Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Childhood Must-Do: A Day at the Circus

There are certain things that make a childhood complete: cotton candy, trips to the zoo, flying a kite, building a fort…. Going to the circus.  In a random conversation last week, my son and younger daughter mentioned that they had never been to the circus.  What? They are 12 and 9 years old, how could that be? They shrugged, repeated the comment, and their older sisters concurred.

Were my children telling me that we haven’t been to the circus in nine years?  Apparently, that’s what they were saying.  To right this situation, I said, “Well, the next time the circus is in town, we’re going.”  There. Good mom.

“Mom, the circus is in town now.”
“Yeah. It’s in town this weekend.”

Note to moms: check the newspaper before making big ole’ good mom promises.

Enjoy a day at the Greatest Show on Earth
I’m sure you can imagine how easy it is to fit anything into the middle of a weekend in a life that is pretty much a six-ring circus on any given day.  But we made it – and I was even surprised by a big discount for taking the Metro, quieting my normal grumble about how much it costs to ferry children on mass transportation.

We had a great time, eating too much popcorn and cotton candy, laughing at the clowns and oohing-and aahing at the all the amazing acts of the Greatest Show on Earth.

If you haven’t been to the circus in a while, here’s a few reminders of why you should go.
The elephants!  They’re huge and wear those pretty banners and parade around the ring and stand on their back legs and you wonder, how do they do that?!  If you haven’t heard, their career’s are short-term at this point.  Ringling Bros. announced that they were ending the elephant acts in 2018.  They will retire to the circus Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.  In the meantime, hurry up and go see them at the circus.

The ringmaster! How cool would it be, when someone asked you at a cocktail party what you did for a living, ready to one-up you on whatever you said and you answered “I’m the circus Ringmaster!”  Who could beat that?  Maybe an astronaut.  Or the President of the United States.  But there’d be a short list. Because, it’s got to be an ultra-cool job where folks aren’t going to say, “yeah, my cousin is one of those.” And – it’s got to be something almost no one else can claim as their job. And – it’s got to be a job where you get to wear sparkling jackets and knee-high boots.  CEO? There’s hundreds. NFL player – thousands.  Stripper – not unique at all.  Miss Universe – maybe she’s a contender.  But Ringmaster of the Ringling Bros. Circus? There are currently only 3 and there have only been 38 in the circus’ long history.

Popcorn & cotton candy!  I know, it’s salty and sugary and two huge bags at one sitting is not healthy for child nor parent, but hey – it’s just this one time.  Enjoy!

The trapeze folks!  If I ever ran away and joined the circus, this is what I would want to do. Fly through the air with the greatest of ease and then jump down to the super-duper trampoline net.  These people make you ooh and ahh and hold your breath as they amazingly fly over and catch the other bar or person’s hand.  I love it.

Those motorcycles in a ball!  My son loved this part, and it’s such a boy thing, right? Motorcycles, engines roaring, gravity-defying, life-threatening danger.  I’m keeping my eye out for any large round things showing up in my yard.

The cats! As amazing as they are, ever since the terrible incident with Siegfried and Roy, we’re on edge because these cats really could get tired of all these tricks and try to eat the cat guy. Of course, we hope that doesn’t happen, but in a corner of our minds, we’re bracing for it.  When we went, one of the cats did seem to get a bit like she had her own plans of how the show should go and I was ready to grab my children and run if one of those cats got loose.  The excitement of the circus!

(Yes, I've used a lot of exclamation points!! in this post because talking about the circus requires it!)

And just in case you can’t make it, you can always read about the circus. A couple great circus-themed books: The Night Circus, Waterfor Elephants, and of course, Curious George Goes to the Circus.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why You Should Be One of Those Ladies Who Lunch

My schedule last week was pretty much shot. Why? Lunch.

I'm a stay-at-home/write-at-home/volunteer-at-school mom.  My commute is a flight of steps and my receptionist is my dog.  Lunch for me is usually what was forgotten by my kids or a grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich (also grilled) sandwich, eaten while vacuuming or editing.

But what threw off my schedule? Sandwiches, drinks, and chocolate cake.

I caught up with a couple girlfriends when we all happened to be free at the same time, I visited with a friend who was in town for the week, and I went to a formal luncheon. I was, for a few days, like one of those fancy ladies who plan their lives around their lunch dates.  And all three ate up hours of time in the middle of my day, making those days pretty unproductive.  But here's five quick reasons to be a lady who lunches, anyway.

We need to connect to our friends. Vacuuming and running errands are important, but it's not going to make you laugh like sitting around with friends and complaining about vacuuming and running errands. We need to take a break from all the stuff to do and spend time with the people who matter to us. Take a break to share your joys and your worries, your celebrations and your concerns.  We need to do that, face-to-face, not just on Facebook posts and texts.

Delicious lunch, thanks to the chefs at Season 52.
It breaks your routine. For SAHM and WAHM, its good to get out of the house. We need to trade in the pajama pants, put on some lipstick, and let someone else feed us.  It doesn't have to be real fancy, but let it be a treat for you.  We do get in a rut, eating PBJs everyday, and, I don't know about you, but sometimes that rut can make you bored and unhappy. And hungry. Do things that make you happy.

For those days you can't wait 'til 5 pm.
Happy Hour can be whenever you make it.  Sure, "Happy Hour" is traditionally at 5 pm, but for SAHM/WAHM, this is a terrible time unless you're taking the kids along or hanging out at the bar in between dropping kids off at activities.  Dinner is also supposed to be at 6 pm, but when was the last time that happened either. If we can eat dinner at 9 pm, why can't we have happy hour at noon?

You could learn something. If you must make it productive so you don't feel guilty about neglecting whatever it is you are not doing, then find an educational event. Go to a brown bag parenting talk or take a lunch-time class (I took a writing class where everyone brought their lunch with them).  Go to a professional networking event, if you are in the job market or an entrepreneur.  Meet up with others who are in the same profession or volunteer organization and have a working lunch, share ideas and solutions.

Any excuse for chocolate cake will do.
It's fun.  It might not be "productive" (or it could be, see point above) but at the end of the week, will you look back and regret not visiting with your friend or not finishing that load of laundry at that particular time. Okay, maybe, when you're up at midnight still folding laundry, you might rethink that lunch, but not really.  What will make you smile is the break from the routine with people that matter or learning something important to you.

Happy lunching!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Currently... Counting Down to Spring

I'ts mid-March - anyone notice that? As in - almost SPRING!  Though I've still got some more boot-wearing to get in - all those wet, snowy days really cut down on the cute boot-wearing days - I'm ready to shed my heavy winter coat.

Now, 5 days away from spring, here's what I'm currently up to.

Knitting a headband.  A friend gave me a Knit Wit Kit - a really pretty yarn bowl, a ball of gray, wool yarn and knitting needles for my birthday. I've been nervous about trying it out - there were 3 needles and I've barely learned how to knit with two. So I'm skipping the cabling pattern and going with the basic knit and purl. Note - I had to learn to purl for this project.  It's still cold, especially in the evenings, and I hate being cold, so this will be perfect for the spring.

Baking a red velvet cake in a Bundt pan. Because I don't have any parchment paper and it's impossible to get my red velvet cake out of regular round cake pans without it. This is a first, making this in the Bundt pan, but that's the plan I came up with mid-mixing.  If anyone has any ideas for getting cakes out of pans without parchment paper, let me know, for future reference.  (And buttering and flouring the pan does not work for this cake.)  Or who knows, this Bundt pan thing might be the new plan.

Taking my daughter for her Driver's Permit. Ahh!! Someone pray for me.

Watching out the window for the first signs of spring. Tulips or something pretty outside would be good.

How are you getting ready for spring?

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Currently...Springing Forward to Birthdays, My Own Space & Spring Break

Spring forward or fall back - it doesn't matter - I'm thrown off for days trying to figure out what time it is, remembering whether I adjusted this clock or not, and whether I should have another cup of coffee or a glass of wine (such decisions!)

Add that to a whirlwind of weekend activities, running back-to-back and on top of each other, after two no-school snow days and I'm totally out of whack today.  Oh - and I picked up sugar-free coffee creamer.

But the weather seems nice out and I'm in a kinda good mood.  I've got a few projects going on, all of which I need to wrap up in the next two weeks (thus, more coffee, less wine, even less mojitos.)    Other than those, there's a few another things I'm currently working on.

Baby blankets and baby hats.  Still have baby blankets to finish and/or deliver for my pregnant friends.  With this cold snap, I've also added hats to the list because I hate to see a baby outside without a hat.  I've also considered making preemie hats because I have so many little bits of yarn.  That's on my to-do list, but if you know of an organization that needs preemie hats, let me know. That'll get me stitching.

Organizing and decorating my space. A year or so ago, I took over the kids' playroom as my work space.  It still doesn't feel cozy to me, yet. Right now it's functional (sometimes, when it's not a mess), but not "me."  Which I'm not really sure yet what that is since I've not lived alone and had my "own" space since I was in grad school, when it was just me and my dog (not my current dog, another black Cocker Spaniel).  I'm collecting ideas - where else? On Pinterest in "a room of my own."

Planning a Sweet 16. I'm kinda nervous about this. Okay, maybe more about my first child turning 16! than the actual party, although thinking about 50 teens in my house is making me a bit anxious, too.  I'm overwhelmed by all the stuff I still need to teach her (she still doesn't even sort her laundry properly or know how to put on eyeliner) and the limited amount of time before she heads off into the big blue world (of which I'm reminded by the mountain of college info that is stuffed in the mailbox).   And if she turns 16, that means, Lord willing, the next one will too and then the next and then the next. And where will that leave me?  Oh, yeah - on a beach in the Caribbean with an umbrella drink.  (Think positive!)

Thinking about spring break.  It'll be here before we know it and I really really don't want to be near my house when it comes. How far can I drive in a week or maybe we can get on a plane.  What great spring break plans are out there?

Trying to figure out what home project my husband has going on in the basement. You know when your spouse makes multiple trips to Home Depot and you hear sawing and drilling and smell sawdust?  I just stay out of the way.  We could have a built-in pool or a basketball court by the time he's done. Who knows.

Now, let me get back to trying to fix up this coffee. I've got stuff to do.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Book I'm Carrying Around: Strange Library

The Strange LibraryThe Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading confession - I totally picked up this book because of the cover. The cover is everything, I always judge a book by its cover.  Unlike any normal adult book, the cover flips open vertically so of course, I had to feed my curiosity and figure out what this book was about.

And now that I've read it... I still don't know exactly what it's about. The summary tells you right off: a boy gets stuck in a crazy weird library with an old man, a man dressed in sheep's skin, and a beautiful girl that only he, but sometimes the Sheep Man, can see. He's terribly upset because now he will be late for dinner and his mother will be upset and he eventually tries to escape.

I know there's a deeper meaning, I just haven't figured it out yet.  This is the first book I've read in a long time in 1 sitting, so I was excited about that.  Aside from being a short story, it's printed in 18 point font.  So there is the possibility of reading it again, if necessary.

I've ranked the stars based on the cover & the smart writing.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Forget Sugary Drinks, Pass These Laws To Make Parenting Easier

The other day, I saw yet another bill being proffered so that parents don't have to do their job.  The Healthy Kids' Meal Bill would require that restaurants offer water, juice or milk as the beverage with a kids' meal. Why? Yes, because it's healthier than, say lemonade or a soda. But, also, because parents don't want to be the bad guys on this.  Really? We're going to make a law, just so parents don't have to say "no, Bobby, you can't get a soda with your meal?" Really?

I get it - sugary drinks - bad for kids - bad for their teeth - blah blah blah.  I'm not debating whether lemonade or milk is more nutritious. But what I am saying is this: shouldn't it be my decision, as mom, whether my kid gets to have a lemonade or milk with their chicken nuggets and fries, as opposed to law?  Yes, there are kids who have fruit punch in their baby bottles (not good for their teeth, moms) but then there are those who only have the sugary stuff as their treat when they go out.  So... how about we let the parents figure out what their kids drink, when.

And as for the parents who need this kind of law to make parenting easier?  If you can't say "no" to this, what are you going to do about the really hard stuff? Like dying their hair purple or taking your car for a midnight trip to the beach? And how are you teaching them to say "no" to the offer of a cigarette or a beer or (sex)?  We're not regulating an illegal substance here, you know like marijuana (which by the way, folks are determined to make legal). And I might be more concerned about the legality of selling a 16oz of Starbucks to a teenager (talk about an addiction!)  We're talking about a mixture of sugar and water.  Don't want your kids to have it, say "no."

But if we are looking for some laws to pass to make parenting easier, here's a few options to consider.

  • Cell phone companies must turn off signals to phones operated by those under 18 years of age at 9 p.m.
  • Children's rooms must be cleaned, with clothes put away, each day, without being told.
  • Voices shall not rise over a normally acceptable talking volume when a parent is on the phone; nor shall any child ask for cookies, a lost shoe, or permission to do anything during this time.
  • No children's activity shall require more than 1 practice session per week.
  • Any children-focused activity facility (gym, dance studio, karate center, music hall) shall have a fully-loaded and operational coffee machine and comfy chairs in the waiting area.

Any offense is punishable by the mother effected being sent to the nearest day spa for a pedicure, manicure, or if the infraction is bad enough, a massage.

Let's start with these.

In the meantime pass me a Pepsi & fries.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Celebrate National Reading Month! Start with Dr. Seuss

It's National Reading Month! And the month always kicks off with a Happy Birthday shout-out to Dr. Seuss.

As I mentioned in my snow-day post last week, there is reportedly a new Dr. Seuss coming out, What Pet Should I Get?  In anticipation of the book and to burn some snow-day time, my little one, Nat, wrote her own version of rhyme about selecting a pet.  She let me share it with you, but wanted to do so in her own handwriting, along with her cover of the ever-popular Cat in the Hat (above).

I also want to say "thanks!" to the National Education Association (that's your teachers, or at least some of them) for a 25th Anniversary edition of Oh, The Places You'll Go!  I received my first copy years ago as I graduated from the University of Delaware, a gift from my dorm assistant.  As a high school teacher, I gave copies to graduating students and even read it aloud in class (don't believe the myth that kids get too old to read to - nothing like reading Dr. Seuss to 17-year olds.)  Since one copy already sits on my shelf, I'm passing this one on to a local elementary school principal who I've worked with as a volunteer in our county PTA.  He's never been my own child's principal, but in visiting his school and meeting with him, I know he has a great energy and spirit and commitment to making his kids successful, including a STEM lab in his school, college visit field trips and an undefeated basketball team, so that they will have many options for the places that they will go.

And if you know an amazing kid who is excelling in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM), be sure to check out the Dr. Seuss Enterprises Kids Moving Mountains scholarship contest.

Happy reading!

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