Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now That's Cooking with Gas (or um, a Lightbulb)!

I remember the Easy-Bake Oven I had as a kid. It looked like one of those fancy new inventions called microwaves, and it was in the hottest colors of the era - harvest gold and poop brown. It was at the top of my Christmas list back in the day and I was thrilled when I woke up Christmas morning and discovered that Santa had delivered! I remember playing with this toy often. Sure, it took like half a day to bake a cake with a 60 watt lightbulb, but how awesome it was to bake my very own dessert! After I frosted my amazing confection, I would cut it into 4 pieces, each roughly the size of a nickel, to share with my family.


It's Okay to Freak out with Xbox 360 + Kinect

I was sitting on the couch, laptop open, staring at my screen while trying to come up with something brilliant to write. I couldn’t focus on my task at hand, however, because my teens were playing a video game and I found myself constantly looking up at the TV.

“Are those zombies?” I asked, incredulously. “You’re killing zombies?”

“Yeah,” they answered as one of them shot a slowly advancing zombie in the head.

“I want to play!” I said excitedly, “I want to save the world from the walking undead!”


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The New War on Men and Why Women Are to Blame

So I was reading this article by Suzanne Venker on Fox News here. The article was in response to a report from the Pew Research Center showing that women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997 – from 28 percent to 37 percent. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

Suzanne has written three books on the American family and its intersection with pop culture. She claims that many men she has talked to over the years have told her they’re never getting married because “women aren’t women anymore.”

Gee, ya think?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm "Tired" of This

I walked outside this afternoon, planning on running to the store to buy some goodies for one of Lexi's friends who is in the hospital with congestive heart failure (prayers for Kristin are appreciated). I ordinarily would've gotten in the car and driven away without a second thought. But because I had cleaned out the garage this week and had a mountain of garbage on my driveway, I walked around my van in order to drag everything down to the curb and that's when I noticed that one of my tires was flat. I mean, FLAT.

My first instinct was to pretend I hadn't seen the tire and go ahead with my plan to run to the store, but I was pretty sure that would be a bad idea and people would yell at me for being stupid when I finally took it to a car shop. My second thought was - Whew, at least it wasn't on the driver's side or I'd worry that the tire went flat because of excess weight on the driver's side. That thought was immediately replaced with - Uh oh, I've been sitting on the passenger side pretty often while the kids drive! That thought was instantly replaced with - Is it even possible to flatten a tire because you're too fat? Then I thought - I'm hungry; I think there's a Dunkin' Donuts next to a tire shop. Finally, that thought was replaced with - I need therapy.


Friday, November 23, 2012

I Bet I Got Better Black Friday Deals Than You Did

After my kids and I got the Thanksgiving dinner all cleaned up and the leftovers put away, we shot some zombies, then watched a couple movies. In fact, Savannah and I stayed up until 2:00am watching movies. So, today while all the deranged people were fighting with the rest of humanity over bargain-priced electronics, I was sleeping in my nice, toasty, comfy bed. No one banged their cart into my ankles. No one grabbed the last 3-pronged thingamawhoozit out of my hands. I didn't stand in any lines for hours. I wasn't arrested for cutting in line. No one threatened to stab me. I didn't inhale a cloud of pepper spray. I didn't witness anyone getting trampled.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Time Flies!

It's hard to believe I've been blogging for nearly 5 1/2 years now. Man, has time flown! It's hard to even remember back to when I first started. So many things have changed since then. When I wrote my first blog post on June 29, 2007, my kids were 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, and 12 years old. They're now 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, and 18. I was a married stay-at-home mom. Now, I'm divorced and working full-time out of the house as well as working from home. I lived in Chicagoland when I started my blog. Now, I'm living in Orlando.

Back when I began blogging, I was dealing with things like yogurt painted on the TV, marker on the walls, a baby playing in the toilet, and lots and lots of baseball games. Now my life is filled with things like looking at colleges, teaching kids how to drive, football, water polo, teens working and dating.

However, many things have stayed the same. I still love spending time with my kids. I still like laughing and enjoying the lighter side of life. My kids may not get into as much mischief as they did when I first started writing, but they still make me laugh and smile (and yes, shake my head) every single day.

I know it's hard to take the time to enjoy the little things when you're in the thick of the day-to-day "stuff". Sometimes we just get so wrapped up in all the things we need to do. Some days we find ourselves saying, "Not now. I'm too busy. Maybe later." But in a few years, when we look back at how our time was spent, will we say, "Boy, I'm sure glad I put off spending time with my kids so I could pay those bills or watch that TV show, or do those errands!"? No. I guarantee you won't be saying that.

Do you want to remember that time you baked cookies with your kids and it took you guys an hour to clean up the kitchen afterward, but it was worth it when you saw the smiles on the kids as they happily munched on the warm goodies? Do you want to remember the times you played with and read to your kids before bed, and the times you packed a picnic and rode your bikes to the park? Or do you want to live with the regret that comes when you realize your kids are nearly grown and you said, "Not now" just a few too many times? Go through old photo albums or home movies with your kids tonight and remind yourself of how fast they grow. Then give them a big hug!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just Five More Minutes

My alarm went off this morning as it does every morning. Instead of simply turning it off and getting out of bed, however, I played my game. It's the same game I play every day. It's the same game I've played every day of my life since I can remember. Oh, the words might have changed a little over the years, but the game is the same. I run through various scenarios in my head in an attempt to buy myself some extra time in bed. I wonder what I can give up in order to sleep for another 5 minutes.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Shopping (and Avenging) at Target this Holiday Season

I do almost all my shopping at Target. I LOVE that store! So when they asked me if I wanted to talk about the hottest toys this holiday season, I jumped at the chance! Sure, you can do your Christmas shopping at Target, but I love that you can also get your groceries, clothes, household items, Christmas cards and decorations, bath towels, lightbulbs, laundry detergent, pretty much everything! I don't have time to run around from store to store and I love the fact that I can usually get everything I need at one place - Target.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Second Thought, Maybe I Will Start Dating

I had the most awesome date Friday night! I know, I know, I said I didn’t have time to date and wasn’t interested in getting to know anyone who would undoubtedly just wind up annoying me anyway. But I couldn’t resist this guy. He was just so darn cute! Seriously, he’s one of the cutest guys I’ve ever seen. So I figured, why not? My kids could handle making dinner and cleaning up by themselves one evening, right? I reasoned that I deserved an evening out since it had been many months since I’d had the chance to do something for myself. So I agreed to the date.


It's November. You Know What That Means!

It means that Christmas is just around the corner! As soon as Halloween is over, I start freaking out about Christmas shopping. It's also when I start getting the inquiries from friends and family, "What do your kids want for Christmas?" Although my younger kids could come up with a wish list longer than War and Peace, I don't generally get them a bunch of smaller, less expensive toys. Why? Because most of those toys get played with for only a couple weeks before they're discarded and abandoned, relegated to the corners of their rooms and closets. I personally prefer getting one nice family gift than a bunch of smaller ones that won't have the same longevity.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

School Survival Guide

As a single mom to six kids, I feel like an expert on surviving the school year. Actually, we don't only "survive" the year, but we thrive! Here are some of my tips for getting through the school year intact (and dare I say, even enjoying it)!

1.  PLAN
I have a big calendar that nearly takes up an entire side of my refrigerator. It's color-coded which may sound a little anal, but it makes it easy to see at a glance which kid has what activity. By putting ballet lessons in pink, baseball in blue, church meetings in red, etc., anyone who looks at the calendar can easily tell what's on the agenda for any given day.

I limit my kids to one activity each for many reasons. I can't afford to put them in multiple activities, I don't want to spread myself too thin, and I don't want my kids to be overloaded with commitments. Everyone needs downtime and I try to make sure we all get enough by keeping a balance of activities, sports, homework, family time, fun time.

Set aside time for homework every night. Even if the kids don't have assignments, they can use that time to study and read. My younger kids do their homework at the YMCA before I pick them up, but when I was a stay-at-home-mom, they would gather around the kitchen table and do their work while having an afterschool snack that would tide them over until dinner. Especially when you have a lot of sports practices going on in the evening, it's important that you have some designated homework time so grades don't start slipping during sports season.

I'm a big believer in having dinner together as a family. In off seasons, we all sit down together to break bread. When my kids have sports going on, we don't usually have dinner together. But that's okay because, with a little improvising, we still find time to eat something together. During football, for example, we tend to grab quick snacks that will get us through practice. Warm, filling Tyson's Any'tizers are perfect for this! And when we're all back home, we gather around the table for a late meal or even just a bedtime snack. It doesn't matter if we're eating a 5 course dinner or munching on some chicken wings, or even having a bowl of cereal. It's still time spent together as a family.

I make sure backpacks are ready to go before I retire for the night. This makes the morning rush so much easier. Have all permission slips and homework journals signed. Have all homework checked and put back into backpacks. Make lunches the night before. Even having the kids pick out their outfits for the next day, makes mornings less stressful.

For more great school survival tips (or to share your own!), check out the Tyson Any'tizer School Survival Guide on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Parkour, Parkour!

"Gray hair, wrinkles, heart palpitations, frequent flyer card at the local ER."

"What is 'life with boys', Alex? "

"That is correct!"


Monday, November 5, 2012

Yield for Idiots

I completely understand why my car insurance nearly doubled when I moved to Florida. People drive like idiots down here. It’s probably why every other billboard and radio commercial is about accident injury lawyers. Before learning Old MacDonald or The Itsy Bitsy Spider, kids down here learn the 411-PAIN jingle.

I try to be calm and make allowances for the other drivers on the road. I remind myself regularly of the sage saying - What would Jesus do? But, you know what? Jesus didn’t have to drive on I-4. If He did, there would surely be another chapter in the Bible with a colorful description of how Jesus went postal on the other drivers, much like the money changers in Matthew 21, but you know, with guns.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Can You Get a Degree in the Art of Being a Hobo?

I attended "senior night" my kids' high school last night. The evening was designed to give parents of seniors heart palpitations and cold sweats as the reality of college was drilled into our heads. The woman presenting the information must have said, "your kids will be graduating in only 26 short weeks" a dozen times.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Lauren's Hope Jewelry

Those of you who follow my blog regularly, know that I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot that went to my lung) this summer. It wasn't the first clot I've had. I have a genetic clotting disorder that makes me more prone to develop life-threatening blood clots. In fact, further bloodwork revealed I may have a second clotting disorder, a lupus anticoagulant, as well. Because of the disorders and the fact that I've developed a number of clots, my doctor has put me on blood thinners and I'll most likely have to continue taking them for the rest of my life. 

Blood thinners could save my life. Of course, they could also kill me if I was ever badly injured, as I could bleed to death. This is why I went online and searched for medical ID bracelets. My doctor recommended I wear one so medical personnel would be aware of my condition should (God forbid) I ever get in an accident and end up unconscious.

Most of the sites I looked at offered plain, silver link bracelets with plain, silver tags. They were not something I wanted to wear for a day, let alone the rest of my life. I started having second thoughts about my medical alert jewelry idea. Then I found Lauren's Hope. They offer medical alert jewelry in a zillion different designs for men, women and children. The only drawback is that you'll have a tough time choosing between their cute, creative, beautiful, fun, and flirty designs. And Lauren's Hope has even taken care of that problem with their interchangeable tags! You can easily remove the tag and attach it to different bands!

The wide variety of styles at Lauren's Hope is especially awesome for kids! If you have a child with autism, diabetes, or a life-threatening allergy, medical alert jewelry can give you great piece of mind. But it only works if your child actually wears it. And if they think the jewelry is stupid and ugly, they won't want to wear it. From cute bracelets to popular silicone bands to dog tags, and more, you're sure to find something your child will love!

I especially love the fact that Lauren's Hope was founded in 1994 by two women. Originally, they sold their mother's bracelets at craft fairs. What started out as a "fun little business" has now grown into a thriving enterprise that offers an incredible selection of jewelry that is both functional and fashionable. I just love stories about women who start up a little business that takes off into more than they ever dreamed of! In fact, Lauren's Hope has even donated over $100,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

If you or a loved one has a condition like: diabetes, pacemaker, food allergy, Penicillin allergy, bee sting allergy, allergic to contrast dye, on blood thinners, gastric bypass patient, Alzheimer's, cancer, asthma, stroke, autism, organ transplant, seizure disorder, manic depressive, on multiple medications or any other chronic medical conditions, you should really consider getting a medical ID bracelet for them. My friend who is an EMT says that's the first thing they look for. Having this essential information about health problems can help medical professionals take care of you/save your life.

Right now, Lauren's Hope is offering my readers a discount just in time for Christmas! (These would make terrific presents, btw!) Just enter the promo code:  6PACK to enjoy 10% off now until December 31, 2012!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fail

I used to be a good mom, I did! I used to start brainstorming ideas for creative Halloween costumes during the summer. I made awesome costumes for my kids year after year. (My sister is really the creative one as you’ll see from the pictures, but I held my own.) I was the room mom for my kids’ classes every single year. I organized great parties with the best games and I made homemade goodies that would turn Martha Stewart green with envy. The mom I am now would hate the guts of the mom I was back then. I would call that mom an overachiever and a stuck-up Miss June Cleaver. And that hatred would be fueled by pure jealously. As I’m sure you can tell by my posts over the last year, I’m having issues and struggling with feelings of inadequacy. I know on an intellectual level that I’m in a different place and simply cannot do all the things I used to do as a married, stay-at-home-mom. I know this. But still, there’s this little part of me that cannot help but lament the mom I once was (even while wanting to punch her face in at the same time). Yes, yes I know I probably need psychiatric help.


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