So by now, most of us are probably bored out of our minds being stuck at home. While I still have to go in to work (being mission-essential and all), the girls are definitely getting tired of being cooped up in the house most of the weekend. But, pandemic or not, good parenting never stops and we are still driving on with our routine (albeit a safer one).
While we were eating dinner the other night, Gabriella was thumbing through one of last year’s Christmas gifts: The Disney Princess Cookbook. While debating on making Bull’s-Eye Pizza (Brave) or Ham and Cheese Biscuit Braids (Tangled) in the future, the girls simultaneously saw something that they both wanted to make. Since it was easy and we had all the ingredients, it looked like after dinner the Calkins Family would be making Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Magic Wands.
A couple weeks ago, Elaina’s best friend, Elora, invited Elaina and Gabriella over for a play date with her and her sister, Emma. Since we had not already planned our activity for that Saturday, the girls gladly took them up on the offer, “scheduling” a home-and-home (for all you college football fans) with her parents for this and the following weekend.
The girls got to pick dinner on Friday and they chose pizza. Since I was not about to take them back to Peter Piper Pizza so soon, we compromised on making pizzas ourselves. After a quick trip to the commissary, we were ready for our family pizza night.
I put in a lot of hours at work. I am pretty good at time management (and work through lunch on most days), so I still get off by 5:15pm every day, but the time spent at the office definitely adds up. While anyone can tell you that breaks need to be taken, it is important to ensure that those breaks are effective, meaning that they replenish you and allow you to refocus once you return to work. I do not take as many breaks as I should, but they are almost always effective. The best break? Going to one of my daughters’ schools and surprising them for lunch.
From the second that I picked up the girls from their summer with their Mom in Texas, the only thing that Elaina has wanted to talk about has been her birthday party (Gabriella had her birthday party at her Mom’s house in July). Little did she know, I had already been planning it all summer, and thankfully, she did not change the theme. So it was just time for me to bear down on the finishing touches to ensure that I stuck the landing, because this was the first of their birthday parties where I was going in as the primary planner.
It is really funny how fast things can get out of hand. When the girls came home from Texas on Sunday, I had Halloween sugar cookies waiting for them. This led Elaina to ask if we could bake and decorate cookies next weekend. Sounded like a plan, one that would be fun and fairly easy. While we were eating on the patio on Monday, my neighbor let me know that this was going to be their last weekend in Arizona before the Army shipped his family to Italy for three years, so it seemed right to invite them over for some cookies (and because their household goods are already packed up, their house is pretty much empty). As we were leaving for school, the girls spotted our other neighbor (whose son is in Elaina’s kindergarten class) and begged that they could come too. It still seemed to be manageable, so I did and they accepted. Elaina then told her best friend at school that she was having a cookie party, after which her friend begged to be invited. After I told Elaina that we could do that the Saturday after, her friend wrote a handwritten card to Elaina asking to please come to her cookie party. Like I was going to say no after that. So, I started planning for a Halloween cookie decorating party… for 17 (Note: One of the families cancelled the day before, so while it did not change the spread, the event itself was a lot more manageable).
So we are a unabashed Star Wars family. I play a Star Wars tabletop miniatures game. Elaina is a huge fan of Rey from the sequel trilogy and continues to ask me when she is getting a lightsaber (Me: “You got one at Disney World.” Her: “No, Dad, a real one.”). And Gabriella enjoys learning her colors, letters, and numbers from Star Wars children’s books, because, why not? Because of this and being a relatively good baker, it was no shocker that my friend’s wife contacted me about a making a Star Wars cake and surprising him with it during his party. But of course, I cannot do anything in our house without being interrupted by two wonderful little girls, so I just let them in on the baking fun. So here goes the Calkins Family’s attempt to bake our very own Death Star.
So my oldest daughter has always been on the petite side. She eats well, but is very active, and never seemed to put on any significant weight. At one point, her pediatrician actually accused her mother and I of not feeding her, which was downright insulting. Eventually she started gaining weight, and compared to my youngest, she is my “good eater.” Now it is Gabby that wants to take her time with dinner, sometimes eating very little. Since she is currently in the middle of her age’s weight percentile and that her sister eventually snapped out of it, I am not terribly concerned. I just wish that they were not grazers and instead ate whole meals with smaller healthy snacks in between (as opposed to the other way around). Again, thankfully, those snacks usually consist of cottage cheese, grapes, strawberries, carrots with hummus, and deli meat, as opposed to just cereal and gummies. Either way, I try my best to make mealtimes fun in the hopes that they will leave the dinner table with both a smile and a full stomach.
It may seem like I am quite the prolific writer for a blog that is only two days old, but after being a single Dad for more than 16 months, there is still a lot that my family has gone through that I have yet to post about. I figured the next topic to tackle would be something that single Dads (and single Moms, for that matter) can have some trouble with: Cooking and Meal Planning. Not only can it be a tall order for any parent to find a delicious and nutritious meal that their preschoolers will actually eat, but it adds to the difficultly level when you have to find the time before or after work to prepare and cook this amazing meal.