Take Heart: Family Game Night Will Save Us All

stock-vector-vintage-summer-postcard-vector-illustration-106391222.jpg

We have just finished our first day of summer at this house. Here are some highlights:

1. One child woke up at 6:40 am. Never in the history of forever has he woken up at 6:40. But today, he did. I heard him start to thump sleepily down the stairs just as I sat down with my coffee and bible. Impeccable timing.
2. The other kid slept until 9 am and then demanded to know what he had missed, like we had all jetted off to Vegas while he was gone.
3. Boredom is the great leveler. Both boys found themselves tortured with boredom by 10:00 am, and were forced to ACTUALLY PLAY A GAME together.
4. I’m not gonna make it to June, y’all. Pray for me.

This whole summer thing is interesting. We love it, in theory. You know, pools and sun and trotting around in sleeveless tops and fifty-thousand baseball practices, and so on.
But, in reality? My arms are still floppy from the baby weight (the baby is now seven) and the sun gives you wrinkles.

I don’t think my children think this way. They are not concerned about the wrinkles. Bless their unwrinkled hearts.

Red and Blonde are of the opinion that every summer day should be Big Fun. It is my job to vanquish this dream, and I think today did the job.

However, there is hope. There is something called:

Family Game Night!!!!!!!! Woop Woop!!!!

Here are the rules:

  1. Dinner is popcorn, apples, cheese, and milk. Sometimes I totally go all out and make chocolate milk. This momma plays hard.
    2. Games are selected based upon playing time (cannot exceed bedtime) and are nixed if there was crying the last time they were played (Monopoly. It’s always Monopoly)
    3. Dad has to play. He is the comedic relief. He is always comedic relief.
    4. The cat will try to lay on the game board. This is essential.
    5. We stay up late (because we always break rule #2), laugh a lot, and forget that earlier that day one kid tried to teach the other kid how to burp. (Oh, yes, they know how to burp, but now it can be cued.)
    6. There will always be a Royals baseball game on the radio. If the Royals are not playing, then we are allowed to cue up our funkadelic Toby Mac station on Pandora, but there is always a Royals game on. Always. It’s magic.

I know Family Game Night is not a new idea, in terms of fun family activities. I know it’s not really imaginative or has cute, Pinterested crafts involved, or involves a trip somewhere fabulous.

But that’s just the point. It’s simple. We drag out our Jenga and Life, and the other games that we forgot we had, vote on our favorites, and play. Democracy in action!

And, did I mention? It’s really fun.
The one thing I will never forget about this weekly tradition is that there is never any clamoring for screen time, or tablets, or anything, essentially, that has buttons to push. Well, we play Outburst Kids, and that has buttons, but you know what I mean. Our kids would rather just be with US than anything else. We are even cooler than Lego Star Wars on the Wii.

Who knew? I am cooler than Lego Leia who jumps straight up a lot, and can never shoot anything with her light saber except the useless potted plants*

Last week’s Game Night was a rousing marathon of Sorry, which lasted about five hours. Sorry has an apt name, my husband and I have decided. As in, “This game will last about five hours. Sorry.”

f71ac92aff13b381d971bf475413a80f.jpg

Well, of COURSE the British made up this game. So polite. So apologetic. And, evidently, with lots and lots of time on their hands.

Finally, FINALLY, at the end of all the Sorry-ing, our youngest, Red won the game. He popped up, wiggled his hips in a Macarena sort of victory dance, and I considered throwing the yellow flag, calling a penalty on the play for celebration. But, it was cute so I let it pass. And as we finally pried the children away from the popcorn and mess, and managed to get them both into bed without too much chaos, Blonde reached out and grabbed my neck.

“I love you, Momma,” he said. And all was right in the land.

“I love you too, sweetie.”

“And next time I want to play Uno.”
I twitched a little. Uno is also the game called, “Wait, What? Whose Turn is It?” because it makes my synapses itch. All that switching around! Reverses! Skipping players! This kind of stuff is not good for a woman who has been multitasking all day and her brain is tired.

pureflix2.jpg
By the way, sometimes we do watch screens. We are great fans of a movie night, especially if it is also paired with popcorn for dinner. If you’re interested in a great Christian movie resource, I recommend Pure Flix. It’s got a kajillion movies, shorts, and shows for the whole family. Also, Pureflix is partnering with Convoy of Hope, helping to feed Americans in need. It’s a great cause.
* It’s possible that Princess Leia only hits plants because her handler, Momsie, CANNOT PLAY THIS GAME. IT’S HARD. User error. It is what it is.

Leia.jpg

I kill plants, not people.

This was not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Guys, you know I’ll tell it to you true. 🙂

Spring Break and Netflix. Oh yes, you bet they go together.

 

 

42b9d40d00e26c58e44786c512e252d3141e33c5371bb98411522a1b36d92b9e.jpg

 

Parenting. When what you expect and what actually happens NEVER MATCH.

This also is the case for a lot of our silverware, all of our socks, and my six year old’s fashion choice today.  So, at least we’re consistent.

Last week was Spring Break. I kept thinking I would write THIS post when it WAS actually spring break, because Momsie is so relevant and timely, but good gravy. Spring break nearly broke me.

It all started with the take home math packet.

So, just so you know, I blame it all on my children’s teachers. They are out to get us.

I don’t even remember for sure which boy got the math packet. But I do know that when I spied it, all smushed in his R2-D2 backpack, that I felt a little flutter of excitement. It’s that Mom Buzz that I get every time I think I might have a Positive Learning Experience with one of my spawns. “Lo! Here is a math packet!” I crowed. “And, we shall learn all the things over break! This shall be a break from technology! We’ll take nature walks! We’ll work puzzles! I think I might try to learn another language! Besides Pig Latin, which is so big at our house right now!”

And on and on. Momsie went off the rails on the whole Fun and Educational thing.

At about two o’clock Tuesday afternoon, I decided to put a stop to all things educational and considered playing the Quiet Game for the rest of the break.

Anyhow.

What I did instead was realize, as I have so often before, this wonderful nugget of information:

TELEVISON. TELEVISION FIXES EVERYTHING.

Relax Moms. It’s not like we watched it from Tuesday on. But we reveled in the popcorn movie night (as one of Momsie’s favorite thing ever is her couch, and popcorn, and nighttime. They go together like constant fatigue and sweatpants, I tell you.)

And on those movie nights we didn’t watch movies. Nope. We watched… (drumroll)…

Somewhat Educational Stuff.

Which really means I just picked stuff that I like and told the boys it was that or a bath. So, they learned something, AND avoided personal hygiene. Winners all around. (?)

The kids and I watched two gems from the mighty Netflix.

Here’s the first one, that is NARRATED BY A BRITISH GUY AND YOU KNOW HOW I AM ABOUT BRITISH THINGS:

 

:5d31f49961bc0d9c382348a89e0e5893cc849c9f.jpgthe

In this series, The British Guy (Kevin McCloud) presents to us a strange breed of people who are “self-builders.” This means, they take strange old buildings, ones that aren’t really supposed to BE homes… and they make them into homes. Like, they “self-build” themselves right into an old movie theater.

Or, aherm, that’s theatre, if you’re British.

And, it’s bloody brilliant.

First of all, the builders usually have about five children and are obviously nutty as a fruitcake to even attempt this. But they DO attempt it, and they do so with that typical British cheerful oblivion to discomfort and mess that we Americans cannot even try to fathom. So, it’s like House Hunters International plus Property Brothers plus The Great British Bake-off when someone’s Victoria sponge slides off the table but no one even bats an eye and …oh you get the idea.

But wait, there’s more.

Netflix-Abstract-The–Art–of–Design-Abstract-Logo.jpg

Holy smokes, y’all. People are so smart. Did you know this?

Abstract: The Art of Design reminds you that the world is smushed full of really cool, innovative, interesting, creative people.  And you guys? I don’t know about you, but every once in a while, I REALLY NEED TO BE REMINDED OF THIS.

We watched the episode on automative design. And then I sent the cherubs to bed and binged on the one about architecture, and graphic design, and illustration, but had to stop because the husband wasn’t home and I knew this was one of those Family Shows to Watch All Together kind of things. I showed great self-control and watched only two more.

Or three. I lost count after the one about stage design.

Look, I know Netflix is there for you for your guilty pleasure. It’s got your Grey’s Anatomy. It’s got your kids’ Ninjago.

lloyd____by_forever_ninjago-d7ap3yv.jpg

If you have boys, then you know.

It’s got Santa Clarita Diet which I really want to watch but am also kinda scared. I’ll keep you posted.

 

But, Netflix also has stuff that inspires and makes us dream and imagine, and just zings with creativity. These are the kinds of shows I watch and then, when I’m not watching, I’m thinking about them. They make me… percolate. As a writer, this stuff feeds my soul.

Oh, and back to my children? They’ve been drawing up plans for flying cars for ninjas all week. So, you can thank me later, automotive industry. Two semi-brilliant thinkie types are coming your way.

All because of Netflix. 🙂StreamTeam_Red&White_BlackBackground.png

Get lots of Netflix and rest, and call me in the morning.

38b5768a715174f144d32d2731c4eec2.jpg

 

My friends, lately we have been besieged by the sickness. Also, I have been hiding from social media because everyone is mad and yelling, and so I just want to post pictures of puppies. Here, like this one:

qBgnzJS.jpg

I would like to make a plea, for my own sanity.

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS, STOP YELLING. I KNOW I’M YELLING WHILE I TELL YOU THIS BUT I AM ALL ABOUT IRONY RIGHT NOW. AND, I’M DESPERATE.

OH,  AND THROWING UP. STOP THAT, TOO.

There are times when life just seems to be twisting around,  full of dark ships circling at night, all malaise and doom and puking and glooooooom.

Here. Have another one of these:

Funny-Nature-20.jpg

Sometimes… the best thing to do is hibernate with happy things.

Or, you can hibernate with Netflix and fight the doom and gloom with a series of unfortunate events.

I was hooked on this series of books because they are dark and hilarious and twisty-turny. And, the Netflix adaptation of David Handler’s books is really really REALLY good. Like, dark and funny and so perfectly cast.

A-new-series-of-unfortunate-events-to-hit-netflix-462487.jpg

I have to warn you. The events in this series are really, truly unfortunate. And there are moments where there is sadness and true villainy. But, there is heart too. And real empathy.

The show is not for wee ones. It’s for those that find sarcasm and dark humor their love language, so… anyone in middle school, pretty much.

Because middle schoolers know, probably better than anyone, that a twisty-turny world can sometimes only be combated with an equal dose of dark and stormy.

At one point in the introduction, just as in the books, Lemony Snicket warns us to not continue. He warns that any sort of continuation of this sad and gloomy affair will only keep piling on more sad and gloomy. Life is like that. Relentless.

And then he then turns to the camera and says,

“Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire.. .and when that happens all good, true, and decent people know that it’s time to volunteer.”

He had me at trouble and strife.

And, volunteer.

Enjoy your dark and gloomy and enjoy the SUPERB cast, and just, you know, enjoy a little twisty-turny. It is a children’s book after all. You know, after a long series of unfortunate events, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a long tunnel, but I have the time. Last I checked, my evenings are free, except for Lysoling everything in sight.

tumblr_mcknit5Ekx1qlccb8o1_1280.jpg

 

screenshot-2016-01-27-11-14-52

Have a Scare-Free Halloween with Netflix

fantasia-poster1.jpg

Guys. GUYS! Netflix has FANTASIA!!!!

I have no clever leader here. I am simply too thrilled about Fantasia. The centaurs, cavorting! Mickey and the Sorcerer! The romantic ballet between a hippo and an alligator!

Ok, if you haven’t seen Fantasia then you have NO idea what I’m talking about. Allow me to explain:

FANTASIA! THE BEST! SO AWESOME. I CAN’T EVEN!

Sorry. Ahem. Let me try again: Fantasia is a Disney movie, made in 1940, and it’s unlike any other Disney film made. Ever. It’s a celebration of animation, art, and music. So, dudes like Tchaikovsky (thank you, spell check) and Beethoven show up.

And also, THIS DUDE:

th.jpg

Try meeting up with him when you are about eight years old, in a huge, darkened theatre with a gigantic screen and soft red velvet seats and my mom’s treats from her purse because we never actually BOUGHT treats at the concessions. Don’t ask me why I thought it was important to include that detail, but know this:

Regarding the movie house concession stand: I DO THE SAME THING. My momma taught me well.  I have been known, on occasion, to bring a Diet Coke in to a movie and do the Diet Coke Cough whilst popping it open. They get you at the concessions, people. Bring your own.

ANYWAY. BACK TO FANTASIA.

We have a rule at our house – no scary or spooky for Halloween. My reasoning?  I have kind of had it with 2016 and have decided life is scary enough.

But then… I saw Fantasia in my Netflix cue and thought, “Hey, Satan coming out of a mountain on Halloween night to summon up the undead isn’t THAT awful, right? I FEEL A FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT COMING ON!”

Yea, I know. Consistency is key in parenting. But, to my credit, THIS Satan has a classical score (Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky and then adapted by Rimsky-Korsakov, and if you can rattle off all that Russian in a crowd you will totally impress people. I think. Or, you might spit on them. It’s a lot of ‘S’s.) Also: Satan and the mountain is followed by this:

fantasia-1940-29.png

Shubert’s Ave Maria.

6a00d8341c630a53ef014e8724ab7d970d-pi-1.jpg

It’s a painting, on the screen.

Satan is banished. We are safe, and sacred, in a cathedral in the trees.

I love Fantasia. And no,  It’s certainly not a typical Halloween movie. No jack-o-lanterns. No tricks or treats. But for us, it was perfect.

And also, this year? I have my new costume idea:

Disney_fantasia_Hyacinth_Hippo_wallpaper.jpg

Hyacinth, the Hippo, dancing to Amilcare Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.

Perfection.

For those of you who are a bit braver, here’s a clever idea – Netflix’s savvy understanding that the doorbell can impede serious Netflix binging on all things scary. So, may I present you with  this:

Netflix Pause and Effect.jpg

Good luck with the viewing of the 9-12 slot. I just can’t. Too skeery!

Or, if you are really up for a scare, watch Chopped, the kids’ episode, and start training your kids to step up their game because:

THANKSGIVING IS COMING. Be afraid, kids. Be very afraid.

“So… Whose dish will be on the chopping block?”

chopped-junior-auditions.jpg

 

When You Wish Upon a Disney

screenshot-2016-01-27-11-14-52

 

There are a few things in this life that I would officially label as Annoying but Necessary.

  1. Swim suit shopping
  2. Customer representatives
  3. Kale
  4. The DMV

I have news, y’all. It’s wondrous. Like, the kind of information that makes the sun shine through the trees and little birdies alight on your fingers and then you break into song… I dunno… like a DISNEY PRINCESS MAYBE??

If you Netflix, Disney will come. And Disney will actually manage to redeem the DMV. I thought it could never be done… but yes.

Zootopia Meme(1).jpg

September 20th is already HERE, ya’ll! I know this because I checked. Knowing the date is important.

Anyhow, Disney cometh. All sorts of other movies are heading our way. Fishes with memory issues. Large talking bears. My childhood favorites, and new ones, for my boys to love.

Watch and wait, as the magic happens.

Ok, and while you are waiting, I will provide you with one other option for you. And stay with me here, because I assure you, this one will NOT be family viewing. But, did you know…

fedd3ec9f98a52d1c66c9c8a236f178901bff44e.jpg

Oh yea. It’s on Netflix too. You’re welcome.

But, if you don’t really like the whole shark with big pointy teeth thing? I provide you with THIS: *Dramatic flourish*

“A curious shark, with a curious talent…”

 

 

 

Princesses and Pirates and Popcorn.

Ok. I guess you could say I am a Princess kind of person. I don’t necessarily like pink or tea parties or even tiaras (those are fun on birthdays because then people bring you presents) but if I had to choose…

It’s really by process of elimination. I cannot climb ropes. I don’t like high places. I certainly don’t get all this general swashbuckling about. It’s beyond me. I might be able to swash or buckle, but certainly not both at the same time.

I can rock a mean black eyeliner though. And an eye patch. But that’s another post for another day.

Last week I had two extra boys at my house. We were busy. It was a Star Wars day, which meant we were playing Star Wars legos and Star Wars tag and Star Wars bikes and Star Wars pretty much anything as long as there could be a Luke and someone with a blaster. Steve the cat was Chewbacca. I always got to be Leia. That kind of thing.

It was all fun until that dreaded time after lunch where everyone gets Tired of Each Other.

And then, that’s when I decided to snag them with my Secret Weapon: Princesses.

I know. I know it’s a stretch, stay with me.

I explained that I had been asked to review THIS, which I brandished at them with much flair, and Princessey splendour.swan-princess-dvd-754x1024.jpgThere was some silence. And then I offered popcorn, and they shrugged and said, “Ok!”

I know. This doesn’t sound very promising but here’s the deal: I love watching movies with my kids. And I grew up on Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty… and let’s just say those don’t get a lot of play at our house. And this afternoon, my boys sat and watched a princess become a pirate and this was what they did:

 

photo 4.JPG

They were totally into it, y’all. Total silence. Except for small-boy inhalation-munching of popcorn.

And also this: WHY is there a basket of laundry in EVERY picture I ever take? Curse you, laundry. Diva photo-bomber.

 

photo 1.JPG

The movie had pirates. It had weird beasties. It had high seas and music and adventures and also some moments where we all got the giggles. I snort-laughed at one point. That is a really, really huge compliment, by the way. It means I am invested in the pirates and beasties, which doesn’t happen all time when watching with my boys. It also means I need to work on my social cues, but that’s another post for another day.

Hey, Swan Princess, who knew?
It was all rather surprising.

Popcorn, a movie, pirates, princesses, and a basic lesson on how we shouldn’t pile on expectations. Done. All in one afternoon.

 

The More You Know.

Screenshot 2016-01-27 11.14.52

Here are the Things I Learned On Netflix:

  1. British television is superior to American, in every way. All the time. It’s the law.
  2. When I am tired I seem to want to watch cooking shows. They soothe me, somehow. All is right in the world when you watch someone whip up a maple creme filled zeppole. Also, I learned Italian right there! So double bonus!
  3. Nurse Jackie can be watched until 1 am and then the next morning you kind of feel hungover but NO REGRETS.
  4. THE PEREGRINE FALCON CAN DIVE AT A SPEED OF 143 MILES AN HOUR. FOR REALS. YOU HAVE TO WONDER IF THEY FREAK OUT WHEN THEY DO IT.

Ok, I’m not exactly sure on that last one, as a seven year old was the dispenser of the information there, but he would know. Why? Because the boys watch these cuties:

th.jpg

They love the Brothers Kratt. And, did you know? Chris and Martin are ACTUALLY BROTHERS. And, Chris and Martin LIKE EACH OTHER, at the SAME TIME, WHILE BEING BROTHERS. Amazing.

And so, whenever we watch them, I tend to add my Mom Two Cents after each live-action segment with the Kratts with something like, “Oh look, Martin just let Chris fall and slip in the muddy gator pit but yet THEY ARE NOT FIGHTING ABOUT IT! AT ALL!. Instead, they are smiling and attempting to befriend a gator! And we know there won’t be any blood because children’s programming! Brotherly love!”

Now, Blonde and Red follow me around like a mini Kratts, spouting facts about animals, in a very endearing, if not slightly nutty Kratt-ian way. I’ll be making dinner and one will fly by, and spout at me, in all caps, because that’s their volume setting at all times:

MOM? MOM??? DID YOU KNOW THAT GORILLAS CAN CATCH COLDS?

Or later, in the bath:

ALSO. MOM? A LION ONLY KILLS ABOUT TWENTY TIMES A YEAR.

Or, while drifting off to sleep:

AND? DID YOU KNOW? RATS CAN LAUGH. THEY CAN! WE NEED TO GET ONE AND SEE.

Ok, it’s possible that last fact was not learned through the Kratts. I just always remember my college roommate’s creepy boyfriend who liked to carry his pet around on his shoulder telling me that. It stuck with me, somehow. Things like that do.

This summer on The Netflixes we are learning. All the time. Like, I just learned this from one of my beloved cooking shows, Cupcake Wars:

CRICKETS_CUPCAKES.gif

 

I KNOW, RIGHT????

If for some reason, summer is starting to wear a little thin and you would like your children to USE THEIR NOGGINS FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHACKING EACH OTHER WITH LIGHT SABERS AND FIGHTING OVER TEENY TINY LEGOS, then I suggest Wild Kratts.

Or, this option:

72_cutest_animals_tv_series-341903417-large.jpg

This is also on the mighty Netflixes. AND the narrator? BRITISH. BOOM. DOUBLE BONUS!

Hey, did you know? Ring-tailed Lemurs actually purr when they are content.

YEP, I LEARNED IT FROM THAT SHOW.

maxresdefault.jpg

Thank you, Netflix, for all the learning!