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I Just Joined A New Club, But Wasn’t Aware of It

17 Mar

I could be your worst Book Club nightmare.

Just strolling on in to eat the snacks and talk about scenes in the book that only come out in the movie. It’s taken me a year to read two books. Just two. And I’m not even finished yet. It’s not to say that the books are bad, they’re not. They’re actually pretty good. Really good.

It’s something else holding me back, interrupting the nooks and crannies of quiet time and peace, making my eyes heavy, so heavy that I knock out with having only read a page. It’s the culprit that keeps your bookmark on the same page for weeks, it’s the thing that keeps you renewing different copies of the same book from the library for over and over again. It comes to a point where you should really purchase it by now.

It’s parenthood.

Yup, that pesky responsibility keeps getting in the way of a good book … well parenthood and my love of Netflix. I usually keep this shame and embarrassment to myself. I mean what kind of writer am I if I’m not reading other people’s work? I mean I even have an autographed copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book hanging out in bag, next to the Chapstick, still marked on Chapter 4.

Lie.

Chapter 2.

The embarrassment even compels me to lie where my bookmark falls. I’m so used to keeping it to myself, I try to downplay it in public. But every so often when my buddy posts something, I am reminded of this failure even more and there’s downplaying it to her. I confess. Automatically. And after our little conversation I think I should really be banned from any book club entirely.

You see my blogging buddy, Jackie Cangro is an avid reader and posts these amazing reading lists on novels that appeal to every kind of book lover. And every time I see it, I jot down at least one or two books and let her know how amazing they sound and how ready I am to walk on over to Barnes and Noble and head over to Amazon.com to buy it.

But that never happens.

I end up being the bad Book Club member of a club I was never invited to be a part of, sad I know. The kind you don’t want to invite back because they never finish the book, or they have yet to get started.

But then I realized something … I HAVE been part of a book club and finishing books every month sometimes three, four, five books. I just wasn’t realizing it because it was the Parenthood Book Club. I’ve been hanging out with Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, Victoria Kann, Herman Parish, Ted Arnold, Roald Dahl, Henry Winkler, Beverly Cleary, Jack Chabert, Jeffrey Brown, Tom Angleberger, Wendelin Van Draanen, and many others.

So I stand corrected.

Parenthood hasn’t  made me a terrible book club member, I just joined a new club and wasn’t aware of it. Adventures come in all kinds of genres.

Here are our top picks:

jedi-academy

For adventure and young Jedis.

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scaredysquirrelbooks

My kids enjoy the laughs Scaredy Squirrel brings.

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Heres_Hank-02

The Here’s Hank series is one of the funniest and engaging stories involving a young boy and his adventures with family, friends, or school.

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MoWill

This series always cracks up my kindergartner. Easy to read and fun.

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Lorax

Who doesn’t love Dr.Seuss right?

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Amelia

We love Amelia Bedelia’s smart, strong, funny, and independent mind. Her adventures always keep my kindergartner engaged.

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Shredderman Books

Standing up to bullies, solving mysteries, and doing the right thing are all part of this amazing series for young kids.

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WhoWas

My son loves this nonfiction series! It talks about the lives of important historical figures in a way that’s interesting for young readers.

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ralph

I loved Beverly Clearly growing up and was so happy that my son enjoyed the adventurous story of Ralph and his motorcycle.

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charlie

This classic had my son looking for Willy Wonka Gobbstoppers and Everlasting Chewing Gum. It was an imaginative ride that proved to be one of his favorites.

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FLY_GUY_COVER

Fly Guy! His stories make a kindergartner and 3rd grader laugh. Fly Guy explores both fiction and nonfiction genres. His adventures in fiction explore school, museums, restaurants, fly swatters, Frankenstein and other fun stories that revolve around friendship. The nonfiction series helps kids learn about science, animals, and environments.

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Feel free to check some of these out with your young book lovers. There are so many authors and books that we’ve come across that I couldn’t mention, but if you know of any feel free to share!

Have a great weekend!

Sandbox List Adventures: Tackling The Warped Wall With Pharrell Williams

11 Mar

Beat the wall! Beat the wall! Beat the wall!

They stare at it … mesmerized, chanting and cheering for them to reach the tippy top and grasp it with their fingertips. They scream as the Ninja Warriors cling onto the edge and pull themselves up. They ring the buzzer and raise their hands in victory.

Both my kids have envisioned this adventure countless times. They zigzag through the swings, attack the monkey bars, scale the rock walls, climb the ropes, balance on the imaginary floating steps and then  climb the slide … AKA The Warped Wall. They are masters of the playground obstacle course.

They are Mini-American Ninja Warriors and they are always up for the challenge, even when kids on the school playground recently made my son feel bad for being enthusiastic about this adventure. These Pokemon loving kids were not feeling the Ninja Warrior vibe, and left him solo to play this “boring” game on his own. And despite being sad, he tackled that playground obstacle course and had fun on his own.

It was heartbreaking to hear what happened, and like any mom I had that parent talk, the one that assures him of his unique awesomeness, the one filled with hugs and chocolate cookies, the one paraphrasing Pharrell Williams’s song of the summer. But in addition to words I found another way to lift up his spirits.  I found a way to take his Ninja Warrior dreams to the next level …

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We discovered a Ninja Warrior Gym with the help of navigation and a few freeways.

This Sandbox List Adventure is definitely going in The Jar of Awesome.

He was able to hang out with kids who were equally jazzed about the sport. There was nothing boring about this at all. He was jumping, swinging, climbing, and balancing his way through these mini obstacles and loving every minute of it and his sister was loving this ride just as much. I think she was born a ninja.

The smiles were worth the drive, and knowing that I had made this possible, especially after such a difficult week on the playground, was so rewarding. As a parent, finding these moments for my kids filled that sometimes-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-as-a-parent-but-I’m-trying-my-best-space with a giant high five.

They left feeling energized, enthusiastic, and ready for more. He left feeling awesome. He left feeling like he could beat that wall! And he left with one request … a feel-good song. Happy by Pharrell Williams. It was the theme song for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

40 Days And The Jar of Awesome

8 Mar

When he said it … I thought … dude. Yes! Why hadn’t I thought about that before.

So last Wednesday I revamped my search for appreciation in the little things, in addition to the big ones, during this 40-Day Fish-Stick-Friday Lenten Season. People are always giving stuff up, stuff that’s bad for you, but you can also give something to yourself or others, something that might be lacking or something you know you need.

I’m big on gratitude as it’s a daily practice of mine, because I’ve learned if you don’t appreciate the little things the big ones might lose their fluff after a couple of days.

But I learned this lesson as an adult.

I thought it would be great to get my kids to be mindful of moments and practice gratitude with me. I thought maybe I’d step it up as a parent.

So I got the idea from Mr. Tim Ferriss, and if you haven’t met or heard of Tim Ferriss, I stronggggggggggggggggggggly suggest you check out his podcast. He’s right on the mark, discovering strategies, routines, and stories that can affect change and help improve your life.  From Navy SEALs to Tony Robbins, to storytellers, to scholars, to actors like Jamie Foxx he covers it all and I’ve definitely picked up some good tips. Over 200 episodes and I found the one, well several actually, that gave me a moment … a pause … a shift that added something. This one in particular helped in parenting, helped with kids, could help with anything really, but thought kids would learn from this lesson.

The Jar of Awesome.

Just a regular mason jar with the word AWESOME written across it and any time a moment of awesome, big or small, took place, we’d write it down and put it in the jar so that we could remember. We’d write it down, so that when things happen, we can be grateful for them, mindful, we can remember things that were made to be Kodak moments of the heart, even when you don’t have a camera.

floater_40days

So we’re off on the mason-jar journey, and I’ve realized the kids enjoy being reminded of their awesomeness. They forget the little moments, but smile the feel-good smile when they’re reminded. And I know we’ve only just started, but I’ll be sure to take a picture of it once we’re at the end of our 40-day journey. Who knows? We might actually keep it for 365 days.

The Jar of Awesome … here we go.

Cake Wars Reminds Me That I Need A Multi-Vitamin

20 Feb

The age of parenthood caught up with me as I fell asleep at nine o’clock on Friday AND Saturday night.

My nights of partying it up after the work week are a 20-something memory. I’m all about the Netflix now. But I couldn’t even stay up to watch Peaky Blinders. Peaky Blinders!!! My new obsession next to The Walking Dead. I couldn’t even manage to open up the computer and type out an idea. I wrote part of it on a piece of paper, but couldn’t remember what I had written the next morning. The times of writing into the wee hours of the moonlight, during the week ceased to exist, unless I had a shot of 5-Hour energy. Or a nap. Something I haven’t seen since pregnancy.

I think I need to start taking a multi-vitamin.

All my energies got swept up this week and then I was hit with the yearly Scouting Luau Extravaganza that required my kid’s troop to be in charge of games. We were also encouraged to participate in the cake baking and decorating contest.

So, we took out the flour and sugar, and since we wanted it to taste better than the rest we also took out Trisha Yearwood cake recipe. It was on. Cake Wars. Nick Jr. Edition.

 

All of them were actually pretty great, but these were some of the ones that caught my eye. Including my kid’s Lego version of an island with a shark swimming in shredded coconut waves. His sense of humor cracks me up.

But I can’t lie to you the whole baking process was a little stressful as we decided to do the baking and decorating on the same day, instead of being smart and splitting it up into two days. Baking usually calms me down, but there was nothing relaxing about this process, especially when we were on deadline and cups of flour were spilled, you barely had enough milk, eggs were poured in at the wrong time … you know when the mixer was on high and half of the yolky batter ends up on the wall and the clock is still ticking.

But I took a breath.

I didn’t want to be one of those moms, you know … the one that takes over their kid’s project and forgets what matters most is the process. So, I took our uneven cakes out of the oven and just made peace with the fact that we were going to be late and get the stink eye from some of the moms.  But it was all good. The shredded coconut covered the frosting disaster and the Moana and surfer dude Legos were rocking that beach cake. We had a good time at the event. We brought a cake. We didn’t win any cake decorating prizes, but we were happy with it, my kids were proud of it and I was glad to have put the brakes on my irritability.

But all that activity and buttercream frosting contributed to my lack of writing and parent exhaustion. Daily vitamins are definitely in my future.

 

 

The 20-Mule Team Saved The Day

8 Feb

They were on their last life line.

I thought they were done for … but they made the ultimate comeback. One by one falling in line giving it everything they got.

Two teams. Multiple efforts. One field. One battle. One winner.

And that was me.

This SuperBowl weekend while everyone was cheering on Lady Gaga and the Falcons to take down Brady and The Patriots, I was involved in my own battle.

The Guat vs. The Ants.

It’s supposed to be a seasonal thing where they come for a couple of days during summer, stalk up and then run away and hide in their awesome bachelor pad with their queen. Chillin’ on sugar and sweet nectar water. Seasons meant nothing to them. They were on the year-round system. And nothing seemed to stop them. Not even the power of a ZipLoc Bag. Not. Even.

Windex, bleach, soapy water, and then the kryptonite of all kryptonite for ants and bugs and innocent eyeballs … RAID! Yup RAID! One spray and that’s it paralysis for life. But these bastards were ruthless. These were not your ordinary ants. These were Bionic Ants! Hanging out with Lindsey Wagner and the 6-Million-Dollar Man, and laughing at me as they attacked Cheerios, MiniWheats, Skippy Peanut Butter, Quaker Granola Bars. Things that were still wrapped and boxed, they attacked. They weren’t even going for sugar anymore it was beyond sugar now. They were all up in my Nature’s Own Wheat Bread, and Rold Gold pretzels. So, I resorted to storing things in the fridge, for fear I’d have nothing left. I mean who has to put Wheat Thins in their refrigerator?

Me! Yeah, Me.

So, when I brought home five boxes of Girl Scout Cookies I knew this madness had to end. I asked a few moms if they’d ever encounter such madness and I found answers.

I brought in the secret weapon.

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🙂

Borax! And The 20-Mule Team.

I had no idea of its existence, or of its MacGyveresque properties.

It. Was. On!

I concocted may magic solution of warm water, sugar, and Borax. I soaked cotton balls in that sweet poison and laid them out wherever they roamed. I found them hoarding an unopened and hermitically sealed bag of jelly beans on the third shelf of the pantry, dropped four cotton balls, and walked away.

A couple of hours later they abandoned the jelly beans and were in a cotton ball mosh pit of ecstasy, which for a minute made me doubt the effectiveness of this so called Borax. But I waited and, let Borax handle my business. I waited.

And waited.

I watched Lady Gaga rock that stage at half time and they were still under attack mode.

24 hours. I thought I’d give it 24 hours.

So, when I woke up in the morning, I opened the cupboard, hoping, praying for the destruction of these Ninja Warrior ants. But I saw nothing.

The party was over.

Only two lifeless ant corpses lay motionless on top of those cotton balls.

Fist pump in the air with a resounding YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Borax was now my superhero.

Although … I didn’t want to hold up the trophy just yet. I’m a little superstitious … I’ll wait a couple of days before removing my stash from the fridge. Because after all chocolate is chocolate.

Stay tuned.

I Hate Elections Part II, But Hockey Rocks

26 Sep

“I needed to know that regardless of all the mistakes I had made or how lost I was, I was loved.” Lesley Carter from Bucket List Publications.

 

I know that this isn’t always the case with people, especially with some families, where instead of being supportive all they do is use your mistakes, failures, or setbacks to tear you down. They look for any opportunity to push you down, instead of lift you up.

I get that not everybody has a family that’s got their back. I get it. The gossiping and behind-your-back plots that come straight out of a telenovela. I understand. It happens. So it was vitally important for me to lift my son’s spirit when he got word of his Student Council results.

To recap … Pajama Day/No Homework Week, and Pick Up Trash candidates seemed to clinch the two spots. He was heavily on a downer because of it, disappointed and definitely feeling beat down.

And while I was trying to find the right words to let him down easy, I found out there weren’t any. I saw it in his face and felt it in his chest when I hugged him.

So I had an after-school-special moment with him on Saturday about how courageous he was to put himself out there and read his speech. Not many adults can stand in front of a group and read a speech. Not everybody can do that. Not everybody is brave enough to put their ideas out there and it might not feel like it, but he was still awesome.

The fact that he cared enough about his school to try and make a difference was pretty cool. I admired that. I appreciated that he genuinely cared. It wasn’t for popularity. It was because he thought his ideas could help the school.

“Well, I guess there’s always next year,” he said.

“Yup, there’s always next year,” I replied.

And then I gave him all the love I had in that big hug in the parking lot. I wasn’t aware at the time, but I was doing exactly what Lesley Carter had said she needed … to feel loved regardless of the circumstances, just that you would feel loved no matter what happened.

I was worried that love wouldn’t be enough to help him bounce back, this weekend. But after his amazing defensive performance in his first back-to-back hockey game, I’d say he was definitely back.

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He didn’t let the bad news of yesterday effect his moment of today. He had left the Student Council elections in his rear view mirror, and when he got on the ice, he had a clear-eyes-full-hearts moment that lasted the entire weekend. The fact that his sister got him a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles also seemed to help.

 

 

America Ninja Warriors On The Playground

17 Sep

Feeling inspired by all the American Ninja Warrior madness, I decided to take my kids out for Worldwide Day of Play! Not that the Guats needed an official excuse to go outdoors, but having a Day of Play celebrated across all Nickelodeon Channels … well that just had Playground America Ninja Warrior written all over it.

I can’t tell you how inspired and addicted my kids are to that show. I feel grateful that they get pumped up after watching stuff like the Olympics, Spartan Races and America Ninja Warrior. As they watch, they’re leaping, running, climbing, and stretching across their kid-made pillow infused obstacle course in the living room. I like that they feel like they can come out in their own Gatordae commercial and that they push each other through these imaginary obstacles and time limits.

I used to wonder what kind of kids I would have when they were still in diapers. Whether they would be avid sports fans and enjoy the Saturday college football rituals, volleyball at the beach, 5K mini runs, Olympic TV watching marathons, or catching a game at the stadium. I was hoping they would be, but you never know.

So when they cheered on athletes during the Olympics that made me smile, when they root for the Kings on the ice it feels good, when they  raise their arms in the air and scream as our team scores a touchdown it warms my heart, but when they created their own obstacle racing adventures on the playground and crowned themselves champions because they  conquered Mount Midoriyama I was high-fiving them all day. When they fell off the course and splashed in the imaginary pool, I enjoyed hearing their post interview, explaining what they think went wrong and how they were going “to try harder next year”. However I will say that the monkey bars still leave me with tiny calluses … My badges of honor.

So … regardless of whether we had an invitation, The Guats celebrated Worldwide Day of Play the America Ninja Warrior way. Hope you guys got out too.

 

 

Starting This Year on a Good Note … The Justin Timberlake Kind

24 Aug

And so it begins …

 

Another year of firsts …

The older kids playground and then entering kindergarten. Two kids, two sets of Ticonderoga No.2 adventures and I felt both excited and little anxious about this new season. As you all know last year’s academic year with Miss Viola Swamp was a challenging one filled with bite-your-tongue-and-pick-your-battle moments so we’ll see how this year pans out. New teachers, new experiences but I’m not so much worried about teachers this time around as something different came up.

Not a bad concern, just a parenthood observation.

As a parent you know they’re getting older because their pants and shirts and socks don’t fit them quite right anymore, getting a little snug. So you make a trip to Target. You notice their little faces and the expressions are still the same, but they’re not so little anymore.

And you realize the season is about to change. Granted it’s not a giant step into middle school, high school, or college and you’re not balling your eyes out, but it’s still a step ahead and you pause because you’re actually feeling it. You’re feeling the step and the growth right in front out you. Not in a slow motion, but just right in front you and you caught it. The kind of moment you want to save in those mason jars.

Pride and smiles because they seem to be on the good path. You’ve done a good job … so far. They know when to act crazy silly and when it’s serious Crayola Crayon time. So as always, first day of school love-you-you-can-conquer-the-world-notes in their Star Wars and Minions lunchboxes and a great feel good song to start the day, the kind that rocks you into a good mood and good grove. Ready for anything that third grade and kindergarten can throw your way. Starting this year on a good note …

 

The Justin Timberlake kind. It was a unanimous decision, we’ve been listening to it all week. Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Discover Challenge: Shared Journeys

1 Aug
IMG_4704 (2)

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Discover Challenge via The Daily Post

 

Changing The Current

20 Jul

It’s the downfall of every  parent.

You have your plan …the  snacks, a good attitude, and the sunscreen. You think you’re set. Until … the lines.

long-lines-at-disneyland-e1381152445575

Duuuuuude.

You’re there to celebrate …birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, vacations. All that.

And you thought you’d hit a couple of snags here and there, but when this happens and ugh … you just feel that vein in your forehead ready pop during your George Costanza moment.

Now mind you, I was prepared for it. I even prepared my kids for it, so when we encountered a 55 minute wait at the Radiator Springs Attraction at Disney’s California Adventure I was totally on top of it. I knew there would be a battle for the spot in front of the chain, for the one next to the rails so that climbing would be possible, for the spot in the shade, for the spot in the sun, for the spot in front of me, for the spot next to the wall, for the spot with of view of the attraction.

I knew there would be a lack of patience running rampant throughout the park and with the heat in the 90s I prepared. I did. I had all the snacks and the positive vibe going on, but nothing can really suck the air out of your balloon like long lines and tired kids.

And I witnessed this happening in multiple languages throughout the park, but the one Dad rubbing his head and having a George-Costanza-Serenity-Now! moment  … he seemed to be having the toughest day yet.

The amount of pressure used to rub his forehead was the first clue and his 14-year-old son was the second. Had the cause and effect right in front of me.

I could totally see this happening and I nodded my head like … yeah I know, I know.

But luckily for me I never got to that point that day. I was able to salvage some moments that could have really turned gruesome in that heat.

Thanks for the deep breathing and peaceful talks Deepak Chopra OnDemand.

But aside from this meditation guru helping me find the Zen, two complete strangers helped keep things in the right frame of mind.

We met these two lovely ladies that just happened to get in line with us. They saw the birthday buttons on my kids and began conversation. It was regular stranger-nice-day-good-luck conversation. But when we got on the rapids ride laughter ensued with all of us and all the waiting in line from the morning faded as we enjoyed moments of unexpectedness and fun on that raft.

These ladies had such a good vibe, and were totally digging our laughter fest, that everyone on that raft gelled.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern and I was glad to have met those two ladies. The universe had put us on the FastPass tip and we bumped into them, helping to improve the rest of our day. It’s really too bad that the father of the teenage boy hadn’t met them earlier as well. Things might have turned out differently for him. Never know.

So while reflecting about the day’s events, I remembered those two ladies and hoped that the universe had paid them back for crossing our path. Conversations with strangers are something I don’t do often, especially when I’m with my kids. Sometimes things get weird, like that time at Michael’s Craft Store when this guy swore I was a spy and was upset because he thought I had overheard his conversation with headquarters and knew I had told “her” to do “it.” I didn’t know who “it” or “her” were,  I almost had to call security.

But this time … this time the conversation changed the current of our flow. Their kindness and vibe was a good thing that day and I was grateful.