Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
We have some friends from Australia coming to visit us this weekend -- they're stopping through for the weekend on their way from Orlando to Las Vegas. They were really good friends of ours when we lived there. They included us in family events and sort of adopted us as their own while we were there.
We're taking them to a Braves game on Sunday afternoon. Their son is playing t-ball or baseball this year and really wanted to go to a real baseball game while they were in the U.S. And we're only too happy to oblige!
After they leave, we have just enough time to recover before Rich's parents come for three weeks. More about that at another time.
So like I said we spent time getting the house ready over the weekend.
On Friday, we went to a carnival put on by the Parks & Rec Soccer league. It was fun. We did have a very small bit of rain and judging from our kids reactions, you would have thought they were related to the "Wicked Witch of the West." I have never heard such moaning over a small bit of rain!
But since we like to torment our children, we made them get wet.
Then, after about 3 minutes the rain stopped and we had fun again. We took the boys for some ice cream and then wandered over to watch some of the baseball games going on at the park.
We watches the 4 - 5 year old league. It was very cute to see those kids in their little uniforms playing baseball. What was a little scary was the parents. These kids are 4 and 5 -- and the parents were yelling at these kids like they were in the Majors. I felt sorry for one little kid.
Anyway, we watched for a while and then went home. Another Friday Family Fun Night Success!
Friday, April 25, 2008
Time for me to clean out the boys closets.
Thankfully, I don't have to do it as often as I used to... they are growing up! And wearing out clothes faster than they grow out of them. I don't know what they do to the knees in the jeans to wear them out so quickly.
Today I was forced to weed through the out grown clothes, shift clothes from one closet to another and make a pile for charity.
I was forced to do this for two reasons... one, the charity pick up people called and scheduled a pick up for next week. And two, the more important and pressing reason, we're running out of hangers and closet space.
Normally when I do this I look at each little t-shirt or sweater and think about how little the boys were when they wore it. And then I get all choked up and a wee bit sad that they'll never be "little" again.
But this time, as I was packing, I was thinking about how they are growing and wondering what sort of "big kids" they'll be. About future girlfriends, sports and school, what type of music will drive us nuts, puberty (yikes!), learning to drive (double yikes!)....
I've been imagining their futures.
It's like getting blank journal... not knowing what the pages will be filled with. But knowing they will be filled with laughter and tears, good times and not so good. Watching my boys turn into men.
Instead of being sad for the loss of their "babyhood" I'm hopeful and excited about the prospect of their future.
But I'm in no rush to get there!
Amy over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess is having an awesome Earth-Mother's Day give away.
And I would love to win!
My two favorite things -- although she's got some GREAT stuff....
BYO Bags - reusable produce bags. They are made from nylon mesh, and are reusable, lightweight, breathable, washable and durable.
And the reusable Wrap-n-Mats. The Wrap-n-Mats double as a sandwich wrapper and a place mat.
In fact, I think I'll be purchasing both if I don't win!
To enter, you need to visit Amy's blog, leave a comment, sign her Mr. Linky and link back to the contest.
You have until May 11th to enter.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
There really isn't much that comes along to break me out of my comfort zone. When I was working, it seemed like projects came up all the time that were challenging and I'd learn something.
But since I stay at home, those opportunities are fewer and farther between. Sure, I could volunteer more for the PTSA, but that's not really my cup of tea. I'm more than happy as Room Mom (and that was a big stretch for me last year), and doing little bits and pieces, but it's not really breaking out of my comfort zone.
This weekend, I took a page out of the CrazedParent Notebook and "dove in" so to speak. I did something that I thought would break me out of my comfort zone and at the same time do something for me.
I signed up for a kick-boxing preview class. I took the class today.
This was not a class at a fancy gym with juice bars and all sorts of fitness equipment and girls wearing make-up and boys pumping iron to impress.
This was a class at a boxing gym. I had visions of me walking into a "Rocky" style gym with hard core men training for boxing matches.
Thankfully, that was not so. The people there were so nice. They took the time to explain everything to me, how to do the punches and kicks. The class was mostly women, but there were some guys too.
And it Kicked.My.Bum!
I really didn't know if I was going to make it past the 5 - 10 minute warm up that they had! During the class the instructor would come up and work with me (and the others that didn't know what they were doing) and show us what we needed to do and how to do it.
It was, hands down, the best, hardest, sweatiest work out I've ever had.
I am already feeling the effects of the class. My muscles are tired and achy and I'm exhausted!
I know I will sleep well tonight, but boy oh boy will I be paying for it tomorrow - and Friday too.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
One thing we cannot use the normal, common hand sanitizers sold in most stores. The alcohol in them, which kills the germs, causes my oldest son (and me too) to have an outbreak on contact.
We discovered an all natural hand sanitizer called CleanWell and it has become a staple in our house. Unlike most hand sanitizers CleanWell is 100% natural, 100% green, 100% biodegradable, cruelty free and 100% poison free.
And, for Earth Day, they have an on-line offer that I would like to share with you. They are offering 30% off all products through Friday, April 25th on their on line store. Just use the discount code ED08 upon check out.
This offer is good on line only. However, you can also find CleanWell at Target and WholeFoods stores. Check here for a store near you.
I have not been paid for this, nor did I receive any compensation or free product. I just love this stuff so much and I really believe in it and wanted to share it. I think it's important to limit our children to the number of unnecessary chemicals.
CleanWell smells better than the "alcohol" based products. Not only are they better for the environment, but they are better for your family as well.
Sheila over at My Memories is hosting an Earth Day Green Dreams Round Up.
She's invited readers to post their "Green Dreams" -- or a wish list of sorts.
So, my three Green Dreams...
- Since we are in a drought still here in Atlanta, I'd love to have the ability to recycle water. Right here in my house. When we lived in Australia so many people had rain collection barrels and the rain water was used for much of the "waste" or non-drinking/food related water. How great would it be to use rain water for your garden watering or flushing toilets?
I'm also up for recycling my dishwasher and washing machine water for these tasks too.
- I love the idea of buying locally grown produce and buying from local farmers. Where my parents live, in the summer time you can't drive by a corner without seeing a farmers stall selling locally grown produce. I really miss that living here. Not only is the produce cheaper, it tastes much better than what you get from the supermarket.
I have just discovered we have a few farmers markets around in the summer time. Since I'm going to be around a bit more this summer, I plan on hitting them fairly regularly!
- Finally, I really, really hate junk mail. This includes newspapers, fliers, unrequested credit card applications... the whole shebang. I know there are services like GreenDimes, where you can subscribe and manage the "types" of junk mail you receive.
Honestly, I don't know why you need to pay for this type of service. It should be something that companies do, for free, to be more environmentally friendly. If you want to receive junk mail or information, then you should sign up to receive it.
If you'd like to play, just visit Sheila, pick up her button and drop your name in her Mr. Linky!
And to leave you with an Earth Day conversation I had with Josh when he got off the bus today....
Me: Did you talk about Earth Day at school today?
Me: Earth Day? Did you talk about it?
Josh: Today is Earth Day? No, we didn't.
I must say I was a bit shocked, but then the CRCT testing* starts tomorrow so I'm sure all the school is focused on that test!
*CRCT stands for: Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. I'm sure I'll be blogging about it some time this week!
Monday, April 21, 2008
So if he wants juice in the morning, he has to eat breakfast. If he wants it in the afternoon, he has to eat lunch. We do this, not to be mean, but without giving TMI, he was having "issues" with his tummy and juice. Short of giving it up completely, this seems to be working.
The following conversations took place this weekend.
Sam: Mom, can I have some juice?
Me: Did you finish your sandwich?
Me: No you didn't I still see a couple bites.
Sam -- goes away, comes back: Look Mommy! I'm a Clean Plate Clubber! (shows me his plate) Can I have some juice now?
Me: Sam, where is your sandwich?
Sam: In the garbage.
Next conversation -- took place this morning. Similar situation. He wanted juice, he hadn't finished his breakfast.
Sam: Mommy, can I have some juice please?
Me: No Sam, you have to finish breakfast. I can still see your sandwich (he likes turkey sandwiches for breakfast).
Sam -- gets up, picks up plate and moves it out of my line of sight: There Mommy, now you can't see it anymore. Can I have some juice now?
What is a mom to do?
Friday, April 18, 2008
We're having a local festival here this weekend, complete with arts and crafts stalls and parades and all sorts of fun activities. Tomorrow night is a family camp out in our neighborhood. And next weekend is the annual "Touch a Truck" event. These events are my inspiration for today's post.
I know not everyone lives in a community like mine with family friendly events right in my back yard -- literally. But, you can find lots of fun cultural or educational events just about everywhere you look.
The local Police Stations and Fire Stations are a great first stop. They give free tours to kids of all ages. The Fire Station tours I've been on the Fire Fighters will dress up in full gear so the little kids get used to seeing a fire fighter with a mask and air tank on "just in case." And the kids get to climb all over the fire trucks. Of course if there is an emergency or fire, then you need to be flexible and let the firefighters get on with their job!
Just about every where you go, you can find free or inexpensive things to do with kids. When we were in London last summer, we even managed a visit to The Tate Modern museum as well as attending a local Medieval Fair.
If there is nothing free going on in your area, you can always check out the local botanic gardens, aquariums, aviaries, planetariums, zoos and other museums for special kid-related activities. Most have programs and activities for smaller children.
So, go get out and find some culture this weekend!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Now that spring is here and the weather is starting to get warmer it the perfect time to get outside.
Some of the activities we enjoy almost daily are playing sports, going to the play ground, swimming (in the summer) and having picnics.But if your family is anything like mine, and we love those activities, but sometimes we want to mix it up and make it a bit more fun for both grown ups and kids.
We have a State Park about a half an hour away from our house and love to go there for walks in the woods. We quickly found the kids needed something to do on these walks so I searched the internet and found all sorts of links for "Nature Scavenger Hunts."
The wonderful thing about the scavenger hunts is you can adapt them to all age groups and environments.
For little kids, print up a list with pictures instead of words. The kids can either check off the items as they find them, or draw pictures. If your kids are older, give them more cryptic clues such as "find something a deer would eat" or "find something that floats."
Live in a city? Take a walk around the block or your local park and look for different colored shutters or window boxes or count the number of blue cars you see. You could even adapt this to use in the grocery store with your shopping list if you wanted.
We also like to bring a "treasure" for the kids to find after they get all items on their list. Usually one of us distracts the kids while the other one "hides" the treat (usually it's a few wrapped chocolate Kisses or similar). It's a nice treat at the end of the walk.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Both my boys love to help me in the kitchen. I love cooking and want to pass that love on to my kids.
Cooking with your kids is a great way to keep them entertained, spend time with them and teach them healthy eating habits. And basic "help" can start as soon as they can stir a spoon. And as they grow, they can help more and more.
The boys will help me with whatever meal I'm making. Sometimes they like to make their own lunches and I generally try to let them do that with as little interference as possible. They also love to help me bake and make dinner.
Children's cookbooks are by no means necessary, but they do help get the kids excited about what they are making. The boys love looking through the books and picking out something special to make for one of their meals.
Obviously anything involving cutting, a hot oven, hot burner or open flame is Mommy's Job. But you can involve the kids depending on their current skill level.
Sam will help by carrying things from the refrigerator or cupboard to the counter and he helps to set the table. He can also put the pre-measured ingredients into a bowl, crack eggs (and yes I do have to fish out the egg shells) and mix up the ingredients. Since Josh is older, I can have him help read the recipe and measure out the ingredients.
At the very least, it's company and time we can spend together. And I find that (generally) they are more apt to try new foods if they have a hand in preparing it.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sam: Who is that Mommy? (pointing to the boy)
Me: I don't know Sam.
Sam: Hey! Maybe he's my Daddy!
The local Parks and Recreation department in my town has free story times for toddler to preschool aged children twice a week at the community center.
Calling it "Story Time" is really a misnomer. Our story teller, Miss Mary, usually reads one or two books and then gets the kids get the sillies out through music and dancing.
She doesn't play the "usual" kids music but has fun, upbeat, music from artists like Laurie Berkner, Jim Gill, Ralph Covert and various other musicians. The music gives the kids a chance to run around -- they are toddler to preschool age after all -- sitting still is just not on the agenda!
There is usually a "theme" for each week and occasionally she has something special planned. For example, when she does the "Teddy Bear Picnic" theme all the kids bring their teddy bears and we have a Teddy Bear Parade. Sometimes she has children's authors come and read their books to the kids. On Halloween the kids come in costume and parade around the community center. Occasionally there is a craft of some type.
I know I'm very lucky to live in an area with a fantastic Parks and Recreation department and that they are able to provide free story times is wonderful!
However, if you don't have something like this offered in your area, you can find free story times through your local library and most of the major book store chains have them as well (that's how our story teller got her start). Some coffee shops have story times as well. Sometimes you can find story times advertised in local papers or community publications.
And Story Time is an activity that can span age groups as well. I started bringing Josh to Story Time when he was 2. Sam has been going his whole life. This was a great activity for the both kids to enjoy when Sam was a baby and Josh was not in school full time.
And story time isn't just for the kids. I've met most of my friends here through story time or they can be connected to story time some how. It's a great (free) social activity for parents and children alike.
Monday, April 14, 2008
In the carpool lane at school this morning.
Sam: Mom, can I drive?
Sam: Come on. Just for a little bit? Please?
Me: No, Sam - you're 3! You have to be 16 to drive!
Sam: Awwwe! Mooommm! (pouts and crosses his arms)
Did you know this is the Week of the Young Child?
In honor of this, I am going to use this week to blog about some activities we do in our house with our kids. Besides, I never want to miss an opportunity to exploit my kids!
The boys are 3 1/2 years apart so our activities need to range from pre-K level to 1st grade level or they need to be adaptable across the age range. Hopefully, I'll remember to share something every day!
Last weekend we had a new Home Depot open just about 2 miles from our house. And the weather was beautiful so we decided to get some stuff for our garden and lawn and get the spring season underway.
Sam spotted the seeds (to plant) and there was a whole bunch of VeggieTale branded vegetable seeds and wanted to buy some.
Now,who am I to say "no" to that?! VeggieTales? Who doesn't love the VeggieTales? And if it gets the kids to eat their veggies -- the marketing is genius!
He picked out the peas and I thought they would be nice and easy to plant and grow.
We got home and the boys planted the seeds.
And watered them.
We kept them on our kitchen window sill for the week and checked their progress daily.
This weekend, we decided they were big enough to replant.
The weather wasn't as nice so we replanted them in the garage.
The boys love going out and checking their progress. This is one activity that you can certainly adapt to different skill levels. Afterall, it's just playing in the dirt, right?
We had to take them in over night because it got quite cold last night. We're expecting the weather to get warmer again tomorrow and will put them on our back deck -- lots of sunshine and easily visible so we remember to water them!
So, fingers crossed that we'll get some actual peas!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Spring Break has the potential to be fun or frustrating depending on weather and your kids activities.
My kids aren't old enough to go off on their own to Florida or some other vacation spot. And between you and me that's a long way off! Something I don't even want to think about. And, since we have lots planned for summer break -- vacations and visitors -- Rich can't take any time off for a family spring break trip.
So we were at home. And I am very impressed with how smoothly the week went.
The poor kids were bookended with shoe shopping on Monday and a trip to the car dealer on Friday (and yes I have to go back -- I don't know why but for some reason visits to the dealer always require multiple trips).
Since we're a family on a budget and we have so much going on this summer, I didn't want to spend too much money on trips and outings during the week.
Our mission: Find free (or inexpensive) things to do!
We were really lucky this year. The weather cooperated for most of the week. We managed to get out to the play ground more than once. One time we had a picnic.
It seemed like all Josh's friends were either out of town or had family commitments. Luckily, there is a boy down the street that Josh plays with occasionally and he was around. This boy is 3 years older than Josh and I don't like to "encourage" the friendship, but for occasional play dates in our yard, it's fine.
At the book fair a few weeks ago, I got a book called "Last Minute Science Fair Projects" because Josh loves science. We did a few of the "experiments" in there. Josh particularly liked the marshmallows in the microwave experiment. Josh just wanted to do the experiment, but I made him read the questions and we analyzed and talked about the projects as well.
And on Friday, we went to see "Horton Hears a Who" as a family. It was a fantastic family movie. Great for little kids and parents. The boys are still talking about it. And okay, so the movie experience was not "inexpensive" but it was the only thing we did all week that cost any money, so it evened out!
So school starts back tomorrow. The boys are ready. I'm ready.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
It's a "family" college. By that I mean my Dad's parents met while attending there, all my dad's family attended the college (except my dad, he was the rebel and attended West Point). My Gramma was widowed at a young age (my dad was 6) and she worked at the college for many, many years as the Alumni Secretary.
By the time I attended, my Gramma's mental state was deteriorating and dementia was starting to set in, but she was still functional and could communicate and take care of herself (for the most part).
By my Junior year, she had to move out of her house and move into an apartment complex for elderly. Not quite assisted living, but not completely independent either.
My sister and cousin Tom (both of whom also attended the college I went to) used to take her out to eat on occasion. I always loved being able to take her out and not only spend some time with her, but also with my sister and cousin. They're fun people.
One day sticks out more than any other and I've been reminded of it lately.
It was a typical spring day on the shores of Lake Michigan. Lots of wind. My cousin went to fetch the car while my sister and I brought my Gramma down to the lobby and outside. As soon as we stepped outside, the wind gusted up and blew our hair around.
My Gramma must have just had her hair done. She immediately put her hands to her head and started yelling, "The boy! The boy!" (I think what she meant to say is, "Where is Tom with the car?" but couldn't find the words in her excitement!) All the while, laughing and waving her arms and hands and patting down her hair. My sister and I couldn't help but laugh too.
There was something so funny and charming and so "Gramma" about that moment. My sister and I still look back and laugh about that moment fondly.
Lately we've had some windy weather here in Georgia. As we walk to and from shops and stores, I'll look down at Sam, with one hand holding his hair down to keep it from being swept by the wind.
Just like Gramma did that windy afternoon.
And I know, even though they never got to meet, that there is a part of Sam that knows my Gramma.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
As the mom of two boys, and being married to one, I'm the only female in the house.
When I found out I was having my second son people kept telling me it was good to have two boys. Some of the "good things" included, but is not limited too, not having to pay for a wedding, getting to go to the bathroom by myself eventually, one day, and when the boys go out to do sports, eventually, I'll have time to myself.
I must admit that most of the time I'm surrounded by Pokemon, cars, trucks, trains, baseball, and soccer. When my sister (who has 4 girls) called at Christmas the talk was all about High School Musical, Hannah Montana and My Little Pony. To which I replied, "Who? What?" I have no idea what's up in the world of "girls." It's Greek to me.
Yesterday I mentioned I'd been invited to an event to launch the new Yahoo! for women site called Shine. It was a chance to interact with women, be surrounded by women and see what other women were up too. Plus the food was amazing!
Anyway, I had to get some new shoes because it's been about 3 years since I got a new pair. No joke.
We went to DSW, I brought the boys with me. And I decided, looking at row upon row upon row of shoes that I am shoe impaired. I do not know what is cool or stylish. I hadn't a clue.
I was looking for something summery. I needed something casual that could be dressed up because I can't justify spending $50 on shoes I'll only wear once or twice. I finally found a pair I liked but needed a second opinion.
After I managed to get the boys corralled, they were running All.Over.The.Store (yes that was me with the unruly kids -- thankfully we were the only customers), I asked Josh for his opinion.
Me: Okay Josh, which ones do you like... these? or these?
Josh: Are they Sketchers?
Me: One of them.
Josh: Which one? I like the Sketchers.
Me: Well, tell me which ones you like better and then I'll tell you which are the sketchers.
Josh: Nope. I only like Sketchers. Besides, you said they were comfortable. Get the Sketchers.
Me: But I'm not sure the Sketchers are dressy enough.
Josh (running away after Sam): SKETCHERS!!!!
Boys. I should have known.
So, what did I do?
I got the Sketchers
And the Coles of England
Well, I am a girl after all... isn't that what you would have done?
And so we go home so I can finish "being a girl" --
I pulled out the fingernail polish that I haven't worn in years (how long does it last?). It was nice and separated -- but not glumpy, so I took my chances.
I put on make up and got dressed up (as much as I can) and went off to the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead for the event.
It was lots of fun to mingle and talk to some other women and other bloggers. At the end of the day, we got a nice bag of goodies with lots of women's magazines and some new make up...
... and not a sports magazine in sight!
Monday, April 7, 2008
I was invited to a Yahoo! event for the launch of their new online Magazine, Shine.
I'm very excited! Only I've got a confession.
I have NOTHING TO WEAR!
Seriously. I don't know what to wear! I have the typical SAHM's wardrobe of t-shirts, shorts and blue jeans. I may be able to throw something together if I try!
And my shoes. I am desperate for new shoes. I don't think I've bought a new pair of shoes in years.
So, today, the first day of Spring Break, I'm dragging the kids shoe shopping.
Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment!
If I survive, I'll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
His teacher told me she couldn't get him to focus on anything, which is so unlike him! I think the cast coming off and Spring Break coming up next week was just too exciting for him.
He was a bit nervous because he was afraid his arm would hurt when the cast came off. He was quite used to it and liked the "comfort" it brought him after he broke it.
He got the cast off and they took another X-ray and saw nothing. He says it still hurts when he moves it, but he is favoring it quite a bit. When Sam broke his leg last year, he was forced to use his leg to walk so he was able to recover quickly. This morning, Josh was still not moving his arm much. He is a bit, but it hurts to move it too much. We've told him to take it slowly, but to try and move it a bit more every day.
Of course the arm wasn't painful enough for him to help Sammy play on the computer.
Today Sam and I decided to try out a new indoor play place that just opened. It is a pirate themed indoor play area and it's quite cool. There is a huge play structure surrounded by sand in the middle.
And they had these ball shooters all over the place that shot out soft foam balls. It was very cool. They used air pressure and shot these soft balls all over. Sam loved them and tried out all 15 that they had there!
There were also Pirate themed bouncies all over the perimeter, but Sam liked the ball shooters and the sand the best.
And sliding down the pole (but with my help)
One of the owners was dressed as a friendly pirate and Sam was so taken with him. He wanted to talk to the pirate but he was too scared. It was hysterical.
Anyway, we had fun but it was expensive -- more expensive than the other jumpy place we go to. And it was more "hands on" for the parents. The other place is just a "go play while the parents talk" type of thing. This one needed more adult supervision. And the new place did not have a concession area so we just have to remember to "be prepared" when we go play there. But, it's nice to have an alternative play place though!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Sam: Mommy, there's a party in my tummy, right?
(I think this comes from Yo Gabba Gabba -- a very weird children's TV program on NickJr.)
Me: That's right Sam! And they need food so eat your dinner.
(The I put a piece of broccoli on the fork.)
Sam: The broccoli doesn't want to go to the party Mommy.
Me: Well it has to, eat up.
(What is it with all the "Why's?")
Me: Because the broccoli was invited and then he said he'd come. If you say you're going to come, you have to come. Otherwise it's just rude.
(He eats his broccoli.)
Josh: But Mom, the broccoli is the only thing on my plate that's going to the party. The turkey and the noodles are sick and can't go.
Me: Just eat.