Update on the pet question and Christmas

img_2241Thanks to everyone who offered their advice on pets. It was helpful, as was a Real Simple magazine article in the January issue on what pet is right for you. The answer? The only pet that is right for us is a fish. And frankly, possibly not even that given the toddler's destruction of their habitat last week.

The conversation with my 9-year-old went better than expected. I asked what else might make him happy and excited for Christmas. At first, he was adamant about a cat. But then he threw a fit about wanting to go to an adults-only Christmas party with my husband and me, and even said "You don't have to give me a cat if I can go!" I told him the party itself would be boring, but I sensed an opening: he really wants to spend time with us, solo. And that's not something he gets all that often with his numerous little brothers and sister.

So we discussed it, and I will be giving him two "experience" gifts for Christmas. One is an overnight at the zoo with me, but then the bigger one is a weekend-length trip in NYC together. We'll stay in a hotel, go to some museums (he's reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), tour Central Park, eat pizza and so forth.

I am quite excited about this — a lot more excited than I would be about a cat. So that's put me in a bit more of a festive Christmas mood. That's especially true since I finished another big round of Christmas shopping yesterday. I just need a few more little things for the kids. My extended family's gifts are all purchased and wrapped in time for our holiday party on Sunday. Now I just need to figure out what we're eating!

One slight downer? My 9-year-old has been asking questions about Santa. Some kids in class have said some things. I suppose that was inevitable, though I would like to get through one more Christmas. When we had some time to talk, I said that he could believe what he wanted, but in general it was more fun to believe. Much like the little boy in The Polar Express who can still hear the bell.

In other news: The 9-year-old and 5-year-old went to their first karate lessons yesterday. While I'm kind of worried about adding yet another activity into our lives, both loved it. Like seriously loved it. Since the studio has this special where if 2 family members join, all the rest come free, I am mildly considering doing a martial arts class myself. The 7-year-old is also loving wrestling. He has his first meet this Saturday. I have been told that the meets are emotionally difficult on the parents, watching your kid get pinned and the like. Wish me luck.

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18 Responses to Update on the pet question and Christmas


  1. Calee says:

    What is the Karate commitment? We tried martial arts, my son loved it and even my daughter liked it, but then we discovered that they expected a 3 hour per week commitment, and that the two kids couldn’t be in the same class together. Make sure you check what you’re getting in to!

    • @Calee- yes, I’m big on understanding commitments! 5-year-old can come once a week. 9-year-old should go twice. But the small group lessons are just 30 minutes. There are a few days per week when their two age groups are close together, so we may wind up choosing those.

  2. Meghan says:

    What a great solution to the pet dilemma! Good job seeing what your son really needed — it can be so hard to pick up on that sometimes. I think a weekend in NYC with just my oldest would be heaven, so it sounds like win-win for you — almost like you’re getting a gift out of it, too.

  3. Mary says:

    Great insight about your oldest wanting alone time. I’m the oldest of 5 and my parents tried to do that when possible too. In our case, it wasn’t a weekend in NYC but dinner out in a “church dress” with my dad is still memorable!

  4. Sarah K says:

    I would love to hear “how you do it” with juggling kid activities on top of everything else in life. This fall my 6yo (1st grade) son was in basketball (1 evening practice and 1 weekend game/week) and Cub Scouts (1 evening meeting most weeks of the month), in addition to Wed night church activities, and it’s just WAY too much. He struggles to focus so the very small amount of homework he has often takes him 30 minutes, and trying to do that + activity + dinner on a weeknight evening and get to bed at a reasonable hour is nearly impossible for us.

    • @Sarah K – one key thing is that we have childcare until 8 pm M-Thurs. So I don’t have to do all the driving, though with 3 big kids activities, I’m usually doing something if I’m home. If I am home and driving, I can leave the toddler with the sitter, so it becomes more tolerable one-on-one time with a big kid. All of our activities are pretty close by too.

      Some homework and instrument practice gets done in the morning. And my kids don’t go to bed that early. It’s the rare night that even the 5-year-old is in bed by 8:30. I usually have them all in their rooms by 9 (though the 9-year-old has been known to come out to talk after that). If they’re done with school by 4, the hours of 4-9 are relatively vast. As for me, I’m learning to be even more flexible about when the work gets done. I almost always have 8-8:30, then 8:40 to at least 3:30 and usually closer to 4 as core hours for work and exercise. Then I can find another 60-90 minutes elsewhere if necessary.

    • Kelly in SF says:

      I was wondering the same thing! We pick up from the after school program & get home by 6 (city traffic sucks!) then we scramble to cook/eat before the 6 yo melts down like clockwork at 7pm. On days the kids have soccer practice, I rely on other parents w/more flexible schedules to help get the kids to soccer and only allow my 2 kids 1 activity at a time. I miss the more leisurely evenings when I was a SAHM (but do not miss the lonely, unpaid days!).

      This may be a story we tell ourselves, but I’m not seeing where I could find extra time to get the kids to more activities without hiring a babysitter on top of the after school program (which is nearly $1K/mo!). Unfortunately, that’s not in the budget.

      • @Kelly – the extra sitting is what makes it possible for my largish family to do various activities. But one small savings – we don’t need to pay for after care because we have someone working those hours. When there are multiple kids, it starts being more cost effective to pay one adult vs. tuition at programs (day care or after care). I don’t know what sitting runs in your area, but if someone worked 12 hours/week, that’s about 50 hours/month – at $20/hr that would be the same $1000 figure you mentioned. (of course, finding someone who wanted to work 4-6:30 daily might be tough). And of course it helps that my work is flexible. So today, I am doing the karate run at 4pm, and yesterday I could do the pageant rehearsal coverage at 5:30.

        • Kelly in SF says:

          Thanks Laura! Just one more year for us until our oldest is in middle school, and able to take the bus on his own to get to his activities. Plus, the younger one will grow better able to tolerate staying up past 7pm eventually, right? 🙂

          • @Kelly – eventually, yes! Given that our “evenings” are like 4pm to 9pm I guess it just doesn’t feel all that rushed to me. If my kids fell asleep at 7pm it probably would 🙂

  5. Judy says:

    God bless the wrestling parents. I never got used to it. My son started in middle school and wrestled through 10th grade. The bigger they are, the bigger and stronger their opponents, the harder it gets to watch. I know one mom who considered anti-anxiety medication for the sole purpose of getting through her son’s matches. Ugh. I understand that is has real value in conditioning, instilling discipline and focus, but it is so hard to watch. I was not sorry when that ended.

  6. Lisa says:

    I’ve taken 2 of my kids to NYC for special one-on-one time and it was great. The Met’s Family Guides are great and there’s a “Mixed-Up Files” one you can download. My daughter was into Percy Jackson at the time, so we got that one and had a blast.

  7. Diana says:

    I will inevitably be a wrestling parent someday but I am not super looking forward to it. I’d get super nervous just watching my nephews wrestle, seems SO EASY to get hurt much less the nerves over how they were doing. Not the easiest sport to watch! Good luck!

  8. Melanie says:

    Wrestling … My son started wrestling at 9 years of age. The meets are painful – but the rewards are great. I have loved seeing my son persist at something he is not great at, and being able to see from one meet to the next how much better he gets, despite that wrestling will never be his thing. And persisting at wrestling has allowed him to try and persist at other things that are more him.

  9. Cotton says:

    A friend of mine posted this on Facebook with regard to how to handle the believing in Santa question. I thought it was a really lovely way to handle it.
    http://imgur.com/gallery/qHrK6

  10. What a beautiful idea!

  11. cricket says:

    Sunny Skyz has a great tradition in her family. When that are ready, kids are asked to join the big team of Santas secretly doing good deeds.

    A-Wonderful-Way-To-Explain-Santa-To-Kids-Without-Them-Feeling-Lied-To

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