Go Out and Play!

The kids have been back to school for about two and a half weeks. I’m exhausted, frankly, and so is the toddler that’s not yet in school. But the kids that ARE in school? They’ve got energy.

I don’t know where it comes from. They work hard all day, they have two recesses in the heat, they learn and play and learn some more. So why is it that at bedtime, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to settle down and go to sleep?!

I have to get them outside. Even though they’ve been outside probably more than I have during the mornings and afternoons, they’ve also been sitting in a classroom, working on projects, talking with their friends and sitting still. If they don’t run around before bedtime and work off some energy, they’ll be talking to each other and playing with LEGOs in their beds an hour after they should’ve been asleep. Then they’re exhausted the next day and can’t focus on all of the fun things they’re supposed to be learning at school.

They go through phases playing outside, just like everything else. For weeks, they’ll do nothing but jump on the trampoline. Then they’ll want nothing to do with that and will only swing. Or jump rope. Or dig in the sand box. Or draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

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An awesome bonus is that the puppy goes out to play with them, too, and the more she runs around, the better she sleeps at night. And we all know that puppies are like babies when it comes to sleeping (or not) at night.

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We’ve got an arsenal of outside toys now, thanks to KaBOOM!, the company that makes it a blast to get outside AND gives back to make sure kids everywhere can play, too.

KaBOOM!’s philosophy is this: Play Matters. Play can transform children – from sedentary to physically active, bored to mentally active and solitary to socially active. When we make sure that our children’s lives are filled with play, we all benefit: our communities will be healthier and happier today, and our society will be stronger and more resilient tomorrow. 

I couldn’t agree more, and I am crazy about all of the super cool toys on the Imagine Toys website, including the Go Out and Play Collection from the non-profit KaBOOM!*. Like the Essentials Kit full of, well….outdoor play essentials in a durable, roomy backpack, perfect for keeping in the car or next the door and grabbing when the mood strikes or the energy overflows out of their little pores.

 

 

 

 

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How do your kids like to burn off their crazy back to school energy?

*KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all children get the balance of active play they need to grow into successful, healthy adults. 

I recieved a Kaboom essentials kit to review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

There’s (another) Short Person In My House. #iPPP

Last week, I mentioned that Ivy wanted an elf sent to our house. You know, from the North Pole. In years past, I’ve been so very against having an elf. I mean, we already have to plan at least two solid weeks of traveling, buy and wrap all the presents, do all the Christmas-y things (and by “we,” I mean “I,” obviously).

But, after she said that she really wanted one, and I considered that maybe our elf (if I broke down and got one) would just move “every” night (I use that word loosely, obviously) and not do entertaining or disruptive or creative things, I decided that it might be okay to get one. It’s a big commitment, considering that my youngest will probably believe in “Fanta Clause” for several more years (barring any magic-bursting via sibling or classmate).

But I did it. I got on Amazon and found a cute (but not just like everybody else’s) elf and ordered her. She arrived two days later, and since the preschooler was the only one in the room at the time, I opened up the box and showed her. Then we set her on top of the TV, on some festive homemade garland, and waited.

When the bus dropped them off, Henry and Ivy walked in, shed their coats, and came in the living room. And it started.

Henry! We have an elf!

She came in a package today. Miss Matter-of-Fact-Preschooler informed them.

Can we see her?

She’s a girl!

She’s a stuffed animal.

No, she’s not, she’s an elf! Let’s put her back now.

She’s not real.

What do you mean she’s not real? Of course, she’s real!

My teacher said you can’t touch an elf.

(Whoops, guess I’d better learn the “elf rules”) She’s real. She’s just…..friendlier than some other elves. (They haven’t touched her since.)

There was some naming controversy, but they finally settled on Snowflake Skywalker…just Snowflake for everyday use.

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Every night, after the kids are asleep and I’ve settled in for the night, I check Facebook and Instagram one last time, and see an elf. CRAP. I get up and move the elf. Or, if I’m lucky, I convince hubs to get up and move the elf. It’s like Christmas Eve Every. Single. Night. with the waiting for silence from the kids’ room and the sneaking around doing Christmas things in order to surprise them in the morning.

But every morning…

She moved!

She’s in the tree! or She’s on daddy’s desk! or She FLEW FROM THE DOLLHOUSE TO THE FAN! ESSIE SAW IT! (That was a “magic trick” performed by hubs while he made breakfast and they weren’t looking.)

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We’ve only had Snowflake for a few days, but so far, she’s worth it. Except the two year old just took her out of the tree and carried her around for a while. Shhhhhhh….

Robin at Farewell, Stranger and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below!

GFunkified

Good, Clean Fun. #iPPP

Welcome to #iPPP! Sarah at The Sunday Spill and I want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favorite phone photos of the week. All you need is a blog post containing at least one photo from any phone camera. Link up below!

After bath time is goofy time. When there is drying off to be done, both of us locked in place, planted in the bathroom. No video games, no smart phones, no distractions.

Wet hair is fluffed and spiked, silly jokes are told. The question is asked again, as always: “Mama, do you know how to play Minecraft? You should. It’s a really fun game.”

Hearty laughs, feigned frustration at the lack of drying, jokes. Lots of jokes “Mama, can I say fart? Can I say penis?” Belly laughs before I even open my mouth to answer.

With four kids, it’s hard to get one on one time with any of them, especially in the house. This after-bath time has turned into some of the most fun I have all day, and I have my squishy-cheeked, freckle-faced, to-die-for-eyelashed seven year old to thank.

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This week, I’m also linking up with Natalie and Jess for Essence of Now and Galit and Alison for Memories Captured (the last one until June, y’all!).


A (Snow) Day in the Life

5:07 am: The dog nudges me awake, wanting to go outside. I unwillingly get out of bed. When I open the door, my bleary eyes see that the rain from last night has now turned to a wall of white wind, and snow covers the ground. I go back upstairs to bed, and check my phone for any indication that school will be canceled. There is none. I am antsy, and wish for that call just like I did when I was ten.

5:35 am: The phone still hasn’t rung, and I drift off to sleep.

5:47 am: Finally, the phone rings, waking me up again. I listen to the message that “school is canceled. Be safe today, everyone.” I turn my alarm off and go back to sleep.

6:45 am: My husband calls from his out of state hotel room to make sure that I got the call, and to see if school was indeed canceled. I tell him it was and yes, he did wake me up (I think), and we hang up.

7:58 am: I hear the toddler in the next room start to talk, and the oldest comes in to my room, asking to lay with me because he’s cold. Followed quickly by the youngest girl, who tries to lay on top of us both and is rejected by us both. Some (slow) flurry of activity happens around me, until finally the oldest girl wakes up as well. I slowly get up, grab the toddler and head downstairs to feed the diabetic dog and make breakfast. I see the two lunch boxes in the refrigerator and the school clothes on the counter and am thankful that I won’t have to get new ones ready again that night.

8:35 am: A lazy breakfast in the dining room while I use my only good chance (before 2 pm) to take a shower. I try not to yell at the kids to eat their breakfast, since we’re not in a hurry this morning, but it’s too much of a habit and I find myself doing it anyway.

9:28 am: Everyone has finally finished their food, and I’m no longer stewing in my own stink. The girls head upstairs for a “tea party” and dress up time, while the oldest gets on daddy’s computer to play Minecraft and the toddler hangs out with me in the living room, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and playing with his race cars.

11:45 am: The mail comes and I begrudgingly put my rain boots and coat on to go to the driveway and get packages from the mail carrier’s truck. He thanks me for coming outside, which I appreciate. I come back inside, leaving my boots by the door and check out the big, padded envelopes. The boys both got valentines packages from their grandparents that include coloring books and coloring utensils. I put the toddler back into his highchair and he goes at it, “coloring” his dinosaur page.

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12:11 pm: Lunch time. I call the girls downstairs and we all sit down to eat. It doesn’t take long this time, since everyone would rather be doing something else.

12:32 pm: After some more coloring/scribbling with his new colored pencils, I take the toddler upstairs to bed for his nap and head back downstairs to bundle up the big three for some time in the snow.

12:47 pm: FINALLY everyone is dressed and ready. No wait, the biggest girl doesn’t have any gloves on! “Where are your gloves?! Put them on! Do you want to go outside or do you want to go upstairs and take a nap with your little brother? Then PUT THEM ON.”

12:55 pm: I send them out and take their picture, of course. Keeping the big door open so I can watch and hear from the dining room, I sit down at my computer to catch up on things. The toddler continues to talk for a while from upstairs, and unnatural (but happy) screaming is heard from outside.

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My view out the front door

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The old pup wanted to watch them, too.

1:40 pm: Upstairs is quiet, and the big three yell through the door that they’re ready to come in. I meet them in the garage, where they strip to their underwear and ask for hot chocolate and popcorn. They go in the living room and find their blankets, trying to agree on a movie to watch, while I get to work making their snack.

3:00 pm: Two bags of popcorn and two mugs of hot chocolate (the oldest is not a fan) later, the first movie is over. It’s still quiet time, so we choose another movie and I sit down in a living room chair to try to read. Incessant whining about MORE snacks begins. The oldest gets tired of the movies and goes upstairs to play Legos after I tell him he won’t be playing any video games.

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4:25 pm: The whining FINALLY ends when, despite my exclamations otherwise, the youngest girl falls asleep in her chair. I give up trying to wake her up, so close to supper time, and talk to my husband when he calls. It’s still another full day of solo parenting, and I’m not looking forward to us all going back to the regularly scheduled school the next day. I get the toddler from his bed and he hangs out with us until it’s time to eat.

5:45 pm: We eat the kid-friendly nacho and fruit supper, then I start a bath for the boys while the girls play in the living room.

7:30 pm: Sweet, heavenly bedtime for the kids. The toddler goes back to his bed and I tuck in the big three in their room. There are a few tears as a Very Important Lovey is nowhere to be found, but the worries don’t outweigh the exhaustion and the room is quiet in almost no time.

8:12 pm: I’ve finished making the milk and sausage for tomorrow’s breakfast, feed the diabetic dog and give her a shot. I get on the treadmill and start running, while the wannabe contestants sing their poor hearts out on American Idol.

8:45 pm: I hear the sound of a three year old making her way downstairs to look for a book that is lost and has been asked for every night for a week. I’m still running, and annoyed, and tell her to go look.

8:50 pm: Three year old goes back upstairs, sans book, and finally goes to sleep.

8:55 pm: I step off of the treadmill and fold it up, updating my Facebook status with a new running total and sinking into the chair to finish watching the good, the bad, and the ugly on American Idol.

10:30 pm: My head hits the pillow, and tries desperately to free itself from this surge of treadmill-induced energy. I finally crash, hard.

 

Essence of Now

Every Day I’m Shoveling

He asks to play Minecraft even before he walks in the door, fresh off the bus. Tossing his coat aside (somewhere near the coat rack), he scans the room for my “big phone” with the pink case and gets lost in the world he’s made until I holler that it’s time for homework (or dinner, or bed).

If you’re not familiar with Minecraft, it’s a game that has, apparently, been around forever. The graphics are kind of….Lego-ish and not exactly impressive. I think you build stuff and dig stuff and blow stuff up? Or something. And there’s zombies and “Creepers”. Or maybe those are the same thing. Clear as mud? Good.

He’ll talk the ears off of anyone that’ll listen, about “wouldn’t it be cool if there was a…” and “today, in Minecraft…”. Sometimes, at dinner, I have to remind him that he needs to continue taking bites before he starts another 5 minute speech in his not-so-inside voice, about his newest obsession. Sometimes, on trips, I have to remind him about how much trouble he’ll get into if he asks one more relative with a cell phone to download the (not-free) game.

His littlest sister likes to play, too, more than our oldest girl. And wouldn’t you know that a three and a half year old doll face talking about “are you in Survival?” is just about the cutest thing you’ve ever heard. And no. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Still. Can you blame me for switching my brain off when the stories of digging and building and creepers and zombies begin?

The two of them snuggle up together on the couch to watch each other play, which is, coincidentally, the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. It melts my cold, Minecraft-bored heart.

3yo: “Don’t essplode it, Henwy! Don’t ESSPLODE IT!”

7yo: “Blowing up TNT is AWESOME.”

3yo: “If you do that again, Henwy, I’m going to be SO MAD.”

See? So sweet. Ahem.

 

This post was in response to a prompt from Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop: Do you love it or hate it? An open letter to your child’s latest obsession.

The title comes from a Minecraft parody I saw on Facebook one day (but I can’t remember who shared it)

Linking up with My Time As Mom and Mama Track for Essence of Now. 

2013: The Year of the Fun.

I’ve read a lot of bloggers who have chosen “words” or “themes” for the new year. I couldn’t really think of one until today, the last day of Christmas Break, when I took some pictures of the kids playing in the snow.

Fun.

Fun is my theme for the new year. It’s in my name, and I’m going to embrace it. That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to go play in the snow while I’m sick (ahem, today), but it does mean that I’m going to work on having more fun with my kids, having more fun with my friends, having more fun with my husband. Letting my kids have more fun (hello, loosening up!).

From summer bucket lists to impromptu play dates to cocktail lunches with the girls to more mini golf with my man, I’m having fun this year, dammit.

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Linking up with Melanie at Only A Breath and Nicole at Sisters From Another Mister.