Kissed by a rose

When I was younger, I would use writing as a way of "getting my thoughts out" so I didn't have to think of them anymore.  I didn't have many happy thoughts then.  I thought that writing them down on paper would make it easier somehow to deal with life.  It's funny, because writing those things down actually made them permanent.  Like the little tiny dots of scars left after stitches come out.  I sometimes look back on those poems and blurbs from my journal and wonder who I really was back then.  

I won't throw away those journals.  They are a part of me that I had decided to keep on paper.  Throwing them away would be like crumpling up my soul.  But I do keep them locked away and only visit them on certain occasions.

I like to think I've changed and now I always try to make every single day better than the day before.  I don't enjoy writing negative things unless there are positive outcomes that develop from them.  Struggles are OK, as long as I find a way to overcome them.  I have my family to thank for that.

I had written this yesterday as a Facebook status, but wanted to elaborate a bit on it here:  Yesterday I was outside weeding the garden.  My kids were playing on the driveway with chalk.  I could hear them talking about Earth Day and flowers.  My son said he wanted to draw a rose, so my daughter told him to try.  He gave it a whirl and stood up unhappy with his creation.  He put the chalk down and said he couldn't do it.

My daughter picked up his chalk and handed it back to him while telling him to keep trying.  Keep trying.  You can do it.  If you stop now, you'll never do it.  

I know it's sappy of me, but I cried.  Before I even saw the rose my son drew, I cried.  Before I saw his little face beaming with pride, I cried.  And then I saw it...  the most beautiful rose I'd ever seen.  

Ax flower

I told my son it looked like it was a rose at dawn, just waiting for the sun to rise so it could bloom.

After I said that, I cried again because it clicked.

My children ARE that rose.  All children are.  Their little heads slightly bowed wondering if they are doing things right.  Then that sun shines and they bloom into who they were meant to be.

I thanked my daughter for her encouragement and praised my son for his determination.  Yesterday was a great day.

I can't help but think life is good.  Sadness will always be there, but don't make it permanent.  


Top 10 reasons to visit Liberty Science Center this spring break- review and giveaway!

Liberty Science Center CollageMy family and I were very happy to be a part of the Jersey Mom's media event at the Liberty Science Center recently.  We were invited to see everything first hand so we could bring back the information to you in case you were thinking of visiting over spring break!  (Spoiler alert: We think you should.)

I haven't been to the Liberty Science Center since I was a kid and was excited to see all the changes.  And yet, I was very glad to see that the main focus of teaching while having fun still remained.   Liberty Science Center Collage 1

Here's a list of the Top Ten reasons we loved Liberty Science Center:

  1. Easy directions- Getting to the Liberty Science Center is easy from anywhere.  We live near Long Beach Island which is about an hour and a half away and I think we made like 3 turns total the whole ride.
  2. The Exhibits!- Some of our favorites include the Touch Tunnel where we were able to crawl through an entirely pitch black tunnel using just our other senses to get back out, the Infinity Climber that seemed to hover in mid air, Sesame Street Presents: the Body that included hands on descriptions of everything having to do with our bodies (including the digestive system...), Beyond Rubik's Cube where many different types of the puzzle were displayed, and Skyscraper! where we were able to walk across a steel beam 18 feet above the ground!
  3. The price- General adult admission is $19.75, kids $15.75, seniors $16.75.  You can add an IMAX film to your ticket for $5 or 2 films for $9.  (Pssst! You can also look for coupons in your KidStuff books for $2 off each ticket!)
  4. Nonstop action- no matter where you turn there is something to see, touch, or read.  It would be nearly impossible to leave there without learning at least one or two things.
  5. Friendly, excited, and knowledgeable staff- Everyone there seems genuinely excited to share their knowledge with visiting kids!  There are experiment labs in a lot of the exhibits where staff members teach kids while allowing them to complete hands-on activities.
  6. Places to hide out- When you need a break from the action, there are benches and little nooks and crannies all over the place to sit and rest.  Perfect for a quick regrouping before visiting the next exhibit.
  7. The view- There are windows everywhere that let you look out over NYC.  It's so gorgeous.
  8. Beautiful gift shop- The gift selection is widely ranged from inexpensive souvenirs to more pricey conversation pieces.  We picked up 3 different types of astronaut ice cream for $12.
  9. Bathrooms everywhere- There's nothing worse than being at a museum with limited access to bathrooms as a parent.  At Liberty Science Center, there are bathrooms on every level.
  10. The smiles on my kids' faces.  The ride home from Liberty Science Center was filled with excited conversation that started with, "What if..?" and "Did you see..?" and "My favorite part was..."  It was a wonderful experience for us all.

And as a little incentive to get you there, I was also given a set of 4 tickets to giveaway!  All you have to do to enter is complete the tasks in the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to visit Liberty Science Center on all their social media channels:


Thanks for loving me anyway

Chalk heart

I'm thinking a lot about all the people who are in my life right now.  Every one of you plays a very important role in who I am.  I am so happy to have myself surrounded by such a great force that is my family and friends.  This is for all of you.  Be ready, because this is where I become an unglued, slobbery mess.

 Thanks for loving me anyway

I'm sorry I forgot to pack your snack yesterday. 

I'm sorry I never remember that you don't have gym on Thursdays.

I'm sorry I am sometimes distracted by something that has absolutely nothing to do with you and I'm not paying full attention to what's going on in your life every moment.

I'm sorry I am a spaz when it comes to remembering dates.

I'm sorry tonight's dinner isn't exactly the one you were hoping for.

I'm sorry I haven't called in a while.  I have no excuse.

I'm sorry I couldn't make it to your special event.  I have been regretting it ever since and wish I could turn back time.

I'm sorry I sometimes go into a shell and have trouble getting out of it until I'm ready.

I'm sorry that my mood is sometimes hard to determine.

 

Thanks for smiling at me and saying it's OK.

Thanks for hugging me.

Thanks for being on my side.

Thanks for letting me stay in that shell just long enough to think before tapping me on the back and pulling me back out.

Thanks for listening without saying a word. 

Thanks for loving me anyway.

 

 


Right now

Did you ever just sit and think about the people close to you and miss them terribly?  They could be sitting right next to you, and yet you yearn for something that's not quite there at the moment.  

You can glance at your son and see a flash of him the way he was as a chubby baby.  Or your daughter could say something that gives you a glimmer forward to her college years.  Or your husband might peck you on the neck while you are standing in the kitchen and you think of that same kiss happening over 10 years ago in a different kitchen.  In a different house.  

I love and hate those feelings because they make me both smile and lower my eyes at the same time.  Those feelings make me nostalgic for different times that both occurred and will occur in the future.

But they make me discount right now.

I don't like that.

Because right now is fantastic.  Right now there is snow falling like feathers outside.  Right now the lighting is just right for writing.  Right now I'm anxiously awaiting those smiling faces who will tell me about their days and give me hugs and hold my hand without thinking about it.  

And then tonight will be filled with Right Nows that are even more magical.  The Right Now that involves reading Harry Potter to my son.  The Right Now that lets me touch my daughter's ever-so soft cheek and wish her a good night's sleep after prayers.  The Right Now when I lay on my favorite spot snuggled to my husband's chest with his arm draped over me.  

No more missing them.  I love them right now.

 


Monster Jam is coming to NJ & NY! Win tickets here!

MJ_2014_SM_LogoI know that you love Monster Jam.  And I know you know I love Monster Jam, too!  But do you know that I know that you know how MUCH we both love Monster Jam?  Well, I know, ya know?  Over the past few years, I've had the opportunity to interview a few drivers and get up close and personal with the HUGE Monster Jam trucks on several occasions.  

Zombie are EVERYWHERE! - Interview with Zombie driver Sean Duhon

Does the inside of a monster truck smell funny? - Interview with Shockwave driver Bill Braukman

And of course there have been numerous giveaways including my first ever giveaway here on Whatever Works! 

So...

I'll cut right to the chase.

I've got tickets for this season's shows right here for ya!

MohawhWarrior14_06

But first, some info:

Monster Jam will be performing at both the IZOD Center and Nassau Coliseum.  Show times are as follows:

IZOD Center: 

  • Friday, January 30, 2015 at 7:30 PM (Pit Party from 5:30 – 6:30 PM)
  • Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 2:00 PM (Pit Party from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM) and another performance at 7:30 PM

Nassau Coliseum:     

  • Friday, February 6, 2015 at 7:30 PM (Pit Party from 5:30 – 6:30 PM)   
  • Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 2:00 PM (Pit Party from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM) and another performance at 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 2:00 PM 

The events will feature some of the most popular Monster Jam trucks in the circuit, including Grave Digger®, El Toro Loco® and Mohawk Warrior℠, along with the newly created Dragon and Be Aware.

 Standing at 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, Monster Jam trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can fly up to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.

 To win a family 4-pack of tickets to see your choice of Friday night show, I've got a trivia question for you to answer:

Which of the following will NOT get a driver points during a Monster Jam Freestyle run? 

  1. Hitting Obstacles
  2. Wheelies
  3. Donuts
  4. Rollovers

Answer correctly in the comments section below (including your email address) and you will be entered to win a family 4-pack of tickets to your choice of Friday night show at either the IZOD Center or Nassau Coliseum! 

But don't worry if you don't win!  Tickets are affordably priced for the whole family with $10 seats for kids. Tickets can be purchased in-person at the IZOD Center Box Office, Nassau Coliseum Box Office, by visiting www.Ticketmaster.com or calling 1-800-745-3000.

Hope to see you there!

Visit Monster Jam at their website MonsterJam.com, their Facebook page or on Twitter!

 

**Correction- Giveaway ends 1/20/15 at 12:00PM EST. (Post originally stated giveaway would end on 1/27... typographical error.  Sorry!) ** Winner will be emailed at the address given and will have 24 hours to respond.  If there is no response, a replacement winner will be chosen.  Tickets are for show only, not Pit Party.  Tickets will be available at Will Call on the day of the show.  Prize is not guaranteed and will be given by a third party.  Winner will need to have identification to retrieve tickets from Will Call.

***Second correction made on 1/21/15 to clarify that the winner has the choice of either FRIDAY night show (IZOD or Nassau Coliseum) only.***

         

All photos in this post are courtesy of Feld Motor Sports.


My experience with endometrial ablation | Part 5: About 9 months later

I apologize for taking so long to write more about my ablation experience, but to be quite honest it's because I haven't had anything to write about, really.  To quote all the Lego people from the Lego movie, "Everything is awesome!"

OK, there were a few very minor things that came up over the past months since having my ablation, but really nothing I was worried about.  For one, I do have periods sometimes.  Not at ALL like the ones I was experiencing before the procedure, but there are some months when I have minor spotting or even just a slight thin clear discharge.  Glad I didn't throw out all those sanitary liners.  

Other months, I get very minor indicators that my cycle is ending: very slight cramps, one or two small pimples on my face, and irritability (although my family may call it something else). These symptoms were the same as I had before the procedure.  The only difference now is that they aren't accompanied by the massive bleeding I was experiencing. 

I have experienced a couple yeast infections.  I know... gross.  I even gagged a bit when I typed it.  But to be fair, I don't know if they had anything to do at all with the ablation.  In fact, I have my yearly appointment with my OBGYN next month and plan to ask him about it.  I will let you know what he says.

All in all, I am VERY pleased with having had the ablation procedure.  Similar to childbirth, I honestly do not remember any pain or discomfort I was having before or during the procedure.  It's more like thinking about a movie I watched a long time ago.  During the first few days following the proceudre, I was worried that I would have regrets.  But I don't.  I feel good.

Oh, and I decided not to share my story on the Nova-Sure website.  I had a wonderful experience with their product and will continue to give my honest review of it here on my blog.  I just didn't want anyone to think I was being paid or being swayed by them in any way to post my experience.  I feel it's more nature here in my own space.  

Please as always feel free to contact me at cynthialeemom@yahoo.com if you have any questions about ablation or if you just want to chat about it.  I would love to help you.  Thanks for following along!

Here are links to the rest of the series:

Part 1- Before the Procedure

Part 2- One day after the procedure

Part 3- One week after the procedure

Part 4- Two weeks after the procedure


4 reasons we love LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

I received this game in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was given to me.  All opinions are my own.LB3_950x300_main_r2
photo from videogames.lego.com


Everyone in my family is a gamer of some sort.  My husband is a shoot-em-up master. My daughter has beaten basically every game she has gotten her hands on.  My son can pick up a controller and understand any game within 3 minutes of playing.  Me?  I'm the gaming equivelent of a backseat driver.  I like to watch everyone play and give my two cents.  "Shoot that guy!"  "Go over there!"  "Why didn't you jump over that fence?  If you would've jumped over that fence you could've gotten the sword back!"  ...stuff like that.

So when we got LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham to review, I was very excited.  Watching the kids play is like a workout for me.  While they loaded the game and got situated, I put on my sweatbands and got ready to yell out some serious instructions.  

Instead, though, I ended up just sitting there in awe.  Watching.  Admiring.  Listening.  And laughing.  Want to know why?  Here are 4 reasons:

1. The game is beautiful

LEGO Batman 3_Batman_01
Isn't that gorgeous? Photo from videogames.lego.com

Seriously.  The detail in every scene and within every aspect of the game is flawless.  You may wonder how a bunch of electronically drawn LEGOs could have any detail, but these do.  They look three dimensional.  The colors are tremendous.  While the kids navigated through each level, it became more intricate.  

2. All the throwbacks throughout the game

Not only are there over 150 characters to choose from, they range from characters of today to futuristic to retro!  There is a level that plays the old Batman music from the Adam West show.  Oh, and Adam West does the voice, too!  It's awesome.

3. The Storyline is appealing 

There are not many things about the story that do not draw you in.  There are many differnet story arcs that come together which include Batman battling his normal enemies like the Joker and Killer Croc and many other DC Comics superstars fighting in space.  They all come together to get back the rings for the Lantern Corp which protects our galaxy.

4.The Comedy  

I always love the silly comedy LEGO movies and games use.  They follow the storyline they are supposed to follow, but always add humor to make it more interesting.  The kids love the slapstick portion while we adults like the dialogue.

 

So do I think LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is worth the purchase?  Yep.  It's one of those games that you will love playing along with your kids.  It's got something for everyone.  Check it out!

Here's my affiliate link, which is really just a link to Amazon.  But if you click on it, I could be paid a commission and I would really appreciate it.  Thanks!

 

 LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is available for PlayStation 4PlayStation 3PlayStation VitaNintendo 3DSWii UXbox OneXbox 360Microsoft Windows, and iOS. The game is available for Mac via Steam.


Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker Book - #Review & #Giveaway!

Disclosure: I was given this book to review at no cost to me.  All opinions are my own.IMG_4895

We just got back from a magical week long vacation at Disney.  But when I say it was magical, I meant it was magical up until Thursday when everyone and their mother was there.  See, once Thursday hit we were there with basically all of New Jersey.  Because along with every other NJ public school, my kids' school was closed for the annual teacher convention.  

Regardless of the heart palpatations I continually had while being in the same spot with the most people I have ever been in the same spot with in my entire life, even Thursday was awesome.  It was awesome because that was the day we were visiting Magic Kingdom.  I was psyched to visit Cinderella's castle and get as many autographs as I possibly could from all the characters!  

Before we left, I was sent a super cute Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker Book to review while I was at Disney.  I was very excited, because the book is filled with beautiful pages for every signature, plus room for photos and any other info you would want to include.  It also includes a lot of tips for getting the best autographs you possibly can - where to find the characters in each park, what pens to use, how to talk with the Cast Members and more!

Check out some of the pages: 

IMG_4894

IMG_4896But guess what happened...

The park was SO crowded, I didn't get even ONE signature.  My beautiful autograph book was left blank.  

While that stinks for me, it completely ROCKS for you because I'm going to give my awesome Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker book to one of you lucky ducks!  If you're going to Disney anytime soon, it will be a great inclusion for your trip.  

Just comment below telling me what part of Disney makes you smile and you'll be entered to win!

Giveaway ends 12/1/14 at noon EST.  Open to US residents 18 and older only.  

 

For more info on the Deluxe Autograph & Sticker book (and to get your own for $19.99 + S/H) and about all things Disney, check out guidetothemagic.com


Get a Life and Guess the Mess! - two more great games by R & R Games - #Review & #Giveaway

Disclosure: I was given these two games to review at no charge.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.   R&R collage

The people at R & R Games really know how to make education fun.  Every game we have played so far from R & R Games has been so much fun, my kids have no idea they are learning valuable lessons from them.  That's pretty much a key ingredient in a successful game, in my book.  

Today I want to tell you all about Get a Life and Guess the Mess! which both totally rock.  

Get a Life

Get a Life is a game where your friends get to choose a life for you (home, career, roommate, etc.) and you get to decide whether or not it fits or completely doesn't fit your style!  Using cards with different locales, vehicles, and other factors, players choose what they think you will like.  You then choose which player had the best (or worst) life picked out for you.  It reminds me of a much more refined version of those little folded paper fortune teller thingies we used to make as kids... the ones that had little numbered flaps on them which were opened to reveal certain lifestyle choices.  Get a Life is a really fun game that can bring a lot of laughs to your kids' next sleepover party!

Guess the Mess

Guess the Mess! is also a great game to play with a bunch of people.  Using only one hand, you have 30 seconds to grab as many pictures of items you think will describe your predetermined hiding place.  For example, you may have chosen "In a kitchen pantry", so you would search through the pile of pictures to find things like flour, pasta, soup cans, etc.  The game comes with what seems like a thousand picture cards so the fun lasts for a long time!

What I love about both of these games is the same thing I love about all R & R Games... they make you think.  I love that they keep my kids' brains working alongside their emotions in order for them to play.  You need to use reasoning skills, context clues, and knowledge of the people you are playing with in order to succesfully answer the questions put in front of you.

I also love that the object of these games isn't really about winning in the end.  Yes, there can be a winner of the game, but the actual act of playing them is more fun than the end result.  In fact, I can't recall who actually won the games when we played them.  And let me tell you, we are usually a VERY competitive family when it comes to games.  

I highly recommend Get a Life AND Guess the Mess! for your next family game night, friendly gathering, or even a wonderful holiday activity when you have a houseful of people this season!  

The people at R & R Games were gracious enough to offer me two games (1 Get a Life, 1 Guess the Mess!) to give away here on Whatever Works just in time for the holidays!  All you need to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form and complete the tasks!  Best of luck to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Please be sure to check out all the games R & R Games has available at www.rnrgames.com .  

Here are my other reviews of R & R Games, too:

Time's Up!

Strike a Pose


My visit to Philadelphia Magazine's Design Home 2014 with XFinity and Real Mom Media

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  I was a guest of Real Mom Media for this event and was given a lovely parting gift of a Samsung tablet from XFinity before I left to go home.

Design Home PHL

Today I got to visit Philadelphia Magazine's absolutely stunning Design Home 2014.  It was AMAZING.  The house itself was gorgeous, but then they went ahead and added about a million cool techy things through XFinity/Comcast that just threw its cool factor completely over the edge for me.

The thing that floored me the most about the house was that although it had all the latest technology within, it didn't look high tech.  It looked comfortable.  Like people could actually live there within this century.  All the colors were perfect.  The floor plan flowed so smoothly, and yet there were about a million nooks and crannies all over to explore.

One of my favorite parts of the house was the lowest level which included a living room area, bar, gym, laundry room and the nanny's quarters including a bedroom and bathroom.  We were brought in to learn about XFinity's X1 system which allows you to customize your TV viewing experience throughout your home.  It seems like a pretty cool system with lots of features like:

  • the ability to record up to 12 shows at once
  • flip through the guide and watch shows that may not be on at the moment
  • make playlists of your favorite shows to play on a continuous loop

Lower Level Design Home PHLWe then took the stairs (although there WAS an elevator available, it was that immense...) all the way up to the top floor which was designed as a kids' playroom.  If I know my kids at all, this would definitely be their favorite room in the house.  Up there, we learned about XFinity wifi services and all its capabilities using hte XFinity wifi app.  Just wait, soon it will be available for use even when you are overseas!

We made our way downstairs to the kitchen... I feel like kitchen is too small a word for the place we were in.  It was more like what I have dreamed heaven might be like.  There was a ginormous marble island in the middle of the room, cabinets everywhere, a butler's pantry in the corner, a TV on the wall, and just so much more.  The dining area was across the room and had not one but two - TWO wine cabinets.  It was my favorite room in the house. Kitchen Design Home PHL

The XFinity guys were there to tell us even more about the XFinity Home at that point.  We learned that it is possible to basically set up your entire home on your tablet so you can view, adjust, fix, or turn on or off anything at all.  It can be used as a security system, a thermostat, a baby/pet monitor, a lighting adjuster, and much more!

At this point, my head was exploding with knowledge and I took a little wander off by myself to check out the rest of the house.  Let me tell you, I almost got lost in the master suite's bathroom.  But don't worry, I found my way out and was able to find all the other gems throughout the house like the upstairs laundry room, the three additional bedrooms, huge walk in closets, and did I mention there was an ELEVATOR?

I was very impressed with everything I saw today.  I wanted to get it all out right now before I went to bed or I would probably not sleep thinking about it!  

Oh, and to top it off, XFinity gave us all beautiful Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (7-Inch) as a parting gift! I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Thanks to Real Mom Media, Comcast/XFinity, and Philadelphia Magazine for a wonderful time!

If you are interested in learning more about the Design Home 2014, XFinity, Philadelphia Magazine, or Real Mom Media, please visit their webpages by clicking on the names here in this post! 

And you can view my entire album of pictures on my Whatever Works Facebook page.  

If you need me, I'll be off somewhere dreaming about laying next to the pool on a hot day...  Pool