Summer Schedule Update…you can stop laughing now

So I feel the need to clarify my last post about keeping a summer schedule. If you are done laughing (Mom, and a nameless friend or two), here’s the point I was trying to make:

When the kids finally get done with school it can be really easy to fall into the trap of not doing anything…but if your house is anything like ours, we can only do that for so long before behavior starts going down the toilet – quickly. That’s why I wanted to have a general idea of things to do at different times of the day (and materials to back up those craft based ideas), so that when we had hit our “chillaxing” limit (the favorite new word of the big kids), I could quickly and easily get them going on something else. Plus I like organizing (sometimes), so writing things down helps for me.

So for those of you (Mom, again) who were in hysterics thinking that I was standing over the kids with a whistle and blowing it every 15 minutes to signal activity change…chillax…or if you are already chillaxed after having the best laugh you’ve had in a while when you realized that I wasn’t really joking in my last post, you should really go make some sponge balls. They are seriously awesome, and older kids can easily help with or do this project by themselves. I linked the original instructions, but here is a super quick how-to:



First, get some cheap sponges. Normally I would use three per ball, but this isn’t rocket science, so two will be fine. Plus, I ran out of sponges.













You want 5 strips from each sponge, so make four marks about 1/2 an inch wide on both the top and the bottom of the sponge. Try to make them as even as you can, but again, not rocket science.








Cut the strips out (I tried both a pair of kitchen scissors and a bread knife, and I much preferred the scissors. Less mess, less chance of me cutting off my fingers). Once they are all cut, stack them up, about 3 strips per row.










Then, take a heavy duty rubber band and wrap it around the stack, as close to the middle and as tightly as you can.













Fluff it out a bit and voila!











Have a great day!!!

Just a little somethin’ to break the monotony….Summer, summer, summertime

Yesterday was the first day of summer vacation and by 8:15 am I realized that I needed to make a plan. Not a ‘schedule every day, every minute, every activity’ plan, but I was definitely going to need to add some structure to our day. My son who just finished kindergarten was used to one, and quite frankly we all function better with some structure and a plan. Plus, with at least a basic idea in place we won’t fall into the trap of watching too much TV and just laying around the house. Both of these are fine in small doses, but I don’t want to look up and see that the whole summer has gone by.

So I did a little flexing of the googlefoo, as my husband would say, read some ideas, and came up with a basic plan.

First, I laid out our basic day, which revolves around food and sleeping:













One of the ideas that I read about had a basic list of things that the kids needed to do each day, the essentials, such as reading, writing in a journal, outside time, tidying, and then special time for a show, computer games, etc. The idea is that anytime you have open time and someone needs an activity, you can say “go write in your journal for half an hour!” A good idea perhaps for older children, and we will work on writing a bit, but I looked at the big picture.

For us, getting outside is vital, but we have to plan it. We have a lovely yard that gets A LOT of sun, so getting out early is important so we don’t fry and get tired out really quickly. So I added that in:













Then I thought about when it would be a good time to do some quiet reading (our Big Girl is learning to read!!), writing, or drawing. Now, anyone who has kids knows that the best time for kids to be receptive towards an activity that requires quiet, focused attention is after they have gotten some energy out and have eaten, so I added in reading/quiet activity time in here:





            *Reading/Quiet activity



            *Special stuff





I added ‘special’ time in after nap since the girls wake up at different times and we need variety in our quiet activities, so a show or some would work here.

As of right now I am leaving the last slot open for flexibility, so if we go to the library or park or visit a friend in the morning we can still find time for reading or more time outside once the day has started cooling off a bit. (We always head out again after dinner. These kids need to run!)

One of my favorite things I read on one page was the home aspect; every day for 5-10 minutes everyone has to clean/organize something. We have long been doing Tidy Time (I will tell you more about that another time), so I though this was great. I’m imagining it’s like a flash mob that cleans – put on some music, clean like maniacs for five minutes, continue on with your day. Brilliant.

Now, I am a major believer in free-play, so each of those ‘slots’ really only takes up a half hour or so, which leaves lots of time throughout the day for the kids to play however they want.

One of the other suggestions I read about was assigning a different activity to each day, but with 3 tiny kids on my own I think I will just try to get to the library on one specific day each week and make regular play dates with friends.

Besides the library day I will use the idea of doing a craft project on Mondays – that way over the weekend when my husband is home and I have help I can make a plan and get supplies for it all set up.

Which leads me to my next point:


It is called a sponge ball, and basically it is a reusable water balloon made of cut up sponges. I found the idea on Martha Stewart’s website, and contrary to all the other ideas I found, this did not involve a shadow box, handmade cork stamps, or a crap ton of time or money. Get some cheap sponges and some string. BOOM!

My son and I made 5 of these during nap and had a ton of fun in the afternoon. They are soooo much better than water balloons or squirt guns because they are totally reusable and easily refillable and repairable. The kids also used them to ‘clean’ the swing set and to cool off the seats of the swings and seesaw that had been baking in the sun all day. I didn’t get any pictures because I was too busy having fun hucking these things at my kids and dodging them when they all came after me.

Trust me: Go and make these. They are such a fun addition to outside play for the summer! I’m sure they would be fun in a pool, too! One tip I read was using rubber bands instead of string. I ended up cinching them with rubber bands first, then tying them with string, and because I tend to overdo things, adding another rubber band on top. They actually looked just like the picture did on the website, which is remarkable because it’s a Martha Stewart idea, and try as I might, I am no Martha.


So, that’s my plan. We are going to start this next week so I will keep you guys in the loop about how it goes!


Happy Summer!!!!

There’s an air of love and of happiness
And this is the Fresh Prince’s new definition of summer madness…

(that’s a link to the video, because you know that song is in your head and you totally want to listen to it now…you’re welcome)

You Better Work

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while now. It started with the Oscars when Ben Affleck was thanking his wife during his acceptance speech and referred to their marriage as “work” and that there wasn’t anyone else with whom he would prefer to work with. I watched that and felt a great sense of relief that someone was admitting that marriage is work– but I also cringed at the same time, for, sure enough, the next day the tabloids were all speculating on his comment with ‘Is their marriage in trouble?’ and ‘Affleck admits to working at his marriage’ and ‘Affleck/Garner DOOM AND MISERY!!’ headlines. (OK, so those were paraphrased, but you get the idea.)

It continued a few months later when one day while I was watching The Talk (total guilty pleasure of daytime TV for me) and Aisha Tyler made a comment about marriage being work – and hard work at that.

It was refreshing to hear people talk about the fact that they actively work on their marriage. The more I thought about it, though, the more frustrated I became. Why shouldn’t we be working on our relationships? Why is admitting that you are involved in the process of the largest and (hopefully) most important relationship that you will ever have a bad thing?

The fact is that I have only recently understood that I will be working on my personal happiness and the health of my marriage and family for the rest of my life. Once that dawned on me (hey, I never claimed to be a genius) the ridiculousness of that understanding smacked me upside the head.

Somewhere along the way we as a society seem to have gotten it into our brains that admitting that something requires a vested interest on our parts is a bad thing and that by admitting that we ‘work on’ it we are failing. It’s a systemic problem that stretches from the not-such-a-big deal (plants constantly dying because not enough attention/care is given to them or something along those lines) to the REALLY BIG DEALS like your relationship with your partner, your personal/spiritual happiness, or your mental health.

It’s the opposite of the way it should be; we should be embarrassed to admit that we don’t get involved in the major things that affect just about every aspect of our lives.

There are some people out there who are just naturally happy all of the time. They can always see the positive side to almost every situation. Most of us, however, have to pay a little more attention to our emotional health – maybe not an everyday check-in, but for the most part being positive and genuinely happy takes a bit of effort. Personally, I have found that it is too easy for me to be derailed by one negative thing and in the process forget all of the positive ones. Once I recognized that pattern and accepted that it was totally cool to actively work on getting my happiness balance back in order I felt so much better about everything.

The same thing applied to my marriage. There was a part that I thought could be better, (alright, alright – get your minds out of the gutter – most parts of a marriage/partnership can be better and more satisfying when attention is paid, not just that part), but I realized that I wasn’t doing anything about it to make it change or get better. Perhaps it was a lack of attention on my part, or because after almost 12 years together you tend to fall into certain patterns. Whatever the reason was, once I decided to stop bitching about it in my head and actually do something, it got better.


Recently I watched a video about a remarkable young man, Zach Sobiech, who is one of those born with an extremely positive demeanor, and even though he is dying of an aggressive form of cancer he is still incredibly positive. If you have a chance, try to watch it, or at least listen to his song – which is really, really great. Once again it took a tragedy for me to really look at my life and the choices I am making – the big and the small in my everyday life – and try and commit to truly living my life. I’m not going to say that I will go out and make each moment a MOMENT, but I will try to find the little treasures that are tucked into each day and that can be overlooked so easily.

So, why don’t we all just admit that we are going to take Rupaul’s advice when it comes to the stuff that matters: “You better work!” I think we’d all be better off for it…and perhaps more fabulous in the process.


As any parent will attest, the topic of sleep is never far from our minds. It starts before the little stinkers are even born with everyone and their mother telling you to “Sleep now before the baby comes!” It’s used as an excuse for why you (you=pregnant mom to be) are getting up 847 times each night to use the bathroom “That’s just nature’s way of getting you ready for the baaaaabbbyyy!!!”

Then your little bundle of joy arrives and you don’t really sleep again…ever.

Unless you get a sleeper.

Now, I know many of you are rubbing your tired, weary eyes, shaking your head and saying: “No way, man. Those are a total myth. Don’t exist. Hold on – I’ll be right back.” (Explanation to the non-parents: the above parent’s child just got out of bed for the 3rd time tonight because of some reason that has already been explained doesn’t exist and the parent is so tired that they have started speaking to the computer like it’s a living thing. Now we can continue.)

I know that it’s easier to believe they don’t exist. I understand; if they aren’t real then your child is totally normal. If they aren’t real then all parents feel this kind of blurry pain each and every freaking day.


But they are real. They do exist. I have seen them.


I have seen a healthy newborn sleep six hours straight – the day she was born. Baby, toddler, now into school – she kept doing it. This little one is a sleeper.

I have seen a preschooler sleep through a tour that I was given of his room while he was sleeping in it. He’s a sleeper.

I have a friend who looks forward to school vacations so she doesn’t have to set her alarm. Sleepers.


This topic is especially painful to me, as we do not have sleepers. Never have and probably never will. My first was up every hour and a half to two hours for the first 11 months of his life. I got three hour stretches for six months with our second and was thrilled! Our third was the best of all, and she was still up a lot. Now, even though they are getting older, they all still wake up a lot: bathroom, bad dreams, binkies (sleeps with 6), lost lovies, too dark, too light, loud car, unknown baby angst…they are up. Adding insult to injury is the fact that our oldest has always woken up incredibly early. 6:15 is sleeping in. There was a time when he would be up for the day before 5am. We are le tired.

The other morning when our son woke us, his sister with whom he shares a room, and then the baby in the room next door, at 5:44am, I wondered – not for the first time – “What would it be like to sleep?”

I can only imagine what it would be like to live in a world where children stay in their beds after being tucked in, go to sleep, stay asleep the whole night, and then get up at a reasonable time the next morning…

(insert dream sequence here)

In my head it would a world full of rainbows, with soft, fuzzy Glamour Shot-type of edges full of well thought out activities. I would be annoyingly chipper and obnoxiously productive. People would be genuinely shocked when they heard my age insisting that I had to be much younger – “you look so well rested and youthful!”


It sounds wonderful.


The problem is that we live in a world nowhere near Glamour-Shot Sleepy Town. We live in Grumpy Tired Town. It’s not fun to live in Grumpy Tired Town all the time.

So if you are the parent of the rare and wonderful sleeper, try to downplay it a little. We know it’s great –we can tell from your naturally glowing skin and lack of under-eye concealer that you are rested. It’s all in the delivery. You need to sell it like “Yeah, I won a free vacation to Cabo, but our luggage got lost and we got food poisoning.” You know: Awesome, but enough not awesome that we don’t hate you for it.

Someday we’ll join you in Glamour-Shot Sleepy Town, until then enjoy it but keep it mostly to yourselves – we’re too tired to be polite right now.

Sleep on, my friends!

Keeping the Faith Without Religion

This can be a tricky time of year for us. The Hubster and I were both raised celebrating and practicing Christian holidays and traditions, but as we became adults we found that a lot of the frameworks of our religion weren’t compatible with what we thought, how we lived, and eventually, what we wanted to teach our children.

For most of the year this is a non-issue, but each Winter and Spring we have a similar conversation about how we are going to explain Christmas, Jesus, and Easter to the kids.

While we don’t participate in organized religion, we are both spiritual and we both hold a special faith in the world, and we want to pass those feelings and teachings on to our kids. (Side note here: even the Husband and I do not completely agree on what’s out there or how it works, but we share the same basic principles.)

I know that we are not alone in this, either. There is a growing group of people who hold certain beliefs and yet do not attend church.

The tricky part is that we want to pass on the core teachings that most religions seem to be based on, but we don’t want to incorporate some of the tacked on (in my opinion) ‘rules’ that –again, in my opinion – seem to be completely opposite of what those core beliefs are all about.

So each year I explain it to the kids and it goes something like this:

Me: A long, long time ago there was a man named Jesus.
Kid: How long ago? Like when you were a baby?
No, a lot longer than that.
Like when Grampy was a baby? That long?
No, even longer than that – a really, REALLY long time ago – before cars, and TV, and computers or even lights.
OK – so Jesus lived a looooong time ago. Jesus was a teacher who wanted to help people learn the things that he thought were the most important for being a good person.
Like sharing? And not throwing tantrums?
Yes, like sharing. I don’t know what Jesus thought about tantrums, but I do know that he thought that love, kindness, helping, and caring were very, very important. That you should always treat other people the way that you would like to be treated.

I’m about the throw around some more of my personal opinions and simplify to a ridiculous extent a very complicated issue:

In my opinion, if most major religions were boiled down to their key points, they would all have some of the same things in common: a belief in a higher power, a connection between the earth and the skies or heavens, and an understanding that the more the whole works together the better all of mankind will be (hence all the rules/commandments). It makes sense; if people are kind to one another, help each other out, don’t take their stuff, then everyone is happier than they would be if we were all jerks and thieves.

These are the basics that we are trying to live our lives by and instill in our kids: be kind and loving, treat others how you would want to be treated, don’t be a jerk and take stuff that isn’t yours. We are also trying to teach them that we are all connected no matter what belief system you follow. That includes how we treat each other as people, how we treat the earth, and that in the end even when those we love have passed on, we are still connected to them by the love we have for them in our hearts.

I believe in spirits, but not the resurrection. I believe that there is something bigger than us that surrounds us in nature and all parts of the world and beyond. I believe that there is, as I tell the kids, a special spark in them – their soul – that makes them them. I believe that Spring and the Easter season is a way to remember that we have been given another chance to be the best people we can be – that we can grow from the past and rejoice in the new. I believe that taking the time to remember a person who spent their life trying to teach others love and compassion is incredibly important (and that goes for anyone who did that – not just Jesus).

I try my best to understand those who have different ideas than I do, as I hope they would do for me. I believe that passing these ideas along to my kids will only help them to be the best people they can be.

As I said before, there is a growing number of people who feel similarly, and who may also struggle to explain their faith when it doesn’t fall into the standard categories. I don’t claim to have all the answers for I am most certainly not a religious scholar – and I know that my way of thinking may be very different than yours – but I have the utmost faith that love, hope, and light will always win, and in the end I think that all of us can hopefully agree on that.

Happy Spring and much love to you and yours!

Like sand through the hourglass…or “What you know about rockin’ a wolf on your noggin?”

Have you ever had one of those moments where all of a sudden the truth is so glaringly obvious that no matter how shocking or unsettling it is, you have to acknowledge it? I had one of those moments yesterday.

Yesterday I finally admitted and recognized that I am entering a new demographic block.

Obviously I do not have the ability to stop time (but how cool would that be?), so I have known that this was coming, but I was trying to pretend it wasn’t – that I was just be-bopping along and even though time was passing, I wasn’t really changing.

I’ve been selling myself this little “I’m still the same” story for close on a decade now…

So this is what happened:

I had a doctor’s appointment first thing, and since it’s an hour away (long story) I try not to drag the kids with me if my husband can stay home. I go, do my thing, and am leaving town when at a red light a big group of young men cross in front of me.

Key Point #1: the doctor’s office is on the campus of a University.

I see this group in front of me, obviously coming from some practice as they have their gear bags and the same pants and Adidas flip flops on. One has a sweatshirt that leads me to believe that this is part of the rugby team for the school.

Key Point #2: My husband used to play rugby. Daniel Craig used to play rugby. This guy used to play rugby. I have a thing for rugby guys it seems.

So in the 3 seconds it takes for me to process this, these are the thoughts that go through my head:

Red light….

People crossing.

Oooh, a Rugby team.

(see tall guy) Oh, he’s cute.

Oh my god. He’s in college. He’s probably 18 years old.

Holy shit.

I’m probably close to twice his age….


I then see myself as others do at this point: a 34 year old mother sitting in her minivan, car seats and strollers filling the whole damn thing, blasting Macklemore’s Thrift Shop.

You can’t un-see something like that. I could get into a whole philosophical discussion on the wisdom that comes from age, the advantages of a different more mature perspective, how 34 isn’t really old, but honestly the only thing now that’s making me feel better is that I know that I can buy booze legally.

Cheers! Here’s to be-bopping along!

If you haven’t heard  Thrift Shop you should – it’s awesome: (NSFW) (Mom, that means Not Safe For Work-it has swears in it)

Here’s a clean version: