Only time will tell if we can bring our crazy, hyperextended family together...BETTER! Come share our laughs and struggles as we test tips, tricks, and tools-of-the-trade in our quest for a more fabulous family life.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

During the twelve days of Christmas, my true loves' gave to me:                                                   

....a handmade vase by my oldest son--although we have no idea how he could have brought this home without us knowing and put it in his closet without breaking it!  Yikes!

....four car breakdowns--luckily close to home

... eight pounds lost in three weeks.  This was the only good part about the stubborn case of pneumonia I’ve been nursing all December.  I’ve been trying to lose those eight pounds for forever!

...forty-seven cards and letters from across the country

Monday, December 19, 2011

Helping at the Food Bank and Creating with Cookies

We sorted and put together boxes at the Regional Food Bank for our family activity this week.  Then, we came home, put together our gingerbread house, and decorated it.  I think that at this point, there is only one Hershey's kiss left on it as the rest of them somehow snuck away! 

We also cut out and decorated sugar cookies. 
 Rolling out the dough for sugar cookies:

                                         Gotta love the blue Christmas tree with green sprinkles!

Monday, December 12, 2011


     For our family activity, we decided to go for a treat and go bowling!  All the kids love it when we can go to do this.  We actually did this a few days before I ended up getting sick, happily.  Luckily, the bowling alley was running a special and I had a coupon, so it made it just about free.  (At the end of this post, I'll link a site that allows kids to bowl free at many bowling alleys--check it out!).   My littlest one, loves that bowling can turn out just as well for big kids as for little ones,  (i.e., it's anyone's guess where that ball will go and how many pins it will knock down) so  he loved this activity.

                              My second son (CK) has got his own "spin move" which accompanies a
                              little dance that he does back to the seating area:

Family Meeting #5--Traditions

“Well, I think a tradition we have in our family is to color our hair,” said my youngest son at our latest family meeting.  The kids started to giggle and I don’t think I helped matters any when my jaw dropped open.  Luckily, my son (J.J.) giggled, too. 
            “What do you mean that we color our hair?” I said, innocently, blushingly even, but well knowing that yes, I do put highlights in my hair—just a little.
            “Well, like in the summer.  Our hair gets lighter and now Dad had some white hairs (to which my husband’s jaw dropped amid more laughter) and so I think that’s something that is a tradition in our family,” he explained. 
            “Well, that is something that does happen to our family’s hair, that’s true,” I said.
            My oldest son (Jay) interrupted, “Mom, just don’t even speak.  You sound like Marge Simpson.”
            “I sound like Marge Simpson?” I said.  “Like from “The Simpsons” TV show?” More laughter. 
            “Yes, I’ve been thinking that all day and I’ve been waiting to say it,” he said. 
            “Definitely Marge Simpson,” said my second son (C.K.).  All I can do is smile and laugh at myself, too. 
Our meetings were first sidetracked by the Thanksgiving holiday and then by two of my kids getting sick with this coughing/fever thing (let’s face it—it’s either a coughing/fever thing OR the throw-up/diarrhea thing:  both “old hat” by now around our house and not worth mentioning, though I prefer the coughing/fever thing to the latter…anyhow…).  The sidetrack is not only did I get the coughing/fever thing, but it turned into pneumonia.  I’ve never had pneumonia and as the old southern saying goes, “when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Parabolas versus Passion

"Five Seconders":  Art Warm-Ups
My Son Does Each Day
“What am I going to ever do with parabolas anyway?” says my oldest son as we make the drive to math tutoring. “I mean, really. In life, what would I ever use parabolas for?”
     I consider this. As a former teacher, I’d heard phrases like this many times over. When am I ever going to have to pick out a noun in a sentence? When would I ever need to know the dates of the Civil War? When would I ever have to prove that a triangle is a triangle? The last one is one I often thought myself in Geometry class.

     “Roller coasters,” I say. “If you were ever involved in making a roller coaster or other amusement park ride, you would have to know how to figure parabolas.”
     “Roller coasters?” he says.
     “Yes, or maybe other inventions…how about anything having to do with physics…trajectories…like coaching someone with baseball. You would have to know how to figure parabolas if you were coaching a baseball player, definitely. There are tons of jobs that you would have to know how to figure out parabolas correctly,” I say.

I Used to Feel Guilty...

It is a mother’s conflict:  the balance of time spent on oneself, one’s work, and  family.  Exercising/staying active can seem like a dispensable luxury.  When there are so few hours in the day to get everything done, it can feel selfish to spend one of those hours on something like an activity for oneself.  It certainly felt that way to me. 
I have been back and forth in both situations as a working mother and as a SAHM.  No doubt I will be going back and forth in those same situations in the future. Both situations are demanding.  I started to exercise when my children were little and then, out of guilt in being pulled in so many directions, I gave up exercise… until I realized that I wasn’t spending any more time with my family in that extra hour, I was spending more time feeling exhausted and going through the motions of the day.  I wasn’t enjoying each moment as it came along.  I wasn’t fully present with each conversation.  It was then that I realized that exercise for moms is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. 

Weekly Focus Tip--Conflict Resolution--Anger Management Strategies for Kids

Although we are looking to expand our information on this topic, for now, here are some tips on conflict resolution and anger management strategies for kids.  These are taken from

            Most information on solving problems between people give a three-step process:
1)       Managing the anger and calming down
2)      Listening—using good listening skills to listen to one another’s side
(each view point) of the problem
3)      Deciding whether to apologize or to work out a compromise, negotiate a solution.

Ways to Manage Anger and Calm Down:
1)      It is important to practice expressing anger appropriately because anger that is out of control can cause verbal or physical abuse that hurts people and ultimately destroys relationships with negativity
and resentment.
2)      Practice calming down your breathing.  Anger can make your heart
beat faster and your breathing to be fast.  Practice breathing exercises that
you can use when you feel angry.
3)      Take a quick time out for yourself—try to sit and relax for a few minutes away from the situation in order to breathe and calm down before going back to the situation and working it out.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Victorian Stroll

The Victorian Stroll was a perfect family activity for this week.  Not only was it free with free hot chocolate and other treats, but the weather was warmer than usual.  It was a great way to sneak in fresh air and exercise into our family time, although the treats may have canceled any real benefit!

Many people dressed in Victorian clothing and strolled down the street.  Some sang carols, others handed out candy canes, still others just soaked up the atmosphere.

The window displays in the shops were just as entertaining as the folk walking the street:

                            Local dancers from "The Nutcracker" danced in shop windows:

                                                           Carolers sing on the steps:

                                     Of course, there's Father Christmas strolling:

We all enjoyed the scenery (and candy canes, hot chocolate, matza ball soup, etc.)! 

(This post is filed under "Family Activities".)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekly Focus Tip--Pay Attention! It Could Improve Your Family

This week’s tips are based on P.M. Forni’s The Thinking Life, How to Thrive In The Age of Distraction published September 2011, and adapted here for families/family groups:

• Practice paying attention. Similar to meditation in that one needs to quiet oneself and resolve to be “present in the moment”, paying attention is almost the opposite of meditation in its thought processes. Meditation requires a person to acknowledge thoughts as they pass but to not dwell on them, instead allowing them to float on their way out of your “mind’s eye”. Paying attention means to become aware of what is happening around you, being observant, and choosing to think about it. For families/family groups, this means paying attention to your family members, your family relationships, your family interactions, the world around your family, and choosing to think about it.