I love you just the way you are…

There was time when I couldn’t relate to the woman who appeared on TV in desperate need of a makeover.  The recurring theme was that she was just too busy with the demands of family life to maintain her looks.  When I was single and free, it was impossible for me to grasp how these women could just “let themselves go.”

But alas, I understand.  I have finally arrived at that place where .I would be selected as an obvious candidate for a makeover today.

In my youth, my hair was done on a weekly basis, or sooner in preparation for a night on the town.  (The only thing I prep now are meals.)  And in between these regular visits, I would style it at home, if needed.  I could spend hours with a curling iron to get my hair just right for a date and with ample time to spare.  Now, I simply pull it back into a bun.  How cliché.

Although I was not much of a fashionista, I did maintain a polished and professional appearance at work.  I loved to shop during my lunch hour for anything I could find that would flatter my body type.  I was very good at camouflaging or emphasizing what needed to be, in order to look and feel as confident as possible.  So, whatever the occasion, I always had a selection of appropriate outfits ready and waiting in my wardrobe.  And of course, a woman could never have enough shoes or accessories to go with it.  So, there was always room for another bracelet, belt or bag.

I was also able to indulge in mani/pedi sessions, whether or not I was actually due for another.  (The only pampering I recall since then has been changing diapers.)  Other scheduled appointments in the old days revolved around spa treatments, hot stone massages, waxing and taking impromptu classes just for fun– like dance or yoga.  Chores and constantly chasing my kid around is how I move now.

Then there were the toiletries.  Oh, how I loved to make pit stops at places like Aveda to take home their latest sustainable product or Sabon for another batch of my favorite salt scrub.  Quick showers have since replaced leisurely hot baths in which I surrounded myself with scented candles as Billy Joel played in the background.  I miss threading my eyebrows, too.  Plucking them is just not the same.

Even though I was all set with an array of lotions or perfumes, I would routinely stop by the fragrance or cosmetic counters, mostly on a whim.  While I was there I listened to the sales pitch even though I didn’t need to hear it to make a purchase either way.

High from my goodies, I would stop at Godiva for the real thing and enjoyed my chocolate covered cherries on the subway ride.

Now, I do realize that for some women, none of this has become a thing of the past.  We all have our own unique set of circumstances in life and for me (after motherhood) it most certainly did.

It’s not the end of the world but I wanted to reminisce a little bit.

What I have learned recently is that self-care applies to things other than the focus on our physical appearance, too.  For instance, personal fulfillment through our interests and hobbies but of course, there’s nothing wrong with being able to look good while you’re doing them.

Nevertheless, devoting my free time to what feeds my soul matters more to me now than what I’d like to see reflected in the mirror.

Furthermore, the reality is that the average woman cannot have it all or do it all.  She has to choose between painting her fingernails or a blank canvas whenever she has a free window because there’s only so many hours in a day.

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The Dollar Tree

I know that I’m not able to resist a trip there and surely, if you’re someone who’s able to shop at high-end establishments, you share no such desire or interest with me.

Oh but how I personally love perusing the aisles for coloring, crafting, toiletries, office supplies and/or home goods!  I think the toys as well, are pretty neat for the price and they really run the gamut.  Keeping a small stash always comes in handy for little visitors or for extras inside of goodie bags.

There’s also a ton of early learning items to be found there.  For example, even with today’s technology, my child was still very excited when I showed him the item below.  He was able to conveniently practice letters during car trips and I myself enjoy this childhood relic on occasion.

My plan is to present my child with a twenty-dollar bill along with instructions to choose twenty items from anywhere in the store that he would like me to purchase.  Of course, the exact total will be a bit more than that after tax, but you get the idea.

If you have more than one kid with you, then divvy up the total as you see fit.

You can do this with a five or ten-dollar bill (we happen to have a $20 that his grandmother gave him to spend as he so wishes.)  If you have money to burn, then by all means, count up even higher.  I think I would personally go bonkers if I had $50 to spend in the Dollar Tree but that’s simply not in the budget.

Or go in the other direction.  If they only have one dollar to spend then maybe they’ll focus on picking a single item that is really special!

Another idea is to have them choose one item per each person they know for surprise gift giving instead.  They can put down on paper the names of each person beforehand as a way to incorporate writing practice to the project.  The options are endless.

For instance, they can also sort by category and collect things like faux flowers, cups, pencils or a notepad.  Speaking of, I simply can’t get enough of writing instruments, folders and clipboards (color coordinated at that!)

 

Sidebar.  I hope when I return they still have a jumbo eraser I spotted but forgot to throw in my cart that had a message on it about making big mistakes.  I want to display it for symbolism.  If only we could invent something that truly wipes out the real errors we’ve made in life (since Mr. Clean’s little white sponge is not really magical.)

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this outing/activity suggestion over the summer months (assuming you won’t be on holiday in the South of France) at the time.

Old Photographs

I remember the days when we had to take pictures with our old camera.  When we used up the roll, I also fondly recall taking the walk down to our local drug store to get them developed.

20180428_105712_hdr-1-2045490735.jpgThe film was then sent out and we counted the days until the pictures were finally ready for pick up.  Often, we just couldn’t wait until we got home to see them and so we opened the envelope right there as we stood at the counter.  Only then would we discover if all those random shots taken in the weeks prior were actually in focus or if our poses “came out good.”

Some were so awful that we’d laugh hysterically on the spot and if it was really bad, snatch them away from each other to destroy or hide it.  It was not to be shared.

Eventually,  drugstore chains began cropping up that were able to produce photos right on their premises and whenever possible, we’d happily pay the extra fee to get them printed within the hour.  That option felt like lightening speed for us back then.

But as you know, there are no such steps required in today’s digitized and selfie-obsessed nation.  We no longer have to wait any time at all to view any of our images.  In fact, since we’ve been able to snap and share so easily, I have neglected all those older photographs taken way before this technology came along– only being confronted with them when I’m reorganizing closets or unpacking after a move.  So now, some of our old photo albums are buried in a closet and falling apart.  Any loose photos are simply stacked in a box, but all of them belong on a proper shelf for display.

With our usual daily life tasks that demand so much of our attention, who the heck has time to go through a photo pile?  Lest we forget that our digital photos are also collecting their own dust because even if they’re being uploaded elsewhere, many are still just sitting across all of our devices, either way.  I can bet that the average person has at least one thousand photos on their phone right now and counting.  They’re continually hogging up memory and isn’t that ironic?

Various online tools like Shutterfly have helped me to create special things with my photos, both new and old, in the form of calendars, books, greeting cards, canvas prints, etc. for myself or as gifts, but we’ll never catch up, will we?

No matter, as I will keep sorting and categorizing them.  I’ve simply accepted the fact that this will be an ongoing project with no end date in sight, unless I cease to take another picture and that ain’t happening.

I keep reminding myself that if I ever lost them in fire or in some other way, I would be totally devastated.  So, while I have them (and air in my lungs) I will take the time to keep honoring all of these old photographs.

Child’s Play for the soul

After a long hard day, sometimes you hurriedly push yourself through things just longing for bed.  You barely have a moment to unwind, but you have to tend to your child, no matter how tired you may feel.

Aside from all the mundane tasks that always require our attention, we must still set a moment aside for some quality time with our kids.  I make an effort to connect with my child, that is my duty as a parent.  But, more often than not he will have his own ideas on just how we should do that.  The timing isn’t always great, like the days when I’m so bone-tired.  That’s when I might possibly hear these terrifying words,

Mommy, will you play with me?

Depending on how your children are spaced out, maybe you’ve only heard your very first child make this request before their siblings came along.  Once those built-in play mates arrived, perhaps your services were no longer required.

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The pile up! It beats stepping on Legos, I guess.

When I catch myself on the ground pushing monster trucks with my son for a pretend race, I realize it is a very different experience from when I was growing up.  Speaking for myself only, I could sit calmly in a corner with my coloring book or combing my doll’s hair as a little girl.  If you had older brothers (unlike me) then you have a leg up.

Nevertheless, my point is that while I truly enjoy playing with children through a wide variety of activities, this would be my least favorite thing to do– but I do it anyway.  Sidecar: I’m always in awe when he makes statements out loud that pertain to the imaginary worlds he creates for his toys, period.

Sometimes I try to thwart the plan by suggesting we sort the cars by color, size or model.  As the incessant organizer that I am, I can get with that.  Or, I mention that we should count them all one by one and see who comes closest to the number we guess.

Nice try, Mom.  That’s just my pesky penchant for early learning instead of allowing for some good old fashioned free play which in itself is learning, duh!  So, I must often remind myself to stand back and let him have his fun without my interference.

Thankfully, he has never taken me up on my offer and as requested, wants us to just move the cars around while on all fours instead.  But, first things first.  We must meet and greet each other and speak in our car character, much like they do in the cartoons we watch.  Sometimes he lets me choose my own car, but he always decides who has won the race.  My baby is in charge of this game.

20180503_110122_burst01-1-1896674846.jpgI have managed to interject the routine of adding some writing practice to this by having him utilize our chalkboard wall for keeping score.

Moral of this post is that I know the day will soon come when he’ll stop asking his mother to play with him at all.  The sudden wave of this realization whenever it does hit me in the face has helped me to engage with him better and on his own terms.

Besides, we could all benefit (even as adults) from a little child’s play.

 

Chalkboard for Childhood

You’d be hard pressed to find a good old-fashioned chalkboard nowadays and even if you did, depending on the size, it will cost you.

So, what’s the next best thing?  If you don’t already know, it’s chalkboard paint.

Perhaps your response is a firm, “No thank you.”  Or, maybe you’re simply asking yourself why on earth would you want to paint any wall like that.

Well, not everyone wants to that is for sure but if you have small children you just might be interested or so inspired.  Kids are notorious for scribbling on all types of surfaces so here’s one place they can dedicate such efforts.

The Inspired Treehouse shares the learning benefits as to Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface that might sway parents as well.

To my surprise, most elementary schools have done away with them (opting for white dry erase boards) so children today may never use one in class like we had the chance to while growing up.  Can we agree that even though it’s still vertical, it’s just not the same?  I fondly recall volunteering to clean the erasers and the boards often for my teachers.

Even small children who cannot yet work with chalk in their small hands can use their fingers or paint brushes dipped in water for writing or coloring practice on them.

When I took a trip to Home Depot, that’s when I first realized that there are many other color options available so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a blackboard, either.  Although, that’s exactly what I wanted.  I also noticed that the cans are small, so you might need more than one (I did.)

Lastly, if you don’t want to commit to this by sacrificing a wall in your home, you can paint a large piece of plywood instead.  The Artful Parent will show you How to Make Your Own Chalkboard and you really don’t need a backyard to put it to good use so, don’t let that stop you.

Even as an adult, I simply get a kick out of grabbing a piece of chalk to jot down my own life reminders, to do lists, meal plans and any sort of random family lesson planning.  Not to mention the games we play such as Hangman, Tic-tac-toe , drawing things or just keeping score. When we celebrated my son’s last birthday party, the board was used as a guest book for his friends to sign upon arrival.

The possibilities are endless.

And hey, I’ll be the first to admit that I personally had to have one, kids or no kids (much like the old-fashioned pencil sharpener nailed to my desk.)

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day fell on a Sunday this year and therefore, we weren’t exactly in craft/project mode. We had family in town and on the heels of spring recess, preoccupied with a host of other things to tackle during the break (like real-life family fun stuff.)

Only until after I sent my child back to school this morning did it first occur to me that we missed Earth Day activities. Later, while I was doing the not-so-fun dishes, I realized that Earth Day is every day, is it not? Lo and behold, the website dedicated to it shared the same sentiment!

As we surely love our earth 365 days of the year and thus, naturally want to do our part to take care of it, check out Earthday.org to learn more about how!

In the meantime, I found a nice little craft project for newspaper and got busy because no matter the theme, I love to color! I don’t have water paint so I went with a good old-fashioned crayon to fill in the land masses and then turned to markers for the sea and centered heart (which by the way makes a great craft inspiration for Valentine’s Day next year as well.) I’m thinking the earth spread across inside of a card for someone special along these lines: Roses are red, Violets are blue, I love the earth and I love you!”

You get the idea.

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A day late but no matter, this was fun to make and I know my child will still be just as excited as I was to work on his own coloring once he sees the finished product. Maybe yours will too.

Find the details for this Gorgeous Newspaper Earth Day Craft on Facebook or on the website for i heart CRAFTY things and enjoy!

Just Some Interesting Animal Facts!

After a trip to the spring Scholastic book fair at our local elementary school, we came home (as usual) with some goodies. 51vgO-vMKwL._SY323_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were in the mood for some nature lessons about the wild and  Sink Your Claws Into PREDATORS  fit the bill.  I wanted to make sure what we learned would really sink in 🙂 So, I followed up our reading with a short quiz.  My kid really gets a kick out of these little tests I put together for review and we both appreciate the three featured claws that are included in the book!

Below is a list of some of the facts shared in this title that maybe your kids will enjoy too!

Just Some Interesting Animal Facts!

  1. Great Horned Owls don’t have any teeth.
  2. Honey Badgers have been named “The World’s Most Fearless Creature” by The Guinness Book of World Records.
  3. American Black Bears can go without food, water, or exercise for 100 days in a row.
  4. The Bengal Tiger is an endangered species with only 2,500 left in the wild.
  5. The claws of a Grey Wolf are not used for slashing prey but for grip and speed during a chase as they sink into the ground like soccer cleats.
  6. Wolverines have a thick, greasy coat that repels water and frost and even their paws are like crampons (metal spikes mountain climbers attach their boots for traction.)
  7. The venom of a Red-Clawed Scorpion doesn’t hurt more than a bee sting.
  8. A Peregrine Falcon hunts other birds and bats while in midair and has been clocked going as fast as 200 miles per hour.
  9. Unlike most felines, Jaguars don’t mind water and will often take a dip while hunting.
  10. Female pride members (Lionesses) stick together for life.
  11. Tasmanian Devils let out a big sneeze as their pre-fight ritual to intimidate the competition.
  12. An African Clawed Frog has no tongue.
  13. “Ghost Cats of the Himalayas” is a nickname for Snow Leopards.
  14. Once a Grizzly bear grows up, they prefer to go it alone, staying solo rather than joining up with other bears.
  15. Legend says that just a whiff of a Fossa (a strange-looking creature found in Madagascar) is a smell that kills chickens.
  16. Bald eagles mate for life and will continue working with the same partner over many years, constructing some of the largest nests in the world together.
  17. Even if the prey of a Komodo Dragon gets away, it will eventually collapse due to the bacteria from this lizard’s poisonous saliva.
  18. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world and can go from sitting to sprinting at 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and can cover 20 feet in a single running step.
  19. The American Alligators have powerful jaws lined with about 80 teeth that once worn down fall out regularly but they’re constantly replaced (they’ll go through at least 3,000 in their lifetime.)
  20. Polar Bears are the biggest Apex predators on land.
Bonus fact question:  What’s a PLUMICORN?  Click here to find out and see great photography of the related creature!