Category Archives: Parenting

Teen Talk: Episode #14

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When Mom says “Go play outside!”…

Teen plays outside

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of Teen Talk. I assure you, everything you are about to hear see is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at home. Unless  you don’t mind turning your living room into outdoor furniture.

The end.

For more Teen Talk: Go Here

How to “Find Yourself” at 50

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The QuizThis year, I reached a milestone of 50 (not in pushups, unfortunately, but in years). When I turned 40, shopping like crazy for the next decade seemed an acceptable course of action, but when I hit 50, at least some self-reflection was pretty much unavoidable.

How hard could it be? After 50 years I thought I had a handle on myself. On the keeping it real side, I have reconciled to the fact that I am not actually a good cook, or very crafty (despite embarrassing efforts on both), and I will never learn to like Cantaloupe. In the glass is half full kind of way, I have a healthy (if somewhat immature) sense of humor, I am good at taking on new challenges, and I am thrilled I never, ever have to learn to like Cantaloupe.

However, I was totally unprepared for the new realm of cyber self-discovery offered by the Facebook Quiz. Do you know it? The rampant quizzes offered online that allow the user to not only discover something they never knew they needed to know about themselves, but also the ability to share the vastly interesting findings with everyone on Facebook – things of great import such as What Broadway Musical are you?, Who is your Hunger Games Soulmate?, and How Many Goats are You Worth?

At first I laughed and made fun of people who took them (I’m 50; I’m allowed to do that). But curiosity got the best of me. Once I began to actually take the quizzes the depth of information I did not know about myself seemed endless. I couldn’t stop taking them and over the course of several months, I took every quiz I could find. I made some astounding discoveries.

Some of them made complete sense like,

1.  My personality color is Blue (even though on another day I took the quiz and could not stop getting the color pink – which makes me wonder if I have a split personality I was previously unaware of).

2.  If I were in a Horror Flick I would die right away (I always suspected as much).

3.  If I were a precious stone I would be an Emerald (Probably because I have watched Wizard of Oz a gazillion times.)

Some discoveries I can’t believe I went 50 years without knowing such as;

4.  If I was a Golden Girl I would be Rose (those “blond” moments have finally caught up with me).

5.  If I were a dessert I would be a Lemon Tart (because I am witty, zesty…and old).

6.  My hippy name is Luna (which my kids decided, made complete sense).

However, some information I found hard to reconcile like:

7.  If I were a movie character I would be Tony Stark (a complete let down from the standpoint that I would need to have man parts and was totally hoping for Holly GoLightly.)

8.  My boyfriend from the past was Cary Grant (I always thought of myself as more of a Montgomery Clift kind of girl – you know, the torchured brooding type).

9.  However, getting to smooch with Cary Grant (or Monty) hardly mattered since I also found out my most likely death in the past was to go down on the Titanic (completely proving my refusal to go on cruises did not actually stem from sea sickness and a fear of buffets).

10.  I am only 55% Bada$$ – meaning I am only a “Bada$$ in training wheels.” (But since the quiz, “What Famous Bada$$ are You?” said I was Mati Hari, I suggest you still watch your back).

And some of the discoveries I was just plain dubious about like:

11.  I am actually NOT a psychopath (a relief to my husband although he is still skeptical).

12.  My secret talent is Staying Calm (I don’t think my family was consulted here).

13. My calling is to be a Creative Master. (Clearly my cut out sugar cookies blobs were NOT considered).

14.  The country that most suits me is Monaco because I was born to live in the lap of luxury ( I am 50 years past that birth, anytime would be a good time for that to start!).

15.  My ideal way to spend a vacation was on a road trip across the United States. (in a car for hours on end with two teenagers? I think not).

And then there were the quizzes that required retakes such as:

16.  Which State Are You? On first try I was Massachusetts, which is just too cold, so I kept taking it until I got California.

17.  What Decade Are You? I got the 50’s. But now when I wear 50’s vintage sweaters I look old instead of hip.  So I retook the test until I got the 80’s (cause the 80’s and shoulder pads are cool again).

18.  Who is Your Celebrity Boyfriend? On the first try I found out my celebrity boyfriend and soul mate was Ryan Gosling, which I was completely thrilled about. However, I was greedy and wanted to see who else I could pick from and on the second attempt got Channing Tatum (hmmm, how will I ever choose?).

19.  What Brand of Car Best Describes You? On first take I got Toyota Prius which meant I cared about the Earth, but also seemed so un-sexy. On the next try I got Ferrari which meant I was Fast and Fabulous (like, was there ever any doubt?)

In the end, I was just happy to know, via the quizzes, my mental age is 22 (which may be reflective of my enjoyment of immature humor), the one word that best describes me is “Adventurous” (probably because I am the Mom of teens and survived a polar vortex), if I were a dog I would be a German Shepard (I was just relieved not to be a Terrier), my ideal career is Actor (being able to cry on command gets a lot accomplished), my song is “Your Beautiful” (which must stem from my penchant for straggly haired folk singers),

And most importantly, in a trade/dowry situation, I am worth 7 goats (which totally miffed Teen, because he was only worth 6).

If you think this article is making fun of the Facebook Quiz craze, well, you would be right. However, despite my ridicule, there was something intoxicating (not to mention a great time killer) about answering a slew of random questions designed to reveal some potentially deep dark (or shallow) secrets about yourself. And I did learn a thing or two – Which happily proves, even at 50, there are still things to learn (and everything on the internet is true).

Therefore, in the spirit of my new discoveries, I am leaving behind the well-loved mantra of my 40’s “Shop ‘til you drop” (-all women everywhere), to adopt the new mantra of my 50’s “Learn as if you were to live forever” (-Gandhi) – Which should keep me plenty busy for the next decade learning new ways to continue to shop.

Oh, and if we should, in the future, happen to cross paths,

Just call me Luna and bring some treats for my goats.

To find out how many Goats you are worth…go here.
(But, if you are worth more than 6, don’t tell Teen).

 

 

Teen Talk: Episode #12

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Comic by K

Comic by K

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of  Teen Talk.  I assure you, everything you are about to hear is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at homeUnless you are comfortable talking to yourself.

One day Teen turned into a brick wall got an iPhone.

Mom: “Looks like it is going to be warmer today!”

Teen:

Mom: “After school tomorrow, I will pick you up and then we will run by the store. If you need anything that would be a good time to get it.”

Teen: 

Mom:  “So, this weekend you have a game on Saturday and then we can go to the movies. Let’s see the new Captain America movie!”

Teen:

Mom:  “That story you told me last night was so funny, I am still laughing about it today!”

Teen: 

Mom:  “Next week, I am going out of town for a few days, so you and your brother will be on your own with Dad. ”

Teen:

Mom: “I am really glad we had this chance to talk!”

Teen:

The End

Teen Talk: Episode #11

Teen Talk: Episode #10

Teen Talk: Episode #9

Teen Talk: Episode #8

Teen Talk: Episode #7

Teen Talk: Episode #6

Teen Talk: Episode #5

Teen Talk: Episode #4

*Teen Talk: Episode #3

Teen Talk Episode #2

Teen Talk Episode #1

 

For more views by Teen Go Here: Teen Talk

My Son, the Grave Digger

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grave digger2My kids love their electronics. For this, I am immensely grateful! Oh yeah, you heard me right.  I thank my little parental stars for the attachment my kids have to their respective devices for one reason and one reason alone – it is the best tool known to man/woman (the parenting kind, that is)when it comes to getting  kids to do parental bidding. Nothing says get your chores/homework done like the threat of losing a device – or screams curb your teenage posturing after being separated from Clash of Clans or (gasp) texting for a few days.

Little did my kids know when they succumbed to the charms of their electronics, the slippery slope of manipulation they were setting themselves up for. Their misguided devotion has most definitely been my gain!

However, maybe, a complete ban from all electronics for say something like – not doing your homework when you are told to leaving it until the last possible moment having to stay up late into the night with Mom helping you in order to just finish adequately and then being all snarky about it to boot – is sometimes a little precarious as well.

Case in point. Recently, Pre-Teen, lost his electronic privileges for an extended amount time due to…well, I think you got the general idea above. For the first few days, he walked around the house like one of those zombies looking for fresh meat (the kind that says “I’m bored” a lot). Now don’t get me wrong, Pre-Teen loves the outdoors, when the weather is nice (which it’s not) and reasonably warm (which it hasn’t been for what feels like an eternity). However, finally out of sheer desperation – i.e. looking for something to do that did not involve my offer of household chores – outside he went. I have to say, I did not pay much attention. I suspected the basketball hoop was getting some long denied attention and there was likely some random rock throwing going on, but other than that, I did not have much concern…until Pre-Teen came blustering inside one afternoon.

Pre-Teen: “Hey Mom, do you think Dad will care if I dig a hole in the field?”

Mom: (picturing something the size of your average garden hole) “No, I don’t think so.”

And back out he went.

When it started to get dark and still he had not come back in the house, my parenty senses (you know, the Mom version of spidey senses) began to tingle and I felt compelled to go and investigate. This is what I saw:

Don't bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path.

Don’t bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path!

And as the days ensued, he began to gain eager followers, or rather, enthusiastic diggers.

His brother, Teen, got in on the action:

Finally, something they can do together without fighting!

Finally, something they can do together that does not end in somebody bleeding!

Soon, friends began to show up…fully equipped with shovels and picks for the task at hand.

Where was this gang when I needed sticks picked up?

This gang could come in handy come yard clean up time…

And every day, there seemed to be more work than one guy could handle.

Where will this madness end?

Where will the madness end?

Pre-Teen has long since earned electronic privileges back, and still the digging continues on a daily basis, rain or shine, no matter the temperature – except now, he has a pad to play music on while he works and a phone to text friends to come over during his hours of operation.

Where it will all end, I have no idea.

But, I do know these three things…

1.  The hole keeps getting bigger,

2.  I have been parenting long enough to know, sometimes it is best not to ask too many detailed questions, and…

3.  If you have something dead you need buried…I know just the guy for the job.

(But, he probably won’t come cheap)

Other adventures with Pre-Teen

A Decade of Wisdom

Never Sit On a Couch at a Nudist Colony

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 2: The Clothing Optional Tour

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

 

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

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If my vacuum had looked like this, we could have been friends.

If my vacuum had looked like this, we could have been friends.

This month  on MAMALODE, the theme for the month of March is Break.  They thought my story The Day I Killed the Vacuum  was (sadly for me…and my vacuum) perfect for inclusion.  So, if you have a little break (ha, get it?) in your day, head on over to MAMALODE and have a laugh (or cry) about The Day I Killed the Vacuum.

The Rebellion Rages On

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In response to my article earlier this week, Every Good Rebellion Deserves Documentation, I came home yesterday to an empty house and this:

spaghettiosHow the Spaghetti O’s even made it into my pantry in the first place is a subversive, rebellious act which will have to be routed out.  Until then, at least these mutineers can still make the dictator laugh.

Happy Friday

Every Good Rebellion Deserves Documentation

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Before I had kids, I tried to imagine the type of parent I would be.  In all scenarios, I feel pretty confident I was the coolest, most inspired and creative mom ever!  I also feel fairly confident in none of my Norman Rockwell-esq Mom visions was I referred to as the “food dictator” or “nutrition tyrant”.  But, sadly, these terms have both been used to describe aspects of my parenting.   I all at once resent and resemble these remarks.  It is true, trying to make sure my family is eating healthy and not ingesting poison hidden in food has been a primary goal in my parenting strategy.  My kids would say the goal consisted more of terrorizing them with whole grain bread and massive amounts of broccoli.  But the truth is, I just want them to be healthy, strong and not have strange tumors growing out their ears by the age of 20.

Like any good dictator worth his/her salt, I have had to work very hard to protect my subjects from themselves.  Along the way, this has meant not only supplying them with healthy foods, refusing to purchase foods deemed unworthy and limiting questionable foods, it has also required declaring the occasional all out Ban on the most harmful and unacceptable food creations.

For instance, there was the “Sugar Ban” for my first born when he was 0-2 (he maintains the applesauce sweetened cake I made him for his first birthday  party is a clear cut case of child abuse) and “Sugar-Ban #2” for my second born when he was in preschool (he says he will work it out in therapy later).  Then came the “Soda Ban” , the “Artificial Sweetener Ban” (seriously, ants won’t even eat it),  the “Hydrogenated Oil Ban”(it does such great things for the butt), the “Nitrates Ban” (who cares if your lunch meat is gray?), the “All Plastics and Canned Goods with BPA Ban”, the “Microwave Popcorn Ban” (that one really hurt), the “Doritos Ban” (I believe this was when the term “Nutrition Tyrant” emerged),  and the “Gatorade Ban” (because what better way to reward an athletic body than by dumping flame retardant into it?), to name just a few.

However, the most recent ban left all my subjects shaken and cowering in fear on the kitchen floor…”The Microwave Ban.” You see, a few months back, I decided we had dumped enough microwaves into our bodies for a lifetime and pulled the plug on the microwave – literally.  Playing right into my hands was the fact that the monster had taken to running with the door fully open and at times, refused to shut off.

As if we had never warmed food in the dark ages before microwaves, I began to come upon bizarre and disturbing scenes in the kitchen – soup being heated up in the oven, beans being burned in a frying pan on the stove, blank stares at mugs of water needing to be heated, whole dinners in the oven on the actual dinner plate – or even worse, person trying to eat off the scorching hot dinner plate after coming out of the oven.  But despite begging and pleading on the part of my minions, I unrelentingly held my ground on  “The Microwave Ban”.

History will tell you, every dictator must endure his/her share of rebellion and subversive decent.  I don’t fool myself that there haven’t  been plenty of insubordinate acts occurring behind my back.  Lucky for my kids, they have always found a willing co-conspirator in their Dad. However, with help from sometimes eager informer (Pre-Teen) and my  keen sense of observation (empty Doritos bag in the trash) many of these mutinies did not go undiscovered.

But, with age and oppression comes ingenuity.  One morning, several months into “The Microwave Ban”, I walked into the kitchen to find the microwave missing from its place on top of the refrigerator.  You see, even though I had relieved the microwave of its duties, even my tyrannical heart had not been able to evict it altogether.

Me:  “Where’s the microwave?”

Teen: “Outside.”

Me:  “Ok….why?”

Teen: “We were doing something with it.”

Apparently in the night, Teen had found a willing rebellious accomplice in a friend staying for the night.  They had decided, somewhere after the midnight hour when the dictator was fast asleep, to haul the microwave outside onto the back porch a do what they had always wanted to do…zap stuff you are not supposed to zap in a microwave…ever!

Later the next day, these videos appeared on Facebook:

and the crowning glory – two rebellious acts all at once (I am sure there were some empty soda cans nearby as well)

Because, every good rebellion deserves to be documented.

More tyranny on Sweet Spot:  Down With Fish Tyranny

Payback to the Food Dictator:  The Rebellion Rages On

5 Perfect Moments: Make ’em Laugh

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Spice Cake Tower of Babel

Cake or The Tower of Babel?

On my current life schedule I find it hard, or rather impossible,  to write.  I try, I really do, but somehow there is always something more pressing. However, I do write lists, lots and lots of lists:  grocery lists, appointment lists, work lists, lists of places people need to be, lists of things I don’t need to worry about anymore, lists of things I want to write about someday,  lists of things to do,  lists of things I keep forgetting to do, lists of things that will never get done but makes me feel better knowing they are at least on a “list”.

However, this week, in light of the way too early and saddening loss of a childhood friend a few days ago, I found myself making a mental list of all the current moments I never want to forget – moments that make me laugh at the time, and smile just  thinking about them later. Moments  I don’t want to pass by too quickly like so many seem to do.  Moments that make up the best parts of my day.

Here are my favorite 5.  Maybe they will make you laugh or smile, too.

1.  Teen came out of his room dressed for school in a suspiciously color coordinated shirt and shorts combo…and announced he meant to do it.

2.  While thinking out loud (aka: talking to myself) about whether to tell my husband about a mutual friend’s health situation being as she is trying to keep it secret until she has the chance to discuss with family members, Pre-Teen piped in from the other room (as is his habit to listen to conversations not meant for him):  “I say ‘no’ Mom, don’t tell Dad –  Because the bag he keeps his cat in is not exactly the tightest bag!”

3.  I started the coffee in my Kuerig coffee maker only to realize mid-cycle, as I stood watching it,  no coffee cup was under the precious stream of coffee.

4.  Pre-Teen had a school project – make a model of the Tower of Babel.  He did so…out of Spice Cake.

5.  I dropped Teen off at High school: “Bye honey, have a good day.” “Thanks Mom…hashtag love.”

For Charlie, because, “If you smile, they’ll never look at your feet.”

Word-Up: Show Me Your Weenus

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My summer has been as crazier than a redneck at an opera (my husband should know).   And while I continue to chuck back lemons at life , the little suckers appear to be getting smaller and easier to manage.  Anyway, all that means is that I have had less time to hang here on Sweet Spot.  So, I thought I would share one of my favorite moments from last spring.  Some things just never get old…especially boy humor, at least in my world.

I knew it!  I feared the day would come – the moment when I would finally be presented with undeniable proof I was failing as a parent.  I wanted to deny it, but the evidence was right there staring me in the face.  Clearly, I was raising a depraved sociopath.

You know the age old story, in the aftermath of a sociopath’s identification, when the neighbors wax poetic for the press?  Statements of disbelief such as:  “But, they were such a nice family”…  “Never heard a peep out of them”…”mostly kept to themselves”…”They had a lot of garden gnomes.”

Right, well, I could just see the entire future unfolding. How had it come to this?

You see, last weekend as we drove endlessly in the car from one activity to another, the irrefutable proof of my impending catastrophe occurred. I don’t know, maybe my kids were bored.  And what is it ‘they’ say?  Boredom is the devil’s playground?  Boredom is the Mother of Invention?  Either way, from the depths of the backseat, my son called out,

“Mom, I scraped my weenus, could you put a band aide on it?”

What?!

Before I could even process his statement, the situation deteriorated further. Apparently, my parental fiasco was farther reaching than just one dissolute sociopath as both boys continued in a flourish of depravity.

“Mom, my weenus is exposed”.

“I need some sunscreen for my weenus”.

“Hey, get your weenus out of my face”.

“Look, my weenus is all wrinkled”.

“I am going to touch you with my weenus”.

“I have the weirdest weenus, want to see?”.

The situation seemed dire at best.

But then, just as I was getting ready to take preventative action (you can google for a psychotherapist, right?), I was saved.  In the nick of time, I was informed by my little backseat degenerates their particular word “weenus” came with its own specific definition. However, just to be sure (and to have proof for possible future penal encounters – ha, get it?), I googled it myself- lo and behold:

According to Urban Dictionary:Weenus is the flap of skin on your elbow”.

Sigh of relief.  Apparently I am not raising a couple of depraved sociopaths, just a couple of depraved smart alecks.

But that I can live with, proudly.

For more word abuse, check out these earlier posts!

Word-Up:  Poop

Word-Up: We’ve Got Big Balls

Word-Up: Opus Anyone?

Word-Up: Get a Yob!

Teen Talk: Episode #8

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Comic by K

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of  Teen Talk.  I assure you, everything you are about to hear is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at home. And keep your daughters far, far away.

One day, Teen contemplated dating etiquette.

Teen:  “Mom, do you think my girlfriend would break up with me if I said to her, Kiss my extra large buttocks?”

Mom:  “I would certainly hope so!”

Teen:  “Right.  If she wouldn’t, then I think I should probably break up with her.”

Mom:  “Good plan.”

The End

Teen Talk: Episode #7

Teen Talk: Episode #6

Teen Talk: Episode #5

Teen Talk: Episode #4

*Teen Talk: Episode #3

Teen Talk Episode #2

Teen Talk Episode #1

For more views by Teen Go Here: Teen Talk

Are You a Parent Fighting the War on Electronics?

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funny-cartoons-electronicsElectronics, machines in general, and I do not always see eye to eye.  This was never more apparent than in my article about the onset of my war on electronics in the fight for control over my kids – I Am Woman (Ode to Chris the Caveman).

However, there was also the showdown with the nasty smoke alarm in Woman vs. Machine.  And don’t even get me started on my nemesis – the vacuum – as portrayed in The Day I Killed the Vaccum.

The thing is, I was recently lulled into a false sense of security when I found a way to make my big time enemy – electronics – into my unwitting ally.  Or at least, I thought I had found a way.  Today, on ParentSociety.com, I share my story of underestimation and slippery deception.

Are You a Parent Fighting the War on Electronics?

Here is something you need to know about the enemy!

Go Here! Quick!!

Making Choices: Outlook Not So Good

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8ballTo Shave or Not to Shave?  This is a question, or rather choice of great import I recently faced – which started me thinking about the parenting nightmare it can be teaching our kids how to not only make choices but also, (dare to dream) make good choices.

Today, over at ParentSociety.com, I share three phases we (husband and I) have experienced in the quest to teach our kids how to make choices, which phase I am not sure I will live through, and the ultimate outcome of my own big decision!

Go here!

The 3 Phases to Teaching Your Kids to Make Choices

And if the proposed strategies all fail, no worries, there is always the 8 ball!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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I love to laugh.  I don’t believe this could possibly be a secret to anyone.  Lets face it, the internet is filled with funny, ridiculous stuff always ready to give a good laugh (or cry).  But, every once in a while, I come across those items that make me laugh not once, not twice,  but over and over again. I  keep track of these little gems for times when a laugh is desperately needed…like, on a daily basis. I refer to them as the gifts that keep on giving.

The other day, my son was having a bad day.  Why?  Well, because he is a teen and some days are just like that.  So I searched out one of my recent favorite gems.

“Hey, Teen, come here and watch this with me.”

“Why, I’ve already seen that one.”

“I know, come anyway.”

A few minutes and several views later, with laughing tears streaming down our faces, life did not seem so bad.

Good even.

That, is a gift.

Here is my gift to you.

Love, Sweet Spot

I Once Had an Awkward Moment, Just to See What it Was Like

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dos equis guy

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Have you ever asked your kids this question?

When my boys were little, I would ask the question and get cute, dream-big answers such as; “an astronaut”, “a fireman”, “Tim Lincecum” (um – without the weed?), “rich”, “anything that does not require college” (there goes that whole ‘rich’ idea).

But when my boys reached a certain age, it became ‘uncool’ to answer this question and my inquiry into their future plans was met with blank stares, I don’t knows, or scary answers meant to silence me from asking the question ever again such as “the garbage man” or “a guy who mutters to himself”. It worked.  I quit asking.

But, last weekend, as we were driving around in the car,  Pre-teen,out of the clear blue sky (which is where he likes to draw ideas from) exclaimed,

“Being an ice cream tester would be a cool job”

And that was when I had one of those brilliant Mom moments aimed at tapping into the illusive psyche of my Pre-teen and Teen.  Ok, well it may have been my only instance of brilliance to date. Be that as it may, I quickly jumped into pre-teen’s musings.

“Really?  What other jobs do you think would be really cool?”

And without hesitation, Teen and Pre-Teen, in complete and full agreement with one another (thus the 8th Wonder of the World was established), fired off for me a list of their ideal and sought after cool jobs (and various accompanying colorful comments).  As follows and in the order they were given to me:

Video Game Tester

Super-Model Photographer (“Now there is a job you wouldn’t mind working over-time!”)

Sports Announcer

Body Guard for an Actor (“Someone cool and funny – like Johnny Depp”. I sense some possible perks for Mom here.)

Secret Service

Bouncer (“’Cause, you know, you get to be all buff and stuff”)

Any type of Professional Athlete except Curling (unmovable they were on this point of specification)

Olympic Athlete

Monster Truck Driver

Architect

Gun Designer (what can I say; we live in the country…)

Scientist for Black Cat Fireworks (not placing a whole lot of value on protruding body parts)

Car Tester (I didn’t have the heart to break it to them, crash test dummies pretty much have that job all sewn up)

And lastly, of course what all kid must want…or maybe it is just mine,

The Actor in “The most interesting man in the world” Dos Equis Commercials

And here, was the end of Teen and Pre-teen’s list of future aspirations.  Really, though, where else does one go from there?

Surely, as a Mom,  I am so proud.

And in some cases, possibly a little sorry I asked.

The Travel Scavenger Hunt

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Brooklyn Bridge

We love to travel with our kids and…

…When they were little, the primary goal was just to get there and back again without losing our sanity. Be it by car or plane, the trip was deemed a success if accomplished with the minimal amount of tearing out of hair (our own) or disturbing the peace (a group effort).

However, as they got older, we began to want them to actually get something out of the experiences.

And thus, the Travel Scavenger Hunt  was born…

I swear, it really works!  Go here –  over to ParentSociety.com – to my article about how it works and how to make your own Travel Scavenger Hunt – trust me, you kids will love it!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

9 Free Activities to Do With Kids in Italy

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Venice

Travel: it costs money. Sometimes a lot of money. Scratch that, travel pretty much all the time costs a bucket load of money. Unfortunately for our pocketbook, my husband and I have developed an obsessive love for traveling, and we have successfully infected our kids with the obsession as well!

Today, over at ParentSociety.com,  as a result of a trip to Italy in November, I am sharing nine of our favorite free (or practically free) activities to do with kids in Italy (believe, if you are planning a trip to Italy – with or without your kids – you are gonna need it!). Go here!

9 Free Activities to Do With Kids in Italy

Other Sweet Spot posts about Italy.

A Boy’s Eye View of Italy

Just ‘Cause It’s Friday

For more Sweet Spot Travels posts Go Here!

The Chaos of a Newly Working Mom

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Today, it would be nice if I was doing something like this:

Santa Cruz, CAOr maybe even this:

pig chillinBut, in all likelihood,  my day will probably look more like this:

messyhouse2

In September, I began the task of looking for a job outside my home.  It turned out to be a much more arduous process (and at times embarrassing – Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting) than I had anticipated.  But at long last, in December I was offered a full time position (someone finally took pity on me) and officially changed my status from WAHM (work at home Mom) to WOHM (work outside the home Mom).

I expected a transition time, what I got was chaos.

Head over to ParentSociety.com where today, I share the whole messy story and what I plan to do about it!

Go Here: The Chaos of a Newly Working Mom

Down with Fish Tyranny!

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My son got a 5.5 gallon fish tank for Christmas – something he had long wished for.  The day came to go purchase the lucky inhabitants.  My son dutifully put in colored rocks, hooked up the light, put together the filter, let it run for a few hours, and “Voila!” ready for fish!

Our trek to the pet store was actually twofold.  One, to acquire the perfect fish for his tank and two, to pick up potty training pads for puppy-size-of-a guinea-pig  my mom & dad in-law had UN-preparedly acquired (which is a story in an of itself and will likely be filed under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time).

Anyway, back to my fish story.

Once at the Pet Store, we confidently headed for the fish section and engaged the attendant.  However, before we could even start our fish inquiry, we were barraged with questions.

“Has your tank been running for a minimum of two days?”

“Umm, no, more like two hours.”

“Have you treated the water in the tank so the fish don’t get stressed?”

“Fish stress-out?”

“Do you have thermometer in the tank?”

“Well, no.”

“Is the water the right temperature for tropical fish?”

“Yeah, probably.  The guppies we had in the fish bowl seemed to do fine…well, two out of three anyway.” (In retrospect, I probably should have kept this last tidbit to myself).

“Do you even know how warm it needs to be for Tropical Fish?”

“Warmish?”

“Do you have a heater in the tank?”

“No.”

“Have you considered tank décor?”

(ok, she didn’t ask this but I know it was coming!)

I sensed where the inquisition was going and so did my son whose eyes were beginning to well up in disappointment.  I offered to him that we could go ahead,  get the fish and take our chances. It was at this very moment we discovered we had fallen into the net (ha, fish humor, get it?) of The Fish Nazi – for before my son could even consider my proposal, the Fish Nazi interrupted with…

“OH NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

“But…”

“NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

And that was that. We were loaded up with all the necessary items needed to acquire fish in some distant future and hustled out the door with an unceremonious don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

However, two days later, we dared show our faces again in the Pet Store Fish Republic.  But this time, we were prepared.  When we arrived, The Fish Nazi was busy terrorizing another customer so we were offered help from The Fish Nazi’s Assistant.

We were informed by The Fish Nazi’s Assistant,  for the fish tank size, my son could have 3 “beginner” fish and two shrimp cleaners – any more than that and the fish get “stressed” (Oh yeah?  Bring it on Fishies, I’ll show you stress – can you say Christmas shopping in Wal-mart???).  However, with The Fish Nazi within earshot,  we decided to acquiesce quietly.

Once chosen, we left The Fish Nazi’s Assistant on his own to collect our 3 fish & 2 shrimp into a bag – a mistake as it turned out.  For, when we returned for our bag-o-fish & shrimp, The Fish Nazi’s Assistant was having trouble looking us in the eye.

“Ummm, well, you see,  I was just told (duh, by The Fish Nazi!) that you can’t have the shrimp until you have had fish in your tank for a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks.” 

In other words,

NO SHRIMP FOR YOU!

So for now, my son’s tank has 3 fish and no shrimp as we await the day our tank will be worthy.

The fish, however, seem happy and completely without stress (boy that Valium works wonders).

I, on the other hand… well let’s just say I fear the fish tank experience may also end up under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time.

Aaaand….

That is where my story was supposed to end.  But, before I could stop being a slacker and finish it, I found myself a few days later back in the Pet Store returning items (a little over zealous on the tank décor).

I couldn’t help it.  I had to take a chance.  I stealthily crept through the aisles and peeked around the corner at the wall of fish tanks. There, happily scooping up fish for any and all, was your average (but knowledgeable) Pet Store employee without The Fish Nazi or The Fish Nazi’s Assistant anywhere in sight.

So, I explained to the average (but knowledgeable) employee, I wanted for my son’s new  5.5 gallon tank, a cleaner fish or shrimp.  She unceremoniously offered me the very fish my son had previously been denied – something about it being an “intermediate” fish and he  but a lowly “beginner”.  She, however, did not seem concerned.

“I’ll take it”, I said as I quickly looked around for any blindsided sneak attack. (i.e The Fish Nazi jumping out from behind the fish food). Home I went, cleaner fish happily in hand (or, well you know, in the bag).

And with this heavy blow to the  reign of The Fish Nazi and let’s just face it, to all Fish Tyranny in general,

My fish story is finally all told out.

Resolutions for 2013 – Sweet Spot Style

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Yes, it is that time again – Resolution time.  Truthfully, I hold with the Non-Resolution style of ringing in the New Year.  That being said, there is always something of value to be learned from history – ones own adventures and, well, misadventures.

Thus this year, I decided to scour the Sweet Spot Archives of 2012 in search of some well earned Resolutions for 2013.
I think I found some pretty powerful nuggets of advice for the New Year…

1.  I will be sure to check my pants zipper (Life, the Ego-Sucking Siege) before entering any and all public establishments.

2. I will struggle on in my war against electronics (I Am Woman – Ode to Chris the Caveman) in the never ending battle for influence over my kids’ brain.

3.  I will try to have a kindler, gentler approach to my vacuum (The Day I Killed the Vacuum) and well, for that matter all machines in general (Woman vs. Machine).

4.  I will try to take Teens advice to drink water and recycle – preferably at the same time – (Teen Talk: Episode #3) and, of course, Pre-Teens advice to Never Sit on a Couch at a Nudest Colony.

5.  I swear never to utter the chant “Party at home plate” at my kids’ baseball games (Take Us To Warp Speed, Scotty), or do any of those other things that would qualify me for “bulldog” status as a  Sports Mom (Bulldogs Don’t Wear Lipstick).

6.  I promise, for Teen and Pre-Teen’s sake, to work in the words “Balls”  (Word-Up: We’ve Got Big Balls) and “Weenus” (Word-Up: Show Me Your Weenus) into every conversation where possible but not necessarily appropriate.

7.  In true Mid-West fashion, I promise to generously give the “no problem” wave, the “thanks for not honking at me even though I deserve it” wave, and possibly throw in the “I’m cool” head wave.  (You Deserve the Wave Today).

8.  I will seek out adventure every chance I get (Sweet Spot Travels), even the scary kind (Today’s Best Moment Thursday April 5.)

9.  I will try to make someones day as often as possible  simply by donning a pen and piece of rainbow stationary. (Go Ahead, Make My Day).

10.  I will be sure to have plenty of stockings/pantyhose and pet hair removal devices on hand for whatever occasion may arise. (Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting).

11.  I will try to never, ever forget how good it feels to laugh (Destroy This Note After Reading).

And lastly, two lessons –  clearly resolution worthy – from some recent experiences:

I will try to not take as a personal commentary the worker-monogrammed cups received at Starbucks:

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And, I will remember to pee prior to attending a D-Box movie.

Happy New Year from Looking for the Sweet Spot.

Go get ’em!

Pay Attention in School, You May Win the Lottery Someday

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winning the lottery

Powerball-mania!!  Do you or your kids have it?  Well then, I suggest you share with your kids a cautionary tale I wrote about on ParentSociety!

Do your kids complain about school? At times, do they just not want to go, do the work, be bothered with it, get out of bed in the morning, pay attention, apply, learn, concentrate, etc.? I mean, what kid doesn’t have those days (or weeks, months, or even years)?

But, every once in a while, a real life story comes along that plays right into the little parental hands. I love these moments. And even though my kids probably secretly hate them, this particular cautionary tale about why they should always pay attention and stay in school was pretty hard to deny!

OK, so here is the  story…

What?  You didn’t think I would put it here.  No, you will have to go to ParentSociety.com to get the whole story.  It is a good one, I promise!

Go here

A Tricky Way to Get Your Kids to Pay Attention in School.