My kids are 13 and 8 now. Easy - most of the time. I had almost forgotten about Murphy's Law and how it is exponentially magnified when it comes to parenting. I was reminded of that fact loudly and clearly at 5am the other morning.
Time has taught me that parenting is a lot easier with forward planning. I now have a secret stash of greeting cards and gifts so I can avoid the last minute panic of gift shopping 30 minutes before a kids party. Etsy has the cutest array of well, everything, and I regularly spend a happy evening stocking up on their site for my part-time job as assistant Tooth Fairy, Full Moon Fairy, Leprechaun etc etc
So when the 8 year old's wiggly tooth popped out of her mouth just before bedtime - I was unfazed. You might say I was pretty smug. Secure in the knowledge that the Tooth Fairy had pre-delivered the cutest little Anna 'gnome' doll to my secret supply closet a few weeks back. I tucked my expectant, excited girl into bed, calmly. I made myself a cup of tea and curled up on the couch to watch an episode of Veep, secure in the knowledge that by the time I was finished enjoying the comic genius of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the 8 year old would be asleep and the tooth fairy could easily deliver a wonderful gift.
At 5am I woke with a start and an expletive. I had walked down that well worn path of parenthood and forgotten to aide the tooth fairy. How could I be so predictable? How do you plan so well then fail at the crucial moment? It's like tripping two inches before the Olympic finish line. But - it was only 5am, the 8 year old was still asleep. I crept into her room.
Murphy's Law unfurled itself like this: On any regular night I can go into either of my children's rooms and put away their laundry, while chatting on the phone and they'll sleep through it. On any regular morning if I went in at 5am and tried to wake them they would be unwakeable, but tip toe in (naked) when you have to assist the tooth fairy and they turn bright eyed to question your presence in their room.
Why naked you ask? It's summer, I'm menopausal. OK?
So there I am at 5am, crouched, (naked) at the end of my child's bed, trying to hide myself and Anna Gnome behind a wide spaced and slatted, bed foot-board. You will be unsurprised to hear, I was unsuccessful - she spotted me and asked me in a distinctly suspicious way what I was doing. My explanation was weak (to say the least,) the 8 year old was highly skeptical but just sleepy enough to save her inquisition until 'morning.' A short hour and a half later.
Breakfast brought my smugness to a complete halt. No forward planning can help you in parenting if you fail to execute. It's simple - move the Elf on the Shelf twenty four times in December, do tricks with green dye on March 17th and remove a tooth and replace it with a goody in the deepest, darkest (sleepiest) time of the night and don't forget. Fatigue, workload, pets, spouses, bills - none of it is an excuse - just don't forget.
I did forget and I closed the window of belief another inch or two. But hey, Anna Gnome is pretty cute and wait until you see Elsa...
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
We went to see Beauty and The Beast on opening night. Here's why you should see it too. It's bold, bright and beautiful to watch. We weren't sure the magic of the movie could be translated to the stage but this production manages to captivate in the same way the big screen version does.
The Beast is less scary and more comedic than in the film - something that my 8 year old greatly appreciated. Our favorite - Lumiere, more than lives up to his name by lighting up the stage and he would steal every scene he's in if it wasn't for Chip who is beyond cute and so cleverly presented. Cogsworth and Mrs Potts more than hold their own though - making the 'Be Our Guest' scene a not to be forgotten moment. Belle and Gaston are stand outs but we agreed that everyone was excellent in this production - something you don't always get in theater.
My biggest delight was watching my girls who were awed by the show. They loved every moment and drank it in. When we talked about it later, they were able to recall so much detail, from the sets to the costumes and especially the music. A live orchestra is such a rare treat and just so lovely to listen too - it was a highlight for us all. Family friendly productions are relatively few and far between so I encourage you not to miss this opportunity for a chance to see a Broadway caliber production with your kids.
I would recommend the matinee for any child younger than eight. The evening show runs until 10pm and is bright and loud but this is definitely a show to be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. It has enough spice for some adult humor moments without being inappropriate and all aspects of this production are appealing - the singing, the dancing and the sets.
If I was to find one point to pick on it would be the ballroom scene, it felt a little rushed and just didn't have the momentum to transport me in the way the film does. The 8 year old might disagree and her gasp was clearly audible when Belle emerged in a certain yellow ballgown...
Beauty and The Beast plays at The Orpheum Theater in San Francisco thru July 10th
Our attendance was sponsored, the review is my own.
Monday, June 27, 2016
I get camping bladder. This is similar to travel bladder - you know - when you believe you need to go to the bathroom (all evidence to the contrary) as soon as you start packing, eight times in the hour before the taxi arrives to take you to the airport, fifteen times at the airport and most urgently, 30 seconds after they announce your boarding call. The urgency relates directly to how far the bathroom is from the gate - the further the bathroom, the more you need to pee.
The difference between camping and travel bladder is that travel bladder usually miraculously disappears after the plane departs and definitely by the time you are pool side with your first vacation beverage in hand. Camping bladder persists. It is like someone tells my bladder that it is about to leave the comfort of reliable and local plumbing. It begins to feel the fear immediately. Where I go camping - camp bathrooms can be many things; a long way away, full of bugs, filthy dirty, vault (the worst,) without TP, without privacy without hand washing facilities and if that wasn't enough - are usually in the proximity of bears. My bladder shudders at the possibilities.
I am not particularly bathroom squeamish. I have travelled quite a bit and seen my fair share of nasty bathrooms but I'm a 'can do' kinda gal so I just get on it with 'it' and move on. Which is why my proclivity for camping bladder confuses me. I would have thought my bladder would go with the flow... But no, it ramps up to alert level URGENT as soon as I hit send on the reserveamerica email.
It's tiresome. It's frustrating. It's downright misleading. I have whimpered through the dark to the toilet, feigning indifference for (possible) advancing bears, in campgrounds across Northern America to deliver what could only be described as a trickle. A trickle that felt like a dam buster keeping me awake and uncomfortable, for hours, in my sleeping bag. I understand that my multiple pregnancies, two births and my age have some bearing here but there is a rampant inconsistency between everyday bladder and camping bladder.
The husband, ever embracing the 'happy wife, happy life' mantra agreed to alleviate my misery with a travel trailer. We now lovingly refer to it as the $16k toilet. It is a wonder. Within it's 20ft it promises a clean sink, soap and towels and wonder of wonders my own private, flushable toilet. A fragrant, clean, toilet - mere inches from my comfy queen bed mattress. Problem solved.
I couldn't wait to introduce my camping bladder to this marvel of modern engineering. This solution would sit quietly behind us on all trips - allowing me to free myself from gas station restrooms or traffic jam discomfort. No more nocturnal anxiety. Camping bladder be gone - you have no more excuses to fear the outdoors because I am bringing the holy grail of camping with me.
Why then, around the campfire just around dusk, does camping bladder still persist? Did it not get the memo? As I reflected this on my fifth trip to the littlest room (very apt in this case - think airplane bathroom divided by two,) I began to wonder if my bladder is actually afraid of the dark (and bears) and cleanliness and proximity are not the main ingredients to this recipe. So, I pose this question - how do you cure a bladder of fear of the dark?
Some will wrestle with Brexit, climate change and world peace - I will ponder my bladder.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Feld Entertainment Brings the #1 Animated Movie of All Time to Life with
Disney On Ice presents Frozen
Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt
Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt
Debuting In the Bay Area For Twenty One Performances
From February 17-28!
WHAT: Enter a fantastical winter wonderland beyond imagination at Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt. The heart-warming, Academy Award®-winning tale that has captivated the world is now told LIVE and skating into the Bay Area for the first time ever! Audiences will be magically whisked away into the wintery world of Arendelle by dazzling special effects and astonishing skating as you sing and dance along to instant Disney classics such as “Let It Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all!
Hosted by Mickey and Minnie, with special guest appearances by beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime. As an added bonus, arrive early to get warmed up for the show and learn the snowman dance at the Stonyfield YoKids and Disney Magic of Healthy Living Dance-Along Pre-Show.
S A N J O S E
WHEN: February 17– 22, 2016
Monday, February 22 7:30 PM
WHERE: SAP Center – 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA, USA, 95113
O A K L A N D
WHEN: February 24– 28, 2016
WHERE: ORACLE Arena – 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA, USA, 94621
TICKETS: Tickets for this popular show start at $20 with limited quantities of VIP & Rinkside seating available*
Tickets now available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the venue Box Office.
*pricing may vary between weekday & weekend performances
This is a sponsored post. My love of Disney on Ice, Frozen and Stonyfield Yogurt are genuine.
Monday, March 17, 2014
I took a job. The kind where you get paid. The kind where people say things like "Oh, you're working now," or, "How do you like working?" You know where I'm going with this right?
I was working before. I worked full-time at my previous job and then I did over-time every day. Now I work full-time at a job and then do overtime looking after my family every day. I have always been working. It's just that very few people recognize full-time parenting as a "real job."
This is, of course, not news to anyone. The debate about working moms versus stay at home moms has been waged ad nauseum. We have heard every possible view point on the issue. That's not my soap box. Am I disappointed that people take my "real job" more seriously? Sure. Is it frustrating that only now, can I complain about fatigue with impunity? Yes it is.
My point is a simple one. Being back in the external workforce has validated my decision to stay home with my children more than ever before. First, let me be clear before the trolls raise their pitchforks. I know I am lucky to have a choice, even although I feel it is not simply luck. The husband and I have actively and intentionally set up our lives in a way that allows me to stay home. Regardless of our careful planning, saving and economizing, I do see that not everyone has the opportunities and choices I have. I see that.
My circumstances being as they are - I had the choice of working or staying home. Having been in this job for only two months I know that staying home was the right and best thing for our family.
Having time to be with my girls, cook for my girls, do the laundry, shop, plan our commitments and social lives had given us the gift of calm. We were organized, unstressed, prepared. I had time to read with them, talk with them and play with them. Everyone got their needs met - when they needed them met.
I have not forgotten all the things that make staying at home difficult. I do remember that the halcyon image I just painted above was not the every day norm, but in general it was our overall experience. Now, it feels like we have time for nothing. We are eating take out foods most nights. Emails go unanswered for days. Everything gets done at the deadline. I spend the weekend doing laundry, chores and food shopping. I do not experience weather. I am tired, too tired to read anything more than the shortest of bedtime stories from overdue library books.
I like the job. It's fun to do something with my brain. It's fun to interact with adults for long periods of the day. I took it because it was temporary. I wanted to dip my toe. I will be unemployed again by June. Only I won't be, because I will go back to my other job. The one that allows homework to get done and walks to be taken. The one with sunshine and discovery, neighbors and story time. The one that doesn't find my children in tears most days because the pace of their life suddenly accelerated from a manageable 25mph to a careening 90mph. The one where the husband and I are not squabbling over who should meet the obligations of running a home and the needs of four people.
I now, more than ever, see the value in my staying home. I know two months is nothing, we'd all get better at this, more used to it. We'd pick up our pace and our new normal would feel much easier but our old normal would be lost and our old normal was good, really good.
We were happy, we were connected to our community, we felt able to give and participate. We had down time to recharge. We ate more healthily, exercised more and cared for our plants, pets and friends in a much better way. Life was better - for all of us. We had time.
Time should not be underestimated. Staying at home should not be underestimated. I know that now in a way that I could not fully appreciate before. I am grateful that I am getting the chance to see the true value of my work as a stay at home parent. This is the only way I could have really known for sure, to cast aside doubt stirred by the endless opinions out there. Come June I will hold my stay at home head high.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Meet Fergus. He's lovely - he's about 3 months old and very sweet natured. He is the fulfillment of a promise made over a year ago that yes, we could get a guinea pig. Actually he was supposed to be a rabbit but it turns out that the ten year old is not made for rabbit ownership. When we went to the bunny rescue center, she broke out in hives about fifteen minutes after arriving. Hay turned out to be the culprit and hay and bunnies seem to go hand in hand. Guinea pigs also need hay but can manage on the small, compressed cubes of hay that seem not to trigger allergies. Excellent - pig it is.
Fergus came on Christmas Day and fulfilled the 'puppy in a wrapped box' fantasy of many a childhood (including mine.) We all fell hard. He popcorned around the floor delighting us with his youthful exuberance, was happy to be held by us all and purred away when we stroked him. The. Perfect. Pet.
I hate that there is an until. Why does there have to be an until? We noticed a pink streak on his glossy white fur. On inspection it appeared to be blood. I checked the kids first - no injuries noted - I moved onto the pig. There under his fur was an area of raised, irritated skin which I presumed he had scratched until it bled. Hmmm. The internet very helpfully provided a long list of dire scenarios with photos too grotesque to stomach. It also pointed out that guinea pigs are prone to feel stress, which leads to itchy skin, and so we chalked up his over enthusiastic scratching to the change in his environment in coming to live with us.
I hate that there is a then. Why does there have to be an then? His nose developed a bald spot which then started to look nasty. Sigh. Something was definitely wrong. We needed a vet. The husband and I discussed the vet. We were undoubtedly attached to this pig and did not want him to suffer but we are also on a budget and vet = $$$'s. We called the vet - $60 for a comprehensive consultation. Assuming there is a need for some kind of skin cream - maybe another $20? We agreed we had $80 for Fergus. $80 and no more.
The husband set off, pig in box. He texted within ten minutes. They needed to a skin test - it was $40.
We upped the 'no more' to $120. The vets office was very nice, reported the husband, and he was sipping a lovely hazelnut latte they had made him. I mentally calculated a cost reduction of $3.75 from our 'no more' total.
The final bill was $259. Fergus had blown a week's food budget three days after arriving in our home.
The husband and I agreed not to talk about how 'no more' had come out to $259 - which we paid.
What else could we do? He was our first real pet - I have goldfish guilt over those words but the girls agree that a real pet can be held - I can't really argue with that, much as I enjoy our fish.
How could we not care for him? So little, so sweet and already a family member - but $259???
Treatment completed and all healed up, we now like to call him the gold plated pig. He is, at least, a healthy gold plated pig.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I am walking back in the land of the living. My desk looks like a tornado whirled through it. My to do list needs it's own secretary. I am behind on so many things that it's tempting to just sweep the whole pile into the trash and pretend they never happened. My conscience won't let me - so here is my first attempt at catching up. Reviews! Here are the first three. Two books and a toy.
I was interested in the first book because I am entering the world of tweens with my eldest and she is a Waldorf kid so it seemed like it might be a good fit. It is definitely firmly in the young adult category and not for my tween yet but if your young adult likes mythical realms and is ready to move up into more teen themes this might be the book for you.
This second book is a good old chick lit with a twist. If you have a beach holiday in your future this is good addition to your suitcase.
Now for the toy. We opened this on Christmas day, it was a one of those surprise "hit" gifts. Both the ten year old and the five year old loved it. They sat for over an hour building a variety of creations from wands, to hats, stars, snowflakes and tree decorations. The light up part never failed to thrill and I found myself wishing we had more of the pieces, like wheels, to keep the fun going. It's always great to have a toy you can grow into and add to. No media tie ins which we liked and will appeal to you if you are interested in the imagination/creativity boosting toys. This set also encouraged co-operation and sharing. What's not to love?!
For more info. check out Light Up Links
Review items were provided to me. Opinions are my own.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Growing up without a mother was always going to be tough but not always in the ways you would think. I grew up in a family that practiced modesty.
We didn’t talk about body parts, puberty or sex. Perhaps my parents thought school would fill us in. It didn’t. The dictionary was my only resource and I was crushed to find that words like ‘boob’ or ‘front bottom’ were not listed. My knowledge was scant.
I had two grandmothers, my mom had three sisters, my aunts. I had another aunt on my father’s side. At church I called several women ‘auntie.’ Not one of them stepped forward to walk me through puberty. It was just me and the library. My sister took pity on me when she found me stuffing toilet tissue into my knickers.
“Go see the woman in the post office” she advised.
Full of optimistic naiveté, I walked down the road to the post office, which was housed at the bottom of our road. It was part of a classic British row of shops - mini-mart, fish and chip shop, hairdresser, newsagent and post office. The post office was within a shop selling mostly hardware or cleaning products. The one employee would use a key to unlock the post office counter when needed. I stood awkwardly while she sold stamps to an older lady.
“Can I help you?”
“Erm, I, uhm, my sister said I should talk to you.”
My bright scarlet face was clearly not going to clue her in. I was mortified and angry. She was supposed to know.
Was she really going to make me say “it” here, in the post office?
Maybe my sister was supposed to have given me a code word. I shuffled my feet and felt my cheeks burn.
“Oh” she said, “I see.”
She beckoned me to the shelves. There was an array of plastic packets.
“Do you have a belt?”
Of course I have a belt – it holds my jeans up, why? Was she going to make me remove my clothes? Did I have to have a fitting?
Could the floor just swallow me up please.
“Yes – I have a belt.”
“OK, here you go then.”
She put my packet into a brown paper bag, I paid with the money I’d brought from my piggy bank and bolted.
Back at home, I was confronted by a thick pad with loops at either end. Why? I read the packet, ‘Put the loops through your sanitary belt’ it instructed.
The belt. Damn it. I didn’t have that kind of belt. I was a motherless, twelve year old, how would I have that kind of belt?
I trudged back to the post office. “No belt,” I mumbled.
In 1980’s Britain, returning items was not done, unless, they were broken or defective. The only defect here was that my mother was dead and no-one had considered that I might need to know about periods, but I had no more money and the toilet tissue was not going to get me through school, so I stood there with a slightly defiant look on my tortured, red face. She saw my despair and swopped the packet for one with the sticky strips.
This is where we all sigh with relief. I had my products, all was well.
Except. Here’s where the modesty issue raises it’s ugly head again. I knew nothing about my body, not even the names for its parts. Unless you count “front bottom” which is really just plain misleading. Anything below the belly button was to be hidden, unexplored and generally ignored. I didn’t think about it, look at it or acknowledge it. I could experience embarrassment about my nethers while alone in the bathroom. So when I took my shiny new packet of sanitary products up to the bathroom I just blindly popped a pad into my undies and got out of there as quickly as possible. It was weeks later that I finally confided in a school friend that I had got my period. We giggled and gossiped about PMS and then I uttered the words that would plague me through the rest of high school – four long years....
“Doesn’t it really hurt when you pull the pad off and some of your hairs come with it?”
My friend rolled on the floor laughing for around ten minutes before she could finally tell me that the sticky strip should be applied to your knickers - not you.
I find it ironic that women now pay good money for that service every six weeks or so. I should have patented it.
Monday, November 25, 2013
They have made a TV show about it - that should have been my first clue. If I been paying attention I would have noticed just how many facebook posts refer to it and usually include reference to the parental consumption of a calming glass of wine. Perhaps you need to have a personal connection before you take notice - you know like when you want to be pregnant and aren't and it seems that every other woman in the world is. Or when you buy a new model of a car and then all of a sudden it seems to be the only model of car on the road.
But I didn't notice until now - or if I did, I was smug that it didn't apply to me and let it roll out of mind without a backward glance. Now, I feel your pain, I get the need for a sympathetic ear - I am reaching for the bottle. The reason? Fifth grade math homework.
I find myself transported back a few decades, sitting looking a my ruled jotter (Brit speak for workbook) and wondering out loud (and by wondering I mean whining) why I could possibly ever need to know how to multiply fractions or divide 10365 by 264.
I now know the answer to that question. I now know, that as suspected back in the 80's when I was proclaiming loudly that "when I grow up I'll just use a calculator," that I was right. I do. Just. Use. A. Calculator. Or Google. Either way - I do not sit down with a pencil and multiply, divide, bring down and add to find out the answer. I have a college degree and am on my second career. I still have no use for that knowledge. I probably would never choose to do my own taxes, an app on my phone is much faster and more accurate at converting foreign currency. There are many solutions for the math problems out in the real world and even those who excel at math use them.
So, why do I find myself feeding the ten year old the same line? "It's a process, it's a practice, you will use these skills in different ways later in life. It's basic math facts - you will need to know if you want to do more complicated math or physics for example."
I only partly agree - knowing the process is good - but I think she could just use a calculator for the actual calculation division, subtraction, multiplication and addition parts of the sequence. Watching her frustration I question myself. When are we going to acknowledge the high tech world we live in when teaching math? We let a cash register work out the cost of our purchases and tax at the store. We let the gas pump tell us how much we owe. We use our home computers or hand held devices to work out any number of things for us. Architects, engineers and accountants all use apps and programs to work out that which was previously done with pen, paper and a ruler so why are we still torturing our children with long division, multiplication of fractions and times tables?
It's frustrating, it's hard, it makes us feel stupid. I have been giving the ten year old's homework problems to anyone who walks into my home (I know you are thinking that I know how to show my guests a good time) and they have all had a hard time getting to the answer. I had one of the design engineers from the winning America's Cup yacht scribbling away at my dining room table for 15 minutes before he could solve one of the ten year old's homework problems - a man who does precision calculating in a high stakes environment all day long!
We need to re-think this. In the meantime - I will keep the drinks cupboard well stocked.
Friday, November 15, 2013
A beautiful, heartwarming story about how a whole city - San Francisco - got behind the Make A Wish dream of a 5 year old little boy, in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, to be Batman.
He became the trusty sidekick of Batman - Batkid. He drove the streets of San Francisco in a sleek black Lamborghini. He did stunts and rescued a damsel in distress before finally getting the Joker locked up for his dastardly deeds. A whole city came out to cheer him on, to facilitate his special day.
It seemed everyone was talking about it, happy crying about it, cheering about it. It was a delicious slice of humanity that thousands got to participate in. I read lots of tweets, FB posts and blogs about what a nice change it was from, sad and scary news stories. How unusual it was to see such kindness. How great it was to see that the humans of this world still have heart.
Here's the thing. I think beautiful, heartwarming things like this happen everyday. I think that kindness and humanity are much more prevalent than crime. I think we could become addicted to the good feelings experienced today in the same way we have become addicted to the vicious gossip propagated by the tabloid media or the detailed and relentless news of isolated violence. I think the happy news is out there and if we demand more balance from our media outlets - they'll give it to us.
We do need to know the sad, dark stories of the world but let's redress the balance. Sites like Upworthy are gaining momentum but we need a monumental shift. Noticing how much we liked how it felt today to watch that adorable little kid, in his suit, blazing around the city is a start. Noticing how we feel when we watch the opposite might encourage us to trend towards the happier feeling . Finding balanced news which presents facts and shows a minimum of graphic images would help. I think if we could see more of the good - we'd do more good. We'd be less pessimistic or suspicious about the validity of our efforts, which can feel like a drop in the ocean when faced with the tidal wave of negativity. I think that kindness is just as infectious as fear.
If this one boy's wish turned a tide - that would really be something.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I love the theatre. The deep red, lush curtain which hides the promise of an hour or two of delightful distraction from the everyday. The buzz and hum of the audience as they arrive. The fresh smell of people wearing their finery. I am pre-disposed to like what I see, I am already in a good mood.
Theatre is fickle though, it can rob you of your good mood within minutes - if the production disappoints. Not so with Peter and the Starcatcher. If you go to the theatre regularly then it's hard to be surprised, you most likely will have seen a similar production, familiar music, sets or costumes. So, if that's your experience run, don't walk, to the box office for tickets. It is the most innovative, clever and refreshing show I have seen in a long time. It's staging is stark (think Rent) with intermittent bursts of bright color and dazzling costumes. It has a small cast, with only one woman but each cast member packs an individual punch and the music although sparse, is good. The percussion was particularly entertaining.
We went on Friday night with my ten year old. She loved it but I would say that ten is the minimum age. Not because of any inappropriate content - just simply because of the fast paced dialogue. A younger child will have a hard time following and will likely get bored.
I knew nothing about the story but it is the prequel to Peter Pan - a beloved story in our home. It has that perfect Broadway balance of story, surprise, laughter, ham and happy ending. The Curran is a cozy theatre so it's hard to get a bad seat. Treat yourself to a little SHNSF inspiration......
This post is sponsored the opinions are entirely my own.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
You don't smell like you. This was my greeting from the five year old on my return home after five days away. The longest I have ever been gone from her. What I didn't tell her was that despite the change in my smell, I was more like me than I have been for a long time. Not her idea of me - not mommy me. Me me.
I know that I need to go away and be an adult more often than I do. I remember each time that I do - how important it is. I went to big girl sleep away camp - genius idea. We spend months seeking out great summer camps for our kids - our kids come back brimming with excitement and joy from their experiences, why not give that to ourselves? So I did.
Camp Mighty brings together a group of people looking to re-connect with the things that inspire or excite them. Perhaps they are blocked, perhaps they are just starting out and need encouragement or advice, perhaps they are just three friends looking for an excuse to get away. I might have fallen into the last category. There was a philanthropical component which delighted me - we raised over $20k for Charity: Water.org which is enough to buy a well and bring fresh, clean water to a whole community. That kind of thing makes me heart happy.
One of the other things I loved about this camp was their motto - you do you. Come to the sessions or don't. Eat with your assigned teams or with your friends if you prefer. Sleep late, lie by the pool and only show up for the parties if that's what you like. I did a mixture of all of the above.
The main party was space themed - ET and I rocked it.
Being away with a bunch of (mostly) women and strangers affords me many opportunities - introspection, extroversion, immaturity, relaxation and laughter. Laughing so hard that your ribs hurt the next day. Pee in your pants silliness. Gossip, support, overindulgence. Inspiration, talent envy, swimsuit body envy, acceptance.
Women feeling free of the need to conform to media stereotypes are so beautiful. A myriad of shapes and sizes, fashion preferences, hair types and styles, tattoos and piercings, baby bellies, gray hair and weathered skin. All stunning in their own way when lit by their inner glow.
So I may have smelled different but I came home feeling more connected to me than ever before.
Feeling ready to load and unload the dishwasher over and over. Ready to pack lunches, do laundry without a sense of drudgery and to write and explore some new avenues. Camp really should be required. So here's my take away - you do you.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Thanks to everyone who donated! The ten year old and I did a few good deeds in return for a donation but several of you gave just because - great cause. We have contributed to an overall goal of $20k being raised by Camp Mighty attendees. Not too late to donate - see my Fundrazr button in the right hand column. Thank you!
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Today I am featured as part of the 31 voices Underblogging this October. Stop by today and every day this month to read a new voice. I love their concept, which is : "There are thousands of writers within the blogging community that write with authenticity on a daily basis and, because they may not possess the numbers most writing communities want, they may not feel they are being heard. But that doesn’t diminish the value of what they have to say."
You just might find a little underblog that you love!
I am also still hoping for support with my fundraising for CharityWater.Org. Just $5 buys fresh, clean drinking water for someone who needs it. Please consider donating.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Noooooooooooooooooooo! I don't like it, I won't eat it.
Just try it.
Mom! Noooooooooooooooo! I'm not hungry, I won't eat it.
Just a no thank you bite.
Well then I will need to give you a consequence.
*Tears* WHAT? NO, mom you don't understand, I have never tried that before and I just don't like it.
Well, if you've never tried it, how do you know you don't like it?
FINE. I'll try it.
Oooh this is yummy! Can I have it in my lunch tomorrow?
- THIS is why we drink/swear/cry/eat sugar
Monday, September 16, 2013
I am however a parent, so Africa will have to wait. In the meantime I am going to take a leaf out of the ten year old's book. I'm off to camp.
Camp Mighty to be exact. If you know me at all it will be entirely obvious why this appeals. Apart from the fact that it's camp for grown ups, it's about finding your mojo and running with it. Me and my mojo are ready.
There's one final part that hugely appeals (no, not that it's in Palm Springs, or that I am going with some wonderful girl friends) there is a service component. As a group we are raising money to bring clean water to those without. Water. The most basic of all things and perhaps the most important.
We campers are partnered with CharityWater.Org and hope to raise over $20,000 between us. My personal goal is $250.
The ten year old and I are doing jobs to raise money among our local friends - washing cars, watering gardens etc. If you can help too please do. I have a FundRazr account making it easy to give where ever you are and no amount is too small. I would love your support. Just click here or on the picture below.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Back to reality. I am the living embodiment of a cliche - the at home mom. Which is fine and a little disappointing to me. It doesn't quite fit with my life less ordinary moniker but it's also what I wished for and to get what you want (not just what you need) is just so luxurious.
We were classic Californians over the summer - going to the beach, the pool, the mall for ice cream. Sleeping late, running through sprinklers. It was lazy and relaxed and wonderful. I won't insult you with complaints of endless food prep or sassy kid moments. I have the life of Riley, my kids have the life of Riley. We work very hard to have it be that way and practice gratitude and giving each day but there's no doubt as lives go - ours is good.
Then school starts. Immediately the lazy is whipped into frenzy. The relaxed becomes frantic. The pace is sprint. The to do list long and apparently unending. We live by clock and calendar. We juggle schedules and the dark circles return under my eyes. We have been back at school 5 days and I feel the fatigue settling deeply into my bones. It can't be the way to go. I'm not saying life should be a year long summer break (OK I am but only in my fantasy world where Ewan McGregor is my husband and we travel the world in an RV doing good deeds.) Back in the real world where I have a wonderful husband and occasionally rent an RV (and in case you were wondering yes, I am fully aware that calling the husband wonderful will not get me out of the Ewan McGregor sized hole I am in.) I just want it all to even out a little.
Maybe I should consider it the interval training approach to life. Each semester being the intense burst of heart bursting, breathless activity punctuated by the rest period provided by the occasional week off for winter or spring break. Problem is - I've never been very good at exercise.
Nevertheless I will put my best running shoes on and give it my best because that's what a parent does and I have a cliche to uphold. If you have found a different way to do it, clue me in. Please.
Friday, September 6, 2013
I have stayed home with my children. I never thought I would but it turned out to be what I wanted.
It was hard. Very hard. Harder than any job I have ever had - and I've had some painfully hard jobs
Yesterday, both my girls went to school full-time, on the same campus. I wasn't sure how I'd feel.
Turns out I felt a chest bursting bolt of freedom. After 10 years of always having a sidekick, I can now plan some things solo.
Simply put I feel I got me back. The individual. The person formally know as Joy. I am giddy with possibility. Six hours of everyday are mine. I'll still have my to do list - laundry, shopping, tidying, cleaning and work but I won't be doing it with a constant feeling of juggle, of guilt, of compromise.
The freedom is mental not physical. Perhaps the most important of the two.
I am going to write. Really write. I am going to exercise. I am going to serve. I am going to be me.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Deciding what to do with your kids over the twelve (long) weeks of summer breaks takes imagination and planning. We try to do one adventure per week. We've been to museums, the beach, a marine mammal care center, ice skating, bowling and the pool. I was beginning to search for our last weeks adventure when I was offered the chance to review the circus. Perfect! Now our last weeks activity is an extra exciting one! The ten year old had only ever been to the zoo once and the five year old had never been.
I am the nostalgic type. I wanted to see the thick rigging ropes of the big top. The bright stripes of the canvas with the promise of magic within. Sadly, those days are gone and the circus is within a large arena. No matter - once you are inside the magic is still there.
We loved it. The five year old is at the perfect age for wonder and amazement. She tugged at my shirt every few minutes to make sure I had seen what she had seen. The ten year old was just simply impressed.
For me, I am not sure they need the larger animals in the show. It was incredible to be up close to seventeen tigers and seven elephants but it is so different from their natural habitat that I worried for them. My favorite parts of the show did not include any animals although the ferret surprise was a good one!
We were stunned by the acrobats. The tumbling sequences were better than I have watched at the Olympics. The ingenuity of some of the acts was jaw droppingly original and every performer was flawless. The clowns were funny and silly. The dancers were enthusiastic. There were some old classics and lots of new ideas. It really is a great show. There are few things that the kids love that I love and this was definitely one of them. It was simply great family entertainment, with no media tie-ins.
If Ringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey roll through your town go see them!
Our attendance at the circus was sponsored. My opinions are honest!
Monday, August 12, 2013
I am surprised almost daily by the fact that I am the mom in a house with two kids in it. How can it be?
I remember feeling my clock ticking. I remember wanting a baby. I never, not once, remember wanting to get up so very early in the morning. I don't think I ever wished for a never empty laundry basket. I don't remember thinking it would be great to referee squabbling kids twelve hours of the day. I'm not complaining necessarily, simply musing that I didn't think this all the way through.
For the first fifteen years that I worked, I often worked with the elderly, many of whom were facing permanent disability or even the end of their life. Almost all of them would want to impart some wisdom to me. The most commonly shared wisdom was that you should live your life to the fullest while you're young and healthy. I was told time and time again of the shock it is to find that your mind is forty but your body is eighty. I remember very clearly the first time I looked in the mirror shocked to see someone much older than I expected to see. I know first hand now that my body will not always let me do the things I expect it to (at least on first attempt.) I accept these changes. I don't fight the relentless and inevitable clock. Except for in parenting.
If I bound out of bed without looking at a mirror I can easily feel twenty four. Thinking about my day, I can imagine a latte and a book, some time at the gym, a rewarding and fulfilling job to go to, a movie, a shower, a date with my hubby, a hike on the mountain, travel. Anything. Everything.
So when a child shouts "Mom, where are my undies?" Or asks if we can talk about getting your period or wants to know how she can speak to a kid who has been unkind or wants to know when we will eat or where her favorite stuffy is, I am sometimes deeply confused about the fact that I am the mom of whom these things are being asked.
At the park the other day, the kids were happily playing and so I took the opportunity to sit on a bench in the sun and read. I was so lost in the bliss that I forgot what had brought me there and felt simply me. Two tweens came towards me, they were talking animatedly as they got closer I heard one say "and then my mom has to ruin it by saying...." he looked up at me and stopped talking. His friend gave him knowing nod and they walked passed me in silence. As soon as they were, what they perceived to be far enough away, he continued "so then my stupid mom says..."
It hit me like a punch to the stomach. He had stopped talking because he immediately recognized me as one of her team. Had you re-wound the clock and asked me paint the picture I would have been a young woman, sitting on a bench in the sun, reading a great book. That's not what they saw though - they clearly saw a mom.
I am so happy and grateful to be a mom but it still surprises me. The responsibility is daunting, even shocking at times - I sometimes forget that it is mine - that it will get more complex and challenging as they get older and I will be expected to have the answers. Me. How can I have the answers? I'm still just that girl who likes music and dancing and wants to see the world. How can I possibly know what to do or say. I suppose I'll figure it out on the way but I suspect I will continue to have the wind knocked out of me somedays
Monday, August 5, 2013
Ask any parent what they dread most about the return to school and they will tell you it's packing lunches and/or snack packs.
The Parenting Myth has you covered! We are giving away an incredibly handy Nesting Trio of Stainless Steel Containers from our favorite lunch supplies company KidsKonserve (Lid color may vary.)
AND a copy of the Best Lunchbox Ever cookbook!
All you have to do is:
Leave a comment below. You can leave any comment - why you'd like to win, your favorite KidsKonserve product, your go to lunchbox item, how you Konserve...
Winner will be picked by random draw on August 12th.
We also have a coupon code for 15% off Kids Konserve products. Just use code: GIVEAWAY15 (good Aug-Sept) so you can treat yourself to something from the U-Konserve line.
Kids Konserve now have lower prices throughout their site!!
We also have a coupon code for 15% off Kids Konserve products. Just use code: GIVEAWAY15 (good Aug-Sept) so you can treat yourself to something from the U-Konserve line.
Kids Konserve now have lower prices throughout their site!!
My personal favorites are their sweat free ice packs - no more soggy lunches!
My kids love their lunch kits and I can feel good that their products are BPA and phthalate, lead and PVC free. KidsKonserve calculate that re-use can save up to 67 pounds of landfill material each year per child - something your kids can be very proud of.
Update on August 14th - Winner by random draw is... drum roll please......Christy! Your little Kindergartener can rock the lunch room with pride! Thanks all for entering.
Update on August 14th - Winner by random draw is... drum roll please......Christy! Your little Kindergartener can rock the lunch room with pride! Thanks all for entering.