Monday, August 31, 2015

What the Kids Can Watch on Netflix (When Everyone Else's Kids are Back in School)

My Facebook feed has been flooded with first day of school pictures.  Tis that time of year! Everyone is heading back to school, dressed in their first day best, holding a chalkboard marking the occasion and smiling for the camera...

Unless your kids go to my kids' school which does not start until September 8th!!!  That's 8 more days (not that I'm counting).  Eight long days with nothing planned and daily temperatures in the 90s.

So we're doing a bit of parks.  A bit of pool.  And a bit of Netflixing....

Specifically, this month the kids are into Dinotrux.

The subject characters are a combination between dinosaurs and mechanical vehicles.  For two boys 4 and over WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE BETTER?

(Oh, maybe your own Dinotrux toy to play with.  Thanks, Netflix!).

From what I can gather from my eavesdropping of the kids viewing, the plot is simple.  Good guys versus bad guys, dinosaur best friends, and an evil Tyrannosaurus, among others.  But at the end of the day, does it really matter?  The boys love watching hybrid dinosaurs, and with 10 episodes of around 23 minutes each, I love the break.

Eight more days...  Sigh.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Summer of Indulgence Ends with a Run... for Wine

Summers are for relaxation.  For swimming.  For breaking the rules and abandoning a schedule and flying by the seat of one's pants.  Summers are for ice cream and sunshine and family and vacation; for dance parties and friends and overindulging.

I love summer.

This summer has been fantastic.  We've been in swimsuits nearly every day.  We've traveled up and down the east coast.  We've had our moments, believe me, but overall the good times have far outweighed any tantrum filled evening or dime swallowing incident.  It's been a fun-filled, laid back summer - one I'm proud to have added to my kids' roster of summer memories.  We did good.

And now it is coming to a close.

As I write this from our last summer vacation - on the balcony of our rental in Bethany Beach, I am coming to terms with the fact that reality is about to set in.  September brings first days of school and an onslaught of birthdays and commitments and appointments.  The lazy days of summer are coming to an end.

And I hate to admit it, but it's time.  Time to get healthy again.

I mean, lets face it - it's not such a great idea to stuff one's face with boardwalk fries on a regular basis or have a glass of wine at 2pm on a Monday afternoon.

(But it sure is fabulous).

The vacation's over.  It has to be.

September is my month of cleanse and detox.  I will be doing the Whole 30 (which I am sure I will blog about if I can summon the energy in the absence of carbs).  I will be training for a half marathon.  And I will be incorporating vegetables back into my children's diet.  (Unless tomato sauce counts - if so then they have been in the clear all summer long).

I am kicking it off by running a 5K at the National Harbor in DC next Sunday- the day after we return from vacation.  Welcome home!

But this isn't any ordinary 5K, it's the Chardonnay Run!  That's right, we run.  Then we drink wine. At 9am.

So who's coming with me?  It's not too late to register (click here to do so).  You also don't have to run the race.  You can just go and drink wine.  No judgment here.  It's not September yet.

I figure this is a perfect way to ease into my post-summer health.  Run.  Drink wine.

Baby steps.

I was provided complimentary registration for the Chardonnay Run.  All opinions reflected above are my own.  

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Waiting for the Dime to Pass (Literally)

As a mom of three boys six and under, I am well aware that in some ways, I asked for it.  I asked for the stress and the chaos and the mess and the overwhelming noise and discord and pandemonium that is my life.

So I hate to complain, but I think that even the most stringent of observers would agree that the past seven days of my life have been a bit much.

It all started last Thursday, with this:

Well isn't that a weird thing on Colin's finger, I said to myself last Thursday while sitting at Starbucks with my one year old.  A first time mom may have panicked and run straight to the doctor, but I am seasoned.  Cool, calm, collected, and pretty sure that it was nothing that some anti-fungal cream from CVS wouldn't cure.

But in an abundance of caution, I did what any seasoned mother would do - I texted the picture to every medical professional I can call a friend or acquaintance.  The universal consensus, unfortunately, was that it was not something that would be cured by anti-fungal cream.  Instead, I needed to haul ass to the ER to get the infection drained and treated.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Big Questions Begin

Children come into this world ignorant.  And what a beautiful thing!  Ignorant of war and prejudice and pain and death and all of the yucky parts of being alive.  If they are lucky, they are in a world of family and fairies and forever.

Slowly but surely, reality creeps in.  Shots at the doctor.  Mean kids on the playground.  Being left with a babysitter.  Wondering how the baby in mommy's tummy actually gets out, or what would happen if an airplane's engine stopped working mid-flight.  Pain, shame, abandonment, curiosity, fear.  It comes gradually, but it comes early.  And as my six year old has become more aware, the questions have begun.

The innocence of these questions tugs at my heart.

Last year he asked why it is that some people have "brown" skin and some people have "yellow" skin.  And why it is that some people's mommies and daddies live in two different houses.  And why some kids have two mommies, or two daddies.

These questions are typical, and I tried to answer them in a simplistic, honest way.  People have different skin colors just like people have different hair colors.  Sometimes mommies and daddies decide they don't want to live together anymore and that's okay.  And some girls marry girls, some boys marry boys, and some girls marry boys.  Anyone can be parents.

But the death questions tend to trip me up.

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Kids, the Dragon Slayers (courtesy of Netflix)

We rely heavily on Netflix during the summer months, with all of the travel and staying at locations without Disney Jr.  (how dare they!).  We've (I've) ODed on Caillou, Octonauts, and Curious George, so we've (I've) been looking for some other shows for the boys.  So when we received some swag from Netflix for their new show, Dragons: Race to the Edge, the boys were super excited.  And so was I.  (Have I mentioned how much I hate Caillou?).

The show features Hiccup and Toothless from the How to Train Your Dragon movies.  My kids haven't seen the movies, but they didn't seem to mind.  Dragons?  Yes, please.

They've been racing around the house with their knight gear, swords, and navigating the map of the dragon world (also courtesy of Netflix).

They love the swag, and they also love the show!  It is a bit darker and scarier than say, Caillou, but my older kids (4 and 6) are ready for something a bit older.  So far they've watched 6 of the 13 episodes, and I'm hoping to get the last 7 in before school starts.  Because me thinks I'm going to have to institute some screen time rules once vacation is over...


Friday, July 24, 2015

My Happy Place

I'm a big believer that happiness comes from within - that external factors - surroundings, circumstance, money - should only have so much bearing.  But I have to say, there's something about just being in Cape Cod that lifts my spirits to new heights.

I mean, how can you not be joyful when you're surrounded by this:

Cahoon Hollow Beach

Cahoon Hollow Beach

Wellfleet Town Harbor

Gull Pond

I've been here to Wellfleet, a small town on the Outer Cape, every year of my whole life.  That would make this trip my 37th.  And yet, every time I come - even more so the older I get - I am awestruck by the beauty.

I've been extremely fortunate to have travelled to many absolutely beautiful places.  I've snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, I've taken a cruise through the Norwegian Fjords and the Nile in Egypt, I've seen fluorescent blue water in the Blue Grotto in Capri, I've paraglided in the Swiss Alps, I've hiked mountains in Scotland, I've jumped off cliffs in Wales, I've toured historic walled cities in France, I've seen ancient temples in Cambodia,  I've trekked through caves in Vietnam, I've stared at the Taj Mahal, I've biked past fields of tulips in the Netherlands, and I've relaxed on the sand of amazing beaches in Thailand, Malaysia, Hawaii, Greece, and throughout the Caribbean.

(God, my life used to be way more exciting).

But nothing holds a candle to the tiny town of Wellfleet in Cape Cod.  This is my happy place.

I've been here for five days so far and I'm completely settled in.  I've gone to almost all of my favorite restaurants, I discovered a cute little fitness studio where I've been doing pilates, I've finished one book (One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson which I highly recommend), I've tried out stand up paddle boarding, and I've managed to keep all three children alive.  (We have had one ER visit, but no stitches required.).  I haven't used a hair dryer once, and I've taken every shower outdoors (despite it being unenclosed - I am once again risking flashing neighbors and passerby's).

I really don't care much what the weather is like when I'm here, but so far each day has been phenomenal.  Barely a cloud in the sky and hovering right around 80 degrees.  Needless to say, we've been having fun.

Here's wishing you a happy summer from the Cape!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Living Proof

Whenever I look back at the pictures taken immediately upon all of my childrens' birth, I am in disbelief that it actually happened.  Was that really me?  Was that baby really in my stomach, and I actually got it out?  And is that teeny little baby really my son - the one that talks and walks and climbs in my bed every morning?  For each of my three children, someone (my husband?  a nurse? who knows?) captured that initial meeting - the look on my face when I looked at them for the first time.  My expression is authentic and true - pure joy and amazement.  Each of those three moments are the most incredible of my life, and I'm so thankful to have the photos to look at.  Because in my memory, it's hard to believe that it was actually real.

Braden - 2008

Casey - 2010

Colin - 2013
In this day and age, people don't really print out pictures anymore, but I do.  I print out a hard copy of every single photo taken on my iPhone and camera, and then I put them in an old school photo album.  Our living room built-ins contain these albums, all arranged in date order.  I don't look at them very often, but I feel incredible peace at having them.  And I treasure them.  I always tell my husband that in case of a fire, that's what we have to go for, and I'm serious.  On the rare occasion that I have lost photos (usually on an I-phone or through some computer glitch), a depression hits. All those hard copy memories - gone, and lost.

But of course, photographs can't capture everything.  And I've learned that I shouldn't waste the moment taking photos.  There's a fine line between living in the now and restoring it for posterity. I've backed off a bit as the years have gone by, so of course, as expected, child number 3 has the fewest photos of anyone.  But I still am vigilant about picture taking (made all the easier with the advent of the I-phone), and picture printing.  To be sure, I'm no photographer, but it doesn't matter.  What matters is who is in the pictures - not the lighting or the positioning or the depth of field.  Me, my kids, my husband, my family.  Now.

I've wondered lately why I am so obsessed with taking and keeping photos, and who exactly I am keeping them for.  Are these my memories?  Or my children's?  Or both?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Flicks on Netflix

I don't know about you, but right now our family is really in summer.  It's all swim practice and camp pick ups and sunscreen and mosquitoes and dirty soles of feet.  So for my Netflix post this month, it only seemed appropriate to focus on summer.

Netflix has countless summery-type movies (and you can google various lists), but the following are my five favorites, all available to live stream.  I plan on watching them during our upcoming trip to Cape Cod (ahhhhhhh).  I love summer.

1) Adventureland

Ahhh, the days of the crappy summer job.  I for one spent my first crappy summer job working at Johnny Rocket's, where I had to perform a choreographed dance with my fellow servers every time Aretha Franklin's "Respect" came on the jukebox.  But I digress.  The main character in this movie is a high school student who is forced to work at a podunk amusement park for the summer.  The love interest is none other than Kristen Stewart, before she became an adulterer.  The movie is funny, endearing, and worth watching again.  It's a reminder of simpler times.  Sigh.

2) Dirty Dancing  

I still get sad when I think about the passing of Patrick Swayze.  And in this movie, he is in his prime.    It's one of those timeless movies that everyone has seen several times, and if you haven't seen it, well then I don't know if we can be friends.  The theme song still gives me goosebumps, and is there any better line in a movie then "Nobody puts Baby in the corner"?  And if the movie leaves you so inspired that you want to visit the actual hotel that inspired it, you're in luck - it's about to become a "billionaire's yoga hub."

3) Sharknado

This movie brings new meaning to the phrase "so bad it's good."  I mean, it is so, so, so bad.  But they are trying to make it bad.  Kind of like that recent Lifetime original movie starring Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig.  In any event, this movie is about menacing sharks attacking people on land during a hurricane.  The premise is ridiculous and the movie is constantly making fun of itself.  You'll want to stop watching, but you won't be able to.   You may even find yourself watching the sequel...

4) Stand by Me

It's an 80's all star cast!  River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and a pudgy, nearly unrecognizable, Jerry O'Connell.  Another classic, this one is a coming of age story of friendship and an adventure through the woods looking for a dead body.  It's based on a novel by Stephen King, but it's not cryptic or supernatural - it's actually poignant and deep and was even nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay.  Time to dust this classic off.

5) Y Tu Mama TambiĆ©n

When this movie came out back in 2001, it was the first foreign language film (with subtitles) I had ever seen, and it was so amazing that it completely opened me up to the genre.  The movie takes place in Mexico, where two teenage boy best friends embark on a road trip with a woman in her late 20's.  The movie explores their sexual escapades, their sexuality, and the fragility of life.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll want to watch it again.

Happy summer, and happy Netflixing!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Six Things I've Learned from Six Months at the Gym

This past January, I decided I would do something all original and join the gym.

I hadn't worked out regularly since the year 2005, and even at that, the only time I worked out regularly was the 9 month period before my wedding.  I'd never been what you'd call, "athletic."  Or "muscular."  Or "coordinated."  Or "well rounded."   Or "interested in bettering myself."  The gym, and all that health stuff, just hadn't been "my thing."

But that all had to change, because after baby #3, it was now or never.  No more excuses.  If the flab was going to go, it was going to now.  

And so I embarked on my gym journey.  

It's been 6 months, and much to my surprise, I have completely embraced it.  I don't go everyday, but I would if I could - I generally make it there five days a week.  The gym has become my place of respite - one of the only "no kid" zones that I get to enjoy in my life, and without the guilt.  I really love to work out.  Which is really, really weird. 

In my six months at the gym, I have gained tone, muscle, and confidence, but I've also been enlightened as to the gym culture.  It's a mini cult society in and of itself.  There are unspoken rules, unexpected truths, and a stringent dress code.  Oh and judgment.  Judgment abound.  

I was so naive when I walked through those gym doors in January.  So, so naive.  

I feel the need to pass my wisdom on to other gym novices.  To other stay at home moms like myself, who feel its their duty to get into shape, because really, we all have so much time on our hands. 


In any event, if you are considering jumping on the gym bandwagon, please consider the following tips.  After all, knowledge is power.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Perpetual Baby Phase

For the past six and a half years, I have had a diaper in my purse.

Casey, my second child, was born before my first was potty trained.  Back then I had two different sized diapers in my purse.  

Colin, my third child, was born just as Casey was graduating to the potty, but I always had to be prepared.  So around that time I had two sized diapers in my purse too.  

Now my third is 19 months, Casey is 4, Braden (my first) is 6, and I have one size diaper that I carry around.

As the diaper quantity and sizes have shifted around in my purse over time, the majority of my friends have graduated from this stage.  They no longer carry around diapers in their purse.  They also don't cut up food in small pieces or carry around sippy cups.  They don't have to be home by noon for nap time, and scream bloody murder in the car to keep their toddler from falling asleep on the way home.  They don't have to worry about explosive diapers or sleep training or choking hazards, and all of their outlet covers have been removed from their home.  They, and their kids, have graduated to a different stage.  And I kind of want to join them.

The other day at our community pool I saw a mom I recognized from when my oldest was a baby. She was on a lounge chair, reading a book, while her son went off the diving board.  As I chased after Colin heading straight for the pool, and removed a rock from his mouth, I nearly cried.

I'm sick of the diapers.  I'm sick of the baby phase.  And I'm really, really tired.

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