Archive | October, 2011

Cops & Robbers

27 Oct

Now that it’s fall, my children and I are able to spend more time outdoors again.  This summer was so hot that we wound up spending most of our time indoors.  Oddly enough, even the pool was too hot this year.

I love being outdoors.  When I was a kid, you could always find me outside somewhere, playing with neighborhood kids, swimming at the neighborhood pool, riding my bike, climbing a tree, having an acorn fight, judging a talent show, or making a hideout in the bushes.  My siblings and I did not go in until it was time for dinner.

Back in those days, we used our imagination to entertain ourselves.  Over the past few years, I have been trying to instill the same love for outdoors and innovation!

This weekend, a neighbor boy came over and I taught the kids how to play cops and robbers.  You split the kids into two teams.  Half are cops half are robbers.  You designate a “jail” and conversely, a robber “hideout”.  From there, the robbers pretend to steal (we pocketed leaves from the yard).

If the robbers are spotted stealing, the cops try and catch them.  If the cops catch the robbers, the robbers are escorted to jail.  The robbers can stay in jail for a minimum time limit (we made it two minutes, so the kids would not get bored).

If the robbers get away with the theft, they can bring the monies back to their hideout and stash it.  The robber hideout is “base”.  Robbers can also bust their partners or teammates out of the jail.  If no police are guarding the jail, one robber can save another robber.

The cops win if all of the robbers are jailed.  The robbers win if they confiscate “x” number of fake money (we did 20 leaves).  If you can find an enthusiastic group of kids, they might even help you keep the brown leaves off your lawn and they wouldn’t even know it; less raking for the grown ups!

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Have a Happy, Safe Halloween!

26 Oct

My love of Halloween is no secret among my friends. I adore all of the rituals, from decorating the house and baking pumpkin-shaped cookies to carving jack-o-lanterns and handing out candy. To make sure your family has a great October 31st, check out the following safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Halloween Safety Tips

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections.

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

For more information, visit www.aap.org.

52 FEATS – NUMBER 43 (Driving)

25 Oct

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I may not have a ridiculously long commute to work (thank goodness), but I’m still in my car a lot.  A LOT.  Between school drop-off and pick-up, volunteering, dance classes, piano lessons, and all the millions of errands I have to do every day, I log in tons of car time.  (Which explains why my mini-van usually looks like a pack of wild dogs lives in it.)

Lately I’ve gotten worried that I’m just doing too much multi-tasking while I drive.  And I am totally going to throw my kids under the bus (so to speak) and blame them for it.  They’re arguing with each other, they want me to hand them a water bottle, then they want me to take back the water bottle, they need to give me a snotty tissue, they want me to turn on a particular song, they’ve dropped a toy and they need it desperately or life just won’t be the same, etc.  OK, I do take some of the blame, because I go along with all that crap.  I’m shuffling the water bottles back and forth, picking up dropped toys, and playing DJ – all while I’m driving.  Not safe at all.

So my Feat this week is to give my FULL attention to driving, and to teach my kids to respect the fact that I’m behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  And to all of you out on the road with me – you’re welcome!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 42 (Stopping to Smell the Roses)

24 Oct

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

UPDATE:

Lesson learned this week: there are roses everywhere.

ABOUT FEAT NUMBER 42:

Last week’s Feat of purging things went great.  I’m not done yet, but so far, I’ve filled 5 garbage bags with purses, clothes, and shoes (all mine!), and tossed out a 2 1/2-foot tall stack of parenting magazines dating as far back as 2006.  Yeah, I think it was time to let those go!

This week I’m pretty jazzed about that, but my overwhelming feeling is that of being … well, overwhelmed.  I have so much on my plate right now!  October always starts such a mad rush of activities for us, and there are moments when I feel like I can hardly breathe.  And to be honest, it doesn’t really let up until after the new year.  It’s all fun stuff, don’t get me wrong – birthdays, Halloween, festivals, school parties, etc., but I’m exhausted trying to keep up with it all.  I’m worried about losing the joy, which would be heartbreaking.

My husband made a comment a few days ago about how he doesn’t have time to enjoy anything.  I immediately started to agree with him, even trying to placate him, by saying, “Yeah, I think that’s how most people feel, that there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done.”  But I was totally missing his point – which he was kind enough to point out!  He meant that we are so fortunate to have a nice home with many luxuries, and yet we rarely take advantage of any down time to enjoy the things we have.  We get (and stay) so busy that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  Life is hectic and nonstop, and probably always will be.

Sometimes I feel like I spend more time adding books to my reading list than actually reading, more time carefully arranging my patio furniture than actually sitting in it, and more time cleaning my house than just living there.  I hate that.

Life is NOT just about work, whether it’s work for pay or work for your family!  Everyone needs a peaceful break now and then, and I’m going to give myself one every single day this week.  Maybe I’ll stand in my backyard and look at the sky for a few minutes, or pet my dogs in silence, or snuggle on the couch and read a book.  I want to slow down and enjoy things, and that’s what I intend to to!

My Lesson in Judgment

19 Oct

Something I struggle with consistently is judgment.  I don’t want to be a judgmental person, but it happens.  I have been working consistently, especially in the past two years, to make a personal commitment not to judge people.  Across the board.  For anything.

I had an experience this week that really brought this lesson full circle.  I can laugh about it now, and even in the moment, I did, but was still feeling humiliated.

My mom called me this week, as my oldest daughter was out of school on break.  My mom’s co-worker has this dummy mummy that they dress up from time to time.  My oldest daughter “follows” the dummy mummy (his name is Renfro) and she sends my daughter pictures for every holiday theme for which Renfro is appropriately dressed.

My mom called and asked if I would like to take my kids to the Dollar Store so they could pick out some Halloween decorations, come to her office, and dress Renfro up.  Sure, it was a homeschool day for my younger daughter, but we had already been to the library and completed most of our work for the day.  It would be fun!

So, I go into the Dollar Store (completely unprepared: we’d had a make up gymnastics class that morning, then went straight to the store, so I hadn’t packed snacks or anything, because I was not expecting to be gone for that long).  The kids are whining about being hungry, so I let them pick out snacks in addition to all of their paraphernalia to make Renfro look more appropriate for Halloween.

Side note: I don’t usually allow my kids to eat a lot of junk food.  In fact, we don’t even keep most junk foods in the house.  My husband gets migraines from MSG, so we never eat things like Cheetos, Doritos, etc.  So, that’s what my kids want.  That morning, I was feeling especially giving and high on life, so I say, “Sure, get whatever you want!”

They load up.  We get to the register to check out.  Our total: $7 and some change.  My kids are hovering around the register grabbing for the snacks and the checkout lady asks if she can give the snacks to the kids.  I respond, “Sure!”  “Will you open this, mommy?” they ask.  “Of course!”  So I open both bags of chips and the kids go to eating them like they haven’t eaten in days.  It was ridiculous.

That wasn’t the only thing that was ridiculous that day.  My credit card gets declined.  “What? That’s impossible!” I say.  The checkout lady asks me if it’s a debit card.  I say no.  She says, “We only take debit cards or cash.”  Well, I don’t have any cash.  I recently swapped my huge wallet I kept leaving places for a smaller one that only holds what I need, a credit card, id, and library card.  I don’t have my debit card.

I’m starting to turn three shades of red and am completely mortified.  I start apologizing profusely and tell the kids, we’ll have to go home and get a snack; we have to give these ones back, because I didn’t bring the right money.

My oldest daughter starts wailing.  She is crying actual tears, saying loudly, “But, I’m starving!”  I’m completely dumbfounded.  The woman in line behind me is staring.  The checkout woman doesn’t say a word.  She doesn’t know what to say.  I know both women are making judgments about me.  “How could she not know she needed cash or a debit card?”  “I can’t believe she just let her kids eat the snacks in the store!”  “Her kids are starving and she buys them Cheetos and Doritos?”  “Nice parenting!”  I started to laugh a little as I wrestle the chips from the oldest daughter and the lady behind me, after what seems like an eternity, says, “I’ll buy their snacks!”

She was an angel that morning, and I truly appreciated the generous offering of a dollar so that my children could have their junky snacks, but the looks on her face as well as the checkout lady had already registered.  I just wanted to scream, “I’m not a bad parent!  I do have money to feed my kids!  They almost never eat junk food!”

I got to thinking about it later and I realized that the shoe is on the other foot.  So many times, I’ve sat back and judged others because of actions I saw in the moment, but never considered what might really be going on.  The truth is that’s the point.  It does not even matter what’s going on.  Judgment is wrong.  It makes people feel bad and is a product of fear, and not love.  I strive to lead my life focused on love, not fear, and as a result, need not judge.  I’m so grateful for opportunities like this that I can learn from, even when they feel humiliating at the time.  I’m grateful for the awareness to see things as they really are.  The life lessons are everywhere!  Are you taking the time to discover them and make change where change is needed?

Rant of the Week: I Want to Resign as Family Manicurist!

18 Oct

Like most mothers, I wear many hats:  cook, stylist, chauffeur, coach, nurse practitioner, psychologist, cheerleader, maid, pharmacist…you get the picture.

The one I hate hands down (pun intended!) is manicurist and its evil twin, pedicurist.  My children whine, fight, scowl, complain, and verge on tears.  Me?  I assure you I’m attempting nothing fancy.  No perfectly shaped “squovals”; nothing to do with cuticles.  I’m talking plain old trim so they’re nails aren’t sharp as one of those Japanese ceramic blades!  I don’t fancy the idea of either kids’ fingers doubling as weapons!

I quit.

Of course I can’t quit.  Sheesh!  What I can do is ask your advice?  How do you do it??

Help!

World Food Day

14 Oct

World Food Day is Sunday, October 16.  According to the organization Save the Children, there is still so much work to be done in the global fight to reduce hunger.  Millions of children don’t get the nutrition they need, and food aid deliveries are actually at their lowest since 1961.

How informed are you?  Take the nutrition quiz to find out.  Click the link below:

http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7788801/k.BE39/World_Food_Day_2011.htm

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