Category Archives: Uncategorized

Corning Museum of Glass

This weekend, we got away to “moochdock” with friends at their family farm. We were an hour from Corning, so we decided to head that way to check out the glass museum. To watch our visit on YouTube, click HERE.

Cantona4

I had never been there before and I was certainly impressed. For starters, all of our kids got in for free! Jim and I were also able to use our AAA membership to get a discount. We paid for admission and purchased a sandblasting experience for 6yo for less than $50. That’s not bad for a family of 5!

Cantona2

My favorite exhibit was the contemporary art, Jim loved the historical section, and 12yo’s favorite was the Frederick Carter Gallery. There was something for everyone.

Cantona5

Special kudos goes to the museum for constructing a scavenger hunt for kids that was perfect for 6yo and still fun for the older kids. Looking at 35 centuries worth of glass wouldn’t be considered fun in our house unless you can turn it into a game.


Cantona3

I will be uploading a video of our adventures soon. I am so glad we made the trip. It was a very fun day!

Fan Club

As soon as 6yo got in the car yesterday, I asked him how his third day of school was.

6yo: “Awesome! Jerry, Lucas, and I are going to start a band!”

Me: “Really? That’s great. What are you going to play?”

6yo: “Well, I’m going to play guitar, Lucas will play keyboards and Jerry will play the drums.”

Me: “Oh, so you’re going to have a 3-man band, huh?”

6yo: “No, Katelyn’s in our band, too.”

Me: “Oh, is she going to be the singer?”

6yo: “No, she’s going stand in the back of the stage and shoot T-shirts with our faces out to our fans so they can wear them!”

audience-celebration-city-258804

 

 

Back to School Time!

This week, we all went back to school: pre-school, first grade, seventh grade. I even celebrated my 35th first day of school.

39714661_2316256741725389_8831030098669862912_o

Everyone had a great day, from what I can tell. 12yo didn’t share much, which is typical. 6yo told me first grade was more boring than kindergarten, but he still had a good day. 3yo’s preschool teacher said she picked up all the routines like she had never left.

My first day was preceded by several long days of me trying to put my room back together after construction in our building. I’m really excited to be in a new room, but it’s not finished, so I’m still figuring out where everything will go. Despite the unfinished condition of the building, the kids still came in on Tuesday, and we made it work. When all is said and done, the building will look great.

0816181531a_resized

Here’s to another great school year for our family!

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.