Monday, July 7, 2014

I Won't Miss the Sand

It finally happened. I have seen it with others, the tears, the head shaking, the 'How did we get here so fast?' comments. The look of bewilderment at the pick up gate on the last day of school, masked only by and in direct proportion to the amount of caffeine intake from the day this far. Oh, and whether or not there was mascara on.

Kindergarten. Ending.



For some this marks the end of the 'little years'. For me this means the sandbox is no longer a part of our lives carpet.

I truly could not have imagined just how fast indeed the time would fly past us. Certainly not when I had no children. Certainly not while trying to conceive. Most definitely not while pregnant. But then - BAM! Babies everywhere. No time for eating! No time for sleeping! No time for . . . well, you get the idea. And I began to wonder, in my hormonal and sleep deprived haze, just how it is that time seems so very different in its passage when you have children.

I figured it out eventually. And by eventually, I mean when I had the guts to take triplets out of the house alone and to the drive thru Starbucks for some java lifeblood. nevermind that the Starbuck's was two freeways, a mountain range and three towns over. It was worth every shoulder-tensed wheel turn. Oh how they slept, soothed by the car's motion. Little by little, I pieced together one entire thought. Nevermind that it took five years to make that happen. I am now able to piece together two, sometimes three complete thoughts. In a week. If I'm lucky. And the noise level in our house hasn't reached a sonic boom.

My point is this - when you don't have children, or at least, when I didn't, time moves differently by how you perceive it. I clock-watched at work. I wondered how much longer I had to stay on the elliptical for that guy over yonder at the gym to ask me out. How much time I had spent in traffic and on airplanes for work, etc. How long it would take me to decide what to eat for dinner.

After I had the triplets, I was so consumed with everything baby, and everything, well, everything, that I forgot what a clock was. Time warped and morphed into something unrecognizable. No late night movie marathons, no midnight snacks (unless it was for a small being who needed it) and most definitely, No sleeping in. Scratch that - NO. Sleeping. At. All. Time passes in a completely different manner.

So, {rip sound to current scene} - I felt no strong emotions as my children went through their respective ceremonies and completions of Kindergarten.) If you read my very early posts you'll see some of what our family went through initially.)  I was not sad that they are moving on to 1st grade. I was relieved! I am of course incredulous that and at how fast the time has indeed passed.

Two of my kids have been at a school where they played in an amazing yard daily and had a wonderful group of friends and teachers. But each and every day, they brought sand home in their shoes, clothes and hair. I swear our house may be covered in it until they leave for college. Don't get me wrong, I did some weeping when Kindergarten was over. But I wasn't stealing furtive glances at older kids and silently begging my own not to grow. Sidenote: my daughter has already declared her desire for a phone. Sigh.

Ok, relieved and a little scared. Nonetheless, I was shedding a few tears
of relief in my adult beverage that as much as I will miss their little Kindergarten faces and all that came with it, as of this moment:

I Won't Miss the Sand.

Cheers!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Curious Critters - Review

My kids love animals. This is not so amazing despite the fact that we have no pets. With four kids in the house, my policy has always been 'Not one more living thing in my house'. I seriously just don't want to take care of anyone or anything else. But because of books like Curious Critters, my children have the opportunity to at least vicariously understand what different animals are like.

In the second of David Fitzsimmons' Critters series, animals shared with him what their favorite things are, how they like to travel and what hobbies they enjoy. It was really an interview series in my opinion. A Monarch Butterfly, a Nine-Banded Armadillo and Eastern Cottontails Bunnies all divulged secrets and fun facts that you'll have to read in the book. My children absolutely LOVED this book! It was as though the animals spoke directly to them, and what more could a child, especially three of them with vivid imaginations, want?

Sample pages for yourself right here.

More about the author, David Fitzsimmons.

Writing Curious Critters

Photograph of David FitzSimmons working on his Curious Critters picture book. David is seated at a table with proof copies of the book before him, a laptop, and various other book materials scattered all around him.Writing Curious Critters was a lot of fun! And it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. You see, I didn’t really have to do a thing. The animals told me what to write.

I began all the portrait sessions making the Critters comfortable. I asked about their lives, light conversation: “What hobbies do you enjoy?” “Do you travel much?”  “What’s your favorite food?”

To tell you the truth, I frequently got the standard answers:
  • “My hobby is eating insects.” (Big Brown Bat)
  • “I hang around upside down by my tail” (Virginia Opossum)
  • “I mite [sic] like to travel, but I’m stuck inside this log.” (Red Flat Bark Beetle)
  • “I don’t get out much.” (Goldfish)
  • “Favorite food? Flies.” (American Toad, Gray Treefrog)
  • “Hummingbirds.” (American Bullfrog)
I have to say, however, the most interesting was my conversation with the Southern Flying Squirrel, who could never talk in complete sentences. In fact, he never sat still long enough to even finish a thought.

So, I took notes during the portrait session and then wrote out the text right afterward. Piece of cake! Right?

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** I received a copy of Curious Critters to facilitate this feature. **

Hard Candy Cases/Gumdrop Cases - Review

First off, I love the name. It’s cute and fun. So naturally  I said yes when Gum Drop Cases asked if I'd like to review a phone case. But what surprised me when it arrived was its durability. I've had a few different cases in the past, and the 'better' quality brand name silicone always stretches out, much to my dismay. Those cases usually come in a variety of fun colors and patterns, stamped with the 'name'. I was skeptical, but agreed to try this one. 

At first I thought the corner was loose as I fitted it onto myiPhone 5. It turns out that getting the case in place was a little tricky. I was kind of surprised that there isn't plastic to cover the rear-of-the-phone lens. However, it feels protective enough that I didn't mind letting my son walk around with the phone a little. I never, ever, I mean ever, allow my kids to play with my phone.

I had thought that I might have trouble getting the car adapter plugged into the earphone jack because of the rigid portion of the case, but that turned out not to be an issue.  It generally works easily, but sometimes it is difficult to hold back the rubber portion of the case so the jack can be inserted.

The hard plastic portion that covers the home button sometimes gets a little in the way when trying to tap the bottom of the screen, but the power button and volume buttons work easily.  To toggle the silent button my husband had to use his finger because his thumb is too wide to fit in the opening.  Just a little wider might be nice.


 

I do like that the case does not slide on surfaces where my old case slid.  Despite being "sticky" on various surfaces, the case still slides in and out of my jeans pockets easily.

The tabs that cover the openings kind of snap into place and stay nicely in there, and I like how the rubber portion of the case snaps into various spaces convincingly. I am concerned that the bottom of the case may interfere with the microphone when recording videos.  I'm not sure whether this is an actual issue or just worry.

Aesthetically speaking it bothers me that the opening of the clear plastic over speaker (next to the ear) is not symmetrical. I like the textured feeling of the case.  It stays nicely in my hand. I no longer have to worry about putting my phone in the same briefcase pocket as my keys. I used to worry about the phone getting all scratched up. It’s a good choice all around!


Both companies offer the latest iPad, iPhone and MacBook cases. They also have cases for Samsung, general tablets, and the Kindle Fire.

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** I received one Gum Drop iPhone5 case to facilitate this feature. **

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Has Sprung!

#placespring

My daughter has a knack for wearing patterns, colors and styles that most anyone, even the fashioned challenged, would think are, well, fashioned challenged. Yet somehow, she pulls it off. I think it has to do with personality. I know for me, I tend to wear black with accented colors. I prefer leggings to jeans, boots to sneakers and eagerly await the colder weather to choose from my collection of scarves. My boys on the other hand, have generally worn just about whatever I put out for them.



I had a chance to browse the latest Spring looks at the Children's Place this week, and I expected it to be a little challenging. But the trip did not disappoint! Lately I have had a hard time finding things my kids will wear. They are getting pickier.

One thing I like about Children's Place is that the material is soft. My daughter fell in love with her clothes right away, not something that always happens. Her sensory issues have calmed down some, but she won’t wear anything snug (read: in her size). So all of her clothes, underwear and even shoes, are a full size too big for her. That makes her happy. And boy howdy that makes me happy. It’s a lot less screaming when her shoes and socks decide to pick a fight with her. (Note the beautiful (and loose) horse shirt and shoes that though you can't see it, end long after her toes do.) I have given away, sold or donated more clothes than I can say, simply because they 'didn't feel right'. Not a worry with The Children's Place!

My son's wardrobe however, would not be complete without a tie. He wore it to school as you see it here, happy to have impressed the ladies. And by ladies I mean, his teachers. This cute tee I found states his attitude toward everything.  









Superheroes are a must for my other little guy. He loves to wear clothes that show off his super powers. In this case, muscles.

The Children's Place has plenty of choices, all comfortable, and some really beautiful dressier clothes too. Check out their new location in Tarzana!










I even ran into some friends while shopping here. 
The cute clothes, the cuter friends, Smells like spring flowers.  #placespring 



** I received store credit at The Children’s Place to facilitate this feature. **

Friday, February 28, 2014

Little Passports , Olympic Adventures - Review

Back in February, countries from around the world came together in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Little Passports, an educational subscription box for kids, celebrated this great opportunity to learn about our world’s culture by taking a closer look at the symbols of the spirit of Sochi!

The Winter Olympic Games are always an exciting learning experience for kids, and Little Passports has fun information about the Olympic torch, medals, mascots, and more of this year’s games to share with you and your family. Be sure to visit www.littlepassports.com for even more Olympics materials, including an Olympic torch craft

My kids loved learning about the Olympic torch and playing with the supplies in the very cute suitcase. In addition to the Olympics, Little Passports has a great program to teach kids about the world and other cultures. We have been learning other languages at home since my kids were small, and they always have questions about other countries. This is a great way to bring the world right into your house!

From The Little Passports site:

What’s so special about the Olympic torch?
The countdown to the Games kicks off with the Olympic torch relay, which delivers the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece to the Host City through a series of runners. For the Sochi Games, each runner carries an eye-catching, red and silver torch.

The torch’s curved shape is inspired by the feather of the golden Firebird, a mythical creature celebrated in Russian fairytales and folklore. According to one legend, the Firebird’s feathers “light the way” and bring good fortune and happiness. You might notice patterns inspired by the Firebird and its feathers throughout the Sochi Games. For example, look for them on Team Russia’s uniforms!
  
Are the Olympic medals unique to this year’s Games?
Yes! The Sochi medals are made out of metal and feature an etched glass-like insert with jagged edges resembling mountain peaks and the seashore. This design highlights Sochi’s unique position between the cold snow-capped Caucasus Mountains and the warm sandy beaches of the Black Sea.

The medals also feature the Sochi Olympics’ recognizable “Patchwork Quilt” design, a mosaic of 16 traditional patterns that celebrate Russia’s rich traditions and cultural diversity. Keep an eye out for the colorful quilt design everywhere at the Games, such as on the torch bearers’ outfits and Olympic souvenirs!

Our sports teams in the U.S. have mascots. Do the Olympic Games have mascots too?
You bet! The winter Games’ mascots are a Snow Leopard, Polar Bear, and Hare! Russian citizens submitted their ideas for mascots, and Olympic officials selected the top three.

These three native Russian animals represent the country’s spirit and embody the Olympic values. The Polar Bear is depicted as friendly, intelligent and always striving for new athletic heights, while the Hare is an excellent student and loves sports. Tough and strong, the choice of the Snow Leopard, a native of Sochi’s nearby Caucasus Mountains and a critically endangered species, draws attention to Russia’s increasing focus on animal conservation. Look for the three Olympic mascots spreading joy and Olympic spirit throughout the Games!

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** I received a Little Passports World Edition set to facilitate this feature. **


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Elf-Capades

December 1st is a big morning in our house.

Every year the kids have daily visits with our 'Elf on the Shelf'. They named him 'Elfie' a few years ago, and have now, after three years, realized that he arrives just after Thanksgiving to observe them throughout December. He reports back to Santa. Are you going to behave? Do you want Santa to bring you a gift? It's very effective. 

This morning when they came downstairs, they sadly remarked that they guessed Elfie decided not to come. I wish I had been fast enough to get downstairs ahead of them. When they finally found where he was hiding, they shrieked with giddiness and could not contain themselves. I would have recorded it but I was limping down the stairs as fast as my slug of a hip would let me. 

The little imp was found casually lounging on our Simpsons wall clock. 




I got there just in time for this. 

video


The last few years Elfie has been tame. But I have seen other Elves getting into mischief. Makes me wonder what he'll get up to this year. He better clean it up if he makes a mess. 

A great alternative a friend posted today are these Kindness Elves. What a great opportunity to guide kids in a positive direction for the meaning of the holidays, and beyond. 




Do you have a holiday house elf? What do they get into or do? What did you name it?