Morning Rituals

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Our kids are usually at their best first thing in the morning. They get up usually before six in the morning, and wake us up with demands for big breakfasts.

The past couple of months, we’ve settled into a routine. My husband gets up first. When the kids wake up, he entertains them. It usually involves making pancakes or having the kids help him prepare coffee.

I wake up a few minutes later, wash a load of laundry, and change diapers. We all eat a leisurely breakfast together, with my husband usually taking pictures of the kids, before he goes to work.

Once he’s gone, there’s a change in the atmosphere. In our family, dad is the fun one, while mom is the one who gets the boring but necessary things done. The kids play for a bit, while I do the dishes. Then, I give my son a shower and put him down for his morning nap.

While he’s sleeping, I get my daughter ready for school. She gets a bath, fresh clothes, and her teeth brushed. I remind her to pack her bag and then edit it out sneakily (she has a tendency to pack the most random things, like a bag of raw potatoes, to “show teacher). By 11, my son is awake and we’re off to school.

It’s all very mundane but I really find comfort in following a routine. When I was younger, spontaneity was important. But now that I’m an adult, wow, I find it so overrated. Isn’t it much nicer to know what will happen at a particular time?

Our mornings, in many ways are so ordinary, but they’re my favorite part of the day. What are your mornings like?

 

 

 

Bento Snacks for Beginners

My daughter is a good eater, but very picky. She loves eggs, but only the white parts. She’ll eat rice, but won’t touch the meat.

She only likes the bread part of sandwiches. Easy, right? Just hand her a piece of bread. Uh, no. She insists that I make her a sandwich and then watch as I pick it apart and just hand her the bread parts.

To further complicate things, these quirks are highly dependent on her moods. There would be times when she must absolutely, desperately have meat. No rice. She’s three so she had complicated feelings, okay?

Last week, my daughter had assessments so she had to bring snacks to school. I was a little nervous since the last time I prepared food for her to bring, she came back with a note saying that she refused to eat the food, and that we should do a better job packing it.

So, this time around, I was determined to redeem myself.

I got her a new container, so issue two was solved easily. As for the mystery of whether or not she would eat them, I decided to outsmart her by using an appeal to cuteness. We eat with our eyes first, right?

On day 1, she got butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and some cereal. I just used a cookie cutter to make bunny shapes. The eyes are chocolate cereal crumbs, and I drew on the noses and smiles with jam.

On Day 2, she got a hard boiled egg sliced to make a very crude looking Baymax. The eyes are just balled up pieces of herbs (this was cilantro, I think), from dinner the night before. Baymax was on a bed of cheese crackers. She also got a few orange segments.

This was a bit of a failure, because the egg made the crackers into a soggy mess. I would separate them next time.

I saved the big guns for the last day. A rice ball shaped like Hello Kitty, her favorite character. You can buy rice molds available in every shape imaginable, but I just used a plastic wrap. I put the rice on some Saran and shaped it like the cat’s head. It keeps the rice from sticking to fingers and it’s easier to pack the grains tightly together.

The whiskers are the eyes are cut up pieces of nori, and the bow and nose are cheese slices. She ate the rice with shredded up adobo and had a cookie for dessert.

Making these were surprisingly therapeutic. In my mind, I’m one of those crafty, Pinterest moms, so it was nice to do something creative with what would otherwise be a routine chore. Even better, my daughter was excited to eat her snacks, and came home with a cleaned out container every time. They took only about 10 minutes longer to prepare, so I got maximum rewards for my input. I’m chalking this up as a parenting win.

 

 

 

Two-Hour Breathers: Summer Wars

Since becoming a parent, the maximum amount of time that I have without having to run off to do something or attend to someone small and needy is roughly two hours. Those two hours are precious to me, so I tend to obsess over what I’ll do.

via amazon.com

One of my favorite things to do is to watch the animated film, Summer Wars. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, its a great story about family relationships layered under a science fiction plot.

The story follows Kenji Koiso, an insecure math genius who gets roped in by his friend Natsuki into pretending to be her fiance for grandmother’s 90th birthday. Together with Natsuki’s whole family, they work together to stop a rogue hacker program bent on causing destruction.

The story arc surrounding the computer-generated villain follows a familiar tune: artificial intelligence is created, set loose, mayhem occurs. However, Summer Wars is saved from being formulaic is the way the characters are fleshed out.

The characters are varied and authentic in a way that would make you swear they were based on people you know. There is the fierce grandmother matriarch, the uncle who asks inappropriate questions, and the well-meaning but ultimately bumbling cousin. I find myself grinning at how the characters interact, especially around the dinner table, because these are scenes that can easily happen (and have happened) during our own family reunions.

The cat and mouse, save the world plot is entertaining enough, but Summer Wars truly shines when it focuses on how family relationships work. One of the highlights of the movie is when the grandmother’s letter is read. She gives voice to what every parent thinks and hopes for their family.

Summer Wars is sweet and at times, heartbreaking. Watch it with your kids, as an adventure film. Watch it with your husband, to laugh at how Shota reminds you of your cousin. Watch it by yourself to remind yourself of how precious family is. Whatever your motivation, watching Summer Wars is a great way to spend your break, and will leave you looking forward to your next meal with your family.

 

None of Your Beeswax

Parents, raise your hand if you have ever encountered someone who acted like their sole purpose in life is to comment on how you raise your kid.

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They can be family members, total strangers, and my personal favorite, people with no kids.

neverletMost of the time, I just give a small nod to make it seem like what they said is of consequence to me. Have you ever tried to engage anyone in a debate over parenting?

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It’s pretty much pointless.

There’s a notoriously judgmental parent at my daughter’s school. Both my husband and I have been on the receiving end of her disapproval, in varying degrees. Maybe she’s the grandmaster wizard of parenting, so she’s entitled to point out what other parents are doing wrong. I seem to have missed the memo.

What I am certain about is that parenting is such a personal experience. It’s hard to say that what works for you will work for another. Love is shown in so many ways.

My kids are happy and healthy, and when they throw their little arms around me, I would like to think that means that we’re doing well. So what if another parent makes a snarky comment?

And you know what happens when you give enough snarky comments, right? It gives the rest of us the chance to whip out Mean Girl references.

 

A Definitive Ranking Of The Best "Mean Girls" Quotes

 

 

 

 

Head Over Heels

Have you ever felt like you and your partner are being pulled towards different directions?

Head Over Heels, a stop motion animated short film by Timothy Reckart, takes this situation literally and tells the story of a married couple where one lives on the floor, while the other is stuck to the ceiling. They live in the same house, but share nothing except the space they occupy. That is, until a pair of ballet shoes is discovered and ignites the desire to reconnect.

Head Over Heels is a touching look at how marriage is often a struggle, but love can overcome in the most creative of ways.

(In my case, creativity came in the form of playing World of Warcraft)

Not so Fast, Mom.

Before going to bed the other day, I was helping Hannah with her prayers.

“What do you want to thank God for?”

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“Do you want to ask God for anything?”

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I swelled with pride because what three-year old asks for conflict resolution as a personal prayer?

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But she wasn’t done.

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The ironic thing is that she doesn’t even like pizza.

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Conversations with three-year-olds are the best.

Marker Shoes by Nendo

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I haven’t worn heels since years, which I’ve always thought as a mark that I’ve turned into a boring soccer mom. Flats are so bland, right? Not quite. These Marker Shoes designed by Japanese design studio Nendo for Backyard Byn are anything but uninteresting.

Markers are used to drawn patterns on the calfskin leather. Since leather is porous, the ink is partially absorbed to result in  subtle and beautifully washed out designs.

via Design Milk