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May. 29th, 2012

pirate_bear

Unofficial 100 Days of Summer

There are 100 days from Memorial Day (yesterday) to Labor Day. I hope to make the most of this unofficial summer fun time. As always, there is so much I want to do and try and so this girl needs to have a plan to pack it all in. Here's my plan so far.
100 days of:
* Exercise every day - A fellow bus stop mom already asked me to run with her when school gets out. Yay, exercise partner to keep me motivated!
* Take a photo a day - Maybe I'll be able to figure out what this Instagram thing is I hear about and be able to put together a summer fun scrapbook for the kids.
* Keep clutter in control - I use www.flylady.net to help me keep the house somewhat presentable.
* Do something creative - I'd like to try a knit toy class from Craftsy www.craftsy.com
* Read - My oldest daughter and I are keeping a list of all the books we're reading. I also discovered Barnes and Noble will give kids a free book (from a special selection of titles) for reading 8 books and filling in a book log. Looks like something Wee One would love.
* Write something - Journal entry, letter to a relative, e-mail to an old friend.

To keep myself accountable I've put some of my goals onto my Daily Feats list www.dailyfeats.com. For every task I accomplish daily I get points which can be redeemed for stuff like a gift card at iTunes or Barnes & Noble. Not bad.

Does anyone else have a 100 Days of Summer Fun List?

Dec. 26th, 2011

pirate_bear

Finding Life Ideas in Children's Books

One of my favorite things to do as a mom is read children's books with my kids. Sometimes when I read children's books I get good ideas from the plots to incorporate into my own life or fun things to do with the kids.

Journal Writing
Wee One has recently discovered the "Junie B. Jones First Grader" series. She likes that the narrator is in the same grade as her and enjoys pointing out when Junie B. is showing bad manners. As a first grader, Junie B. has to write in a journal during class time. Wee One also writes in a journal at school every Monday. At the end of the month Wee One brings her journal home. I find it amusing to read which weekend events were journal-worthy.

Wee One received the book "Just Grace Walks the Dog" as a Christmas present. Not only is this book great because the 8 year-old narrator has the same name as my daughter, but she also writes in a journal. Her teacher asks her to write 4 sentences in her journal every day as part of her homework. A light bulb went off in my head. If my daughter can write in her journal weekly, then I should be able to journal with more frequency. I decided I could post a journal entry once a week, but in my private journal I could keep a daily 4 sentence minimum entry. It's nice to have fictional role models under the age of 8.

Preparing for a Dog
In the Just Grace book we are currently reading, Just Grace wants to get a family dog. My family is looking to get a dog as well. So far Just Grace is told by her father that she needs to show she is responsible and dependable to take care of a dog. This book will be a great opportunity to start a book discussion with my girls. Asking how they can show they will be ready for a dog and which responsibilities they will take on. What good ideas did the narrator have and what they would do differently in the same situation.

I'm looking forward to discovering more children's books and more good ideas in the coming year.

Dec. 15th, 2011

pirate_bear

Allergic to Christmas?

I love the holiday season. I love the decorations, the lights, the baking, yes, even the wrapping. This year however, I may have discovered one thing about the holiday season that isn't making me merry...I think it's my Christmas tree. We brought it home on Sunday. Monday morning my Wee Two woke with a terrible cough. I found that my throat was bugging me but no cough so we took it easy and didn't leave the house except for evening yoga. By Tuesday we still weren't better, our throats hurt, but we had no other symptoms, Wee Two was looking forward to her first Zoo Class so I decided we'd go and we could always duck out if she got worse. Funny thing happened, we both felt better and had a great day. We came back home and started feeling awful again. Yesterday we had an appointment to tour a preschool. Same thing happened. We felt great as soon as we left the house. We even ran some errands. Back home...well you get the idea. Then last night I'm at my MIL's house with a few of her friends and one complained of weird allergy symptoms. My MIL asked if she had a live Christmas tree in her house or a fake one. A light bulb went off in my head.

This morning I lost my voice and had to mime conversations with my children. Wee One looked so sad at me and I tried to explain I was fine except my throat hurt, I had no voice, and my chest was feeling tight. That's when I decided to Google Christmas Tree allergies and found an article that claimed fresh trees cary mold spores. By Day 4 the mold spores start to multiply. By Day 14 the mold spores on the tree are five times more. Whoa, I definitely know I have bad reactions to mold. I took a 30 minute walk around the block. Yeah, I felt better during my walk. Trees definitely belong in nature and not my house. Christmas has got me all choked up.

Dec. 1st, 2011

pirate_bear

Mommy Truths of 2011

As 2011 comes to a close I wanted to take a moment to reflect on 5 things I know to be true in my life as a mom. I hope to use these truths to build a happy, healthy, and creative 2012.

1) Moderation is key. Motherhood doesn't have to be all or nothing. A Mommy in motion can get a lot done (including laundry and crafts). A Mommy at rest wants to act like a sloth, sit on the couch, watch tv, and eat ice cream. I'm a lot happier relaxing once I've gotten some stuff done so I try to schedule 30 minutes of chores and work as fast as possible. It's amazing how much cleaning/chores can get done with some good music and a timer telling me when to stop. Next I schedule 30 minutes of play time (either with the kids or something I want to do). Then I keep repeating the cycle. I'm happier, the kids get their special "mommy time," and the kids want to help clean up when mom makes it look like a game with a buzzer and music.

2) Revisiting childhood. One of the things I love most about being a mom is getting to do all those things I enjoyed as a kid: going to the zoo, creating art, playing outdoors and doing sports for fun not exercise, impromptu dance parties in the living room, escaping into a good chapter book, writing, playing pretend. I hope to create some bucket lists (short and long term) to help me explore my creative, childlike side more.

3) Pirates need a map and I need a plan. Even if it is a loose plan I need some kind of schedule or list to get chores done and accomplish my creative pursuits. Maybe this is why I ignored blogging for many months or haven't done a pen-and-ink sketch in years.

4) Perfect is a dirty word. Good enough is awesome. I am awesome and you are awesome. We waste too much time trying to be perfect for ourselves or someone else. If I can stay true to who I am I will always be in touch with my own awesomeness.

5) Make life fun. Sometimes I just need to channel my inner Tim Gunn but instead of "making it work" my challenge is to "make it fun." When Mommy is having a good time so is everyone else. I try not to worry about looking silly while having fun and if I do look silly I have to remember life truth #4 -- I am awesome.

May. 25th, 2011

pirate_bear

Summer Fun List

There are 99 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I hope to make the most of them with my family. A few weeks ago the kids and I brainstormed on what we would like to do this summer. Below is our Summer Fun Wish List.
1) Plant a garden
2) Create a terrarium
3) Go to the Franklin Park Zoo
4) Go to the N.E. Aquarium
5) Catch & release fireflies
6) See fireworks
7) Star gaze
8) Go to a drive-in movie
9) Go to the Stone Zoo
10) Go to the Bronx Zoo
11) Go to the Children's Museum
12) Play mini golf
13) Candle pin bowling
14) Eat veggies from the garden
15) Picnic at DeCordova Sculpture Park
16) Go to Botanical Gardens in Wellesley
17) Swan boats
18) Cranberry Bog Walk
19) Make a sock puppet
20) Create sidewalk chalk mural
21) Make tie-dye t-shirts
22) Make a bead bracelet
23) fly a kite
24) Eat ice cream at Scoops
25) Eat ice cream at Bubbling Brook
26) Eat ice cream at Crescent Ridge
27) Watch clouds form pictures
28) Create a backyard obstacle course
29) Start a collection
30) Scrapbook summer fun
31) Go camping
32) Go fishing
33) Scavenger Hunt
34) Visit Roger Williams Park Zoo
35) Go to Story Land
36) Go to Santa's Village
37) Swim
38) Build a sandcastle
39) Ride a carousel
40) make ice cream in an ice cream ball
41)Visit Museum of Science
42) Make bookmarks
43) Make finger puppets
44) Make doll clothes
45) Make picture frames
46) Family T-Ball
47) Play hopscotch
48) Do yoga outside
49) Roller skate
50) Eat watermelon outside and have a pit-spitting contest

Does anyone else have some ideas for summer fun?

May. 9th, 2011

pirate_bear

Remembering Mom

Today is my mother's birthday. She died 5 years ago -- right before her 68th birthday, a few days before mother's day.

She was a lovely woman and a wonderful teacher. She shared with me her love of books and the importance of knowledge. She took the time to listen to my thoughts and ideas. Each weekday morning during summer vacation she would have me sit and do math problems, study vocabulary words, and read before I could go off and have fun. She diligently checked my homework each night. That's how it was living with a fifth grade teacher. Growing up people would ask if I would become a teacher too and follow in my mother's footsteps. I would always say no. I didn't want to grow up to become my mother, I thought she had a dull life. I wanted to be myself. I spent time watching her and figuring out how I was different, what made me unique.

Looking back, I realize some of the best memories I have with my mom were things I taught her. Bringing her to art museums and explaining about the artist's brush strokes and how light entered a painting. Traveling with her to Paris and Italy and plotting adventures to show her public transportation is something to conquer not fear in a land where we didn't speak the language. Providing music for impromptu dance parties in the living room to make a terrible day better. Screaming in the car wash tunnel when the soapy octopus arms come to clean the car just because sometimes it's more fun to act like a little kid when no one is watching.

Her advice when Wee One was born, "Trust yourself. You may be a businesswoman at work, but motherhood will define you. You'll be a really great teacher for your child and I know you will be a wonderful mother." It was hard advice to take while I worked all through maternity leave and Trophy Husband was working two jobs so we could pay our bills. I would tear-up having to put my baby in daycare during the week and then drive down to NY to be with my mother as she was dying from Ovarian Cancer. She told me she couldn't be a very good grandmother while in a hospice but she wanted to give my child and future children a gift of having their mother. She told me that when she died I was to sell her house and quit my job as soon as I could. "Take all your creative energy and pour it into motherhood," she said "Trust me, you won't regret it. The best gift I could give my grandchildren is your undivided attention to be their mother, to just be you." She was right.

I guess I did follow in my mother's footsteps after all. I look forward to Wee One coming home from school and sharing with me what she learned that day. I enjoy showing Wee Two all the details in the illustrations of her picture books. I enjoy being me...being a mom. Thanks Mom. I love you.

Mar. 30th, 2011

pirate_bear

Roller-skates

Today I turned 37. I spent the day baking cupcakes with my kids, watching the 1977 movie of "The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh", and doing something I haven't done since I was a kid. While Wee One was at school and Wee Two was having a nap I took to the driveway and laced up my birthday present to me. That's right, I kicked it old-school in a brand new pair of white roller-skates with purple wheels. Whee!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Mar. 25th, 2011

pirate_bear

Reconnecting with a Friend

After the earthquake hit Japan and devastating pictures filled my television screen I started thinking about an old friend.

My best friend in the third grade was a girl who recently moved from Japan. We both took violin lessons at school. I traded Oreo cookies for her panda candies during lunchtime. She taught me origami and I showed her how to pass a soccer ball. When she came to my house for dinner we had spaghetti and meatballs. At her house we ate sushi. I even remember trying to eat scrambled eggs with chopsticks one morning after a sleepover. We were classmates for 3 years and then her family moved to a different town. We saw each other 2 times after that, but we were always busy with other activities and lost touch.

After another heartbreaking news story on Japan one evening I mentioned my old friend to Trophy Husband and wondered aloud if she ever moved back to Japan. I prayed she was safe somewhere.

This morning I received a friend request on Facebook. It was my old friend. She lives in Tokyo and is okay. We sent each other a message and briefly caught up on the last 27 years.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Mar. 11th, 2011

pirate_bear

Remembering Dad

Today is my dad's 90th birthday. He will also be dead 10 years this June. Some people like to visit loved-ones who have passed at the grave site, but that doesn't quite work for me since I don't live in NY anymore. Instead I visit the zoo.

My dad grew up a few blocks from the Bronx Zoo. He would walk there with his brothers and sisters and enjoy a day watching the animals. Later he would take my mom, brother, and I several times each summer. He would jokingly say we were going to visit the relatives. We would pack a picnic lunch and hop in the car for the 35 minute ride, get there when the zoo opened and spend most of the day just strolling around watching the animals and having a good time. While I was in my twenties and my father was suffering from Parkinson's I would escape to the Central Park Zoo by myself. There was something very calming about watching Gus the polar bear swimming laps in his pool. Soon after my father died I moved to Boston and stopped going to the zoo. Those years were very difficult for me and I missed my father terribly. Then when Wee One was born I started going to the Franklin Park Zoo and all was right with the world again. I was carrying on my father's tradition and could feel his spirit with me. My girls love the zoo and while they have never met their Grandpa, they'll always have family zoo trips. I guess it was no surprise when I suggested we go to the zoo last Saturday because, "Mommy needs a zoo trip."

- My dad was my first art teacher. The first lesson was drawing cartoon animals (Snoopy and Mickey Mouse).
- He shared his love of reading with me.
- My dad taught me to build and fix things.
- He was the official "class mom" for school field trips.
- We would sneak away to the movies and not tell anyone.
- I will always think of my dad when I eat oatmeal cookies or cheese sandwiches.
- I talked too much around him to make up for his quietness (especially in later years) but we always enjoyed a good laugh and each other's company.
- Visiting the zoo will always make me think I'm visiting with my dad.

By the way Dad, the baby gorilla at the Franklin Park Zoo is now 4 months old and is adorable clutching onto her mom's leg for a ride. It was something you would have enjoyed seeing. Happy Birthday.

Jan. 6th, 2011

pirate_bear

Feel Good Friday

I'm hoping this will become a regular posting of things I enjoy and want to share with others.

BOOKS - Just finished reading "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. Whirlwind story of a circus vet. I'm not much of a circus person due to my fear of clowns (I don't trust people with too much make-up on - they have something to hide.). Fortunately the book is light on the clowns but action-packed with adventure. Thumbs up.

MUSIC - Yo-Yo Ma "Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1,5, and 6" Very relaxing album. Just cello. Thinking of buying this CD for my mother-in-law's birthday next month.

APPS - Downloaded a free game app yesterday called "Sushi Cat". The object of the game is to get a round blue cat to eat sushi until his tummy if full. Mindless fun!

KIDS BOOKS,CRAFTS & HOLIDAYS - Yesterday was Three Kings day. We celebrated with a reading of Tomie dePaola's "The Story of the Three Wise Kings." Wee One looked at the cover and exclaimed, "It's the Strega Nona guy!" While Wee One was at school I got out some yellow construction paper. Traced and cut-out several crowns. Then while I was at the dentist Trophy Husband, Wee One, and Wee Two decorated their crowns with crayons, mini pom-poms, and felt stickers.

Next month for Ground Hog Day I'm planning to read Don Freeman's "Gregory's Shadow" and figure out a groundhog craft.

COOKING WITH KIDS - Super easy chili recipe the kids can help make.
1) Grown-up browns the ground beef - I use 1 pound and add a bit of chili seasoning.
2) Get out the crock-pot and put in the browned ground beef.
3) Put crock-pot on the floor (it's easier for the kids to add in the rest of the ingredients).
4) Let the kids dump in the following - 32oz of thick and chunky mild salsa, can of corn, can of kidney beans, can of tomato paste.
5) Stir, put on the lid, then let it heat up.
6) Serve with sourdough bread, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.
Yummy and the kids can say they made dinner. Serves 4 plus leftovers.

NEXT WEEK
YOGA CHALLENGE - Yoga Journal is doing a 21-day challenge to help create a home yoga practice. Below the link to sign up. The challenge starts January 10th. http://21daychallenge.yogajournal.com/

OVERDRIVE APP - This app can link up to your local public library where you can borrow an e-book with your library card and pin code. I'll be reading Anthony Bourdain's "A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook."

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