Famsgiving and Thanksgiving

Hey! Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? Where did the first half of this month get off to?
This year my friend/ sister-in-law and I are splitting the cooking and coming together with our respective families. This means more food with less work (plus more wine 😆). I am excited and grateful to share this meal with my family and friends.
We usually go to my mother-in-law’s house but she is traveling over ther holidays and instead opted to host one of those uber-trendy early meals that bloggers dub “Friendsgiving” but I’m calling her version “Famsgiving” because it was family, not friends.
The food was delicious, the kids (9 of ’em! 😮) had a blast with balloons and a kiddie conga line, and every lady in attendance brought a bottle of my favorite wine, Moscato.

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Puerto Rican holidays have a different selection of sides served up with the turkey than the traditional green bean casserole, so we had our turkey with a pasta salad and the World’s Best Rice. Ask anyone who’s tried it and they will agree, my MIL’s arroz con gandules is the. freaking. best. It was lots of fun and lots of yum.
I’m pretty sure we won’t have such a lively celebration, since we won’t be topping off the night with salsa dancing and conga drums, but there will be green bean casserole, gravy, and candied yams, so a good time is still guaranteed!
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Do you prefer the traditional meal or does your family have their own unique traditions?

Should adults have screen time limits like our kids do?

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Should adults limit screen time?

Home and tired after a fun, full day at a local amusement park, Zoomers. I didn’t take any pictures because for once we left the phones in the car. Since I almost always work on Sundays it is rare that we get this kind of quality time together, so we were intent on being in the moment, and a big part of th was leaving the biggest distraction out of the equation.
And guess what? We had a great time.
We waved at the girls as they passed by on their go carts, joined them on the midway rides, played games together in the arcade and made real memories. Way better that twiddling our thumbs on tiny screen or force freezing fake memories that our phones would remember better than us.

It got me thinking about how pediatricians recommend that we limit our children’s screen time, but our own healthcare providers don’t recommend he same for us.
So I’ve decided to impose my own limits. I already limited myself from facebook by uninstalling the app a few moths ago, but I’ve noticed that anytime I’m bored or idle, my hands go straight for the phone.
I am not sure how crazy my husband would be about this idea, honestly, but I would like to see us let the phones go at least one afternoon per week in order to be fully present with our kids and in our little family adventures. It doesn’t even have to be the same day every week, just a day where we are intentionally offline to boost quality time.
I will let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, what about you? Do you enforce limits to your screen time like you do for your kids? Do you find it decreases your stress levels, improves quality time, or makes you more present in the moment to put your phone down? And if you do impose limits, what kind and how often?

Secretly Proud

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The teacher sent a note
I was supposed to be mad
But when it read it
I was secretly glad

She’d been in trouble
For reading during math
She’d been in trouble
For doing what I had

All those years ago
When I was bored in class
How many times had I been caught
With a book in my lap?

I told her gently
That she could read at home
Or even on the bus
But that she must
Show her teacher respect
That Mrs. P worked very hard
On those lessons and tests

My daughter said she would
That she’d never thought of it that way
Then I called my mom
And told her about my day

I knew she’d understand
Cause her bookshelves bulge like mine
And we were secretly proud
And we secretly didn’t mind

Top Ten Animated Adventure Movies

Yesterday I mentioned how much I love animated adventure films and I thought it would be great to share my Top Ten List of Animated Adventure Movies for Kids and the Kid-At-Heart.

These movies revolve around a hero’s quest, have rich fantasy backgrounds, and well-developed worlds. Most also have a killer soundtrack and plenty of humor, which are key to a movie’s replay ability. And if you are going to invest in a movie, it’s gotta be one that will live in the DVD player instead of gathering dust in a drawer.

Top Ten List of Animated Adventure Movies for Kids and the Kid-At-Heart

The Lego Movie
Oh, Lego Movie. This was my favorite for a long time before The Book of Life usurped it. It has the best quotable lines (“Cover your butts.” “Cover the what?” Boom!) The awesomest soundtrack, and a really creative hero story. So good for boys, girls and grown ups. A great family movie.

The Book of Life

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I talked about why I love this movie in this post. It is so good that I had it on for my son the other night and as my husband passed by on the way out of the kitchen he got sucked in and wound up watching the whole thing. That man Does. Not. Watch. Movies. If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

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Finding Nemo
Classic adventure, memorable characters, so cute and so fun. You will never forget Dory and Marlin will grow on you so much you’ll forgive his terrible joke skills.

Cars
Creative, creative, creative. We have a lot of race car fans in my house (especially since builing them is my husband’s hobby) so this one was an instant winner around here. My favorite part is when Guido does a solo pit stop.

Frozen
Does this movie even need a review? Exactly.

Ponyo
A fun twist on the mermaid on land tale. My daughters replayed this movie until the disc wouldn’t play anymore. Then we bought another copy.

Rio
Another movie with lots of awesome music. It’s funny, it has a love story but beware – your kid might suddenly bust out some samba moves when you least expect it aka when it’s least appropriate.

Wall-E
The robot character is so expressive without saying anything at all. No one talks for the first thirty minutes of this film, and neither will your kid.  My daughter used to beg me to save those plastic Easter eggs and she’d nestle the bottom into the top at an angle and call it Eva. Then she and her sister would act out parts of this movie for many (quiet) hours. Any movie that jumps off the screen and into their fantasy play is a keeper.

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Curious George
The bright colors and again, good music, make this one great for the younger crowd. Will Farell and Drew Barrymore keep the adults watching too.

Meet the Robinsons
This movie has great vision and one of my favorite messages “Keep moving forward.” The enthusiasm the creators have for this concept shows through in the story. Family fun, science and imagination all rolled into one.

So that’s my Top Ten List. What movie would you add? List them in the comments, I’m always looking for a new favorite.

A Fine Line

A fine line
A tug of war
Dont grow up
Anymore

Two little girls
Might look the same
But inside
Its night and day

One eats salmon
The other, meat

One independent
One aims to please

One likes dresses
The other, jeans

One likes to draw
One likes to read

A fine line
A tug of war
Dont grow up
Anymore

Keep you little
Keep you safe
Let you grow
Let you go

I pull
You pull
But however hard I try
Time will pull you from my side

You will grow up
And pass that line
But can I keep you
Just a little more time?

The Parenting Line

I buy an animated film or two every week “for the kids” and The Book Of Life is my latest favorite movie. I am a big animated adventure fan and this one has it all: a hero’s quest, a rich fantasy background, a well-developed world, lots of great music, and it’s sooooo funny. It also has a deep cultural vein that takes me back to my Mexican-American childhood. I highly recommend it, obviously.

As I watch it, I get these mixed emotions as my inner-child and my mom heart intersect. I relate so strongly to the Hero’s quest and how Manolo struggles against his family’s wishes in order to follow his heart. But as a parent, I also understand Manolo’s papa. He just wants the best for Manolo, and he sees the Sanchez family legacy as something to be proud of.

Similarly, my little girls don’t always see eye to eye with me. They just wanna grow up and I just wanna keep them here. I wonder where the line is between enforcing what is best and letting them follow their hearts.

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Something I’ve learned in my thirty years is that at any and every given moment each of us is playing both hero and villian to different people in our lives. 

I see how I am both an obstacle and a mentor in their story. And I’m mostly okay with it. But that’s probably because they are only 7 and I still have time. Ask me again at 17…

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When it come to your writing, does structure hype you up or box you in?


Recently I signed up for Poetry 201 here on WordPress. The assignments have three components and you can use them all or pick and choose. You can interpret them as literally or loosely as you’d like, the point is to get you writing.

Sometimes writing without any limits can be daunting. The possibilities are infinite which can make it too hard for me to choose something. The little bit of structure that three terms provide is just enough to send my creativity soaring while keeping it tethered to the ground.

In fact, I’ve noticed that having three key ideas to work with when I set my writing timer makes me the most productive. I generally choose a scene, a word and a person or a location, so this set up is right up my alley.

For the first assignment, we were challenged to write a Haiku while incorporating the word screen and using alliteration.

Here’s mine:

This one tiny screen
Glaring while I am staring
Preventing my dreams

The second assignment consisted of the word gift, an acrostic poem and a similie. Bonus if you try a double acrostic, which is what I did. The first letter of each line spells out my name, the last word of each line composes a related sentence.

Here’s that one:

Center of the family
Essential as the sun is
Loving, giving what’s important
Except to the one that runs it but
Soon will burn and learn that I
Too must rebuild what I am
Enjoy my life again, give to myself, too

Poetry 201 has been a great way to challenge myself and have fun with wordplay. There are a few other courses opening up at Blogging University that I may sign up for after I finish with this one.

How about you? How do you work your creative muscles? Does structure hype you up or box you in? What about using a timer? Do you feel it makes you more productive or just plain pressured?

5 ways to inspire child-like wonder

Lately I’ve not been feeling very cheerful. My life has been lacking that sense of awe that makes the little things seem so inspiring. One way to infuse this sense of genuine appreciation is to look at the world through a child’s eyes and there is no better way to do that than by spending more time with my kids.

So I have been dedicating myself to doing at least one fun thing together per weekday and even more on the weekends. Just two weeks of this and I already feel more excited and motivated throughout each day. It can be easy to get trapped in the homework-dinner-bedtime rut of the everyday, but even one little daily thing to look forward to can spark a smile on everyone’s face, especially mine.

At first, I had trouble coming up with ways to spend time together that were still simple enough to do on a weekday, or quiet enough to do during naptime. But after a few days, my creativity kicked in and now it is fun to come up with new ways to spend time together.

I thought I’d share a list of the fun things we’ve been doing in case you were looking for simple ways to have fun with your 7 year old.

  1. Crafting. We have all these crafty kits that the girls received as birthday gifts, so we’ve been pulling out two at a time during the little one’s nap. We’ve braided bracelets, made bracelets out of rubber bands, filled plastic necklaces with sequins, loomed a rug, and made bookmarks. Mostly a great way to get in some quality quiet time with the kids. Mostly. I’m pretty sure some new grays introdced themselves to my head after I tried to learn how to tie knots for parcord bracelets.
  2. Cook together. The girls and I made a milkshake that tasted just like an Orange Tootsie Pop after dinner the other night. Fun, easy, tasty- what’s not to love (other than having to resist a refill)? We also have oatmeal chocolate chip raisin cookies on the roster for today even though my baking skills are right up there with my knot-tying skills. It should still be fun, especially if we sample a few choclate chips and raisins along the way 😉
  3. Playing cards. Don’t let this pastime go up in cigar smoke! A deck of cards is super cheap, it’s portable, it’s social and there are infinite ways to play. I just taught them Go Fish! and Crazy Eights, but eventually we can move up to more complicated games.
  4. Community events. There are usually some great family events to check out in every community, especially around the holidays. But even on a regular week you can find things if you do a little digging. Michael’s often has $2 kid crafts on Saturdays and Barnes & Nobles has a themed storytime. The local library offers more than just storytime, we go for crafts, games, and guest speakers, too. A local theatre here offers kid friendly matinee shows and the local youth center might offer fun events, too, so don’t forget to look for those.
  5. Backyard picnic. This is a great way to put a twist on your average after school snack. All you really need is a sheet or blanket you don’t care too much about, but you can make it even more special by setting out a vase of flowers, dressing in costume, or choosing a theme, like ladies tea or camping. For ladies tea just cut the crusts off of tiny sandwiches and serve them horderve style. Hot dogs and spooky stories quickly give your picnic a campy feel.

So these are a few of the things we’ve done to make the everyday a little more special and a lot more fun. How do you spend quality time with your kids?


A wwwp5k!

Earlier this week I read about a wordpress 5k challenge starting tomorrow. I have been wanting to get back to consisently hitting the sidewalks again now that the rainy season is finally over and this sounds like the perfect way to get back to it (and back to blogging). Plus, there is this one bridge that I have always wanted to jog over, so here’s to two birds and one stone!

I will be sharing my experience next week (which will probably consist of a lot of huffing and puffing and internal pep talks) and hopefully some shots of the view from the top.

Are you joining in on this fun, fit challenge? If you want to learn more about the 5k check out the link and summary below.

Automatticians, members of the WordPress community, and bloggers around the world come together for our annual run.

Source: Join Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k 2015