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Kindergarten and Late Birthdays

Just about a month ago, we attended Ace’s first ever parent/teacher conference. We had already gone to a few of the Montessori open house nights, and of course we toured the school before we started, but this was our first opportunity to sit down with the teacher and ask personal questions.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous before our meeting! When I was a teacher, we didn’t do scheduled conferences, but instead had informal sit downs with parents any time they wanted to chat. Scheduling a conference seemed too formal and adult. Despite having two children and a husband, most of the time I still feel like I’m 13 years old, so this was quite an adventure. At that point Ace had been going to school for about 6 weeks, but he wasn’t yet sharing much about his daily activities (he has since opened up and started telling us every.last.detail of his days). I was so curious to hear what his teachers would say!

The meeting went just fine. Ace is doing well and enjoys school, has a lot of friends, and loves doing projects. Then his teacher let us know that they have Ace on the “kindergarten track.” This means that they expect him to go into Kinder in August, instead of completing an additional year of preschool. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say in the moment. Ace has an early October birthday, so I always assumed he would just be the oldest in his class, not the youngest. However, his school has their own cutoff and they generally are ok with students going into Kinder as long as they turn five by 10/15, and that both the teachers and parents feel they are ready.

He still fits in a baby swing, it's too hard for me to imagine him in Kinder!
He still fits in a baby swing, it’s too hard for me to imagine him in Kinder!

I’m not so sure we will go that route. My husband is all for it. I have reservations. I haven’t done any research yet, but my first instinct is that being the very youngest kid in his class, possibly starting college at age 17, might not be the best idea. My husband thinks it isn’t an issue. He doesn’t see the difference between a kid with a September birthday or an October birthday… what’s one month if the kid is ready? Plus, there is the financial aspect. Private preschool is certainly not cheap, and once he starts K we will no longer have to pay a hefty tuition. I worry about social issues, maturity, and bullying.

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Mrs. Snowflake’s Friday Favorites

My 5 favorite things were kind of tricky to come up with at first. We don’t buy much outside of essentials like groceries and stuff for my health. One thing I really do love, though, is the Christmas season: it’s one of the main reasons I chose to be Mrs. Snowflake. Many of these favorites are Christmas-centric: I do acknowledge that many other holidays are also celebrated during the fall and winter, and we are also working on teaching Snowy about other cultures as well.

1. The new The Grinch movie.

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The day the movie came out, which was also the first day of snow here in northern Ohio, we all happened to have the day off work and school, so my amazing mother-in-law, my husband, Snowy and all made it to the cheap theater near us ($3 matinees!). I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. My favorite Christmas movies I watch every year are The Star (starting last year) and Rudolph. I’m not a fan of the Jim Carrey Grinch at all, and could take or leave the original animated Grinch. But I found this version charming, emotionally deep, and fun to watch. I loved the soundtrack and especially the character development. My two favorite parts of this movie are the gradual transformation and characterization of the Grinch, and Cindy Lou Who’s relationship with her mom. The relationships in the movie were very developed, and it was a very sweet movie to watch as a mom of one child. I see a lot of this Cindy Lou in my daughter.

2. Our gingerbread house.

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The holidays can be hard as a chronically ill person. I have to prioritize what I absolutely want to do, because with my body, I have lots of limitations, especially a limited energy reserve. So I carefully choose what traditions are must-dos and which are optional. I have two must-do traditions each year, and the first of them is building a gingerbread house. We’ve done it the last 3 years and our house gets more elaborate and the process even more fun each year. We start every year with a premade kit: we used this one this year. And we added embellishments found at the Dollar Tree, like a gummy Santa and peppermint trees. We built it a few weeks ago, and it still looks great on our dining room table. (But I hope no one tries to eat it!)

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Holiday Gift Guide for the Grandma who has Everything

The grandmothers in my children’s lives don’t really “need” anything for the holidays. Every year we try hard to come up with unique gifts that show them how much we love spending time with them, even though some of them live far away. If you have a grandma who already “has it all” maybe one of these cute gifts will do the trick this year! 

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Window Bird Feeder – This is the BEST bird feeder ever. Period. It is so fun to be able to watch the birds snack on seeds from inside your home! Bonus if grandma has a cat, as they love watching birds eat from the other side of the window. This one comes in a few different sizes depending on what kind of birds you are trying to attract, so definitely look around at the different options. 

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Grandmother’s Journal – This is an item that I dearly wish my own grandmother had filled out. It’s a journal of questions and prompts for grandma to fill with stories from her life and about the history of the family, before passing it on to her grandkids. I just bought one for my mom, and I know my kids (and me!) will cherish this forever. I think she will have a good time filling it out as well!

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The Grinch Movie

Over the summer at the movies, I saw the preview for the new Grinch movie featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the voice of the Grinch. It was released during a half day week because of teacher’s conferences, and it was the perfect way to spend a gloomy, rainy November day.

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The basic plot line of the movie follows the books — the Grinch hates Christmas and decides to try to steal it by masquerading as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. But this movie expands on the Grinch’s life, as well as that of the only other named character in the original book, Cindy Lou Who (save the Grinch’s dog Max). The Grinch has stock piled food reserves to avoid going into Whoville for the entirety of Christmas, but alas he finds his cupboards bare. We also meet Cindy Lou Who who lives with her mom and twin baby brothers. Cindy has a letter for Santa where she wishes that her mom, who works and takes care of the three of them alone, would be happier and be able to take things easier.

We learn the Grinch is 53 years old and hates Christmas because he was an orphan who never got to celebrate it. Eventually a plan is hatched by both the Grinch and Cindy Lou. The Grinch, of course, is sick and tired of Christmas and decides to steal it. In the meantime, Cindy Lou and her friends hatch a plan to catch Santa so that Cindy can ask him for her wish. The countdown is on as both sides prepare for their big moment. Cindy catches Santa, who is really the Grinch, and the Grinch completes his mission of stealing Christmas, only to hear the songs rising from Whoville. This causes his heart to grow and him to realize that Christmas is more than just the gifts. In the end the Grinch is invited to Cindy Lou’s home to celebrate and of course carve the roast beast.

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Our Favorite Picture Books With Female Characters

Although I have two boys, we always keep an eye out for stories with female characters. Here are some of our favorites (as well as a few on our wishlist):

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Be a Star Wonder Woman – This is one of Lion’s all time favorite picture books. He adores Wonder Woman and I’m pretty sure this book is what started his love of this superhero.  Michael Dahl has others that we also really enjoy, like Bedtime for Batman.

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Sweet Dreams, Supergirl – Another one by Michael Dahl. I love that this one not only features a girl, but an Asian girl. Dahl’s books are pretty good about trying to show diversity.

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Celebrating A Chronic Illness Christmas

Chronic illness doesn’t take a vacation day. I write about it a lot because it’s extremely consuming for me. There are so many challenges that chronic illness creates in my life: physical, emotional, financial. It’s honestly hard to focus on anything else sometimes, especially while working full time and raising our wonderful 5 year old, Snowy. But while I fully acknowledge the realities of the Christmas season, these blue parts that I need to take the time to recognize and mourn, I also still really enjoy Christmas. I especially enjoy sharing the magic of this time of year with Snowy.

It has taken a few years, but I am learning how to adapt the way I celebrate Christmas–and all holidays, year-round–to my chronically ill reality. These are seven lessons that I embrace to help me fully enjoy Christmas and other celebratory times as a chronically ill person.

1) Go slow.

The Christmas season is well-known for its frantic pace. But frantic and chronic illness do not go well together. I start my holiday season early, decorating as early as the first weekend in November, not just because I like having everything around and the decorations make me happy, but because stretching out the season gives me more time to fit everything in. We tend to do one big thing a weekend and take it easy the rest of it. It took me two weekends to decorate the basement. One weekend we decorated a gingerbread house, another we went to the zoo lights.

2) Rest well.

In order to do what I want this holiday season without sending any of my conditions into a horrible, hospitalizable flare, I must rest well. I take frequent breaks. I lay down a lot. I take long baths. Snowy has learned how much rest her mama needs, and is good about accommodating it. I do a lot of parenting from the bed or laying down on the couch.

3) Pick your priorities.

Even when stretching out the season, I’m never going to be able to do everything. Both time and my body won’t allow it. So I pick a few traditions each year that are “must do’s,” and the rest are optional: nice if I can fit them in, but not essential. My must do’s include decorating a gingerbread house, going to the zoo lights, and visiting our families.

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Link Roundup: December 12, 2018

We’ve had guests nonstop from November 1st until just today, so it’s been insanely busy around these parts! And then three days ago I woke up with really painful and swollen ankles, knees, wrists, and fingers. At first I thought I just slept wrong, but it still hasn’t gone away so now I’m looking for a rheumatologist. Oh the joys of being 40!

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Tons of parenting links from around the web this week!

E D U C A T I O N

What Straight-A Students Get Wrong via New York Times

The Link Between August Birthdays and A.D.H.D. via New York Times

Down With Homework, Say U.S. School Districts via Wall Street Journal

Sex Education that Goes Beyond Sex via Harvard Graduate School of Education

11 series kids love (and their parents do, too) via Modern Mrs. Darcy

In Love With Teen Lit: Remembering The ‘Paperback Crush’ Of The ’80s And ’90s via NPR

The Beginning of the End of Snow Days via Edutopia

A Ban on Parents in the School Lunchroom? Everyone Seems to Have an Opinion via New York Times

The Controversy Over Parents Who Eat Lunch With Their Children at School via The Atlantic

Does ‘In God We Trust’ belong in schools? More and more states say yes. via Washington Post

H E A L T H

Why the world is becoming more allergic to food via BBC

Children aren’t getting enough sunlight, and it’s affecting their sight via World Economic Forum

What Our Obsession With Breastfeeding Is Really Doing to Moms and Their Babies via Health

‘Do I Really Want to Hurt My Baby?’ Inside the disturbing thoughts that haunt new parents. via The Cut

Why New York Lags So Far Behind on Natural Childbirth via New York Times

More Salt, Fewer Whole Grains: USDA Eases School Lunch Nutrition Rules via NPR

The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day via The Atlantic

First baby born after deceased womb transplant via BBC

A 16-Year-Old Has Died After Being Electrocuted By His Headphones via Vice

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