5 Easy Steps to an “Old School” Summer

If you’re anything like me, you may be longing for the simplicity of a summer like the one you had as a child.  For me, it was the 80’s.  They were the kind of summers where the days were full of freedom and stretched forever into a golden sun and all you really needed to make you happy was a Slip ‘n’ Slide and a box of Fla.Vor. Ice pops.  However… if you’re anything like me today – well, the nostalgia may be a bit harder to grab if you’re the mom of little people.  You may be feeling overwhelmed and pressured to provide a summer full of All the Awesome Things to Make All the Memories – and I have totally been there – but I’m here to say a simple summer where you are truly present with your loved ones and relaxed will be so much better.  Go ahead and give a few of those Pinterest crafts and activities a try – but all those other days in between?  Well, here’s my idea of how to do it – in 5 steps – mom style.  You can relive your childhood summers while letting your kids in on the secrets to a really rad summer, too.  And even if you’re not a mom –  I’m pretty sure this list will work for you, too.

So, without further adieu:

5 Steps  to an “Old School” Summer

  • Step 1:  Turn on the radio to the local “oldies” station (or whichever station is playing the most 80’s music).  Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and satellite radio don’t count.  You need to hear all the local ads.  It’s part of the charm.  Plus, you can do step #2 during commercial breaks.
  • Step 2:  Mix up a big pitcher of lemonade, iced tea, Kool Aid, or Tang.  Choose which childhood memory you want to relive and try not to think about the ingredients.  If you’re feeling guilty about sugar and food dyes, go organic – but not neurotic.
  • Step 3:  Go outside and stay there.  Your backyard, front porch, local park, beach… whatever.  Just get outside and even if you do nothing but sit and listen to the radio from step #1, it’s good for your soul.  If it’s raining?  Go to the mall.  Meet up with a friend for an Orange Julius there.  You know you want to.  Bring the stroller and stay away from the Disney store and you’ll be fine.
  • Step 4:  Let the kids get wet and dirty.  It’s ok, really.  This is why you have towels and bathtubs and washing machines.  Don’t have kids?  Do a friend or family member a favor and offer to babysit – and get THEIR kids good and dirty.  Or, you could just let your own inhibitions down and run through the sprinkler yourself.
  • Step 5:  Put your phone, iPad, tablet, computer – whatever electronic device you are tethered to – away.  Turn it off, put it down, and go have an awesome summer!

Repeat steps 1-5 as often as possible from now through Labor Day, and in the meantime, you know what I’ll be doing.

 

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How to Entertain Your Toddler for 25 Cents

Oh, Target. You thoughtful, retail sweetheart, you. My find in your One Spot section has helped me to hit the Toddler Jackpot: stickers.

My daughter not only loves stickers, but she also loves smiley faces, so these really hit the… (ahem) target.

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Just one sheet of these stickers (available as 4 sheets for $1) has entertained my daughter for hours. Yes, really – hours.

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Sure, my house is now covered in little, colorful, smiley face stickers.

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But how could I put a stop to this?

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She’s so happy, and I’m so happy that she’s entertained…

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And, I’ve discovered that the stickers are easily removed… thank goodness…

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Plus, every time I see those little stickers, I’m reminded of her – and her cute, quickly-fleeting, toddlerhood.

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And that’s worth much, much more than 25 cents.

Tiny Joys

A couple of days ago, I found joy in my toilet.

Now, stay with me on this… I promise it gets better.

Since my 11 month old daughter can’t be left unattended when I visit the loo, I usually take her in with me, especially if my husband isn’t around.  Honeybean sits on the floor and plays with her bath toys while I do my thing.  It works.

Well, the other day, she observed me flushing the toilet.

It was over.

She quickly toddled over and started pulling on the silver handle that makes the potty go woosh.  Three times later, I had to put a stop to it (afterall, it’s our only toilet and if it breaks we’re literally up the proverbial poo creek).

But in that moment – in the bathroom, on an ordinary day – there was joy.  There was a little girl discovering something brand new.  Something so completely mundane, I barely even notice it.  But, to my daughter, it is a New Thing.  And with each new wooshy-pull on the silver toilet handle, a little-girl smile with two tiny teeth.

You just can’t buy, manufacture, or invent this stuff.

There is joy everywhere – if I choose to see it.  In every little conversation she has with her stuffed animals, every time she points a chubby finger at something she sees, every time she waves and says “bye”, even with every screech and scream.  There is joy.

I’ve always been big on “little things,” because they really do matter – they add up – and I’ll admit that for a short while now, I’ve lost sight of how important those little things are.  I’ve been in The Blur – but now, with the Christmas season upon us, I get into that warm, fuzzy, hot-chocolately, snowy, deck-the-hallsy mood and I can see clearly again.

I can see the joy again.

The trick is to keep seeing it.  After the snow melts, the decorations are boxed, and the Christmas carols fade.

I think that will be one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

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Keep seeing the tiny joys.

Fresh Air

Woot!
Allie Brosh, writer and cartoonist for the Hyperbole and a Half blog, will be featured on NPR’s Fresh Air this afternoon at 3pm EST, and again at 7pm!
Tune in if you can, and in the meantime, check out her blog… it’s hilarious:
Hyperbole and a Half

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And if you’re interested, here is the link to the NPR site covering her interview: http://www.npr.org/2013/11/12/244758140/even-when-it-hurts-alot-brosh-faces-life-with-plenty-of-hyperbole

My Love Affair with Fall

Warning:  this is a completely superfluous blog post about Fall.  There is no real substantive information here, just a little “getaway” from whatever responsibilities you are working on today.  We’ll call it, “Your 5 Minute Autumn Appreciation Break.”

As a kid, Summer was my favorite season, naturally.  It was pure freedom bliss and no one was going to change my mind about that.  It was green grass and slip ‘n’ slides and barbecues and the beach and bike rides and lightning bugs and every other wonderful summer thing.

And then Fall would start to creep in.  I’d notice it right around the end of August when the sun started to shift a little bit in the afternoon sky.  I would overhear mom and dad’s hushed chatter about “back to school shopping” and “new clothes” and ohmygod NOOO!

This wasn’t me. But it’s an accurate depiction of my emotions.

I hated Fall.

And for many years, even into adulthood, Summer was still my favorite season.  Until this year.

I have to say that I’ve fallen out of love with Summer.  Don’t get me wrong, Summer – let’s be friends, ok?  It’s not you, it’s me.  Well, actually, it is sort of you… 

This summer was rough.  It was hot and buggy and I was pregnant (still am, actually) – and pregnancy + excessive heat + many bugs = not a happy Summer.  I spent a great deal of time indoors and that makes me very sad, considering how much I love being outside.  Summer wore out its welcome this year, and I am more than happy to usher in my new love interest:  Fall.

Ah, Fall… how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

1.  Your lovely weather – it’s not hot, not cold, it’s just right.  You require a light sweater in the early mornings and late evenings, but permit sweaterless fashion during the day.  You are so flexible!  I can wear closed or open toe shoes – long pants or capris – long sleeves or sleeveless… did I mention how superfluous this blog entry would be?

 

2.  Your harvest bounty – it’s full of beautiful things like gourds, pumpkins, late tomatoes, apples, cranberries, and pears.  You are a culinary delight, Fall.  You are the only time of year I truly enjoy cooking.

3.  Your artistry – it’s all over the trees, flowers, bushes, and fields.  You paint everything in my favorite colors:  red, orange, yellow, green, purple!  For a crafty, interior-designer-wannabe like me, you are my muse.

4.  The way you make me feel.  Fall, you bring out the lover in me.  You inspire me to take long walks, snuggle on the couch, build bonfires, go camping, light candles.  If I didn’t know any better, Fall, I would think you’re trying to get me into bed.  Oh wait, yes, I enjoy that this time of year, too!  Sleeping is so much better with the windows open.

This has nothing to do with romance or sleeping, I just really like the picture.

5.  I realize I’ve actually loved you for a long time, Fall.  It was just difficult breaking it off with Summer.  He and I have been close for many, many years and it was tough to realize my love affair with him has actually been just a good acquaintanceship.

I know it’s not technically Fall by means of Mother Nature or the calendar, but I can’t help but celebrate.  The weather is changing, kids are back in school, and the smell of cinnamon is everywhere.  I used to wait until my wedding anniversary to decorate for Fall (which is September 25th, in case you want to send a card), but this year, I’m breaking my rule and starting today.  I’m busting out my Fall décor and I’m not looking back!  I will sip Chai tea all day and shamelessly eat as much Ivin’s Spiced Wafers as I want!  I will book my personal calendar with as many Fall-related events and festivals as I possibly can, and I will bake as many apply, pear-ish, pumpkiny, cinnamon’d things I can possibly handle between now and Thanksgiving.

Ah, Fall, I know our affair is fleeting.  I know that in a couple of short months you will turn a cold shoulder to me and I will be forced to rekindle a romance with Winter.  But that’s okay – Winter and I have been cool (ha, get it? cool?) since I discovered skiing and Winter hiking.  Plus, I’ll be preoccupied with my baby.  So, it’s okay, Fall.  You’ll be back.

Swagger: if you don’t have it, rhyme it.

What do Ke$ha, the Black Eyed Peas, and Maroon 5 have in common?*

No, the answer is not “bad music.”  Though that might be partially true, I would argue otherwise for Maroon 5, ‘cos you know, Adam Levine:

Ladies? 

Ok, I digress. 

The answer is they’ve got swagger.  And not just any old swagger – no, they’ve got Mick Jagger’s swagger.  Say that five times fast. 

“And now the dudes are lining up ‘cuz they hear we got swagger, but we kick ‘em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger.”   ~Ke$ha, “Tik Tok”

Oh.  Ok.  Clearly she really did brush her teeth with a bottle of Jack

“All these girls they like my swagger, they callin’ me Mick Jagger.”  ~Black Eyed Peas, “The Time”

I don’t see the resemblance.

And Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera decided to dedicate an entire song to Mr. Jagger’s swagger:  “Moves Like Jagger,” features lyrically genius lines like this: 

“Kiss me ‘til you’re drunk and I’ll show you all the moves like Jagger;  I got the moves like Jagger… I got the moooOOOooves like Jagger.”

Mmm.  Yes.  That is some satisfying lyricism right there.  (But I can’t really get that upset because again, Adam Levine could sing about hemmorhoids and I’d still think he’s hot).

To be serious though, what’s up with these artists?  Are they so entranced with their swagger, someone else’s swagger, or needing to see some swagger that they must mention it in their songs?  And how in the world, in just a short 2 years, did all these songs mentioning Mick Jagger and swagger get on the radio?  

I recently read a very brief article that mentions this trend, and after reading it I agree:  “swagger” is an overused word and stylistic concept in today’s music, and the artists writing these songs are getting just a little lazy.  

That’s my unprofessional opinion and I’m sticking with it.   

And to be fair to good ol’ Mick, who did (and maybe still does) in fact have quite a bit of swagger, along with the other guys in the Rolling Stones (not to mention almost a hundred singles, more than two dozen albums, and millions of fans, one of which is me), here is a much better picture of him when he was younger:

 Yep.  That’s swagger. 

And for you youngins who want a quick education on the musical importance of Mr. Jagger and the Rolling Stones… just click here.  And do yourself a favor, download a few of their songs from iTunes.  You’ll get it.

*Yes, the other answer is: they are in my iTunes library.  As well as quite a few from the Rolling Stones, and I will unabashedly play them at my next party.  Because a good beat is a good beat, and no one cares about the lyrics if there’s a keg.
 

Valentine’s Miscellany

I love Valentine’s Day.  I used to hate it.  But now I love Valentine’s Day for a reason that you might not expect.  I love the colors.

The red-pink-white combo is delicious to me.  I want to eat it and decorate with it and wear it and make things with it. 

And yes, I know how “girly” this post is, and how completely unnecessary it is for me to discuss Valentine’s Day colors, but look how pretty…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And no, I haven’t gone all hog wild and decorated my whole house in red, pink, and white hearts and flowers.

I’m too exhausted from the gratuitous Christmas decorating I do every year that takes me a week to put up, and 3 days to take down.  By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, I barely get a heart-shaped wreath on my front door.

Not my front door. But this is pretty, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that the colors of Valentine’s Day remind me of warmer, sunnier, more colorful days soon to come. 

Or, is it that I’m in love?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either way, it’s a pretty good holiday.

One more… I just couldn’t resist.

This is a craft that I will be featuring here soon. Check back often!