Monday, March 26, 2018

March Entertainment Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe another month is almost done and gone! Here in West Virginia, we welcomed spring with a few inches of snow. Enough of that! I am ready to say goodbye to winter.

Since it's the end of the month, let's do our end-of-the-month entertainment wrap-up. 

On Netflix, Hush is an excellent thriller. A deaf writer goes to a cabin in the woods to finish a story deadline, but instead becomes the target of a crazed intruder. A great edge-of-your-seat movie. 

6.6 on IMDb

Rented from Redbox, The Disaster Artist, is wonderful entertainment. Based on a true story, this movie is a hilarious and thoughtful look at the making of the cult classic, The Room, and its writer and director, the eccentric, but endearing Tommy Wiseau.

7.6 on IMDb

Also rented from Redbox. The Florida Project was a good movie. I believe The Florida Project was a contender for this year's Oscar Best Picture. Honestly? I thought this movie was way better than this year's winner (The Shape of Water). This movie was like looking in on a snippet of American reality that is at times touching, but also scary, especially now as America looks on at the violence of our youth and asks, "What's wrong with our kids?"

7.7 on IMDb
I must mention that this movie is enjoyable, but the most impressive part is Brooklynn Prince. This young actor is amazing. If I hadn't watched the making of the movie in the bonus material, I'd have thought this adorable child really was just a natural at being a precocious pain in the rear.

As for books to recommend this month, did you know you can download excellent books for free? Project Gutenburg has lists and lists of titles that are now public domain, so they are free to download onto your Kindle or whatever e-reader you use.

Monday, March 19, 2018

How to TAKE AWAY SCREENS! without losing your mind

"I'm bored."

Don't you hate those words? Kids get bored way too easily. And with Spring Break in the air, we're about to hear them say it more! Especially if you're trying to be a responsible parent and LIMIT their SCREEN TIME. That is such a hard thing to do! Screens are becoming an ADDICTION. We need to remind kids there are other fun options for their down time.

A few years ago, I made a list of things for my kids to do whenever they bemoaned having nothing to do when their video game time was maxed out. I would just point to the list on the fridge. This is a sample (age adjusted, as needed):
  • play a board game/card game/chess
  • Nerf
  • Play-Doh
  • build stuff - Legos/Imaginext/Magnetix/marble slider
  • race matchbox cars
  • Star Wars guys
  • costumes
  • build a fort
  • hide and seek - lots of variations: people or things, in the dark, inside/outside
  • basketball, baseball, kickball, soccer, football, etc
  • pool table/ping pong table
  • puzzles
  • make up a game (ball tag was one)
  • make a video
  • bake with mom 
This is a game My Mom made up for the Grandkids, the Ball Game:

Then there are the less popular items, encouraged to do to earn brownie points for sleepovers or cash:
  • Read!
  • science experiment
  • math practice problems
  • Chores and more chores! There's always chores to do!
  • go through their closet, dresser, or junk drawer
  • walk the dog
My "Stuff To Do" list was made for my boys, but girls can do all this and more! If I had girls, I'd keep most of it the same, depending on what they enjoyed, plus have a ton more stuff on it! These are things I liked doing as a kid (but I played with Barbies instead of Star Wars guys... my battles were like soap operas, not space operas, haha - and that's a post for another time!)

Having these things in an organized list, the kids have a menu to choose from. Instead of searching through their stuff to find something to do, they can read through the list and see what they're in the mood for. They can even help make the list and customize it and adjust it as needed.

Please help save the world, one child at a time and LIMIT SCREEN TIME! We want Creators and Leaders, not Robots (they'll take over the world soon enough, haha)!

Happy Spring!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dining Out with Kids

I went out to eat with my guys on Saturday. My kids are mostly all adults, so going to a sit-down meal is way easier now that they all know better than to lick the salt shaker or try make a great escape from a high chair to forage for crumbs under the table.

It wasn't always easy! Over the years, I learned plenty-- some lessons the hard way-- like don't let them run around in stocking feet. Boy #3, Cole, was two when he was running back and forth from the play space at a fast food restaurant to the chicken nuggets at the table when he slipped, fell, and smashed his face into the table edge. Plenty of tears, blood, and money (medical and dental bills!) later, I realized that things happen fast-- it's best to pay attention and be proactive!

Here are a few tips for keeping kids safely entertained while dining out. 

-Have fun. They grow up-- fast! Enjoy the time you get to spend with them. Fast forward a few years and you'll get to have all the quiet dinners you want. 

-Order ahead, if you're venturing out of the fast food arena. Most places will allow you to place your eat-in order online or over the phone, so your food is ready to eat when you get there. Most menus are online if you need to decide what to order. 
-Distract them. Kids get bored easily. I see plenty on iPads and phones, but there are old school, low tech ways to entertain kids. A notebook and a pack of crayons are not only entertaining, but never run out of batteries or break if tossed on the floor. 
-Interact with them. The habits you make now will last a lifetime. Talk to them when they're two and they will talk to you when they're teens. I hate to see parents totally focused on their cell phones while their kids are doing a Houdini level escape from a high chair. 
-Play with them. Eye Spy and What Animal Am I...great ways to interact in crowded spaces. In Eye Spy, the spotter picks something in eyesight and tells the group the color of the item and everyone guesses until they spot the item. What Animal Am I? One person in the group thinks of an animal and then the group gets to ask questions until they narrow it down to identify the animal. 
-Move around. Take a walk to the bathroom for hand washing. Washing hands before dinner not only uses up some of the wait time, it's a great way to cut down on illness. 
-Reward them. Let kids know when they are doing the right thing. Table manners don't happen by instinct. When they sit in their seats and aren't screaming or throwing food, tell them what good boys or girls they are being. 
-Finally...know their limits. Don't wait until they are starved or fatigued to head out for a leisurely dinner. They're little. Imagine a night out to eat is the equivalent to you going for a jog. Imagine how excited and lovely you'd act if someone made you go for a jog after a long day-- I bet you'd be a crab too. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Quick Fix - I love Sharpies!

Being a writer and a teacher, I have a natural attraction to office supplies. I have to limit my visits to Office Depot and try to veer clear of the stationary aisle at Target. Post-its, paper, and pens Oh my!

And as the Lazy Housewife (Efficiency Expert), I look for ways to make things last. I hate working too hard and I hate spending too much money! Duct tape is probably my number one go to. And Sharpie Markers are a close second. They really make a statement! =D
Besides terrific expressive writing for getting a message across or labeling boxes for packing or shipping, Sharpies are awesome for fixing things up around the house.

Here are just a couple of examples:
Our wood kitchen table has lots of natural imperfections - and my family has added many more, leaving white nicks and chips. I dab a skinny Sharpie on the spots and Ta Daa! Looks a ton better!
I also extend the life of some of my shoes... The heels of my boots were completely worn and faded - but I don't want to buy a new pair until they go on sale (which is pretty soon, but not soon enough to wear this season!)
So much better! Not brand new, but wearable. And I only used a black Sharpie! I tried a brown one as you might be able to see in the before shot, but it didn't match. Black worked perfectly!
(BTW, I only fixed the heels, the lighting was a little different in the second picture.)

I've touched up ceramics, frames, plastic, metal, dice, you name it! And they write on most surfaces without smearing - plastic baggies, tape, glass, fabric, etc.

So, always have black Sharpies on hand if you need a quick touch up for something dark.

Do you have a Sharpie moment? Any advice on touch ups?

Happy March!
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