Think about your parents for a minute. Are there some phrases or things they said to you or your siblings repeatedly? When I think about my mom and dad, here are a few of the things that stand out to me:
“Dang, Tina!” – A cross between “Dang, Gina” from the sitcom Martin and Tina the llama from Napoleon Dynamite.
“You’re killing me, James” – my mom mistakenly quoting Sandlot
“I love a challenge” – my mom anytime my siblings or I said we weren’t doing something she told us to do.
Well, now thanks to my mom, Kora loves a challenge too. It all started a couple of weeks ago when we went to visit the grandparents. Kora and two of her cousins were playing in the yard with my mom. She started giving them challenges that they needed to complete:
- Run and touch three trees and come back
- Run and touch something red and come back
- Sit in two different chairs and come back
I was completely surprised by how much the kids enjoyed these challenges – they were begging for more. It’s always the simplest things that the kids seem to love most. (My mom always joked that as kids we would always compliment her more on her dinners of macaroni and cheese with BBQ hot dogs than on meals where she would slave away in the kitchen.)
The next day, while playing inside, Kora and her cousins asked for some more challenges. I will admit that some of the challenges were legitimate and some of the challenges were used to help clean up the toy area a little – ‘I challenge you to find three blue toys and put them on the shelf’. I did challenge the five year old to find a toy shaped like a triangle. He searched for a little while and then he found a toy fence that he shaped into a triangle – clever little guy!
Since our visit, Kora has continued to ask me for challenges. Anywhere we go, she wants a challenge. We went to a splash pad with some friends one day, and I think she got one of her friends hooked on challenges. They had so much fun filling a bucket and dumping it on their heads and getting splashed by three different sprayers.
We’ve done challenges at the park and challenges at the mall. Here’s Kora trying to make a tower of checkers:
Completing challenges is one of those activities that I absolutely love. It can be done anywhere, you just adapt the challenge to your environment. It can also be played with any number of people and any age range can be challenged. The challenges can also be used as a learning tool. The challenges can ask kids to find a certain number of items (counting) or to find certain shapes, colors, letters, etc. Outdoor challenges are a great way for kids to get exercise as well as improve coordination and balance.
I challenge you to use Challenges with your kid this week. But fair warning: they might get addicted! I’d love to hear how you used challenges with your family.
This summer I’ve been taking advantage of the Kids Bowl Free program at our local bowling alley. If you don’t know about this program, check it out here. I was skeptical about signing up my three year old, but she has been having so much fun bowling. She has a pretty funny celebration dance after she bowls – she usually does her victory dance before the ball even hits the pins!
Usually, if I take enough snacks with us, my youngest daughter will sit happily at the table stuffing her adorable little face. This last time however, there weren’t enough snacks in the world to keep this baby happy. Lila was content for the first half of the game and then she got sleepy and only wanted to be held. I ended up bowling the rest of the game with a baby on my hip.
It was weird, but once I started bowling while holding a baby, my game actually started improving. Before having to hold Lila, I didn’t bowl a single strike or spare, but after picking her up, I continued to bowl strikes and/or spares. I guess the baby corrected my bowling posture.
While I was bowling, I had a thought: Why is there no such thing as the MomOlympics? Why do we not have a contest that features moms and their amazing multitasking ways?
If there were a MomOlympics (and there totally should be) here are a few of the events that should be included:
- The Marathon – Moms would line up at the starting line with their child in a jogging stroller.
- Rock Climbing – Babies would be snuggled up in the baby carrier as Mom ascends the rock wall.
- Bowling – With the baby on one hip, the Moms would bowl one handed.
- Swimming – Mom swims while towing a child in a raft behind her.
- Baton Twirling – With every toss of the baton, Mom would have to bend down to tend to the baby.
- Paddle Boarding – Mom paddles while the child sits on the board at Mom’s feet.
- Dodgeball – The Moms play dodgeball while trying to keep their children from being pegged with the ball.
- Rhythmic Gymnastics – Mom would use the ribbon to not only entertain the crowd but also to soothe a crying baby.
- Curling – Mom would throw the stone while instructed her children to “Sweep! Sweep!”
- Yoga – Moms would twist and bend into the most complicated of poses – partially due to the nature of the pose and partially because they are reaching for their child in order to keep them from wondering off.
Along with the above already established sports, MomOlympics would also host events like:
- Lego Obstacle course – Mom walks through a land mine of Legos while holding a baby on one hip and carrying a load of groceries.
- Diaper Changing Challenge – Moms get timed on how fast they can change a diaper.
- Laundry Folding Challenge – Moms race to fold as many towels as they can while their children “help” (read: unfold) them.
- Grocery Store Challenge – Moms (with children in the shopping cart) would race up and down the aisles trying to get everything on the list before the kids start whining or crying.
- Potty Training Sprint – Moms must locate a potty and sprint to get their potty training child onto the toilet before an accident occurs.
I really think I’m on to something amazing here. MomOlympics could be an international success! Who’s up for a little friendly competition!?! I’d love to hear if you have any other ideas for MomOlympic events!
Early last week, my husband asked me if I wanted to go camping this weekend. I’m always up for a camping trip, so my answer naturally was, “Sure!”. Within minutes, my husband had us a reservation at a campground a half hour from Scarborough Renaissance Festival.
Camping and a Renaissance Festival in one weekend? Score! Now just to decide what to wear. My husband secretly wants to be a pirate in real life, so I knew that his costume was set. Since the girls had outgrown their pirate costumes from last year, I had to find them something new to wear.
A quick search on Amazon and I had the girls matching mermaid outfits! I could have purchased more elaborate costumes, but opted for simple and comfortable. I didn’t want their costume to make them (and me) miserable all day.
I also found me a pair of mermaid pants! I was a little nervous about wearing such bold pants, but I have learned over the years that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is out of place at the Renaissance Festival. That’s what is so great about Ren Fest. The attire ranges from everyday clothes to the most elaborate costumes (dragons, fairies, barbarians, etc) and everything in between. I like to dress up, but still want to be comfortable and able to chase two little ones around.
The night before the fair, I made Kora a mermaid tail out of foam to wear with her costume. She loved it and showed it off to everyone we passed at the festival. She didn’t wear it long, but thankfully it lasted long enough to get a picture of her in it with the ‘real’ mermaids!
Throughout the day, I received several compliments on my pants and on the girls’ outfits. As I am the picture taker of the family, I don’t appear in many pictures. This is the only picture of me in my mermaid pants. Aren’t they so shiny? I think I may have to buy another pair in a different color.
The girls had a blast at the festival. Kora loved the mermaids and had to say hi to everyone she saw in an elaborate costume. The dragon Fireflicker was her favorite! Lila could have spent all day at the petting zoo. She loves animals!
We had such a fun, yet very exhausting day. I absolutely loved our pirate/mermaid combination. In fact, I think I’m going to do a little work on making my mermaid costume a little more elaborate before the fall’s Ren Fest.
In my Birthday Resolutions post a couple of weeks ago I wrote about wanting to go camping more often. After this weekend, I can proudly say that I have my first camping trip under my belt!
My husband, his sister, and his dad planned a camping trip for all of our families for this past weekend. We all met at the campground for a weekend of family fun. And let me tell you, we had fun! My girls had a blast run around the campsite playing with their cousins and grandparents.
Saturday morning was spent down at the beach – the adults lounging in the shade and the kids splashing in the water and digging in the sand. (Well, except me and the baby. We stayed back at the camper so she could take her morning nap. With all the peace and quite, I ended up taking a little siesta too!) By the time I finally made it down to the beach, it was almost time for everyone to head back for a little rest from the sun. I hate that I missed most of the fun in the sun, but my nap may have been worth it!
One of my favorite parts about camping came Saturday night – Burgers by Thomas! I may be a little bit biased, but I happen to think that my husband makes the best hamburgers. (Don’t tell him I said this, because I don’t want to give him any ideas, one of these days I think he’ll decide to open up a burger joint!) My husband usually does all the cooking when we go camping which I think is just fantastic. I always enjoy food more when it is prepared by someone else!
Sunday morning we explored the Nature Center which had some interesting hands on exhibits for the kids. Kora loved the fish and hermit crab tanks. There was a bird spotting scope that we used to look at pelicans and boats off in the distance. While some of the other adults were pouring themselves a cup of courtesy coffee in the sitting area, Kora and I ran across the parking lot to catch a Pokemon we hadn’t caught yet!
This was our first time to visit this particular campground, and I doubt it will be our last. I was very happy with the facilities and its proximity to the beach. They even have several events scheduled throughout the summer, so we made sure to grab their calendar of events for any future plans. We had a so much fun camping this weekend, I’m ready to plan our next trip! Comment below and let me know how you like to have fun while camping.
Have you ever made plans to do something that seemed like it would be fun and then start wondering why in the world you committed to doing said activity? Well, that recently happened to me.
A couple of weeks ago, my mom sent out a group text to the family asking who wanted to play in a dodgeball tournament. The local athletic booster club was hosting the tournament as a fundraiser, and my dad said he would pay the entrance fee if we wanted to get a team together. The tournament was scheduled for Easter weekend, so since my brothers and I were all coming into town for the holiday, it worked out that we could all play. The team would consist of me, my three brothers, my husband, and my nephew.
With the tournament weeks away, I was excited about playing. As the date approached, I grew more and more nervous. I hadn’t played a competitive sport in a looooooong time, and was worried about being out of shape.
On the morning of the tournament, I was really regretting my decision to play. Why did I think this was going to be a good idea? Since registering our team, I learned about some of the other teams – the fire department had a team, the sheriff’s department had a team, and the nursing home staff had a team. I wasn’t necessarily concerned with the nursing home staff, but I was worried about the fire department and the sheriff’s department. These are men and women who have physically demanding jobs. I was not looking forward to what was about to take place.
I really started sweating bullets once we arrived at the gym. I was looking around at the all the other teams and I was seeing lots of guys that looked pretty strong and athletic. I was hoping to see more girls playing, but as it turned out, there was only one other team with a girl on it. I watched the speed at which the guys warming up threw the ball, thinking about how much it would hurt if I couldn’t dodge it. Why did I do this to myself?
Our first game quickly approached, and my worst fear came true – I took a dodgeball to the face! I think the crowd gasped in unison, but I can’t be sure as my ears were ringing. In all fairness, I was already out when I got clobbered. I had tried to catch a ball, but unfortunately I dropped it. I took the ball to the face on my way off the court. If the other games were going to be like this one, I was in BIG trouble!
We ended up losing that game, but we didn’t go down without a fight. Everyone on my team was out, except for my husband. The other team only had one player as well, so it came down to sudden death. According to the rules of dodgeball, during sudden death, the centerline is dissolved, allowing the players to chase each other down. Thomas put up a good fight – he dodged, ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged – but finally he got hit with a ball. It was a great match!
We ended up playing seven games, and I can happily say that I didn’t get pegged in the face again! We won a few games, we lost a few games, but we had fun the whole time. Competing as a team with my brothers, husband, and nephew was a blast.
A game of dodgeball doesn’t last very long, but it is very exhausting. After seven games, we were wiped out! When the tournament ended, we headed to Dairy Queen to recuperate with buy one, get one free Blizzards! (The new Reese’s Extreme blizzard is awesome!) While playing, it’s hard to see everything else on the court, so it was great talking to each other about the different games we played while enjoying a yummy treat. During one of the games, my youngest brother managed to throw the ball cross court and hit my grandmother (and break her glasses!) who had come to watch us play. We gave him a hard time about that for sure!
We had so much fun playing that I think the 6 D’s of Dodgeball – Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, Dodge, and Dairy Queen – has become a new family tradition. Comment below with your favorite family tradition.
I have a love/hate relationship with the town in which I reside. You see, I live in a college town – the same college I graduated from many moons ago. While in college, I absolutely loved living here. But its different now. Now, I love it and hate. Totally depends on the day.
I haven’t done any research on the matter, but I feel that most towns that house universities are cities first and home to a university second. But not my town. Where I live, the city has grown up around the university. The town lives and breathes our university.
While I love my university and love football pregame tailgating, any inconveniences due to the football game can be frustrating when I’m not partaking in the festivities. This may include more traffic on the roads or longer wait times to get a table at a restaurant.
Driving around town is nice and peaceful during summer and Christmas break as all the students have gone home. During this time, the stores and restaurants are rarely crowded. But come school time, the population changes by 58,000 people. The roads are now packed with cars and everywhere you look there are college kids hanging around.
Probably one of the things I dislike most about living in a college town is that it seems like the population is getting younger and younger. I’m not sure when they started letting twelve year olds go to college, but they have. My town is full of them!
Despite any inconveniences that living in a college town causes me, there are other times that I truly love living here. The university provides many opportunities and resources that I would not have other places.
One such resource is the Infant Cognition Lab. The lab accepts babies from 3 months to 18 months old. I took my older daughter and now I’m taking my younger daughter. We visit the lab once a month and the students run a brief experiment on Lila. The students are researching the development of infants’ knowledge of objects. The students monitor Lila’s eye movement to see how long she looks at particular objects and if she looks back to where an object once was. For each visit, Lila earns $5 as compensation for our time and travel. I’m putting my girls to work early! Both girls get a little certificate afterwards – Lila for participating and Kora basically for playing with toys while Lila participated.
We also had the opportunity this weekend to visit the Veterinary School’s Open House event. The students host a day long event and invite the community to come check out their facility. Along with tours of the facility, they had a petting zoo, a cow milking demonstration, polo demonstrations, and Search and Rescue demonstrations. There were lots of reptiles available for the kids to see as well as some out to touch and hold. One of the coolest things about the Open House was the Teddy Bear Surgery. Several of the Vet School students did surgery on stuffed animals that the kids brought from home. Kora took her giraffe that needed a little more stuffing in the neck. Doctor Sarah cut open the neck, added some stuffing, and then sutured the neck closed. The kids were wearing surgical mask and gloves. It was the cutest thing ever.
Right now I am loving where I live and I am grateful for the opportunities that the university provides us. I’m sure that feeling will change come graduation weekend when the town is flooded with people, but right now, I love my college town!
I’ve had birthdays on my brain for the last month. Both of my daughters were born in March, so I’ve had parties to plan and then host. My birthday is also in March, so I’ve been thinking about that too.
Birthdays are really just personal New Years. I mean, think about it. Your birthday is the anniversary of the day you came into this world. For everyone else on the planet it’s just another ordinary day. But for you? It’s the start of a brand new year!
Your birthday is the day that resolutions should be made. Instead of saying, “2017 is the year that I start (insert goal here),’ we should be saying, “35 is the year I start (insert goal here)”. Your birthday is the day you should evaluate your life and determine how you’d like to improve your life.
That’s what I’m doing. For the January 1st New Year, I made several resolutions, and I’m proud of how I’m doing with them. I plan on continuing those resolutions as well as taking on my Birthday Resolution.
‘What is my Birthday Resolution?’ you ask. 35 is the year I start having more fun. I recently read an article in Good Housekeeping magazine titled “I haven’t had this much fun since I was a kid,” and it has stuck with me. The article was about a woman who had quit gymnastics as a teenager and then decided at age 42 to start taking classes again. She wrote, “You grow up and leave childhood and fun behind. But why?”. As I was reading, I kept thinking that this woman has a very good point.
Why do we as adults abandon things we once enjoyed as children? Why, why? why? Since reading the article, I’ve been thinking of things I enjoyed as a child and what I could start doing again as an adult. Here’s what I came up with:
- Riding my bike – I would like to start riding my bike again. I want to ride for the fun of it and not necessarily for the exercise or to get somewhere. I want to ride just to ride.
- Capture the Flag/Scavenger Hunt – Growing up I played Capture the Flag all the time. It would be so much fun to organize a grown up game. I would probably have to Google the rules on how to actually play the game, since I’m pretty sure we just made up our own rules. I also enjoyed the type of scavenger hunt where you had to go and take pictures of your group with certain things or doing certain things. My mom always made the best lists. This would be an absolute blast to do now. I can picture it now – husbands versus wives!
- Frisbee – Ok, so I didn’t do this much as a kid, but I think it’s fun, so I’m adding it to my list. I’m pretty sure I have a Frisbee somewhere, so I’m going to dig it out and I’m going to start throwing it around.
- Camping – I loved going camping with my family as a kid. I remember hanging out in the tent at night listening to the wildlife. This would be a lot of fun to do with my girls.
- Skip-It – I loved, loved, loved my Skip-It. I have had one for a long time and for a long time I haven’t used it. I sold it in a garage sale last year and I was really sad to see it go. Now with my Birthday Resolution, I am really tempted to buy me another one. But this time I would use it!
- Jumping on the trampoline – I don’t know how many hours I spent on the trampoline as a kid. We wrestled on it, we flipped on it, we slept on it. It was probably the most fun with the water hose on it. I have no intention of buying a trampoline, but maybe I can find someone who will let me come over and play on it for a bit.
The more I think about my Birthday Resolution, the more excited I get! I am making it my mission to enjoy the above activities, but I do not want to limit myself to those things. I want to also start having more fun in everyday activities (like pretending the floor is lava or jumping on the shopping cart and coasting down the aisle at the grocery store).
I’d love to hear your comments if you have any suggestions on having more fun!