Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Fun List 2016

It is summer again! I have just a couple days left of summer school teaching, then that means fun filled days with my creative, enthusiastic little girls, 5 and 3. To me the most important thing is to do enough to keep them engaged, which is code for out of trouble, and help them create beautiful memories of their childhood, which is code for hope they get tired enough to go to bed without a hassle at a reasonable time.

My plan is to have a list of possible activities around town that we can plug into at any given moment. Here are my go to activities for 2016:

1.  My girls are Disney crazy. They love all the characters from Disney Junior, all the princesses, and even the classic characters. So I was really excited to learn that the Disney Store has fun free events every Wednesday. Some times there are movies or Sing-A-Longs. Afterwards, we can play at the Busch Garden themed, International Mall play area. This isn't a new place for us, but the kids always love it. We have learned that in the evenings there are less people and less chaos at the mall play areas.

2. For years we would go to the library story times, but those became very crowded and less about reading and more about corralling kids. Barnes and Noble has great story times too! Many of these events are Friday and Saturdays but there are weekday story times too. We sometimes have a cookie at the cafe as a treat. B&N also has reading programs for older kids.

3. Bowling for free! A friend of mine mentioned this national program so I had to look into it. You can take your children to bowl two games every day. As I look into it and filled out the information there is a one time cost of $29.95. It is a good deal especially if you have multiple kids and live in an area where you never know if it's going to rain. I also figured out if I go with my kids at least twice, the one time cost would at least allow us to break even.

4. Bayside Gymnastics Academy has open gym time once a week for a low cost. The girls love to jump and tumble and run. This space is great. It can also get a little wild for young kids, so I avoided it when my kids were under 2. However, we have a great fondness for this warehouse and it is designed to contain kids in a huge safe padded space.

5. My kids love art. We have attended several events sponsored by the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete such as the Painting in the Park in April, and the Breakfast with Santa in December. These events have become staples to our family fun time. MFA is really welcoming to kids. There is a chunk of the museum that is just for kids. They also have activities to do with the kids for the traditional exhibit areas. They also have a cafe at the museum but there is ice cream across the street. The museum is next to Straub Park which has open spaces and great banyan trees kids love to play in, climb up and swing through every time they see them.

We have a few more things we will do....

  1. Beach 
  2. Make and decorate cupcakes
  3. Make pizzas
  4. Splash parks 
  5. Pool time
  6. Build a fort (Indoor and Outdoor)
  7. Create an art museum and invite grandparents to the opening
  8. Game night (Candyland, Uno, Chutes and Ladders, Mermaids)
  9. Have an banana split
  10. See Finding Dory
  11. Go to a Rays Game
  12. Go to a Rowdies Game
  13.  De Leon Springs and Old Spanish Mill Pancakes
  14. Visit the Atlantic Ocean 
  15. Roller Derby
It will be impossible to do it all and still have stay at home veg out and play days (those are just as important to me), but I like having a list of ideas that I can look at when I am feeling less creative. Cheers to summer!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


#Thisis40 is this year's theme. My friends, my husband, his friends, and I are mostly all turning 40. To be honest, most of the time I am surprised that I am this old. Age has never been a worry for me. I have always loved my birthday and still do. But when I take the time to reflect and consider I am 40, I earnestly have that moment where I think "How the hell did that happen?" I am getting more and more gray hairs, while at times it occurs to me that I should consider how to gray gracefully because I am never going to be any good at getting my hair colored, most of the time I don't care. I feel like I should start moisturizing and stop washing my face with regular soap, but still not motivated enough to decode that aisle at Target. Even though my bestie has been telling me for years that my skin will end up falling off or something. Somethings don't really change.

By far the greatest thing about being 40 is being really okay with exactly who you are. At least that is the way I feel. That doesn't mean that I don't have the occasional self-doubt, afterall, I am human, but rather I am more able to tread through those moments, thankfully. And I am much more comfortable with disagreeing with popular opinion. Like I don't really like mimosas, or pie. I don't care for high heels or closed toed shoes even when it's cold out. I like to read young adult novels because I can read them fast and then I feel accomplished. I can be really lazy, like not get out of your pjs all day and answer the door to a stranger in pjs kind of lazy. I still would sleep until noon if people let me. I floss. I feel pretty superior because I do, since most people don't.

I don't like baths. I don't like the idea of sitting in my dirty bath water. I always feel like I must shower afterwards because I feel the thin layer of soapy murk all over. Most of my life I have had long hair and if I don't condition it, it will be knotty and dipping my whole head in a bath tub of dirty water to potentially rinse the conditioner out is just crazy talk.

I don't want to be in a crowded loud smoky bar. There was a time and place for that in my 20's, but nowadays, if the good Lord has granted me the opportunity to go out to have a drink with friends, I want it to be some where I can hear what they are saying and enjoy connecting with them. I don't want to be squished between the 22 year olds, you know the one with the way too short skirt and way too high platform shoe wearing that is pressing her whole self on the bar to encourage rapid drink fulfillment and the other one wearing a baseball cap, slightly baggy jeans, a polo shirt, sipping on his Bud Light while drooling over the how much he can visually consume of the girl pressed on the bar. I just want to hang out with friends and catch up.

I would rather listen to NPR (or any other talk radio thanks to Sirus XM) than music in the car. There is no longer a need for me to roll down the windows with my sunglasses, hair flying in the wind, bopping my head to the beat (and if you know me, off beat) all along blasting music to feel cool. I am only so cool, and I am okay with that. What I find to be infinitely more interesting is what is happening in the world around me and the only opportunity I have to figure that out, is in the car.

I like food. I work hard to be healthy. I exercise. I am not an overeater. I eat vegetables. I understand the great lessons of the Buddha and Aristotle that most things in moderation; balanced, is the ideal. But sometimes I want to eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's and gosh, I think at 40 I deserve to. I just need not give myself the emotional guilt trip of doing so. Do I do it often? No. Can I remember the last time I ate entire pint of ice cream? Nope. But I want to reserve the right to do so, whenever my heart desires. 

I have opinions about things in the world and I am willing to share them. I don't assume that someone is going to change their minds or their hearts. However, at this point, I don't want anyone thinking they are going to change my mind either. I am who I am. I am always willing to listen and to empathize, but I will only join the crusades that I feel are right. At 40, I am not putting on a facade for anyone. You get whatcha get. You either dig it, or you don't. That's cool. Seriously, it's cool.

I feel lucky to have two amazing parents, an awesome husband, and my beautiful daughters. Plus wonderful friends, sweet in-laws, and I have a job I love with the greatest colleagues. I live in a neighborhood filled with great people in a house that I enjoy. I am #blessed. #Thisis40.