Thursday, April 24, 2014

Epic Homework Battle of 2014 (Round 375)

"Well, say good-bye to your birthday party!," I yelled to my almost 8-year-old son.  "That's right mister, no party!"

I yelled that because I am a horrible mother.  I yelled that because he was officially, how does the old saying go... he was on my last nerve.  
The homework stare-down.

My older children do their homework without much intervention or reminding on my part.  But JT, my almost 8-year-old son?  He is so much me it's crazy.  I mean we both kind of agree, without saying it, that home is not really a place for work.  We both have trouble concentrating and would rather be dancing or playing or doing anything but work.

But it is my job as a responsible, caring mother to make sure he does his homework.  Right?  I need to make sure he doesn't fall behind.   I need to teach him about responsibility and doing all the have-tos in life. 

It started out fairly peacefully.  "Honey, finish up your homework and then go outside and enjoy the sunshine," I told him as I gave him his after school snack.  I smiled like an idiot thinking it would go smoothly.

JT wasn't interested.  

I bribed him with leftover Easter candy.   I bargained, "do half the problems now and half after dinner."  I begged.  I counted, "1, 2...if I get to 3 mister and you haven't started your homework, well, well, I'll...."

Ultimately, I threatened.  I threatened to take away his birthday party.  A party we haven't even planned yet.  He stared at me, his beady little eyes saying "you wouldn't dare cancel a party for someone as cute as me."  But his cuteness had no effect on me.  It was hour two of the epic homework battle of 2014 and I'd had enough, he was on my last nerve.  I stared right back and that's when I said "If you don't start your homework right now, I will cancel your birthday party for sure."  Not swayed, that stubborn kid put his pencil down and crossed his arms.  

And well, you know what happened next--me yelling and canceling, JT crying and going to his room.

I stayed in the kitchen making dinner, muttering to myself and feeling like the most horrible mother ever.  A few minutes later, Lucy came in and said "I just talked to him, I think he needed to cry.  I helped him start his homework."

Needing a good cry? Um, I told you he was so me.  I understand the whole not focusing and not wanting to do math and needing to cry.  I get it!!!!!!

I also get the whole idea of doing something when you are ready.  I get the idea of fighting against something.  I get the idea of pushing buttons and testing people.  I get the idea of wanting to know that there are people that will love you know matter what kind of meltdown you have.  I get the idea of loving that there are people (like amazing big sister people) that reach out when you need them.  I get it.

Before bedtime I laid down next to JT and we talked about homework, change, what scares us, what reading comprehension means, what the best kind of Easter candy in the world is, how we need to get mad sometimes and cry sometimes and do work at home sometimes. 

"Do I get a birthday party?," he asked.

"Yeah, okay," I said because I am a horrible mother who is the queen of empty threats.

Are there any winners of the epic homework battle of 2014?  Oh, I don't know.  It's just another night around here, I can't really over analyze it.  Besides, I have a party to plan.





Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family & #iPPP


Candy for breakfast? Check.  Bubbles inside? Check.  Hands up in the air, waving like we just don't care? Check and check.  Yo.  It was a holiday weekend and we did what we do...celebrate and act all crazy.

We also carried on traditions like Easter Bunny cake.  

Even though the dog ate an entire ear of our bunny before we could say Peter Cottontail, it worked out okay.

When I was little, my mother was was all about the Easter Bunny cakes, Labor Day picnics, candy for breakfast on special days and more.  Every year, it wasn't perfect, but it happened.  Until it didn't.  When my parents got divorced traditions stopped.  

In between a million moves, parents remarrying, my mother's anxiety and mental instability and addiction issues, and us just growing up, traditions stopped.  My brother and sister and I used to try to maintain some of the little things they did--making special foods at holidays or singing certain songs.  But it never really stuck.

Traditions, even silly one-eared bunny cakes, matter.  They are part of the story of the family.  They link generations.  

Peyton rolled his eyes when I asked him to get in the traditional Easter Bunny Cake picture this past weekend.  I promised not to post it anywhere on social media and he reluctantly agreed.  "Listen kid, I am going to make a bunny cake forever," I told him.  "You will be posing for this picture with your kids."  He rolled his eyes again. But I know. I know that if I stopped making this bunny cake or doing the things that make our family us, it would matter.  Because it's part of the story of the family, it links us.

We went to Tim's parents' house for dinner on Easter evening.  I looked out on the deck and saw him talking to his three brothers.  They weren't talking about anything particularly special.  They were just hanging out on the deck on Easter evening because that's what they do.  That's their tradition, that's part of the story of their family.



What is the story of your family?  
What traditions do you all have?  

All the pictures in this post were taken with my iPhone.  And I post most of them to Instagram.  Come on over an play with me there.

Now link up for the #iPPP 
Angela Amman (my LTYM co-producer and #iPPP co-hoster) and I want to see your funny, yummy, heartfelt,  favorite phone photos from the week!  Your post can be about anything, as long as it contains one picture from your phone.  Link up below and don't forget to visit some of the others!

GFunkified




Monday, April 21, 2014

Crazy Busy, Mostly Crazy Good

Life is busy right now.  Busier than our normal busy.  So busy my heart is racing and I'm short of breath a lot and feel like I am late for something all. the. time.  

Life is jam packed full of baseball games, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, family, creativity, friends, good food, good music, meeting new people, getting new ideas, traditions and so much more.  







It's life and I am living it waaaaaay out loud right now.  It will be quieter soon--there will be ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys.  Right now, it's crazy busy and mostly crazy good.

Creating a vlog every day doesn't make life less crazy, but it does make it a little more fun.  I have missed three days so far and I am a little ashamed of that since VEDA stands for Vlog Every Day April.  But I've had a blast making the other 18 vlogs.  

Check out a few of them: 




Here's the vlog where I do different accents. Yup.
 

The one where I read my diary from 1990.



Head on over to my YouTube channel to check out the other videos and subscribe. Click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

How I Write

I was asked to take part in a blog tour.  I was surprised to find out that it didn't involve a fancy bus and hitting the road and groupies and stages.  A blog tour isn't exactly like that you guys.  But it's still cool.  A blog tour is linking up with other bloggers and sharing words/ideas/thoughts/stories.  This particular blog tour, called How I Write, asks participants to write about their writing process.  My friend Sarah Reinhart from little white whale asked if I wanted to be a part of this tour.  I met Sarah when I started linking up with #iPPP last year.  She has become a good friend who has supported and encouraged me so much over the these last few months.  She is a talented writer, an amazing photographer and a mother of four (who is going to have a fifth baby very, very soon). Sarah asked me to answer a few questions about my writing process and to talk about my video/vlog process as well.

So, here it is, a peek into my process...

1. What am I working on?
I try to write a new blog post every night.  Sometimes it's very easy and I am bursting with creative energy to share the funny or the weird or the frustrating or the amazing parts of my day.  Other times I write about a craft/recipe or fashion or the occasional sponsored post (which I still try to make part of a story).  

I am just starting to dabble more in putting my stories out there beyond my blog.  I've worked with Mamalode a little bit the past couple months and What To Expect.com. Dipping my toes into the rather intimidating world of freelance writing. Pitching ideas and getting ideas rejected, edited, applauded, approved, judged.  It's very validating when a story is approved.  It's humbling when it isn't.  I am learning so much and I love that.  I am learning to appreciate editors' suggestions.  I am learning to not take rejection too personally.  I am learning to be a better writer, a better storyteller.

As far as vlogging, I am smack dab in the middle of VEDA which stands for Vlog Every Day April.  I have been putting up video blogs on my YouTube channel pretty regularly for a couple years now.  But VEDA?  That shit is crazy.  Every day?  What was I thinking?  

Actually, I have had a lot of fun with VEDA already.  I have sort of turned into a suburban version of Joaquin Phoenix in the movie Her, carrying my camera everywhere and talking to it. I even filmed myself in the grocery store the other night.  I've also interviewed my husband and my daughter, vlogged myself on the same stage where Adele, Nirvana, Eminem and other artists have performed, captured moments with friends and dancing like a fool in my kitchen.  Pretty rad stuff.

2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I think I write with an honest voice that is both raw and funny, sad and happy.  There are so many talented writers that pull this off.  I think the thing that sets me a part a little bit is that I am not afraid.  I am not afraid to go to places that others might tiptoe around.  I don't tiptoe.  I march. I dance. I stomp. I skip.  I do not tiptoe.  

The same can be said about my vlogs.  I am not afraid to look stupid, look bad, look silly and it's sort of freeing (for me and the hopefully the viewer).

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what's in my head and heart.  I vlog the same way.  

Some days it is silly and light.  Other days it's hard, spirit-crushing kind of hard.  That's life.  And that's why I write.

I write to make sense of my head and my heart.  I write to get it out of my head.  I love what Ann Morrow Lindbergh said about writing.  She said "I must write it all out, at any cost.  Writing is thinking.  It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."

My whole life--before blogs were a thing, before the Internet was a thing--I wrote the same way.  I wrote stories in journals and diaries, on napkins, notebooks, receipts, the back of my hand.  When I couldn't find the right words to speak I wrote and wrote and wrote.  I wrote stories, essays, notes, letters, newsletters, ad copy, columns, interviews and eventually emails, Facebook statuses and blogs.

I simply don't know any other way to think or feel.

I vlog more for fun and to capture memories of my family.  I love making videos of our life and set it to music.  It is a huge creative outlet for me and a whole different kind of storytelling.

4. How does my writing process work?
I write every night after the kids go to bed.  Sometimes the words and stories flow out of me easily. Sometimes wine and the Aretha Franklin Pandora channel help.  

Sometimes there are stories that are in my head for days or weeks.  I usually format them while I'm running on the treadmill.  Then when I get an hour during the day, I knock out the story and my head is clear and it feels amazing.

Vlogging is the same.  Sometimes I have an idea for a video and format the whole thing in my head before shooting it.  Other times it's a shoot from the hip kind of deal.  


Or I link up with other bloggers and use their prompts to make videos.

Here's the closest thing I have had to a viral video, it's my attempt at the cup song and where I end up singing a Prince song:
  

My process is a bit scattered, full of emotion and passion and creativity, love and a sense of humor.  My process is messy and appreciates editors and validation.  So, yeah, my process is basically my metaphor for my whole life.  


Part of the blog hop is asking two more writers to answer these questions.  

First I thought of my dear friend Greta Funk of GFunkified.  I met Greta at BlissDom a few years ago.  We have a lot in common, she is a mom of four, gluten free and enjoys running.  She is down to earth but at the same time such an inspiration.  On her blog she gives people a peek into what it's like to have a house full of kids.  She also writes about her fitness journey, shares great gluten free recipes and takes amazing pictures. She recently started a new adventure managing the site Today's Work @ Home Mom.

Next I thought of my new friend Andrea Mowery of About 100%.  I just started getting to know Andrea and I am so happy about it.  She is funny and sweet and real.  When I read her her words I always smile.  Andrea recently wrote a piece that was featured in Mamalode, called Transition, that had me nodding and saying "mmm-hmmm, totally!"  

Be sure to check out Greta's and Andrea's responses to these questions!  They'll be posting their answers early next week. 



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE Dress & #iPPP




I couldn't believe it when I saw it.  It being the dress that I always wanted.  The dress I imagined myself wearing as a grown up.  There it was hidden in the racks at a thrift store, stuffed in between a boring black polyester dress and a hideous floral muumuu.  It took my breath away.  It was a sea foam blue, satin/silk blend vision of everything I thought was glamorous and sophisticated about being a grown up(when I was seven-years-old).  It was the type of dress that Julie would have worn on her night off on The Love Boat.  And Julie was the coolest.  

I stared at the dress for a few minutes and then took a picture of it and posted it to Instagram.  Friends encouraged me to buy it.  At first, I listened to the voice in my head that said "it probably won't fit, don't buy it."  But then a friend of mine that I grew up with but haven't seen in over 20 years made this comment on my Instagram feed-- "Buy it Angie--even if you wear it around the house, check it off that bucket list!"

So I shelled out the five dollars and I bought my dream dress.
And it made/makes me so happy.  

My inner child is flipping out with joy. 
I plan on wearing this dress to church on Easter, a charity event and/or wedding reception that has a dance floor (so I can pretend it's Studio 54!), parent-teacher conferences, the grocery store and maybe even to my kids' baseball games.  

It's funny how much joy this dress brings me.  It's silly even.  But I dont' care.  It's the best five dollars I've spent, possibly ever.
My look may be more Jennifer Lawrence from American Hustle than Julie from The Love Boat, and I love that too.



pleated poppy It's been a long time since I linked up with what i wore wednesday.  So happy to be back. WIWW link up was started by blogger/business woman extraordinaire, Lindsey, as a "fun way for us to encourage each other to simply get dressed each day, and get out of our pj’s or yoga pants." 


All the pictures in this post were taken on my iPhone.  Come play with me on Instagram.

Now link up for the #iPPP 
Angela Amman (my LTYM co-producer and #iPPP co-hoster) and I want to see your funny, yummy, heartfelt,  favorite phone photos from the week!  Your post can be about anything, as long as it contains one picture from your phone.  Link up below and don't forget to visit some of the others!
GFunkified



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Safe & Happy

When we first became parents, Tim and I really didn't know what we were doing.   The day we took our firstborn home from the hospital, we had no idea how to put him in the car seat to actually take him home.  Tim oh-so-gently guided Peyton's tiny little body under the buckles which I held up so they wouldn't touch his new baby skin.  It took a good 25 minutes.  Neither one of us thought about unbuckling the buckles to put Peyton in the car seat.  We simply thought "wow, people weren't kidding when they say babies are a lot of work and now we understand why it takes so long to go anywhere."

A few days later, as we attempted to leave the house and take Peyton to his first doctor's appointment, a friend watched as we once again tried to gently ease our new baby into his car seat without unbuckling buckles.  That friend, an experienced parent herself, tried not to laugh as she reached over to unbuckle the buckles and suggest that might make things a little easier.

Well, 13 years and three more kids later we have unbuckled and buckled car seats a million times.  We know so much more than we ever thought we'd know about kids and car seats.  

We know weight limits, height requirements, what buckles work and what buckles Houdini-like children can wiggle out from under. We understand and respect that getting to the booster stage is a rite of passage that kids really look forward to, much like the coveted front-seat, shot-gun seat that our firstborn is now old enough and tall enough to call his own most of the time.

Our baby, Wade, has reached the booster stage.  He's not a baby anymore, he's four and more than ready for a booster.  But not just any flimsy, old booster that has been passed down and beaten up by his older brothers and sister.  No, Wade got a pretty sweet seat--the Evenflo Symphony™ DLX car seat.  




"I can see the whole wo-wld!," Wade exclaimed when he sat in his new luxury liner of booster seats feeling like a king.



Wade loves the height the seat gives him and the cup holders.  Those are really great, but this seat is about more than fancy bells and whistles.  It is safe. Evenflo has taken safety and comfort to the next level with the introduction of the Platinum Protection Series of car seats, which feature NASA-developed Outlast® technology, a temperature regulating fabric that keeps babies and toddlers comfortable during hot and cold weather.  Yeah, NASA.

I love the Buckle Pockets, they protect from hot buckle burns and eliminate digging under your kid's legs for lost buckles.  I only wish I would have had this car seat years ago.  This All-In-One seat accommodates kids ranging from 5-110 lbs, making it the only car seat you would need forever.  It is hands-down the easiest car seat we ever adjusted to a booster seat, ever.



Now that I finally found the perfect way to keep them safe and securely buckled in tightly, I can't even believe I'm only a few years away from my firstborn actually driving.  I can't even go there yet, so I won't.  I am just going to focus on being so happy that Wade is happy and safe and excited to see the whole "wo-wld" outside his window.

Click here for more information about the Evenflo Symphony™ DLX car seat.

I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Discovering

Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit is less than three weeks away.  When I first started this journey of co-producing a live storytelling show, I hoped it would be an opportunity to connect with other storytellers in my community.  But so far, the journey has been so much more.  Connecting with storytellers is just part of this journey.  The other part is all about discovering.

Discovering places that I now love but had never had been to in Detroit.






Discovering that I have a rusty skill-set (do they still call it that in resume speak?) in marketing that that works and fun to use again.

Discovering that it's pretty amazing to have this little idea of bringing a really cool show to an area full of rich, meaningful stories, and that you can make it happen in a big way.

Discovering that people you thought you have nothing in common with, you actually do.

Discovering that going outside comfort zones is crazy scary, but beyond rewarding.


Discovering that you aren't too old to start new dreams, new ideas, new stories.

Discovering that everyone has a story and when they tell it, compassion grows, love grows, understanding grows.

Discovering that um, I kind of love being on stage.

Watch what happened behind the scenes at our final Listen To Your Mother rehearsal (and where I discoverd that I love the stage!).

I hope we fill the theater on May 4, so more people will make their own connections and their own discoveries.  Click here for more information about the show.  Click here to buy tickets.
Click here to find out if a Listen To Your Mother show is happening in your city.

Read more about Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit in this Detroit Free Press article. Click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

T-I-M-E & What I Know For Sure

Last Sunday, we got out an old poster board and divided up the days and asked the kids "What do you want to do? The week is wide open."


Spring Break is coming to a close and I'm sad.  Even though I miss a little of my routine, I love having everyone home.  And the end of spring break means our life gets busier than normal.  Spring concerts, baseball tournaments all over the place, end-of-the-school-year mania and more.  It makes my heart race just thinking about it all.  Maybe that's why I  enjoyed this wide-open week we just had.  


Our poster board/calendar-of-fun included activities like riding bikes, nature hikes, bowling, Belle Isle, jumping rope and more.  Nothing fancy, nothing expensive.  

We did something this spring break that we've never done before, we had a Mom/Dad/Kid date with each child.  Since we didn't have much of a budget and we didn't want to hire a babysitter four times this week, we offered the kids alone time with us at home and a chance to stay up late. Each child had a "My Night"--they got to pick what we all had for dinner, choose an activity to do or a movie to watch together and enjoy staying up late.  

Lucy chose to watch The Book Thief with us after the other kids went to bed.  She recently finished the book and wanted to see the movie.  We got treats and snuggled on the couch, just the three of us.  (The movie was incredibly sad, but moving and well done.)  JT chose to play a few video games and card games with us.  Peyton wanted to watch a few episodes of The Simpsons (a show we just started letting him watch with Tim on special occasions) and eat cake.  Wade was the only one that got something a little different, he wanted alone time with Tim at the baseball field.  We thought that was a good idea since staying up late to a 4-year-old sort of wrecks them.  

We also had fun all together.  Like cheering each other on when we went bowling.


I love how they were rooting for Wade and hoping he got a spare.

Oh man, the agony of a split. Bowling, grrrrr.





I love this picture.  Peyton is trying not to laugh and look like he's having fun with us, because duh, what pre-teen has fun with their goof-ball family?  His expression is the perfect mixture of smile and eye roll, like he's saying oh-my-gosh-you-guys-are-so-annoying-but-funny-and-I-love-you.
At least that's the way I see it.



You've heard the expression how does a child spell love?  T-I-M-E.  Well, it rings true in our house.  Without spending a crazy amount of money or planning anything extravagant, our kids, our family, felt the love I know that for sure.  


Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • VEDA is hard ya'll, but fun.  VEDA stands for Vlog Every Day April.  A new vlog every day.  I have only missed one day so far.  Here's one from last week where I reveal my biggest fear about Listen  To Your Mother Metro Detroit (hint, it has something to do with Cindy Brady).


If you want to spend your weekend catching up on all my VEDA videos head on over to my YouTube channel.  Subscribe if you like.  I have some fun videos from last week, like our trip to Belle Isle, Lucy's book review and of course, a kitchen dance.


  • Tulips are blooming in Holland.  When I was in elementary school, we sang this song that went a little something like this: "Tulips are blooming in Holland...Michigan.  Tulips are pretty and gay."  I don't know if every elementary school kid sang that or only kids that lived in the lower western part of the state of Michigan.  We had tulip pride.  But man, look at this gorgeous tulip pride in Holland...in the Netherlands.


Click here to read more about the rainbow fields of tulips. http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/dutch-tulip-fields-create-cacophony-color-n75701


  • I am not over my phobia of frogs.  I was able to pose for a silly picture at the nature center, but it is blurry because I could only sit still for a few seconds.  This phobia is crazy, but it's real, people.  I skipped the frog exhibit.




  • I love what Pharrell has to say about women.  And I just love Ellen so much.




  • I can't help myself.  I didn't want to, but I did, I watched the Lindsay Lohan reality docu-series and I sort of like it.  Ugh.  I know, but I am rooting for her.  



What do you know for sure (this week)? How was your spring break? C'mon, we're friends, share what you know. 

Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

I love getting to know everyone through pictures.  Please come play with me on Instagram @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Detroit/Belle Isle Love

Spring break in Detroit.  Yes, Detroit.  I have lived thirty minutes north of the city for almost 16 years and have just discovered some very interesting, important and beautiful places to visit in Detroit.  I'm so happy to be sharing these places with my kids.  So, yes, we are spending parts of our spring break in Detroit.

Detroit is complicated, complex and confusing.  Especially to people that did not grow up here.  I have heard stories of pain and loss from all different sides--people who left the city, people who never left, people who wish for things to be different, people who are working to make things different.  I have also heard stories from people who live in or around Detroit who love the city and believe in the city.

I am a little baffled why everyone isn't rooting for our city harder.  And when I say our, I mean OURS, all of us. This city is as Americana as it comes--industry, rivers, ports, cars, music, assembly lines, racial tension, reinvention, trailblazers, history makers.  It's Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Eminem and my god so many others.  It's injustice, corruption, bankruptcy and fires burning.  It's also new ideas, art everywhere, families, tradition and beauty.


Many places you go in Detroit feel like a history lesson.  Abandoned buildings or vacant spaces are left where there used to be so much life.  We took the kids to Belle Isle.  Tim's mother told us stories about ice skating there when she was a kid and how they had family picnics and parties there.  Belle Isle used to have a casino, a zoo and more.  But, like many places in and around Detroit it changed.  Some of the old buildings are there.  You can see where the zoo used to be.  You can also see signs of a lot of life--new life, new playgrounds and new ideas.  Just like the spring thaw, the older buildings and trails are coming back to life too.

The aquarium, which was closed and reopened recently, happened to not be open when we were there. But the conservatory was and it was magic.


My lens fogged up when I took this picture, which actually adds to the dreaminess of the room and the flowers.





A few steps away from the conservatory is a wonderful, big playground that all my kids enjoyed.  Two bus loads of children from a Detroit charter school arrived shortly after we got there.  The playground was buzzing with activity and laughter and "bet you can't catch me's" and kids asking teachers and parents to "watch this."  It sounded just like it might have 30 years earlier.  

Lucy's confident pirate-in-charge pose.

In case you are wondering where Belle Isle is in relation to Detroit and Canada, this handy playground park can help.



A little further along on the isle, is a nature center.  A free nature center--with speakers, nature tours, exhibits and more.






Spring Break in Detroit has been full of wonderful surprises, opportunities to connect and learn and be inspired.

I am so proud to be from what we call the Metro Detroit area.  I want to be a part of the renewal and recovery of Detroit.  Everyone should.  This is OUR city, OUR history, OUR legacy, OUR future.



Belle Isle is a 985-acre island park that the state of Michigan took control of recently.   To find out more about Belle Isle click here.  To get involved in helping Belle Isle come back to life, check out the Belle Isle Conservancy click here.

Here's the video of our visit to Belle Isle: