Today I felt small

I found this post lurking in my unpublished folder just now.  I am not sure why I didn't publish it.  I can only assume that I was waiting until that "small" day had passed and it was far enough away that I wouldn't remember at all what day it was.  I guess today is that day.  So here you go...

 

Today I felt small.

I hate days like this because they start with the feeling of hands covering my head pushing me down into a dark corner with wild laughing eyes staring at me from above and all around.  Telling me I'm wrong.  Holding their arms and hands up and walking away as if I'm a dog they want to stay put.  Only glancing back while they move on to other things.  Leaving me there in a heap to question myself forever.

But then the day shifts and I stand up without a care for those who put me in my slump.  Because they didn't really put me there.  I did that myself.  And I realize that I'm still in control no matter what.  My ideas are good.  My thoughts are strong.  And it's OK to be happy.  

I learn a lot about myself on days like today.  


The stuff I crave

Yesterday my daughter and I got to spend some quality time together. We get to spend a lot of time together on a daily basis, but about 19 minutes of that time is quality.  And I'm talking per week, not per day, it seems.  Most of the time we just happen to be going the same direction but completely in our own worlds just glancing over to give a thumbs up or blow a quick kiss.  But yesterday we had about 4 full hours of embracing each other's voices and holding onto each word while it seeped in.  We talked about everything we wanted.  Some serious, some silly.  And I saw something I had been missing.

My daughter is growing up.

It didn't hit me like a ton of bricks, but it trickled in as the day went on. Little things like carrying a purse.  With actual money in it and hand lotion. Using chopsticks to eat the spicy tuna roll she picked for her lunch.  Trying on jeans just for fun.  Skipping the toy store. 

I have always been excited and scared to watch my kids grow up.  I know I'm half of the team who is in charge of their upbringing (along with all our loved ones, of course) and that is terrifying.  I screwed up so much in my youth that I never thought I could do this.  But then days like yesterday...

There is never an end to parenthood and there is never any way of knowing whether or not we are doing a good job.  Sometimes you need your daughter's offer to buy you a smoothie from the mall food court with her own money to show you it's all alright.


These are the days

I often wonder how some days that are exactly the same can feel so different.  One day the common routine that starts with getting out of bed, walking downstairs, and making tea can feel so blah.  Other days, those same actions can feel exhilarating.  And other days still, it can feel like getting out of bed might be the worst decision you could possibly ever make.  But you do it anyway, because if you don't, then what happens?  I don't know.  I've always gotten up.  

Once I make my way downstairs and feel the tea hit my system, it starts coming together.  My husband and the kids appear with sleepy eyes.  Some days they are on the same strange trip I am and we sit quietly contemplating the day's coming events.  Other days we are off kilter and I ask them to shush just a little so I can wake up.  And on the days when I might have a lot to say first thing, they sit down on the couch and pull up blankets with their eyes closed as if to silently tell me they would like to be still and quiet just a few minutes more.

But regardless of our different perceptions of each day, we work.  We trudge through the rough days and skip through the great ones.  We hug.  We tell each other about all the best days and worst days.  We relay information about things we think others might like.  We talk.  

I don't know where I'm going with this.  It just sort of fell out of my fingertips.  I was just thinking about how much I depend on them for my sanity.  How they make me whole.

Love goes a long way.

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Bobby, 7


This post makes me uncomfortable

For some reason I felt the need to write this down and share it.  I don't know... maybe to help me remember when times aren't as easy as I'd like them to be.

This morning, my son came downstairs dressed as he normally would for school.  Jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt.  He looked presentable, but today he is going to sing Christmas carols at the local nursing home with his classmates so I asked him to please change into a nicer shirt.  I didn't ask for an entire wardrobe change, just a shirt.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

I brought him the shirt and he grumbled the whole time he was putting it on.  "I don't like it." "It makes me feel cold."  "Can't I just wear my other shirt?"  "Why do I have to wear this?"

Maybe it was the fact that my daughter had also just told me she doesn't like the toaster strudels we have because they are strawberry and not her favorite raspberry flavor, but I sort of lost it.  I went on a rant for a few minutes about the difference between disliking something and it simply not being your favorite.  There IS a difference.  Just because something is not your #1 top pick does not mean it is no good.  In a nutshell, this is what I told them:

Here's the thing... You're not always going to be comfortable.  

You're not always going to have your favorite thing to eat.  People aren't going to always laugh at your jokes.  You're going to hear and see people do things that make you squirm.  In a lot of cases, those people will be people you love and admire.  Some days will be just a little too warm for you.  Some days will feel too cold.  Sometimes you will watch a friend fail.  Sometimes you will just feel blah and not know why.

It's ok.

Eat the food anyway.  Wear the shirt that doesn't feel 100% right.  Keep telling jokes.  Put on a sweater.  

It's ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes.  You don't always get everything you want in life.  But there are times when it's not about you.  It's about being there for others.  Maybe wearing a nice shirt inconveniences you, but it sure does look nice and will most likely make the nursing home residents smile.  And isn't that worth it?  Yes, it is.

That small amount of personal "sacrifice" (I put that in quotes, because is it REALLY a sacrifice to wear an uncomfortable shirt? No.) will come back to you at least 10 fold.  Those smiles you will get will wash away the stiffness of the collar in no time.  And if they don't, then we'll have another talk.

And guess what?  Tomorrow, you can wear whatever you like and I'll probably make you your favorite dinner while we sit in our 72° kitchen.

There are so many HUGE things in the world that are so much worse than a little discomfort.  Get past it.  Move on.  Make someone smile when you can, because it will make you smile, too.  

 I also feel the need to add this little note:  I'm not talking about anything more than being uncomfortable in little situations like discussed above.  If you ever feel more than uncomfortable, trust your gut and get out of the situation immediately.  I'm simply offering the suggestion of learning the difference between tolerable,acceptable discomfort and knowing something is downright wrong.  There IS a difference.

 


Groupon Coupons- my new favorite tool for saving money!

Disclosure: I received payment for this post.  All opinions are my own.  And my opinion is that I LOVE Groupon Coupons!

Paying full price for anything makes me break out in hives.  If there is a deal somewhere, I will find it.  I  will take an extra hour searching out the best deals on just about everything I plan on buying. Over the last few months, I've really been getting into saving money.

One of my favorite places for deals is Groupon.  You guys have heard of Groupon, right?  It's basically a website that offers a specific amount of products or services for a deeply discounted rate.  For example, your local kettlebell gym might offer 10 sessions for half the normal price if you purchase them through Groupon.  Or Groupon might have a deal where you can get a $15 Starbucks card for $10.  It's really great!

Well, now Groupon has a new service called Groupon Coupons in which they have teamed up with several of your favorite retailers like Toys R Us, Sam's Club, Kohl's, Macy'sAdidas, Nine West, Harry and David, Babies R Us, Travelocity, Orbitz, JC Penney and more to offer online coupons as well as sale information in each store so you can get the best deal possible on everything you buy!

With Christmas fast approaching, I'm definitely excited about saving as much money as I can on gifts for my family and friends.  But before I take the plunge and release any type of payment to anyone, I will be checking Groupon Coupons to see if there is a deal available to save me even more money.  With all the stores participating, chances are there are many deals to be had.

It is so incredibly easy to use.  Before you buy ANYthing, just look for a coupon on Groupon Coupons.  You will be given a coupon code to use when you are ready to check out at the store.  That's it!

Happy shopping!

 


How to be a Cool Kind Kid - my review of Tanner Wants to Be COOL

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  All opinions about Cool Kind Kid and this book are my own.

My son is in second grade.  He has always been a cool kid in my eyes.  But now that he's been in school full time for a few years he is starting to wonder for himself what being cool really means.  In a world full of bullying and people who may be less than kind in many situations, defining "cool" to a second grader can be hard.  We have always tried to instill in his little mind that being yourself is what's cool.  But there is definitely more to it than just being yourself.  Being cool has to do with how you treat others.  

I recently started working with Cool Kind Kid to help get the word out about their products that are specifically made to help define "cool".  I was happy to receive the book Tanner Wants to be COOL written by Cool Kind Kid creator Barbara Gilmour and illustrated by James J Dunn to review here on my blog.  

Tanner Wants to be COOL is the first in a series of picture books Barbara developed called You Can be a Cool Kind Kid.  This first book tackles the subject of how to be a caring, kind friend.  It's written in cartoon form with speech bubbles telling Tanner's story of how he figures out how to be a cool kid.  I love the illustrations of children who all looked different working together to help Tanner understand how to be cool by using manners and being kind to others.  Each picture teaches a different lesson while showing that cool is not synonymous with bullying or being mean to others.  

There is also a soundtrack  by Steve Megaw accompanying the book which can be downloaded for free using a special code found within the book.

After reading it myself and really enjoying the message, I thought the only way to get some proper feedback was to have my son read it, too.  He left me this little embellished note when he was done, so it MUST be a good book:

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I plan on asking my son's teacher if I can read Tanner Wants to be COOL to the class.  I think it would make a great addition to any classroom, playgroup, or home library.  It's easy to read, has wonderful engaging pictures throughout, and gets right to the point that everyone can be cool.  I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!

To get your copy of Tanner Want to be COOL for $12.95 including the FREE downloadable soundtrack visit www.coolkindkid.com.  While you are there, check out all the other great products Cool Kind Kid has to offer!  

Since October is National Bullying Prevention month, Cool Kind Kid is offering 10% off their retail products throughout the month if you use code SAYNO2BULLYING at checkout!

  


I had a massage and now life will never be the same again- my review of Massage Envy Spa

I had the pleasure of enjoying a complimentary massage at Massage Envy Spa in Toms River in exchange for this honest review.   IMG_6974

I just want to explain first that I am not a massage person.  I have no reason other than I am a very particular person when it comes to people touching me.  I need things to be exactly right in order for me to enjoy a massage.  Ridiculous, I know.  But because I am also a cheapskate, I don't feel that spending money on a massage that could possibly be sub-par to my ridiculous standards is worth the money.

But I am also an optimist who will always give experiences a second or third chance in hopes that my mind can be changed.  After all, people all across the earth absolutely LOVE massages.  Why can't I be one of them?

So I agreed to visit Massage Envy Spa in Toms River to experience a one hour massage.  I made my appointment and impatiently waited for the day to arrive.  To add to my excitement,  I got both a phone call and an email the day before my appointment to remind me of my upcoming relaxation session with Peggy, the top massage therapist at the Toms River location. IMG_6972

When I got to Massage Envy Spa, I was greeted by two lovely hostesses who had me fill out a sort of medical form on which I would list any medical issues, trouble spots, or special instructions for the massage therapist like certain spots I do NOT want massaged or spots that might need more attention.  The form also had a section where I was to indicate what type of massage I would like: Light, Medium, or Deep.  (I chose Deep because I am a very ticklish person.  Basically anything less than a slap makes me giggle.) 

While I filled out my form, I sat in the waiting area, which had several soft seats and a bar with different types of teas and cold water to drink.  After about five minutes, Peggy came to greet me and bring me back to one of the many therapy rooms.  She went over the form with me and again asked if I preferred a Deep massage.  She then advised me to disrobe down to whatever garments made me most comfortable and slip under the covers face up on the heated massage table.  Then she left the room.  Already, I felt the relaxation slip over me. IMG_7110

When Peggy came back, the massage began with my scalp, then moved down to my neck, shoulders, decollete, and arms.  I have never had a massage on my forearms like this before.  It was wonderful.  I could feel knots being released that I didn't know were even there.  I mean, who carries stress in their forearms, for Pete's sake?  I guess I do.

Then Peggy moved down to massage my legs.  My favorite part was when she did my shins.  Again, stress in weird places.  What the heck?  Anyways...

I was then asked to flip over so she could continue with the back of my body.  She slipped a pillow under my feet and then put her hands on both my heels and rubbed straight down both soles to my toes.  She massaged my arches for a while and then did the one thing that I absolutely NEED to have when I'm given a foot massage (remember, I have weird ridiculous standards): She massaged each toe pulling each one through her fingers at the end.  

Let me just stop right here for a minute to share one more bit of my weirdness.  See, in all aspects of my life, I need symmetry.  Like, NEED it. Things don't necessarily have to match, but they need to give off the same amount of energy on both sides.  When it comes to massage, if one side of my body is massaged differently than the other, I get very uncomfortable.  And to further that feeling of symmetry, I need that symmetrical energy to be pulled out from my fingertips and toes or I feel incomplete.   I know that's very particular, but that's how I feel.  

Back to the massage...

After Peggy massaged my toes, she then moved to my glutes, lower back, and then the rest of my back.  Because I have been experiencing some lower back pain lately (and indicated it on my form) Peggy made sure I was feeling OK before she continued with the massage.  I told her it felt great!

When the massage was over, I cried.  Again, I am admitting my weirdness because I feel like it's important.  I really did cry.  

Not only did the massage undo all the knots in my muscles and refresh my body, it refreshed my spirit as well.  I felt cleansed.  I didn't know how much stress I had been holding in until Peggy was about to help me release it all.  When I left, I felt like gelatin.  This may or may not be actual footage from my walk back to the car: 

 

I think it's important for us to release all that built up stress when we can.  To start fresh.  To give ourselves a better chance at taking on the world!  Maybe a massage every once in a while is a good thing.  I know I have become a believer.

So now to the technical part about Massage Envy Spa:

Massage Envy Spa offers either individual fees for services or a membership fee which includes either a massage or facial each month.  If you enjoy monthly massages or facials, the membership is well worth it at $59.99.  And yes, you can roll over your unused services to the next month.

For more information about Massage Envy Spa in Toms River, visit their website: http://www.massageenvy.com/clinics/NJ/Toms-River-.aspx

Or visit Massage Envy Spa's corporate website at : http://www.massageenvy.com/

 


Making Memories at Jenkinson's: How we do Mother's Day #JenksMemory

Ever since my sister and I started our own families and found ourselves so busy it sometimes hurts, we have been celebrating Mother's Day with my mom on a completely different day.  We find it much easier to celebrate our roles as moms when we don't feel all that pressure Mother's Day tends to throw at us.  It was our mom's idea.  None of us are the "brunch" type, really.  We prefer the beach, some boardwalk food, and watching the kids ride all the rides that we used to at their age.  (We even get on some ourselves.)

As it turns out...This year, I was very happy to have been chosen as a Jenkinson's Boardwalk Memory Maker through Jersey Moms Blog.  They supplied me with wristbands for my family free of charge so that we could go and enjoy our day at Jenkinson's Beach and Boardwalk in Point Pleasant and then report back here with our findings.  The wristbands included access to the beach, the bathhouse, all the miniature golf courses, all the rides, the Funhouse, and the Aquarium!

As you can probably guess, our Mother's Day was a blast.

Point Pleasant beach will always hold a special place in my heart.  Since I moved to the South Jersey shore area, meeting my North Jersey family members at Point Pleasant beach in the summer is perfect.   It's right in the middle of us all.  Jenks Beach Crew

We started with the beach, of course.  There are lifeguards everywhere.  We were nervous about crowds at first because we saw about 6 summer camps walking onto the beach right before we got there, but the beach is so big we had plenty of space to enjoy ourselves without being at ALL crowded.

After about an hour of beach antics, the kids went to play mini golf while the moms stayed put on the beach.  Ahhh!  The kids loved playing at the course and came running back to tell us their scores.

Then we all went up to the bath house to clean up a bit before heading to the boardwalk.  I am going to say this with all honesty: that was the highlight of my day.  I had never visited the bath house before and was very pleased!  It was very clean and felt seriously luxurious after all the sand, sun and sunscreen.  I felt like a million bucks walking out of there with fresh clean clothes on.  I will use that every time I go from now on! 

We then went to the Aquarium.  We are no strangers to the Jenkinson's Aquarium.  My kids love visiting the sharks, penguins, seals, and all the aquarium has to offer.  This week (July 6-10), Jenkinson's is celebrating Shark Week, so the aquarium offered a lot of shark information, crafts and games.   Shark attackHere is my son participating in a game to determine what types of food a shark likes to eat.  He won these cute glasses! Aquarium Collage

After the aquarium, it was on to the Funhouse.  Not all of us made it in there.  My kids opted to stay outside with Grandma and Aunt Amy.  So I took my niece and nephew in.  It's safe to say that all three of us had a great time, even though our hearts might have been on the brink of bursting at every turn!   IMG_6572 Jenksrollercoaster

We then had some dinner and went to the rides.  Jenks rides are awesome.  They have something for every age.  Both of my kids experienced their first rides ever at Jenks when they were little: the little clown fish. If I can find the pictures, I'll add them later.  But this time, everyone tackled the "big kid" rides.  The Pendolo was their favorite! ... even though just looking at it made me queasy.  Grandma even got on a few!   Grandma

OK, I know this is a sponsored post and you might think I'm about to say is a result of the free wristbands, but I assure it it isn't.  I love Jenkinson's Boardwalk.  It has been a place that has given my family so many memories over the years going all the way back to my own childhood.  My parents took us down at least once a summer to enjoy Jenkinson's beach and have a great seafood dinner somewhere nearby.  My friends and I would drive down from Morris County almost every week once we got our driver's licenses.  I love reminiscing and then watching my kids experience the same things I did in the same exact spot.  I love watching their faces when they win some plush toy after being first to fill the water balloon at a boardwalk game.  I love listening to them talk about how great the peppers smell wafting from the sausage stand.  I love that they just HAVE to get zeppolis and they HAVE to get a slice from Joey Tomatoes.  They are making their own memories and they don't even know it.

So now comes the fun part...

I was given a voucher - that is EXACTLY the same kind  I used - to give away to one lucky reader!  If you are chosen as the winner, you will receive 1 (one) VIP voucher for a weekday visit (Valid Monday-Friday, excludes holidays, Non-transferable) which entitles up to 5 (five) people to complimentary use of the Amusements, Beach, Bath House, Mini Golf, Aquarium, and Fun House.

We want you to make as many memories as you can this summer!  Including Jenks in your plans would be awesome, don't you think?

All you have to do is complete the activities on this Rafflecopter form.  Some are mandatory, but you can complete additional tasks to receive more entries.  PLEASE be sure to actually complete the tasks and not just click the button or your entries will not count.  Good luck to you!  The giveaway will end on 7/16/15.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about Jenkinsons Boardwalk, you can visit their website at Jenkinsons.com.  Times, directions and pricing for all the above mentioned activities and amusements are listed there.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest in what' going on at Jenks! 

And for more information about Jersey Moms Blog, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and at www.jerseymomsblog.com 


I don't think we're supposed to go this fast all the time

Today's my birthday.  I'm 41.  It's cool.  I don't feel like it.  

Yesterday I was running and had a whole bunch of thoughts.  A lot of metaphor-like thoughts that compared running with real life and blah blah blah.  Not unusual when I'm out there because the rest of the world is basically background when I'm running.  Some days those thoughts fall away like dreams when I wake back up at the sight of the dishes in the sink or whatever.  But yesterday they were more lasting.  

I thought about how I haven't really gotten any "better" at running over the past year.  I don't go any faster and I don't cover more ground than I used to.  In fact, I've done the opposite.  I think I've actually slowed down.  And that's actually fine.  I wasn't conflicted with myself at all about this realization like I normally would be.  I used to strive to always beat myself every day.  I would wait for my little Nike app to tell me how much better I did than my last run and hope for some famous runner's voice to give me a virtual pat on the back for a job well done.

But it's been quite some time since the line graph has made much upward movement on that app and I'm more than happy about it. It made me think that I need to carry that feeling over to real life.

Sure, I always want to strive to be a better person than I was the day before.  That will never change.  But do I need to try and get there so quickly?  Nope.  

Slowing down to enjoy the process is something I'm going to strive for this year.  Less "convenience", more time. No more doing something a certain way because it's easier.  Because it's NOT easier.  Buying premade items instead of making them myself isn't fulfilling.  It doesn't teach my children anything.  It doesn't teach me anything.  Cramming a million activities into a day doesn't give me more time tomorrow, it just leaves tomorrow open to cram more activities into.  

I can't help but think about our bodies and how I don't think we're supposed to go this fast all the time.  I know we can sprint and I know we can run marathons.  That sprint is supposed to be a short burst.  For hunting.  For running away from a predator.  We shouldn't be sprinting all the time.  

 So if you see me running so slow out there that it looks like I'm basically standing still, don't worry.  I'm ok.  I'm just striving to be a better person.


Skylanders Trap Team new releases!

Trap teamDisclosure: I was given three Skylanders in exchange for this review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own. 

Are your kids still playing Skylanders Trap Team?  My son had previously beaten the game per his usual style of game play where he quickly wins each board to complete the game and then goes back to get all the money, find all the Easter eggs, explore areas he missed, and play as new characters.  Usually with other games, it gets kind of boring for him because he remembers certain levels that weren't his favorite and doesn't want to play them again.  But not with Skylanders Trap Team.

He just recently got the Kaos trap AKA: the Holy Grail of all-things-Trap-Team for his birthday and we were also given three new characters from the fifth release wave to review: Trap Master Enigma, Fling Kong, and Flip Wreck, so my son had a resurgence of interest in the game.  

That's what I love about Skylanders.  They make it easy to prolong play of the same game rather than having parents spend astronomical amounts on a different one.  Adding a new character for about $10 can give your child a whole different gaming experience with the same game he has been playing for months.

So keep an eye out for all the Skylanders Trap Team characters.  They make great gifts or even rewards for acing that math test or cleaning up their bedrooms without being asked.

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