Let It Snow!

Do you like snow?

As a kid, I loved it. As an adult, I dread it. My favorite snow is the kind that sticks to the ground, but not to the street. In other words, snow that doesn’t slow me down.

With this being one of the busiest times of the year, snow seems like a really big inconvenience, but for my kids, it’s something different. It means no school. It means they get to go outside and have a snowball fight. Snow, to them, means fun.

After dreading a pending storm, I had to come to grips with the reality, once again, that I don’t control the weather. The snow is going to come when its going to come. And as much as I’d like for the snow to miss us, my kids are hoping just as hard that it doesn’t.

The snow came, the kids played and I couldn’t help but get caught up in their excitement over it. The snow forced me to pause, take a breath, and appreciate what was going on around me. Snow may be inconvenient, but it brings something else with it — beauty, joy and fun.

How do you make the most of things (like the weather) that inconvenience you during this busy time of year?

 

Summer’s Simple Pleasures

What is your favorite summer activity?  Camping, going on a picnic, or to the lake, riding bikes or something else?  Mine is always hosting or attending a BBQ.

There is just something about having good friends around you. Being about to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I treasure watching the kids playing in the yard–whether they are battling with water guns, chasing each other or playing in the sprinkler. It’s all so simple, and makes me so happy.

I equate the experience to when I saw my first fireflies during a warm summer evening decades ago. I realized it was special and I wanted it to last. And if it couldn’t last forever, I hoped it would happen again. That’s what summer BBQs are for me. They are one of those special moments I look forward to every year.

What summer activity does your family enjoy? Which of summer’s simple pleasures are special for you?

The Return of the Pause Button. Thanks Summer!

What are your best memories of the last day of school? About summer vacation?

Memories flood back for me: the excitement of the last day, field day activities, leaving school, starting swim team practice, riding bikes and hanging out with my friends. My kids are excited about school being over and things being more relaxed. There always seems to be a flurry of activity leading up to the end of school, it can be overwhelming to any parent trying to keep it all straight. I always take a deep breath and think ah, we made it when I pick up my kids on the last day of school.

We’re looking forward to warmer weather, more sunshine, and time to rest and just be. In our fast paced world, we sometimes need to hit the pause button. Summer is the pause button for our family.

How do you and your family relax during summer break?

I will be taking some time off to relax with family over the holidays and will be back in July. Happy Fourth!

Play Time and Letting Your Inner Child Reemerge

Has your child ever gotten a present you couldn’t help but play with?

My youngest son asked for a remote control plane for Christmas. It seemed a little old for him to ask for, but he was adamant that it was something he really wanted. He was thrilled when he received it on Christmas morning, but he hasn’t played with it much since. It’s not because he doesn’t like it, it’s because his father has commandeered the plane for himself. It’s almost like he can’t help himself.

First, as any good parent, he had to figure out how the plane worked so our son could use it. Then, he had to test the plane. Once he tested it, I noticed a glint in his eyes…my son was going to lucky if he got to fly this plane again. He’s father was hooked.

My husband now eagerly asks if we can go to park or playfields nearby to fly the plane. He likes taking it for low altitude test flights in the house. He’s addicted. My sons and I have called him on this and suggested he might have to start paying our youngest for rental time with the plane.

It’s fun to see my husband’s inner child reemerge. I can almost see his younger self playing with a new toy. It’s a joy that is hard to find in adults. It’s infectious.

Thankfully for us, my husband’s birthday is coming up and we’ll have an opportunity to get him his own remote control plane so my son can get his back. This should make both my husband and son very happy.

What activity or toy has gotten your inner child to reemerge?

 

 

Zombie Mommy 2.0

Once again it’s that time of year where the grunting begins, followed by endless nagging. The grunting is from my kids — “Do we have to get up?” “Just five more minutes.” “Okay, okay, I’ll get ready!” The nagging from me or their father “Guys?!” “Have you brushed your teeth?” “Are your shoes on?” You get the drift. I honestly can’t stand having to prod them along most mornings.

Last year in a creative attempt to prompt my kids to action, I went into zombie mode and stopped nagging and started doing my own grunting. Raising my arms out in front of me and dragging on foot behind. “Mommy’s gonna eat boy’s who aren’t ready yet!” The boys squealed with delight — this was fun! As I brought out the Halloween decorations this year, my sons asked when Zombie Mom would be returning. The next morning, Zombie Mom re-emerged.  My youngest thought it was hilarious, but said, “Hey mom, when we get closer to Christmas, can you be Scary Santa?” I had to laugh. Did I do Scary Santa last year?  Is Scary Santa like Zombie Mom but says ‘ho ho ho — Santa hungry for boys who aren’t ready?’ I’ll have to think about that one. I’ll have to ask the kids to tell me how Scary Santa would act. The best part of all of this is making it playful makes it fun (instead of stressful and frustrating). I have to remember to do this more often. The kids enjoy it and they get ready in much more timely fashion.

How do you engage your child to get them out the door?  What creative ways have been successful for you?

Let’s Go Camping

When you think of summer what comes to mind? Playing on a Slip ‘n Slide, spending lots of time in the pool, going swimming in a lake, fishing, making homemade ice cream or something else?

My boys and I have never camped in the summer, but that’s going to change this year. We’ve camped before (see blogs on our camping trips in the past) but also in cooler months. I can remember camping as a kid and it was almost always in the summer months. Memories of bugs, relentless heat, and sweat come to mind. It’s probably why I’ve avoided it up to this point. Instead of doing traditional camping (and by that, I mean getting in the car and driving to a camping site) we’re going to camp in our own backyard. I realize this isn’t a unique idea, but it’s a first for us. Not having to drive anywhere and still being able to use all of your camping gear is appealing. And if the bugs bite, we’ve got a quick escape (either come inside or I can run to the store and pick up some bug spray). I know, I know…what fun is it, if you don’t have all the hardships that can come with a good old fashioned camping trip? Lots, I’d say. My boys are really excited about the backyard campout, and can’t wait to figure out how to convert of backyard so it is more ‘camp-like’ (I can’t wait to see what they come up with).

I’m reminded of my own upbringing and how the simple things: watching (and sometimes catching) lightning bugs, running through the sprinkler, going to a BBQ and just relaxing with people I loved holds a special place in my heart. These things were fun, relaxing, and created a moment that forced me to pause to appreciate how good it felt to be right where I was, without a care in the world.

When have you experienced those moments? How are you and your family enjoying the summer?

 

So, What’s the Catch?

Have you ever thought about where common idioms come from: it’s raining cats and dogs, see the light, under the weather, etc.?

We were sitting at the dinner table this week when my oldest son ask, “What does ‘what’s the catch’ mean?” My younger son chimed in, “Yea, what does it mean? It doesn’t make any sense!” They both giggled thinking that the saying sounded silly. My husband and I both looked at each other with a “you got this?” expression and then took turns providing what we went on to describe what it meant as best we could. “It means something is too good to be true. Someone says something’s for free, but what they don’t tell you is you’ll have to sit through a presentation to get the free thing,” I shared. “It means you’re not getting the whole picture. There’s more to it than meets the eye. If something sounds like it’s too good a deal, say someone offering you money for nothing, you would probably ask, “What’s the catch?,” my husband replied.

Our boys came up with their own interpretations. “So, if someone offered me gold, I should know there’s probably something they want from me,” said my oldest. “Or if they offer me (play) cars, there might be something they want for it,” said my youngest. “You’re getting the idea,” I said.

My sons asked where the saying came from. “No idea,” my husband and I replied. Funny how we use phrases without putting too much thought into where they come from. It forced us to think about how language has changed over time, even during my lifetime. I shared that when I was young phrases like “LOL” or “hashtag” weren’t used, and people would have looked at me  with a curious expression if I said them as recently as a decade or so earlier. We talked about how hundreds of years ago people talked in ways that would be unrecognizable to us today (using words such as “thee” and “thou”). My sons thought that was hilarious.

After giggling for a few minutes, I attempted to get serious and asked, “So, if that’s the way the ball bounces, what’s the catch?” Now all of us were laughing again. “And if  I’m under the weather, I hope it’s not raining cats and dogs,” my son added with a smile. While I may not know the origin of many idioms, they quite useful when trying to explain something more simply, plus they can be good for a laugh…especially when we think how much our language has changed over time and all the silly things we still say quite seriously.

What idioms do you often use? Are there any that are your favorites? Or ones your child find amusing?

What, no TV?

It’s summertime, and our kids have more free time on their hands. They are in camps during the week, but when they are not at camp all they want to do is watch TV.

When I was a kid, I wanted to watch TV 24×7 if my parents would allow it. I can remember one particular summer my mom told me that my sisters and I that our TV time would be limited to three hours a day. Three hours a day, that’s outrageous! There’s so much we’ll be missing! I thought. I can remember discussing this decision with my neighbor friend whose mom was trying something similar with he and his sister. “It’s not fair,” we both agreed. I can’t recall how closely the TV time was held to, but do recall we were prompted to play outside more, and it was okay to be bored.

With my own kids, my husband and I were noticing a trend…if allowed, our sons would watch TV 24×7. The TV seemed to be on any time we were inside the house. It was becoming a problem. While I hated the idea of restricting my kids TV time to three hours (because I could remember how much I hated it as a kid), I knew it was what we were ultimately going to have to do.

My husband and I sat down our kids and talked to them about limiting their TV time. Our conversation was met with “What?” “That’s not fair!” “You’re so mean!” “We’re going to be so bored!” This was expected, but still not easy to hear. “Guys, we’re not doing you any favors by letting you sit around and watch TV all the time, there is too much life to live, and you’re not living it if you sitting on a couch.” My sons may not have liked our message, but they understood it. “What are we going to do to pass the time?” my son asked. “You’ll have to figure that out. You can ride your bike, play out in the backyard, create something with your Lego, there’s all sorts of things you can do, it’s really up to you.”

We started our new schedule, and it was hard for everyone. It took some getting used to. It’s still taking some getting used to, but what I found was when my husband and I were firm with what would be allowed (e.g. if you watch three hours of TV first thing in the morning, that’s it.) we saw that our boys could adjust…it might be done begrudgingly, but they could do it.

I’ve seen them be more creative with their time since we implemented the change. There have been days when the three hours have been exceeded, but it’s been the exception. With summer vacation here, our timing feels right — there is so much to do, explore and see, it would be a shame if it were mostly spent inside.

Have you ever had to limit screen time? What worked for you? What helped your child make the adjustment?

Happy Fourth! I’ll be taking time off with the family and will be back following.

Oscar

What’s in a name? A name is used to identify people, with distinctive traits that differentiate us from one another. Some names are more common than others, some more unique. Each name has an origin and meaning; it sometimes matches the person or object (car, trophy, stuffed animal, etc.), sometimes it doesn’t.

The Academy Awards got me thinking about those named Oscar.  Some more famous Oscars include:

  • Oscar Wilde – writer and poet
  • Oscar de la Renta – designer
  • Oscar de la Hoya – boxer

And those that use the name fictitiously or more playfully include:

  • Oscar the Grouch: a muppet who lives in a trash can, what’s not to love?
  • Oscar Mayer: bologna, hotdogs, what kid could want more?
  • Oscar: the character from the TV show The Office

And while they are all very different, they have the name, Oscar, in common.

My children have virtually no interest in watching the Academy Awards, but they are very interested in talking about different Oscars. It’s fun to think of such a wide range of accomplished individuals and interesting characters that have your same name. It got my kids and I thinking about our own names and others that share them. We were able to think of at least one notable person that shared each of our respective names. We found the knowledge of knowing someone famous shared our name made each of us happy. Maybe not winning-a-golden-statue-named-Oscar happy, but happy none-the-less.

What’s in a name? Happiness for now.

 

Jackpot!

When was the last time you felt like you struck it rich? Whether it was winning money unexpectedly or having an outcome or experience better than expected?

I had one in an unexpected place…a local family fun center. We went to the family fun center to pass the time on a rainy day. My boys were off playing separate games. I was with my younger son and we joined his brother to an atmosphere of excitement. Lights were flashing and the machine was dispensing tickets at a fast rate. My older son exclaimed, “I hit the jackpot!” When he said this, I thought he won maybe 50 tickets or so. But then I looked at the game and saw he indeed hit The Jackpot — 1500 tickets. He was ecstatic, and I was stunned. How often does someone hit a jackpot, I thought.

We can so often think the jackpot is out of our reach in life. While we might not win the lottery or the jackpot at our local family fun center, I’d argue that we’ve all hit the jackpot many times without realizing it. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I met my husband, we bought our first house and when our kids were born. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot anytime I see a beautiful landscape, hear a song that I love, I connect with others in my writing or speaking, run into a friend in an unexpected place, or get an “I love you” from one of my boys. When I think about it, I’ve hit the ‘jackpot’ many times. It isn’t a rare thing, as much as it is a special thing.

When do you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot?