A Snowy Snow Day

Do you know what it is like living with a child that YEARNS for a snow day? I mean, I know ALL kids love a good snow day if for nothing else they get to stay home from school.

But Mahlie is OBSESSED with the snow. Which makes our typical “non-snow” snow days all the more disappointing. Waking up saying, “no school, you have a snow day” brings her running out of her room to look expectantly out the window. What she sees is bare driveway, uncovered cars, and streets not needing to be plowed.

“But mommy, there’s NO SNOW!!!!”

Yeah, I know. We’ve had numerous “snow days” where the accumulation isn’t enough to create even the most meager of snowmen.

To make it worse, news of the huge snowfalls in the northeast are all over the place. Mahlie’s cousins all live in the affected areas and she’s been looking longingly at the texted pictures of her Grammy and Grandpa’s yard covered in 5 feet of snow.

Her family in the NE, however, are on the other end of that spectrum now, cursing at the sky at the mere mention of a flake. Yep, things have gotten out of hand up there.  I mean, the Mayor of Boston had to come out and publicly denounce jumping out one’s window into the snow.

Seriously.

So when Mahlie woke up Tuesday morning, she ran to every single window in the house, drew up each blind to make sure there was snow outside ALL the windows.

“Mahlie, relax!” we tell her, as she is scurrying around like a demented blind mouse only wearing her underwear.

“Relax? Who can relax at a time like this?”

Out came the boots and the mittens and the hats and the snow pants, which have been sitting largely unused in our front closet. I had to pull Sarah’s out from the attic.

The ensuing play session is what one would think of a snow day- eating snow, falling in the snow, shoveling snow, losing gloves in the snow, complaining about hands being cold out in the snow.

Mahlie stayed out in the snow all day practically. She helped the neighbors shovel their driveway. She re-shoveled our driveway. She sat in a snow bank, just staring at the sky. I asked her what she was doing.

“Just snowlaxing”.

That girl.

Now we are on our second snow day. My school district where I work is open on time. Hers is out for the day. Second snow day in a row for her and billionth day off for me that is not a day off for me. Since my husband had “stuff to do” in a location not close to Sarah’s daycare, she stayed home with me. Oh, and I’m sick. So this will be fun.

I’m watching the Today show and there are sections dedicated to “what to do on a snow day” and some expert is giving all kinds of suggestions for keeping your kids busy.

There are lists and sites and books and Pinterest boards dedicated to indoor activities to keep your kids busy on snow days.

Here is what I do with my kids: bundle them up and throw them out. When they come back in, I turn the TV on and tell them not to bother mommy unless someone is bleeding. When they get “sooooo boooored!” I tell them to figure it out. There is whining and complaining.

But then there is play and laughter and giggling and made up games.

Oh, there is also yelling and crying and “she did it!” comments yelled from the other room.

But that’s okay.

Because it’s a snow day. That’s what my mom did with us, so can’t be that bad!

hot choc

Hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles. Snow day tradition.

snow day

There may have been a bit of “flinging the younger sister into the snowbank” going on here. When I asked, Mahlie just said, “I’m helping her.”

shovel

We only have 3 snow shovels for a reason. Excuse me while I go refresh my coffee.

snow dog

Our Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, bred for this kind of weather, is taking it all in….

Hope you have a great crazy day!

What’s Better On Valentine’s Day Than A Little Bit Of Mr. Darcy?

Valentine’s Day has turned into a commercial mess.

Cards and candy and jewelry and overpriced dinners that you enjoy with a room full of 100 other strangers. Romantic, eh?

You know what is romantic?

Mr. Darcy.

That’s right, Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”.

Jane Austen, the mother of the rom-com, creator of chic-lit, master of love and chivalry.

Sigh.

So this Valentine’s Day Eve, I bring to you, 10 shining moments of Mr. Darcy.

You are welcome. (*I apologize to my sis-in-law Tricia for not using the Colin Firth Darcy, but this version of P & P is my favorite).

10. Flirting, Mr. Darcy style.

9. She went to Pemberly. He was home.

8. Compliments, back in the good ole days.

7. Coming to his senses. Unrequited.

 

6.That first dance. Not quite today’s pop music Valentine’s Day teen angst dances.

5. Just…yes. I’ll take this scene over any 50 Shades….

4. They should bring back this phrase.

3. Arguing in the rain is a lost art….

2. First Proposal. Even though he was turned down, damn. My favorite scene.

 

1. Second, more successful proposal.

Bonus:

Have a great crazy day!

Birthday’s and Kids

There is nothing like having a birthday when you have kids. The excitement starts to build around a month earlier. You feel so special that your kids are so excited and enthusiastic to celebrate your day.

Don’t kid yourself. They are excited for cake.

Any presents they buy you? Really it’s for them.

You know what I got from my girls? 4 very lovely heart shaped balloons. 4 lovely balloons that have started around 4000 sibling fights.

Then they add the “extras”. At the grocery store; “oh mommy, there is that super duper sugary cereal with the cartoon guy on it! Let’s get it! FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY!”

At Target (cuz y’all know a mom’s birthday would not be complete without a trip to Target). “Oh, mommy! Look at that piñata! Wouldn’t that be fun FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY?!”

At home: “oh, mommy, let’s just sit and watch TV all day because IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!” Okay, that we actually did do.

You get the picture. And THIS picture shows just how in tune my kids were to ME on my birthday.

45

All Eyes are on the Birthday Girl Cake

 

Like I said, cake.

*oh, and the bday candles are a “typo”.

Have a great crazy day!

There Is No Debating They Are Heroes

There is no debating that those who have developed vaccines to eradicate disease are heroes.

I have not joined in the great vaccine debate that is clogging my facebook inbox and monopolizing the news.

For me, there is no debate.

I want healthy kids, so I get them vaccinated. Science says vaccinations are the safest way to prevent your kids from getting disease.

I know there are individuals that have “personal beliefs” otherwise.

I don’t care. I believe science.

I also hold great stock in the opinion of our family friend, Dr. Mark LaForce.  The founder of the Meningitis Vaccine Project, and one of the subjects of Annie Leibovitz’s latest photo shoot, has said:

“I can’t think of anything more just than preventing death and disability.”

Vaccines prevent death and disability. I believe that. I stand by it. I won’t debate it.

See the video on the making of Annie Leibovitz’s “The Art of Saving a Life”.

The entire website is here.

Read more about the astounding, life-changing work of Dr. Mark LaForce here. And here. Oh, and here.

Have a great crazy day!

 

 

 

“Go Ahead Kids! Jump, Bounce, Play!”

That is, unless your child has an intellectual disability. Because apparently, according to the “safety rules” on a bounce house product by Ninja Jump at the ZBounce at an area mall, having an intellectual disability renders your child incapable of joining their non-intellectually disabled peers from doing the one thing your child with an intellectual disability CAN do on the same level as their peers.

Jump.

Bounce.

Play.

Laugh.

Play and laughter are 2 things ALL children do, regardless of their abilities. For many with intellectual disabilities, especially autism, jumping and bouncing are wonderful sensory activities that provide much needed calm and order to a very disorganized system.

So when your child with an intellectual disability gets the birthday invite to the bounce house, you are THRILLED. Because your child with an intellectual disability doesn’t always get a lot of birthday invites. Even if they did, sometimes the party plans are so overstimulating that it would be more detrimental to your child to go than to miss out.

But this one, this one will be awesome.

Until you get to the bounce house and see THIS:

ZBounce

The last bullet: “Children with mental or physical impairment are not allowed on any bounces.”

I am pretty sure that sign is not ADA friendly. The American’s with Disabilities Act, for those that are not acronym familiar.

You know, the act that indicates persons with disabilities cannot be discriminated against.

Pretty sure that sign is all kinds of discriminating against kids with disabilities.

ZBounce states they are required by Maryland regulations to post the safety rules that are provided by the manufacturer. ZBounce has said they will “obscure” the offending safety rule and not prevent children with disabilities from bouncing in their bounce house. The manufacturer, per a post I saw, feels it is not discriminating.

I am not sure anyone has shown them a definition of “discrimination”. Or a copy of the ADA. ZBounce’s PR people seem to be working overtime and answering everyone’s angry comments on their Facebook page with promises to rectify this situation, but the damage to their reputation is taking a hit.

This sign has poked some momma bears. And those momma bears have woken up angry.

Clearly we still have some work to do to ensure our children are treated fairly. Clearly there is still a lot of education and awareness needed for intellectual disabilities.

If this sign gets you “all fired up”, like my sister-in-law Tricia, and my friend Jenni, who brought this to my attention, let it be known.

I am not a fan of leaving the “I am never using your company again! You suck!” comment. But providing companies, that seemingly don’t understand what “ADA” or “discrimination” mean, education on the matter, or suggestions for improving their practices, those comments go a long way and can be impetus for change. Otherwise you will just waken THEIR momma bear (e.g. holy crap my business is going under and I will not do anything to keep that from happening). Now you just get a bunch of angry people yelling at one another.

ZBounce has a facebook page here. Leave them a comment- but please refrain from letting your ire get the best of you. Ninja Jump can be contacted at 1800-888-8148.

From a personal standpoint: This is outrageous. I have worked with kids with all different levels of intellectual and physical disabilities for over 25 years. While some severely medically fragile and physically disabled children may be prevented from bouncing, there is absolutely no reason, except ignorance, for a child with an intellectual disability to not be able to bounce, jump, laugh, or play on a bounce house.

Hopefully these companies will rectify this situation. If not, I know a group of very angry momma bears headed their way.

Have a great crazy day.

 

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Teaching Important Life Skills

As a special educator, my job has revolved around teaching children to be independent in all areas of life. I want to make sure that they are prepared to go out into the world, be an integral member of their community and contribute to society in a meaningful way.

I like to think I am bringing some of this “teacher savvy” home to my kids, and while they are only 2 and 5, it is never too early to teach your kids to do things for themselves. I mean, you don’t want to be wiping bums, cutting steak into miniscule pieces or setting out clothes that match for 18 years.

I want my girls to be able to do things for themselves; to not need to depend on anyone else to do something for them. If they run into a problem, I want them to be able to solve it on their own. I also want them to learn to make choices that keep them safe. Self preservation is an important skill, after all.

I don’t worry as much about Sweets. She may be sassy, but she’s a rule follower. She doesn’t want to do anything to get herself in trouble. She becomes very upset if she gets scolded for breaking a rule. This has resulted in her going to great lengths to cover up her wrongdoing. I’m not sure how long she thought she could get away with sneaking the pudding snacks under her bed, but leaving the empty containers to stink up her room gave her away.

SJ, on the other hand, she don’t care. She’ll just blatantly take something and run. She’ll look you in the eye while she’s taking that pair of adult scissors and running through the house with them. She’ll crawl out the doggy door and then wait until you’ve noticed to start to run off. She knows she’s wrong, but she’ll do it as quick as she can before you can catch up to her.

It’s like she is tempting fate. An incident this week all but confirmed she is preparing herself for her worst case scenario. We were getting ready for school, I’m taking off her footie jammies and out falls a cheese knife.

That’s right, she was packing heat.

I was somewhat relieved, she DOES have self preservation skills. She is fully prepared to defend herself in a prison riot.

Have a great crazy day!

 

 

The Kids Are Alright

We were riding our bikes as quickly as our legs could pedal, flying down the road to our “secret place”. Screeching to a halt and jumping off our bikes before they were fully stopped, we ran to our “playground”, calling out for the best hiding spots.

“This one’s mine!” I yelled to my brother.

“No fair, you had that one yesterday!” he cried back.

“Wait for me!” cried Brick who, as the youngest of us, was always a few steps behind and always wanting to be right there with us.

I crawled into my hiding space, a triangular opening in a pile of concrete slabs, covered partially by fallen tree branches and, most likely given the rash that popped up a few days later, poison ivy. This was the coveted spot, and I’d reclaimed it.

Our “secret place”, as we called it, was a pile of concrete slabs that were haphazardly stacked on the edge of the water down by the marina. We spent hours there, by ourselves, making forts in the open spaces created by the construction pile. There were various metal poles sticking out from the slabs, rusty and sharp. Those were our ladders and “guard rails” while navigating our prized pile of rubble.

There were no adults sitting on benches, intermittently looking up from phones to tell us to be careful. There were no adults, period. Well, there were adults back at our beach house. These were the adults that shooed us out of the house, telling us to, “go play outside!” after the millionth “I’m bored!” escaped from our mouths.

They didn’t ask where we were going, what the phone number was or when we would be back.

This, my friends, is what play looked like when I was growing up. It was with siblings and friends, away from the watchful eye of parents. Armed with the guidance and lessons from our parents, “don’t get in trouble”, we were set free in the neighborhood. Boundaries and parameters were set.

We breached them daily.

Rules were created. Then immediately broken.

We had our rules: the rules of kids.There was bonding in our freedom. Our “North Shores Gang”, as we liked to call ourselves and which, I am sure, everyone else was completely unaware and unimpressed by. We thought we ruled the neighborhood.

Our summers were sun and sand filled days on the beach, playing down by the water, our parents sitting in a circle of beach chairs, relegating their supervision onto the lifeguards.

We were given a few dollar and sent on our way, 2 beaches down, to the ice cream shack. Sometimes we stayed on the beach, sometimes we took the “short cut” through the parking lot. Sometimes, if we were feeling really rebellious and dangerous, we’d go explore in the “forest”, a grove deep down in a sand dune where kids would go to drink and smoke (I realized this much later). One day, on our “short cut”, we came across a group of kids in the forest and they chased us out. Some might be thinking, “how dangerous!”, “where were the parents?”

Our parents were letting us be kids. They were letting us explore and experience without constant monitoring. No one ever got (seriously) hurt. The cops weren’t (regularly) called. There were incidents. There were lessons learned.

Now, parents are getting the cops called on them for letting their kids walk alone to a familiar park. The media exploits and sensationalizes every child abduction to make it seem they occur on every street corner. But the truth is kids are in no more real danger today than they were when I was growing up.

Things are actually probably safer, what with parents having more information about the safety of helmets (I never owned one) and correct use of car seats and more frequent use of seatbelts.

Yesterday we let Sweets ride her scooter (with her helmet, of course) around the cult de sac. By herself. No adult with her.

And as soon as she is old enough, we will let her walk to school, which is all of a quarter mile- if that- away.

As she gets older we will add on freedoms as we, as her parents, see fit. I am sure the boundaries and parameters we set will be tested and broken. I would like to be the one that determines punishment for my child for breaking my rules. I don’t need others to tell me how to parent my child and keep them safe. Giving them freedom isn’t putting them in imminent danger if you also teach them how to be safe.

I get that as an adult and you see kids out alone perhaps you get all, “oh my gosh, we should do something!” But unless they are engaged in an unsafe activity, not dressed appropriate for the weather or otherwise look distressed, perhaps >gasp!< do nothing. Maybe a “hey, you kids good?” shout out. Maybe, if you know them, a call to the parents to say, “hey, saw the kids all the way over here today”. But to call the cops? Please. Helicopter your own kids if you must, but don’t helicopter mine.

Have a great crazy day!