NATURALLY, KIDS! A family bucketlist…

A childhood friend shared this article on Facebook. I immediately recalled the hours chasing her around outside her home. With her, I got to first experience feeding dogfood to a rescued baby bird, wheeling, then dumping, her little brother into the rosebushes because red wagons don’t corner well, and protesting the adoption of all her roly-poly puppies because we wanted to keep them all.

The article states what we already know, that in the age of Facebook and smartphones, children are more sedentary than ever even when they are outside, with one in 10 unable to ride a bike. This is their list of 50 things kids should do before they are 12 (plus a few I threw in). Since my son is almost 11, I’m just going to use it as a rough guide of 50 things to try to do before college. Though now that he is heading to college, we’ll say before his younger sister goes to college…

Feel free to join us for any or all of them!

The full list is as follows:

1. Climb a tree

After volunteering at a pancake breakfast we found an awesome tree with thick broad branches perfect for climbing!

2. Roll down a really big hill

One of the greatest activities at this party was the impromptu roll down a huge hill. If kids picked up enough speed they could go right in the lake.

3. Camp out in the wild

It’s dawn – time to wake up?!

4. Build a den

5. Skip a stone

skip

Right-handed Softballer; Left-handed Stone Skipper

6. Run around in the rain

7. Fly a kite

Flying Free with the wind in her hair!

8. Catch a fish with a net

9. Eat an apple straight from a tree

10. Play conkers

11. Throw some snow

This was the first snow found – dirty snow in the parking lot

12. Hunt for treasure on the beach

13. Make a mud pie

14. Dam a stream

15. Go sledging – I’m guessing they meant sledding as sledging is a great way to pollute the air with smacktalk!

Sailing over the snow!

In CA we also sand sled!

16. Bury someone in the sand

What if your head isn’t what’s buried in the sand?

17. Set up a snail race

18. Balance on a fallen tree

19. Swing on a rope swing

I called this Ewok Training Camp in Hungary

20. Make a mud slide

21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild

22. Take a look inside a tree

23. Visit an island

24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind

Not a ride in nature, but the closest thing to flying at Knott’s Berry Farm!

25. Make a grass trumpet

26. Hunt for fossils and bones – or our hunt for Elliott if we want to be fully transparent – Like Elliott!

dragon

Only the cave knows what treasures it holds

27. Watch the sun wake up

28. Climb a huge hill (bicycle optional!)

Carson rode all the way up this exhausting hill for bragging rights and an ice cream!

29. Get behind a waterfall

30. Feed a bird from your hand

31. Hunt for bugs

32. Find some frogspawn

33. Catch a butterfly in a net

34. Track wild animals

35. Discover what’s in a pond

36. Call an owl

37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

38. Bring up a butterfly

39. Catch a crab

40. Go on a nature walk at night

41. Plant it, grow it, eat it

42. Go wild swimming

Swimming upstream!

43. Go rafting

44. Light a fire without matches

45. Find your way with a map and compass

46. Try bouldering

47. Cook on a campfire11/9/13 Lauren and her friend Riley learned how to cook Snickerdoodle cookies on a campfire in a box oven. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I didn’t so here is what it looked like (but we used cinder blocks, not coke cans).

The Snickerdoodle cookies were a huge hit! Lauren ate 3 herself! Thanks Prepared-Housewife.com for this photo! I'm your newest fan!

The Snickerdoodle cookies were a hit!  Thanks          Prepared-Housewife.com for the photo! I’m your newest fan!

48. Try abseiling

49. Find a geocache

50. Canoe down a river

51. Go on dog sled

Mush! We have a lot of Montecito Sequoia to explore!

52. Visit a national park preserve

Even grander in real life!

53. Do snow/sand angel

After falling off her bike a lot that day, she preferred activities already on the ground.

54. Squish toes in the mud

55. Jump in a pile of leaves

The crunchy leaves smell like fall!

56. Relax in a cave

Contemplating Superstitions at Superstition Mountain

What about you?
Do you have any bucketlists for your family?
What have I left off of this list?
Which National Park MUST I see first?
How have your family travel plans changed once kids go to college?

15. DRINK AS MUCH WATER AS COFFEE FOR A WEEK

8 glasses a day minimum

8 glasses a day minimum

Many victories in a little 30-day Healthy Eating challenge:

  • Finding new ways – hidden or not – to incorporate more fruits/veggies into my kids’ diet
  • I drank more water than coffee every day and didn’t scar anyone else psychologically
  • Our complexions cleared up Day 5 and remained more stable overall
  • 90% of fruits/veggies were fresh, not frozen (besides me freezing bananas for smoothies)
Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

A little discomfort:

  • Shocking reality that fresh produce may be a luxury item – No wonder we battle schools for improved menus or health issues as a country. Adding good stuff in addition to filling stuff adds extra money to the bottom line. Grow your own or check out the 99c store – who knew?
  • It’s all in the presentation – After stuffing 6 cups of fruits/veggies into my son daily, he still won’t eat a chicken sandwich with 1 slice of lettuce and tomato on it
  • Hiring dishwasher/sous chef: I’ll wean my kids into it gradually, I didn’t want to incorporate the discomfort of cut fingers or broken glasses to the challenge.
6 cups of fruits and veggies

6 cups of fruits and veggies – WTF: Way too full!

The real success story was how easy it was to adopt this lifestyle (despite all the whiny debates from when I announced our challenge):

  • Early adopters – The first 3 days of diets usually suck until you embrace the idea and feel benefits to motivate you – Sept. 1, we started with a bang and never slowed down. I’m sure the $1 a day bribe I offered helped, but bottom line, $1 isn’t going to make kids eat anything they don’t want to.
  • Doing it together rocked – Mom’s kitchen is not a restaurant with multiple entrees per night.
  • Didn’t feel deprived – Nothing was off-limits, we ate all fruits/veggies before dessert.  If we had parties, we were aware and got in the daily allotment later. If anything, it was hard to get it all in. The only thing the kids vocalized was drinking less milk to get water in.
  • Super easy-to-visualize plan – “Deck of cards” or “Fist-sized” portions confuse me but eyeballing ½ your plate filled with fruits/veggies – no matter how much you eat –  is easy

The true success will be how long we keep going in October, but at this point, we’re really optimistic!

SMURF HAPPENS! The Premiere

My kids and I rarely visit the Westside of Los Angeles. Traffic and rampant Bruins make it less-than-desirable for us. Last Sunday, we were noticeably blue because we got invited to Sony Pictures’ blue carpet premiere of The Smurfs 2! My kids didn’t grow up on the Smurfs like I did, but we loved the first movie and were thrilled to see the sequel!

Smurf Happens!

Smurf Happens!

We grabbed Lauren’s friend and set off on an adventure!

Smurfin' Street Scene

Smurfin’ Street Scene

Within a block from the parking lot, you saw Men In Black positioned at key positions along barricaded streets.  According to my friend, with Katy Perry and Britney Spears attending, the security detail was going to be a clusterfoccacia!  The first sign that we’d arrived at a premiere, not an alien invasion, was a huge Smurf melting in reverse positioned for his shining moment at the head of the blue carpet.

Where the Action Is

Where the Action Is

The street was a sea of blue laid with Smurfing custom cars,

Smurfin' Smart Cars

Smurf My Ride!  Smurfed Out Smart Cars!
I finally realize who fits in those cars!

and a Smurfing tiered cake.

My favorite Baltimore Baker - Duff!    Getty Images

My favorite Baltimore Baker – Duff!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Fans and paparazzi were already lined up warming up their flashes or their voices.

Smurfin' Tour Eiffel

Smurfin’ Tour Eiffel

I yelled to my friend and, after making eye contact, started to move towards her. The security twitched in my direction ready to pounce.  Seriously, do we look like we will body slam people to get pictures with them?

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it's startling - obviously! Really?!

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it’s startling – obviously! Really?! I couldn’t muster a smile?!

MMmmmKmaybe.

How adorable is NPH and his family?! The cutest!

Neil Patrick Harris and family (C) Getty Images/Sony

Neil Patrick Harris and family
(C) Getty Images / Sony

We waited to see celebrities inside the lobby. On the carpet, stars were moved along, but once inside, they had a moment to relax before entering the theatre. For my son and myself, the highlight was seeing various personalities and meeting a super polite kid who stars in one of my kids’ favorite shows!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

For the girls, tchotchkies, ushers with bottomless boxes of treats, a Smurfing Happy Meal with 2 toys plus chocolate milk was more valuable than free-flowing champagne.  Then came the Staff lanyards!  With the power of executives flowing through them, the youngsters could stand in the lobby where they wanted, ignore the wishes of security, and walk the blue carpet!

WTF: Wave towards Faces The power of the lanyard!

WTF: Wave towards Faces
The power of the lanyard!

Seeing the film before it opened, star-gazing and being thrown in with such a creative crowd was such a fun experience for us all!  Bonus:  Finally knocked a big item off my 101 in 1,001 list!

Grandma Perry's shirt was classic:  I've got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!  Check out the blinged out cane too! (C) Getty Images / Sony

Grandma Perry’s shirt was classic:     I’ve got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!
Check out the blinged out cane too!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy! Love them!

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy!
Love them!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

See you next time Katy!  Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch "Part of Me!"

See you next time Katy!
Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch “Part of Me!”

12. HAVE A RAINBOW MEAL

Today being Cinco de Mayo, we threw a family fiesta! Trying to figure out a Mexican menu that both kids would eat challenged me. One kid eats quesadillas, the other hates melted cheese. One loves spicy food, the other gets easily burned. I settled on Chicken Fajitas.

Loving the colors everywhere I turn!

I immediately thought how colorful and beautiful it would be and since I already used up half of the spectrum just in the peppers we’d use, (and perhaps slightly inspired by the Rainbow Cake from King’s Hawaiian we ate today) I announced that we would make our Rainbow Meal!

My kids’ simultaneously demanded to know how many colors would be vegetables. I promised not all of them. It’s not hard to think of food in any color of the rainbow. They’d suggested that we go for Skittles, but I overrode that one. Seeing as how it was 6:30pm before I got this bright idea, I improvised on some things since I didn’t have all day for prep time.

APPETIZER:
BLUE corn chips (although they look purple, the bag said blue so I’m standing by that), served with GREEN and RED spotted guacamole, and YELLOW virgin margaritas!

Virgin Margaritas: Lemonade, OJ, Fresh Lime Juice over Lime ice cubes!

My kids loved drinking out of fancy cups! My son loved the lime ice cubes and had four margaritas – I’m a little concerned by the implication.

Fiesta! Maybe this will be a new tradition!

He loved the guacamole. My daughter tasted a shmear and thought it was ok but better than she thought.

The best green alternative she had.

MAIN COURSE:
Chicken Fajitas with ORANGE, RED and GREEN peppers, YELLOW Sweet Corn mash, RED Spanish rice and one bite of PURPLE cabbage.

Pretty colors but the high quantity of veggies made them uncomfortable.

Sadly, we were full from multiple margaritas and the appetizer but the kids and I ate a bite of all required food colors– since I threatened to double the veggie intake if it waited til tomorrow.

WTF – Wow, the FLAVORS!

I can’t share recipes, but I’ll share brands. I used TGIFriday’s Frozen Fajitas since the grocer didn’t have fresh pre-marinated chicken. I added orange peppers to the rest (thus explaining the huge size, I’m not patient enough to cut things into slivers). The corn mash was El Torito brand sold in stores, the rice was Zatarain’s (with “fresh” canned tomatoes).

Let me know if you cook a RAINBOW!

Ah, now to make clean up more enjoyable.

Naturally, Kids!

Rather than a new post tonight – I’m introducing a new page!

Inspired by Spencer the Caterpillar, our nature-loving neighbors, the desire to get back to nature, and the memories of an unplugged, fancy-free childhood, comes:  Naturally, Kids!

If you have any ideas to add to the list, or favorite adventures to share, I’d love to hear them!

 

YOU WANT ME TO WHAT?

The Mega Lottery jackpot hit $500 million! The community buzzes with anticipation for Friday night’s draw and the endless possibilities! My son drafted a plan for our winnings – he assures me he’s a big money financial whiz. Everywhere I go, people cannot stop talking about their hopes and plans.

LOTTERY STRATEGY:

1) Picking numbers – I prefer quick picks, I don’t favor any numbers. Many people stick to sentimental numbers including wedding dates, athlete jersey numbers, or children’s ages.

2) Buying Tickets – I conservatively purchase single drawings, but this time I’m investing up to $10 plus the gas to drive to the Top 3 “Lucky Store” in the state, #1 in two counties – Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne. The debate between buying individual vs. group tickets comes up often.

Some people theorize the darkest, hidden liquor stores are the luckiest!

That brings me to…

3) The odds – Buying with a group of 10 people improves your odds of winning from 1 in 179,000,000 to 1 in 17,900,000. I don’t buy into averages – blaze your own path!

I’ll retire the jar if I win!

4) The winnings – People babble about early retirement, traveling, paying off loans – endless opportunities! Even the lesser winners with 5 of 6 numbers yield over $300,000 that still significantly impacts your life.

FRESH FINANCIAL ADVICE

1) Keep working – My son advised me that I may not quit my job and must continue on my 7-year plan to work at a university to pay for their college. MY PLAN: Donate a building to the university of his choice if he’d let me reduce my hours.

2) Fun Allowance – He will invest and donate most of it and spend $50 million a year for a fun family vacation. MY PLAN: Take family on an around-the-world trip and fly family in to see the kids monthly no matter where we are. We’d still have so much extra that we’d be forced to buy exotic animals and have loads of plastic surgery. The intern shot this down.

Bon Voyage!

3) Investments – My advisors suggested buying stock but didn’t know how. MY PLAN: I do.

My son needed clarification about if they print out the bills to pay us – all 500 million of them. Truthfully, no matter how the drawing turns out, these conversations were priceless. GOOD LUCK!

HISTORIC TREASURE HUNT

As a girl, I loved venturing into my grandparent’s huge east coast basement. Newspapers exposed me to current events, I shopped amongst the canned goods, invented new uses for broken machines, or read years of Good Housekeeping! I knew my grandmother and mother in the roles they fulfilled for me, but the basement gave me insight on what their lives entailed. I felt well prepared reading the monthly GH column “My Problem and How I Solved It.”

Knowing how hungrily I sifted through the past inspired me to save some things to share with my children.  I limit myself to one hope chest (not counting photos – stored elsewhere) and there’s room for more.  One of my 101 goals in 1,001 days involved sharing my treasure chest with my children.

As the chest opened, my kids gasped at the colorful possibilities!  We started with publications from significant events that have happened since I started my collection.

From a San Diego paper detailing the LA Riots, 9-11, Elvis, epic college football, to the Man on the moon…

Some events affected me more than others.

The elegant people’s princess. When she died, shortly before her fairy tale finally came true, our fairy tales got shaken too.

For the most part I’ve collected items since the late 80’s.  Every now and then at used bookstores or libraries I’ll find old magazines to put aside, or some life events warrant anniversary editions. Not only do the articles provide amazing information, the advertisements provide great laughs!

I include some mementos from previous employers – I’ve sold off or given away anything collectable.  I used to hope my kids would become rich by eBaying it all, then I decided I should handle it rather than burden them.

This shows just a small sampling of the fun things I accumulated along the way!

Then we got into some of my childhood memories.  For the first time I looked at my baby doll like the ancient relic that my children saw her as – or perhaps saw me as.

A simple doll (named Beanie Baby – original, I know), a bridle and ballet shoes – none of which I stuck with that long.

I shared obituaries of my grandparents, whom they never met.  I displayed college diplomas to “I climbed the Great Wall of China” certificates. My son salivated, commandeering my Checkpoint Charlie tee-shirt.  My daughter tried figuring out which old yearbook photos showed my sisters and I.  I wracked my brain for anything unacceptable inscribed in its pages.

I can’t get her to become a Girl Scout but she loved wearing my sash from my three years as a Scout!

I loved seeing them enjoy open access to my childhood and they loved seeing that I did more with my life before I went to Mommy University.

DOMESTIC GODDESS COMFORT

Sometimes forced “sick days” make sure you enjoy your home – not just bounce in between events.  When Mom’s sick, it puts a damper on the kids’ plans. They took great care of me, but I wanted us to still enjoy our weekend, without anyone’s eyeballs glued to the TV.

At this point, I needed the miracle cold cure, so I browsed my cookbooks found a recipe for Matzo Ball Soup from the ultimate Domestic Goddess, who doubles as a mom so it brought a validating level of comfort to the recipe.

She knows how to celebrate the domestic goddesses

Growing up, whether to bribe the kids to eat soup, or to fill up the men, we always made Hungarian Langos. Soup from scratch is no small undertaking, neither is Langos. Fortunately I’ve found ways to make both easier.

I prepped the soup to for the slow-cooker.  I added garlic for extra cold killing.

Even parsley from my garden!

I used just chicken legs – I don’t cook whole chickens – and left it for 4 hours.

Best invention ever for domestic goddesses!

I made the laziest version of Langos starting with pre-mixed bread.

Keepin’ it simple!

I stuck the tray of rolls in the mildly warm oven to “rise”.  With my grandmother, I would laboriously knead the dough, wait for it to rise, knead it again.  Today I hoped my grandmother watching over me forgave me knowing that even with the abbreviated version, I loved feeling her next to me!

When I cooked the Langos, they cooked a little too hot.  Knowing we’d eat them anyway, I put them in the oven to stay warm and got back to the soup.

A little darker but entirely edible!

I never tasted Matzo Ball soup before, but my son fretted all day because his first experience with them grossed him out. I knew I could make them at least the same if not better, so the bar wasn’t too high. They rolled out nicely

So quick and easy!

and cooked well and we poured magical golden soup over them, lit candles and sat down for our meal.

Skeptic kids become believers!

As usual a unanimous rating evaded us.

Lauren disliked matzo, Carson said “Eh?!”, both loved the soup.

Although I’d been tired before starting, and so tired after I didn’t post about it until this morning, mustering up old traditions and warming the heart of this house with new ones warmed me with much gratitude.

LEAPING INTO THE UNKNOWN!

I boldly committed to writing 365 words a day for 365 days, and leapt onto the page, typing enthusiastically until the screeching realization about 10 days into it, that 2012 actually has 366 days! Dang it!

I could write 366 words for 366 days, or write 366 words every 4th posting. Perhaps I should blaze through the first 365 days of the year and take New Year’s Eve off. Then it dawned on me that Leap Year threw me for a loop, so for Leap Year, I would leap into something new!

Grab my hand and let’s leap!

I cruised through the blogosphere enjoying the scenery and feeling for some inspiration and found it on Smile, kiddo. The blog introduced this 101 in 1001 project, shared their list and experiences. In a nutshell, the goal stands to complete 101 goals in 1001 days. Smile, kiddo referred to Day Zero Project for a pile of ideas and suggestions for one’s lists. The fact that it was called Day Zero meant that really, I could still call it 365 days of 365 words since a zero doesn’t count.  I’m a little OCD like that.  Even if you don’t do a list, it’s a fun site to browse to see what occupies other people’s wish lists.

It took longer than expected, but I finally compiled my list of 101 things:

I’ve always wanted to do but never made time for
I loved as a child and couldn’t wait to share with my own children
That made me sweat a little because they test my usual comfort zone
To allow me some time for introspection and growth
To allow me to connect with others That are completely random and wacky
That I’m leaving up to YOU! Leave a comment on the list page to suggest what you’d have me do and when we get a bunch, I’ll do a random drawing to pick out the activity!

I will indicate on the list as things are completed, or link to the blog posting about my experience.  I hope some of you will come along and consider making your own lists as well, and wander off with me for some exciting adventures!

PAYING IT FORWARD FRIDAY: GO TEAM! (Click to the right to help now!) –>

In 2007, after finalizing a divorce and launching myself into the rest of my life, I signed up to run the 10th anniversary race through my hometown on my birthday. The race was the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon as in 26.2 miles. For perspective, when we moved worlds away from San Diego out to the sticks in Poway – I signed up to run farther than that.

I have no idea how a marathon got in my bucket list.  I never ran as a kid, except on horseback. Workout programs followed the trends.  In college I ran around the track, while the rugby team practiced on the infield, ending up with shin splints. It was then that I attended an information meeting for a fairly new program called Team In Training.  I didn’t sign up because I lacked the vision beyond myself to see how to complete it. Then, 16 years later, the planets aligned! I signed up!

Team In Training benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to find a cure for blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and families.  The training program molds you into an athlete and a fundraiser!  It SO thoroughly trained me, that I still remember the night before my marathon. I didn’t worry about finishing; I worried about not making it to start.  Talk about the law of attraction, when I got to the start area, I stepped off a curve, twisted my ankle, got through it and finished anyway!

Courage to start! John “The Penguin” Bingham

Beyond the event, the support I received, the mental arguments I won, and the people I met made it the most amazing experience ever.  I got to train alongside heroes!  Heroes who showed incredible bravery facing their, or a loved one’s, diagnosis, heroes sharing their stories of recovery or recurrence, heroes who blew past fundraising goals, heroes relentless for a cure.  I continue to draw on the endless inspiration from the experience so often that now my kids roll their eyes. I have done several events with the Team since and make such quality friends! If running is not your thing, they have options.  I highly recommend joining the Team for you and for them!

YOU should start a blog too…

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