When Adults Take Time to Have Fun

My children’s Education Foundation Board puts on a dance every year as a fundraiser. It always has a theme and probably 90 percent of the people come in costume. They also have a popular local band play the event. The admission price, $35, includes light appetizers and a great time!

rusty griswolds

The Rusty Griswolds

Parents, who I see everyday rushing their kids to and from school and soccer practice, stressed out over homework and all while working 40 hours a week , take this one night a year to just cut loose. They ditch the yoga pants or suits and dress to fit the theme. This year’s theme was Reel Fun. It was kind of Hollywood style. People came as movie stars, theater ushers, film crew and their favorite TV and movie characters. Everyone enjoyed the cash bar and danced all night to the Rusty Griswolds.

The Griswolds are a local 80’s band that has been playing in the Cincinnati area for several years. They were also dressed for the occasion. Women who are usually ready to pull their hair out from their busy schedules were on stage dancing with the band. Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dirt, the cast of The Walking Dead and A League of the Their Own, Pink Ladies, Taylor Swift and Cat Woman filled the dance floor. Once the dance ended at midnight, several of the attendees, in their costumes, went to a nearby bar to dance even more.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!

Throughout the evening I had a chance to talk to parents who I usually just see in passing. I also met a lot of people for the first time. It was awesome to make new friends and get to have fun with people I already knew. We were able to just have fun with people we will see for at least 12 years of our lives and not worry about the kids for just a little while (BTW, the local YMCA always offers a lock-in the night of the dance).

It was an awesome reminder that we need to take time for ourselves, step outside the box and go have fun without the kids. How do you take time for yourself?

baseball team

What I would do Differently… If I Ever Date Again

I have found myself once again inspired by Single Dad Laughing’s blog. He has done a 2-part post on ways he blew his marriage. You can find the first 16 ways here. You can find the next 15 here. These two posts went extremely viral and people commented like crazy.  I read both and as a woman with a divorce and a broken engagement behind her, I thought they were fantastic.  Both posts were heartfelt, honest and courageous. It had to be so hard for Dan, the author, to share his most inner thoughts like this.

Several men commented saying they would love to see a woman write such an honest post. I’m not sure if I can put myself out there quite like Dan did but I’m willing to take a stab at it. I know I wasn’t perfect in my marriage or my engagement. I think that I get better at relationships as I get older. I realize that might sound crazy considering I’m getting ready to turn 38 and still single but I really do think I’m better at relationships. I am honest with myself and the other person, I don’t continue dating someone just so I’m not alone, I realize bad situations and I’m much more confident.

There are a lot of things that Dan mentioned that he did wrong… many women do the same things so I don’t want this to just be a repeat of his list. For that reason, mine probably won’t be as long; however, I might use some of the same items but from a different perspective. I’m also not going to steal his exact writing style. I will be talking about things that I could have done differently in the two relationships that have had the most impact on me – my marriage to T and my engagement to B. I do want to be clear; I don’t think T or B were the right men for me to spend my life with. So my post is a little different than Single Dad Laughing’s. I guess mine is a little more about… well, let’s find out:

1.       Don’t marry young

I should have never gotten married at 20. If you are not old enough to have a drink at your own reception or rent a car in your name, you probably are not old enough to make the decision to spend the rest of your life with someone. You need to figure out who you are before you give yourself to someone else.

2.       Know that fighting is not passion

T and I fought a lot when we were dating. Most people   knew it. My friends would even ask why I was with     someone who I fought so much with. At 19, I would explain that it was because we were so passionate about each other. Passion doesn’t really mean fighting so now I would find a different way to show my passion, which would not include whipping a roll of quarters so hard through the house that it was stuck behind a wall. If I ever date anyone else, I would recognize that fighting all the time is not healthy and decide whether the relationship was right for me.

3.       Be confident

In my teen years and early 20’s I was very insecure. Most people who knew me then are probably surprised by that statement. I always came off strong, confident and as a girl who fought for what she believed in. I fought for everything but myself. Honestly, confidence is sexy and most men will like that. If they don’t like you being confident then they probably aren’t the right man. I also learned that an insecure girl shouldn’t be in a serious relationship, let alone getting married. If I am ever to date anyone else, I will examine my confidence and self-esteem level. If it’s not where I think it should be, I will realize it’s not the relationship for me (or him).

4.       Don’t be cocky

I was very insecure when I met T, however, I was a little cocky when I met B. I was much older, was in a good place emotionally, had a good job and wasn’t looking for Mr. Right. Well, I guess that’s good because I found Mr. Wrong. I was just out with friends the night we met. I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone and even told him in a very cocky way that I didn’t expect anything to come of it. I knew that he liked me more than I liked him in the beginning and I think I made it clear that I knew. If I ever date anyone else, I will appreciate someone’s admiration for me, even if it’s more than I’m able to give at that point, instead of being cocky about it.

5.       Be flexible

B and I had been dating a few weeks when I told him flat out that I’d be difficult to date. At that point, I was so busy with kids, enjoying being with my friends and was very aware of the fact that I’m an over planner and overachiever. I probably had the next six months of my life already scheduled when I met him. Now in my defense, I stopped scheduling so far in advance once we met but I wanted to keep my commitments. I was and am also the Girl Scout Leader and the PA for my daughter’s soccer team. I wasn’t willing to give up my volunteerism, miss school events or soccer games or give up anything else. I also don’t think I should have been asked to miss or give up anything that involves my kids. However, my time was extremely limited, which is hard in a new relationship, and I’m sure I could have freed up my schedule some in order to spend more time with him. If I ever date anyone else, I will be more flexible with my schedule.

6.       Truly listen

I have a degree in journalism and communication. It shouldn’t be difficult for me to listen to someone, I mean truly listen, and realize when they aren’t saying everything. But it was. Well, maybe it was because I didn’t really want to hear what was being said. Between the two of us, B and I have four kids. His two boys are about the same ages as my daughter and son. I was renting an apartment and B owned a small two bedroom, one bath home that needed a lot of work. There was a laundry room that he also threw a bed in but that doesn’t really count as a third bedroom. At first, B didn’t do any work to get his house ready to sell saying he didn’t have any money. He honestly didn’t have any money but some of the stuff was labor he could do himself. Eventually I ended up paying with my money for people to work on the house and I did a lot of labor myself. My kids even helped. I’m very practical and was just trying to get it done so we could start our lives together. He fought every step of the way. He didn’t want the fire place painted, the closets cleaned out or the kids’ room organized. It made no sense to me. He constantly complained about having it clean for showings but would tell me how he couldn’t wait to marry me. It wasn’t until the end of our relationship that he finally flat out said that he didn’t want to sell his house and just wanted me and the kids to move in there. He worked hard for that house and wasn’t ready to give that up. I was not willing to move in that tiny house with four kids and two adults but a lot of arguments could have been avoided if I had truly listened earlier on. If I ever date anyone else, I will make a point to truly listen and try to be more aware of underlying issues.

7.       Talk instead of becoming resentful

I often did not speak up in any of my relationships. I would hold things in to avoid disagreements, which only resulted in me being resentful. Dan mentions in his posts that he should have never stopped holding his wife’s hand and should have shown affection and not just because he was trying to have sex.  I started withholding sex (oh I hope my parents, aunts, brothers, cousins and kids are not reading this) because I was not getting the affection and hand holding I needed. If I would have just spoken up, when it wasn’t at that moment that he wanted to get intimate, I may have avoided a lot of arguments. If I am ever to get married again (because I would never have sex without getting married; right mom?), I would remind him that I needed that attention more often than at bed time. I would also show him more affection.

8.       Do not let exhaustion get in the way of intimacy

Just so you know, I am really uncomfortable talking about intimacy of any kind. Anyway, I would often be so tired from work, kids, sports, etc. that the idea of being intimate at bedtime was the last thing on my mind. I knew that he often felt rejected but I let my LOVE for sleep get in the way. If I was ever to get married again (because I would never be intimate with someone without getting married; right dad?), I would try to head to bed earlier, drink an extra cup of coffee or get a quick nap in at some point in the day. Or I would just suck it up and get a little less sleep from time to time.

9.       Do not be bullied or bully him

I think most of us never think of ourselves as being a bully but it does happen. We want something really bad so we can up with ways to manipulate our significant other into doing whatever it is or giving it to us. I know I have been guilty of it. He would often tell me “but it’s important to me. How can you say no if it’s important to me?” This included things like wanting me to change my last name, cancel things with my friends who were in town because he wanted me to do something, missing my own events for his work events, etc.  FYI: there is a difference between being important and being important to you. If I were to ever date anyone again, I would be strong enough to discuss how I feel bullied by those kinds of statements and I would not use manipulation to get my way.

10.   Be honest with yourself and him

There was a point where I knew our relationship was falling apart. I knew he wasn’t being honest with me about finances, kid issues and more. I would ask if everything was okay, he’d say yes and I’d accept that. I knew this wasn’t the case. I also knew that I wasn’t okay. At one point I even told him I’d consider moving in to his tiny run-down home even though I would have never actually done that. I just told him because I wanted to stop fighting and didn’t want another failed relationship. I even told him I wanted to change the location of the wedding (from my parents’ backyard to??) in hopes of postponing the date. I don’t know why I didn’t just say I needed more time or whatever was on my mind. I guess I was trying to not hurt his feelings but everyone was hurt in the end. If I ever date anyone again, I will be honest with myself and him because no wins when you lie, even if you think you are telling the truth.

11.   Keep the surprises coming

When relationships are new and exciting, both people tend to surprise each other with little getaways, flowers, cute little outfits, candle lit dinners and much more. As the relationship becomes “comfortable,” the surprise factor seems to stop or become a lot less often. If I were to ever date anyone again, I would make a point to surprise them regularly with little gifts, cute little outfits, dinners, trips and other cool stuff because it keeps things interesting and shows that you are thinking of him.

12.   Support each other

B worked at a job where he had A LOT of events. I went to a lot of them but there were things I missed. Although I don’t think I could have gone to every single thing, I needed to prioritize better. He didn’t seem to care as much about certain ones as he did others. I should have been at the ones that were really important to him. On that same note, he should have been at things that were important to me, which he rarely was. I think in a way I decided if you can’t go to my things then I’m going to skip the stuff important to you. If I ever date anyone again, I will prioritize and support them in work and family life. I will also make it clear that it’s important that he shows me support as well.

13.   Rub his damn feet

This has to sound nuts but in three of my long-term relationships, I have had fights over feet rubbing. I love to have my feet and shoulders rubbed. However, I HATE to touch feet. I seriously have a phobia. I think men’s feet are so gross. I know women’s feet can be nasty too but not mine. I take care of mine by getting pedicures once a month. I seriously don’t want to rub anyone’s feet but my goodness if it’s going to avoid arguments; I need to get over my phobia. If I ever date anyone again, I will invest in a lot of brand new socks and then ask the guy to wear them while I rub his feet.

I could go on and on I’m sure but I’m going to stop my list here. Again, I don’t regret ending these relationships; however, I could have been a better partner. If we are going to be in a relationship, we should be considerate, caring, supportive and just plain nice to each other. If we can’t be these things, we probably need to end it. Actually, after writing this, I’m a little disappointed in myself. I think my next post might be “Things I have done Right.”

What do you think of my post? What did I miss? Is there something you wish you would have done differently in the past or plan to do differently in the future?

Written by: Gina Holt

P.S. Check out Single Dad Laughing. Hilarious! And he did a much better job with this than I did.


“The List”

My son’s elementary school has a tradition that I really won’t miss next year as he enters middle school. Each year they set aside one day in the summer where they post class lists. “The list” says who their teacher is and who is in their class. Children and parents rush to the school, run down the steps to the gym and crowd around the back wall elbowing their way through so they can see “the list.”

Parents, including me, take pictures of “the list” so they can remember who is in their child’s class and talk to all of the other parents about it later. Many of the kids don’t even ask who their teacher is; they just want to know who is and isn’t in class with them. The kids even check to see where other kids ended up.

“The list” was posted on Monday at 6 p.m. There were easily 150 people in the gym by 6:03. Later that evening, I headed to the dog park. A fifth grade girl was at the park. I mentioned that I noticed she was going to be in class with Joey this year. She nodded in agreement and then said “but I was so sad that C (we aren’t going to use her full name) and Joey aren’t going to be together.” It took me a minute to figure out what she was saying. And then it hit me… last year’s drama. Joey and C apparently were boyfriend and girlfriend but they eventually broke up. C continued to have a crush on him. Joey definitely liked her as a friend but wasn’t sure about that girlfriend stuff. He hadn’t seen C since the last day of school. And here a classmate, not even C, sees me after seeing “the list” and her concern is that C and Joey aren’t in class together. Huh? Am I that out of touch that I just don’t get why this was the concern?

So back to “the list”… Within an hour of it being posted, I received several texts, emails and Facebook messages telling me that our kids are or are not in class together. I’ve received messages saying “can you believe X in class with my son. This is going to be a horrible year.” And “How did J and G end up together again? Everyone knows they are drama together.” And “thank goodness B and K are together.” By the way, I am completely making these letters up, and exaggerating the comments. .. a little. I’m also guilty of messaging people.

I have to tell you when my daughter was at this school, “the list” day was very important to me. In fact, I would stress for a few days prior to it being posted. I didn’t want her to be in class with the “mean girls” (you know the ones… they are the girls who call themselves popular but really they are just mean and everyone is afraid of them).  She is also very sensitive so I would hope and pray for the teacher of my choice. I know Andi would worry as well. She has always had a good group of friends but mean girls are mean!

It’s different now though. I don’t give much thought to Joey’s “list” going up. Yes, I’d like him to have a friend or two in his class but I don’t worry about who else is in or not in the class. Although I have a preference, I don’t  worry about who his teacher is going to be. He is attending one of the best schools in the state so it seems like it would be hard to get a bad teacher. He is definitely curious about who is in his class and will miss a few who aren’t but he is much more relaxed about it than his sister ever was.

It also hit him last night, as he met the new principal, that he is a FIFTH GRADER, the top of the school, the ones who set the example, the ones who… wait for it… GET TO PUT THE FLAG UP OUTSIDE EACH MORNING! This is going to be an exciting year no matter what “the list” says.

Travel the World in a Day

Today I loaded up my children and our two house guests – Holland, 10, and Roman, 9, and headed to Jungle Jim’s in Fairlfield, Ohio. This 35-40 minute drive allowed us to travel the world in about 90 minutes. We visited Asia, Italy, Holland, Mexico, England, Germany and much more. We even saw Elvis and the singing Campbell’s soup can! The kids were super excited to see the Prize-winning restrooms that look like port-o-lets on the outside.

Before heading out, the kids teamed up and picked a dessert recipe. We then made a list of ingredients for each team knowing that when we got there they would search for their ingredients. Roman and Andi chose to make Italian lemon tiramisu and Joey and Holland decided to make a raspberry delight.

Holland and Roman had never been to Jungle Jim’s so they were excited when we pulled out front. They loved the waterfalls and characters out front. We were all disappointed though when we couldn’t find a handicap parking spot (Read Catching Up to see why we need a handicap spot) and discovered that most of the cars in those spots did not have handicap tags or stickers.  I ended up dropping the four kids, ranging from 9 to 13, off in front of the store; parking the car and meeting back up with them. I actually counted on my way to the store and saw at least a dozen cars without tags in handicap spots. That was very upsetting to my 10-year-old who needs a walker and it made me think that the author of People I’d Like to Punch In the Throat should give those people a good punch!

Once inside, we started our hunt. It would be easy to spend hours in there with the incredible wine section, olive bar, cheese counter, bakery, pet area, produce department and so much more. In addition to featuring all the different countries, there is a garden area, bank, post office and cell phone store.

I allowed each kid to pick one fruit they had never tried. I believe we ended up with a banana mango, star fruit, some weird thing none of us can remember the name of and the dragon fruit. Each child was also given $2 to buy some type of candy or treat. The girls combined their money and the girls did the same. The girls picked Italian chocolate, I chose an orange German chocolate and the boys… well they picked gum balls.

We couldn’t find certain ingredients so we asked a worker in the isle near the olive bar. She didn’t know and told us to ask at the olive bar. The woman at the bar didn’t know and told us to go to the bakery. Now remember, this is not a small store and my son is using a walker. So we went to the bakery where we were able to find one item and told us what area the other item might be in. After asking the fourth employee we saw, we found the item. I do wish the customer service would have been better. We did have a map but it just labeled the departments.

On our way to the checkout we found bananas dipped in chocolate ice cream. I bought a box of 5 for $2.99 and it was completely worth it! They were so good and it was a nice cold treat to enjoy on the way home.  I also grabbed a nice bone for puppy. She was very happy!

Our bill was about $90. I was a little shocked by this. We are making two desserts and just picked up a couple other items. We did have to get things like sugar, flour and vanilla extract, which definitely cost more there than they would have at Kroger. As soon as we got home, the kids started making their desserts. It was fun to watch them work together and enjoy cooking.

This is definitely an activity I would do again with the kids. However, next time, I will pick basic items up at the local grocery store and just purchase the unique items at Jungle Jim’s. I would also like to do the tour, which cost $5 each.

Overall, it was a fun activity for the kids and a great way to spend the day. Big thanks to Stockpiling Moms and Family Friendly Cincinnati for the idea. What unique activities do you do with the kids in the summer?

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Catching Up

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I have not had a new entry since late March and a lot has happened between then and now. A LOT – LIFE CHANGING EVENTS.

Let’s see…

  1. Attacked by a dog
  2. Son diagnosed with a cancer-like condition, had a bone graph and was in a wheel chair
  3. Daughter turned 13

Yes, I, the crazy dog lover who goes to the dog park every single day and has had a dog her whole life, was attacked on March 31. Very long story short, my neighbor’s dog got loose and she was not home. I was on the sidewalk in front of her house deciding what I should do when the 150 pound Rottweiler mix lunged toward me. He seemed to be going for my face but I blocked him with my arm. Thank goodness because muscles were actually hanging out of my arm when it was over. He actually got my arm and leg a few times. Thank goodness for another neighbor, who in spite of having a baby in a Snuggy on his chest, beat the dog off me because the dog was not going to stop. Unfortunately, my daughter, who is now 13, witnessed the whole thing from maybe 10 feet away. We both still have nightmares. Mine often include seeing her face watching the attack. Thank goodness it was me and not Andi. I did end up with five stitches in my arm, a nasty infection, permanent scars on my arm and leg, a little bit of nerve damage and a new fear of strange dogs. Yes, the neighbor is taking care of things through her insurance and the dog no longer lives on my street.

My son had been complaining for a few weeks about pain in his leg. It first appeared as a pulled muscle in his thigh but it kept getting worse and seemed to be spreading. I took him to the pediatrician who after blood work and x-rays told me it was growing pains. My gut told me it was much more. I scheduled an appointment with Commonwealth Orthopedics in Northern Kentucky hoping they would do a MRI. They refused to do the MRI saying it would be emotional for him and that it was just growing pains. Again, my gut told me it was much more. He literally fell to the ground the next morning when he tried to get out of bed. I called the pediatrician insisting it was more and was finally given a referral to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Orthopedic Center. At this point, I was convinced my son had Muscular Dystrophy. His leg literally dragged behind him, he didn’t want to do any activities at all and eventually started using crutches. The doctor at Children’s took it serious, agreed it was much more than growing pains and scheduled an MRI for the next day, Saturday, April 21. Within five minutes of leaving the MRI, they called and said they saw something and figured it was just an infection. The woman told me we’d need to see the doctor early in the week for an antibiotic. I was so relieved to know they had an answer that I cried of joy. That quickly changed on Monday, April 23.

Dr. Johnson of Cincinnati Children’s had his nurse Judy call me Monday morning. “Ms. Holt, we need you to bring Joey in this afternoon and you might want to bring your husband,” she says. I explain that we are divorced and that his job is not nearly as flexible as mine. I ask if it’s okay if I come by myself. “Yes, that’s fine.” At this point I’m still thinking he just has some infection and needs an antibiotic. I quickly wished Joey’s dad, my dad, my mom, brother or some other adult had been with me.

“It’s not the big C,” Dr. Johnson immediately says. Joey jumps in with “I know what the big C is.” He’s a funny kid. The doctor continues by telling me that his hip bone has been eaten away, he has a rare condition called Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), which is only found in about 5 in 1 million kids. Adults can have it but it’s usually diagnosed in children between birth and 4-years-old (Joey is 10). He explained that it’s in the cancer family but there is debate about whether it is a cancer or not. He told me that they don’t know much about it, including how it is caused. I remember him saying something about chemo if the bone graph of his hip doesn’t work. I believe my mind went completely blank at this point. I am not sure that I heard or understood anything else.

Joey was sitting right there for all of this so I stayed as strong as I possibly could. I was so numb. Next thing I know, we are in x-ray so he can have more tests. I asked to step out of the room for a second and just break down completely. I called his dad and explained what was going on the best I could. I then got myself together for Joey and headed home. Once I wheeled him inside, I called my parents, siblings and best friends. His dad came over and we started looking the disease up on the computer and preparing ourselves for the surgery that was to take place just two days later.

To recap, we were told for weeks that it was growing pains, saw the Children’s Hospital orthopedic on a Friday, MRI on Saturday, diagnosis on Monday and a biopsy and bone graph on Wednesday. It was crazy!

The 5 hour surgery went as well as could be expected and he was sent home in a wheel chair. We were told that he could not bear weight at all for 8 to 10 weeks (it was 9). I have a steep hill and several steps up to my house. My son had to be carried in and out the first few weeks. We only left for doctor appointments because it was too hard to get in and out of the house. Luckily some friends helped me track down a stair lift and get it installed at a reasonable price. This made our lives so MUCH EASIER. It’s amazing how the little things do that.

He was recovering extremely well for two weeks. We sent him back to school in the wheel chair on a Monday. He came home tired but I figured that was expected. He ended up screaming out in pain all night. It was awful. We called the doctor the next morning and went in. Our orthopedic wasn’t there but another one came in to see Joe. At one point we were told he was going to be in a hip spica cast which meant he wouldn’t be able to sit up, go to the bathroom or anything on his own. I once again was in complete shock. Luckily there was a nurse named Kelly who was a true advocate for my son. She asked all the right questions and demanded tests that made the doctors realize the cast wasn’t needed. Apparently he had a nerve issue from a piece of the graph that had moved and hit a nerve in his leg. Seriously??? He would just scream out in pain over and over again. He was admitted to the hospital for five days where they ran more tests and tried to manage his pain. I finally just asked to come home and manage the pain myself.

Pain management suggested we try acupuncture so we did. Kristen at Tiny Needle Acupuncture was truly amazing. Once the needles were in, Joey said “this is the first time I have been pain free in months.” Tears just rolled down my face. I was so thrilled my son was pain-free, even if momentarily. After a few visits though, he was completely pain-free. I was a skeptic but not anymore. I even tried it for my lower back and it was great.

After nine weeks in a wheel chair, Joey now uses a walker. He even took a few steps on his own today. He should be able to walk normally in just a few weeks. He probably won’t ever be able to play sports but we don’t even care about that at this point. We have come so far. Unfortunately, LCH can reactivate at any time and in any part of the body. The treatment could vary from surgery and steroid treatments to chemo and many other invasive treatments. Luckily there is only a 33 percent chance it will reactivate in Joey’s bones or skin. It’s a very small chance that it will infect his organs (Thank God). Joey will have regular scans and tests to check for LCH.

Joey did develop a talent through all of this. Thanks to my co-worker Amy for delivering library items and Artie’s Magic Shop in Covington, Joey has become a magician. He has a lot of fun showing neighbors, friends and family his tricks.

So in the midst of all this, my daughter Andi officially became a teenager on May 28. She had three friends stay the night and had a cake decorating contest. I think it just made me feel older.

So now that you are all caught up… I will try to post regularly and keep my posts much shorter.

My Crazy Life With Two Kids

Literally pulling my hair out.

I realized this morning that I am completely overbooked and as the writer of People I want to Punch in the Throat would say, I am an Over Achiever Mom (OAM). However, this OAM is just not cutting it. I have good intentions, I really do but I’m learning that I just can’t balance it all.

This single mom is the Girl Scout Leader, helps with Boy Scouts when I can, is the parent administrator for the soccer team, sits on several committees for work, volunteers at school and local nonprofits, has an adorable but very demanding puppy, constantly has the kids friends over, works full-time, and wants to be the best mom ever. I also am responsible to take them to all orthodontist and doctor appointments, school concerts, practices, etc. And I VERY RARELY miss a game and never miss a school program.

Girl Scout Trip at Natural Bridge

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Last week, the day before Dr. Seuss’ birthday, I thought it would be a good idea to make “hat” treats for the kids’ classes. At 8 a.m. that morning, before my day really started, it did sound like an awesome idea. But by 5 p.m., when I was leaving work and still had to go to the store to get $30 worth of items, it didn’t sound so fun anymore. I came home to discover my almost 13-year-old and her friend had decided to make 2 dozen no-bake cookies. Wow! I wish they were no-mess cookies. There is a child in my son’s class with a nut-free allergy so the kitchen had to be scrubbed top to bottom before we could start making the hats (totally worth it though so that she could enjoy the treat). Luckily A decided to jump in and make most of the hats out of Oreos, icing and red Gummy Savers. Seventy hats later, I was ready to pack them up for school.

That morning, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, I’m already in my car leaving for work when my daughter calls and says she forgot her treats at home. “Are you kidding me?” All that work and her hats are sitting in the kitchen. Of course I turn around because I can’t imagine wasting them. I run them up to school and finally head off to work.

Waiting out the tornado.

Then the weekend came. Friday night: J tells me he can’t find his black pants that are required for his Odyssey competition the next day. Rehearsal is in 30 minutes. So right before the tornadoes are supposed to hit (yes, I live in NKY), we run to Target. The cashier is dumb enough to say in front of my 10-year-old, “you better hurry, the tornado is coming and is going to destroy us.” Really buddy? Was that necessary? I rush J to school for practice, knowing that the basement at school is probably the safest place he could be if we had a tornado. I then rush home to be with my daughter and puppy during the storm. We bunker down in our half bath in the basement. The tornado doesn’t hit us but did hit nearby towns. The next hour is spent checking on friends. After cutting veggies and making dip, A and I leave to pick up J from school and then head to a family fish fry at my cousin’s home. We finally get home at 10 p.m. when a friend calls me for an emergency ride 40 minutes away… I finally get to bed at midnight.

Between tournament games

Scout playing with Buddy at the dog park.

Saturday: Get my daughter out the door at 7:20 a.m. for her soccer game and leave shortly after with J for the Odyssey Competition (he took second place!). We were there until 2 p.m. After we headed to Graeters Ice cream to celebrate as a team and got home about 3:30. I then headed to the park with our puppy to let her run off some energy. I decided we were staying in the rest of the night and that we would not have friends over or go anywhere. I needed a break.

Sunday: A wakes up not feeling well and has a low-grade fever. The puppy is puking. Awesome day ahead! I cleaned up the house and finally watched Judy Moody (very good). I ran to Target to buy items for a friend impacted by the tornado and the local Animal Shelter that was housing the animals until they could be reunited with their families. We then headed to my mom’s to celebrate her birthday.

Monday comes and back to work. I have a lot of paperwork to do for the soccer team that I still haven’t finished, a to do list at work that is a mile long, puppy training Monday night, a school concert Tuesday night, soccer practice tonight, a very messy house and I could go on and on. So today, I am finally in my car and start to head to work when my Droid beeps. I tend to ignore this when I’m driving but luckily looked before getting on the highway. I see that I am supposed to be at my son’s school in 5 minutes to participate in gym class with him. I know he’s expecting me. CRUD! I turn around and head to school making it with about 30 seconds to spare. I call work on my way in and tell them of my delay. I get into gym class to bowl as the email invite said. Apparently we are doing exercise bowling. If you miss three pins the entire team has to do three star jumps. If you miss one pin, everyone has to do a crazy dance. If you miss five, you have to do five pushups. Wow, I wasn’t expecting a workout but I guess it was a good way to start the day. Then we started “CRAZY” bowling. We had a disco light and had to roll the dice to see which way you rolled the ball. I found myself having to do the old between the legs and J had to lie on his belly to throw the ball.

Parent/Child Bowling in Gym Class

It was a lot of fun but I almost missed it! He would have been so devastated. I almost missed it because I’m way overbooked and can’t keep things straight. I can’t imagine giving up any of it though… well maybe work but that’s not really an option. I feel like my house suffers more than anything. Notice that none of this included “me” or “dating” time, which I have completely given up on. So how do all you other parents do it? How do you stay on top of everything? How do you balance it all and not lose your mind?

Around Town (and at home) With the Kids

Watching Live Sports

 Recently I put together a list of activities in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond for a friend who was having a hard time coming up with inexpensive and free things to do with his children. He was looking for ideas of things to do at home and out and about. So I asked my friends and family to contribute their favorite things to do and was able to compile a pretty comprehensive list. I even broke it down by weather and if it was free or cost. I thought I’d share this list on my blog because I’m sure many other parents would love to see it.

I also want to suggest visiting my friends at www.familyfriendlycincinnati.com, www.stockpilingmoms.com and www.365cincinnati.com since they are always posting great activities.


Any season activities – Free

  • Cincinnati Art Museum (do a little research and make a scavenger hunt before you go)
  • Krohn Conservatory
  • National Museum of the US Airforce in Dayton
  • Dance together like no one is watching
  • Play active video games together
  • Go to a local gym and play basketball
  • Watch movies together
  • Cook or bake together
  • Look around Ikea or Jungle Jims
  • Lunken Airport to watch planes take off
  • Build things like a bird house or do crafts
  • Visit the Public Library
  • Obstacle course inside or out
  • Blue Marble Bookstore in Fort Thomas or other local Bookstore
  • Put photo albums together
  • Volunteer to serve food at Hosea House, Parish Soup Kitchen or another local agency
  • Tell stories
  • Camp in the living room
  • Lowes and Home Depot Workshops

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Warmer Weather Activities – Free

  • Walk around Fountain Square/Downtown
  • Walk the Purple Bridge between Newport and Cincinnati
  • Watch boats on the river
  • Fishing
  • Early morning at Turfway Park – watch horses train
  • Go for a walk
  • Play sports together in the yard
  • Lunken Airport Aviation Days in May
  • Bike trails
  • Walk around Art shows
  • Devou or Eden Park
  • Hiking
  • Nature scavenger Hunt
  • Parky’s Farm
  • Hamilton County, Kenton or Boone Parks – lots of parks have free programs if you look at website
  • Walk around Mount Adams and look at cool old buildings and churches
  • Hocking Hills – Ohio
  • Clifty Falls – Indiana
  • Lunken Airport Play field
  • Sawyer Point
  • Plant a garden at home or for a neighbor

Activities that Cost

  • Behringer Crawford Museum (free one Sunday a month)
  • The museums at Union Terminal
  • Cosi in Columbus
  • Cincinnati Zoo
  • Plays downtown or at theater in Fort Thomas
  • Children’s Museum in Indy
  • Indianapolis Zoo– dolphin show
  • Louisville Slugger Museum
  • Movies
  • Out to eat (check to see where kids eat free)
  • Laser tag
  • Baker Hunt Art
  • Bowling
  • Recca Roller Rink
  • Cincinnati Fire Museum
  • Dinsmore House Tour
  • Color Me Mine
  • Lego Kids Fest March 23-25 at Convention Center
  • Concerts
  • Apple orchard, blueberry picking, – some might be free
  • BB Riverboat
  • Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park
  • Top of Carew Tower ($1 or $2)
  • Reds Games
  • Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Ride the Duck
  • Newport Aquarium
  • Florence Freedom Games
  • Cyclones Hockey Games
  • Roller Derby
  • Lego Store in Kenwood has weekend events
  • RockQuest
  • Dave & Busters
  • Kings Island
  • Beach Water Park
  • Booneshoft Muesum in Dayton
  • Bellevue Beadery

 Please comment here with questions about any of these places or add activities my friends and I might not have thought of. I can’t wait to read about all the fun things you do with your kids at home or out on the town!

Puppy Obsession

I am obsessed. I have become one of those people I used to make fun of and couldn’t begin to understand. I am completely in love with my puppy and miss her dearly when I’m at work, out with friends or doing stuff outside of the house with the kids. I think about her all day and can’t wait to get home to her.

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When I am home, I spend a lot of time with her. We go for walks, go to the park, play fetch, work on tricks and snuggle on the couch together. We attend puppy play dates and puppy training. I truly try to plan my schedule around her. Part of that is because I’m obsessed but also because I feel so bad that she is locked in a crate when we are gone.

I ask all potential “dates” how they feel about dogs because I figure if they don’t like them, there is no sense in even going out once.  I did discover that this is not that abnormal. According to  http://www.livescience.com/18519-women-dogs-happy-relationships.html a woman is more satisfied in her relationship when her partner feels the same about her pet as she does. If she’s close to her dog, he’d better be, too. If she’s more aloof, it’s better if he doesn’t get too snuggly with Fido. For men, on the other hand, a woman’s closeness to his pet doesn’t affect his relationship satisfaction at all, according to study researcher Kristen Capuozzo, a doctoral candidate at the University of Houston.

But my kids are even jealous of my relationship with our cute little puppy. They realize Scout will come to me before them, that she listens better to me and that I love to cuddle with her. It’s not that I love the puppy more by any means or even that I want to spend more time with her than them. But you know, the puppy is not a 10-year-old boy who lives in his own world and ignores me until he wants something or an almost 13-year-old girl who thinks I’m stupid and never know what’s going on. The puppy doesn’t talk back, she will still kiss me in public and cuddle on the couch, she doesn’t complain about what I’m watching on TV, she doesn’t kick me if I let her nap with me, doesn’t bicker with her siblings (A &J) and doesn’t expect me to make her a special meal because she decided that day she doesn’t like dog food (or grilled cheese in the case of the kids).

My puppy loves and likes me unconditionally. I can even get mad at her and she doesn’t care. It’s actually a pretty great relationship. My friends make fun of me and have told me jokingly that they are a little concerned (or maybe they aren’t joking) but I think Scout has truly been good for me.

I grew up with lots of animals (dogs, a monkey, a goat, birds, hamsters, ducks – yes, I said a monkey) but I haven’t had a pet in 12 years. My children have never had a pet so this is their first experience and they love her too but aren’t nearly as obsessed as I am.

Do you think there is something wrong with me? Be honest! LOL Do you think a pet owner can be too obsessed with their animal? Or do you think it’s healthy? Share your thoughts and your pet stories!


What’s Acceptable?

My daughter A will be 13 in May and is in the seventh grade. My son J is 10 and is in the fourth grade. Lately, I’ve been struggling with what’s appropriate when it comes to movies and books.

I work at a Library so normally it’s pretty easy for me to decide if a book is age-appropriate or not. I have access to the best librarians in the state. Both of my children are advanced readers but just because my fourth grader can read at a eighth grade level doesn’t mean I necessarily want him reading eighth grade material. So it’s very convenient to be able to ask a co-worker if the content is appropriate or not. However, both of my children also read very quickly. I didn’t realize my 10-year-old was reading “Hunger Games” until the third day when he was already halfway through the book. This is not a book I would have said yes to. Maybe he knew that… Don’t get me wrong. It’s an excellent book and I definitely suggest it for sixth grade and older. It’s just that it’s a little dark and I wasn’t sure he could handle it. He definitely proved me wrong. He LOVED it, he understood it and he got that it wouldn’t really happen.

So that brings us to the movie, starring one of his favorite actors – Josh Hutcherson, that is going to be released in March… Do I let him see it? I really don’t know what I will do.

Thanks to Victorious on Nickelodeon, my children now want to see “Breakfast Club.” Victorious did a spoof called “Breakfast Bunch.” Honestly, my kids were very confused because they had never seen the rated R movie. I, however, knew immediately what this show for TWEENS was making fun of. Why would a tween show do a spoof on a rated R movie? Now if you are wondering why the “Breakfast Club” is Rated R, let me remind you that it has sexual and drug content and says the F word at least two dozen times.  I do not plan on letting the kids see this movie yet but thanks Nickelodeon for the argument!

Now they also want to see Ferris Bueller’s Day Off due to the new commercial. It’s rated PG13 due to foul language and sexual content. My daughter is almost 13… do I let her watch it and not my son? Honestly though, the 10-year-old, who can be very immature in certain aspects, is very mature when it comes to movies. He gets it’s pretend but he also gets most of the content. Do I let either one watch it?

What makes it harder is I know I saw some of these movies at their age. What were my parents thinking? Ha Ha.

I know some of you are laughing at me. I’m aware that some of A’s friends (and probably J’s) have seen Hangover, Pulp Fiction, Role Models and Hall Pass. There is no way I would let my children see any of these movies!! It’s your choice to let your children watch these but my children are not allowed. Does that make me a prude? Am I sheltering my kids? Maybe, but I don’t care. I don’t want them going around quoting Hangover. I would die of embarrassment (yes, I’ve heard 12-year-olds do this).

So how do you decide what movies and books are appropriate for your children?