Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

Animal sounds.  Now there's a fun topic.  Did you know that animals "say" different things in different languages?

For example, in English the pig says, "Oink, oink", but in Japanese the pig says, "Bu, bu" (with a long u sound).

And in English a duck says, "Quack", but Greek ducks say, "Ga ga".

Fascinating.

Have you ever wondered what a fox says?  Watch and learn...


Happy Friday!

Hugs,

Melissa

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Art in Motion - There's an App for That



As we journeyed along on the New York City subway system this summer, we were in awe of some of the most amazing artwork throughout the stations.  There is an art gallery down below that city!  We found all kinds of treasures. From tile mosaics (my favorite) and light displays in the ceilings, to little metal men "working" in niches around the stations.



I found myself curious more than once as to who the artists were and what their story was.

Then, as we were hanging out with the monkeys one day at the school play yard, one of the neighborhood kids told us about an app. that you can get that will tell you all about the art of the subway system. Kids these days are so savvy with technology!



The Arts for Transit and Urban Design organization has created this app.  It will guide you through the NYC transit system as you explore permanent art installations and traveling art.  Cool beans!



Also, Grand Central Station is celebrating it's 100th Birthday!  So, there has been a lot of hubbub around that hub. Plenty of celebratory art going on around there these days!  Check it out on MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design Facebook Page.

The cool thing is that you don't even have to go to the city to enjoy this art.  It is just a click or two away on your computer screen. Enjoy!

Funny aside...if you live in central Florida and have a pulse and a palate you have most likely heard of 4 Rivers Smokehouse.  Well, we are big time 4 Rivers fans, and apparently we aren't the only ones who were in NYC this summer.  Can this also qualify as subway art?  If you have ever tasted their food, I think that you would say, "HECK YES!"




Hugs,

Melissa



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Adrenal You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock, ...Oh whatever!  You already know the punch line.



Do you ever feel like life is one great big not-so-funny punch line?  Do you feel like you keep knock, knock, knocking and yet the door doesn't open?

That is how I have felt for quite some time now.  I have known that something was really not right with my body, but I just kept knocking on the wrong door, barking up the wrong tree.  Having some blood work done here, taking a stress test there, talking to that specialist, and then that one.  But no dice!  I have literally felt like I am crazy.  Not such a good feeling.

Until, Monday.  When after years of searching for a needle in a haystack, I found out that I have an under active thyroid and that my adrenal system is basically flat lined.  And this sounds strange, but I am actually relieved.  I am relieved that I am not crazy.  And now, I have a course of action to take that will help my body to heal.  It will be a slow process, because let's face it, Rome wasn't built in a day and my health has been compromised for years now.  Lots of rebuilding to be done around here.  But, bring it!  I am ready to rumble!

Hey friends, trust your body and not some cookie cutter lab results.  You are the best lab result.  And I hate to say it, but these days you have to be your own health care advocate.

Oh, and lady friends, don't settle for less than who you are.  We've been thrown under the bus for far too long girls.  No longer accept diagnosis that sound like bad repetitive "Knock, Knock" jokes.  I can't tell you how many times I was told do things that I was already doing or didn't need to do.

Exercise.  Hmm...should I join another gym, because I am already working out everyday at my current gym? Maybe I need a clone to workout for me too.

Cut down your caloric intake.  Uh, okay.  Maybe I will replace breakfast with air.  Don't mind me as I hang my head out the car window and suck in oxygen on the way to school.  After all, I need to reduce my already reduced caloric intake. Air instead of eggs should do the trick.

Here's a script for some medicine that will "take the edge off".   I don't need to "take the edge off", I just need to get off this exam table and get the heck out of here.

So, I am finally on the right path. It was exhausting and, at times, demoralizing to get to this point.   I am thankful that I did not give up.

Thank you for hobbling along with me, my gimpy thyroid and rogue adrenal system.

Pretty soon, we will be right as rain.



Hugs,

Melissa





Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Path of Least Resistance

Having a strong-willed child can be...interesting. I remember when our oldest monkey girl was in kindergarten, Pete and I went in for a parent-teacher conference. Her teacher told us that our girl was meeting or exceeding all of her academic milestones. We were so encouraged! Then, she told us that our wee monkey needed to learn that she was the student and NOT the teacher. Ouch!

The teacher offered some helpful insight that really gave us a vision for our daughter. She said that with patience and guidance, our child's "enthusiasm" would make her an amazing leader one day.

Fast forward 15 years and we are so thankful for that wise teacher's advice. Our oldest daughter is a strong leader, but she also knows how to be a follower. She is bold yet gentle. Confident yet humble.

Little did we know when we were sitting in that kindergarten conference so many years ago, that we would have another, "enthusiastic" monkey in our future.

All of our kids have spunk, but Little Monkey is our most strong-willed child,hands down. Most days, parenting him requires extra patience and guidance (and an Advil or two) Sometimes, Pete and I are a sweaty mess at the end of a looong day of parenting. If Little Monkey decides he doesn't want something or that he does want something, it is takes a great deal of effort to convince him otherwise.

Like today, when he began to get very upset and quite vocal about wanting to eat inside of a restaurant we were at instead of outside. It was a lovely day and I was up for some fresh air. He however, was not. As soon as he started yelling, "I don't want to eat outside!" I felt all the eye balls in the dining room on us. My gut reaction was to take the path of least resistance and just ask for a table inside, but I knew that would only reinforce his behavior. So, we continued on to the outside table (which I am quite sure everyone eating inside appreciated). After a couple more minutes of protesting, Little Monkey calmed down. And then, as if on cue a little family of ducks waddled up to our table and enchanted us with their cuteness. It was a golden opportunity for me to point out to our little guy that sometimes we have to do things that we don't want to do, but something good can come out of it all.

Parenting takes us on a journey. Somedays we take the path of least resistance, other days we don't.

Hugs,

Melissa


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

From Uterus to University - How to Travel with Kids and Not Lose Your Mind


Pete and I are adventurous by nature.  We love to venture forth and have new experiences.  It gives us great joy to travel with our monkeys and see their horizons expanded.  They are always game to meet new people, taste different foods, and enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of other cities and countries.

We have found that traveling with kids can be a bit tricky though.  There is a delicate balance that has to be respected.  Kids can go from "having fun" to "being done" in no time at all.  Fickle little pickles that they are.  It is hard to achieve homeostasis while away from home. So, what is a family to do?


Well, we are no experts on this, but we have found some tried and true ways to travel with kids and stay sane (sort of).

1.  When packing, less is more.  Pack the bare necessities.  If you can, stay in a place that has laundry facilities.  Our rule of thumb here is to divide the number of days you are traveling in half and then pack that many outfits.  It seems to work for us as long as we can do laundry at least once per week.




 2.  Play it safe.  With all the distractions we encounter while traveling, there is great potential for someone to get injured or lost.  We have had a couple of heart stopping moments over the years. We have our kids "buddy up"on trips.


3.  Feed their faces.  While we are traveling, our monkeys like to graze along the way.  Small, frequent meals seem to keep their spirits (and blood sugar) up.  It adds another dimension to our travel too, because they get to taste the local flavors. 



4.  Keep 'em hydrated.  This one is a biggie.  We usually bring along refillable water bottles, but popsicles and chunks of fruit like watermelon count too. 


5.  Wheels are wonderful.  For littles, a lightweight stroller and decent backpack for supplies make all the difference in the world.  


6.  Do not disturb.  Our kids seem to be much happier humans when they get enough sleep.  If we are going to be out late one evening, we make sure that they have time to sleep in the next day and vice versa. 


7.  Keep it simple.  Sometimes, it's the simple things the monkeys love the most, like looking out the window as we travel along on a subway.  


8.  Run, jump, climb, frolic, etc.... Our kids are happier when they have had some fresh air and exercise built into their day. 



9.  Unplug each day. Like seriously.  It is amazing what happens when electronic devices take a back seat for awhile. Our kids start drawing, and playing, and communicating. It's a beautiful thing. 




video


10.  Switch it up.  Since we have a wide range of ages represented in our family unit, it is not always easy to choose activities that all parties involved will enjoy.  For instance, our middle monkey boy, was not down with going to the children's museum.  He was, however, down with going to visit some potential film schools and with rowing our boat to the beat of some funky fresh tunes in Central Park. 


video



11.  Expect the unexpected.  We woke up one morning and it was actually chilly outside in New York City. Like goose bump chilly. Thankfully, we had packed a few versatile "just in case" items like scarves and jeans. 


12. Random acts of kindness always win whether we are on vacation or not.  Our monkeys enjoyed feeding the ducks and turtles in the park, giving a cab driver a cookie,  holding doors for others, or packing up leftovers to give out to homeless people on our journeys. 



13.  Above all, enjoy the journey.  They are only monkeys for a very short time. 



How about you, friends?  What traveling tips and tricks do you have to share?  Do tell. 



Hugs, 

Melissa


P.S. This little ride on suitcase thingy was a total hit with Little Monkey.  It's called Trunki.  And it rocks!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spontaneity is the Spice of Life Until Little Monkey Attempts to Skinny Dip in the Washington Square Park Fountain

Whoa Nelly!  Life has been packed to the max this past month!  We have completed a month of school, celebrated two (more) birthdays, welcomed our new "adopted" daughter from Laos, and much, much, much more!  Crazy!

I have enjoyed every minute of it all, but I must admit that I miss blogging regularly.  I really love writing and when I can't, I get a little antsy.  Writing relaxes me.  Whether I am sharing my deepest thoughts or just kidding around, I get such a sense of satisfaction when I write.  It is life giving to me.

What is life giving to you, my friends?  I would love to hear your stories.

In the meantime, I want to share some more about our trip to New York.

We decided to visit the city during July, one of the hottest months.  Being from Florida, we naively thought, "How hot could it be, really?" I mean, we are used to some hot, humid, swampy stinkin weather, but nothing prepared us for New York City hot.  Concrete jungle hot.  Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot.  No wonder why everyone and their brother leaves the city in July hot.  You get the picture.

On one particularly toasty, roasty day, we took the monkeys over to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  Washington Square Park is quite lovely.  I remember strolling through the park one breezy evening last June and pausing to catch the tail end of a romantic French movie on an outdoor screen.   It was all very enchanting until some strange Guido guy started shouting, "This sucks!" Ah, New York!  From class to crass in two seconds flat.

Since it was blazing hot, we let the monkeys join in some water fun in the huge fountain at the park.  They had a total blast!  And they were in good company.  At one point, there were more adults than kids in the fountain. Big kids at heart!





As we left the park, we ooohed and ahhhhed over some super cool chalk art.  Sidewalk chalk?  Who knew?


Never again will Little Monkey be impressed with my lame-o stick figure chalk people after seeing this masterpiece.  This takes sidewalk chalking to a whole nother level.


By the way, we had no idea that our kids were going to wade in the Washington Square Park fountain that day, so we did not bring them bathing suits.  It was just a spontaneous decision to go to the park and they had so much fun.  Spontaneity is the spice of life.  That is until your four year old decides that clothing is optional and spontaneously attempts to disrobe in front of several hundred people in a fountain. Fun times!

Hugs,

Melissa





Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Little Monkey

So, our Little Monkey just turned five.  It took like 5 seconds for him to turn five.

I mean one day he is all rolly...

 curly...


and squeezable...


And before we know it, he's into headstands...


 building rockets...

and making play dough creations. 


We love you Little Monkey! You're still squeezable!

Hugs,

Momma