Category Archives: Uncategorized

No More Rain, Please!

It’s monsoon season here in NEPA. Twice in the last month our area has been covered in several inches of rain and flash flooding has been a serious problem. Many roads have been closed or washed away. Yesterday, a video of a travel trailer floating down a local stream was making its rounds on Facebook.

Rain

My heart goes out to all the families who found several inches of water rushing into their homes. For families with children, the start of school is right around the corner and now they have to spend time cleaning, disinfecting, and repairing their homes on top of getting ready for the new school year. I’m also praying the hurricane season is kind this fall and our river levels don’t rise.

If you find yourself flooded and in need of aid, please reach out. There are many people who have offered their time and homes to those in need.

If you are out there rescuing people from their homes or cars, thank you for your service and we are praying for your safety.

Summer Boredom

My kids get two hours of screen time each day during the summer: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Shortly after they run out of screen time, they begin following me around with a whiny chorus of “I’m bored.” My response this summer has been, “well, go be bored somewhere else.” They look at me like I’m such a cruel mom, but here’s the truth: it’s a privilege to be bored.

The ability to have a moment in the day so free that you don’t know how to fill it is an experience millions of people around the world never know. They’re too busy working, caring for others, or just trying to stay alive. The ability to be bored is a gift. Bored kids aren’t neglected, they’re fortunate.

It’s surprising how quickly they can find something to do if I dismiss their pleas instead of immediately give them an activity to fill their time. Rarely do they just sit and stew in their boredom. Often, their most creative play grows from my ignoring their boredom and leaving them to their own devices.

I’m blessed to be home with my kids in the summer and we get to spend a lot of time doing fun activities together, but there’s a benefit for all of us if they have to keep themselves occupied for a portion of the day.

They next time one of them complains they are bored, I think I’ll respond with, “wow, you’re so lucky!”

 

So much cake!

For my grandmother’s upcoming birthday party, our family was given the task of providing the birthday cake. Normally, I would order a cake from our favorite bakery then talk my brother into picking it up. Two minutes, and I’m done. I’d like to say I thought this time cake baking would be a fun alternative, but the truth is that I simply forgot to order a cake. (Whoops!). So, baking was our only option.

Normally, I would just ask 11yo to take care of it because she loves to bake. When I brought it up, (much to her chagrin) the littles wanted to be in on the action. So, instead of having one cake, we made three! To save time, we used boxed cake mixes (on sale for $1!) and canned icing for decoration. We DID make our own buttercream frosting as a base. And sprinkles. So…..many…..sprinkles.

It turned out to be a fun experience and everyone at the party enjoyed their multiple cake options.

 

Manic Monday

Today, during dinner prep, 3yo held up a large plastic spoon and asked “Why dis a spoon?”

spoon

After a day of work, picking up kids, exercising dogs, and squeezing in a workout, this simple question broke my brain.

Why IS this a spoon?

Thinking back, I should have said, “It has a long handle and a small bowl on the end, making it a spoon instead of a fork or knife.”

At the time, my brain just couldn’t handle coming up with that simple explanation. Instead, it malfunctioned.

My inner monologue:

Why IS that a spoon? Is it really a spoon? Is it only a spoon because we say it is a spoon? Could it be something else? Why can’t we just decide it is a fork or a knife? Despite its shape, I can still ineffectively pick up food, cut food, and stab you with it. (“Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an axe something?” “Because it’s dull, you twit. It’ll hurt more.” Miss you, Alan Rickman.) Can’t I call it a miniature shovel? It works the same way. Do labels really mean anything? Why do we even HAVE names for things? This spoon has slots, so it doesn’t even do the one simple job a spoon is SUPPOSED to do! How can it be a spoon if it doesn’t even HOLD all the FOOD?!  It should be in a completely different category of objects, one filled with things that only partially do their jobs. Like a doily. What the hell is a doily for? It’s a covering that doesn’t cover things. It gives the illusion of covering things, but really there are more uncovered spots than covered spots. It’s like a rain coat made of fishing nets. It looks like a coat, but it’s not keeping any water off your body! That’s why I don’t have any doilies.

emoji

Because I did not respond immediately, she asked again: “Why dis a spoon, Mommy?”

My answer: “Because it is.”

And it’s only Monday.

rickman

Universal Bathroom Stools: a Beautiful Parent Dream

The Census of 2010 reported that 20% of the population of the United States was 10-years or younger. 21 million of those children were under the age of 6. Kidshealth.org reports that the average 4-year-old is 40 inches tall. That means approximately 1 in 7 people living in the US are 3 feet or shorter.

So WHY on earth doesn’t anyone put stools in their public restrooms?!?

Taking a newly-potty-trained toddler to the restroom is hard enough as it is. They don’t fit on the seat, they’re terrified of the self-flushing toilets, and the two of us barely fit in the tiny stall together. Despite my insistence they don’t touch anything, they manage to rest their hands on nearly every surface. After wrangling their clothes back on, then trying to use the toilet myself while repeating “don’t you dare open that door until I’m finished!” at least 4 times, I am then forced to balance my 30lb toddler on one raised knee while simultaneously turning on the water and squeezing the soap dispenser while they do a half-assed job of washing their own hands.

bathroom stool

I’ll delay my rant about changing tables for another day, but at least one can argue that those are expensive ($400 or more). But a stool? 50 bucks, and you only need one in each room. I have great appreciation for businesses who provide a lower sink, but they are few and far between. I adore business that provide a mini-toilet for little butts (thank you, Knoebels), but I’ve seen that maybe three times in my life. Trust me, moms and dads know what each public bathroom in their community provides and we are more likely to patronize a business if we know we can easily change a diaper or avoid bathroom acrobatics.
No, bathroom stools won’t solve world hunger or house the homeless, but a hungry homeless person with a toddler would probably still appreciate a stool then next time they have to take them to a public restroom.

 

https://www.census.gov/

https://naeyc.org/policy/advocacy/ChildrenandFamiliesFacts

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/growth-4-to-5.html 

Why I Write Online Reviews (and Why You Should, Too!)

I’ve written them all: campground reviews, product reviews, restaurant reviews, book reviews, and amusement park reviews. Some have been paragraphs long with accompanying pictures. Some have been only a sentence.

Years ago, when I was attending a book club meeting, one of the members commented, “Oh, I never read the online reviews on books. I can just imagine what kind of person actually writes them. I mean, have you ever written one? No, because you’re normal.” At the time, I simply smiled and nodded, not having actually written any reviews. If I heard that comment today, my reaction would be much different.

Now, whether I’m shopping for a new bra or looking for a nearby restaurant, I rarely make a decision that will cost me money without first checking online reviews. Yelp, Trip Advisor, and the comments sections of my favorite online stores play a huge part in whether or not I purchase an item or make a reservation. Often, if no reviews are available, I won’t consider purchasing a product at all. I so heavily rely on the recommendations of others, that it feels only right to return the favor by describing my own experiences.

On one of our camping journeys, we travelled to Little Pine State Park near Waterville, PA. It was a beautiful, clean, quiet park and we loved camping there. We had gone on the recommendation of a friend, but I had been unable to find any online reviews. Because I loved the park so much, I made a point to take lots of pictures of the facilities and surroundings. I believed this little park deserved a voice online apart from the cursory information available on the State Parks website. Others should know that this is a wonderful place to visit. As soon as I got home, I wrote the first Trip Advisor review for Little Pine.  It even took them a few days to post my review because they first had to determine it was indeed a real place. Since then, several others have added their comments. Together, reviewers have been able to share a small gem of PA with others who may not have even known it existed.

Certainly some reviewers can’t be taken seriously and one must be discriminating when reading comments, but if there are enough reviews for a product or business the true value will be clear. I write reviews because I want to help good businesses find patrons and protect patrons from bad businesses. I want to help people know what they’re getting for their money because that is what other reviewers have done for me.

Reviews don’t have to be long essays. The next time you get an email that asks you to write a review of a recent purchase, please consider typing at least few helpful sentences. We’ll all be better off in the long run.

Not surprisingly……

So, the government shut down this morning.  Luckily for my family, my day was completely different in absolutely no ways at all.  Still, the whole thing is so frustrating – no matter which side of the aisle you lean.  Even more depressing is this clip from last night’s Jimmy Kimmel show:

Jimmy Kimmel – Six of One

Whether you’re for or against Obamacare (and I think many people are for AND against Obamacare), you should at least know what you’re talking about if you’re going to answer a reporter with a camera.

I did, however, enjoy some of the comments below the video:

“Most of America is Lenny and the rest of us are George, just trying to keep them calm and stop them from destroying something.”

“If we had the government we deserve, we’d be living in Thunderdome.”

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”

 

 

Remembering Shirley

This morning, I’m thinking of a dear friend.  I’m reminded of her because we’re nearing the second week of August.

For years, while I was in high school and college, I would spend the second week of August on vacation at Treasure Lake.  Treasure Lake is a golf community with two highly-rated golf courses that also offers boating, swimming, and many other fun summer activities.

I originally began going as a helper to my Aunt (my father’s sister) and Uncle.  They had young children and I spent several of my summers babysitting them.  At the end of each summer my Aunt and Uncle would generously bring me along on vacation so that they could both enjoy some rounds of golf together.  I would take the kids for bike rides, to the beach, and to the pool while the adults played their 18 holes.  My relatives covered all of my expenses and the kids were a dream to babysit.  I was basically being paid to go on vacation.

We were joined every year by another couple, Shirley and Wayne.  Technically, Shirley was my uncle’s aunt, but they were so close in age she seemed more like a cousin.  Still, all the kids (including me) referred to her as “Aunt Shirley.”  She was kind, generous, and a great deal of fun.

After a few years, I stopped babysitting, but I was still invited to come along simply as a family member.  I was often invited to join them for their daily rounds of golf.  My Aunt, Shirley, and I would golf together while the guys (who took their scores very seriously) went on ahead.  Our team motto was “Hit it toward the cart path!”  Shirley was actually a very skilled, avid golfer.  She taught me everything I know about golfing (which, admittedly isn’t much).  I always golfed better when I was with her.  Her most important advice was repeated to me year after year in a sort-of mantra she had learned from a golf instructor once-upon-a-time:

“Keep your head down.

Keep your head down.

Keep your God-damned head down!”

Outside of our vacations, I didn’t see Shirley and Wayne that often.  I would attend picnics at their house and run into them at some family functions. They both danced at my wedding.  Still, there’s a familiarity that develops when you spend a week with people year-after-year – a bond akin to those one develops at summer camp. I considered Shirley and Wayne to be good friends and was extremely fond of them.

My Aunt, Shirley (center), and myself during a round of golf.

My Aunt, Shirley (center), and myself during a round of golf.

A few years ago, Shirley succumbed to cancer at an unfairly young age.  She left a gaping hole behind in the community and in the hearts of her loved ones.  Her funeral was beautiful, yet terribly painful.  She was a nurturer, a leader, and a doer.  She is fondly remembered by all who knew her and her memory continues to live on in her friends and family.

Often, not just in golfing but also in everyday life, I can still hear her voice telling me to “Keep your head down!” and simply trust that, if I do what I’m supposed to, things will go the way they should.

We miss you, Shirley.