Last spring the kids and I decided to celebrate 365 holidays and do 52 random acts of kindness. I will get to the 365 holidays in another post, but felt an update on the 52 RAOK was in order today. I keep starting the update and putting it off. I am a planner and a rule follower, often to a fault. While it at time serves me well, these two projects proved that not everything has to be perfect. We started off trying to ‘plan’ our Random Acts of Kindness.’ This worked for a few weeks as the kids came to understand the purpose of the ‘challenge’ (for lack of a better word). After the first few weeks the acts of kindness seemed forced to me, and that is not how I wanted the kid’s experience to be- it would not have the desired impact this way. So, after the first few weeks, we began to work towards the acts being more of a ‘seize the moment’ thing. We took pictures of some of our acts, but one of the important aspects of this for me was the lack of recognition. Doing something that no one knows you did- if we posted all of our pictures that would defeat the purpose. We did some planned gestures- delivering flowers, picking up litter, taping quarters to a vending machine- but most were the spur of the moment thing. Will stuffed money he saved in to a charity container instead of spending it at the store. We gave little kids walking by tickets to play games at a festival. The kids picked up other kids toys. They baked, they gave hugs, they asked kids to play that looked left out, and so much more. Another thing I have tried to do during this ‘challenge’ was to point out opportunities to the kids so that they would begin to see these opportunities on their own, and they did. They began to truly understand the spirit of a random act of kindness, and see what it really is like to give just for the sake of giving. No recognition, no glory, just an amazing sense of inner good. In a society where so much is focused on the ‘me me me’ mentality, I feel that this was a wonderful challenge for our family. The kids learned a lot, and I was able to see that just because I could not plan it all out in advance, it could still work. We will keep this up, why not? I think we can all agree that every little nice act has a positive effect. And right about now we could all use it!
A personal friend of mine, known to some of you as Workout Mommy, shared a letter she found about bringing healthier snacks to the kids sporting events and of course I jumped at the opportunity to make a positive change. We have played so many sports in this family, and we have been the snack family many, many times. Often our kids (players and siblings) are sent home after a 30- 40 minute game, at 9:45 am, with a bag of Oreos and a juice box or sport drink of some sort. This always seems to set the tone for my kids- once they have something like that, it is all they want for the rest of the day. I do not have those things in my house, so I end up seeing like the bad guy to them. This season I am, again, the coach and team mom of Meredith’s soccer team. I quickly mentioned this idea at the first practice, and left no time for anyone to give an opinion, I just went on to the next topic. Today I sent out an email about the first game this coming weekend and the snack policy.
This is the text of the letter I sent, it was from the blog Real Mom Nutrition, which is a great place to visit! (the entire blog post, including a slideshow of ideas) can be found here (Soccer Snacktivism Handbook)
One last thing- a big thanks to Sally at Real Mom Nutrition for writing the letter and providing the info, and allowing it to be used!
As for snacks, I have a great idea: Remember the orange slices we all ate on the sidelines when we were kids? Let’s bring back them back! We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off energy, and be strong–so let’s give them a snack that keeps them healthy.
Here’s what I am asking of you: Every child brings a water bottle, and parents take turns bringing fruit for after the game. This fruit-only snack policy benefits everyone because there’s less cost (when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you are only in charge of bringing fruit, no drinks) and less mess (no packages to pick up, no juice pouches in landfills). It also means they’ll be hungry for lunch or dinner afterward.
Feel free to bring any fresh fruit you’d like (please wash it so it’s ready to grab and eat). You can also bring small boxes of raisins (but please do not bring fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks, since those are mostly added sugar).
Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches), berries or melon balls/chunks in paper cups.
If you don’t think your child will eat fruit or feel he needs something more after the game, please bring your own snack and give it to your child when you’re away from the field.
Remember to bring a full bottle of water to each game for your child. Please do not bring flavored water pouches or juice boxes for players. The best thing for kids to drink before, during, and after sports is regular water, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The electrolytes lost during sweat can easily be replaced at their next meal.
With this snack policy, our team can set an example for the whole league. We all care about our kids and want the best for them, so let’s do something great for their health!
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this snack policy. I have included some FAQ and answers about the fruit & water idea below.
Fresh fruit has a little bit of carbohydrates for energy and lots of water for hydration. And kids simply need more of it: 75% of 6-11 year olds don’t get enough fruit. And on any given day, 25% of toddlers and preschoolers don’t eat a single bite of it.
What if I don’t have time to wash and cut up fruit?
Grab a bunch of bananas. It takes the same amount of time to grab those as it does to grab a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks. They’re cheaper, too.
What about sports drinks? Don’t kids need those after exercising?
Actually, no. Sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids need only water to hydrate during and after sports. Those drinks just add a lot of extra calories (plus sugar and dyes). Kids can replenish any lost electrolytes at the next meal or snack.
But our kids are burning off a ton of calories on the soccer field, aren’t they?
Kids burn off far fewer calories in team sports than we think. According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the average 8 year old burns only 150 calories in an hour of sports—but the typical after-game snack has 300- 500 calories.
Don’t kids deserve a treat every once in a while?
The problem is that kids get treats at every turn: School, daycare, preschool, parties. Treats are not the exception anymore; they’ve become the rule. Toddlers and preschoolers get 16 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and 6-11 year olds get 24 teaspoons. One in three children is overweight or obese today. (That’s triple the rate from when we were kids.)
My child won’t eat fruit. Why don’t’ you just bring some fruit for your kid?
The simple fact is that most kids are not going to choose fruit over a Fruit Roll-Up if given the chance. And don’t underestimate your child: You’d be surprised at the effect that positive peer pressure has on kids. They’re more likely to eat something new or different if they see their friends chowing down on it too. But if you’d prefer that your child have something else, give it to them in the car on the way home.
The kids had off today- heading back to school tomorrow, so they were lucky enough to be home for April Fools! Last year I drew on their faces while they slept (washable markers of course) and sewed all of their underwear together. They were slightly puzzled by that at the time, but they still talk about it and laugh about it now! Luckily they have a sense of humor. Meredith not as much, but they are fun. Today we had fun as well. I told them they could have brownies for breakfast- and of course they were excited. The looks on their faces when they say the pan was priceless!!They were disappointed, but they loved the trick. A few minutes later, as we were getting ready to get in the car, I asked Will and Julia to grab the water bottles off of the counter.
A few little needle holes made for so many laughs. Even though these were two simple little tricks, the kids told all of the friends they saw today, told Grandma all about the tricks, and played them all on daddy when he got home from work. And- with all of the crazy Northern Virginia weather this year, the kids and our neighbor believed me when I screamed down the stairs to them that it was snowing like crazy. Thanks for the assist on that one, Mother Nature! xoxo
Last week I decided to find something fun for the family to do on Easter evening- and a few minutes later I got an email about a Wizards’ deal on Living Social. Perfect! After 3 minutes of Googling I realized that I could get much better deal- and I did. The kids were so excited (not Brady, as long as he has a vehicle in hand he is happy), and spent all afternoon asking if it was time to go yet. We headed downtown planning to go to dinner before the game, but as soon as the kids saw the Verizon Center we had to just go to the game. We managed to make it into Clydes, but after listening to Julia and Will stress about missing all of the pre-game action, we just went to the game. I am glad we did, the kids loved all of the pre-game pizzazz. Except the pyrotechnics. When the announce the Wizards’ players a flame thrower goes off, Meredith was clinging to Rich screaming ‘get me out of here’ over and over. Poor baby- luckily basketball teams are not that big!
The kids had a lot to say about how long the Canadian national anthem was, and Meredith wondered if the hearts are on the same side of the body in Canada. Just in case they were not, she put her hand in the middle of her chest to cover her bases. Brady, holding a race car in one hand and an ambulance in the other, was more than thrilled, yet a little confused, when the inflatable truck flew over.
Julia was beyond worn out after her birthday yesterday. She curled up on my lap for the beginning of the game, but rallied soon after!
We left a little before the game was over to head home and avoid the crowds- Gangnam Style came on as we were walking out and they had to stop and dance, which of course lead to about 500 cartwheels from Julia.
When we walked outside, Will asked what time it was, and then asked what time it was in Virginia. Then he asked if it would be light out when we got home. I guess Rich traveling to the west coast for work has had an effect on him. We walked back to the parking garage dreading walking down the ramp three floors with 4 kids in tow, and Rich decided to knock on the door if the office building the garage was under. The female security guard came over with a look that was not promising, but after seeing the 4 tired kids she let us in, got the elevator for us, and was so friendly to the kids. Will and Julia were very gracious and said thank you, and Meredith yelled Merry Christmas a few times as loud as she could. Once we were back at the car we realized what a tight fit we had in the garage, we parked below an air vent and cleared it by under an inch. Phew!
The kids all had a great time, as did we. The food choices did not thrill the kids, luckily they had popcorn, pretzels, and I had a ton of squeezable applesauces in my bag.
Easter was fun- we did not have as much build up as in past years because Saturday was Julia’s birthday. We skipped the ‘Easter eve’ glow in the dark egg hunt because I wanted Saturday to be all about Julia, and the other kids understood (luckily). We did color a few eggs in the evening, but they really were not overly excited about it. The Easter Bunny brought all of the kids pool bags and matching monogrammed towels. Will liked them, but was hoping the bunny would have brought him a ton of candy. I told him I asked the bunny to skip the candy again this year- which got the frustrated ‘seriously?!?!?!” from both he and Julia. Brunch with the family cured them of their candy disappointment!
A few weeks ago I came across a page for the Orange Rhino Challenge. Basically, it is challenge to stop yelling. I don’t yell a lot, but I would love to yell none (or not unless someone is in danger). With 4 kids, the occasional yell does slip, and usually at a transition time (can you tell I was a teacher)? We have a great system because of how organized we (and by we I mean I) are. There is the occasional frantic scrambling when someone has taken papers out of their folder/ backpack after I put them there, or because as I put shoes on one of the little ones another has taken theirs off and is headed upstairs because there is something they would much rather wear. Some mornings start perfect, but the drama involved in being a 6 year old girl (for 4 more days) is too much to handle for one of the big kids and we end up in a tailspin. We always end up in the car on time (we have never once been late for school or missed a bus in 7 years of school so far). But, getting in the car does occasionally involve a little loud yelling on mom’s part. Over the past few months I have seen the kids, especially the big kids, yell at each other. Makes me feel like crap. That is not my parenting style, and I don’t want to it to be my kid’s style either. We are a very happy, positive family and I dislike this one part. I will do updates occasionally, but won’t bore anyone with daily updates about my attempt to not yell at all. I also will do a few future posts on some of the in and outs of the challenge. But now all of you locals- if you hear me yell, yell at me! Well, maybe encourage me to say it more nicely. And- feel free to ask me how it is going!
Tonight, as we all were sitting around mourning our spring break plans that have been put in a tailspin thanks to a late March snow, I decided it was time to clean up and wrangle the kids for bath time. Will and Julia happily started picking things up, but Meredith came over to me crying. She had bad news. Very bad news. She had developed an allergy and was not going to be able to help clean up. Obviously a sudden onset allergy, but a serious one based on the tears. I asked her what she was allergic to. She said, as the tears became a more hysterical sobbing, “toys. I am allergic to toys.” She continued “whenever I go near them, I cough. I could DIE.” By this time she is sobbing, apparently because of this devastating diagnosis. I told her it was fine, I understood how hard this must be on a little girl, and that she did not have to clean up. Instead I handed her 3 plastic bags. I told her I would pick up her toys because of her ‘allergy.’ I told her the three bags were to help us clean up- one was for Julia, one for Will, and one for her cousin Caleigh. Since her toys were making her so sick, I would place every single one of her toys in one of the three bags. She was dumbfounded. I told her that I was very concerned for her health, and that if the toys were making her sick they had to go. She grabbed one bag and started to walk away. She moped around for a few minutes and came back with some good news- her allergy was gone, and all of her toys had been picked up, put away, and she did not die! Miracles never cease.
Today was my daughter’s Easter party at school. Usually these parties are lots of junk food, at 10:30 am. Since I am the room mom I decided to make our snack healthy. Although I could not make the whole wheat pancakes at home because of school policy (for allergies- totally understandable that everything must be labeled allergen free) we used prepackaged ones. We used grapes for the eyes, bananas for the ears and center of the nose, bell peppers for the whiskers, strawberries for the red part of the nose, and then made carrots out of clementines and thinly sliced grapes. Not one of the kids complained about the healthy snack, everyone really seemed to enjoy it! My next challenge will be trying to get our soccer team to leave the junk food and fake juices/ Gatorade type drinks at home. Wish me luck on that one, luckily I am both head coach and team mom!!
Many many years ago I took groups of students on trips to Europe with an organization called People to People. It was a wonderful experience and I really hope my kids have the chance to go on one of these trips when they are in high school. I took both high school and middle school groups and those middle school kids would have been just as thrilled (if not more) in Busch Gardens as they were at the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum in Rome. Seriously, the year I took middle school kids to the British Isles, a large group of them, against our (the leaders) advice spent (and by spent I mean wasted) most of their money on M&M piggy banks at the duty free shop at JFK Airport before we had even left the US. They had to lug those ridiculous banks all over the England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Send your high school kids, let your middle school kids wait.
Anyway, one of the most memorable parts of the trips was the theme song. Each year our European leaders, usually college students, would pick a theme song, make up a little dance the kids could do in their seats on the bus, and teach it to us all. Every morning we would sing it on the bus, and it really did get everyone going. One year we did ‘Reach’ by S Club 7, another year it was ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. It was cute at the time, but it is incredible to me how much those songs remind me of those trips now. Such wonderful associations whenever I hear the songs come on. I was telling the kids about it a while back, and they thought it was a cute idea. When we started to talk about what we wanted to fit in this summer I decided we should pick a theme song. Nothing came to mind immediately, but a few days later we were playing music from my iPhone and Colbie Caillat’s song ‘Brighter Than the Sun’ came on and we knew immediately we had found our song. We play it every morning, and it does make the kids very happy. It is so much fun to see how excited the kids get if it randomly comes on the radio in the car or if we hear it when we are out in a store.
William has really enjoyed the theme song concept and has been having fun listening to the lyrics of the songs on Radio Disney and my iPhone and trying to figure out how they would apply to us or others. When we were looking at the weather at the end of June/ beginning of July and saw that we were in for an extended heat wave, William decided we needed to add a second theme song for those super super hot days, and he (of course) knew just the song, Disney XD’s Adam Hicks feat. Chris Brouchu “We Burnin’ Up”
Meet Brady!!! He joined us last August. After people at the gym making jokes that my water would break on the treadmill……ummmm, my water broke on the treadmill. But, no worries, I did finish the workout. All 58 minutes more of it. Then I could not even stand up straight the contractions were so bad, but my water had never broken with the other 3 so I took my time getting to the hospital. A short time (and an ungodly number of swear words) later Brady joined us after a fast med free birth. I had the oddest feeling in the car and in the delivery room, only after I pushed him out did I realize that I felt like I had to push. Go figure. Could have saved myself 30 minutes of screaming and swearing and apologies to the nurses between contractions. The one nurse told me it was a great lesson for next time, and I assured here there would be no next time! 4 is a great number, but my #4 completes us!
Brady is such a love bug. He is just the sweetest thing ever. He has been hugging us since he was teeny tiny. He loves everyone, especially his siblings! He is turning in to quite the daredevil. He is fast as lightning, can get up on the couches, up the stairs, can get in most childproofed closets. He just loves to find legos and coins and he tries to eat them. The kids and I spend so much time picking up every little thing and if there is a lego in the house we miss, it finds it’s way into his mouth. He is going to keep me busy, but his smiles, hugs, kisses, and giggles make it so worth it!