Last Minute Teacher Gift Idea

May 21, 2015

teacher gift idea

Per my usual style, I have waited until the last minute to purchase an end of the year teacher gift for Addison’s teachers. Since teacher appreciation was just two weeks ago and the end of the school year snuck up on me (as usual) I was scrambling for a teacher gift idea.

Thank goodness for Facebook because a friend showed me these precious boxes filled with goodies she bought her teachers. Praise be! I had my teacher gift idea covered and I didn’t have to lift a finger or search Pinterest.

Check this out…these fancy little pizza boxes come filled with goodies and are beyond cute with their coordinating paper and bows. Just stop it with how precious this is. I found the Dab Box FB page, told her my teacher’s favorite candy and since she is local I was able to pick it up the next day.  Done and done! 

teacher gift idea

teacher gift idea

teacher gift idea

This is not a sponsored post, I’m just really in love with this gift idea. I feel like Oprah with my favorite things…DAAAAAAAAAAAB BOOOOOOOOX. Sorry, but you’re all not getting a free one, nor is there an amazing prize under your seat right now. 

Good luck on your end of the school year mayhem.

Raising Little Boys ep. 901

May 15, 2015

little boys

Living with little boys sure will keep you on your toes and give you a new appreciation for all things creepy and crawly.  As I sit and reflect on the turtles, frogs, worms and talk of poop I have come to realize something; God knew what she was doing when she gave me boys. If I could guarantee a boy, I would petition for a third baby. But God doesn’t answer those types of prayers. She knows a mother’s heart and knows that we will fiercely love whatever is given us. When it comes to thanking God for the gift of children, God is a “she”. Who else can understand how intertwined the joy and pain are when it comes to giving birth and taking care of babies. A women, that’s who.  

Raising little boys has opened up my world to the beauty of all the gross and grody that creation offers, the hilarity of sitting on a whoopee cushion and a well timed fart joke.  Life with little boys has allowed me to embrace the mess.  I no longer stress over a messy house. Yes, I scream at them to put the toys away, clean their rooms, make their beds, wipe up the filth they create in the bathroom sink, wipe up the drips from popsicles and to brush their teeth again because the first pass didn’t clear away the fuzz. Those constant requests aren’t obsessing over the mess, those are life lessons. Someday they will be on their own and won’t have me to pick up after them, make their beds and scrape plaque off their teeth (yes, I have scraped plaque off little boy teeth with my fingernail). I’m just doing their future roommates and spouses a favor.

raising little boys

raising little boys

Raising little boys means you always have someone to recuse the turtles that wash onto your yard after a big rainstorm.

raising little boys

Raising little boys means you become enthralled with tiny frogs, snails and millipedes but always have someone to deal with it so you don’t have to.

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Raising little boys gives you a whole new education of the penis and the benefits of being able to go to the bathroom outside whenever you feel like it.

little boys

Raising little boys teaches you to be excited about the discovery of Alligator Snapping Turtles and send them off to discover nature with the only word of warning being “don’t let him bite your fingers off.”

raising little boys

Raising little boys teaches you to relish the messy fun and allow them to just be.

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Raising little boys means that all the clothes are “play clothes”

Raising little boys means having the heavy responsibility to turning them into men who will love and respect the one their with. Thankfully these little boys have an excellent role model who is not afraid to hug and kiss and dance with me in front of them. Someday all too soon we will have to send them out into this world to see what happens. We pray for God to watch over them and guide them. This is another one of those times when I see God as a mother watching over them with the mother bear instincts that She put in me when She gave me these boys. 

Raising these little boys is a delicate balance of tough and tender.  Allowing them to be messy, crazy, adventurous, curious, dirty, scraped up and rough.  At the same time allowing them to cry when they are hurt, teaching compassion for others, holding their tender feelings in palm of your hand but showing them how to be tough and stand up for themselves when they need to. 

Sweet Jesus with the little children in your lap, help me walk this tight rope.

Nutella Banana Ice Cream

May 12, 2015

banana nutella ice cream

This all started because of school testing. You know that ridiculous Common Core testing that has everyone up in arms? Yeah, that. During testing week the administration tried to make the best of the situation and asked parents to volunteer to bring breakfast to the class so the kids could start the day off with a full stomach and a positive attitude. Nothing says you can fill out bubbles with a no. 2 pencil like a boss like homemade breakfast for the whole class. The moms in Addison’s class were quick on the draw and filled all the spots to bring breakfast before I could sign up. No problemo because there was another 4th grade class that had some days that needed to be filled. I was happy to help. I decided that bananas, Sunny-D, bagels and Nutella was a great way to start the day.  I took myself to Sams and bought the you’re-a-serious-Nutella-fan size jar and 24 bananas.  I was all ready to bring my simple but yummy breakfast to school the next day when I glanced at my calendar to see what else the week had in store for me.  Oh look, my day to bring breakfast is next week. 

I knew that 24 bananas would not make it an entire week and be presentable to 4th graders.  I also knew there was no way my family of 4 could eat that many bananas on one week.  Since I couldn’t stand the thought of that many bananas sitting on my counter just turning brown I knew I had to take action. The first thing I did was to make banana bread. Pumpkin banana bread to be exact and it was de-lish (I still have 4 mini-loves in the freezer).

Banana bread was out of the way and I still had a lot of bananas. I’ve heard the interwebz talk about this one-ingredient banana ice cream thing so I started searching.  Turns out it really is just one ingredient: bananas. Freeze bananas then put them in a food processor, bam! Banana ice cream.  But I had an industrial size jar of Nutella. What if I added Nutella to the mix? Turns out the interwebz knew its stuff and offered about 20,000 results on Nutella banana ice cream. 

So here it is, the 20,001st post on combining Nutella and bananas to make ice cream. All thanks to state testing and my inability to do things when I’m actually supposed to do them. Maybe testing and being scatter brained isn’t so bad after all.

Some thoughts on this recipe:

1) When freezing banana slices make sure to place them on parchment paper. Otherwise they will freeze to the cookie sheet.

2) Processing this many bananas in a food processor can be a smidge frustrating.  You will have to stop many times to push the bananas down to the blade.  Once you have about 1/4 of the bananas blended, add the nutella and vanilla to get things moving. 

banana nutella ice cream

 

banana nutella ice cream

Banana Nutella Ice Cream
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Ingredients
  1. 10 bananas, sliced
  2. 1/3 cup Nutella
  3. 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place banana slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 45 minutes.
  2. Once bananas are frozen place in a food processor and pulse until bananas begin to puree. Stop often to push bananas down toward the blade. Once about 1/4 of the bananas have been pureed, add Nutella and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a pastic storage container and freeze for 30 minutes or until ready to enjoy.
Hugs, Kisses and Snot http://hugskissesandsnot.com/

Surviving a Writing Conference

May 6, 2015

Last weekend I attended a writing conference (OWFI) in Oklahoma City. I have been to a few blogger conferences and work related conferences but this was my first time at a writers conference.  Ever since being a part of Listen To Your Mother I have tried to be a little more serious about this writing thing.  But the thing with writing is that you have to know how to put words together that make sense and that is not always easy.  Writing good words is hard.  In an effort to be a better writer I decided to attend the OWFI conference, knowing full well that some would not consider a blogger a real writer. To those who think bloggers aren’t real writers, I say “good day. I SAID good day”.  

In attendance, there would be professional and amateur writers and everything in-between, so I was a little nervous. When one is nervous about attending something in which you are not proficient, my first bit of advice is to look your best.  Curl your hair, wear a cute outfit and fabulous shoes.  The following applies to any life social situation: when in doubt it is always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.  Skirts with pockets are helpful, that way you have something to do with the hand that is not holding a wine glass and it looks suave.  Skirts/dresses with pockets say “I’m fashion forward enough to know that dresses with pockets are all the rage right now and I’m cool standing here, looking all casual, with my hand in my cute pocket. People want to talk to a runway pocket wearing writer, so come on over”.  Knowing that you look good can give you the confidence boost you need to walk into a room full of strangers when the thought of networking with them is nauseating.  On a side note;  I abhor networking and small talk.  Networking is for extreme extroverts and most writers and bloggers are not extroverts.  They are typically more comfortable behind the computer or with their nose in a book.  Here is how to overcome the standing-all-alone-with-a-drink-in-your-hand-with-no-one-to-talk-to awkwardness…find someone who looks just as awkward and uncomfortable as you; the person who is using the guise of checking their email as a way to make themselves feel busy instead of painfully alone.  When you see this person at a conference, put on your big girl panties and introduce yourself.  Make a joke about how much you hate networking events and would she like to get a drink and talk about how hard it is to be alone at things like this.  Suddenly you are no longer alone and you just might have a new friend. 

Back to the writers conference: one reason I decided to attend this particular conference is because I would know at least three people there.  The odds were in my favor that I would have at least one person to cling to talk to at all times.  It turns out that I knew a few more people thanks to my online community of bloggers.  Something pleasantly unexpected happened, when I saw my blogging friends they seemed genuinely happy to see me.  As we talked they were interested in why I was there and what I was working on.  They made me feel great and I was really touched.  It made me think about how in everyday life we are always asking people how they are doing but don’t really expect or want a real answer.  What would happen if we actually took the time to find out the answer and listen to them? Instead of just asking how they are doing, asking something specific about their life and really listening to the response. What type of real connection would we make if we slowed down and took the time to really find out how someone was doing?

This interaction made a conference that could have been scary, actually fun.  I have another blogging conference coming up this summer and I realized that I don’t have to dread it.  As long as I have one or two friends there as a security blanket and am prepared to be just as welcoming to new friends as my writer conference friends were to me. This experience reminded me why we even go to conferences like this in the first place.  It renews your passion for whatever vocation or hobby you subscribe to.  Being around other people who love the same things you love, listening to speakers share their knowledge, joking and laughing about topics that outsides would not understand…it’s invigorating.  

The Oklahoma Standard

April 30, 2015

 

 

the oklahoma standard

April was the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.  20 years ago I was in my first year of college in California.  I heard about it but didn’t know anybody directly effected by it. Now that I’m a bonafide Okie (even though I’m Texas born) I have come to understand what the Oklahoma Standard really means.  This term started being used by the media and civic leaders after the bombing when they saw the outpouring of love, donations, and help from strangers for their fellow Oklahomans.  When you walk through the Memorial museum there is story after story of people who gave their time and resources to help those who were suffering.  This tradition and standard has continued through every emergency, small or large that our state has faced over the past 20 years.  While we may have fundamentally different political or religious views we are able to set our differences aside when faced with adversity and do what needs to be done when someone is in need.  

Oklahoma Standard

This week I met up with some friends from my Oklahoma Women Bloggers group.  We visited the Memorial to show respect for the victims and survivors of the bombing.  I’ve visited the Memorial several times but each time I walk through the 9:03 gate I feel a wave of grief, compassion and healing hit me.  I see the chairs and I feel like time stands still.  Those babies are still just babies, cradled in eternal arms of love; those fathers and mothers wait patiently to be reunited with the pieces of their heart they were forced to leave here back on earth.  No matter your religious upbringing or your understanding of why we are here, you can’t help but know that there is something “more” happening at the Memorial.

Oklahoma Standard

 

the oklahoma standard

 

the oklahoma standard

 

the oklahoma standard

the oklahoma standard

What its like to get Invisalign as an Adult

April 24, 2015

So, this happened this week…I started Invisalign.  Trust me when I say it wasn’t on a whim.  I’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time.  At one of my regular dentist visits I casually mentioned how I was concerned that my front teeth were looking crowded.  She pointed out that I have a “deep bite” and that my teeth are pointing toward the back of my mouth rather than straight up and down.  

You know how when you realize something about yourself, that hadn’t really been on your radar before, it’s all you can think about?  My back pointing teeth were all I could see.  Before I had been a little worried about my slightly crooked front teeth and pronounced canines.  Now all I could think about was my toothy grin.  I made an appointment with an orthodontist to talk about Invisialign and discovered I was a good candidate.  I’ve never had braces so I don’t have anything to compare it to but traditional braces didn’t appeal to me.

One entire year later and I am finally on the path to straight teeth.  We never do anything in a hurry and Dear Husband had to tinker with the budget to figure out where which one of our 19 ING savings accounts the monthly payments would come from.

So what was the initial visit like?  I’m so glad you asked. 

First they took two x-rays of my head.  Not just your standard dental visit x-ray but space age looking machines that rotate around your entire head to get a complete picture. 

Next they needed to scan my teeth.  Apparently, an older way of getting teeth impressions involves trays filled with goop that slides down the back of your throat.  No goop here.  The new version of tooth impressions involves a scanner.  They used a little laser scanner to scan the front and back of every tooth.  The scanner blows air into your mouth during the process to dry off the teeth it is scanning, so it makes your mouth extremely dry but you are able to stop and rewet your mouth.  The scanning process took less than 30 minutes but I was a good girl and sat very still.  The more wiggly you are, the longer the scan takes.  I asked which gave a more accurate impression of teeth, the scanner or impression trays.  The scanner wins.

All of my information; x-rays, teeth scans and measurements were sent to the Invisalign factory where all of my aligners will be made specifically for me.

Next visit:

Two weeks later I was able to pick up my first two sets of aligners.  The hygienist and doctor went over the process with me and answered all of my questions.  I go back in four weeks for a check up and to get new sets of aligners.  Each new set of aligners is kind of like when traditional braces are tightened.  The aligners will slowly move my teeth to the desired position.  The entire process will take 18 months and 32 sets of aligners.  

In this video I talk about what it feels like to wear Invisalign, getting used to them and the things I can’t do with them in.

 

 

Thoughts on Writing and Blogging

April 22, 2015

blogging

This week I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about her business and how to promote it.  Owning a business is not for the faint of heart.  Now matter how much you wish and hope and pray, it doesn’t just promote itself.  It takes a lot of work and when you’re the one in charge all the responsibility falls on you to make things happen.  The same rules apply if you have a brick and mortar store or an online store, if you’re a retailer or a writer.  As we were saying goodbye she asked me the question every blogger is secretly hoping every real life friend and acquaintance will ask…“What about you? How can I help you promote your blog? What are your goals?”  unfortunately I was at a bit of a loss on how to answer her.  Unless you have a staff to do the leg work of promoting your blog on all the social media outlets, find brands to work with and make you look like a rock star; blogging can be solitary and a labor of love.  You know those bloggers with followers in the hundreds of thousands and really fancy looking sites?  That doesn’t happen all on its own organically.  There is a machine behind the green curtain making things happen.  They have a staff…who get paid money.  Most bloggers will never have that, and I’m okay with that.  For the small time bloggers, we depend on each other to help promote the posts and blogs we love.  We share opportunities with our online friends when we think it will benefit someone else and we are each other’s cheerleaders.  We spread the love and light each other’s candles.

Because success in writing and blogging depends on other people reading what you write, there is a necessary evil that many introverts (who also happen to be bloggers) shy away from.  Self-promotion.  I struggle with tooting my own horn too much because self-promotion feels very self-serving which in turn can feel narcissistic.  But sometimes in order to get the right people to notice you, you have to make yourself seem super awesome…that you are the best thing to happen to the internet since Grumpy Cat.  You have to play this social media numbers game that can feel juvenile and is terribly tiresome.  

This online world is a strange animal.  There is so many awesomely amazing things happening here and so much horrific garbage going on right at the same time, right at our fingertips.  It’s odd that we’re all here together making a go of it.  I like to imagine what the internet would look like in real life: we’re all at a huge library sitting around reading what interests us most.  Over here is a lady looking up recipes, right next to her is a 13 year old frantically flipping through pictures of her friends.  Across from them is a lunatic who is holding out for the South to secede from the Union, hoarding canned goods and ammo.  Next to him is a guy flipping through a Penthouse next to a convention of costumed Star Wars geeks who are crowding a group of moms talking about cloth diapering who sit next to a guy reading instructions on making a homemade bomb (ISA – please do not red flag my innocent little blog for those words.  I swear the only thing I’m concocting in my kitchen is banana bread and baking soda volcanos).  Sprinkled throughout are 10 million diy projects and Amazon drones dropping packages a-la owl mail call at Hogwarts.

Back to the topic at hand.

I wonder what the blogging world was like before Facebook and Twitter?  I guess email played a key role.  You know those annoying informative emails you still get (from a certain age demographic) that have about ten FWDs at the top and contain a link or really long text from some random person and it ends with If you love Jesus you will forward this on to 20 people?  Is that what sharing blog posts was like before social media?  Yikes. Or maybe it didn’t really occur to bloggers way back then that they needed 10,000 page views a day.  Maybe the term “going viral” wasn’t really an end goal.  Maybe they just wrote because they loved to write, regardless if very many people read it. 

writing

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game and forget why you are writing in the first place. 

“If you’re not careful, you’ll hang your entire self-worth on getting published or getting a certain amount of page views.  We might feel like failures if we don’t get them.  But it’s equally dangerous if you do get them.  Little by little it’s easy to start needing them – the comments, the reader e-mails, the Amazon rating, the positive reviews, the Twitter mentions or the Facebook likes.”
- Shauna Niequist

If it doesn’t give you joy, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate.  Not necessarily to stop writing or blogging or whatever, but to step back and take a long hard look at why you do what you do.

So I was and I wasn’t able to answer my friend’s question.  “What about you? How can I help promote your blog? What are your goals?”  What about me?  Well, I’ve given up on the numbers game and blog because I like to.  I don’t know how she could help me…tell every single person she meets “you simply MUST go to Stephanie’s blog right now! It’s the best thing EVER”.  While that’s a nice gesture I don’t think it very effective, plus telling that to every single person she meets seems a bit unreasonable. What are my goals?  I still maintain that I would like to make some sort of living doing this. Whether it be directly or indirectly, I’m not going to place restrictions on how opportunity will present itself.  I told her that I will continue what I’m doing – the writing, the blogging, the building an online community, the blasted self-promotion – and am happy to allow the Universe, God, Random House, whatever, to make itself known through those efforts.

Amen.

What I’m Reading Right Now

April 14, 2015

rainy oklahoma

This week has been a rainy one in Oklahoma.  I love this kind of weather in the spring.  The rain is accompanied by milder temperatures instead of freezing wind and promises greener grass and new blossoms instead of tree limbs broken under the weight of sheets of ice.  Normally the only time I get to read without interruption is late at night.  So, it’s days like this when I reward myself with sitting on the couch with a book in one hand and hot cup of something in the other.  Days like this were made for reading and snuggling with a furry, breathing, curling up thing.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Seattle or I wouldn’t get anything done.

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This is what I’ve currently got on my kindle and bed side table:

The Outlander series.  I have read book 1 before under the pretense of a romance novel.  It didn’t strike me as a romance novel…the characters were more complex and the story line more complicated than your run of the mill romance.  Yes, it has some love scenes but not what I would describe “leave you panting” scenes.  Because I was trying to read it in the romance novel frame of mind, it didn’t stick with me.  Recently a friend of mine who adores the series encouraged me to give it another go and to read it more as a historical fiction with a bit of mystic twist and an intense bond of love between the main characters to boot.  Now I’m hooked.  I literally just downloaded the next book.  I’m also waiting to borrow the first season of the tv series.

I’m on my second reading of For The Love by Jen Hatmaker.  2nd reading?! Yes, in preparation to do a formal review for the book I’m in the process of highlighting every other sentence.  I can’t tell you how much I love Jen’s writing style. This book will appeal to women from all walks of life; new moms, seasoned moms, husbands, on-fire-for-Jesus freaks, turned-off-from-religion cynics.  Jen has all of these people in mind when she wrote this book.  Yes, it is geared toward women but there are several chapters that men would enjoy as well. (pre-order yours now!)

Recently I saw something on FB that blew me away.  It was one of those way too long posts that I normally don’t read but I decided to this time.  Thank goodness I did since I had been in a funk and it was exactly what I needed to hear that day.  The inspiration came from Anne Lamont, author of Bird by Bird; Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Here is a taste of her way too long FB post:

1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together. 

2. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

3. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of last way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date it. This is the most horrible truth.

4. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides. Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober. But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.

5. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.

6. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born

7. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine. The most degraded and sometimes nearly-evil men I have known were all writers who’d had bestsellers. Yet, it is also a miracle to get your work published (see #1.). Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes. It won’t, it can’t. But writing can. So can singing. 

8. Families; hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. (See #1 again.) At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.

9. Food; try to do a little better.

10. Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Dick Cheney and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost; but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it. 

11. God; Goodnesss, Love energy, the Divine, a loving animating intelligence, the Cosmic Muffin. You will worship and serve something, so like St. Bob said, you gotta choose. You can play on our side, or Bill Maher’s and Franklin Graham’s. Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up. My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up. If they did, they could fly to freedom.

11. Faith: Paul Tillich said the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. If I could say one thing to our little Tea Party friends, it would be this. Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes. The love of our incredible dogs and cats is the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God; although cats can be so bitter, which is not the god part: the crazy Love is. Also, “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.

12. Jesus; Jesus would have even loved horrible, mealy-mouth self-obsessed you, as if you were the only person on earth. But He would hope that you would perhaps pull yourself together just the tiniest, tiniest bit–maybe have a little something to eat, and a nap. 

13. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don’t go by what I say.

14. Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. The first thing God says to Moses is, “Take off your shoes.” We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know.

Apparently Anne Lamont is a popular author among writers and has written books on how to write well.  I’m attending a writers conference in May so I decided that maybe I should see what she has to say about writing.  Since I’ll be bull-shitting my way through the conference, wearing my thick-framed glasses and chunky turquoise jewelry may not be enough to fool the agents and publishers at the conference.  I should probably have a few key phrases to spout off about writing, that’s where Bird by Bird comes in.

Our Heart’s Desire is a memoir style book written from the perspective of both a mom and her children’s Occupational Therapist.  It is the story of their family’s Sensory Processing Disorder journey through childhood, teenage years and finally when her children became adults.  This book does such an amazing job of explaining and describing SPD and the vestibular system that I would recommend this book to any parent whose child is struggling with (or they have a feeling their child may have) Sensory Processing Disorder.

Addison and I are in the middle of book 3 of the Percy Jackson series.  My feelings about it…meh.  The stories, plot lines, writing and characters are no where close to Harry Potter.  But Addison is enjoying it and he still wants me to read to him, so I’ll take what I can get.

What’s on your night stand?

5 Reasons You Should Join Gymboree Today

April 10, 2015

Gymboree play and music

 

You know those times when you are kind of desperate and feel like your blindly fumbling through life?  That was me when my first born was a toddler. This child was not content to sit at home playing with the 1001 trains we owned.  He needed a lot of stimulation and had a lot of energy to burn and our little condo living room just wasn’t cutting it.  

We joined our local Gymboree Play and Music when he was about 15 months.  What a god send.  A place where he could climb and jump and throw stuff and explore and beat the heck out of a drum…and non of that took place in my living room.  We moved when he was 2 1/2 and the very first thing I did was find the Gymboree and sign him up for classes.  We stayed there all the way through preschool.  Did you know some Gymborees have preschools?  The Norman location does and it was the best thing in our lives at that time.

Our second kiddo came along and he was so much more easy going.  He didn’t need constant entertainment so I wasn’t as desperate to get to Gymboree.  I didn’t enroll him and now I regret that.  He missed out on the fun gym, parachute time and the messy art.  Recently I took him to visit our Gymboree so I could catch up with my friend (who happens to be the owner) and I remembered how valuable this magical place is in those first years.

If your kiddos are under the age of 5 here are 5 reasons why you should join Gymboree right this minute.  Well, finish reading this and then you can hop on over to their site to sign up.

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5 Reasons You Should Join Gymboree Today

1.  Developmentally Appropriate Play

Whether you have a newborn or a preschooler, Gymboree has classes designed for their developmental ability.  There is such a wide range of classes with professionally developed curriculum; calm, low-key classes for tiny babies, play classes to encourage movement and exploration for babies, building problem solving skills for toddlers, exploring imaginative and pretend play and building social skills for pre-schoolers.

2. Finding New Little Friends

Places like Gymboree are where play dates are born.  This is where your little one will find their first friend and new relationships blossom. 

3. Getting To Talk To Other Adults

Staying at home with baby can be draining emotionally and mentally.  Sometimes all you want to do is talk to another adult (Steve on Blues Clues does not count) about how hard this parenting gig is.  That’s when you have to take yourself to someplace where moms are gathered other than Target on a Monday morning.  Knowing you aren’t alone in your struggles and joys is half the battle.  I still have friends that I made at Gymboree years ago

4. The Mess Is NOT In Your House

Imagine the mess this would create in your kitchen…finger painting, water colors, creating art with shaving cream and food coloring, ten thousand glue sticks, confetti, glitter – for the love of glitter in every crevice.  Guess what?  It’s not in your kitchen!  Someone else is in charge of this mess and you get to leave it all behind as you walk away with a tiny masterpiece.

5. Exposing Your Kids To Something Unique

Not only does Gymboree have super fun and colorful play structures built specifically for tiny toes (that change in layout every two weeks) but you can expose them to music that may not normally be on your radar.  Give them an artistic experience beyond crayons and coloring pages.  Remember the big parachute from gym class?  This one is so cool.  Just try sitting inside a rainbow colored parachute with the air filled with bubbles and not have a light heart.

Bonus: The Clean Up Song

Yes, we can sing the Clean Up song with our kids at home but there is something about 10 other tiny tots running around, picking up balls, scarves and maracas to put them away.  Suddenly peer pressure is awesome.  When the Clean Up song is learned at Gymboree, getting kids to sing it and actually pick up toys at home is a little bit easier.

Bonus #2: The Bubbles

I’m not sure what magical brew the Gymboree bubbles are made of, but these things are the bomb dot com.  They will cling to tiny fingers, noses, eyelashes, hair, whatever, without popping until you are ready to.  Once I brought the bubbles home and filled my living room with them.  I found bubbles a week, A WEEK, later in out of reach spaces.

I may sound like a commercial for Gymboree but this time I’m not getting paid.  I just really love it.  I love the learning experience it offers littles and the sanctuary it offers parents.  Go, go now.  Join Gymboree!

join gymboree

join gymboree

join gymboree

 

join gymboree

Medieval Fair 2015

April 7, 2015

Medieval Fair 2015…it rolled into town with its tents, camels, jiggly coin belts and fairy wings.  Then in a cloud of dust stirred up by pony hooves, jousting contests and mixed with perspiration it was over leaving behind a field of turkey legs, broken arrows and Dippin’ Dots cups.

The Medieval Fair has been my favorite Norman festival for the people watching and silly costumes.  The boys love it because it offers something truly unique in the musical acts, throwing stars, archery tent, camel rides, mermaid lagoon, sword play and vendors selling wooden weapons.  However, the man powered tilt-a-whirl was missing this year…my guess is that one of the guys who turns the crank threw his back out the previous weekend and they couldn’t find someone to wear a pirate costume and perform manual labor for three days straight on short notice. 

Before we get started with the cute and crazy you may need a refresher course.  Check out previous Medieval Fair posts here and here.

archery

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