Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter

Now that we're over the trauma of the kid knowing about the Easter Bunny, Santa, and the Tooth Fairy, we proceeded with Easter as usual.  We dyed eggs, attended an egg hunt at a nursing home in our neighborhood, and went to church. This morning, our daughter scoured the house for hidden eggs, just like always, and got too much candy . . . just like always. As sad as I am that some of her innocence has been lost, I have to confess that her new-found knowledge does make life a little easier. I was forever forgetting whether I bought her a particular item or if it had come from Santa. Now I don't have to worry about it.

I taught Sunday school at church this morning. Since we are UU's, we typically have a slightly different take on Easter. I talked with the children about Jesus and the resurrection but also about Spring and the promise of new life. To celebrate that, I gave the kids a little seed-planting project and sent them home with their own cup o'dirt. They may or may not have flowers in a couple months. After church, we picked up P and then went out for brunch. Since I have been tracking all of my food, I had planned out my choices in advance and entered them in the tracker. The calories in pancake syrup . . . ai-yi-yi.

My daughter wants me to make sure I mention the fact that she wore HIGH HEELS to church today (white shoes with a tiny heel).  Also, I'm expected to mention that fact that she got SLUSHY MAGIC in her Easter basket. The magic ice cubes are in the process of freezing as I type this. When they're frozen, she is expecting an apple juice slushy. There is a glaring typo on the box, but I'm sure this is a quality product. I mean, what could go wrong?






Friday, March 29, 2013

You had a good run, Mr. C

Three-year-old A, at Christmastime
"Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."

The worst part of parenting? Breaking bad news to your child. 

Last night, P was working so the kid and I headed to my gym. She likes playing in the play area. The owner of the gym gives her gummy bears, so there's that, too. When I was done sweating, she and I climbed into my mom-mobile and headed home. I needed gas, so I stopped along the way. "Do you want a snack?" I asked her.  She held out her hand for some cash.  In recent months, I've been letting her go into the gas station to get herself a snack. I figure this little exercise has two benefits: 1. She learns a little bit of independence by going in by herself and checking out at the register on her own and 2. She starts to understand how much stuff costs.  I always worry a little because she is so tiny that I don't want people thinking I'm sending a five-year-old off by herself. Of course, when someone asks her how old she is, she proudly states, "I'm seven and three quarters."  She's actually up to "Seven and eleven-twelfths" now but I haven't bothered to point that out.

Anyway, I finished pumping the gas and then saw my daughter coming back across the parking lot. She even looked both ways before hopping into the van with her bag of barbecue potato chips in hand.  "Here's your change, Mom!" she exclaimed as she fastened her seat belt.

As we drove home, I looked at her in the rear view mirror and noted that she is really growing up. About two second after that thought passed through my mind, she said this: "Mom, is Santa real?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Becca at daycare said he's not real. She said that parents hide the presents in the garage and then bring them in the house. She said he's not real and then she made me say it. I feel like I should tell Santa that I'm sorry."

Made her repeat it?  What a bratty little sadist!  Grrrrr

"Let's talk when we get home," I said.  My heart sank.  I had hoped we'd get through another year or so before she asked about Santa. When she was a toddler, we talked about Santa but kids that young don't really "get" it. Then it seems like you only get a few short years when they get it and they believe and then, in a flash, it's all over.

When we got home, I took my daughter in her room and sat her down on her bed. "I'm sorry that Becca said that to you."  Her eyes welled up with tears and I knew she could see what was coming. Now, I know that other parents have younger children that they have to protect and have a strong incentive to keep the story going even for their older children. However, we are not in that situation.  I could've lied to my daughter and perhaps bought a little time, a month or two at most. If it wasn't the brat at daycare telling her, it would be some other brat. So, I told her everything. I told her that there is no Santa, no Easter Bunny, and no Tooth Fairy. I tempered it as best I could by letting her know that none of the magic goes away. She'll still get an Easter basket on Sunday and she'll still hunt for eggs. I told her how Santa is more of an idea, a feeling, and that the magic of Christmas remains.

"Where do you hide the presents?" she asked.  "In the basement?"

I smiled at her and gave a little laugh.  "Do you think I'm crazy? I'm not telling you so don't ever bother looking. You won't find anything, Goober"  She gave me a weak smile in return and then looked down, tears spilling over her cheeks. I felt like I could hear her heart breaking.  It is the worst feeling in the world. I'd almost rather have the "You were adopted" talk again over this one. I put my arms around her and held her close to me.

When we were done talking, I reminded her that she should keep the secret for younger kids. For the rest of the evening, she sat in the living room, reading a book and eating her potato chips. Normally I would give her a rack of shit about getting crumbs everywhere, but I let it go.  When it was time for bed, she dutifully got up and walked to her room. "Okay, Mama," she said. She seldom calls me "Mama" anymore. I think some part of her wanted to be a toddler again, not this knows-too-much almost-eight-year-old.

About a week before this happened, one of her best friends was handed the painful "no Santa" reality by her older brother. We took that same friend to a hockey game last weekend.  I was teasing my daughter about having two loose teeth that need to come out. Her friend said, "If you pull them, then the tooth fa-" and she trailed off, remembering what she now knew. I saw a shadow pass over her face and was sad for her. Now, a week later, my kid is in the same boat.

So, I've got a heavy-hearted little girl on my hands. I felt like crying myself last night. For any parent who might be in the same boat, a friend sent me a link to this letter (it's sort of like a modern retelling of "Yes, Virginia . . . "). I did read it to my daughter and found it helpful.

"No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I'll tell you where you can put your health assessment


 You may recall that I:
  • Have been stressed about a health assessment that my husband's employer required me to complete. Our medical insurance is through his work and apparently they've devised new and clever ways to make us miserable in the future if we fail to complete our individual health assessments.
  • Have been re-thinking my diet a bit, based on some recommendations from a trainer/vegan friend of mine.
First, the health assessment. I did it (at 7:30 this morning) and I hated it. I had to fast for 12 hours and since breakfast is my favorite meal, I was feeling pretty surly by the time I got to the clinic for my appointment. Anyway, I got to the clinic on time and then had to cool my heels in the waiting room for 30 minutes. Finally, a nurse-type person called my name. I say nurse-type person because there were some letters after her name (on her nametag) but they didn't mean anything to me. She weighed me and measured my height.  Then she brought me into an exam room, where she proceeded to measure my waist and hips. I immediately regretted my wardrobe decision.  I was wearing a skirt, a sweater (with a camisole underneath), and tights. So, I think I counted four layers over my waist. I tried to pull up the sweater but she wasn't havin' it. Then she measured my right wrist.

Part of me felt like my bosom should have been measured, too. I mean, I am not thin but I am proportionate. And I must say that my wrists seem normal (my body hasn't found a way to store fat there, but I'm sure it's doing its best to make it happen). Anyway, I guess the BMI charts don't care if you've never smoked a cigarette in your life or that you work out at least three times a week or that you've been a vegetarian for 24 years and eat scads of fruits and vegetables daily. The chart doesn't want to know all that. It just knows you have a, um, somewhat ample lower half. So, I guess some goober in a lab jacket will compile my results and determine that I am . . . fat. 

The nurse-type person also took my blood pressure and absconded with a vial of my blood as well. And that was it. Literally, the least fun you can have on a Wednesday morning. I don't mean to be unkind, but the young woman measuring my waist was . . . well, let's just say that I'm downright svelte by comparison. I am not sure why I am mentioning it except that I think there's just a shade of irony in there somewhere. 

When I got to work, I ate a Vitatop and some grapes and then set out to expand my fog of irritation so that it would envelop my coworkers as well. Now I guess I just wait for that stupid report to come in the mail so that I can get pissy all over again.

Now, about the eating stuff.  I have been tracking on Sparkpeople for about ten days now.  As I suspected, it was super tedious at first. However, once I got most of my food entered and saved as a favorite, it got easier. Plus, I cycle through four different breakfasts (and repeat some lunches as well), so all I have to do is copy a previous meal onto the current day and I'm all set. I am also recording my workouts on Sparkpeople.  As much as I find value in the Weight Watchers program and the "points" concept, I have found it helpful to see my food for all of its individual components. Sparkpeople tells me how many milligrams of salt I should have in a day, how much protein, carbs, etc. I guess the good news is that my normal diet falls into the "right" range for the most part. Right amount of calories and so forth. The bad news?  I've only lost a few pounds. For the past three days, I've even managed to gain half a pound a day. It is so hard, sometimes, not to say, "Fuck it." It feels like some cosmic joke or something.

Anyway, I did take Bianca's suggestion and have cut back on soy. I'm also limiting my fruit intake later in the day.  I've started eating a handful of nuts periodically instead of a handful of pretzels.  I haven't made any other big changes at this time. Mostly, because I really just don't want to.  I dunno - maybe I am still just irritable from this morning. I have half a mind to take my fat ass and my skinny wrists to a bar and drink the rest of today's calorie allotment.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clingy

"Mom, we'll always be together, right?"

I've been hearing this question from my daughter quite a bit in recent weeks. "We'll never be apart," she tells me, and then throws her arms around my neck and squeezes with all her might.  I have assured her that when she is 18, she will be so desperate to get away from me and my tyrannical reign that she will probably select a college in Alaska. That way, she can be assured that I won't show up at her dorm room with any regularity. But for now, she would like to be surgically attached if at all possible. Normal? Not normal? Heck if I know.

Even though my daughter is nearly eight, I'm still a first-time mom and haven't traveled these roads before.  So, I have no idea if her recent need for extreme closeness is a phase or not (well, she's always had an extreme need for attention, but it seems more pronounced lately).  I also don't know if it's a "normal kid" thing or a "normal kid-who-was-adopted" thing. I am always hesitant to attribute any random issue or concern to the fact that I didn't give birth to my daughter. She and I are well bonded, after all.  When she was born, I was emotionally moved by the fact that she had a need that I, specifically, could provide. My physical touch was and is important to her.  When I hold her in my arms, she sighs and hums. I feel like I have some super power that was dormant all my life. Little Miss Outgoing will happily accept a hug from any random stranger, of course, but it's different with me, I think.

She also tells me, "You are the best mom ever!"  I think you and I both know that I am fair to middling at best. Honestly, I've never been so popular in my life. How much closeness is too much?  I guess I'm not sure. She likes to hold hands when we're out and about. She frequently sits on my lap at church.  Each morning, as I am pulling out of the driveway to go to work, she runs into the garage and waves to me, pantomiming kisses and hugs. I pretend to catch her kiss and then wave before turning the corner. If she can't carry out the ritual for some reason, she has a colossal meltdown.  When I attended the "Math and Muffins" event a few weeks ago, her teacher told me that my daughter cried when I left.  She also cried when I went back to work after the field trip last week. It seems like an over-the-top reaction in some ways. I mean, I saw her again a few hours later. It's not like I dropped her off at boot camp for the Army or something.

My child is petite and people are inclined to baby her. She is inclined to like it.  However, as her mother, I know it is my job to require some independence from her. It's hard to know where to draw that line. Part of my concern stems from the fact that she is flying to Oklahoma (for two weeks) by herself in a couple months. I bought the ticket last week when we got our tax refund. I know she'll be fine when she gets to her destination. After all, she'll have a Meemaw, a Granddaddy, an aunt, an uncle, and three redheaded cousins waiting for her. But, I'm very concerned about a possible meltdown at the airport after I turn her over to an airline employee for safekeeping.

Who knows, maybe she'll be fine. Maybe I'll be the one having a meltdown at the airport. She does seem to be looking forward to the trip. 

The other day she told me, "Mom, it's fine with me if you and Daddy want to party by yourselves while I'm in Oklahoma. I'll be partying with Meemaw.  She's SO much fun."  Then she used my phone to call my mother so that the two of them could blather on about making homemade ice cream and sleeping until noon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The definition of insanity

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  I've been doing that for far too long. Every Monday morning, I refocus on my diet.  I start out great.  I track everything I eat. Nearly everything I choose seems to fall under the category of "good for you" (lots of fruits and vegetables). By Thursday, my resolve starts to peter out.  I get home from work and find myself with a cookie in my hand. Or maybe five cookies - who's counting?  Not me, that's for sure. Then I decide I need a glass of wine while watching "Project Runway." By Friday, I'm seldom still tracking what I put in my mouth.

Sometimes I go to Weight Watchers and sometimes I don't.  I did buy a 12-week planner, which has been helpful for looking at my food habits over a period of time. I continue to go to yoga twice a week and have been known to show up at my gym once or twice a week (I need to find a gym closer to my house, as the incessant snow has made it difficult to get there in recent weeks).

I think it's time to admit that what I am doing is not working. I think it's also time to admit that I am growing older and that my body may not respond to the tactics that have worked in the past.  So, I decided to email an acquaintance of mine and ask for some help.  Bianca is a trainer.  She used to teach step aerobics at my gym so I know her from taking her classes a couple years ago.  She and her mom also own a raw foods restaurant downtown, and I know she generally follows a vegan diet. I can also tell you that Bianca has the kind of body most of us would sell our soul to achieve.  And, to top it all off, she's impossibly gorgeous and does some modeling.  She probably sounds like the kind of person who would be a colossal bitch, right?  Au contraire! She's actually super nice and I knew she would give me some advice. I contacted her because I was also wondering if I could sign up for a couple of personal training sessions (she's not at my gym, but I could still go to her for a fee). 

While waiting for a response from Bianca, I resurrected my SparkPeople account and started tracking not just my food but also my fitness, habits, etc.  I signed up for a challenge (a sugar-related one, since that seems to be my biggest roadblock). The jury is still out on whether or not I want to track everything I eat. As you can imagine, it is profoundly time-consuming and tedious.

I received a response from Bianca and she gave me a lot to think about. A whole lot. Some highlights:
  • She recommended that I cut back on the soy products I am eating. It is true that I do eat a fair amount of them. I even eat steamed edamame as a snack pretty regularly.  She suggested that the estrogen in soy can lead to "lunch lady arms" and extra weight around one's middle. This is exactly the problem I am having, so I think she is on to something with that advice.
  • She suggested that I back off on eating fruit later in the day. It sounds like I need to keep an eye on my fruit intake in general. I never thought about that because I figured that eating so much fruit is a good thing (I don't know how much is too much - I eat 3-4 pieces a day).  I am thinking maybe I should figure out a way to snack on vegetables during the day at work.  I used to buy carrot sticks all the time but I really think I was driving my co-workers crazy with that.  The cubes are not that roomy. We can hear each other breathing so obviously one can hear the noisy mastication of a carrot.
  • Keep doing yoga and also add more resistance training and cardio.
  • Eat lots of greens (I eat spinach by the handful but I'm sure I could eat more).
  • She talked a lot about cross-fit. I'm not sure if I'd be into this or not. Must ponder.
I think the hard part for me will be to cut back on the soy. I have used it as a crutch for a long time. I am not sure what to use as a replacement. Sometimes I just need a good sammich,you know? Maybe I could replace with a portabella mushroom?  Again, much to ponder.

I'll keep you posted.  I know you didn't ask me to keep you posted, but really, I insist.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chicks' Weekend

I've just returned from a weekend away with some friends.  I learned a few things:
  • Some people are willing to put chocolate-covered licorice in their mouth. We stopped at a candy store and that's what one of my friends bought (and consumed). It took me about thirty years to adjust to the idea of chocolate on pretzels, so maybe in time I will see the light on this combination as well.
  • Wood-fired pizza kicks ass. For lunch yesterday we went to a tiny little restaurant that featured wood-fired pizza. One of my friends is vegan, and she was able to get an amazing pizza with Daiya (vegan) cheese. I had one with wild mushrooms. Good stuff.
  • The movie "Get Him to the Greek" should have been funny, but isn't. We watched this movie in our suite at the resort where we stayed, and only one of us made it until the end without falling asleep. 
  • Drinking out of one of these makes it really, really difficult to know how much vino you've consumed:
.
  • When your friend loses her sunglasses, there is a good chance she will be perfectly willing to wear your daughter's Barbie ones until hers turn up.
  • Visiting a distillery and partaking of the samples is perfectly acceptable, provided it's after 12:00 p.m. And it was, so we did.

  • It doesn't matter if you're not Irish, or if you don't know anyone who is Irish, or even if you can't point to Ireland on a map. All are welcome at the St. Patrick's Day parade. Next year, just remind that one friend not to wear ballet flats and no socks. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Field Trip

I chaperoned a field trip at my daughter's school today.  It's been a while since I rode on a big yellow school bus. It was a little bit surreal. Either my hips are wider than they were a few decades ago, or all school buses have been re-engineered with extra-narrow aisles.  I'm going to assume it is the latter.  Also, it's amazing how easily one forgets how now noisy a bus full of kids can be. As the bus bounced (and I do mean bounced) down the highway to our destination, I wondered silently about just how much "lift and support" a lady should expect from her brassiere.  I also wondered why I had not brought any ibuprofen for the headache I expected to develop shortly. 

My daughter was excited to have me along for the trip.  Earlier in the morning, as A brushed her teeth, I may have implied that I might just find myself overcome with the urge to square-dance in front of her friends. I was going to see if I could get a couple other moms involved in order to have as many mortified second graders as possible. I was able to keep my dancing feet in check, though. There were quite a few parents, so I really only had to keep an eye on two or three kids. We went to a production of "The Little Mermaid," as performed by a local dance company.  Dance show = very little dialogue = moderately bored kids.  Knowing that their options were few as far as amusing themselves, the kids used the only avenue open to them: saying that they had to use the bathroom. They weren't allowed to go unless they were accompanied by an adult, so I found myself embarking on three separate excursions to the bathroom with various second graders. I couldn't really blame them. I have to say that they really are at a cute age. They all have these ginormous front teeth (adult teeth) but they have the same little faces they had last year.  I'm sure everything will catch up in due time, as evolution and biology require.

The best part of the show was when the song "Kiss the Girl" came on. Multiple boys, at the very same time, whispered, "Ewwwwww."  I figure that as long as they think kissing is gross, that's a good thing. I'm hoping they observe that policy for at least the next decade or so.

It was a fun little field trip - definitely different from the ones I went on as a kid. We lived within spitting distance of Washington DC, so we were hauled to the Smithsonian about three times a year for field trips. It seemed like there was always a worksheet to be filled out, just to make sure you didn't try to have too much fun while you were there.

Of course, that was a long time ago . . . before they re-engineered all the school buses.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Date Night and Whatnot


We had a fairly quiet weekend.  The kid and I dug out our Easter decorations on Friday evening. It's hard to get too enthusiastic about Easter coming early this year. The egg hunts should be interesting, in as much as finding eggs in the snow can be a challenge. Buying a spring-y Easter dress seems pointless, but I'm sure Miss Thang will insist.

On Saturday evening, P and I went to a fundraiser for a local no-kill sanctuary. It was a lot of fun. A was spending the night at a friend's house, so we didn't even have to hire a babysitter.  We dropped her off, went out to dinner, and then headed to the fundraiser (held at a local banquet hall). When we got there, I was browsing some silent auction items and noticed that a friend of mine had bid on an item. So, I outbid her. Just kidding!  I found her in the crowd a few minutes later.  She was there with a singles group that had sort of fizzled.

Let me just say that I am glad not to be single. I have a few friends who are single (either were never married or are recently divorced) and I've seen some of what they are dealing with.  One friend showed me some of the listings on match.com (or maybe it was eharmony, but anyway, you get the picture). Apparently, some men in my age bracket think it's an excellent idea to post a photo of themselves next to the dead thing they've just killed. I think there are about five women on the planet who would look at that photo and think, "Well, now THAT is a turn-on."  There was also a photo of a dude that was clearly a wedding photo. As in, his own wedding. You could still see bits of the bride's dress that he hadn't fully cropped out. Seriously, that's the only photo you had of yourself? Ai-yi-yi. 

Anyway, I demanded that my friend hang out with us at the fundraiser, so she did. It was fun, even though none of us won anything in the raffles or auctions. I asked my husband if he has any single friends who would be a good match for my friend. He couldn't think of any. He does have one unmarried friend who was recently released from jail and has his nine-letter last name tattooed across his stomach. Most of my male friends are either gay and/or married so I'm no help either.

After my friend left, we decided to head home so we could watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Season 2 is now out on DVD so we're working our way through that. We capped off the night by turning our clocks ahead an hour.  So there you have it - our wild and crazy kid-free evening. 

On Sunday, the kid and I went to church and then the three of us went to an art festival. I bought raffle tickets and didn't win anything at that event either. I'm starting to think my luck has run out.  I did pick up a Mother's Day gift for, well, my mom. If my sisters are reading this  . . . yeah, that's right. I bought it two months in advance. Because I am the best daughter ever! The inheritance will be mine, all mine! Wait, I just remembered that the inheritance currently consists of a bunch of unruly cats and room full of fabric for sewing projects. Shit. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'll let you know . . . if you suck

My daughter goes through phases where she asks a lot of questions about her adoption. Then we usually have a lull where she's more concerned with things like watching yodeling videos on YouTube (I am not making that up).

Last week she dug out some of her adoption books (The Red Thread, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, etc.) and read them, so I figured a question was coming.

"Mom, were you friends with J [her birthmom] before you adopted me?  Did you know her before that?"

"No," I said. "We met her through the adoption agency."

She nodded.  "Oh, okay."  Silence for a few moments.  "And she picked you and Daddy because she thought you would be good parents for me?"

"Yes, I think so," I responded.  "I assume she chose us because she thought we'd be good parents.  Was she right?"

My daughter started to walk out of the room and then turned to look back at me over her shoulder.  "I'll let you know," she said. And then kept walking.  So sassy!

This summer we are planning a visit with her birthmom (she lives several states away but will be in town for her sister's wedding).  It will be the first in-person visit in around seven years. I haven't told the kid yet but I will, soon. I am looking forward to the visit.

In the meantime, I'll just carry on with my mediocre parenting. Cuz that's how I roll.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Call if you think I'm cute

I just downloaded some photos from my camera. I am selling some schtuff on eBay and needed to take pictures. In any case, I quickly noticed that someone else had been using my camera.

First, she shifted the dial to video mode and took a video of her face. "Call now if you think I'm cute," she tells the camera. I'd upload that but she also uses her full name and you might be a serial killer.

Then, she shifted back to normal photo mode and took this photo of her face.


Then, she took a photo of her dog, Gretchen:


I think that's "Good Luck, Charlie" playing on the TV in the background. It's one of the few shows A watches that I find fairly watchable. Don't even get me started on "Austin and Ally" and some of the other shows that pass for entertainment on the Disney Channel.  

The kid and I spent a lot of time together this weekend because her dad was out of town at a guys' weekend.  I don't know what happens on this annual retreat he attends. It seems to involve alcohol and snowmobiles and bad decisions. Last year, two of the guys were wrestling and, while one had the other in a headlock, they both pitched forward and smashed face-first into a window ledge.  I'm going on a girls' weekend in two weeks and I'm pretty sure none of us are planning to come home with bruises. Amazingly, we are able to refrain from putting each other in a headlock.

Anyway, I gotta get back to selling shit on eBay. Call if you think I'm cute.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sore loser


How does one teach a child to be a graceful loser?  I am clearly failing at it, as evidenced by the fact that my daughter bursts into tears and has a dramatic meltdown any time she loses a game. This morning I went to her school to participate in a "Math and Muffins" event.  Parents gathered in the gym and then headed into the classrooms to sit with their child(ren). One of A's friends didn't have a parent present, so we invited her to join us.  We had a deck of playing cards and some instructions for playing a couple of simple addition and subtraction games.  Since the games were mostly intended for two people, I let A and her friend play. I dealt the cards and then watched them playing the math games. You and I both know I was really just there for the muffin.  However, it turned out to be a mini muffin, which was tragic.

Things seemed to be going pretty well until my daughter lost two games in a row. She blamed her friend, alleging that her friend had made up the rules and then changed them as they went along. I witnessed both of them blatantly cheating and changing rules, so I'm not sure what the problem is. All I know is that I had a teary kid on my hands. Her friend suggested that they just get some markers and color instead.

I really don't know how to encourage her not to get so upset about losing. I've suggested that she just say, "Oh well, maybe next time!" When I play games with her and she wins, she does so "fair and square."  I do not let her win. The only exception is that when she was younger, I would usually rig the Candyland deck to let her win. As any parent will tell you, if you don't rig the deck, Candyland can go on for DAYS. Generally speaking, though, I don't go out of my way to let her win. I feel like it's good for her to lose sometimes. She just needs to find a way to cope with losing that doesn't involve copious tears.

My personal go-to strategy?  Talking smack about the other player. When I am losing at Words with Friends (which happens a lot), my usual tactic is to imply that my opponent:
  • is making up words that do not exist  ("Oh yeah? Use that in a sentence, you word-maker-upper, you!")
  • is probably mentally ill
  • was born to parents who were not married at the time of his/her birth
  • is just getting lucky
See, talking smack about your opponent deflects the I-am-losing vibe and makes it more fun, right?  

On second thought, maybe I should not be the one to teach my daughter about good sportsmanship.