Essential Ramblings

These are the ramblings of a mother of two, wife of one, trainer to one dog, keeper of one cat, reluctant owner of a flock of chickens…driver, schedule keeper, cook, and when all goes well, work from home mom.

Ok, I have to write about a new find someone put me on to recently.  Doodle.com.  It’s a meeting scheduling site — totally SIMPLE and brilliant.  If you are tired of CHAINS of reply all emails letting you know what all of your friend’s schedules look like, hearing about princess betty’s ballet class that interferes with your scheduling of a meeting or book club, please take a look.  You can set up a poll with the exact meeting dates available and people can then just pick a date and SUBMIT, no note, no non-sense.  And then winner take all — find a date that works for all or a date that is a clear majority…it really can be that easy.
Check it out.  I am in love!

 

 

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Well, I suppose I can’t resist but to share my thoughts on this week’s events…but really I don’t have much to say any more other than that I am just beat down and exhausted by having to look my kids in the eye yet again and tell them about more terrors in the world.  Look into their eyes that dare me to say it’ll be ok, you’ll always be safe.  They don’t believe me.  They know that people can be crazy, they can be hateful, they can hurt people and there’s not much we can do about it.  I can’t wrap them up and keep them home, I can’t tell them that there aren’t people out there who are sick and twisted and vengeful.  I want to, but then what?  What does that gain us, where do I go from there?  I know these are dark thoughts, I know I am not offering suggestions, I know I am not making you feel better, but I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t pretend that I am not sickened by the world, by the fears that I have every day that something terrible will happen to someone I love.  Be it cancer or an accident or a terrorist or a super storm.  We live in a new world, and the best I can do is to be the best parent or the best person I can be in that world.  Try to teach my kids to be lovers not fighters, seek help when I see someone who needs it, support my friends when they are in need, try to look for the good, and try to be the good for someone else.  Love my husband, hug my friends, support my kids, steer clear of negative people…nothing else matters.  Take the time, do things that make you and your kids happy, snuggle when you need to snuggle, go to required activities when they make you happy, not sad or stressed.  Be family selfish.  Put you and your kids before life.

A little story…I was driving through a local town the other day and saw this scene:  There was some traffic and lots of kids milling around after school.  I saw a mom screech to the curb in her huge SUV, scream at her kid to just get in the car, and screech away still yelling at the kid that they were going to be late and hurry up — while she pulled away from the curb (and thus the other kids standing there) with the kid still trying to close the car door.  I ask you — what the hell activity could possibly be that important?  Piano lessons?  Lacrosse?  Soccer?  I’ll answer for you.  Nothing.  Nothing could be that important.  Nothing.  Please.  Remember to say hi to your kids when you pick them up places.  How was your day honey?  Still feel like going to tennis or are you whipped from spending the last 6 HOURS at school keeping it together in classes and with friends and peer pressure?  Do you have so much homework that going to soccer will mean keeping you up until all hours trying to get it all done?  Will I be feeding you a dinner on the road driving to your next activity?

Perspective.  It’s time we get some.  Our kids need love and time to be kids and ways to be themselves.  I will tell you that I have dreamed that dream of moving away and living in a cabin in the woods.  Of leaving it all behind and getting out of the race…and for the last two years I have moved towards that goal, and from the other side, it looks pretty fantastic.  Maybe my kids won’t get into certain colleges as a result, maybe they won’t be high paid lawyers or businessmen, maybe they’ll go live in a cabin and hike mountains.  Grow their hair long and hippy out.  Maybe I just don’t care.  I think I will like them though.  A lot.  And maybe they’ll be safe and that’s really just all I want. Every day my 10 year old comes home with another scheme on what sort of job he’s going to have when he gets older.  One day it’s a scientist, one day a mountain climber, the next a chef.  I love that he thinks of everything as exciting.  I want him to always have that — eventually he’ll pick something and it’ll stick but until then, he should feel the world is open, the possibilities are endless.  THAT is what gets me through the day.  That’s what gives me hope for a better future, what rekindles my faith in the world.  Take a step back and decide.  What makes you happy.  What makes your kids happy.  Choose what will heal you and repel the acts of those out there set on destroying the joy in life and do that.  Sending happiness and contentment to you and your families this week…may you find what you seek.

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The Mental Health Association of Westchester is looking for volunteers to fill two positions.  If you are looking to re-engage in the work field and re-build that resume, maybe you would consider these options to get back in the door?

ProBono Filmmaker for the Mental Health Association of Westchester County:  Premier community mental health agency in Westchester is looking for a pro bono filmmaker to assist in filming interviews to create a short documentary.  MHA Westchester is the leader in NYS and Westchester promoting and providing person-centered, recovery-oriented services to people courageously facing mental health challenges.  Find out more at  www.mhawestchester.org.  Email moustakc@mhawestchester.org

Development Intern: Busy and Exciting non-profit development office is looking for a volunteer intern to be involved in every aspect of fundraising/special events.  Knowledge of computers and Microsoft office a must.  Self-starter, detailed oriented and able to handle multiple projects at once.  Email brooksa@mhawestchester.org.

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Always wanted to learn how to play?
North Salem Guitar has recently opened its doors and is accepting new students.
Come hone your craft in our comfortable and well equipped space and grow your music organically from the ground up.  Our teachers provide private instruction to guitarists of all levels and styles and custom tailor lessons to the uniqueness of each individual.
Located on Deveau Rd in North Salem (by the Hammond Museum).
For more information, visit www.northsalemguitar.com, or call (646)530-0174.

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I am NOT a doctor, I am not giving medical advice, I am just recapping something I attended yesterday…..so please take it as that and seek answers from your medical doctor.

That said, I attended an awesome speaker series at Northern Westchester Hospital yesterday (yes, the one I have been promoting, but it was truly a great lecture) so here are my notes to share with you…

Regarding your daughters:

Breast development average these days is between 9 and 11 years old.  If it is occurring before 9 for your daughter, have her checked.  If it happens after 9 and before 16, she’s in the normal range.
The average age used to be 12-13 years old.  Although there are no conclusive studies that say the hormones and chemicals in our food are causing earlier puberty and development…sure seems fishy with the age of development getting younger.  The fewer hormones and chemicals you put in your bodies, the better = common sense.
Breasts develop asymmetrically.  There is almost always a difference in their size or shape.  Totally normal. During development there can be soreness, pain, itching, and more.
Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer.  Physical activity (moderate to strenuous work out 4 times a week) reduces the risk of cancer.  Exposure to second hand smoke greatly increases the risk.

My take away?  Feed your daughters good, healthy food without hormones and chemicals.  Teach them to take care of their bodies.  Limit their exposure to radiation, chemicals, second hand smoke.  Teach them to exercise and recognize their bodies.

And for the moms?

Early detection is the best prevention.  We all know that — you’ve heard the lectures about breast self-exam, mammograms at 40, and on and on.  What I found interesting though?  Breast self exams don’t need to be search and destroy or a mapping your chest exercise.  Feel around once a month (preferably the same time every month) and when you feel something different or weird, go get it checked — that’s not so hard.  The more familiar you are with what you have, the more likely you’ll be to recognize if there’s a problem. Most breasts are lumpy.  Getting to know YOUR lumpy breasts is the key.

Rumors but no conclusive studies linking the following as risk factors:

Underwire bras
Deodorant/Antiperspirant
Breast injuries
Caffeine (no risk to cancer, but can cause breast pain/soreness and lumpier breasts – so if you experience either of those, consider cutting back)

Risk factors to consider:

Breast Density
Radiation (cat scans, old xrays, other cancer treatments, environmental)
Family history
Early age of onset of menstruation
Hormone replacement therapy
Drinking alcohol more than 1 drink a day increases your risk
Obesity and high BMI increases risk
If you are at a higher risk, avoid xenoestrogens like in BPA plastics or Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) like in soy
Smoking and second hand smoke

Know your risk

Ask your doctor for a risk assessment, or call the Breast Institute at Northern Westchester Hospital to schedule an appointment.  Risk can be calculated and steps to monitor your health CAN be taken. Find out more about the Breast Institute at www.nwhbreastinstitute.org or call 914.242.7640.

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Now is the time to plan your Spring garden!  It’s easy to begin with Seed Starting Kits from Back to Nature.  The kit includes the tools you’ll need to grow your own food, starting vegetables from seed.  A Plant Tray, Grow Dome, Wooden Plant Stakes, 100% Biodegradable Starter Pots and Organic Seed Starting Soil are included.  The deluxe version also offers a Heating Mat for improved germination and plant health.  It’s a fun way to get kids involved with gardening and to watch the plants grow!  10% Discount* for Westchester Land Trust supporters available at Back to Nature Home & Garden In store, Online, Landscape & Construction — Use the code WESTCHESTER10.   Back to Nature Home & Garden, 3055 Valley Road, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920, Tel. 908-350-7506, www.backtonature.net.  More on the Westchester Land Trust can be found at www.westchesterlandtrust.org.

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A word that can’t even begin to touch the way we are all feeling right now.  Loss, anger, fear, disgust, helplessness.  A combination of all of them.

I have been waiting to write something, trying to think of whether I needed to add my voice to the loud cacophony of voices talking about the horrific deaths that happened so very close to home.  Too close.  But for this to happen, as it has so many times, is too close to anyone’s home.  It’s wrong, it’s inexcusable, it’s frustrating in its frequency, and terrifying in its ability to leave us feeling utterly helpless at protecting our children from the world around them. And so I have written nothing.  I have circled the wagons, spent time with my kids, and hugged my husband.  And I have not stopped thinking about the families who can do none of that.

I spent yesterday morning on a field trip with my son’s class — we went to a senior home and the kids decorated cookies with the seniors and then sang carols to them.  Watching the children lined up and singing, green ribbons in their hair, around their wrists, tied to their belts, or dressed in green and white for the children of Newtown made my heart ache.  I felt lucky, and honored, and guilty, and so so sad for the parents who have lost this and so much more.  And so, I ask myself as I have daily — what do we do?  How can we send our children off into the world without worrying or over thinking or fretting?  We can’t.  Terrible things happen daily and without reason.  In my view the only thing we have left to do is to do our best.

We can care for our children.  We can care for our families.  Our friends.  Our communities.  We can teach our kids how to be kind, and gentle, and good citizens, we can seek help for them when they need it — whether they are being bullied or are bullies.  We can teach them the best way to protect themselves when protection is possible, we can listen to them when they speak and DO something when there is something to be done to make their lives easier, or safer.  We can take time away from the rush and craze of everyday life and we can just be with them.  It’s not hard.  Their lives won’t change if they don’t make it to that practice because they’re tired.  They won’t be less successful in life if they are artists rather than math geniuses.  If we accept that and allow that and let them be who they are, maybe we will be raising a better world of people.  I know it’s a tall ask, but an ask it is.  I hear so many people complaining about having to miss family time because their kids have this game or that lesson — but the thing is, you can stop.  You can CHOOSE.  You can value a hug and a snuggle.  I know we all want the best possible futures for our kids, but the prices we are paying as families is too high.  We are missing precious moments, letting time slip by misused.  We are hurrying, and stressing, and scheduling, and not FEELING.  We’re too caught up in the have-to-dos rather than the want-to-dos.

I know we have all been taking this time, loving our kids, and thinking about our families and counting our blessings.  While you are doing that, think about what you can really change, what you really value and take the very best of what you do and do it better, do it together, and enjoy it.

Life is too damn short and too damn hard.  Be aware of your needs and make them happen. Be kind, be loving, be giving.  Find your happy and commit to it.  Maybe we can’t save the world, but we can save our families, our friends or those less fortunate in our communities, and who knows, maybe it’ll add up.  Maybe it won’t, but I can guarantee that it will change your life.

Be well, be safe, and be together.  Sending love from my family to yours and to the families forever changed by this devastating loss of life.

 

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FEMA Grant Awarded to The Mental Health Association of Westchester For Post-Sandy Crisis Counseling.   The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA)  has been chosen to provide crisis counseling assistance through the program,  Project Hope, part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $8.2 million grant from FEMA. The mandate:  To deliver immediate mental health crisis counseling to individuals impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  A team of twelve has already been assembled and will soon begin visiting the 11,000 individuals in Westchester and Rockland estimated to have been impacted.  Those at emotional risk after a traumatic storm such as Sandy are children; older adults; people with prior trauma, disabilities, serious mental illnesses and substance abuse problems and feelings or sense of hopelessness; people with low-incomes; first responders and other public safety workers.  Symptoms include irritability, poor concentration, low mood and hopelessness, isolation, discouragement, grief over losses and alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse.  If you, or anyone you know, would like to contact Project Hope, call 914-345-5900 extension 7543 or 7544.  MHA of Westchester is a community-based mental health agency that has been helping Westchester County residents for 66 years through direct services, professional and community education and advocacy. MHA supports 20,000 individuals annually through a comprehensive array of mental health services striving to help each individual to achieve their personal goals and to lead independent, healthy and successful lives. For information, visit www.mhawestchester.org.

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So, you think you have Facebook covered, you’ve got an account, have figured out posting, and privacy, and talked to the kids about what is appropriate or not appropriate…kept them from getting an account…blah, blah…sooooo LAST year’s news.  Sorry to say, but there are SO many ways for these kids to get online, post things about themselves that you would NEVER believe they are saying and with NO filter at all.  It’s a constant battle people…requiring vigilance, attention, and yes, technical know-how.

I was at a school event recently and the principal said something that struck me — he said (and I paraphrase obviously), ‘people: technology and the internet is no longer a futuristic idea’.

It’s no longer something we can shake our heads and look at in wonderment, no longer can we say maybe technology will be a part of our kids lives, maybe we will have to adjust to it…it is HERE and it is here to stay.  Our children will always have access to the internet, whether we like it or not, they will always have computers to explore the world  —  they will write their papers on them, do their research on them, and will have access to information that we can only hope to protect them from, teach them to understand, and we MUST be aware of what is happening.

Whether your child has access to a computer, a laptop, an iPhone, iTouch, iPad, cell phone, tablet….it doesn’t matter any more — if they have technology in the home or access to yours, whether they are at school or the library or a friends’ house — they have access to a terrifying world of information, public access and more — and we can no longer pretend we can protect them from it.  We have to TEACH them how to use it.  They are on it whether you believe it or not, whether you give them permission or not, and whether you are looking or not.  I know I sound crazy, but the new reality is that as important it is to talk about sex or drugs, it’s equally important to talk about internet use and privacy issues.  So, the best you can do is to understand it yourself and stay TUNED in.  It is no longer an option for us as parents to sit by and say we don’t use ‘that stuff’ — don’t be afraid to be on line, to sign up, and to CHECK your kids’ phones, games, tablet, etc etc.  Look over their shoulders and ask questions.  What’s the coolest technology honey, what games are you playing, what are you taking pictures of these days, what are your friends playing?  It MATTERS and it matters a lot.  Colleges are looking at your kids’ e-footprints, interviews are being conducted on-line, and you better bet that bosses are checking out perspective hires internet use.  No matter how private you think you can make your kids’ profiles or phones, or whatever else, people know how to look and they are looking.

So today’s tutorial is on the newest tween fun — Instagram.  ANY iproduct allows you to download the app for free and post pictures to your account — both pictures you take, pictures from the internet and pictures from other people’s accounts.  You can like photos, share them, and comment on them.  You have friends lists, like lists, and followers.  It’s actually a very fun and cute app that on the outset looks totally innocent — a sort of facebook lite.  I joined (please follow me at essentialmom for some great new christmas ideas, etc).  BUT here’s what you need to realize…first of all, if your tween has an i-anything (including itouches), they are likely on this and you don’t know.  If you say no way, and you know my seventh grade kid, you are wrong.  Go check.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a BAD thing, I am just saying again, PAY ATTENTION.  There are photos, comments, and ways that they can be mean, cruel, and not THINK.

1.  Get an account and “follow” your child on Instagram.  If they don’t like that, tough luck.  Take the phone away.

2.  Check that their account photos are “private”.  All this means is that people have to ask them first to “follow” them (ie to access their pictures), so weird stalkers/strangers can’t see their info (as easily).

3.  Go through their current “followers” and make sure that they know all of the people on their followers list.  There will likely be total strangers on their list.  Within moments of setting up an account my son was being “followed” by some folks that looked “unsavory”.

4.  Make sure to explain how the account works to your kids.  Show them on your account how, even IF they are marked as private, or if they are not friends with the other people, their comments are seen by EVERYONE.  So if my son’s friends comment on his photos I can see them even though I am not following them specifically.  I like to tell him “assume Mrs. Soandso is seeing every comment you write, because, like me, she is following Fred Soandso”.  It makes them think.

5.  You should absolutely have a phone “contract” with your child.  Outline what appropriate use is and what is not.  Have specific consequences for their actions.  Our son has lost phone privileges for infractions such as using the phone at unapproved hours, buying (even free) apps without getting permission, etc etc.  You make the rules and stick to them.  Having a phone or game or device is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

6.  Most of all — check, check, and check their phones, devices, etc.  I am sure there are parents who would argue that my son’s privacy is being compromised.  It is.  He’s 12.  Maybe I will change my rules later, but at the moment, why in the world would I allow him to do anything, post anything, say anything to the world of the internet that he couldn’t honestly show me.  If he has a secret he wants to share with a friend, whisper it in her/his ear.  Don’t post it for the world to see.  There is no such thing as privacy on the internet.  Period.

See you on Instagram…and when we chase them off of there…I’ll let you know the next meeting spot. But please…don’t tell your kids that I was the snitch if I KNOW THEM, or they won’t let me figure out what the next spot is!

 

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Ok, so this is a weird post.  I know it and I don’t care.  Maybe I am just trying to explain myself before people see me, maybe I am just SO sick of writing about the storm or being sad or hearing about and feeling the devastation that this has brought to people around us…so today I am going to write about what I am wearing.  It might be a first as usually what I am wearing is a pair of sweatpants and a fleece.  Today though, waking up freezing and looking at the snow outside, I decided that I just couldn’t put the baggy jeans back on today.  So I went in my closet and dusted off this amazing shawl that I bought (at the fabulous Planned Parenthood Empower Breakfast I might add) and put it on with some (tight for me) jeans out of my closet.  I have to tell you, it looks fab (I must say) — I feel totally dressed up — YET, it is like wearing a blanket around all cozy for the day!  YUM.  Best part?  It is made so it sort of just fits — you know how some wraps and scarves just feel like they need constant adjusting?  This one just sits on your shoulders like a sweater — with no fuss. Oh, did I mention it is MACHINE WASH? And made by moms?  Yup, check it sister.  I got the green one at the urging of friends (while I was reaching for my usual black) — all of the colors are gorgeous, warm and delightful.

April Marin, thank you for the lift today…click here to see what I’m talking about!  And no, this is not a paid advertisement.  Go in your closet, find something fun and put it on.  I already feel feisty and better about the day.  And yes, if you are still without power, you go ahead and want to kick me for this post…I would.

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Check out our hiring site.  Neighbors Link Northern Westchester has day workers available.
There are three different ways to hire a worker:
1. Come to our location at 27 Columbus Avenue, Mount Kisco, NY 10549.
2. Call our Hiring Site Manager: 914-666-3410 ext. 10.
3. Complete the ‘Hire Worker’ form on our website, www.neighborslink.org.
Contact us now to make sure you get the workers with the skills that you need when you want them.  Please pass on this information to your friends, family, or anyone else who might be interested.  Neighbors Link Northern Westchester is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  No fees charged to you or the worker. For more information, visit www.neighborslink.org

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By Barbara Bernstein, PhD and MPH, MHA Westchester

Natural disasters, even predicted ones, can play havoc with our emotions as well as the electrical power, heat and the digital devices we rely on for information and staying in touch with loved ones.    Our routines are disrupted.  We may be fearful for our safety or the safety of our property.  We share distress about others’ losses and uncertainties about the days ahead – resumption of transportation and road safety, ability to obtain fuel, school closures, power restoration, and other ongoing disruptions.

Everyone responds to these crises in their own unique way, on their own personal timetable.  There is no “right” or “normal” way to respond to these abnormal circumstances.  Yet, we know that there are typical ways of responding.   Maybe you will recognize some of these responses in yourself, family members or friends.  Common Responses to Disaster Situations — Feelings:  Stress, anxiety and concern about the future, Sadness, sense of loss, Irritability or anger, Powerlessness.  Behaviors:  Noticeably increased or decreased attention to your circumstances and over- or under-reacting to situations, Changes in eating – loss of appetite or increased appetite, Changes in sleep patterns including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, having nightmares, Difficulty concentrating, Difficulty making decisions, Increased use of alcohol or drugs.

Everyone responds in their own way, in their own time and responses may change over time.  It is important to know that your responses may be more intense or more long-lasting if you have previously experienced a disaster or trauma.  People who have experienced traumas in the past may re-live parts of those experiences.

Suggestions for Coping and Maintaining Balance:  Recognize your own resilience.  Think about the tools or skills that have helped you through difficult situations in the past, and turn to those.  Return to routines as much as possible, as soon as possible.  Even a partial return to routine can be comforting.  Take care of yourself by eating and sleeping as well as you can.  Maintain the schedule of medications that you take routinely.  Spend time with friends and family.  Reassure children – even very young children pick up on adults’ anxiety.  Answer children’s questions in a reassuring and honest manner.  Let them know how you will keep them safe and about who will take care of them if you cannot.  Take care of yourself in the ways that you know are helpful to you.  For some, that may be exercise, listening to music, reading, praying, talking with friends.  Talk about what you are experiencing.  Discussing it can relieve stress and can help you realize that others are experiencing similar feelings.  Limit exposure to disaster coverage.  A constant barrage of updates is not helpful.  Tune in for needed information and then give yourself a break.  Avoid increased use of drugs and alcohol.  In the long run, drugs and alcohol may increase problems.  When to Seek Help:  If the feelings persist or are so intense that they interfere with your daily routines, seek help from a trusted professional – such as a health care provider, mental health provider, or spiritual advisor.  There are numerous resources available to help during this time.

Resources

Westchester County:  www.westchestergov.com offers updated information, information about maintaining health during cleanup, transportation and shelters.  Additional severe weather information and links to multiple sources of local information is found at keepingsafe.westchestergov.com/severe-weather.  Mental Health Association of Westchester www.mhawestchester.org.  MHA offers Walk In Services and Support at its White Plains location – 300 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains and in Mt, Kisco at 344 Main Street, Suite 301.  Mental Health America www.nmha.org offers information and tips for coping with stress during disaster.  National Disaster Distress Hotline provides year-round disaster crisis counseling.  This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories.  Counselors provide support and information about typical responses to crisis, coping, and when appropriate, referrals to local resources.  Additional information is available at disasterdistress.samhsa.gov.

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From the Village of Mt Kisco –

The Village continues to prepare for Hurricane Sandy which is expected to arrive in our area Sunday evening and continue into Wednesday.  Rainfall amounts of at least 3 inches (up to 10 inches are possible) will be accompanied by tropical winds in excess of 50 mph.  As a result, residents and businesses should prepare for flooding, power outages and road closures.  Your storm preparations should include the following:
Assemble a disaster supply kit with food, water, medical supplies and prescription drugs.
Maintain important documents in a waterproof container.
Secure or bring in outdoor furniture, grills and loose items in your yard.
Have supplies of batteries, flashlights and a battery operated radio.
Ensure that your car is full of fuel prior to the storm.
If your electric service goes out contact Con Ed directly at 1-800-75-CONED.  Calling Con Ed directly will allow for your power loss to be registered into their computerized database.  Use 911 ONLY to report true emergencies (including down wires and trees blocking roads).       DO NOT APPROACH ANY DOWNED WIRES.  Mount Kisco Emergency Preparedness Officials will continue to monitor and prepare for the storm and provide updated information throughout the storm event.  For additional information please visit the Village’s website at www.mountkisco.org or tune into:  WHUD – FM 100.7 and/or WFAS – AM 1230.  Important information for Village residents will be broadcast through these stations.  For additional information on how to prepare for the storm please visit the following websites:  www.governor.ny.gov and/or www.redcross.org.

And a note from Essentialmom.com….(not to make light of the coming storm…just in ADDITION to making REAL preparations)

Get ready your playing cards and move the legos to a secure location where you can find them quickly in the center of the house.
Turn the TV on for the next two days so the kids get sick of it and are ready to have no electricity.
Find and assemble your art supplies, paper, scissors, and stickers.  Place them in a bin that makes them look more exciting than they are.
Prepare extra blankets, pillows and fort making items and place them in the living room for tent building and snuggling.
When you are out at the grocery store, swing by your favorite book store and get some new books.
Save any cardboard boxes that you have lying around and consider them for fort building potential.  Keep markers and box cutters on hand for enhancement purposes.
Look up recipes on line for play dough and get those items you need to make it.
Think out the race course through the house that will lead to the expulsion of energy.  Just a tip from someone who has done that, be sure that the course runs in a circle or kids tend to run into each other, causing tears and headaches. Not what you need.
Get unhealthy snacks, juice boxes, and wine.

* DO NOT let the kids get into any of these prepared items until you absolutely HAVE TO.  Stall until you all can’t stand it and then look like the queen you are when you save the day.  Best of luck to you and yours.

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A few years back, I had an idea that struck me in the middle of the night — I honestly can’t remember why, or what in the world I had been obsessing about at the time, but I am sure it was around the Holidays and that I was feeling that my kids were just so very, very lucky.  We live in a wonderful area, with good schools, and kind neighbors, and surrounded by more lucky people.  We have food to eat, and clothes to wear, a roof over our heads, and books to read.  Lucky.  And so, as I thought about how lucky we are and how I want my kids to understand what they have and appreciate it, I stayed up all night thinking through a concept of a family volunteer program — where the kids and parents work together to create, and help, and engage with those who may be less lucky than we are.  People who are maybe sick, or economically disadvantaged, or new to our country, kids who maybe don’t have books at home, or are hungry or need clothes.  Although we live in a place that is beautiful, there are still plenty of needs and I wondered how I could make that a connection for our kids.  And so I started a small volunteer group, filled with friends and families who also cared to share these ideas with their kids.  Sometimes we take care of the environment, sometimes we take care of people, or collect things, play with sick kids, make cards for soldiers, and the list goes on and on.  It feels good and the kids love it.  Some of the issues they understand well, others they just want to spend a Sunday with friends or do something with their family.  Whatever piece they learn or understand and how it translates to their consciousness is fine by me — a couple of hours spent not thinking about themselves is enough.

And so, in my rambling way I invite you to join my family for an event that we have set up at Northern Westchester Hospital on October 28th from 1-3pm.  We will be packaging trick or treat bags for the pediatric patients at the Hospital.  The event will take place in their conference room, so there will not be actual contact with the patients, but we will give a quick bit of information to the kids about the hospital and then have them work on the project.  Nothing scary, nothing too heavy, just a little time doing something for someone else.

Care to jump in?

RSVP here and find out what I am talking about.

 

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I went to make some cookies for a school event today and wanted to make them look extra cute — so I grabbed the sprinkles out of the cabinet and just happened to glance at the ingredients…GROSS.  Sugar, carnauba wax, confectioner’s glaze, yellow 5?

So, I popped in my car and headed over to Table and grabbed their version of sprinkles…cane sugar colored by beets, spinach, cabbage, carrot, etc.  Sounds weird, but they look good, taste the same, and much better for the kiddos!

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