Archives for December 2012

Winter Break The Risky Kid Way

101 Uses For a Snuggie

Search Pinterest and you’ll find a plethora of ideas for keeping the kids entertained over winter break.  Those are all well and good, but we know that sometimes all those crafty, snuggly, educational ideas are just too much.  Too much effort, too much planning, too much forced family fun.  Instead, we came up with a few ideas to enjoy winter break The Risky Kid way.  WARNING: some of our ideas our messy, some are unconventional, but ALL of them are fun!

Sleep In

 

Sure, you can jam-pack your winter break with outings and activities.  You can try to keep to as normal a schedule as possible.  We suggest the polar opposite (yes, I went there).  Stay in bed as long as possible.  And then stay in your pj’s as long as possible.  “I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life in pants with elastic waistbands.” said no one ever.  Lisa tells her kids to leave them alone in the morning if the door is closed.  We offer a cash incentive to let us sleep in.  Even if you have little ones, you can still catch a few minutes of extra zzz’s, just use my friend Kelly M.’s brilliant idea: charge up your phone, Kindle, iPad, etc. and leave it near your bed.  When the kids toddle in let them play with them while you snooze a little longer.  Best use of screen time ever!

Play With Your Food

 

The kids have probably spent more meals than they’d like over the holidays sitting nicely at the table in scratchy clothes.  Reward them by letting them play with their food for once.  Maybe a whip cream fight?  I hear it’s on sale this time of year!

Turkeys are on sale too.  Lisa says they make great bowling balls.

If, like us, the weather is a little less conducive to turkey bowling, play with your food inside.  Blowing up marshmallows in the microwave is always a big hit.

Make a Mess

 

As much as it kills the neat freak in me, I’m giving my kids a holiday from being super tidy.  We’ve had our house on the market since mid-November, so we’ve been freakishly on top of them about putting every last thing away.  Fingers crossed, we think it’s sold, so we’re being way more lax than normal.  Allow a few days for all the toys and gifts to be spread around in all their glory.  Don’t make your beds.  Tear up the couch cushions.  Build a fort.

Polar Plunge

 

Okay, so this one takes some advanced planning.  But imagine the looks on the kids’ faces when you tell them you’re going swimming … outside … in winter.  Well, unless you live in Florida.  I guess it wouldn’t be quite as dramatic.

Drift

Rule the Playground

 

Do they other parents at the playground get you down with all their rules and micromanaging?  Now is the perfect time to visit a playground and have your run of the entire place.  The kids can run, scream like banshees, and go up the slide to their hearts’ content.  Even the most boring of playgrounds turns into something magical when it’s covered in snow or ice.

Roughhouse

 

We’ve been reading the coolest book:  The Art of Roughhousing (review coming soon!), and it’s helped remind me how much kids need rough and tumble play.  It’s especially important in the winter, when they aren’t able to burn off steam outside.  Pillow fights are easy, and we’ve been having tons of fun launching little bodies onto the couch.

How do you plan to keep the kids busy over break?

 

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Roger’s Rules of Christmas Order

We had a Risky Family Meeting Friday morning. My husband, Roger,  printed up these rules and reviewed them with the kids. Then they signed the document and went to school to eat sugar and party down while I enjoyed the last three and a half hours of freedom.

I have to admit, these rules are pretty good. My favorite line is the one about our giant playroom otherwise known as “OUTSIDE.” Go outside and play needs to return to our daily vocabulary. Yes, it’s cold outside, strangers live there, there are cars and wild animals … but there’s also fresh air, sunshine and so much potential for fun. We all know it: your body and mind will be renewed if you just go outside and play.

 

The Token System

Still, there are times we’ll be inside and technology will be calling.  We rationed screen time a few months ago and it has changed our lives. I’ve said this before but EVERYONE is happier. It’s changed everything. They get an hour and a half everyday of tech time just for sticking to the rules. They have the option of losing or earning time. Tokens not used can be exchanged at the end of the day for a quarter.

I’m NOT a big fan of the phrase family time or quality time.  Roger works from home, I’m a stay at home mom and my kids are always around. Every minute of my life is family time. If you spend enough time with your kids, there will naturally be quality time and you don’t have to stress about fitting it into your schedule. Our house has a tendency to turn into a daycare center at times and through the Christmas Break Rules I think Roger was giving me an excuse to say if I didn’t give birth to you, GET OUT.

I also love the part about Mom and Dad spending time together. Kids need to understand that while they really are the center of the universe, it just won’t spin unless Mom and Dad send some time together. It also gave me the opportunity to define emergency.  Emergencies are limited to: fire, bones sticking out, massive amounts of blood, any amount of vomit and flooding.

The rest of the rules are pretty self explanatory. Christmas break is 18 days long. Even Risky Kids need rules sometimes.

What are you doing to make your Christmas break flow smoothly? Let us know.

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A Vow to Play Even Harder

Thoughts have been tumbling around in my head since I first heard about the horrible events in Newtown, CT last Friday.  Between the anger, profound sadness and many tears, I couldn’t help but wonder if this tragedy will affect the way I parent.  Of course, we all naturally use events like these to pull closer to our families and vow to remember how blessed and lucky we are to have each other.  Like many of you, I hugged and kissed my children over the weekend to the point of annoyance, neither of them really aware of why their mom was so maddeningly affectionate or tearful.

When I dropped my son off at school on Monday morning, I found the doors to his peaceful, secluded school locked for the first time in the six years we’ve attended.  Part of me was relieved (they’re taking every precaution!), and part of me was heartbroken (so this is what we’ve come to).

My chain of worrisome thoughts always returns to this: there is only so much I can do to keep my children safe.  Yes, we can reflect on the tragic events and put great minds together to find ways to prevent any more heinous crimes such as this.  We can and we must.  But as I go about my everyday life with my children, I feel a stronger conviction than ever to continue our Risky ways.

The ultimate goal of The Risky Kids is to share ways to raise kids who are independent, resilient, brave, and above all, happy.  There is tremendous pride and joy in climbing a tree, learning to make something yourself, and conquering the fear of the unknown.  I hope that should a dangerous situation ever present itself to my kids, they will have the skills we’ve taught them through play to come out unharmed.  But, God help us all, if they find themselves in a situation beyond our control that takes their lives?  Then more than anything I want to know that their lives up until their final moment were filled with adventure, love, laughter and joy.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.  I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.  The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.  I keep on swallowing.  ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Instead of panic and fear, let’s turn our hands and hearts to love and service.

Victoria Haller, @VDog on Twitter, is one of the first bloggers I ever met, way back in my early Blissdom days.  Her nephew, Noah Pozner, was one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook.  If you are feeling called to do something more, please consider helping out this family.  Noah leaves behind 3 siblings, including his twin sister.  The family has set up a trust to help Noah’s siblings during this time of grief.  If you would like to donate you, you can do so through Noah’s Ark of Hope Fund.  You can also send cards, drawings, and notes of love to Noah’s family here:

Noah’s Ark of Hope Fund

261 S. Main St. #332

Newtown, CT 06470

I’d like to leave you with a link to this post – Noah Pozner: a force of nature – written by Noah’s grandmother.  It’s a sweet tribute to Noah’s spirit in all its 6-year-old glory.  We will never forget you, Noah, nor will we forget the other children who lost their lives or the adults who died protecting them.  We vow to play harder than ever for you and your friends. Their spirits will live on through our pursuit of play.

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Apologies

A few days ago we inadvertently published a post that was still in draft form.  Usually this means it just needs some polishing, and publishing it might only mean that we expose you to a few run-on sentences or missing photos.  This one, however, contained language not appropriate for a family blog.  The post was removed as soon as we noticed, but those of you who subscribe to us via email or an RSS feed may have seen it.  We sincerely apologize, and while we can’t promise we won’t cuss in real life, we can promise to donate to the swear jar and keep The Risky Kids f-bomb free.  Thanks for understanding.

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Risky Reads: The Family Vacation Edition

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Three out of four of us conquered Everest!

Just last month our family did one of the riskiest things you can do: vacation together.  I’m happy to report we survived 5 nights in a 260 square foot hotel room and came home with great memories and all of our limbs.  We toured all four Walt Disney World parks, Legoland, and Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We took some of our own advice and split up at times, and it was the difference between everyone having fun and everyone being miserable.

The combination of our vacation, the holidays and our house being on the market has made the last month fly by.  I love to unwind by reading other blogs and cruising Pinterest.  Here are a few things I found that I thought you might enjoy.

Two years ago Santa brought the kids Nerf guns.  We have to constantly replenish ammo (Where do those Nerf bullets run off to? Must be the same place socks and Tupperware lids go to die.), but they’re definitely a toy they never tire of.  This Nerf Gun Shooting Range and all its variations will keep them happy all winter long.

Eli wants a bow and arrow for Christmas.  Bet he’d love this DIY mini bow and arrow in his stocking!

I can see this small toy catapult adding a whole new storyline to LEGO minifigure play.

How cool is this 12-year-old girl?  She decided she wanted a Fiero, then went about a grand plan to buy and restore one to drive when she turned 16.  Talk about resourceful.

It’s a busy time of year, but most of us with kids have a couple of weeks of winter break to look forward to. How about ditching some of the plans we think are “must-do” and giving kids the gift of free time?

Finally, a post from Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids that will have you in tears. A mom reflects on a young life filled with risk … and joy.

Happy holidays – we’re so thankful for all of our readers.  If you’d like to keep up with us around the web, be sure to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Pinterest!

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Risky Places We Love: Cane Ridge Park Mountain Bike Trail.

Cane Ridge Park

We have a new mountain bike trail just outside of Nashville. Thomas had Election Day off from school so we gathered up one of his friends, loaded the bikes and headed to Cane Ridge Park.

The trail is only two miles long. It was well marked and had very few rocks and roots – perfect for kids. There is a really cool training loop that has a narrow board to cross, a banked hill, a log jump and small bumps to ride over. The boys loved it. I timed them and they rode the training loop over and over trying to beat their best time. As a bonus, we found half of a mouse on the trail.

Warning: Circle of Life photo.

Cane Ridge Park
Mountain biking and blood and guts. Awesome.

This trail is a perfect introduction to mountain biking for kids. It’s easy but still challenging. Thomas’ friend rounded a corner, hit a tree and crashed. He got right up, blamed the bike and continued his ride. No blood or tears.

Cane Ridge Park

Overall, we got a thumbs up from Thomas. The best part was listening to him yell, “Epic!” as he rode up and down the hills.

Cane Ridge Park is located in Nolensville, TN (just southeast of Nashville) at 419 Battle Road.  You can find directions here.

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50 Dangerous Things: Kiss Hello Like the French

Task: Learn a new type of greeting – and learn to laugh off embarrassments.

 

Requires:

  • Another person (preferably someone who is willing to kiss you)

Possible Hazards:

  • Cooties
  • Slap
  • Embarrassment

How It All Went Down:

I know what you’re thinking … how on earth can air kissing be considered dangerous?  Well, it shouldn’t be physically dangerous.  Unless you get slapped, of course, and that’s on you for not choosing your partner wisely.  But learning a new greeting, or finding yourself in the midst of a different cultural norm than you’re used to, can be embarrassing.  By learning to feel comfortable in these kinds of situations and being able to laugh off any awkwardness, we can teach kids a valuable lesson: we all get embarrassed sometimes.  Using humor to overcome embarrassment helps to build confidence.  It also teaches kids to recognize personal space and get a sense of what they’re comfortable with.

This form of greeting is actually pretty normal for me.  My mom is Spanish, and many of my relatives live in Spain.  This is the way we greet each other.  My kids, however, are not at all accustomed to this.  We’re planning a trip abroad either this summer or next, so we might as well get used to kissing like the Europeans!  Here’s how you do it:

  • Stand a few steps apart from your partner.
  • Greet each other (Bonjour! for French, Hola! for Spanish).
  • Put your right hand on their left shoulder.
  • Tilt your head slightly to the right and lean in so that your left cheek touches their left cheek.
  • Make a kissing noise with your lips, or lightly kiss the other person’s cheek.
  • Lean back.
  • Repeat on the other cheek.

This greeting is common between friends, family, and even new acquaintances, but would definitely not be used in business situations. Now that would be awkward.  Allow Elena and I to demonstrate (and kudos to Eli, our cameraman!).

Want more?  Read about the rest of our experiences with 50 Dangerous Things. Inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).
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The Idle Parent: We Lie In Bed As Long As Possible

This is the ninth part in a series of discussions regarding The Idle Parent Manifesto, which can be found in Tom Hodgkinson’s book The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids. Need to get caught up? You can do so here.

Ready to Roll

We lie in bed for as long as possible.

It’s been said that parenting is the ultimate sacrifice, and there are plenty of things we’ve been okay with sacrificing in the name of motherhood: privacy, free time, spontaneity, quiet car rides, a pleasant dining experience, a decent phone conversation, our goal weight. The list could go on and on.  But there’s one thing both of us get stabby about sacrificing: our sleep.  We might not be down with every single point of the Idle Parent Manifesto, but spending more time in bed is something we’re both on board with.  Here’s how we try to incorporate more horizontal time in our lives.

Lisa:

Before I had kids I was against the “family bed” idea. I boldly told anyone who would listen that I would never allow a child to sleep in my bed. HA! Just last night, I heard the pitter-patter of tiny feet and felt the warm, fuzzy jammies curl up next to me and say, “I love you, Mommy.” I caved. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I need a lot of sleep. I’m talking 8-10 hours a night and I admit, I’ll do whatever it takes to get those hours. I will move to an empty bed or allow a child to crawl in with me. I have a noise maker going at full blast to drown out anything that could possibly wake me. It’s completely dark in my room. I limit caffeine. I turn off the phones. I have been known to tell the children that unless the house is on fire or there is a bone sticking out, DO NOT WAKE ME.

When I do finally wake up, I have no problem hanging out in bed for as long as possible. Everything that I need to do today will still be waiting for me when my feet hit the floor.  Morning is our best time at Casa Abramson, and I think it’s because we’re rested. We didn’t set an alarm to wake up. We didn’t jump out of bed and start a furry of activity. We start our day slowly, we ease in.

Angie:

How much do I love my sleep?  I once compared my craving for it to the way other people crave sex.  Or chocolate.  Yes, I have a snooze fetish.

When you’re in the trenches with young children, there’s not much you can do other than trade off.  And by God, if you like your bed, please trade off who gets to sleep in.  I don’t care if one of you stays home and the other goes off to work each morning.  We all deserve one morning a week to wake up when we very well please.  Of course, even better if you luck out like me, and marry a person who physically has a hard time sleeping past 7 a.m.  I would definitely add that on a list of qualities to look for in a spouse, it’s very handy.

Now that the kids are older, it’s a bit easier.  Elena loves her sleep like her momma, and can easily lie in bed until 9 a.m or later.  Eli?  Not so much.  Now, they could both easily take care of themselves in the morning and leave us be for a bit, but sometimes they need a little encouragement.  And so on mornings when Mike and I would both like to stay in bed, we pay them to leave us alone.  I don’t know about you, but $8 is a small price to pay for an extra hour or two of sleep.  And if you’ve got a kid who just can’t get the concept of a civilized waking hour, consider the OK to Wake Clock.  You set it for a time that’s acceptable to greet the day, and it changes color to let kids who can’t tell time know it’s okay to get out of bed.

The next best thing to sleeping in is a good, quality nap.  Mike may not be able to sleep in, but he can nap like a champ on the couch.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but it used to bother me, stupid rookie parent that I was.  After reading what the author has to say about naps, I had a change of heart.  He warns against getting pissy when your partner wants a nap.

“It’s all too easy to slip into that slavish, resentful morality whereby we imagine that the other person somehow has it easier. Sleep is free, sleep is a gift, sleep is good.”

Yes, yes it is.  If there’s one thing we can really and truly get behind in this book, it’s the value of sleep.  Take turns, be kind to each other, and go lie down.  Even if it costs you $8.

We’re always jonesing for more opportunities to hit the sack.  How do you manage to get more quality bed time in your life?

 

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