Friday, November 1, 2013

How does she love me? Let her count the ways

republished from 2011

The following is a transcript of an overheard conversation between Bil and Charlotte ( when she was about 5 years old), as they shared a piece of Chocolate Almond Chiffon Pie:

Char: Mommy makes the best pie in the whole world!

Bil: You're right! She really loves us, doesn't she?

Char: Yes, mommy loves us lots and lots!

Bil: And we love her.

Char: Yes, I love mommy sooooo much! She is the best cooker EVER!

Bil: And mommy's pretty funny, isn't she?

Char: Yes. And mommy makes really good chocolate chip cookies!

Bil: You love it when mommy is silly with you, don't you?

Char: Mmmhmmmm....I also love mommy's Rice Krispie Treats and the cakes she makes!

Bil: And don't you love how nice mommy is to you?

Char: Yes! She makes me brownies and they are deeeelicious! And I love her pies and her cakes and her cookies! Oh, mommy makes the best treats in the world. Her peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are yum, yum, yummy! I really, really love mommy! And I love the muffins and cupcakes she makes, too. Mommy is great!

Mommy: Hey, Charlotte, what if I couldn't make you treats anymore? Would you still love me?

Char: (woeful) Nope. I would be soooooooooooooooo sad!

For more posts on cooking and food, go to Second Blooming

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The color of love

Each time I was pregnant, Bil predicted that this baby would be the one to inherit my blue eyes.  Though Bil's are brown, a dominant characteristic, his dad had blue eyes, so there was a remote chance genetically, that this could happen.  Bil would quote genetic statistics proving that our chances were not as minuscule as I predicted.

The baby would be born and Bil would claim vehemently that he/she had blue eyes, as newborns are wont to do.  But each time, the baby's eyes would invariably change to brown, rather quickly. So quickly that I don't really believe they were ever blue.  It was just a trick of lighting or Bil's very strong wishful thinking.   Bil would look into their giant, beautiful, dark eyes and swear they were still blue, that there was a chance, but I knew better.

All three of my darling children have Bil's big, brown eyes.

And I couldn't be happier for it.

One of these things is not like the others.....

Years ago, I was teaching a Sunday School lesson at church, when I looked out into the sea of faces and I latched onto a pair of big, warm, brown eyes filled with kindness.  When the owner of those eyes approached me and chatted me up, I was instantly smitten.  Bil, he said his name was, and he made me feel good, comfortable, accepted, all because of those eyes.  The smile didn't hurt any, either.

There have been a few people over the years who have mentioned that Bil has kind eyes, and they are right. In my husband's case, I agree that the eyes are the window to the soul.  When I look into his eyes, I see understanding, acceptance, and caring.  

And love.

And now I have three beautiful children with the very same eyes;  beautiful,brown eyes that are full of joy, adventure, mischief, and most, importantly, love.

For more posts on the color of love, visit the Spin cycle at Second Blooming or Lemon Drop Pie.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getaway Skills

I gathered up the remains of the happy meals and head to the garbage bin when I hear a blaring repetitive noise.  An alarm has been set off, and without even looking, I know this is the doing of one of my children.  Call it mother's intuition, experience, whatever.  I know my kids.  And I know this is the work of their hands.

It had been a half day of school and instead of heading home, we decided to drive 30 miles to the nearest McDonald's Playland.  Danny was especially delighted as he needed only 2 more of the Power Ranger Happy Meal toys to complete his set.   Charlotte and Tommy were just happy to play on the brand new, ultra cool playground equipment.

Our outing had been relatively uneventful.  I mean, sure, Tommy spilled his entire root beer all over the recently mopped floor, but I would hardly call that newsworthy.  Had he not spilled something, that might have surprised me.  And yes, Charlotte ended up crying at one point because Danny kept saying we were leaving (when we weren't) and I think he pushed her, resulting in a timeout.  Again, nothing new here, unfortunately.

And even when the alarm started ringing from the emergency exit door, (seriously, who thinks an emergency exit in a playland with the bar at a kids' level is a good idea?  No one with kids, that's for sure.) I wasn't surprised, either.  About a year ago, Tommy pulled the fire alarm at Bil's work, forcing the entire 300+ employees to empty the building in an impromptu fire drill.

I ushered the kids out the door, all while the alarm blared mockingly, as if to say, "Watch your kids, watch your kids, watch your kids, you negligent mother!"  Head down, I avoided making eye contact with the other mothers as if my life depended on it.

We ran to the car while the theme music to "Mission Impossible" played in my head.
As if reading my mind, Danny asked, "Uh, mom, are the police coming for us?"

I felt the perverse urge to reply, "Don't worry, honey, we can outrun the police! Don't worry about them."
Instead, I said that it was an accident.  We weren't in trouble.

When we were safely on our way home, I said, "That's what we call 'making a clean getaway'."

Danny giggled delightedly and said, "Yeah, mom!  That was like we were robbers and had accidentally robbed a bank."

Yep, that's exactly what that was like.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Popping Tags

Shoes I bought at Goodwill for $5

As an adult, I was never a big shopper.   I would look for excuses to bow out on invitations to shopping marathons with friends.  I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about.  Why would anyone like spending the entire day trying on clothes in very unflattering lighting?  Where's the fun in that?

Trying on clothes always depressed me. I never seemed to look good in any of the current trends.  And when I did give in and shop, I had difficulty picking flattering styles.  I just didn't have that eye for fashion so many other people seemed to naturally have, and I was never adventurous enough to try new things, so all my clothes tended to look the same.

Also, as a college, and later grad, student, I never had an overabundance of money to spend on clothes.  It didn't help once I had graduated, since I became a teacher.  I had to be frugal and save my pennies, so shopping at the fancy malls of Chicago's suburbs was never on my list of fun weekend pastimes.

Once I had children, it got even worse.  I wasn't working anymore, so what was the point in buying new clothes?  Spending money on my appearance typically left me feeling guilty, especially once I was no longer bringing in a paycheck.

It was more than just the money, though.  For my entire adulthood, I have struggled with my weight; there was always at least 30 extra pounds on my frame at any given time, and often it was even more.  I promised myself,  "As soon as I lose weight, I'll buy some new clothes."  But, the time never came.  Sure, I lost a few pounds here and there, but never enough to warrant (in my mind) some new duds.  I didn't feel like I deserved to spend money on my looks, until I lost some of this extra poundage.

As a result, I spent the better part of my 30s feeling dumpy, ugly, unfashionable, and fat.  I dreaded being invited out, because I literally had nothing decent to wear.  And definitely nothing I felt good in.

Last October, I started a new job, and I had very few clothes suitable for the office.  I made do for a few months with some hand-me-downs from my sister and a couple holdovers from my days as a teacher, but eventually, I had to break down and buy some new clothes.  I had a gift card from Kohl's so I bought a couple blouses and a pair of slacks.  Even with the gift card and discount, my credit card took a hit.  I loved the pieces I had purchased and decided that those would have to do, since I couldn't very well spend all my salary on clothes.

The thing is, wearing those couple outfits made me feel good.  I liked how I looked in them.  I actually got compliments on my clothes, for the first time in a very long while.  I got a taste of what it was like to look nice and I wanted more.  Still, I worried about the money.

Then, on a visit home,  my sister took me to her local Goodwill store.  Beth, who is much more daring and fashionable than I, heaped clothes in my shopping cart, ordering me to try them on.  When I balked at a more adventurous outfit (like the blue poncho or the flower-printed capris) she urged me to give it a chance.  "Try something new, Patty!" she would say.  "You'll look great.  Trust me!"

Surprisingly, I had the time of my life!   All of a sudden, I had a legitimate excuse to drop some change on my wardrobe; I had a job and I couldn't very well show up in my flannel pants everyday, like I did as a stay-at-home mom.  On top of that, the clothes at Goodwill were a fraction of the original price, which made it all the more fun.  And having my own personal stylist in the form of my sister only made it better.

Outfit I bought from a couple different thrift stores for a total of less than $10

When I worried about spending all that money on clothes, Beth reminded me that I needed the clothes for work.  She told me that it was important to feel good about how I looked.  And she assured me that I looked great.

It turns out, she was right.  I did look great, and I felt incredible.

I spent over $100 that day and came home with a new wardrobe: new shoes, Anne Taylor capris, blouses from the Gap, jeans, a new dress, and many, many more items.  Every single thing I bought looked great on me. I couldn't believe it.  I had never had that many items of clothing that I loved.

That shopping trip completely changed my attitude about clothes and shopping. Now, I love shopping at my local thrift stores and finding cute clothes for work.  I thrill when I find an adorable pair of shoes for $5 or a whimsical top from Old Navy for $3. But, most of all, I love that I look more put together; I feel more confident and pretty. At these prices, I can afford to buy some cute pieces without compromising the kids'college funds. It's a bonus that I am doing the environment a favor by recycling other people's castoffs.

I still feel guilty about spending money on myself, even at these amazingly discounted prices, but I'm working on that.  I tell myself that I am worth it.  I deserve to feel good about how I look, no matter what I weigh.

I love this top.  Bought at Goodwill for $3.50


For more posts on Everything Old is New Again, visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly

"everything that drowns me makes me want to fly
everything that kills me makes me feel alive"
There was nothing unusual or noteworthy about this particular meltdown.  No reason it should have been so incredibly grating to me.  Sure, it had been a stressful day, but all in all, not any worse than most.  In fact, Danny had been incredibly cooperative as the nurse removed his cast this afternoon and I didn't get lost on the way home from the hospital in a city 85 miles away.  It was a pretty successful afternoon, all things considered.

Still, as Tommy repeated over and over and over some rant about a purple shirt that he refused to wear tomorrow to his pre-K "purple party" I could barely stand to be in my own skin.  Everything inside me screamed for him to just. shut. up. already.  I could not take one more meltdown over something so inconsequential it didn't merit a minute's discussion, let alone the better part of an hour.

I don't know what it is.  I don't know if it's autism or his language processing issues, but Tommy has a tendency to go from 0 to 100 over the craziest issues.  He'll tell me he wants pizza for dinner, but when I place a slice in front of him, he'll just lose it and spend the next 45 minutes voicing his displeasure in a repeated 2 or 3 sentences. Over and over and over again.

Some days, I feel like my children are draining every last little bit of sanity, energy, and emotional fortitude from me.  Honestly, I feel like that most days, even the good ones.  By the time they are in bed, I am so happy to have a few minutes' peace, I could almost cry.

In fact, some nights I do cry. And not always from happiness. 
You see, these kids, they take everything.

They want my attention all the time.  They want me to focus on the game they're playing, the picture they drew, the limb they've bruised, the problem they're having, the story they're reading, the booger they've picked. 

They expect me to feed them, bathe them, kiss away their tears, bandage them, instruct them, pamper them, cater to their every whim.

If I'm not careful, they sometimes do take everything I've got to give and more.  Those times are not good, because they leave me feeling depleted and resentful.  I've learned over the years that I have to balance my needs with theirs.  I have to take care not to give so much of myself that I have nothing left for myself.

See, it's not just their demands that are exhausting.  It's my own.  I want to be there for everything.  I want to fix all their problems, take away all their pain and discomfort, and bring smiles to their faces.

Because here's the thing.  I love these kids with a fierceness I never knew was possible.  Some days, I feel like I will explode with love, that's how strong it is.  No matter how exhausted I am, I never stop loving them.  They are everything to me. 

Still, on days like yesterday, I feel like they are killing me.

Then, there are the other days.

Days like last night when we gathered up the whole gang and went to see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" and I watched my kids' faces light up with delight as they laughed and giggled and chortled.

And there are times like this morning when Danny was uber cooperative with chores, so much so that he actually did Char's for her.  He followed me around the house with the Pledge and helped me dust while telling me all about the wonders of CLR Cleaner, which he claims cleans everything from toilets to coffee pots.  Danny assured me that, "It will give you back your day, mom!" in full-on infomercial voice.

Those other times are ones like when  Danny and Charlotte and Tommy reenacted scenes from "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2", getting giddy about "foodamals" and laughing hysterically at their own jokes.
Later, as Danny and I walked up to the library, we talked animatedly about movies, books, and haunted houses.  Danny and I had an elaborate and circuitous discussion about how to not go crazy from anticipating Halloween.  He concocted all manner of distractions we could use in the next month to keep from thinking too much about trick or treating.  We also discussed the book we are writing with Charlotte: Scaredy Squirrel's Halloween Survival Guide.   It's a spin-off of one of the kids' favorite series about an OCD, anxiety-ridden squirrel.

As Danny ran ahead on the way home, he looked back at me periodically, to make sure I was keeping up.  He was beaming with happiness, and my heart flipped.   There are times, like these, that are so incredibly simple, yet sublime, that they literally take my breath away.  I feel my love for my kids so tangibly I can barely stand it.

It always hits me hard, that feeling, and my heart is so full it seems hardly possible that I could love someone--three someones, in fact--so utterly without reserve.

And that's when I realize it: they are not killing me.  They are making me live fully.  They teach me to live in the moment, take delight in the simple pleasures.  They challenge me, make me think, they stretch me and make me grow. And they make me laugh every single day.

For more spins on  "everything that kills me makes me feel alive" visit Second Blooming.
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Parenting, Minecraft Style

After handing the Kindle Fires over to Tommy and Charlotte, I settle down with the novel I have been nursing all summer.  We get comfortable in the Speech and Language Lab's waiting room, knowing it will be an hour and a half before Danny finishes with his group therapy.  Not for the first time this summer, I silently thank the powers that be for Minecraft, the only thing that will keep my two youngest quietly occupied for hours at a time.

I read only a page before a voice interrupts my blissful peace.

"How's your summer going?  We're keeping so busy," says Sara, mother to a boy in Danny's group. " In fact, I wanted to ask you: do you think our summer work schedule is too grueling for my 1st grader?  We do 15 minutes of phonics every day, 30 minutes of computation, 45 minutes of composition....."

Honestly, she lost me after, "phonics."  I'm sure my eyes are glazed over when she asks me, "What are you doing this summer?"

I think about all the things I could tell her, but quickly dismiss them as being the type of thing Sara would look down on.

Instead, I improvise, perhaps even embellish:  "We are working on reading (translation: I make the kids pick up a book when they are done playing Minecraft so I don't feel so guilty about the screen time), social skills (read: the kids are making a lot of new friends this summer--on Autcraft, this awesome Minecraft server for kids with autism and their siblings), and math and computation (in other words, the kids have to keep track of all their inventory in their Minecraft worlds, as well as figure out how to build things)."

As we speak, Tommy wanders up to Sara and squeals to her, "Check out my Minecraft world.  I build things!  Look! Look!  Minecraft, build! MINECRAFT!!!"

Sara looks at me in disdain and said, "He's playing Minecraft?!?!?  Really?  You let your kids play Minecraft?"

Charlotte pipes up (completely oblivious to my discomfort) from her seat across the row, "Oh yeah, we all play Minecraft!  Even my dad!  We play all the time!  It's so much fun!"

Sara says,  "My son wants to play that, but I won't let him.  I told him he has to be at least 10. How OLD is your son, anyway?"

"Four,"  I answer sheepishly.

"Well, I don't want my son to start playing because it's so addictive.  Once they start, they only ever want to play Minecraft.  I just don't want him getting addicted," she repeats pointedly.

"My kids aren't addicted!"  I am emphatic.  Who I am trying to convince is not entirely clear to me.

Sure, they listen to Minecraft parody songs in the car non-stop, they refer to being hungry as having a low health bar, spend hours discussing the relative merits of coal versus red stone, and call each other by their Minecraft user names.  Still, I think "addicted" is kind of strong, don't you? I mean, it's not as if they have to play every.....  Ahem.  Okay, yeah, they play every single day, but they could stop if they wanted to.  If it really mattered, they could quit cold turkey no problem.

"Anyway," I continue to Sara, "I don't let them play all the time.  I don't let them play nearly as much as they would prefer."

In fact, Danny just told me recently that I was ruining his life because I wouldn't let him play Minecraft all day while the babysitter was here.

Sara, realizing she's hit a nerve, says, "Oh, I didn't mean to insinuate anything.  I'm just very old-fashioned.  Minecraft makes me nervous.  I mean, isn't it really violent?"

Defensively, I retort, "No!  Not at all!  Players spend time building things and growing food and working together.  There's no violence at all......"

My preschooler chooses this time to interrupt with, "Look at me!  I kill zombies!  I kill zombies!  Die, zombies!  Die, die, DIEEEEEE!  Yay!  Zombies all dead!"

Sara shoots me a smugly contemptuous look as she walks out of the room.
I feel her disdain from across the room, but I can't help thinking that my family will be much better prepared for the upcoming apocalypse than Sara's.  Sure, her son may kick ass in phonics and read like a little genius, but my kids? 

They can make a cake without a recipe, mine for diamonds, and build portals to the Nether. And most important, they have mad zombie killing skills. Who would you rather have on your side when the world goes all Walking Dead on us? 

Yeah, that's what I thought.

For more posts on summertime, visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Brain Drain

Summer break is almost here, and my kids have a mile-long list of things they want to do this year. It includes things like visiting our local pool, taking a trip to Holiday World (which I am seriously looking forward to!), and gulping gallons of ice cream at our local hot dog joint.

My list, which I have yet to officially share with my kids, includes things like reading and math practice, science projects, and chores.

You can probably see why I haven't shared that with the kids yet.

I want summer to be fun, but I want to avoid summer brain drain. The kids have worked really hard at school this year and I do not want them to lose ground while lazing about in the summer sun. Danny especially has struggled to learn some major concepts. And his reading has improved tremendously. The last thing I want is for him to lose the ground that was so painstakingly gained.

You may think I'm overreacting, but according to the RIF website, the "summer slide" is serious:

"Something is waiting for many children every summer, and their parents don’t even know it’s out there. It's called the 'summer slide,' and it describes what happens when young minds sit idle for three months. Children who do not read over the summer will lose more than two months of reading achievement. Summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer will be 2 years behind their classmates. RIF provides resources for parents and teachers to keep kids reading throughout the summer and beyond." (To read more, click here.)

To continue reading this post, please visit Family Matters' website here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Every Heart Sings a Song

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.


I should have seen the signs.  They were subtle ones, but they were unmistakable, especially in hindsight.

I was thrilled when Brett showed romantic interest in me. I couldn't believe he wanted to date me.

It had been so long since a smart, relatively successful and normal man had shown me attention of that sort, so it was easy to overlook those little signs, the red flags.

To be honest, I didn't want to see them, because they proved that he didn't really care about me, not really. And that thought was unbearable.

Throughout the months we dated, he said and did things that subtly demonstrated he didn't accept me for who I was.  He mentioned that he would fully support any weight loss efforts I chose to pursue.  He gave me disapproving glances when I played with his kids and encouraged them to get dirty.  He refused to spend time with my friends, always with a valid excuse.  For so many reasons, I never felt cool enough for him.

This was especially true when it came to music.  Brett loved music, especially 80s tunes, so we listened to many, many albums.  In the car, he would sometimes quiz me on band and album names, even going so far as to ask me what year a particular U2 album had been released.

Though I like music, I never remember band or song names, let alone dates.  Also, my taste in music is shall we say....eclectic.  I like stuff that should probably embarrass me.  Other music I have never even heard of.
I knew Brett had very definite opinions on music; I also knew my opinions were often diametrically opposed to his, but I didn't make a big deal of that.  Because of my silence, B assumed I shared his tastes completely.

One day, he asked me what my favorite song was.  By this point in our relationship, I had realized that I was bending too much to be the kind of person he wanted me to be.  So, I answered honestly, even though my choice of song is very unusual and probably not considered cool by anyone at all.

My favorite song is one I have loved since grade school.  It's the love song to "St. Elmo's Fire."  I remember listening to this song , even dancing to it in the privacy of my bedroom, reveling in the swell of the saxophones.  This song never fails to make me smile.

Brett wasn't at all impressed and he dropped the subject.  I felt his disapproval, but didn't retract my statement.

It wasn't long after that he broke up with me.  While I know my taste in music had very little to do with the demise of our relationship, it always felt symbolic to me.  After dealing with the heartbreak of rejection, I realized that Brett had never accepted me for who I was, and I was partly to blame. I had spent a great deal of time trying to be the person I thought he wanted.  

After the breakup, I promised myself that I would never make that same mistake again.  I would be myself and assert my opinions, no matter how much I might want a guy to like me. 

When I met Bil, I liked him immediately.  He was kind and funny, and he never mocked people.  I was so nervous when he finally asked me out.  What if I said something really stupid?  What if he thought I wasn't very cool?  After all, he had led such an interesting life; a musician, he had belonged to bands and had even run his own record label. How could someone like that think I was interesting?  I decided, though, that no matter how much I wanted Bil to like me, I would be myself.  

So, I was honest with  him when he asked me my opinions on subjects such as movies, books, and of course, music.

One day, predictably, he asked me what my favorites were.  I got out my old cassette soundtrack of "St. Elmo's Fire" and I played it for him.  He listened intently, with nary a frown or sign of disapproval, and he liked it.

Over the year of our courtship, Bil introduced me to many new bands and songs, and I found myself enjoying conversing about music with him.  Never once did he sigh at my lack of knowledge or roll his eyes at my pedestrian taste in music.

It was that lack of disapproval that proved to me how fully Bil accepted me.  He showed me over and over again that he liked me for exactly for who I was.  We dated and laughed and took walks in the rain.  We discussed Ayn Rand and watched old movies together, and over time, I grew to trust him, to believe that he really, truly cared about me, not who he thought I should be.

On our honeymoon, Bil presented me with a small gift.  It was a mixed cd, one of many I would receive from him over the years.  I popped it into our rental car's cd player and the first song was his cover of the love song from "St. Elmo's Fire."   Hearing that song moved me to tears.

Thankfully, this time around I saw the signs.  They were unmistakable.


For more posts on Songs, visit  the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Dream Vacation

I am not much of a daydreamer.  My mind flits from topic to topic much too quickly for me to really develop a clear, well-defined fantasy.  I'll be imagining some idyllic getaway, only to be interrupted with thoughts of my shopping list or Danny's upcoming dental appointment.

When I saw the topic for the Spin Cycle was Dream Vacation, my first thought was "Dream vacation? ANY vacation would be a dream right now!  But it'll never happen, so why think about it? What's the point?"

I filed the topic in the back of my mind and went about the rest of my day, working, fielding questions about special education law, and worrying about what I was going to make for dinner.  I didn't give the topic much thought until I went to bed.

As I lay awake last night, listening to Bil snore and watching the snow fall outside our window, I actually started daydreaming.  Perhaps because of the winter storm we were having, my mind went to a cabin in the woods. I imagined spending a few solitary days with just Bil in a beautiful, luxurious cabin surrounded by snowy forest.  I added a frozen pond nearby and ice skates waiting for us in the cabin.  Then, I thought, "Oh, we should have some snow shoes and cross country skis, too!"

I enthusiastically envisioned Bil and I sleeping very late on a huge four-poster bed filled with down comforters and cozy pillows.  Then, we would eat a luxurious breakfast and go ice skating or hiking in the woods.   Later, we would come home to a blazing fire and a hot tub where we could thaw out and relax.  It seemed so blissful to me.  We could read by the fire, watch movies late into the night, make out without worrying about a kid interrupting.

No kids to take care of.  No responsibilities, no phone, no email, or even Facebook.  Just a relaxing, quiet, peaceful weekend to spend together with absolutely no interruptions.

I visualized the cabin at night with bright stars studding the dark sky.  It all seemed so romantic....until I thought about how dark and quiet and isolated that cabin was.  So far away from civilization....or help.  I thought of the peculiar noises we would hear, the creaks in the cabin, the movement outside, the drone of chainsaws belonging to the serial killers in the woods.

And then, every stinking horror movie I have ever seen came flooding back to me and I envisioned Bil and I stalked like the family from Cape Fear.

Blood, there was a lot of blood.  And so much screaming.

And this, my friends, is why I do not go in for daydreaming.


For more posts on dream vacations, go to Second Blooming.  I'm sure their accounts of idyllic getaways will be blood-free.

Second Blooming

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In-Sync Activity Cards Review and Giveaway!

Winter is in full swing, and my kids are suffering from some cabin fever. It's too cold and dreary here for them to enjoy playing outside, but they desperately need some physical activity to help them expend some energy. This is why receiving the In-Sync Activity Cards by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz has me so excited!

From the writers of Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow these cards are full of fun activties that engage the senses, along with an explanation of what the activity does. The authors also provide easy ways to make each activity more challenging and what to look for to ensure proper form.

The cards are divided into three color-coded sections: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Each card details what sort of equipment is necessary, but it is almost always something that you can easily find around the house.

Let's look at an intermediate activtity that looks fun and easy. It's the "People Obstacle Course." All you need is about 5 or 6 family members or friends. The child then has to position the friends into obstacles using different prepositions. For example: say, "Now, position me so you can go under me." Then, you can put together different people going under one friend, around another, and over another person, etc. The child will then go through the obstacle course he built. According to the card, this activity develops directionality, motor planning, proprioception and spatial awareness. It also helps kids understand prepositional concepts.

With more than 50 fun and exciting activities, these cards should get me through winter with my sanity intact!

And there's great news! One lucky reader can win a set of these cards!

Just go here to learn how to enter the giveaway:  Family Matters PTIC