Friday, September 30, 2016

Weekend Planner

What We're Doing:

  • Road trip!!! We'll be spending a day at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, a night at the water park, and then Sunday hiking in the Loess Hills

Other Things To Do:

  • Have a mom's night out. Get a group of moms/friends/etc. and take a painting class (there seem to be tons of wine and canvas painting nights everywhere)
  • Invite friends over for a chili cook off. Each friend/couple makes a different chili recipe and then vote on the best one. We love doing this, especially with other families with kids. Everyone is entertained for the entire day!
  • Go mini golfing. With the weather cooler and the air crisper, it's the perfect time to get outdoors
  • Make your Halloween costume. I know this isn't for everyone, but sometimes, nothing beats a box robot or a white sheet ghost
  • Take a remote control boat (or car) for a spin. This thing is awesome!
  • Make your own fall paints (you can make fall scented paints, pumpkin paint or apple paint) and have your child(ren) paint. They could paint paper, use it as sidewalk paint, paint a cut out shape (I love leaf shapes at the moment)
Happening In Central-ish Iowa:
  • Pumpkinfest in Anamosa, Iowa. This festival and Maquoketa Caves State Park was my second choice for the week (first was Itasca, as mentioned above) but obviously I got outvoted. This looks like a very fun festival and Eastern Iowa is absolutely gorgeous
  • Downtown Farmer's Market. This is the last month for the downtown farmer's market until spring. Be sure to get in a visit or two for fabulous fall veggies, apples, and pupusas
  • Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day at Grandview Park
  • Iowa Author Fair at the Central Library
  • Berry Patch Farms
  • Visit Picket Fence Creamery for amazing local goods!
  • Ledges State Park. It is gorgeous this time of year

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Please Define Bullying

Bullying (verb): use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

The boy's school has a very strict policy on bullying and for the most part, it works. They also go to a very diverse public school, so that may play into this a bit. The boys can carry a purple backpack without a worry and can be themselves with no judging. Maybe we're blessed with a good school or maybe the anti-bullying movement at the school is working (accompanied by excellent faculty and staff I might add).

Lately however I've been questioning the anti-bullying message they're giving kids. One mom fretted: "My six year old was told by a boy in his class that wearing a pink shirt made him a girl. He told me who it was that said this. Should I talk to the parents or contact the principle and school district directly? This bullying has to stop." I about spit out my Pumpkin Spice Latte right there and had to contain my laughter.

I wasn't aware that was bullying. I'm pretty sure that's a kid speaking what they observe. Kids can be asses to each other....just as adults can. I politely told the mom to teach her kid to stick up for themselves and don't worry about being judged. Teach them to just be themselves. She wasn't a fan of that comment. She wanted someone's head hung for the "bullying." Later that day I realized it wasn't only parents who have played into the anti-bullying movement.

The boys came home from school and informed me they were being bullied on their way home. My stomach was in knots as I asked them what happened.

"There was a kid we were walking home with who told us 'na-na boo boo, stick your head in doo doo.' We should probably tell the counselor tomorrow which kid it was." Once again I had to control my laughter. Does anyone else remember when this was "playground talk" and not bullying? Maybe I'm old school to not see this as a form of bullying, however I am worried what our children are learning. They're missing out on the developing thicker skin and dealing with criticism aspect of life. 

I'm absolutely NOT saying that bullying is okay. I'm simply saying that there's a big difference between kids picking on each other and true bullying. Yes, there is a line. Some kids can take more than others. However I do not feel it teaches our children anything when any negative comment made to them is taken straight to the top. It leaves them unable to deal with any situation, good or bad, themselves.

Similar to what I told the mom in Mom's Group, I told them there's always going to be someone saying something negative, something mean, something they don't like. Ignore the negative; just be yourself; if you don't like something, walk away. Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself. If things get out of hand or seriously have you worried, tell a trust person (parent, teacher, counselor, neighbor, etc.). I DO want them to feel comfortable enough to talk to me when something is upsetting them. I want them to feel comfortable enough to tell a teacher if someone really is bullying them. 

I am not oblivious to the fact that many, too many, schools have severe bullying issues. There are lines that should not be crossed and require intervention. I also know that kids are not being taught how to deal with these situations anymore. I believe the big issue comes down to how one defines bullying. I think my defining line is a bit pushed back than others, mostly because my kids tend not to care what others think and do as they please regardless.

How do you define bullying? How does your children's school define bullying?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Last Weekend of September

What a great weekend we had! We had one very summer-like day and one very fall like day....and we took full advantage of both days. Friday night we had planned on going to the boy's school for Family Movie Night, however upon arriving home from school, the boys informed me they wanted to have our own family movie night at home instead of up at school with their friends.

My heart swelled a little. I choose to ignore the fact it was because none of their good friends were going to movie night at school.

Popcorn and treats (and beer for Hubs and myself). We watched Free Willy. This was the minis first time seeing this movie. My favorite part was at the end of the movie when Elizabeth put her hands on her face and said quietly "he did it! Willy did it! He's free!" 

Whispering secrets to dad.

Saturday morning we stuck around home. In the afternoon, we enjoyed our last day at Adventureland for the year. The boys conquered The Dragon (otherwise known as "the upside down roller coaster") by themselves, we rode all of their favorite rides, and we topped the night off with our last trip to Snookie's for the year. Big night for all.

The Tea Cups and Lady Bugs are Elizabeth favorites, while the boys prefer the Balloons, The Outlaw, and The Dragon.

Another of Elizabeth's favorite: "the little flying dragons." She'll only ride it with Max. I have no idea what these two were talking about, but I loved watching Elizabeth's reactions to whatever Max was saying.

Elizabeth went on the Chuck Wagons while the boys rode their favorite coaster: The Outlaw. Then the real fun came. For Max's eighth birthday, we requested a day at Adventureland with dad so he could ride all of the big rides. On his birthday, he rode The Dragon and The Monster for the first time. Harrison has been dying to ride The Dragon all summer long...and we've made him wait for this upside down coaster. During our last visit for the year on Saturday, I gave Harrison the go-ahead to ride it by himself with Max (his request). He LOVED it and went on it twice....only because he was extremely disappointed that he wasn't big enough to ride The Monster yet. Harrison's new goal for the winter is "to grow big and strong so I can ride The Monster next summer. I'll eat lots of carrots and green beans and salads. Lots of salads...and some hamburgers too."

One of those moments as a parent where I probably shouldn't have laughed but did. Elizabeth fought to ride the pink motorcycles, Harrison happily hopped on with her, and Max sat in the back and cried because all of the front seats on all of the vehicles were taken. "I'm too big to be doing this," he complained as he poked at Harrison's back throughout the ride. The best part of this is that I asked him to start with if he even wanted to ride it and he said yes. Ugh, kids!

I don't think this purse was meant to go to an amusement park. Oops!

See ya in the spring Snookie's!

Sunday morning we woke up early for donuts and to see the Luminarium "Arboria" at Cowles Commons. This was walk thru art display was visiting for the weekend only from the UK and it was a must see for me. The only downside? Advanced tickets were sold out so we had to wait in line...for 2 1/2 hours! The kids were really good waiting and got to play (they even made some new friends).

Nothing kills time like twirling and singing.

They controlled how many people were inside at once, but there was no time restrictions once inside. We stayed for just over a half hour. While the kids did great waiting in line, they were terrible once inside. Go figure. The inside was awesome though!

Max shoving his sister out of the way so he can have a picture by himself. She wasn't happy about it.

Hubs set the camera down in the middle of the floor on timer to get good pictures of the cool rooms. We didn't quite get out of the way quick enough.

After the Luminarium the minis finally got to play in the fountains, despite the cool and windy weather. Whenever we have been to Cowles Commons this summer, the fountains were never on!

We quickly made our way from downtown to Colby Park for a friend's birthday party. The minis had a  blast playing at the park and eating cupcakes all afternoon.

The bossy girl telling dad how to play: "No! You do as I say!" I think she's heard that a few times.

From the park we ate an early dinner at Gilroy's. The minis got playing cards in their goodie bags from the party and were plenty entertained throughout our meal.

If looks could kills. This girl was on top of things all day. "Harrison can you please stop doing that? It's bugging me. It's really hurting my ears. Stop it Harrison!" He was drinking his water.

We've got some busy weekends coming up. Next weekend we'll be doing a fall colors drive (we haven't decided where yet because our intended destination is currently flooded from heavy rains last week)!