Let’s all try and pretend it’s wasn’t all about the shoes

Gone are the days of ladybugs and My Little Pony.. her hero de jour is Operative Annie Walker.

I loved that she picked such a strong female character to want to be. (also how easy was that costume!)

PicMonkey Collage

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Chris Knight, where are you when I need you (or why I’m being forced into a life of fitness whether I like it or not)

9-19-2013 2-20-51 PMReal Genius is one of the most quotable movies to come out the 80s one of my favorite involve’s Professor Jerry Hathaway asking Val Kilmer’s character Chris Knight, “Do you still run?” to which Chris replies, “Only when chased.”

This is my go to answer about anything exercise or fitness related. And I get asked do I run or ride  A LOT. I am surrounded by runners, bikers, and, triathloners. (Also I judge those people of if they get that reference or not – what can I say 80 geek)

But back to the point. I am surrounded by runners. EVERYONE RUNS. Not just runs, the run till they drop. All around me people are injuried and in need of physical therapy and yet they don’t seem to relate this to all that running.

The 26.2 marathon sticker people – those are the wimps. There’s a guy at work who spent a week this summer in the Marathon des Sables which covers 150 miles of Moroccan desert while carrying his food and supplies on this back. For Fun. No one was chasing him! He finished in something like the top 1/3.

If you don’t have a 50 you’re barely cool, it better have been a kick ass trail run through some serious shit and up three mountains. If you want real cred you need the 100. I have a sign over my desk that says “Only When Chased.” It is my mantra – my high ground. If I don’t complete, you cannot win.

If the don’t run they bike, we have bike lanes and this town is ugly with 40 year old men and women with bad knees and Tour De France fantasies. (Florida is flat people!) They all do crazy things like rides that traverse the state and back and forth and take whole weekends or weeks to complete. Railroads are paved over to make rail trails…  Do I ride? Only when chased. I own the t-shirt.

This year my oldest child out of the blue (or not so blue considering all these influences) decided she wanted to try a youth triathlon. Triathlon? She’s never even run a Fun Run? No 5K, nothing. Straight to triathlon? OK. I’m game. Let’s see how long this lasts I think. You are your mother’s daughter I say…

She loved it. She finished and immediately asked for a better bike. For next time. Ughh.

Shit. I’m starting to feel chased.

I get her the better bike (she needed a bigger bike, better just happened because I found a good deal on Craigslist). And her little sister not to be outdone promptly sheds the training wheels she’s been clinging to for 8 years… Mama can I triathlon too now?

Shit. Is that someone breathing down my neck?

Because a middle schooler can be allowed to ride off for 5 or 6 miles or run for a couple  miles and come back as long as I have a notion of the route. I have no problem with that. But an eight year old? My eight year old who’s not that street savy yet? Who I still have to yell at in parking lots to watch for cars…  Even my Free Range senses are tested with that one at least until she gets her wheels under her a little more. Her four mile route on the bike is a little much for me to be okay with by herself or with her sister alone just yet – bad side walks and one very busy major intersection are in play no matter what.

So now I’m biking  – granted it’s 8 year old triathlon training lengths, and I never even have to shift a gear while she pedals like a little mad Chihuahua still but – biking. No one is chasing me.

At least her runs are short enough she can loop the immediate neighborhood and I’m good with that being done alone.

My only consolation is we stay on the side walk and I can still refuse to wear a helmet because we don’t ride that fast. We just look like a family out for a stroll after dinner. I wear mom capris rather than athletic wear on purpose. I will not dress the part.

That little fact is all that is keeping me from a table full of crow at this point.

I’m in denial.

I’m being chased.

I’ll see your Auditory Reading, and raise you a Math Cake

Last week Jen Hatmaker wrote maybe the most perfect Mom blog post ever  – if you haven’t read it, go now quickly.

Seriously right! We are all feeling it. And this year I got the added fun of having a 5th grader graduating from elementary school. Which I’ve learned involves all the emotional “When did these babies grow up so fast” heartbreak of a high schooler only you still have to drive them everywhere and chaperone field trips.

But each year I get to add one more level of #momfail to this whole season .. my youngest daughter’s birthday falls on the last week of school every year.

Yes, birthday. The last week of school. There is a reason she starts reminding me her birthday is coming up right after spring break.

So while my older daughter, October Girl has always gotten jumpy houses, bowling allies, & sleep overs.. whatever the age appropriate extravaganza is  June Girl gets to “have a few old friends over to swim, but it’s not a party.”

So we start each year inviting only a handful of her closer girlfriends and them inevitable 80% of the moms call me to explain why they cannot attend… dance recital, all star tournament, grandparents are here etc. and we end up with maybe two friends coming over to swim for a few hours on the Saturday before school is out.

This year I had the pleasure of THE DISNEY FIELD TRIP the day before our it’s-not-a-party day. So I left the house at 5:30 am to ride a bus to Disney  (trust me this will get it’s own post) that returned 14 and half hours later at 7:00pm  only to realize I had no cake, no snacks, no prep at all. Well crap. I ran to Publix and Target and grabbed a few things, and headed home. I had this under control, it was going to be okay.

When it came time to bring out the I-got-a-cake-but-is-still-not-a-birthday-party cake, I plopped the candle on top, lit that puppy, and headed out the back door. I walked out to the expected squeals and joy …except for the birthday girl herself. She is looking me with that special disappointment face.

“Mom, I’m 7 now, I’m turning 8” – she points to the cake.

Where I look down and realize I have stuck the “7” candle I was so proud of myself for having just two minutes early.

Crap. Crap. Crap. I can fix this!

I run back in, grab a standard run of the mill cake candle.. slam it in the cake.

That’s “7 + 1 Missy” I tell her – it’s a Math Cake.

Math Cake

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In typical Fancy Pants fashion, she quickly reversed the candles, declared herself 17 and asked for a car.

I. Am. Not. Kidding.

Picture of the Day: Getting Her PhD in Little Sister

PIcture of the Day: Getting Her PhD in Little Sister

Yesterday as I’m talking to P about Homework, S walks in and gently touches her older sister the arm. She then smiles and informs us,

“Mr Adam just killed a snake and he let me touch it and I just touch you with the hand that touched it.”

Raising Tech Kids: Kindle Fire and FreeTime

Kindle Fire with FreeTimeBoth the girls received Kindle Fire’s for Christmas. They had not asked for them but I was looking to make an active move towards purchasing gifts that I felt hold more value and would be used more often than random toys and bling encrusted junk that just gets left around for Mama to pick up.

I had stumbled across a promotional price (less than a DS and way less than a ipod)  the week of Black Friday and snapped two up. It was total surprise and ended up being their favorite gift.

In early December Amazon announced the release of FreeTime – a kid zone type app that would (with my prime membership) allow a number of pre-approved kid friendly items to be at their disposal without me having to pay a la cart for them.

Awesome.

And it is, although it’s very clear that it’s a first generation product at this point.

In spirit –  the FreeTime app rocks. Here is what I love about it.

  • It’s a flat monthly rate (about the cost of 1 book), no begging me for every game or video or book
  • Once they are in it, they are locked in it. They cannot access content outside of it without me unlocking the machine
  • I can choose to add content from outside FreeTime into their FreeTime profile, so if you let your kid on Facebook for example, or maybe download a Judy Moody Book,  that can be added and they are still locked in.
  • You can set up multiple profiles for different kids with different additional content – my oldest is allowed some things that my youngest is not. (i.e. certain Judy Blume books)

But like I said, it’s clearly the first pass at the idea. I think there is a great deal of improvements that can be made and I look forward to seeing the products get better and better.

(Amazon – want to hire me to be a consultant on some of this? Here I’ll give you the first ideas for free )

  • We should be able to segment the content by age level. It’s all in one big pile right now and it’s hard to browse through the entire haystack.
  • Amazon suffers from what most internet app designers do when approaching “Kid friendly apps” – they are totally caught up with Pre-Schoolers and forget there are older kids out there. The majority of the book and video content is focused on the 5 and under crowd and not so much the 6-12 age group. Hint to the content curators – no kid who’s started Kindergarten wants that much Dora… Pull back on the Dora! Nothing against Dora but OMG there is so much of it! You need a Dora filter or something.
    • Especially books, you need more books that aren’t beginning reader books. It’s very heavy on the early reader crowd.Hard to find things for say 4th-6th graders.
  • Make it easier for me to admin. It wasn’t that easy to set up and seriously if I’m tweaking the settings I have to put in my parent password every three steps.
  • Love idea of being able to limit the game time, video time, and book time separately – that was smart. But how much smarter would it have been to give even finer controls, like time periods. i.e. no games during designated times for example my kids do their homework from 4-6pm.
  • Better yet –give us the option to gamify it. Let them earn more game or video time by reading … let me set the parameters maybe every 25 pages or 25 minutes of active reading = they earn the  same amount of game or video time.
  • Allow limited internet access to approved sites. My kids get web based homework assignments from school on sites like IXL.com and www.spellingcity.com and they love doing them on their Kindle’s but I have to let them out of FreeTime to do it. Let me approve websites, like I can approve purchased content.  (also these site have apple apps but not android apps? Why is that?)

So here is my favorite story of Kids with Kindle’s so far… One night little FancyPants was sitting beside me in bed watching videos or playing games or whatever, and I was reading or watching videos or whatever on mine (yes I have one too – older gen 1 Fire). I had on headphones. She taps me on the arm and I pull off the headphones and she asks me this question, “What’s up with the guy in the videos that takes his clothes on an off all the time?”

I tried to hide my panic while I desperately tried to remember if I somehow forgot to put her back in the FreeTime app last time I was doing something and thinking she somehow got into something on the Prime Instant Video stuff I have access to. Very calmly I ask.. “What man, honey?”

“You know,” she says “He’s always doing this (mimes removing a jacket) when he comes and goes.  And his shoes, he always taking his shoes off”

At that point a light bulb went off.. “Do you mean Mr. Rogers?” (Oh thank gawd!)

“Yes!” she says. “What’s up with that!?!”  And then I realized that my kids being daycare and pre-k type kids – they never see Mr. Rogers. PBS puts on a little Sesame Street on Sprout at night but never Mr. Rogers. He’s a day time fellow. The Free Time app has what looks like several season of his show in the video area.

“OMG!” I told her – “Do you love the Neighborhood of Make Believe or what? Henrietta Pussycat was my absolute favorite!” – at which point her eyes got wide and she enthusiastically nodded and we spent the next 2 hours watching Mr. Rogers episodes together – totally fast forwarding to the part where Trolly comes in.

* Note, the products discussed in this blog post were/are paid for in full by myself. I was not paid to write this in anyway.

Who Can Turn The World On With Her Smile …

SawyerBirthdayGoose turned 7 this weekend. She’s officially a giggly, squeally, silly, seven year old, just like the manual calls for.

We had a very busy weekend of birthday activities because we can never manage to do a simple birthday.

It’s something I’ve struggled with year after year, fighting the urge trend to produce a birthday-palooza each year. 

This year I managed to reduce us to just a small gathering of neighborhood friends at the house which is a huge step forward.  We did a store bought, off the shelf sort of cake, with just a few but meaningful presents, nothing over the top and you know what… she loved it.

Friends of ours also invited us out on their boat for some tubing and we also had a friend’s birthday to attend as well so maybe it seems like it was more than it really was.

What about you, are you able to keep the birthday celebrations to a dull roar?

PicMonkey Collage

I’m a Big Girl Now: The Softball Addition including Helmet Bling

After 4 years of being hauled all over town to ball parks and being made to sit and entertain herself while ignoring her sister’s countless softball games, Fuzzy Head finally had her day yesterday.

Clearly she wasn’t ignore everything ‘cause check out that batting stance! She hit off the pitch two of her three at bats. (meaning she only had to go to the tee once for those of you not in the softball know) Which is awesome for your first game ever! She even made one of the few none force outs by fielding the ball and tagging the runner while playing 2nd base. Is it too early to call her a natural? Ya think?

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Couple of things she would have you know…

She has invented what will here-to-fore be known as Helmet Bling. Leave it to Fuzzy Head to find a way to make the game her own. Rhinestones and Glitter Letters became an immediate rage with the t-ball set … I’m wondering if we can get Hobby Lobby to sponsor the team! LOL

bling