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The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Mother’s Day Still Around With Purple Crayons and Yoda Kites

19 May

It wasn’t a day off, but it was a day of appreciation.

I know Mother’s Day has come and gone and many are now forgetting that it had just taken place. The one day a year you’re supposed to wine and dine and show your mom all the love you got … and then the next day she’s off to wash the dishes again.

But during that quick transition from pedestal to laundry folder, a couple moments stayed with me the whole week. I’m still thinking about them today. I woke up thinking about them and they made me smile. You see during the Mother’s Day escape of the dishes adventure, we decided to go to the beach. It’s my haven. I hear the waves and I feel at peace. It usually shakes off any bad vibes that followed me during the week.

And even though I packed the lunches, filled the gas tank, lugged all the beach toys and dug the hole in the sand, I sat in my tan-colored Tommy Bahama chair, with my toes in the sand watching my daughter race the waves. It was something about that laughter of narrowly escaping the salty waves that captured my attention. She was in the zone. She was happy in the moment, not thinking of anything else, but the beach and her. And it made me smile.

I felt lost in that moment, so much so that I forgot to take a picture. I was just watching her and right then and there it felt good to be her mom. I mean most of the time on Mother’s Day you just want a massage and a nice dinner. You sure don’t want to be dragging a bunch of plastic toys from Target across those sandy hills. You want a day away from kids … a day of peace and quiet.

But for some reason I found the quiet of peace and the love of motherhood as she ran along the shore. She made my heart expand. I thought of the gift bag she made me in class and I felt like I deserved every purple crayon she used.

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And then the feeling continued when I turned to check on my son … there he was taking out his Star Wars Yoda kite from the wagon. I thought ah man I’m gonna have to break this trance of awesomeness and help put this kite together and run along a couple times until the kite takes flight.

But no.

He managed to do it by himself. Determined.

He put it together and then let out the line. He ran a few steps and launched Yoda into the sky … there he was flying with The Force, my young Jedi. He sat on the sand, making a plan, figuring out the physics of flight I imagine. Staring at the sky, maybe in appreciation of his triumph.

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I snapped a picture. He had continued what his sister had started. He got lost in the moment, fully engaged in Yoda’s flight and happy that he had done it himself. Happy in the moment, not thinking of the next, just happy right now.

He turned to look … to see if I was watching. He smiled, as I was, gave me a thumbs up and then turned around to keep flying.

Usually Mother’s Day comes and goes, and it’s back to the grind on Monday. But I found the quiet of peace on the beach that day and it’s still with me.  Definitely a good Mother’s Day gift.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Uncovering Great Stories …

24 Apr

Celebrating words and their magical effect on our lives under the California sun created a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

Every year, we find our way through the mazes of people and books to create our own weekend adventure. Sometimes the moments are simple, other times they’re exciting fireworks style encounters, either way we always look forward to this book lover’s tradition.

We look forward to what this festival will uncover. Sometimes it’s all about meeting a special author, other times it’s about discovering a new story, or running into my kid’s favorite super hero, sometimes it’s about exploring the science stations, or cooking demonstrations, and sometimes it’s about witnessing a great performance on stage. This weekend we were lucky enough to experience it all, although the Caped Crusader was missing … probably solving a crime though.

It was our yearly outing to the Festival of Books and the fact that we didn’t have a meltdown definitely ranked as a Top-10 Outing.

But the one special surprise that snuck its way into our hearts was discovering The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now if you know anything about kids, you know that rock, paper, scissors is a major tie-breaker decision maker around here. So when we uncovered the origins of this very funny story, mom scored some points. If you have kids I strongly encourage you to read this one. The fact that we met the author and got it signed? Mom got a high-five for that one. The fact that we got four of our books signed? Yup. It was chocolate time.

So as I sat there on the grass, under a tree, listening to the band on the nearby stage, unloading our reading treasures and eating the goods from our homemade picnic, I thought … definitely a moment to be captured on film. Definitely a moment to be grateful for … definitely a moment for the Jar of Awesome.

 

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The Adventure begins …

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Checking out some authors …

 

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Hitting the stage to rock some children’s music …

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I loved checking out this wall … can you find ours?

 

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My kids thought this would be a great book for me …

 

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I decided to pick that up plus a couple of freebies 🙂

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We stopped by to spread some kindness during our book loving tour …

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Before departing we left our mark on the wall of books …

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Our awesome loot at the end of the day …

Yup … it was a 10 out of 10. High five mom.

 

 

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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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! 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.

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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.