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Sometimes Things Are Just Terrible, Horrible, No Good, and Very Bad
Monday, 07 April 2014

Every year for Christmas, my girls get “experience” gifts from their grandparents: tickets to a few shows each year, accompanied by the family, of course. These shows are always children’s shows, and usually a musical written out of an existing book, such as Fancy Nancy or Martha Speaks or something like that. We absolutely love going to the shows, and the girls think that seeing the book come to life is incredibly cool.

This weekend, we had tickets to go see “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. It’s been a favorite at our house, because it’s so darn relatable: Alexander starts off his day by waking up with gum in his hair and then accidentally stepping on a skateboard, and the day goes downhill from there. You can practically see the black cloud hanging over Alexander as the day goes on, and his mood gets fouler and fouler. As little pebbles are thrown at Alexander – no dessert in lunch, a teacher who doesn’t like his drawing of an invisible castle – those pebbles become an avalanche until all he can do is go to bed and hope that the next day will be better.

We like this book because it shows that some days just, well, stink. Sometimes nothing seems to go right, to the point that you think you’ll move to Australia to get away from it, and nobody notices how bad you feel or even tries to make it better. Alexander doesn’t seem whiney, just miserable, and everyone in my house can relate to a day that’s bad from start to finish. At the end of the day the mom doesn’t come in with a milkshake, the mean brothers don’t treat Alexander kindly, and the universe doesn’t apologize for throwing him a rough day.

At least, it doesn’t in the book. The show we saw, however, was another story.

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It's About the Priorities, Kid
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

We’re coming up on that yearly event when the household goes into a panic and people are frantically rushing around, sorting through songs, debating dance costumes, and arguing with friends over lyric distribution.

Yes, it’s time for the annual school talent show.

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Bragging Rights
Friday, 28 March 2014

We did a lot of fun things over spring break, and spent as much time as was humanly possible outside and being active. We did little hikes, and had several day-long playdates at local parks, and practically spent the entire weekend outdoors on the farm.

But my favorite outdoor time was our Big Bike Ride.

We’ve got a lot of great jogging paths right near our house, and you can get on one and stay on it for miles without having to cross a street or deal with cars. So one day we decided to pack some snacks, get on the bike, and ride to a favorite park.

A few miles away.

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Independence Day
Thursday, 27 March 2014

There’s an article circulating the internet about one Mom’s version of Independence Day: a few times a year, her family has a day where EVERYONE does EVERYTHING for him or herself.

This is very attractive to me.

This mom started her tradition – now something they do a few times a year, for several years and counting – when she realized that all the ways she serves her children may also be holding them back from natural independence. Shoe tying, water fetching, late-homework-bringing, all the things we do because we want our kids to have a good life, can sometimes be what keeps them from figuring stuff out for themselves.

So this family spends one day with the kids making all the decisions – and all the work that goes with them. The kids eat when they want, what they want, watch as much television as they want – whatever they want! But they have to cook for themselves, and clean up after themselves, and get their own drinks, etc. And while this sounds like something best done with older kids, the author’s children were 4 and6 the first time she did it.

I floated the idea to Maddie and Cora and they were immediately enthusiastic about it.

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Nailed It
Monday, 24 March 2014

Lessee – on last week’s to-do list over spring break: Make Every Minute Count.

How’d we do?

We biked. A lot. (More on that later). We ice skated. We ate copious amounts of ice cream.

Maybe some parks? Hit one park with a little cousin, another park with an in-from-out-of-town cousin, stopped at a park on our big bike ride.

Plus a good afternoon at our used bookstore, spending the last of our Christmas gift cards, and several days spent constructing elaborate games with the Thomas the Train set brought down from the attic and the Little People collections dusted off from storage.

And then let’s not forget our long weekend in a cabin in the woods on a working farm: we collected eggs from the chickens, fished a LOT, played in the lake a LOT, roasted marshmellows and made s’mores, stayed up late playing games, slept in, ran wild, read all our new books, and never turned on the television. The girls spent HOURS in the lake catching minnows with their bare hands and filling buckets with their new “habitats”. They played with the farmer’s two-year-old grandson, gaped at a fox caught literally in the henhouse, and helped feed the pet zebra. We paddle boated, splashed in a canoe, dozed on the front porch swing, and completely ignored any clocks.

In short, we conquered that to-do list. Boo-yah.

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