Summer 2014 Bucket List

With summer officially arriving over the weekend, I was thinking about all the things I would like to accomplish over the next couple of months. Let me rephrase that…thing I’m hoping to accomplish. Beach days, time at the pool, and playing outside are all oodles of fun, but sometimes it’s nice to actually think about either getting things done or doing things you wouldn’t normally do. I know some of the things on my list may sound silly, but I really want to get them done. So here goes…

 1. Read at least two books. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have two kids with you all the time, it is. I used to read a lot more adult books, but now my reading list doesn’t get past Dr. Seuss and Pete the Cat. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great, but sometimes you just need a little more substance.

2. Organize my closets…for real. Lame, I know. But, it needs to be done. My OCD has taken a back seat since I’ve had kids, but it’s creeping back into play. There just seems like there is so much junk…I mean treasures…to be discovered!

3. Find more things to sell on eBay. See, once I clean out the closets, I know I will find more junk…I mean treasures to sell. I was doing really well with this over the winter and spring, but I’ve gotten a little bit lazy. I know there are a lot of things that could and should be sold. I just need to stop being lazy about it and try to make some money!

4. Plan a girls day, weekend if possible. I’ll take anything I can get. As you get older, everyone’s lives get so much more complicated. Everyone is so busy that it’s hard to find time when everyone can get together. But, sometimes you just need it. Just some time away to finish a conversation, eat a meal in a restaurant while it’s hot, maybe even have two glasses of wine instead of one! Who’s with me?

5. Have at least 2 summer date nights. Kids, work, life…they just all get in the way of having a nice night out with the hubs. It’s great to have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around the latest Doc McStuffins or Dora episode. It’s nice to just reconnect as a couple without  focusing all your energy on the kids.

6. Take the kids to the Bronx Zoo. I don’t know why I’m kinda obsessed with this one. My kids don’t even know what the Bronx Zoo is, but for some reason, I really want to take them. They’ve been to a smaller zoo before and loved it, so I’m sure they will enjoy this trip as well. I think I just really want to go myself since I haven’t been there since I was a little girl.

7. Go to one amusement park. Really, just one. My head and wallet can only manage one. I like them, but in small doses. I’m not one for upside down, throw up your lunch rides. I like to go on a few tame rides, take the kids around, play a couple of games and call it a day. We tried to go to one last year, but it never worked out for some reason. So, we’ll see what happens this year!

I’m sure there are other things I want to get done, but we’ll leave it at seven. I don’t want to get too adventurous and then feel like a failure if I can’t get it all done! I think it’s important to map out things you want to do. Once you see them in print, it makes them more real. Does that make any sense?

So, what do you want to do this summer? Do you have a summer bucket list?



3-Step Summer Learning Plan

School’s out. Summer’s in. Time to trade in bed times for bicycles and ice cream trucks. Right? Yes, but it’s also time to try to do some summer learning. I know; I’m such an annoying mother. I should let them run free from morning until night and forget about learning anything important until school starts up again. But, if you know me at all, you know I’m a bit of a nerd and I’m proud of it. I like to learn. I like to create things. I like to read. I like to teach my kids things. Luckily, my kids like learning things too.

My older daughter starts Kindergarten in the fall while my younger daughter will start with her two mornings of pre-k. What could kids that age possible have to learn you may ask? Well, a lot if. We went to my daughter’s Kindergarten orientation last week and let me tell you, things have changed quite a bit in thirty years. Gone are the days of play kitchens and finger paints. They’ve been replaced with site words and writing. Little kids are certainly expected to know a lot at a young age. It is kinda sad that my kids will not be able to enjoy a lot of the fun things I did at their age. But, it seems our kids are being forced to be smarter and more competitive for when they become grown-ups.

I’m not putting my kids in some summer learning boot camp, but we will be doing daily exercises to get their brains moving. I put the little people in my head to work to devise a plan. They’ve come up with three steps for summer success:

1. ABC’s of Summer: My daughter’s school provided us with letter and number packets so she can learn to write. She’s already done the alphabet in pre-k and can write her name, but there are some letters that are still giving her problems. So, each day we will focus on one letter. I’m also going to ask her to come up with one word for each letter. I try to find summer related words, but sometimes that’s not the case. Hopefully, this will help when she starts to read on her own. As for my younger daughter, she likes her Leap Frog Letter Factory. She uses it to recognize letters and their sounds. It also makes her feel as though she’s doing something like her sister.

2. Counting the Days of Summer: We’re going to use the number packets provided to focus on one number each day. I’m also going to use the calendar so she recognizes double digit numbers. I’m thinking of also using some pieces of fruit to work on simple addition and subtraction.

3. R is for Reading: We always read books, but this summer I’m going to start concentrating on comprehension. I’m going to ask my older daughter some questions about the stories. As for my little one, we’ll look at the colors the different characters in the books are wearing so she can get that down.

That’s it? Yep, that’s it. I think my little plan is just enough. I can tell you it is already working. We are only four days in and my daughter asks me to do her letters and numbers. Getting her and her sister to sit down for a story is sometimes a little more challenging, but we’re working on it.

In order to pave the way to success, I try to do these lessons in the morning after breakfast. I also keep the whole lesson to fifteen to twenty minutes. I find my kids learn better in the morning. I also find I can really keep their attention for that amount of time. Anything past that and the ants start dancing in their pants. I know a lot of parents don’t have the luxury of sitting with their kids in the morning. But, I think this is something that can be done before or after dinner. It’s short enough that I think it can be done any time that works for you.

I’ll be curious to see how much we improve on our letters. numbers, and reading by the end of the summer. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, what do you do to keep your kids’ minds busy over the summer?



Why Do Father’s Day Gifts Suck?

I’ve been out shopping this week, searching for the “perfect” Father’s Day gift for my husband. After searching high, low, left and right, I’m here to tell you all the options out there really suck. There’s no nice way to put it.

Let me break it down for you. If you look in any of the sale flyers in the paper, they are all littered with neck ties, khakis, golf clubs, and tools. I’m sorry, but I think those are all crappy gifts. First of all, the only time my husband wears a neck tie is for a wedding or a funeral. Through the years, he’s acquired enough to never need another one in his lifetime. So, scratch that off the list.

Now on to the khakis. Boring. There’s really not much more to say. I don’t wear khakis. My husband doesn’t wear them. We are not a khaki clan. I can’t buy khakis. The same can be said for golf clubs. I know a lot of guys would be foaming at the mouth if they got a new set for Father’s Day. Not in my house. My husband doesn’t golf. So, this goes in the “N/A” pile of Father’s Day gifts.

Moving on to tools. I like to compare these to small appliances for women. It’s kinda like buying a woman a vacuum or iron for Mother’s Day. You may need it, but it’s really not a gift. It’s just something to help you do even more housework. It’s like giving your guy an electric screwdriver, a shiny new hammer, and a wrench and saying, “Go fix all the things in the house that you should have fixed all year round. Happy Father’s Day!” Yet, another crappy gift.

There are always gadgets and electronics. Guys love that stuff. But, honestly some of them are so expensive. Who has money for that? Not this momma. I thought about going the sentimental route and getting something engraved. But, I’ve done that so many times. I’m running out of things to carve.

Hmmm. So, what do you buy for a Father’s Day gift? I asked my husband what he wanted. He truly said nothing. He’s the type to just buy something when he wants it. He’s not going to wait for some Hallmark holiday to get something he’s been wanting. That’s why shopping is so difficult.

I was ready to chuck the whole gift idea, but I felt a twinge of guilt about not having something for him to open Sunday morning. At least something from the kids. After sorting through racks of ugly shirts that left me wanting to chuck some golf balls at someone, I did find a gift. Not a big gift. Not a “typical” gift, but a gift none the less. It’s just a little something from the kiddies. Hopefully he likes it because I can’t return it.

So, what am I going to get him? Maybe I’ll make something other than chicken. That would truly be a gift in my house! I don’t know. I still have a few days to decide.  All I know is that shopping for Father’s Day is annoying. Enough said.

The First of Many Graduations

It may sound cliché, but time passes so quickly. That’s especially true once you start having kids. One day turns into one week, into one month, into one year which crashes into the next, creating a domino effect that has you shaking your head wondering where all the time has gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately because my daughter graduates from pre-school this week. I know to some people it may seem so insignificant considering all of the other graduations and milestones that are yet to come, but to me, it’s a big deal. It signifies the fact that she is really growing up and I really can’t believe it.

I can remember the day she was born more clearly than what I ate for dinner last night. I can re-tell her delivery story up to the detail of what was on the television in the room at the time. I can remember her jet black hair (which has turned twenty shades lighter since then) and trying to figure out who she looked like more.

I remember her first ride in the car and how I thought I would never be able to drive around with her because I would have to be staring at her constantly. Yeah, I got over that one! I remember how I felt leaving her for the first time when I had to go back to work and how much I cried. Fast forward a few years to her first day of pre-school and how she felt when she had to leave me and how much she cried. Now, she hardly stops to give me a quick hug and kiss before settling into the classroom. It’s funny how time changes so much.

I’ve just been thinking about what the beginning of “big girl” school really means…for both of us. I think it’s going to be harder for me, lol! We all know kids are pretty resilient. It’s us parents who need to grow a thicker skin. There’s so much more to worry about once kids get to “big girl” school.  Truly, I don’t think I’m ready for Kindergarten! I just want to bottle her up and keep her tiny forever. I know she has to grow-up. But, it sucks.

To make matters worse, her Kindergarten orientation is scheduled a few hours after her graduation. Talk about hittin’ a momma hard. I’m gonna be one Lifetime movie away from a total crying fest. I’m sure it’s nothing some adult beverages can’t fix!

Growing up is hard to do…especially for parents. You just want to stop the clock. But, you can’t.  You just have to hit the “play” button without accidentally tapping “fast forward”.






Why Flying With Kids Isn’t So Bad

As a parent, there a lot of things I dread. Cleaning up puke, temper tantrums, kids sleeping in my bed…the list goes on and on. Up until a week ago, I would have put flying with kids on that list as well. Since we’ve had kids, all of our vacations have been road trips. Why? Well, for one they are cheaper. Secondly, you can always pull over and take a time out if the kids get a little too crazy. I really never entertained the idea of putting my two and four year old girls on an airplane. I didn’t want to be “that” family. You know what I’m talking about. The ones they do news stories about. The kids who don’t stop crying leading to all the other passengers demanding their money back. I just didn’t want to take the chance.

So, what happened? Why did I change my mind? Well, the eleven hour drive we would have had to take was starting to make me break out in hives. I could envision a symphony of “are we there yets?” with a chorus of “I have to pee” ever hour. I could feel my neck start to tense and my eyes burn with exhaustion. Wouldn’t it be easier to take a two hour flight and be able to enjoy the day when we arrive at our destination? It sounded like a lovely idea, although I still had anxiety. Would the plane bother their ears? Would they be too scared to even get on the plane?

Well, my girls surprised me…big time. They were so excited to get on the plane that any anxiety they may have had just disappeared. I never heard them say they were scared or that they didn’t want to get on. As a precaution, I gave them some Benadryl just in case their ears started to bother them. But, I never heard them complain. After about fifteen minutes in the air, my two-year-old fell asleep. My other daughter was just so excited, she just looked out the window and took it all in. Before I knew it, we were landing.

The ride home went just as well. This time I forgot to give them Benadryl, but they didn’t seem to really need it. This time both girls fell asleep for awhile! This was 100 times better than any road trip we ever took!

I know, I know. We were lucky. Things could have totally went the other way. They could have been kicking and screaming the entire way leading me to look for an emergency exit and a life vest. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case.

So, if you were like me, dreading flying with your kids, I’m here to tell you to give it a try. You won’t know until you do. I would advise starting off with a short flight(ours was two hours) just in case there are problems. In the end, we were able to enjoy the day once we arrived. It was like having an extra day of vacation. It was also nice to arrive home not feeling like a zombie!

Have you flown with your kids? How was your experience?



Night Night Phone

I will be the first to admit that I am semi-obsessed with my iPhone. I used to roll my eyes at people who constantly scrolled, texted, and tweeted through their days. I sadly admit, I am now becoming one of those people. They say the first step to fixing a problem is to admit you have one. So, there. I’m not saying I’m going to give up my phone completely. Come on now, I may break out in hives. But, I think I have come up with a way to hang up on my obsession…a little.

I started to get the idea when I was on vacation last week. I didn’t unplug completely, but I did loosen the cord. I checked all my fave sites in the morning and again before I went to bed. But that’s it. I wasn’t constantly looking to see who liked my photo or who just tweeted they went to the bathroom. I didn’t catch an email just as it came in my inbox. Guess what? I survived! Shocker, I know. By tuning out my phone I noticed I was more tuned in to my surroundings. Granted, I was near a beach. But, you get the point. I started to remember the days before my smart phone began to transform me into an anti-social notification hungry nut.

So, now that I’m home in my not so picturesque surroundings, I’ve come up with a plan to control my phone frenzy. It starts with really making an effort to limit my phone usage during the day. That means resisting the urge to constantly check for updates. Instead, I can use that time to play with my kids or get more things done around the house. But, the big change is…drumroll please…saying goodnight to my phone so I’m not constantly on it before bed. My new rule is to put it to bed when I put my kids to bed. If I can do this, I will have a few hours to do things like have a real conversation with my husband or watch one of the dozens of shows in my DVR and read a book. I’ll admit, it’s hard to resist the urge, but I’m trying…baby steps…baby steps.

If you can relate to anything that I just wrote, how about trying to make the change too? Isn’t it times to say night night phone?