Pokemon Go requires pants

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Pokemon Go requires pants

Pokemon Go requires pants, which for a child on summer break is the biggest obstacle to catching Pokemon. If you saw my earlier tweet, the Dad spent days trying to get signed up for Pokemon Go, amidst a crush of other Dads (and not dads) attempting to do the same.  Finally, after getting set up, he called down our youngest to let her play on his phone. And there we discovered the problem with the Pokemon Go game.

If you don’t know what this is, this is a virtual reality version of the game that has ebbed and flowed in popularity here in the US since the early 1990s.  A quick run down on the Pokemon Go phone app is:

  • available for iPhone or Android device
  • Walk around to places – no, really.  As the Pokemon Trainer, your job is to hunt down the Pokemon in your area and catch them.  You’ll find them pop up on the app, where you click on them to throw Pokeballs (is that a thing?) at them to “catch” them.  Hence, the reason PokemonGo requires pants – your neighbors and community in general will thank you.
  • Then battle, collect, and have fun.  I haven’t gotten to any of these stages yet, but you will find “gyms” in your area, where you can go and challenge other trainers to help gain experience and level your character up.  But we all know how I feel about gyms, so I haven’t entered one as of now.

As a not so techie type person, it’s so cool when you snag one as you are driving around town, then you see it appear in your car, where you have to catch it into the ball.  It’s even cooler to see one on your front lawn or at some of your favorite community landmarks.  This simple concept of having your camera show the real world in front of you on the screen in which the Pokemon are also shown is so cool to me (as a mom, not a Pokemon guru).

It is fun to see the kids out and about this summer.  It moves them from in front of the TV screen or computer screen and gets them walking, running, and actually interacting with other trainers in public.  Just remember to stay safe, don’t let young children go alone on this endeavor, and make sure you aren’t walking into dangereous situations in an effort to Catch ‘Em All.

Oh, and don’t forget – to catch them all in Pokemon Go requires pants

Pokemon Go requires pants

Pokemon Go requires pants and a sense of humor –  http://owlturd.com/post/147090507219/we-have-arrived-image-twitter-facebook

 

 

How Long Is a Moment? What Today’s Kids Think of 9/11

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Part of my job at the elementary school where I work is to go from classroom to classroom to teach writing workshop to the children.  Today, on September 11th, when our principal came over the PA system to ask for a moment of silence to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy, I happened to be in kindergarten.

“Why do we have to be silent?”

Shhhhh

“How long is a moment?”

Shhhhh

“Neveah isn’t wearing red, white, and blue.  Does she have to be silent?”

Shhhhh

“I have to go to the bathroom!”

“I got a Slurpee once at 9/11.”

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The children in the class are four and five years old, and when the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred in this country, many of their parents were still in high school.  Some were even in middle school.  These children were not even a glimmer in anyone’s eye when the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took place – the most heinous terrorist attack on American soil in the history of our country.

So what does it mean to these kids?

Remember when you were in school, and they talked about Pearl Harbor?  The Kennedy Assassination?  Vietnam?  They were events in your history book, things your parents or grandparents talked about in terms of remembering where they were.  But to you, they were the things you learned to pass the Social Studies test.

My own nine year old asked me today what 9/11 was.  They didn’t discuss it in her school except on the morning announcements, where they told students if they were feeling sad or afraid, they could go to a teacher, a counselor, or a parent to discuss their feelings.  Granuaile didn’t know if there was something she should be sad or worried about.  It’s not that we have never discussed it with our kids, but we’ve never made it so that it seemed like an ongoing, fear inducing concern.  It happened, it was terrible and sad, but you’re safe.  I’m not even sure we gave it the name “9/11”.

Already, with the image of the first plane hitting the first tower still burning and painfully raw in our minds, these kids are too far removed to feel the pain we feel.  Many of us had brothers and sisters, friends and other family members, people we knew and loved lost on September 11th, but for a kid in elementary school today, the sadness they feel is equivalent to the sadness they’d feel over a great-great grandparent’s passing years before they were born.  Which is to say, none.

So what are we supposed to do?  How do we keep the memories honored and alive without imposing our sadness and concern?  We tell the story, we keep the photos and the memories we have of those we loved and lost ready to share, and we tell them they’re safe, whether we believe it or not.

And then we take them to 7-11.  For a Slurpee.

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A is for Awesome

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I have three kids, in case you can’t keep up with the menagerie that is the Beauty Girls household.  Each of the girls has had a nickname – something that we’ve called them, grandparents have called them, or they have called themselves.  It’s the names they’ve referred to themselves as that have always been the most unique.

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Brighid for a while in kindergarten decided Brighid wasn’t a great name.  Among the list of thousands of available names, she chose Pansy.  As in the flower. As in she didn’t know then it was the name of a flower, but we called her Pansy for days on end. Until Brighid was in vogue again. Then all was right with the world.

Maine 2

Eilis answered only to Super Duper.  As you do, when you’re three.  You could call “Eilis” all day long, until you were that proverbial shade of blue in the face, and she wouldn’t answer you.  Until you called her Super Duper.  She still is, by the way, Super Duper, however, she seems perfectly content to answer to Eilis.

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Then there is Awesome.  I mean Granuaile.  Who is Awesome. Don’t mess with this kid – Awesome ain’t got time for your nonsense.  T-shirts with arrows that point up and say, “I’m with Awesome” crowd her closet – along with sweat pants, sweat jackets, and other t-shirts that refer to her by her chosen name.  Awesome.

You have no idea how hard I pray she will always believe that she is.  Awesome.

School Friends, Teachers, Tutors – and the Christmas Shopping List Grows Longer!

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With three daughters, all of whom have friends and teachers they like to give holiday gifts to, it seems that the holiday budget has to grow to nearly the size of the national debt in order for me to accommodate all the people on the list!  The kids also like to give a little something to the grandparents that’s just from them.  Add to that the people I always find at this time of year that I’d like to give a little something to – like the two girls who tutor me in chemistry and save my sanity.  And the guy who works the tutoring desk who asked me the other day if I knew the DMX song that was playing in the tutoring center (I did not) – he earned a spot on the list by insulting me when he said, “But you’d probably know it if it was Tony Bennett, right?”  He gets the burnt cookies.

But what is a mom with a budget tighter than that chunky monkey Santa’s squeeze down the chimney to do?

Let’s go to my old favorite standby – Oriental Trading.  The place has everything you could ever want to make your own inexpensive gifts!  Something cute I found that would be great for Grandmoms and teachers is this adorable gingerbread man necklace.  It’s festive for the holidays, and you can make 12 of them from one kit – that’s just over 50 cents each!  For the teacher, add a $5 Starbucks gift card, and she’ll have something handmade to help her remember your child for years to come, plus she gets a little treat while she’s out doing her own Christmas shopping!  You can find this and MANY more gift ideas at www.orientaltrading.com.

For your teenagers friends, think along the lines of something your own teen would like.  Perhaps have him/her choose a collection of songs they like and make each teen a CD that they’ll all enjoy listening to.  Teenagers also love photos of themselves with their friends, and you can find frames of all sizes and shapes at the dollar store.  Buy a simple frame, grab some wooden letters that spell out BFF at your craft store, have your teen paint them, then glue them to the front of the frame.  Print out your teen’s favorite picture with each friend to put in the frames, and viola – the perfect gift for around $2.50!

Younger kids get a kick out of snowman soup!  Again, hit up places like Oriental Trading or the dollar store, and find some inexpensive holiday themed mugs (Oriental Trading usually has plastic ones at $10 per dozen.  In each one, put a single packet of hot cocoa mix, a chocolate kiss or two, a candy cane, and a few marshmallows.  Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tag it with this little poem:

Snowman Soup
Was told you’ve been real good this year.
Always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You’ll need to warm the spirit.
So here’s a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow.
It’s sure to do the trick!


These also make great party favors for your holiday parties, and if you are going to make a bunch, skip the mug and put the ingredients in a holiday treat bag, twist tied at the top.  You eliminate the cost of the mug and save about .75 per gift!

Never underestimate the value of Christmas cookies and holiday fudge.  I know we all say a dozen times a year “If I eat one more Christmas cookie, I’m going to explode!”  But we usually say it as we are snagging another cookie.  What other time of the year are you going to have this many fabulous treats in front of you?  As someone who is lucky I don’t burn the slice and bake variety of cookies, homemade treats are one of my favorite gifts!

I hope this helps you save a little in your holiday budget for you to do something nice for yourself this Christmas season.  Splurge on some fuzzy slippers you can wear while sipping your snowman soup and noshing on those Christmas cookies.  You know you deserve it!.

 

 

 

Forget the Loch Ness Monster

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There are stories that we can recall back to our childhoods.  A good many of them involve life’s mysteries.  We’ve all seen the grainy photos claiming to be positive proof of the existence of Big Foot.  And who can forget the dark, blurry silhouette of the Loch Ness Monster?  Today, I have even seen a report of a bizarre one eyed albino shark.

I can almost believe in the existence of these mythical creatures.  As hard as I try, I don’t see a zipper running down the back of Big Foot.  I’m pretty sure I don’t see any place to put the batteries in the back of Nessie.  Oh – and the cyclops albino shark?  He’s for real.

But the one mythical creature I have yet to see captured on any grainy, thumb over the lens, almost but not quite sure you see it?  The child that cleans up after themselves.  It is a pursuit I have been on for over 20 years – this mysterious character who allegedly makes a mess, then picks it up.  I know – it makes you gasp, doesn’t it?  The mere thought of such a beast existing in our world sends maternal hearts into a fluttery rage.

I’ve heard tales of the kid that gets a drink of milk, puts the lid BACK ON THE BOTTLE, CLOSES THE REFRIGERATOR DOOR, and, if you haven’t passed out yet, WIPES THE KITCHEN COUNTER CLEAN OF DROPLETS OF MILK!!  I know – it’s almost too much to imagine!

But wait – I’ve heard other fairy stories of these angelic little pixies who come in from school, DON’T drop their backpacks by the door, DON’T toss their shoes off in the middle of the entryway to your home, AND sit right down to do their homework!

The thing that finally convinced me to end my search?  Someone threw it over the top when they told me these same imaginary beings don’t fight with their sisters AND have nothing strewn on their bedroom floors.

Now that’s going too far.

A Kid Wants a Kindle for Christmas

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Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.  ~Groucho Marx

I have a kid on my Christmas list who is an avid reader.  She wanders the house with her nose in a book from the time she wakes up until the time the batteries in her Itty Bitty Book Light burn out.  Sometimes, she is reading multiple books at the same time.  I know this because she leaves them all over my house.

With an order from the grandmother to purchase something for this child for Christmas, and a very generous budget with which I can shop, I started looking at eReaders.

The Kindle holds the current market lead, has a vast library of titles to choose from, and also works on multiple devices.  Kindle ebooks are purchased, and then used on whatever platform you have. Now that’s darn cool.

I think the biggest problem I am facing with the Kindle – and other eBook Readers – is that there seems to be a lack of quality books for tweens.  I had my own tween grab her Scholastic Book order form, which happened to come in today, and asked her to choose the books from the form that she wanted to order.  None of the books she chose are listed in the library of books to purchase for an eBook Reader.  Disappointing.

Does anyone want to chime in on an eBook reader for kids for Christmas?

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 101

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One of my favorite events of all time at Walt Disney World is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.  The party, which takes place on select nights from September through November 1st, takes place at the Magic Kingdom.  You have to purchase a separate ticket for the event, but I always think it’s well worth the price.

So is it worth it for your family?

Here’s how it works for us.

The day of the party, we spend a leisurely morning having breakfast, lounging at the pool, or doing some souvenir shopping.  There is no wake up call, no time to be out and about.  If you are buying multi-day park passes, this saves you a day.

In years past, your party ticket allowed you to enter the theme park at 4:00 in the afternoon – even though the party doesn’t technically begin until 7:00.  This is not an advertised benefit, and it could be revoked at any time, but for my family, it has always meant going in, having a nice dinner, browsing some shops, and being ready for the fun of the party right when it begins.  You go through specific turnstiles, and you will be given a wristband and trick or treat bag – no need to bring one from home!

Once the party begins, you will usually find that due to the limited number of tickets that are sold for this event, many of the attractions are walk ons.  This is an incredible time saver!  If you go into the theme park at 7:00, by the time midnight rolls around, you could probably  have done all of the attractions you would have wanted to do, and avoided the day time crowds.  As a bonus, you may even have time to hit up a couple of the trick or treat stations.

And here’s a tip about the trick or treat stations – while the lines at the stations move very quickly, you will find towards the end of the evening, there are virtually no lines at all.  You could do all of the attractions you want to do, then go trick or treating, and still come away with a pretty good haul of candy!

There are two parades that take place during the party.  The early parade is the bigger draw, because for some families with young children (or those that spent all day in a theme park and are exhausted), they know they won’t make it to the second parade.  My favorite viewing spot for the second parade?  At the very start of Main Street, on the side by the firehouse.  I am almost always standing down there by myself, and the headless horseman and I are almost BFFs!

The fireworks for the party are not necessarily meant to be seen from in front of Cinderella Castle, so if you happen to be in Liberty Square, you’re still golden in terms of fireworks viewing.

And take it from a mom with experience – your kids won’t know if you wait until they go to sleep and swipe all of the Clark bars!  And if you eat them all before the kids wake up the next morning, you’re doing yourself a favor.  Now they won’t melt on the trip home!

I think the party is a terrific value over the cost of a theme park pass.  We get at least as much – if not more – done during the party than we do in a day at the park, and it comes sprinkled with pixie dust in the form of Smartees and Laffy Taffy!

This is a must do for us every year.

Bad Mom or Good Mom? Sports Injuries and Our Kids

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On my way home from school this morning, I tuned in to find a radio program featuring Christopher Nowinski, author of the book Head Games:  Football’s Concussion Crisis.  

You can find the program here –

http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2010/09/20/sports-and-brain-trauma/

Because of the nature of the sports, there have been numerous studies done on football players and boxers for brain trauma from the massive blows their bodies take as a matter of routine.  There have been studies done on baseball pitchers, to determine the maximum number of pitches a young pitcher should be permitted to throw to avoid damage to a developing arm and shoulder.

They don’t really have these tests and studies for dancers.

When Brighid began dancing, at the tender age of about 8 years old (she dabbled before, but got serious around 8), we thought nothing of having her do an hour long group class, and as she developed her skills, two hours.  Then, when it became clear that she had serious talent, it was not only the group classes, but private lessons as well.  Then group ceili lessons to get ready for Oireachtas.  Not to mention the practice at home – hours of it, even when she wasn’t thinking about it, this kid was dancing in the aisles of the supermarket and in puddles on the street.

We encouraged her to practice, because, as we all know from the time we are young, practice makes perfect.  Brighid was a great dancer, but she wanted to be perfect.

We took her to parades; we took her to competitions; we took her to performances meant mostly to promote the school she was with at local fairs and festivals.  During St. Patrick’s Day week, she would go to school from 8 AM, I’d pick her up and take her immediately to the performances, as the dancers are always more popular that week than any other.  She might not be home and in bed until after 11 o’clock, scrambling the next morning to do homework in the car.  But she loved doing it, so I let her.

And at some point, she started to hurt.  Go figure.  A sport where you are pounding your toes, your heels, your whole foot into the ground to effect a certain sound, or look a certain way, and it hurts you after a while.  Using all of your energy to leap yourself off of the ground and into the air, only to land hard on your tip toes – it’s gonna be painful at some point.

I told her to back off at home.  Then we started missing dance classes.  When it got bad enough to go to the doctor’s, he scared me with his theory that she had broken her hip.  What kind of mother was I, carting around a kid with a broken hip, telling her to take it easy, but keep getting out of bed each morning and going to school.

It wasn’t broken.  But it was damaged.  Damaged from all the years of practice, performances, and pounding.  That was it for her, the end of her dancing.  The end of a dream she had to become professional.

But was I a bad mom?  Or a good mom?  I allowed her to go to so many shows, performances, and practices.  She loved it; it gave her an after school activity; and we all know kids with after school activities stay fit, have friends, and get scholarships.

I’m not sure whether or not I was a bad mom or a good mom to let her to what she wanted, but I will say that I have both Eilis and Granuaile dancing.  They wanted to try it, and I allowed it.  But knowing what I know, I don’t push as much practice.  Perfection is not our goal, pleasure and fitness are.  So does that make me a bad mom?  I am not pushing them to reach their full potential by not forcing them to practice.

It seems I can’t win.  But we can all take a lesson from Chris Nowinski’s book, and recognize what sports can do to our kids.  Keep an eye on your kids.  Be proactive in terms of when enough is enough before it gets to be too much.  Nothing is worth risking damage to your child.