly buttons, and asking where the shirt was for one of the male dancers. She was clearly focusing on the important parts of the ballet ;)
Josie also had a dance performance of her own at school. She seemed to do really well following directions and focusing, and she did such a good job and tried so hard that it made my heart hurt. While she still doesn't show us too much of what she has learned or talk about ballet really at all at home, the performances seem to show that she does enjoy it and has learned quite a bit, so that's good enough for me :)

Josie started a new routine of bringing a book in the car so that she could read on the way to school - this is a much more enjoyable experience for me (at least) from her previous car routine: peppering me with questions (why did we miss the light? why are those wipers swishing like that? why is that a school bus?). So she reads as much as she can, and spells out the words she needs help with, and does an impressively good job with this. One morning, she even decided to start singing her book "What the Ladybird Heard", which was really cool to see how she played with the rhythm and words, as she repeated some to make it work better as a song. Speaking of singing, I'm also pretty sure she was singing about gluten when she woke up one morning (Gluuuuten, it's what you always saaaaid).

As for the rest of us, the big news from December is that I got rear-ended, so that was fun. After getting stuck in almost an hour of traffic on the way home on the 23rd, I finally made it to the exit for Josie's school before someone decided to not participate in the "stop" part of "stop and go traffic" and crashed into the car behind me, who then hit me. I just banged my head on my head rest and the back of my car got dented up, so it seemed more of an annoyance than anything, especially since the other guy's insurance paid for everything... so I was surprised to learn that it nearly totaled my car, with nearly $6k of repairs and over a month with a rental car. I didn't have any lasting damage on my part, although one good thing came out of it - this finally prompted me to go to my doctor, and I ended up leaving with a referral to a physical therapist to address the shoulder injury that has prevented me from doing yoga for the last few months (which is how I almost caught up on the blog, using my 2 hours weekly of yoga time as writing time instead).

We also finally started with a cleaning service. I have just not been able to do my cleaning chores properly or consistently since Audra was born, and while I had given up on trying a long time ago (basically just running Roomba a couple times a week and cleaning only under duress before we hosted events), I still didn't like seeing a layer of dust on everything. So, now we have a cleaning service come every other week, which is great - I particularly enjoy skipping through the house (no, really) afterwards, admiring all the things I don't have to clean, and all the beds I don't have to make ;) So although I can't imagine we'll be doing this forever, I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Wacky day at school, with the owl craft we made together]
[Trimming the tree]
[Outtakes of the Christmas pictures]
[Wearing Ryan's new welding helmet]

[We perhaps watch too much Peppa Pig in this house ;)]

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