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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Tips for work-at-home parents when your kid is home sick

Sick kid

The day starts out as usual.  You get dressed, start the coffee, think about all the work you have to do that day, go to wake up the kids and BAM! ...One of them is sick.  

Hey, it happens.  And it stinks.  But there isn't much you can do to stop it.  So, you start rearranging your entire day to accommodate.  Before you catch on fire from all the gears turning in your head, please read these quick tips that might help:

 1. Work in spurts- Don't look at the big picture; go frame by frame instead.  Completing one small task at a time will be much easier on your brain.

2. Realize you won't get even half of what you want done. And that's OK.  

3. Put your kid first. Cuddle him.  Help him regain his health.  Give him chicken soup and crackers.  Tuck him in blankets on the couch.  Sit with him and read.  Do whatever it takes to make him feel comfortable and loved.  

4. Let him watch TV allll day.  Seriously.  Don't stress yourself out about the amount of screen time he's getting.  It's one day.  His brain isn't going to turn to mush.  

5. Make a funny note (that will only be funny to you) by jotting down all the questions he asks you.  Or at least mark how MANY questions he asks.  There will be a lot.  If you don't find the humor in it, then it could be a very long day.  

6. Stop stressing.  Take a deep breath and really evaluate what your day could be like.  Most of the time, I overwork it in my head and think I couldn't possibly get everything done.  But it all mysteriously does get done regardless of how much or little I stress about it.  So I have decided that stressing about the extra work isn't necessary.

And when all else fails...

7. Resign to doing the work later.  Just stop and walk away from the work.  So you might have to go to bed an hour later tonight.  Or you might have to wake up early tomorrow.  That's ok.  Go rest with your kid now.  Remember, he's counting on you just as much as your boss, if not much much more.

Good luck and I hope your kid is feeling better ASAP!


Monster Jam 2015: Who's going to be there?!

photo courtesy of Feld Motor Sports

Disclosure: I was given passes to see Monster Jam in exchange for this post.  All opinions are my own.

You guys know I love Monster Jam.  I don't know what it is about it.  Maybe it's the roar of the engines or the excitement on my kids faces, but whatever it is it makes me happy.  I am so happy to be able to take my family once again on June 13th at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ for the Monster Jam: Path of Destruction show including all our favorite trucks and drivers plus some new ones we hadn't seen before.  

Competing Monster Jam trucks include El Toro Loco®, Metal Mulisha, Zombie℠, Mohawk Warrior®, Monster Mutt℠ Dalmatian, Team Hot Wheels® Firestorm®, Madusa®, Lucas Oil Crusader®, Monster Energy, Scooby Doo™, Captain’s Curse®, Doomsday, Son-Uva Digger®, Grave Digger The Legend®, Max-D® and Grave Digger®, along with those making their MetLife Stadium debut – Stone Crusher, Xtermigator, Ice Cream Man® and brand new Soldier Fortune. 

Mohawk Warrior 12
Pic from 2012 Monster Jam: Path of Destruction

Since my son has been sporting a Mohawk for like, ever, we'll be rooting for Mohawk Warrior in his quest to get to Vegas for the finals.  But of course, we wish ALL the drivers the best of luck!

Last time we went to the show, we were amazed at the amount of dirt they were able to haul into the stadium.  This time, (per the press release) MetLife Stadium will be filled with over 4000 tons of dirt along with 50 crush cars, vans and buses to create the colossal Monster Jam racing track and obstacle course.  

So will you be going?  If you're worried about cost, I'm happy to tell you that Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family with seats starting at $10 for kids and $25 for adults.  So a family of 4 can have an awesome time for under $100.

Tickets are available at the MetLife Stadium Box Office, all Ticketmaster retail outlets, online at Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone 1-800-745-3000.

Hope to see you there!

Oh!  I almost forgot!  Monster Jam is trying something new this time... if you sign in as a Fan Ambassador through Social Toaster, you can have a chance at winning some great Monster Jam prizes like:

  • Four pack of tickets to Monster Jam Path of Destruction at MetLife Stadium (includes Pit Passes)
  • One (1) Radio controlled car
  • One (1) Signed Tom Meents jersey
  • One (1) Monster Jam Battleground video game
  • One (1) Monster Jam program book  

You can sign up using my link right here!  http://sot.ag/3Qj9m  Share it with your friends to up your chances!

For more information on Monster Jam, log on to www.MonsterJam.com


These are my legs

My legs

My legs are not pretty.  They never have been.  I have terrible skin due to psoriasis.  I've had knee surgery over twenty years ago that left a keyloid scar and a strange squishy bump on my left leg.  I've got spider veins coursing throughout every inch.  I bruise at the slightest touch.  When I shave, I have red spots everywhere.  When I don't shave, my hair is way darker than I thought possible.  My legs are not pretty.

But it's hot out.  And I want to wear shorts.  So I will.

Why am I writing about it?  Because it's important.  Well, to me at least.

The other day when I was about to go for a run, I noticed the temperature was pretty high on our thermometer.  I debated putting on shorts because, well, ...my legs.  I thought about how weird I would look out there running on these ugly limbs.  

But then the heat hit me and the thought of wearing pants flew right out the window.  I put on my shorts and headed out.

As I was running, I looked down at my legs to see just how terrible they looked down there.

All I saw were two powerful stems carrying me forward.  Each stride pushing me to my destination.  Every step making those legs even stronger.  I forgot all about the "ugly" exterior of my legs and focused on the muscles beneath.  The joints that moved me along.  The way they held me up even when the rest of me was ready to stop.

Yes, it's a metaphor for outer vs. inner beauty.   Yes, I want to relay this message to my daughter and let her know beauty isn't skin deep.  All that.

But the other day's run was really mostly for me.  

I'M the one who needs to remember that it's OK to show even the "ugly" parts of me.  I need to be OK with it.  I need to know that even when I don't like how my legs look, and they won't get me any leg modeling jobs, they are still there to help me put my best foot forward whether I cover them up or not.

So I'm not going to cover them up.  I am sorry if the sight of them makes you cringe, but frankly I have reached a point where my self esteem has to trump what others think.  These puppies carried me to where I am today which is at the helm of a wonderful family with my fantastic husband right next to me.  

I don't want to start any revolution or insist that others join me in some shorts wearing crusade.  But maybe take a minute to think about some part of you that you have been covering up for no reason.  Ask yourself why.  Maybe revealing it could make you even stronger than you already are.


My mom

Mom & me

My mom inherited what we call German strength from my grandfather.  She doesn't know she has it.  She can carry the weight of the world and a week's worth of groceries in her arms without batting an eyelash.  She helps.  I don't know why she puts up with me and my constant bitchiness.  People say we argue so much because we are so alike.  I can't understand that because I could never be the person she is.  She does for everyone.  There is never a time when my mom isn't giving a little bit of herself away.  

When we were young, both my parents were on the local first aid squad.  It was a volunteer squad, but you wouldn't know it by the amount of time and energy everyone involved put into it.  The pagers would go off at all hours causing constantly changing plans...who would be driving me to basketball or what time would we be eating dinner or don't worry, I'll just wait here until you get back.  

Sometimes hours later or maybe minutes things would fall back into place, but it still pissed me off as the selfish kid I was.  I wanted my mommy and daddy to put me first.  Not those other people who needed them.  ME.

But that changed one day when I was with my mom in the Foodtown parking lot.  We were about to go in for groceries which wasn't a chore for me.  I enjoyed going with my mom to the food store, because she was always so adventurous with her cooking.  She would see something on the shelf and want to try it for dinner that night.  She would ask me what I thought would be a good side dish and actually listen to my reply while she placed ingredients into the cart.  She would let me pick my favorite cereal.  Fruity Pebbles.  I would chuckle embarrassed as she sang along with the muzak version of Superstitious they played throughout the store.  

But as we sat in the parking lot that day unbuckling our seatbelts, that blasted pager blared out that a call had come in.  My mom started the car again and clicked back on her seatbelt awaiting the destination of the call so she could quickly drop me back at home before heading to the ambulance.  She could see I was upset, but didn't change her course of action.  

Only this time, the call was very close.  It was actually in the same parking lot we were currently sitting in.

My heart started racing as I looked out at the sea of cars to find one that was on fire or crashed into a pole or worse.  I looked over at my mom who was sweeping the parking lot as well, but she was calm.  She was collected.  She saw a policeman walking towards a car and told me to stay put while she checked it out.

The car was close enough I could hear what was happening.  Thankfully there were no fires or crashes.  Someone was having chest pains.  My mom called to me in the same voice she used to tell me dinner was ready.  "Hey, Cin, can you please bring me my kit?" 

I brought her kit to her and stared in awe of my mom.  Total and complete awe.  The way she swiftly opened the kit and got all the things she needed.  The way she talked in a voice I had heard in my sleep - probably when she was standing in my doorway worried about a fever or sniffles I had before bed.  She took vitals.  She instructed the police officer.  She talked with the patient.  

She was saving a person's life right in front of me.  

Once the ambulance arrived with other members of the first aid squad and the patient was loaded onto the stretcher, my mom walked back over to me and said "We can go grocery shopping now."

It was right then and there that all that resentment - all that hatred for that lost time I felt the first aid squad took from me just floated away.  I realized that this was my mom.  She did this every day, sometimes multiple times a day.  She's a giver.  She was put here for more than just me and my family.  She was given the ability to save lives.  

I am so grateful for my mom and all she does for me.  But I feel even more blessed for the lessons she teaches me every day about giving of yourself and helping those who can't help themselves.  

I just felt like sharing that today.


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.