A FEAST FOR THE EYES: ART WALK

February 27, 2015 in Random Thoughts

Our elementary school’s Art Walk displays art work from every student in our school, from kindergarten to 5th grade. Take a look at the beautiful art created by our talented kids!

JUST FOR FUN

February 19, 2015 in Chocolate! (and other less exalted food experiences), Reflections on Pop Culture

Spring is just around the corner, but if you are still surrounded by winter in the Northeast or hiding away from the drizzle falling from the sky in the Northwest, it can seem like spring is never going to arrive. In the event that you need a little pick-me-up to help you ride out the days until sunshine and tulips spring forth, here are some ideas!

Jimmy Fallon

I love Jimmy Fallon, but can never stay awake long enough to catch his show when it airs. Instead, I watch the Youtube videos of his most popular spots. They’re short, so you can squeeze in a viewing even when your time is limited. Some of my favorites are the Ragtime Gals (a barbershop quartet that turns into a quintet when special guests join in), the Saved by the Bell skit, the Will Ferrell and Chad Smith Drum Off, and any one of his Lip Sync Battles. You can’t go wrong, but to start you off, try this little gem of actual phone texts from moms that had me laughing so hard I wound up in tears: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpS4rOwr02s

 

Brussels Sprouts

I hated Brussels sprouts growing up. I thought they tasted like bitter dirt, and so I have avoided them all my life. Recently they worked their way onto my plate at a restaurant and because I had recently been on a chocolate binge, I opted to try the noxious green vegetable for health reasons. The Brussels sprouts were chopped in half, seasoned, and cooked in a skillet, so they were crunchy instead of the steamed, mushy mess I remember from my childhood, and they tasted nothing like bitter dirt. Dare I say it: I like Brussels sprouts! Even better, my local Safeway has pre-packaged, pre-seasoned Brussels sprouts ready to toss in a skillet and serve.

Candy Bar Maker

My son got this as a Christmas present, and it has become one of our family’s favorite things to do in the kitchen. The kit comes with everything you need (except chocolate) to make decorative chocolate candy bars. You may use white, milk, or dark chocolate, or a combination if you like, and any topping you can think of. We are partial to pretzels and caramel bits or crushed candy canes. My kids are fairly generous with the sprinkles and marshmallows too. But here’s the best part: the sizes of the candy bars you can make are small, so there is a built in portion control. These candy bars are half the size of a regular candy bar or less if you use the minis. It is a really fun way to make a dessert that fits your taste buds, and while the clean up is a bit involved, at least you have something to do while you’re waiting the 20 minutes for the candy bar to harden enough to eat. (Available on Amazon)

 

Annie Lennox’s I Put a Spell on You at the Grammys

I did not watch the Grammys this year, but I have watched Annie Lennox’s spectacular performance of I Put a Spell on You with Hozier several times. Oh my goodness, her voice! It’s smooth like wine and perfectly controlled until she unleashes its full power and knocks you onto your feet. If you love music and great performances, this one will definitely brighten up your day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZEChv1AaOk

 

The Killing, Season 3

This isn’t fun viewing and it won’t brighten up anything, ever. More likely it will bring you down into a state of darkness and depression that requires a hot shower to rinse off the images of atrocities human beings inflict on each other, and themselves. However, this season is good. Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman are terrific as flawed characters who are also excellent detectives, and Season 3 ratchets up their personal stakes until they are both walking a tightrope. The suspense lies not so much in whodunit, although there is plenty of that, but in whether or not these two characters will spiral out of control or triumph over their own poor choices. These ramifications spill over into Season 4, which I have just started watching. I am not allowed to watch this series too late at night because it is so creepy and disturbing that I don’t sleep well. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this series if you are into flawed characters, detective stories, or excellent storytelling (minus the one important plot twist that was so out of character I couldn’t buy it. Come find me when you’ve finished watching and we’ll talk.). (Streaming on Netflix)

Happy Almost Spring!

THE DILEMMA OF THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM

February 9, 2015 in Adventures in Parenting

 

Someone recently asked me what it is I do all day. As a stay-at-home mom, isn’t that the million dollar question? I know I’ve had my fair share of days where I fall into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, the house a mess, piles of laundry undone or unfolded, and no food in the fridge because I’ve been so busy with my kids that I barely had time to go to the bathroom. You can’t “see” time spent with your kids in the same way you can see a freshly folded pile of laundry or a sparkling kitchen sink. Time spent with your kids is invisible, except for those rare moments when a child brings home a good report card, or remembers to hold the door open for someone, or says “I love you, Mom,” without you saying it first.

However, now that my kids are all in school, I will concede that it is fair to wonder what I do when the kids are out of the house. If you don’t count summer break, winter break, mid-winter break, spring break, holidays, teacher in-service days, half days, sick days, and early release Wednesdays, then I have roughly 23 hours a week to do whatever I want…right? Except my “free time” never seems to exist because I’m busy doing these kinds of things instead:

ME TIME: If you think “me” time involves spending a day at the spa or having lunch with my girlfriends, think again. My “me” time involves things like mammograms and other doctor appointments, haircuts, taking in the car to the mechanic, staying on top of emails, scheduling my kids’ doctors appointments, and updating our family calendars so nothing slips through the cracks.

HOUSE TIME: Cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, filling the car up with gas, paying the bills, going to the bank, and scheduling household repairs when something falls apart.

ERRAND TIME: Target for school supplies my kids have to have by tomorrow but have forgotten to tell me about it until today, Sports Authority for new socks, athletic cups, mouth guards, and new shoes because they just discovered the entire sole of their existing shoe has flopped off and they have basketball practice tonight.

VOLUNTEER TIME: If you’ve ever volunteered at your child’s school, then you know that volunteering can take on a life of its own. Even the simplest of jobs requires a trip to the store or time spent at the school, or both. If you step into a leadership role, then you’ve committed to asking yourself, multiple times, why you are working this hard and not getting paid…seriously.

SCHOOL TIME: And then there’s a little thing I like to call my Masters program, where every month I’m required to read 2-3 books and write essays on the various crafts the authors are using, write 25 pages of creative work, and read submissions to our program’s online literary journal to see if they’re worthy of being published. Like parenting, my time spent here is largely invisible. I can spend five hours writing and rewriting three pages, only to scrap them the next day and start all over again from a different angle. It takes time you can’t see to nurture the written word.

And that is what I, as a stay-at-home mom, do while my kids are in school.

(Disclaimer: Every once in awhile, when the stars align, I spend an entire school day on the couch watching daytime TV, even if I’m not sick. I am a mom 24/7. I do not get nights off, and my weekends shuttling kids back and forth to their games, birthday parties, and other activities are no weekends at all. I have to take my time off when I can.)