Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: What a long strange trip it's been....

As the year comes to a close today, I can't help but look back on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The boys have kept us on our game all year. They have challenged us to be the not-quite-the-best parents, and sometimes we felt like we may not have succeeded. Then sometimes there were times we gave ourselves the pats on the back that we greatly deserved.

There were a lot of great moments during the past 365 days. Riding bikes without training wheels. Saying goodbye to "baby shows" like Dora the Explorer. Swimming without floaties. Glued chins. Bloody faces. You know, the good stuff.

One of my most memorable events of the year was when the butterfly landed on Boog's forehead. The look on his face is forever etched in my memory. It was precious; it was joy.

And though the year may have been filled with stress, I like to think back on this year still as a year filled with joyful experiences. And I hope that 2012 will bring the same feeling. On that note, I wish you a safe and healthy Happy New Year filled with the ability to laugh at the worst times and cry at the best.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the twelve days after Chrismakkah....

As much as it was a crazy and wonderful time of year, I am glad it's over and to be getting back to some normalcy.  But first,

On the twelfth day after Chrismakkah, the chores we have to do:
Removing all the chochkeys...
Taking down the garland...
Packing the menorah...
Finding random Santas....
Collecting all the dreidels....
Putting toys together...
Vacuuming wrapping paper...
EATING ALL THE SWEETS!!!!!!
Gaining 15 pounds....
Trying to run it off....
Removing all the lights...
And taking down the Christmas tree....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Wrap or Not To Wrap, That is the Question....

Ok.  Yes I have been basically done shopping for a while.  But the presents now lie naked in the closet, and in my bedroom, waiting to be wrapped.  And if not wrapped, found.

Luckily the boys are still at the age where they haven't discovered the art of searching for the presents, masterfully untaping gift wrap, peaking, and then skillfully reattaching the tape.  Like you never did?!

But in the meantime, I have this overwhelming procrastination for wrapping this year.  I love to wrap the gifts usually, but for whatever reason, I just can't get myself to do it.  Maybe its because there is no snow on the ground and my brain must not register the urgency of the wrapping disaster waiting to happen.

And to make matters more pressing, Hanukkah starts next week too!

Crap, I suppose I should stop writing, procrastinating, and do the inevitable...  sit on the couch and watch a show rather than wrap....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Obviously, I am not sane....

I am obviously impressionable, and possible quite affected by the Dumbening of Motherhood, when I agreed to one of the most challenging things I think I will ever do besides raising my children: Tough Mudder 2012.

If you have never heard of this, Tough Mudder is a 10 mile course with 28 military style obstacles interspersed throughout the course complete with mud, cold water, and even electrical shock.
You also have to understand I am not the most athletic person.  I haven't run since the summer.  I have been quite lazy.  I suppose I needed inspiration and motivation.  And I suppose at least 3 hours of total mind and body $%$%  would do just that.

So tonight, I started my training and put on my running shoes, kyle's running tights, a sweatshirt, body armor shirt, hat, glove, Road ID and blue flashing blinker and went on my first run in god knows how long.  And it felt good! Even at 39 degrees and dark.  I was actually relieved that after so many many many weeks of not doing that I would have lost all I had worked towards with the Couch 2 5K program.  But my body went right back into it.

But jogging 2 or so miles is not quite gonna cut it.  I have to get this sorry butt into shape so I can finish.  As ridiculously fun I think it will be, I am not just doing it for me.  I am hoping to raise some funds for the playground my school desperately needs.  
So with my little many little angels in my mind, I will try my damnedest to complete what I set out to do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The House of Many Candies...

I guess with Kyle working on the bathroom, I too had the urge to renovate.  So on the way home, I was inspired to start my own a little do-it-yourself project: A Gingerbread House.  I have no shame in saying I purchased a kit for $10 at the Family Dollar.
 
So while he was scraping and plastering, I was constructing the cottage with my own tasty caulk.  Once put together, and held with my hands, the boys were able to decorate.
 I have to say, they had better self control than I think I have.  They stuck to just a few pieces to eat, since we did do it before supper.  
With just a few minor collapses, the house finally was finished, the boys licked their pasty hands and we all enjoyed the final product of  "B and S Services" (now including construction and home decorating).
But if you are one of my gluten free friends, you don't have to lose out on the fun too.  A and J Bakery in Cranston, Rhode Island created The Allergen Friendly Gingerbread House Kit.  And even better, you can order one and have it sent to you.  Just remember this time of year is busy so make sure to call soon if you want one :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Everything tastes better when goes around and around and....

I made the best $1 purchase at the Holiday Bazaar: a Tupperware Veggie Spiral Gadget.  Oh yeah.   I couldn't wait to use it.  I remember watching info-mercials when I was younger (sad I know) and I wanted one of these sooooo  badly.  I always thought how friggin' cool it was to be able to create a slinky with your food.  20+ years later, my (sad little) dream came true.  And now it was time to bring the boys into the act.
Boog watched me at first spiralize the mini purple potatoes.  And yes, you can find them in the grocery store as Green Giant Klondike Gourmet brand.  They are not dyed, they are cultivated.
Before long, he wanted to try his hands at it.  So I handed him a tuber and set him up to make his starchy screw.  He needed a little help, but other wise, the tool was safe for him to use.  It is made out of a sturdy plastic, no metal.  Of course we couldn't stop there.  So together we worked on a coiled cucumber concoction. 

Back to radial roots: I preheated the oven to 500, drizzled some olive oil and kosher salt, baking them till they got a little crispy, about 10-15 minutes (because my oven is electric and it sucks).  And they were good.  Boog wouldn't eat them, but Mudge had the Yukon spirals since "purple is a girl color." 
For something so simple, it is a fun little piece to add to the drawer.  The bad thing was I couldn't stop.   I coiled an apple.  I tried to circumvolve a carrot but that did not work; it was too hard.  And now I am trying to find out just what else I can curl, wind, and whorl.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A literary comparison; Mudget vs Rudolf

The other day Mudge told me his favorite Christmas toy is Rudolf the red nosed reindeer. And he proceeded to sing his anthem with a little voice. Incredibly cute but also kid of sad because Mudge is like that crimsoned snouted beast. Let me describe with song....

Mudget the red cheeked PITA
has a very fat left cheek
And if you ever saw it
You might even ask what he'd eat

All of the other people
Used to ask what's in his mouth?
They never stopped to think
That it might be medically stout.

But one clear December day
Dr Greene stopped and said
Mudget with your cheek so big
Let's do surgery to remove the jig(gle)

So as we wait for cut time
We reminisce 'bout all the fun
Mudget the big cheeked PITA
Regardless, youre a lovable one......

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Candy: the real meaning of the advent calendar....

The kids have been eyeing this hand painted concoction of mine since I brought it out on Saturday.  They even went so far as to sneak a peak, to find.... nothing in the numbered doors.

"Mom, where's the candy?"

Well, guys, the candy doesn't arrive until December 1st.  Then we can count down the days till Christmas.

Since then, they have been counting down till the official candy countdown for the Santa Advent Calendar can begin.

I bought this thing 3 years ago from A.C. Moore and painted it.  Nothing special by any means. In fact the top is broken.  And Kyle makes fun of me for the sequence I wrote the numbers in, joking with me that I did it in the Hebrew fashion- backwards.  Hey, I just followed the example.  Regardless, the boys know what it is for.  They know what it contains.  And the anticipation is killing them.

So now as the boys fall into a welcomed sleep, I am filling up the little celebratory boxes with Kisses and mini hershey bars. Because the moment they wake up tomorrow, they will descend on me like vultures to a fresh kill, pecking at me until I let them open the treasured door of bliss in honor of the official countdown to Christmas.

God, I love the holidays.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

better than average

As I was reading my second installment of the Spirited Child series, I came across a startling number: parents spend an average of 22 minutes interacting with their kids.  22!  That seems horribly low, especially if you drive in the car with them.  "Mom, he's touching me..."  "Mom, I'm thirsty..."  "Mom, I have to pee..."  Right there is at least 5 minutes of interacting, telling them to knock it off, wait till we get home, and you have to hold it, unless you want to pee on the side of the road.
But seriously, 22 minutes.  As half of a pair of working parents, I know how difficult it can be to make sure all are accounted for, fed, bathed, and nurtured.   I have to remind myself, stop and smell the dirt (because roses just aren't a boy's cup of tea).  But I know I am lucky too.  I work school hours.  I get to bring them to school and pick them up.  I get to help them earn their "getting ready for school on time" star.  Mudge's "eating your supper" star, and their "can  you guys stop it with the Nuh uh and Yah huh" star.  Ok, the last one not so much. But you get my drift.  I can't imagine only spending 22 minutes with my kids on a daily basis.  I do that just trying to get the two of them ready in the morning.
Plus, I can't imagine all of the odd things I would miss out on like how Boog has created a list of names for his soon-to-be-discovered dinosaurs, or how Mudge insists on playing chess like the big boys.  Though there may be those days where the oomph isn't available in its caffeinated form, on most days, I hope to be better than average. I want to be an over achiever.  I'm shooting for 23!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Confessional....

Forgive me, blog, for I have sinned. I have not written anything in almost a week.

OK.  Now that is over.
Along with Thanksgiving, almost.

Black Friday is upon us, and there are crazy people out there attempting to purchase the ultimate items for the lowest prices known to man kind.  I am NOT one of them.  I did that one year, and vowed no way in hell would I do that again.  It was insane.  It reminded me of a flash mob (before they became a thing) where everyone meets at Walmart, screams, pushes, and uses the antithesis of natural human kindness, to get to that $2 Elmo doll.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I much rather go at my leisure or do Cyber Monday.

With exactly one month till Christmas, and even less till Hanukkah, it is time to puke the holidays. And love every minute of it.  So pull back your hair, and good luck!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I am really thankful for my eReader....

I struggle with parenting.  I do.  

"I had this fantasy that my child and I would walk hand in hand across the park. Little did i know that when he got mad he would spit on me...." - a parent.

I try to be a good parent.  I try to be active with them.  But when I have days that I have been kicked, spat, hit, and screamed at.  I wonder what the hell has possessed my child? What the hell am I doing wrong? Just, What the Hell?????  And when those days happen, I tend to retreat and spend less time since so much energy was used to stay sane.

So after a day like that, instead of running to Barnes and Noble in tears like last time, I picked up my iPad and ordered another book by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Kids, Parents and Power Struggles.  I needed to.  With the "success" of reading Raising the Spirited Child, providing me insight on temperament, mood, and other fine qualities of a spirited child, I hoped maybe she could help me.

And now into the third chapter, I laugh.  God, she gets it.   There are others out there who do the same thing.  But more importantly, it is NOT about the kid, it is about how I am reacting.  I need(ed) to start reflecting on how my sensitive child is picking up on my stresses and body language. 

I will let you know how it goes.  Thank god for instant gratification of a Nook program.

Friday, November 18, 2011

7, 6, 5

So as I curled up on the couch with my sick little Mudget, I thought to myself... what a wonderful world.....

Kidding. I actually thought to myself how much I love the sick kid snuggles.  Wrapping yourself up with a blanket.  Watching a movie, or two. or three....  Letting them drink whatever they want as long as they stay happy and hydrated.

And once his fever came down a little and his energy went up a little in comparison, we colored and practiced writing (I am so proud he is getting his diagonals).  Then he scrubbed up, finished a snacky supper, and read stories.

And as I lay with him in his bed, helping him get all tucked in and cozy, I thought about how grateful I am for the ability to do this.  I have my (relatively) healthy children, a safe and warm home, and food to put on the table.  I know too many who struggle with all of these three.

In hopes to pay it forward in a Karmic way, we have donated to food drives, even if it is just a few non perishable things.  We've cleaned out the coat closets in hopes to help keep someone warm this winter.  And soon the Pennies for Wishes campaign will be in full swing again (in memory of my spunky little student).

So during this holiday season, I hope in some way to inspire at least one other person to give a little of themselves to brighten the day of someone else.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10, 9, 8....

I am a little behind on my thankfuls this week, so I figured I could lump them together in a buy one get two free method.

#10 I am incredibly thankful for my husband.  He is a wonderful father and a supportive partner in crime when it comes to parenting.  And though he can be as thick headed as me, sometimes more, it is as much a blessing as it is a fault :)  I am very luckily to have had him in my life for almost 14 years.

#9 Speaking of people in my life, I am thankful for my family.  I am pretty lucky to have parents, in laws, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents still in the picture.  At my age, I am fortunate to have a relatively (pun intended) full table at Thanksgiving.

#8 Random thanks to Good coffee.  If it were for the nectar of the gods, I would be way more dysfunctional on a daily basis.  So thank you, coffee bean harvesters and roasters.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#11 Boog Date Night

We were blessed last night with a mini Boog date night.  My mother had her own special night with the Mudge and we took advantage of that.

It was a Daddy, Mommy and Boog night.  He emphatically chose bowling.  But first, dinner at Applebee's where he was able to imbibe in a little Sprite at supper.  And that always makes a meal that much cooler.  Then off to Town Hall Lanes in Johnston, RI for a round of bowling, they really have a pretty family friendly atmosphere.

I loved the way Boog's head tilted as the bowling ball rolled towards the pins as if it were to will it in the direction he leaned. Every time.  It was so cute.  He would get so excited to knock them down, run (sometimes fall) and hit me up with a double high five.   Daddy didn't get them, since he was flat out too good at bowling.  It was a more of a competition for 2nd place between Boogie and me.  Thank god for bumpers, not just for him, but for me.  I really do suck at bowling.  But when I actually tried to suck so he could win, I knocked down more pins.  Go figure.

For us, when you have more than one child, we don't always get to spend that special time with them, without the sibling. It makes it worth while to see their joy and silliness without the interference of sibling rivalry.  Though they are the best of friends, they can be the worst of enemies.  And for the rare instance to have a little fun with just one at a time, I am grateful.

Friday, November 11, 2011

#12 Bubbacillan

Today I am thankful for basic home remedies, and some store bought ones as well.

Puffs Plus. Oh thank god for the lotion or my nose would have fallen off my face.  My poor niece and my boys kept asking me why I had a tissue shoved up my nostril all day.

Tea. 17 cups and counting.  I love a warm cup of tea with honey to help soothe the sinuses.  Though Kyle says a shot of whiskey would do they same thing, and clear them out more effectively.

Homemade Chicken Soup.  The bubbacillan.  The cure all.  Well, not completely, but it does make me feel better.

Mucinex D.  When all else fails, and the Neti pot has caused an ear and sinus infection, then the OTC Mucinex usually does the trick.  Hopefully, it will tonight so we can get some sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

#13 A Friend is someone who knows you, and loves you anyway

So I am definitely thankful for my friends.  I have just a handful that have been there forever and a day.  They have been there for so long, they are considered family.  


My friends have seen me at my worst and still look me in the eyes the next day.


My friends have seen me at my best and backed me the whole time.


My friends have held my hair when puking my brains out (on that very RARE occasion)


My friends have held my hands through the saddest of times.


My friends have sat and listened and not said a judgmental word.


My friends have given it to me straight when needed. 


My friends were there for the birth of my marriage.


My friends were there for the birth of my children. (Hell, Liz was in the delivery room)


If it were not for my friends, my life would surely not be as entertaining and fulfilling as it has been.


Besides,  A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.— Bernard Meltzer

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#14 I've got at least 30 reasons to go to work

Today, on this beautiful day off, I am in fact thankful for my job. I am grateful that in this economy I have a job. Not only to have a job, but to have one that I actually enjoy.

I have the honor of working with some of the most amazing children. Little ones who challenge me in ways that make me a better person, therapist and mother. They inspire me and help me remember how big the little things are. First steps. First words. Firsts.

These children go through more on a daily basis than I have gone through in my first thirty some odd years of life. They smile when I am goofy. They smile when we play. They smile when we connect. And I am glad to be able to do that with them.

So as much as I may bitch and moan some days about some of the things that come along with any job, I am so grateful and thankful for these kids helping me love what I do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#15 Book Worms

I am incredibly thankful my kids like to read.  They take books in the car, in bed and in the bathroom.

It's pretty funny to watch Mudge say he has to go to the bathroom, bypass it completely, go to the book shelf in Boog's room, and choose a story...then head to the head.  And he will spend many minutes perusing the words and pictures.  Sometimes I can hear him reading versions of the stories to himself, and giggle to myself.

And even this morning, Boog woke up extra early to read three books to get stars for his chart.  At 5 am, he read each book joyfully and purposefully.  I can picture him when he is older drinking a cup of coffee, doing crosswords and reading the headlines, at 430 in the morning....

Reading for them is Fun Da Mental.  They have a sense of pride and accomplishment when they identify new words and sounds (or in Mudge's case letters and pictures).  They get a kick out of the simplest stories.    And overall just have found a love for the written word.  I am truly thankful they do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

#16

Bedtime.

I am thankful for bedtime.  Not the fact that the boys are in their beds, all tidy and cozy in their jammies and I am free to decompress.

Actually, I love the bedtime ritual.  It is usually the one time of the day I get to spend a few quiet one on one moments with each of the them.  We snuggle up in their beds, read stories, and talk about random things that happened during the day.   It is often the time I hear Mudge's voice sing the songs he learned at school.  Or when Boog tells me about what he wants to earn after he achieves his thirty stars.  I love it when Mudge tells me to lay with him just a few more minutes, which I indulge a little.  It is just a sweet short time that I learn a little more about them, besides their spazzy crazy selves I see during the lighted hours.

I am incredibly thankful that I have those few moments to share with them, happily.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankfully Thankful

After being inspired by a fellow Playmaker talking about what she is thankful for until Turkey Day, I felt this to be a good forum for me to do the same.  So over the next 17 days I feel like I have to share some of the things for which I am thankful.  And I will start with this:

#17. Smart Wool Socks.

I am thankful for Smartwools.  Magnificent merino wool heaven in a foot tube.  I have pairs with holes in the toes that I cannot bear to toss even though I am trying to slowly transform my sock drawer into an SW only zone.  Their cozy goodness is an air cushioned ride for my feet.  I have tried the look a likes and not-so-smartwools, but none are "Like a cozy friend named Joycie Terrific."(Yes, P and F reference).  On cold days, they keep my tootsies warm, and on hot days, amazingly they cool them down.  And yes, even the boys have a few pairs that I found on clearance at REI.

No, they are not in my top 10 of really important things in my life, but they have their place.  On my feet.  And I spend a lot of time on my feet, so they are noted.

Gobble Gobble

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ice Cream for Supper

You wouldn't know it, but my husband is a big mush pot. 

Last year, at this time, a child that he knew suddenly passed away.  And in that moment, he went into his calendar and set a repeat event: Ice Cream for Supper.

I didn't think of it until he told me the other day that Thursday night was his night to make supper.  And later on he came home with ice cream and whipped cream.  He filled me in and told me not to tell the boys.  

Tonight, after he came home, he made ice cream sundaes for supper.  The boys of course thought it was the best night ever, and Mudge even ate most of his supper without fuss.

But ice cream for supper was not for nothing.  It is something he created to remind us to let the kids be kids, hold them tighter, and smile a little more often since you never know what may happen.  

We both know too many little ones who are no longer here, and we are thankful everyday we have our boys, as crazy as they make life sometimes.   I don't always remember to do what Brad Paisley says, "Live for the little moments".  So on days like these, I am thankful my husband does.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If only I had thought of this.....

I love the internet for connecting, but more so for finding new ideas to try with my kids.  I came across a couple of really visit-worthy websites with cool ideas to try:

Pintrest is a share site or pin board.  I found these that I soooo want to make
 Jello Straw Worms as posted from....

The Idea Room is a great resource for DIY paints and doughs of all sorts, marshmallow blow guns, and other keepsakes.


Author, Valerie helps you remember what it is like to be playful for the cheap with activities like cardboard box forts, photo puppet, and straw beading.

The Author of Make and Takes is after the hearts of my family with simple crafts including Angry Birds pom poms.  Love it!



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween with my Spirited Child.... And I don't mean ghost

So our expectations of this year's Halloween were like the many before.  Our close friends would come over and we would trick or treat around the block, happily, with minimal issues.  But....

When you have a spirited child who is incredibly sensitive emotionally, what you think is the smallest and innocent detail will throw him into a friggin tizzy.  So last night when a family friend arrived with a child in a Captain America suit, Boog thought it was his little best friend.  In that moment, he was ecstatically happy.  But the following moment was met with despair and confusion as he learned it was not his dearest best buddy.  The disappointment overwhelmed his as he stomped away in tears, ripping off his mantis arms and wings.  He huddled himself in the corner of the door sobbing.

At this point, we urged the rest of the Halloween crew to go ahead.  I took Mudge while Kyle waited with UB and Boog to settle down.  My heart sank.  It reminded me of preschool graduation, his emotional up and downs.  So Mudge and I trotted off (reluctantly) and did two houses before calling Kyle to find out if they were on their way.

Mudge and I waited for Boog and Dad at that second house.  And that was as far as we got.  Boog, in all of his green buggy glory could not "get it into his head" that the other boy in the costume was not his friend.  His "mind just won't let it go."  Again sobbing, he "just wanted to go home".  So I passed the Bull Ant Mudge to Kyle, and walked back to the house with my sad little insect.  We spent the rest of the evening chilling out, watching a show, and reading books till he was able to "make [his] brain feel better."

So as excited he was up until that point of the night, it only takes one switch to change a spirited child's mood.  Sometimes you can prevent or decrease the length of time, and sometimes not.  Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.  As intensely as he loves and plays and learns, he also intensely responds.  I just fear when he eventually has his first girlfriend that breaks up with him.... Until then, we'll just keep supporting him as best we can.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloowwweeeen!

I just wanted to wish all of you a safe and fun Halloween.  And remember, don't do what I am doing: dress your kid in all black.  What the hell was I thinking?  Anyway, get out the glow sticks and flashlights.  And get ready to haul the kids and bags in tow.

And just to get in the spirit, here is a rendition of a story Boog recited for us last year, word for word, that he must have listened to at school.  Don't mind, it is black since he was in bed.
video

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Numbers

This morning from across the hall: Thump. Thump. Thump.  Two seconds later, Mudge with his corner blankie and a stuffed Angry Bird staring at me.

"Momma, the clock says 6 4 0.  Can we go downstairs?"
Honey, when the clock says 7 0 0.
"OK."

Then for the next twenty minutes as we lay in my bed, Mudge proceeded to detail every change in the clock.
"Momma, the clock says 6 4 2"
"Now it says 6 4 3"
"Now it says 6 4 4"
You get the picture.

But this is actually a wonderful thing. I remember when Boog, at about this age, understood numbers.  We had put a clock in his room for this reason.  And since he is such a stickler for rules, when we told him "when the clock says 645 you can come get us" in fact, that is what he did.

So now the Mudge is mastering the identification of numbers, it makes procrastination a little easier, since I can tell him at 1100 we will open the goody bag from last night.  But it is a double edge sword since I will receive a detailed time table until the desired time is reached.

I suppose it is time to put a clock in HIS room, so he doesn't have to check mine.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Whats in your candy bowl?

"Hello, Halloween! What a glorious day and a glorious night to go trick-or-treating...for candy-candy-candy-candy-candy-candy-candy-candy!"-Garfield


It is the age old dilemma:  Do I get what I want to eat or do I get what I don't want to eat?


Snickers?
Kit Kats?
Lollipops?
Dots?
Pencils?

Because really what ends up happening? You fill the bowl with 45 bags of candy, get maybe 10 trick or treaters, and then what? Ingest 300,000 calories and grams of sugar and sat fat in the matter of a week?



Yes.


So what's in my bowl? Milky way. Kit kat. Twix. (and Snickers for Kyle)


Does that make me a bad person????

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween, old school

I do love Halloween. I love seeing all of the costumes, creativity, and excitement in the faces of the children and the brave adults who join them. I can clearly recall the pictures of my sister and I dressed up like punk rockers and cats. It was easy. Cheap. And you made it. I miss that. There are so many premade options out there that it is just easier, because who has time to make a Spiderman costume?

But this year we had no choice on the matter. The boys decided to pay homage to Monster Bug Wars and be insects for All Hallows Eve. Not just any insects, but a Giant Rainforest Mantis and a Bull Ant.
Check out the videos the kids are soooo obsessed with....
Note the large pinchy mandibles, that Mudge so desperately wanted
So we had to come up with some ideas on how to create the creepy crawlers because we would paying out ass for a decent costume So home came extra cardboard and tubing. Out came the paint and exacto knives. Off to Micheals for some random extra large pipe cleaners and foam visors. And voila! A true homemade Trick or Treating delight.

The boys are soooo excited and we are too. Kyle put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into forming the wings and spiny front legs. So we shall see the true outcome in just a few days....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talkin' Tatas Tuesdays: Inspiration not desparation

From 10 years working in a medical field, I have notice many things:  The biggest of which is how mood and mental wellbeing effects the healing process.  So for this last Tata Tuesday entry I just wanted to share some inspiring quotes to.....


If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them.  When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope?  We have two options, medically and emotionally:  give up, or fight like hell.  ~Lance Armstrong


Cancer is a word, not a sentence.  ~John Diamond


The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.  ~Nikolai Lenin


The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.  ~Plato


Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.  ~Author Unknown


The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  ~C.C. Scott


Never, never, never give up.  ~Winston Churchill


If you're going through hell, keep going.  ~Winston Churchill


You know, I sometimes wish I could have sat down with Winston Churchill....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Foster'ing Good Times at Cucumber Hill Farm

Our good friend invited us to go to a corn maze tonight, out in Foster, Rhode Island.  Cucumber Hill Farm is a beautifully revamped farm that has a little extra to offer this time of year.
Located wayyyyyy out off Route 6, right near the Killingly, Connecticut border, is where you can pick your own pumpkins and gourds, do a few pony rides ($3), or do some fall photography.
Open weekends,  September 24 to October 30th, Cucumber Hill Farms offers free hayrides, free kiddie hay maze, and tonight they had some complimentary hot cocoa and coffee.  For a $8 for anyone over 12, $4 for 4-12, and free for under that, you get to enjoy a corn-y trip through the Land of Oz.
Kyle had the kids running around throughout the maze looking for the Wizard of Oz based questions.  We found 8 of the 10 posts with questions about the movie.  And since it was supper time, we didn't go back to see if we could find anymore.  
 Right.  Supper time in Foster.  Where to go?  Amazingly enough, we had heard of a little place called Pizza King.  Just a local joint, located off the beaten path (moreso than we were) on a pond.  For under $40, we fed 3 adults and four kids.  Not bad.  And neither was the food.  In fact, we decided we wanted to go back another night when the kids weren't so tired and wired to try some of the funky pizzas, lobster bisque, and grinders they had on the menu.  And it looks like it would make a great summer stop, since you can eat outside overlooking the view of the water.
So if you are looking for something to do out in the land of "No School Foster/Glocester", take a ride down route 6, pick some pumpkins, get lost in OZ, and find some tasty food less than 10 minutes away from the farm.

Pizza King
430 Ledge Road
Dayville, CT

Cucumber Hill Farm
39 Cucumber Hill Road
Foster, RI

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Slimy Belly

"Hun, what time are you leaving?"
Shortly, why?
"Boog's at the nurse's office."
Ok.

So I get to the school to pick up Boog and Mudge to find them both waiting for me in the office.  What's wrong?  "My belly feels slimy."  Looking a little pasty and knowing he isn't one to make up false illness accusations (yet) I figured we were in for a night of barf bowl fun.

So we stopped to get some ginger ale and special tea because "that special tea always helps me feel better."  Of course, like he usually does, he takes no more than 2 sips to decide that it does just the trick.  (it is Celestial Season's by the way, not special tea).  Regardless, we make it home without explosions in the car, always a plus.

Boog explained that his stomach did not feel slimy before lunch. Nor did it feel slimy during or after lunch.  But it started getting "lumpy like applesauce pudding" during music.  Ok.  But instead of barfing, he was FOS.  Literally.  Now, a few pounds lighter and no longer with a slimy belly, he is feeling fine.  Boy, am I glad.....

So what was the most creative way your kids described how they felt?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Argh!

I am feeling a little pissed off.  Not for anything my children or husband or co workers have done or said.  They were all wonderful today, and I am trying to remember that. Gritting my teeth. Trying to look at the positive.

Buuuuuttttt, I just received the email that yet again I have  not been issued a grant that would help me build an inclusive playground for my preschool students.  To build a playground, like the one we need for our children with significant special needs, will cost nearly $60,000.  So I have been trying to find ways to fund this project to no avail.

These kids need a safe and accessible place to play.  I don't know to whom I need to speak to get this done.  So this is my venting forum for the moment.  If anyone has any ideas or success stories, I could surely use the encouragement.

Please visit our project, scroll down and watch the video.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Talkin' Tatas Tuesdays: Seven degrees of separation, or less

When you look at the statistics, one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer (American Cancer Society).   Unfortunately, that means I could bet that out of you and your 7 closest friends and colleagues, you can probably identify at least one woman who has survived breast cancer.  Amongst family members, I can identify at least one.  At work, at least one.  And among my friends, at least one.  And that is just me and my circle.  


What the hell? Those numbers are ridiculous.  Breast cancer is the second, only to lung cancer, leading cancer killer of women, according to ACS.  So what do we do?


I'm in my early 30s.  I have yet to have the mammogram.  For the most part, breast cancer is not common in my immediate family.  So I follow the general recommendations: SBE (self breast exams), clinical breast exams by the physician, and try to keep in general good health.   But many are not as lucky, and maybe the prevalence of breast cancer is higher.  



Women at high risk include those who:
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, but have not had genetic testing themselves
  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (such as the Claus model - see below)
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes
Women at moderately increased risk include those who:
  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 15% to 20%, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (see below)
  • Have a personal history of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
  • Have extremely dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts when viewed by mammograms

The theory of early detection is the key, and we know our bodies best.  But sometimes we need the electronic age help.  So if you think you may be considered at high or moderate risk with factors like those above, then consider talking to your doctor about yearly MRI and mammograms.


Go to the American Cancer Society for more information and talk to your physician!
Let's save the tatas!

Monday, October 17, 2011

OT Soap Box: SPD

I bet few of you know that it is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month.  Don't worry, I didn't know until the other day either.  And I'm an OT!  I felt like I should have known.  So to celebrate SPD Month, I wanted to share some insight, websites, and other tidbits about it.


First, how many senses do you have?  I bet you said 5: touch, taste, smell, sight, sound.  Well, if you said that, you are partially correct.  In fact, you have seven, and I bet you forgot Proprioception and Vestibular senses.  Proprioception is the way your body and brain sense how much force is needed, like the ability to judge how to tap your neighbor to say excuse me rather than punching them.  Vestibular sensations allow your body to understand your head's position in space, like if you are tilted, upside-down or right side up.  And when any of these senses are not working properly, then you get .....Sensory Processing Disorder.  When the brain and body cannot quite understand how to interpret and execute functioning in the world around them. 


Research has been going on for years and many have been working diligently, advocating to the American Psychiatric Association to have it added to the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders now working on 5th version due out 2013).   But they have been met with caution since SPD can look like ADHD, Autism Spectrum disorders, and other illnesses, or be secondary underneath them.  But the SPD Foundation has recently shed positive news saying that possibly Sensory Under Responsiveness and Over responsiveness may be an associated feature under the Autism Spectrum, which may help people get insurance to cover much needed clinical treatment.  I can only hope!  I know too many that get denied and have to pay out of pocket!


But in the meantime, to support a child with an SPD takes a lot of patience, trial and error.  But there are people out there wanting to help.  First, if you suspect you or your child is having a hard time, talk to your pediatrician and possibly get a referral for an OT evaluation.  But be ready to be on a long waiting list.  In the mean time, talk with your child's teacher to see how they are doing in school.  If they appear to be struggling, meet with the educational team and request a screening.  If you've been there already, check out companies like Fun and Function who wanted to make sensory items affordable, as often they are not. And get connected.  Often other parents and therapists can lead you in the right direction of who to see, what to get, as well as be a shoulder of support.  Last, or maybe I should say, Always, keep your head up.  You are your child's best and most loving advocate.  Be open. Be loving. Be patient.


Check these out!
Do You Know Me? by Melissa Zacherl
Sensory World Poster
Sensory Street Parent Tool
Sensory Street Research
Heavy Work Activities 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Looking for something to do? AppleFest!

This weekend at Wachusett Mountain is their 28th annual AppleFest.
Last year, our family went, bundled up to the max.  There were some bouncy houses.  Lots of crafters, activities and local farm fresh items.  And, yes, maple cotton candy. DELICIOUS!
For an additional charge, we took the Skyride up to the top of the mountain.  I would not necessarily recommend you do this with wiggly children under 3, but be your own judge.  My kids were so excited, and I held onto them pretty tightly since it is a ski lift.  But they did great and loved the unique view above the trees, down to the valley.  And we were able to walk around the top of the mountain, exploring the sights.

Adults are $10, 6-12 are $6, and under 5 get into the festival free as well as a sky ride admission.  Skyrides are an additional cost, but there are some great packages that include the sky ride, food and other fun activities.

So if you are looking for a great outdoor family friendly and food friendly day, head up to Wa.... Wa... Wachusett either today or tomorrow. Maybe I'll see you there.  Doors are open 10-5.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Canes and other random thoughts of a six year old...

So this was tonight's conversation at bedtime with Boog.  I love the randomness.

"Mom, you don't have to have white hair to use a walking cane.  Vava uses one, but she doesn't have white hair."
Actually honey, she does.
"What? You gotta be kidding me!"
Nope, she uses hair dye.
"Why do people do that?  I'm not going to do that when I get white hair."
No, men usually don't.
"Pepe has white hair but he doesn't use a walking cane."
Yes, honey, you are right.
"So I guess you just need bad feet to use a cane, not white hair.  Just like some people use crutches."
Yup. Just like some people uses walkers.

"Mom, did you know M. is 27 and super big?"
Yes. He is pretty tall.
"I mean, really, how did he get that big?"
He must come from a tall family.
"Humph. He's gonna keep growing?!"
Did you meet his girlfriend?
"Yup. She uses a wheelchair.  What's wrong with her legs?"
I don't know. Maybe she doesn't have the strength in her legs to walk so she uses the wheelchair to get around.
"No, I think her legs are just like this."
You know what? I know kids that use wheelchairs.
"At your school?"
Yup.

"Can brothers and sisters have different moms and dads?"
Yes.
"How?"
Well..... B's mom is Auntie and her dad is Uncle X right? But since Auntie is married to Uncle Y and they had baby J, they have different daddies.  But that makes Uncle Y a step daddy.
"Oh I see.  So is Uncle X J's stepfather?"
No.
"Why not?"
Because it is based on who is married to who.
"Oh. OK. Good night mommy."

I feel like it was an episode of Deep Thoughts with Boog.  Boy, that could have gone on a lot longer. Thankfully, he was tired. So what kind of conversations did you have with your kids tonight?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Think Fun's SWISH Funalysis

I Swish
You Swish
We all Swish
for Think Fun's Swish.
I had way too much fun with this game today.
Boog calls it "Sniping," the ability to locate a swishable ball in hoop match up.  And he is really good, and really excited.  "For crying out loud mom, I am sniping out a lot of match ups!"  Even Mudge got in on the game, finding some even without help, which was a little funny since the game is targeted for 8 and up.
Swish is a set of transparent cards with colored "balls" (dots) and "hoops" (ring).  The object of the game is to mentally flip, rotate, and stack same colored balls and hoops while not leave any unmatched.  Major spatial relations and position in space game.  You can make it easy, taking turns.  Or change it up, making multi card swishes.  Or speed it up for quick draw "Sniper Swishing" as Boog called it.
I love the simplicity of the game. The design is geometrically pleasing to look at.  And the cards seem pretty sturdy.  It is travel friendly in its little drawstring pack.   For the kiddos with spatial problems, this is a great way to implement therapeutic fun time.  Of course, my colleagues, family and students were also quite intrigued with the game with its playful nature.  I like how it can be played solo if no one wants to join in the fun, or you can have a crazy Swish-fest with a bunch of friends.  No matter how many people, you can come up with a version to make it engaging.

So for around $12.99, it is pretty affordable for the therapeutic and family game arsenal.  And since it is joyful, socially engaging and connected, and gives a sense of internal control, my fellow Life is Good Playmakers would say, Swish can be a transformative play experience!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Talkin' Tatas Tuesdays: Moobs

According to the American Cancer Society: A breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts from cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that may grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it, too. Many people do not realize that men have breast tissue and that they can develop breast cancer.


So whether you call them moobs or 'man'ary glands, the man boobs are also susceptible to breast cancer development.  Though there is no for sure cause for men developing breast cancer, there are risk factors described by the ACS which include the following:


Age: Men with breast cancer are on average about 68 years old when they are diagnosed.
Family historyAbout 1 out of 5 men with breast cancer have close male or female relatives with the disease.
Genetics: The BRCA2 mutations may account for 1 in 10 men.
Radiation exposure
Alcohol/Liver disease:  excessive alcohol abuse may cause liver disease which may in turn mess with the  hormone balance
Estrogen treatment:  Estrogen based treatments are sometimes used in prostate cancers, as well as those who may have had a sex change.
Obesity:  fat cells can change male hormones into female hormones
Testicular Conditions: more research is needed
Klinefelter's Syndrome : though more research is needed, the extra X chromosomes related with the genetic disorder may account for some cases.
Certain Occupations : more research is needed but prolonged exposure to heat and fumes may have an affect on cancer development  


All information found on American Cancer Society website.  As with anything: I am not a doctor. I don't pretend to be.  I just found it share worthy.  Talk with the moob owner in your life, and get him checked too, especially if it runs in the family.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I am Officially a Player, not to be confused with Playa

So over the weekend, I had the most phenomenal opporutnity to attend at Life is Good Playmaker Training.  And I can now proudly say that I am certified in silly, and a playmaker not a play hater.

When my girlfriend told me about her amazing experiences at the training over the summer, she said "YOU HAVE TO GO!"  So with that much enthusiasm and energy I just had oblige.  And I am so happy I did.

Life is Good Kids Foundation is the culmination of The Project Joy's mission with Life is Good support to help children overcome life threatening challenges.  Project Joy's background was the idea that children who experience trauma need to learn to play again so they can become healthy and joyful members of society.  They train people to help children play and heal.  But they do it in a way that is most effective, they teach you to be playful.  Because you can't teach what you don't have.

I spent the weekend with a bunch of adults, playing.  Using parachutes.  Throwing yarn balls.  Playing musical chairs.  And it was so much fun.  In fact, I realized I really hadn't been my playful self in a long time.  Don't get me wrong, I play with my children.  I play with other's children.  But I forgot the importance of being playful and being in the moment.  If you are not 100% in the moment, thinking about what you have to do later, and what you did in the morning, then you miss what you are doing right now.  And kids know when you are not 'with' them.  So you can't build trust and relationships.  And if you can't do that, then those kids won't be able to be healthy social beings.

Playfulness is not rocket science.  It doesn't mean you have to wear a rainbow wig, dancing and singing (though it might help).  It just means that you have to have joy, be socially connected, have a sense of internal control, and be actively engaged.  It's not the stuff that makes it play.  It's all in the approach.

I know I have had a truly life changing moment that not only will make me a better therapist, but a better wife, mother, and friend.  So find your inner player, and bring it out.  Enjoy the moments.  Like Brad Paisley said, "Live for the little moments."  And if you would like to be a part of the Playmaker Effect, contact the Life is Good Foundation and find a training near you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sweet Apples Galore

It was too beautiful out to not take advantage it.  Especially since every weekend the entire month of October is booked with birthdays, conferences, and Halloween festivities.  So after school, I took the boys to Barden Family Orchard in North Scituate, Rhode Island to do some apple picking.
Today's brisk and sunny visit was our first to this harvest zone.  Nestled in the back woods of nowhere, in the outskirts of the Apple Valley, Barden's hosts a variety of pick your own stuff including apples, peaches, and veggies.  They also have a lot of pumpkins to help you get your Halloween on.  But we were there for the apples.
For $15 per peck, or 2 for $25, we could find Galas, Macs, Macouns, Grannys, and other varieties.  Though they try to clearly mark the breed of tree, unfortunately most tags were off so we went by sight.
The boys and I had such a blast picking.  I swear Mudge found one as big as his head, which of course resulted in me carrying his bag because "It's too heavy, mom." And then, Boog was being so strong carrying the bag around, but visions of a peck of apples rolling down the hill towards the car made me take his as well.  Self preservation, I know.
But now that we are done, the question really is: What the heck to do I do now with two pecks of apples?
Apple crisp.  Because I don't need crust.
Apple streusel. MMM. Streusel.
Apple coffee cake.  Anything as a side with coffee.
Apple slices on PB sandwiches.  A new favorite of Boog's.
Pork Chops and Appleshauce. Peter Brady's favorite.

Suppose I should get to work on some recipes.....
Anyone got any????

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bubbles or No Bubbles?

Four score and seven years ago, when I walked up hill both ways barefoot, I remember having my tall cup of coffee milk (a Rhode Island staple) accompanied by a straw, specifically used for experimentation: to see how many bubbles I could make without making a mess.

But once you become a parent, I think sometimes you lose those memories and get caught up in the day.  So initially, when the boys started blowing bubbles in their drinks, my immediate reaction was, "Don't."  I know, but I am a negative first responder.  Trust me, I see where my spirited child gets it.  But then the bubblicious memory of having mountains of the spherical objects growing taller and taller, popped into my head.  I just couldn't NOT let them have this same simple joy.

And since, Mudge needs to work on his "nasal emission" problem, letting air come out his nose when he talks so he sounds nasally, blowing bubbles is purposeful and therapeutic.  So now, when the boys blow into their drinks, I say go for it, with the only rule is not let them go out of the cup.  I know if you give them an inch.....

So the question is: Do you bubble?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Talkin' Tatas Tuesdays, or Rather How to Support Them

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I figured it would be a good forum to discuss the girls.  


So besides talking about the importance of a good self breast exam, I defer to the Susan G. Komen Organization and its wealth of information on early detection and screening, I am choosing to rather talk about the need to support them in the right way- a good, No, an excellent fitting bra.  Do any of you remember Beaches and Bette Midler's character CeCe singing about whether or not "Do you buys a titsling, or do you buy a brazierre?"  
If you are like me, the girls are nowhere near where they were in high school, let alone, before I had children.  So whether you refer to them as tatas, pancakes, jugs, boobs, or breasts, they are a big part of your life.  And you should take care of them.
I will have you know, this card was from my best friend of 20 some odd years. Feel the love?
So I went on my own Boobtastic Adventure and I finally had my very own bra fitting at Victoria's Secret, in Garden City, Cranston.  My free fitting was done by Mary, a wonderfully helpful woman.  And it was not intimidating at all.  She first measure me chest diameter to get an idea of my girth, with my clothes on.  Then she brought it a bunch of different styles to try.  Each time, I was given privacy to try them on, then she asked if I would like her to adjust the straps and see if it were a good fit.  She also shared some great pointers like:

  • Make sure you secure your bra with the middle hooks.  If you have back cleavage (like below) then you don't have the right fit.  If you have to do either the first or last hook, you may want to look into a different size (ie 32 or 36 if you thought you were a 34)
  • Make sure your back strap sits in the middle of your back.  If it is riding up towards your shoulders, your boobs will look low and droopy and you will probably be slouching (she didn't say that. She said it wouldn't support them properly.)
  • If you have the four(or six)-boob-effect, you should make sure you have the correct cup size.  They should be well contained within the cup.

So next time you aren't liking the way you feel or look, remember what Stacey and Clinton say from What Not To WearYour Bra Is Your BFF. When your girls are lifted and separated, you look thinner, period. You appear taller. Your waist appears narrower. Ladies with a larger bust will especially need to 

invest in a really, really great brassiere.

If you have never had a fitting, I would highly recommend it.  There are few things I truly invest in besides a car, a house, and a family.  Those would be shoes and a well fitted over the shoulder boulder holder.


And if you or anyone you know has been touched by Breast Cancer, consider donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.