Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Hair Day

Swimming. Sand. Sunscreen. Sleeping in. Staying up. Fishing. Biking. Boating. Hiking.

Summer fun abounds.
But perhaps the thing I appreciate most about summer is a little something that makes all those activities even more enjoyable—my hat.

In the Midwest the wind rolls across the plains like a freight train and the sun’s rays, unobstructed by foliage or timbers, bear down on fair skin.

In that turbulent climate my hat stands as a beacon of steadfastness and sanity. Atop my head it saves me a ton of hair-fixing time by simultaneously performing these various functions:

¨    Hair product: My rebellious cowlick, which no amount of hair gel or blow drying can tame, will finally submit to the all-day pressure of my hat.

¨    Barrett: Those wispy side hairs —you know the ones that curl ever so slightly toward the face and look so lovely on celebrities. But on regular people, with average hair, they just look like hairs that never grow long enough to fit into the pony tail—because that’s what they are.  Yeah, those—my hat keeps them tucked up, out of sight making me appear more “put together.”

¨    Pony-tail holder: In a pinch, the adjustable band also functions as a pony-tail holder.

¨    Sunscreen: It shades my pasty-white, cancer-prone skin from harmful UV rays and doesn’t sting my eyes.

¨    Sweatband: It’s gross, but true. The hat absorbs the sweat of the day, which also contributes to taming the cowlick.

¨    Accessory: In a juvenile attempt to feel fashionable and young, I bought the bejeweled hat with a little bling-bling on the fleur de lis. Can you imagine my fashion quotient when paired with my unwashed jeans! It’s breath-taking…for more reasons than one!!

This summer I’ll avoid the strain of a “good hair day” and the shame of a “bad hair day” by enjoying the benefits of a “summer hair day” compliments of my hat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Remote Control Recycling

The fierce snake is leashed.

The school year came and went as fast as ever. This was the first year all three boys were in school. Because it was so monumental, I decided to memorialize the last day of school with a little celebration—a gift for a job well done!

But as I was thinking and shopping, no good gift ideas came to mind. In fact, I was a little disgusted as they lack nothing! They have a room full of toys that rarely get played with. Why? I asked myself. I looked around the room and noticed no less than 6 remote control toys. Then it dawned on me!

They don’t need more toys, they need batteries!!

So, for a small fortune I purchased AAA, AA, C, D and 9-volt batteries.

Kurt and I spent the better part of an hour replacing batteries, scraping off corrosion and testing them out. Unfortunately only three of the six remote control toys worked even with new batteries. (Don’t be fooled by the leash on that remote control snake in the picture. He’s not going anywhere! Not even with fresh batteries.)

The good news is, we managed to get three working—one for each boy.

When I picked the boys up from school on the last day I proudly announced that I had a small surprise waiting at home.(I had to qualify it with “small” because if I didn’t they’d get the crazy idea that we were going to Disney World or buying a fishing boat…and that would be no small surprise!)

At home they sat on the couch, eyes closed and hands outstretched. I placed in each of their hands a new book (snore), a baseball (you can never have too many) and the revived remote control vehicle.

You might have thought I hung the moon. A trio of smiles sprawled across their little faces. They loved it! Even thanked me, unprompted.

It was a very rewarding kind of “recycling.”

Perhaps next year I will revive the Nerf-gun fun by purchasing new suction darts.

Any suggestions on reviving other toys? 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Evolution of Family Game Time

It all started with Peek-a-boo. I repeatedly covered and uncovered my face with blankets and burp rags until one day, as drool trickled out of our firstborn’s smile, I realized family game time had been established!

Peek-a-book gradually gave way to finger plays like Five Little Monkeys and Pat-a-cake. But they definitely loose their charm after 472 sing-songy verses.

A caricature of my "game face."
When, our toddlers were beyond chewing game pieces I introduced them to “A sweet little game for sweet little folks”—Candy Land. That colorful candy lined maze which leads to a confectionary dream land, the likes of which could make Willie Wonka blush.

Unfortunately, I did not realize the speed of play would be like trudging through the Molasses Swamp. Just as one child would near the end of the maze and come gloriously close to Cupcake Castle, he would draw a “picture card” leading him all the way back to Candy Cane Lane. Sweet victory had slipped away from one player, and for the other player, delirium continued indefinitely.

I got clever after a while and took to stacking the deck—arranging all the picture cards in order to avoid the tears…mine and theirs.

When the sugar high wore off and good sense returned, I purchased that entertaining teacher of life lessons, Chutes and Ladders. That’s right kids, if you mow the lawn, you’re going to the circus later! But if you break a window you’ll be dumping your piggy bank. Take out the garbage and get a banana split! Pull the cat’s tail and end up with a bloody head.

It’s really an introductory course to the school of hard-knocks dressed up as child’s play.

Instead of stacking the deck, I found myself tilting the spinner to avoid the infinite climbing and sliding.

But then came that marvelous day when UNO made it’s debut at family game time. It’s not terribly sophisticated, but it was a game we could all play, even enjoy. Plus, there is a definite end to the game…unless the kids insist on “going for second and third…and fourth…”

This week I realized family game time has taken an inevitable turn.

The games have moved outdoors. More often than not I get knocked out of Knock-out. But from the sidelines I can still referee and monitor fair play.

When I glanced out the window today I saw the three boys with their ball caps and gloves playing catch. It occurred to me that family game time had come full circle.

They were playing without me.

I was not initiating the game, not cheating to control the outcome, not poking my eyes out in boredom, not explaining winning strategies, not monitoring fair play and not playing.

For a brief and precious moment I relished the display of brotherly cooperation and enjoyed family game time as a spectator.