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Friday, November 21, 2014

Five on Friday: Taglines for My New Exercise Video Series

On my personal Facebook page the other day, I was whining about how cold it was and coming to the realization that I must hate exercise videos a lot because I chose to go run in the cold instead of stay inside and exercise. I shared a picture of myself bundled up and lamented that no amount of Chaka Khan being blasted into my ears could make running in that sort of weather okay.

One of my friends said she wanted ME to make some exercise videos so naturally I began entertaining this notion immediately. I need to have a niche, you know, something to set MY exercise videos apart from the rest so started coming up with some taglines. They are:

1. Exercise videos for people that hate exercise videos but don't mind a little Chaka Khan.

2. Exercise videos for people who can't even with going to the gym.

3. Exercise videos for people who have to kick toys out of the way to start and yell at kids to leave them alone to finish.

4. Exercise videos for people who have crappy non-matching exercise clothes and might need a soup can for a hand weight.

5. Exercise videos for people who go through all the motions but are spending the entire time thinking things like "Did I sign that paper for school? No, I don't think I did so maybe I'll stop when I go past school later. No you absolutely will not stop, if he wants to join the club, he needs to be responsible and get me to sign the paper. WAIT A MINUTE, do I have any idea what's for dinner? If we're going to the library after school and I have that meeting later tonight I'd better fix something in the afternoon but SHIT I totally forgot to put cannellini beans on my shopping list, didn't I? Okay after these sit ups I'll call neighbor and see if she has a can I can borrow. Don't forget, don't forget, 3 more, SHIT this is hard, 2, oh my god I'm dying I cannot do one more yes you can ONE and DONE!"

Hmm, maybe that last one is a little too long . . .

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five of Friday: Best Things the Kids Are Thankful for (So Far)

Every November we make a big featherless paper turkey and for some unknown reason the kids give him a food name (Cheeseburger or Bacon, for example. This year it's named Waffle. My youngest wanted to name it "Frozen" after the movie and I thought "Frozen Turkey" was funny but we were voted down.)

We also cut out paper feathers and leave them with some pens in the dining room. After dinner, we write things we're thankful for and then stick the feathers to the turkey.

Waffle the Turkey

Waffle is looking nice and full already even though we still have two weeks until Thanksgiving. My favorite feathers so far are:

1. Carrots. This guy just LOVES his carrots.

"I am thankful for carrots because I can snap them loud."

2. Every one my youngest has dictated for someone else to write for her. She starts off each one with, "I'm thank you for . . ." 

3. The other night we were playing a really silly game at the dinner table with lots of giggling. I finished eating so quietly began writing on my feather and then B and then Daddy-O did the same. A minute later we realized we all wrote pretty much the same thing:

"I'm thankful for family games" "I am thankful for family games at dinner time" "I am thankful for fun family games"

4.  He may or may not be talking about me, but I like this one that Daddy-O wrote either way.
"I am thankful for a strong female role model for my children"

5. Last night after dinner Z asked if we could write on our feathers but there was only one left. I didn't feel like cutting more right then so I suggested a group effort and we came up with this:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Story About Fear

On Mischief Night I took part in a local storytelling event that had the theme of "Fear."

Here's the story I told:

It used to be I didn’t know what fear was. I grew up here in the country, occasionally scaring myself out of bed with a boogieman nightmare but otherwise perfectly comfortable with sporadically locked doors and windows left wide open all night.

It was a nice way to grow up.

So when I feel afraid now, it really bothers me. It’s not frequent, and usually only if I’m alone at night, laying in bed and making the dreadful mistake of letting my imagination turn the normalcy of an old house creaking into the certainty of an intruder sneaking his way up the stairs.

When I tell my husband how scared I sometimes feel, he tells me that there are times that he’s frightened as well.  “Yeah, but I never felt like this before,” I tell him. Friends of mine that are mothers confide that they also feel scared; it seems that becoming a parent brings out fatalistic visions in all of us.  Yet still I think, “but I was never scared before.  He did this to me.”

A few weeks after a stranger broke into my college apartment and stayed two hours raping and threatening me, I watched a scary movie for some reason. In it, a male attacker surprised his female victim in a public restroom. It resulted in me being terrified of public bathrooms. I went from knowing no fear to knowing absolute terror. I would find myself alone in a public bathroom and would hear a noise outside of the stall and then become instantly paralyzed in horror. More than once I had to muster up my dwindling courage just to leave the stall, more than once I cried near the sinks when I realized I was alone and safe.

I didn’t really tell any of my friends about that public bathroom fear, which is weird since I talked with them about every other aspect of my healing process. During it all I wondered how would I know when I was completely healed? Initially I thought it’d be when I could sleep alone without any drugs to knock me out. Once I mastered that I modified it to be, “it’ll be when I can be alone at night and not be terrified.” Finally I thought it’d be when I could make it through the day without thinking about it at all, which seemed thoroughly impossible, especially since people kept telling me it’d be the first thing I’d think about in the morning and the last thing I’d think about at night for the rest of my life.


Now I find myself on a monthly basis standing before the Shop Rite pharmacist who waits patiently while I try desperately to remember what year one of my children was born in so I can get their vitamin refill.

I have five children now. It takes me a minute, okay? Sometimes there’s some math involved. It’s never been my forte.

These kids. These, did I mention—five? --kids. They keep me inspired, entertained, engaged and . . . exhausted. They keep my brain too tired, too filled with birth dates, play dates and school project due dates to have room in there to spend time regularly thinking about something rather unpleasant that happened to me almost twenty years ago.

That fear I had of being in the bathroom alone? These kids guarantee that I never actually get to go to the bathroom by myself.  Thanks, guys. And these days if I am alone with them at night and hear our old house creak; now I focus on them. I know that if there is an intruder, I won’t let him hurt my kids. My concerns for myself fly out the window as I find my courage (and the wooden baseball bat my husband keeps near the bed). Thinking of protecting them completely emboldens me and I know I would gladly put my life on the line to save theirs.

Because when the lives of my kids are even potentially put in danger, that adrenaline-fueled courage evicts any fear that might be sneaking in. It used to be that the single most terrifying moment in my existence was when my bedroom door slowly opened and a face I had never seen before peeked through. But fifteen years later I stood on my deck and watched my two-year-old and eight-year-old sons slide into our pond on an icy February day. Frantically I ran to the pond and willingly jumped in, never feeling an ounce of cold or fear. That moment of seeing them slide into the icy water definitively took over as the most frightening moment of my life.

Up until now I’ve tried hard to avoid those corny “Mom” expressions that are plastered on mugs and bumper stickers. But after writing this, I’m thinking of appropriating one for my own purposes: You can’t scare me. I have kids.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Five on Friday: Wintering With the Wild Child (or Five. A Survival Guide)

 Once when my older two children were ages three and four, it was a late winter day and they were happily playing in the play room. I told them that I was going out to dump the compost and that I'd be right back in. I went out the back door, down the hill and dumped the compost. I tried walking back in and realized that the hill was so icy that I actually could not get back up.

Though I will admit I'm prone to hyperbole, I swear to you it took me a solid twenty minutes to get back in the house. I was honestly starting to wonder each time that I stepped forward a foot and slid back three if I should try shouting for help.

When I got back in, they were still playing and hadn't even noticed my prolonged absence.

The thought of that happening with my three younger children makes me shudder in fear with the thought of what the state of my house would be if there were left alone for twenty minutes in the winter. These children are ACTIVE. When it gets too dark/cold/rainy/icy to be outside playing sports, they come in and pick up exactly where they left off, jumping off furniture, kicking balls, tackling, sliding, throwing things. Sometimes they jump so hard upstairs they make the entire kitchen ceiling shake and I'm certain it's going to crash down on me one day.

Quite frankly, I don't enjoy living like this but I cannot change them so instead I'm working on my list of ideas to harness their energy and keep them engaged indoors in a way that doesn't cause me such agita. (They will get as much outside play as much as possible, of course, so long as it's a winter that's not too bitterly cold or icy!)

1. Keep a running list of hands-on activities that they will actually like to do. My 6 and 8 year olds are not big into crafts but they love messy-fun experiments, like making flubber and ooblek (corn starch and water--really fun), baking soda "eggs" with toys hidden inside and droppers of vinegar to dissolve them, painting with toy cars and trucks. (Driving toy cars through blobs of paint--plus you can save these giant paintings to use as wrapping paper.)

2. Cooking and baking is something they all like. I think I'll employ them in making baked goods as holiday gifts.

3. Active games that they can play without (hopefully) breaking anything or each other: cars and ramps, freeze dance/dance party, Simon Says, Hide and Seek.

4. Setting up board games in different spots in the house and then continually switching games and partners. Also coming up with ideas for lego building contests.

5. Saving this one for a day when they're really wound up and driving me crazy: I want to work out some sort of system of points...for example, for every five minutes of calm play with nobody getting hurt translates into points and a certain number of points will earn them time on the Wii.

Anyone else saving up ideas now? I'd love to hear what you've got in your bag of tricks!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Five on Friday: This is Halloween

It's time for Five on Friday, it's Halloween, I have five kids, so this week's topic is a no-brainer: Here's a list of what my kids are dressing up for today:

1. 4 year old A was going to be a cheerleader, my friend found her a cute costume at a sale. Then she said she wanted to be Elsa which made the rest of us groan but I told her she could if she wore the costume her older sister and I had made for her birthday (that she never really seemed to like). Then we were at another sale and saw a super cute Eeyore costume and she said she wanted that. It's very cuddly and has a built-in big soft tummy, so she's super snuggly in it. Plus she has no idea who Eeyore is and can't properly pronounce his name, so it's extra adorable.
Maybe she'll try wearing all three at once tonight!

2. 6 year old Z said he wanted to be a red ninja. Again. Just like he was last year. I started to protest, that's so boring! Be a ketchup bottle, you love ketchup! Then realized I was creating more work for myself. The kid already owns the costume from last year, it fits* him and he wants to wear it again. DONE. (*okay so it technically still fits him, however last year the pants were a tiny bit long and thinking he'd only wear it once, I just used my pinking shears to hack the bottoms. Now they're a little bit short on him. Oh well, it's good enough to get candy in.) 
Boring but easy. Please note hacked pant bottoms.

3. 8 year old E is being Harry Potter. Since my oldest daughter harbored a many-year Harry Potter obsession, we already owned everything needed for this costume. BOOM!
Easy peasy.

4. 12 year old G is being Queen's front man, Freddie Mercury. I wasn't sure how I was going to manage the iconic yellow jacket needed but bag day, some yellow dye and a little creativity made it come together nicely. (Oh and a pair of hand-me-down karate pants, red ribbon and iron-on tape!)

5. 14 year old B is is going to be Andy Warhol, assuring that nobody at the middle school will know who she or her brother are dressed up as. And actually these two dress so eccentrically on any given day, people might not even realize they’re dressed up. (And I will be her Pop Art Marilyn, stay tuned to my FB page https://www.facebook.com/SisterSerendip for a picture later!)

Artist at work


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Random Facts about Moi? Oui, S'il Vous Plait!

Usually Friday is my day for a list of five things but seeing as how I was challenged TWICE* in a twelve-hour period to participate in this, I will succumb and list five (more) random things about myself.

1. What do flip flops and candy corn have in common? I can't stand either one of them. Toe wedgies and colored sugar wax? No thank you. However, I really appreciate both of them for crafting themes. I made super cute flip flop shirts with my Girl Scout troop once and think all sorts of candy corn crafts are absolutely adorable.

2. I probably set my standards for myself too high but I'm also good at delegating and saying "no" so I think it works out.

3. I'm fascinated by olfactory memories. I love how the combination of garlic cooking and a squished stink bug somewhere (hey, they smell like cilantro) can immediately bring me back to the apartment I lived in during my semester in Spain.

4. Growing up, we didn't have cable because it wasn't available in our area. We finally got it but my parents only got the basic package and that point I was pretty used to entertaining myself without TV anyway. I also didn't really watch a lot of movies apparently because I don't get 75% of the pop culture references from TV/Movies of the 80s and 90s that my contemporaries bring up. I still have never even seen "When Harry Met Sally" even though I married a man that was just a good friend of mine for years before we were ever a couple.

5.  Speaking of my husband, he and I play online Scrabble against each other all day. And most of the evening too.

Now I challenge you to come up with a list! Come on, it's fun. Jenny, Punk Rock Papa, Karen and Roger

*Thanks for challenging me, Kimberly and Deborah, I love a good challenge.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five on Friday: Ways I'm Attempting to Keep My Family Healthy This Winter

Summer's over and the kids are indoors more and germs are rampant. Here are somethings we do around here to try to keep them healthy:

1. Vitamins and elderberry syrup every morning. Occasional gelatin "flu shots" from this recipe on the Farmer's Almanac ( http://farmersalmanac.com/health/2014/09/29/gelatin-flu-shots/  ). It might not really do anything  but it's pretty much an apple pie jello jiggler so they love it and it can't hurt (it's local honey, local apple cider, cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger in jello form)

2. Speaking of vitamins, in the winter I add chewable vitamin D for the kids since it's so good for flu-fighting and they aren't out getting it naturally from the sun as much as they were in the summer. Lots of fruits and veggies even though they're not as fresh and abundant as they were all summer.

3. Vigilance in hand washing, particularly before eating, even just snacks.

4. Soaking toothbrushes in boiling water for a few minutes about once a week. Also remembering to clean light switches and toilet handles.

5. Lastly but most importantly: Never, ever, EVER mention how rarely the kids get sick. Actually, forget I even wrote that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five on Friday: The Shocking Pictures They Don't Want You to See!

I've had fun all week taking over the Official Nick Mom Instagram Page http://instagram.com/officialnickmom?modal=true

They asked me to send them pictures from one day in my life, but they didn't say how many.

I sent fourteen. They chose what they wanted to share and thought the public would never be able to see the forgotten photos from my last Thursday. But I was granted top-secret access to my own iPhoto library and will share with the public those pictures that THEY didn't want you to see.

A shocking Five on Friday photo spread. Remember, you saw it here first:

1.  My four year old and I like to lunch like we're at a cocktail party.

2. I I think this look says "I forget to make sure my scarf is covering my shirt stains" as well as "I have a preschooler that makes me banana necklaces and takes a really long time to buckle up."

3. They're hooooome! This is what the counter looks like when you don't let four kids buy lunch.

 4. The rest of homework and lunch packing will have to wait until after soccer


5. Kids, your Mom is crazy.