My husband put this together for a bit of fun.
My husband put this together for a bit of fun.
As I may or may not have said, my older daughter takes dance. My younger daughter has been begging for months to go to dance class.
So, I signed her up for the summer session at the same time as her sister.
Unfortunately the time slot meant a race across town from work to pick up the girls, and a race back across town to get to the studio, get them changed into their outfits and ready on time.
But, I figured I could do it, and it would let the younger child enjoy the class she wanted. So, I packed granola bars for the girls to eat in the car, and I packed up all of their dance stuff into their dance bag and put it in my car the night before so I wouldn’t forget.
Then came the first day. I left work on time, but I went to two wrong doors before finding where my daughter is let out from her summer school program.
Okay, so I’m running five minutes late. No big deal as I had a fifteen minute cushion.
I got to pick up my second daughter about two minutes away. But the road construction has intensified, and traffic is backed up almost two miles from the red light. I am now starting to panic. It takes ten minutes to go a distance that should have taken no more than two. We’re now cutting it close.
I go to pick up the my younger daughter, and my older daughter starts making a scene. Of course she does. She wants to be the center of attention, and here’s a new audience. Then the younger child starts ripping out her ponytail, a ponytail she needs for dance class, and I failed to bring a second ponytail holder if she breaks this one.
So, amid tears, anger and frustration, I all but drag them back out to the car.
Where the chocolate chips in the granola bars have melted from the heat. I grit my teeth, give them to the girls anyway, knowing I’ll have a mess to clean at the dance studio.
We get in the car and head across town. We are now cutting it close. There will be less than five minutes to get the older daughter changed for her class.
Deep breath. I can do this.
Until I get stuck behind someone doing five under the speed limit, which results in me getting all five red lights between daycare and the dance studio red.
We walk in the door and a hurry the girls to the changing room. The older one is having trouble changing because we’re rushing, so I stop to help her. She’s changed and ready to go just as dance class starts.
Okay. I’m calling it a success.
Now for child two.
She has started to put on her tights as the older one got ready, but she is jamming her feet in. Tights are evil, even for adults, and wrangling a preschooler into them is torture. But we do…And then I realize she hadn’t taken off her shorts.
Gritting my teeth as people keep coming in and out of the changing room and leaving the door open, I help her take off the tights, get her shorts off, get the tights and leotard back on.
She hates the tights and wants them off. I manage to get her tap shoes on her, and we head back out to the waiting room. Yes, all the “dance moms” are giving me snide looks, but a few more minutes and the second child will be in dance class and I can ignore them while I read my book.
Dance class starts, and I try to walk her to the door, but she won’t let go of my leg. She screams and cries. As I’ve learned from preschool, I deposit her in the room and walk back to the waiting room.
Only she doesn’t stop.
After fifteen minutes, the dance instructor brings her back out to me. Where she proceeds to scream and cry for the entire rest of her sister’s class.
I was so embarrassed and mortified I think I managed to turn new shades of red. Here I am, being stared at with condescension and derision, as my child screams. She even tries throwing herself to the floor a few times. I can’t escape because I can’t leave the older one there alone. I can’t go outside because it’s too hot to sit in the car and pouring down rain.
All I can do is count down the minutes until the older child is done with class. Until I can escape.
I have no idea what came over my daughter. No idea why she wouldn’t go play with the parachute, or do froggy jumps, or all the other fun things they were doing in class. No idea why she begged to take this class for months. And frustrated beyond words that I paid for the class, tap shoes, ballet shoes, tights and leotards for her to attend.
But mostly, I never want to show my face in that dance studio again.
Back from vacation and plagued by computer issues. Here’s a repost of an older story while I try to get my Alienware computer back to acting like a computer and less like a very expensive brick.
Mara swept the first young Knight’s feet out from beneath him and shoved him hard with her shield. He crashed to the ground, and before he could roll away, she hit his breastplate with her sword.
A second Knight charged her, but she pivoted, letting his momentum in full armor carry him past her. As he tripped over the first Knight, Mara hit his back with the flat of her sword.
Two kill shots. Both Mara’s. Anything but a training exercise, and the two Knights of Valor would be dead.
There was laughter and teasing from the sidelines, but a quick look from Mara silenced the other Knights. “How long will you survive in the eastern provinces?”
Knight Keenan helped the two younger men back to their feet. “We’re practicing. They’ll get better.”
“But not good enough.”
“Not all of us can be Sir Marcus,” the Knight Mara had tripped said.
Mara pierced the boy with her hard stare. “Sir Marcus spent his life training to fight a lich. You spent yours training to protect the safe streets of Tamryn.”
Knight Keenan cleared his throat. “We’ll practice again tomorrow.”
Mara looked over the assembled Knights, her gaze resting on each man in turn. “Anything you face in the eastern provinces will be alive because it’s survived worse than whatever haunts your nightmares. Do you think your enemies get knocked down during practice then toddle off to say a few prayers?”
The Knights stared back at her, and several of them clenched their fists at their sides.
“Good. Get angry at me. Better angry than dead. Next lesson.” Mara motioned to a figure dressed in a plain brown cloak.
The woman walked over to Mara and bowed, then turned toward the Knights.
“Skyla,” Keenan said. “What are you doing here?”
“She’s helping me demonstrate a lesson,” Mara said. “Are your healers out here?”
Keenan nodded toward Knight Matthias, but concern reflected in his pale green eyes. “Is this safe?”
“Less dangerous than sending out half-trained men.”
Knight Keenan glanced at Skyla then stepped back. “Be careful.”
Mara looked at the woman in the robes. Her rich brown hair was tied in a simple ponytail, and her large grey eyes seemed too big for her face. She was easy to underestimate as so many mages were.
“Just like we practiced,” Mara said.
Skyla nodded and moved several sword lengths behind Mara.
“Do you think your Knights can beat Skyla and me?” Mara raised a challenging brow at Keenan. “Or are you going to send them to their prayer vigil and hope Dracor gives them fighting skills?”
“I don’t want her to get hurt.”
“Not what I asked.” Mara smiled at the gathered Knights, a taunting expression meant to rile them. “Pick your best seven. If they can get three points in before I get a killing blow, you win, and I’ll come back and help you train them until the new moon.”
Keenan glanced at the recruits and then back at Mara. “You called for a healer. What do you have in mind?”
“Don’t think seven of your Knights can get in three hits?”
“And if they can’t?”
“You owe Skyla and me a hellfire at Ndrek’s bar.”
“Seven against you and Skyla?”
“Until the new moon?”
Mara nodded again.
“They could really use the practice against someone with your skills. You’re sure Skyla won’t be hurt?”
“It’s not her you should be worrying about.”
Mara fell into her battle stance, and she felt Skyla building the first spell as seven young Knights took their positions opposite her.
Keenan signaled the start of combat, and Skyla let loose with the spell.
A wall of flames scorched the ground and rose up between Mara and the Knights. Mara ignored the fire, ducking her head as she charged through it and tapped the chest plate of one of the Knights. Pivoting, she tapped the chest plate of a second before any of them had recovered their wits enough to close their mouths.
The remaining five backed away from the fire and Mara’s blade. Just as she’d anticipated.
Skyla loosed her second spell, and the ground under the remaining Knight’s feet turned to mud.
Slamming her shield into the first Knight’s sword, she shoved hard and sent him stumbling back then barreled into the second. Surprise widened his eyes, and when he tried to turn, he slipped in the mud.
Mara slammed his chest plate with her sword, and if it hadn’t been a practice blade, she’d have killed the Knight. Instead, she sent him into the mud with the first, who’s chest plate she tapped.
They’d hurt, but the bruises would teach a lesson they wouldn’t forget.
The remaining three Knights extricated themselves from the mud as Mara circled around them. She smiled as one tried to flank her while the other two came at her. Sprinting towards one, she used her shield as a battering ram and knocked him to the ground as the second scored a glancing blow against her arm.
She pivoted and knocked his feet out from underneath him them hit his chest plate with her sword. Leaping over him, she tapped the Knight she’d steamrolled to the ground.
One Knight remained.
As he stood watching her, black vines shot out of the ground and encased his feet, rooting him there.
Mara circled around him, but he couldn’t turn to face her. She came up behind him and tapped the middle of his back.
There were growing whispers that the battle hadn’t been fair. That they hadn’t been warned.
Mara only smiled. “Combat isn’t about fair. Or justice. Or right and wrong. It’s about winning. In real combat, Skyla would’ve been using fireballs, flame clouds, and ice storms. Never ever under estimate a mage.”
“Good lesson,” Sir Leopold said. “Well done, both of you.”
Mara felt the High-Knight’s faded blue eyes fix on her. She met his stare, her face impassive even as her stomach clenched. Tall and broad, the only thing that belied his age was the silver in his hair and the rank insignia on his uniform.
She wondered again what he’d feel like beneath her and how hard he’d fight her for top. How much she’d relish that fight. The thought made her belly tighten.
Stabbing the thought and leaving it to bleed to death, Mara handed her practice sword back to Keenan.
She picked up her battle-worn sword and wiped the soot from her cheeks. “One hit to seven kills. See you at Ndrek’s.”
Keenan only nodded as he checked on his men.
I can think of no parents that don’t regularly fuss at their kids to clean their room. I have had that “discussion” with my daughter more times than I want to count. Part of it is my daughter loves to be served. Part of it is the task really was overwhelming.
As we’ve been working on redoing her room, we’ve also been coming to terms with the mess. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Kids have stuff. Lots of stuff. Pretty design websites don’t think children do. Or that their stuff is all magically color-coordinated with their room. Uh, yeah, my daughter’s room *totally* looks like this rather than multi-colored elf Legos and piles of mismatched books everywhere.
Our plan included under the bed drawers, a full closet organizer, and a dresser. She does have some open shelves, but those are used sparingly and treated like “displays”. Not sure how long this will last, but so far, it’s been great. She knows her plush Link and Zelda dolls go on one shelf, her queen dragon on another. It’s been working.
I love plastic ware. Yeah, I admit it. But it really does work. I bought some plastic snap lid boxes, and these are now used to keep like things together. Lego pieces not on display? In a box. Disney clip dolls? In a box. Some beloved Little People? In a box. Now, when she plays with them, she can take the box down, and when she’s done, she knows where they all go.
My daughter loves to do art, and when she’s done, the pieces of it end up everywhere. In every box, bin and clothing drawer I’ve gone through so far. To tame this, I bought her two nice plastic folders in Hyrule blue. My husband is stenciling the royal symbol of Hyrule on the cover. This is where her art goes, and we’re not above pulling the Princess Zelda trump card out and asking her if Zelda would leave stuff all over her bedroom. No, we didn’t talk about the fact she probably has a legion of maids.
I purged anything broken. Anything that didn’t have all the pieces. Anything that looked like it could’ve come from a Happy Meal. I purged anything that came home in one of those party favor bags. I purged toys that were geared to children younger than her sister.
I filled the back of my vehicle with stuff that was still in great shape and could be donated, and I filled a garbage can with the rest. This taught me we really need to go through stuff at her birthday and Christmas and weed out toys she’s outgrown. It’s also taught me to be a better gatekeeper. Really, those “goody” bags from birthday parties never need to make it past the kitchen garbage.
After taking everything out of my daughter’s room, only things that she’d use, wear, or play with were allowed to return. Should be easy, right? It meant taking out her winter clothes, even the things she’d stuffed into the nooks and crannies of her closet and dresser, down to the basement to be stored for next year. I do this every season as our winters are regularly down to -20F and our summers are in the 90s.
Once this was done, I still found A LOT of stuff in her room. Stuff I hadn’t seen her play with in ages, some of it I’d never seen her play with. But she NEEDED all of it. *eye roll* So, we went through it and boxed a lot of it up for her to play with in our finished basement. We’ll see if she plays with it or not.
This gets me to the most important thing I’ve learned. Everything that remains has a place. She doesn’t have to figure out to do with it. She knows where it goes, and when she’s playing with it, there’s clearly a spot for it when she’s done.
This has been HUGE. Everything else we did really led up to this, and it’s made a huge difference. Perhaps not surprising as it’s hard enough to put something away, even harder when you don’t know where “away” is.
So far, it’s worked. Her room has stayed clean, and while she still wants help cleaning it (aka for a grown-up to do it for her), she is now capable of doing it herself.
How about you? Any tips or tricks you’ve discovered? I can always use more insight into trying to tame the mess!
So, as you may have heard, we’ve been working on some home projects.
It’s not been going as planned. Here’s why.
Took almost everything out of my daughter’s room. Feel sorry for my other daughter whose room was housing the first child’s stuff.
We painted the trim white. We then painted the walls misty lavender, all according to plan. I was pretty excited at this point, thinking things were going pretty well.
Snag 1: We had to paint the ceiling to get it to not look awful against the walls.
Snag 2: The closet organizer we ordered arrived two weeks late. *deep breath* That’s okay, we were already a week behind because of the ceiling. Yes, both kids’ rooms are a complete mess, so bad that the 3 year-old is complaining about how messy her room is, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Snag 3: That light turned out to be a train. We thought we were putting the closet organizer together this weekend. The directions were terrible, and I mean terrible, and this is from people who’ve whizzed through putting together IKEA furniture for 15 years. My husband has put together everything from basic bookshelves to a trundle daybed with drawers. He’s so good at it, friends ask for his help. He enjoys doing it. It’s like Legos for adults for him.
But the directions on this were so bad he had to consult YouTube. Repeatedly. The directions were so bad he swore the manufacturers of the organizer had never once put together furniture before going into business selling it. For example, none of the parts were labeled, either with part numbers or a corresponding A, B C. We had to figure out what they were used for by counting them. There was a single diagram. It was bad.
Then, we discovered there were more parts than there should have been, but many of them were the right parts. We had 4 drawers for a 3 drawer organizer. But one of the drawers was missing all of the hardware in the box and the drawer front. That just so happened to be the first box we opened.
We had four more floating shelves than we should have had.
We had four LESS fixed shelves than we should had. Meaning, the entire unit couldn’t be assembled.
After lots of pictures to the manufacturer, they agreed to send us the missing four shelves.
So, another week without a closet organizer, and all of the older daughter’s stuff in the younger daughter’s room.
We got the proper shelves!
Snag 4 – Except, we don’t have enough screws. The directions said 28 screws. We counted. We had 29. All good, right? Except, there are 9 fixed shelves and each needs 4 screws. So there should have been 36 screws. We went to Home Depot, Menards, and Ace. A very helpful associate at Home Depot spent almost an hour trying to find something that would work, but the screws are custom for this project, and without the right size and shape screw head, the fixed shelves won’t snap into place. So, I’ve requested the extra screws.
We got the shelves we could into place and started moving some stuff back into the oldest child’s room while we wait for the screws,
I’m never buying self-assembled stuff from anyone but Ikea again. They know how to do self-assembled furniture.
How about you? Ever have a home project not go as planned? Ever buy self-assembled furniture missing half the pieces? Any other stories that might make me feel better?
Continued from A Knight’s Prayer Part 1.
Sir Gabriel blinked then stared down at the elf wrapped in his tabard. “It’s not what you think. I didn’t-”
Leopold chuckled. “Unless you’re an elf, I know you didn’t.”
Relief loosened Sir Gabriel’s shoulders. “She couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old when I found her. I was walking along the sea as part of my rehabilitation and found her among the wreckage of a ship.”
“So you brought her back with you.” Sir Leopold bit back a smile. Sometimes the gods gave you what needed in the strangest of ways.
“I’ve been searching for her family since I found her, but I haven’t found them yet.”
“Can’t be easy taking care of a child by yourself with your duties and working on healing that leg.”
“I’ve been very fortunate. People have been willing to help. Thalia’s compassion beats strong in Tamryn.”
Sir Leopold chuckled as he watched the tall, broad-shouldered Knight gently brush a lock of hair from the little girl’s cheek. Thalia may play a part in people’s willingness to help, but he suspected the Twins had a hand in it, too.
“I brought her to Aerius at King Eli’s request.”
“King Eli?” Leopold’s brows shot up. “What does he want with a foundling elf?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m supposed to be meeting with him and Queen Auburn.”
Leopold leaned back against the pew. That meant Auburn had a vision. One strong enough and with big enough implications that Eli felt it necessary to investigate. Both interesting and terrifying. The elves were formidable but isolated.
Or they had been.
And he’d preferred it stayed that way. The fewer uncertainties the better while dealing with the eastern provinces.
“Tell me when you go meet with King Eli. I’ll come along with you. He can’t intimidate me no matter how much he tries.”
“I’m afraid he’ll tell me to send her away.” Sir Gabriel tucked his tabard around the child. “I don’t know where I’d send her. I’ve tried everything I can to find her family.”
“They may not want to be found. Elves are an odd bunch.”
“You’ve met them?”
“A few times, though none that look like this one.”
Sir Gabriel cupped her tiny hand in his. “There’s something else you should know. Her eyes aren’t human.”
“Of course they’re not. She’s an elf.”
“They seem to glow.”
“Like I said, elves are an odd bunch. Never met one that wasn’t more than twice my age, and most were a lot older than that. Maybe all of their eyes almost glow as children.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
Sir Leopold pushed himself to his feet. “Staying in the barracks while you’re here in Aerius?”
Sir Gabriel nodded.
“You’re not anymore. Get your horse. You’re gonna come stay with me, and I’ll introduce you to Marcus and Brelynn.”
The young Knight’s eyes widened. “But Sir Marcus-”
“Is a good man who’ll help Brelynn spoil Aurora. Might even catch Mara spoiling her when she thinks no one is looking.” Sir Leopold knelt before the altar to Dracor as Gabriel stared at him, whispered a prayer, then straightened. He nodded toward the young Knight. “Don’t make me make it an order.”
Sir Gabriel gathered up Aurora and cradled her against his chest as he pushed himself back to his feet without his cane.
Sir Leopold smiled. Boy had a long way to go, but the gods were on his side.
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