with Lynne and Leslie
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Some lite rock for your snowy day…for those who have a snowy day (Sorry About the Snow)

by SweetMidlife
Air Supply is the official cure for snowy day blues. It's scientific.

Air Supply is the official cure for snowy day blues. It’s scientific.

One of the twins who runs this blog, Lynne, is currently snowed in up in Maryland. The other, Leslie, is enjoying an unusually cold winter day at her home in….Florida, where it is currently a chilly 63 degrees. This is Leslie. We even turned the heat on last night! And I might need a jacket!

Please don’t kill me. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. You’re snowbound and can’t go anywhere.

#YEAHIKNOWISUCK.

For reals, people, I know what it’s like to be snowed in, as a Maryland native and someone who spent the better part of her early adulthood in Pennsylvania, where I routinely worked up a sweat shoveling and de-icing and rock-salting and warming up and hoping little old ladies didn’t slip up on my part of the sidewalk and break a hip and try to sue me. I remember not wanting to move out of that one warm, slept-in spot in the bed but knowing you have to get up and start that whole snow dance all over, unless you’re super-snowed in. And that is what pizza and boxed wine were invited for.

So I am not without compassion, and have five quick suggestions for passing the time as you’re waiting for the snow to stop. I wish I were there with you (no I don’t. But if I were we’d have such fun.)

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1) Sing-along to the cheesiest stuff you got: Snow-ins are no time for pride. And if you’re like me, who never had much shame about loving Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler and some deep, deep Jeffrey Osbourne, you know that singing at the tip of your lungs with abandon is an excellent way to pass the time.

2) Do your own cooking show: I have a bunch of cookbooks, some of which I’ve bought and used…sometimes…and others that people have sent me as gifts or in hopes that I will become vegan (And those vegan cookbooks are boss. Thanks, Rissa and Nathaniel! ) When I’m stuck or lazy, I like playing “Chopped” in my own kitchen using whatever’s left in the fridge and cabinets, sometimes using those books as inspiration. It’s good use of your resources and yummy.

3) Board games are your friends: The last time we had a tropical storm scare, the husband and I played Scrabble. He swore he won. He did not win. I promise you this. Start your own good-natured family word fight, or “Monopoly” grudge.

4) Binge-watching stuff you’d never binge watch: Assuming you have power. Well, if you didn’t have any you might not be reading this, so, yeah, do that. I hear “Sherlock” is good.

5) Have a good, long, silly talk: One of the things about screens and apps and online everything is that we sometimes ignore the people right in the room or at the table. As soon as you read this, put the phone down and talk to your spouse, or your partner, or your kid, or  your mom, or whoever is sitting across from you. Delight in the natural, beautiful, fluffy-white excuse you have to just breathe, and be.

 


One Day, You Too Could Be Jessica Fletcher!

by SweetMidlife

Howdy! Lynne here.

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So I had this medical thing that I will tell you more about later, and in the time leading up to it, and now in my recovery, I have been watching a lot of “Murder She Wrote” on Netflix. I ain’t gonna lie. I am binge-watching it. Now, I have written before about my love for Jessica Fletcher, Angela Lansbury’s brilliant crime novel writer who also solves lots of actual murders. To be truthful, since she is always at parties where people get murdered  and then she solves said crime, I would run if I saw her coming. Like, bye. But from the safety of my living room, I enjoy spending time with her, because I am safer that way. In most of the episodes that I remember from the show’s original run, and from the bulk of the reruns I have seen on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, Mrs. Fletcher is already a famous novelist with a loyal following, and a million nephews, nieces, and old friends who give her an excuse to be in fabulous locales (she even filled in as a congresswoman once. Yes.) and also return to her beloved town of Cabot Cove, solving all the murders. But I found the very first episode of “Murder, She Wrote” on Netflix, and at the start of it,  Jessica is a widow in a small town who bakes cookies for the community theater, and whose nephew (See? Lots of nephews.) has passed the manuscript that she let him see but didn’t think that anything would come from to a big editor, who loves it, and before you know it, her book is a best seller, and she is whisked off to New York City and taken to the first party she winds up being bad luck at. It was really cool seeing the beginnings of a character that I love, and even more, seeing some things that I think we can all learn.

Listening?

Good. Here ya go.

It’s that even though Jessica Fletcher didn’t start out planning on being a big hit writer, that is exactly what happened, and it happened because her passion for writing and her knack for mystery shone through even a work that she thought no one would see. And even though she initially was reluctant when her nephew told her that he had showed her book to someone, she then stepped into the opportunity and ran with it. And although the stardom part was new, she was ALWAYS kind of nosey, and being a big writer didn’t give her the talent for figuring stuff out. Nope, sister already had that.

Which means that you, too, probably have stuff that you dream of doing. Maybe it’s writing a book, or getting a degree, or starting a business, or whatever, but it’s something that you feel really very strongly about, which is why you are good at it. And you probably already have in you whatever it is you need to bring the dream to life. So when your nosey nephew sends someone your book, go to New York, okay?

Cool.


Ring of Fire, or The Saga of the Wreath

by SweetMidlife

Happy 3 Days Before Christmas from Lynne!

I have always wanted to be a crafty person. Not Beastie Boys-crafty, but Martha Stewart-crafty. However, to be successfully crafty, you have to have follow-through and adequate preparation, 2 things that I have not always had at the same time. There have been some successful projects, like when a friend gave me an old wooden table and chair set that had been in her attic, and I painted the table blue and decoupaged a big yellow sunflower in the middle, and I painted the chairs alternately blue and yellow. Then I had this idea that I was going to decoupage a lot of stuff and sell it, after only successfully doing it once, but umm, that went nowhere. Over the years, I have been alternately crafty, sometimes having great momentum and just doing the thing, while other times talking myself out of whatever project I had in mind because I hadn’t really thought about what it took to do it well.

Which brings me to the wreath.

My husband and I bought our house in 2011, and found out that we were pregnant the day that we closed on the place, which was the day before we moved. The combination of being new homeowners, finding out that we were going to be parents, and also being in a new city where we didn’t really know anyone (we had friends in family within 40 minutes of here, but that’s not the same as having people RIGHT THERE), made me really want to establish this place as ours. To really add something to our home that was made with our hands. And that inspired me, if I am remembering it right, to buy a copy of some magazine not long before Christmas time. I think that it was like Better Homes and Gardens, or Women’s Day, or something like that, and as I flipped through the pages of do-it-yourself ideas, I saw something that would look amazing in our house: it was a door wreath made out of actual hot peppers.

“Oh my gosh!”, I thought. “This is perfect.” My husband is from San Antonio, TX, and loved Mexican food and all things spicy, so this would be a fitting thing for our front door. Plus, it was unique, and I just knew that whoever came to our place over the holidays would see it and laugh, and be impressed by my talent.

Yeah.

So I went to JoAnn’s Fabrics and bought a wreath frame, and I think I got ties to attach the peppers to the wreath. And I took the magazine with me to the grocery store, and I picked a peck of peppers (yeah I said it!),  and I went home to start my project. I was so very excited, because I knew that I was going to knock this thing out of the park, y’all. And I started tying peppers to the frame, and it was looking really fresh and lovely, and then my fingers started to hurt from the pepper juice, and my hands were getting red and raw and irritated. When my husband got home from work, I was like, “I have no idea how the people in the magazine could stand this. My hands are burning!”

And my patient husband looked at me, and he looked at the picture in the magazine, and he looked back at me, took a deep breath, and he said, “Babe. It’s because the ones in the picture were dried first. That’s why your fingers hurt. You are working with fresh peppers.”

Ahh. That makes sense. And when I looked at the picture again myself, I saw that this was true. My zeal had overrun my actually taking a good look at what I was doing. I don’t have photographic evidence of my sad craft, but here is my recollection of it.

Yes.

Yes.

So I think that we cooked with some of the peppers I bought, and held onto the rest in the fridge for as long as I could so I wasn’t totally defeated. Now, what to do with the wreath? And I had this idea, but this one was actually good. I went out to CVS and bought a large bag of gift bows. And I stuck them all over the wreath, and they looked way festive, and I put the wreath on the door. And some of the bows fell off. Pretty much every time we closed and opened the door, we lost some, and I spent that winter taping and re-taping bows to the frame, and for the most part, it looked non-jacked-up. Pretty, actually. But bow wreaths don’t keep well in the shed. So when I fished it out the next December, some had fallen off, so I did more bow surgery. And that lasted that Christmas season, but I think last year I looked at the trash bag we had it in in the shed, and saw wayward bows, and decided that I didn’t want to even be bothered. But this year, though, I decided that I was gonna do something with this thing. This is what it looked like when I got it out this year.

Yeah.

Yeah.

When my son and I decorated our tree, which is pre-lit, we started with the ornaments and loaded it up with dangly goodness. Then I looked over and saw the bag of garland we forgot to put on. But I think that was meant to be, because then I remembered my mostly-naked wreath, and decided to do this….

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Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like it, I like it.

It was easy, and it used stuff I already had, and my kid got to supervise, and it didn’t hurt me. Those are good things in decorations, I say. Yes, I do.

How about you? Have you had any decoration-fails? Any decoration wins? In-betweens? Tell us!

 


These are their stories: Five lessons I gleaned from my “Law and Order” marathon

by SweetMidlife

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This is Leslie, and I’ma be honest – pretty much every day has the potential to be a ‘Law and Order” marathon, because between my DVR and my brain, I got ’em all – The original series, which us weirdo fans call The Mothership, “SVU” and its sleazy weirdness, and even “Criminal Intent,” with its brainy detectives outsmarting criminals who think they’re brainier (Spoiler Alert: They aren’t!)

But this week I’ve been even more drawn to the predictable procedural nature of Dick Wolf’s legion of crime series, which he’d packaged and packed off to Chicago, the setting of “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med” (I never get tired of the game where people start coming with fake spin-offs – “Chicago Crossing Guard,” “Chicago Lunch Lady,” “Chicago Stadium Security Guard.” That last one has promise.) I think it’s because I spent time in a hotel last weekend, and nothing goes together more than a comfy bed and hours and hours of “L &O,” with no decisions to make or action to take other than rolling over to find the remote and turn it up, man!

But they’re not just veg-worthy: The series also has great lessons, like these:

– Always pay attention to where you’re walking, particularly in a crowded city or are cleaning a luxury hotel, because you might just stumble over a dead body.

– Follow your instincts, but not your world-weary prejudices: Stabler and Benson on “SVU” were notorious for not only assuming the guilt of the most obvious suspect, but being really nasty and wall-throwy and yelly about it, like “You know you killed her! Just admit it! You know you…Oh, sorry. Not your DNA. So sorry. Backing sloooowly away….”

– If you’re a juror, don’t flirt with the defendant. He’s using you and then he might try to kill you. Don’t be that person.

– If a rumpled detective shows up at your house late at night and starts quoting your Greek philosophy or poetry, he is not just there to show off. He’s there to arrest you and he knows you did it and you’re a dirty liar.

– If you suspect that you are in a Dick Wolf procedural, and the jury has come to a verdict and it seems like it’s all over, but you look up and there’s still ten minutes left, then I would not make any plans, because it might not go your way.


Deck Your Halls With Macy’s Heart of Haiti, Fa la la la la, La la la la

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

This past summer, we told you in Sweet Midlife Land (a real place, we have decided) about Macy’s Heart of Haiti home decor line, a fair trade initiative that partners with Haitian artisans and sells their creations in selected Macy’s stores as well as online. Now is a perfect time to check out Heart of Haiti as you finalize your Christmas lists: the products are way beautiful, very unique, and your friends and family not only have a beautiful piece for their house, but they get to know that they are truly helping an artisan who depends on these purchases for their livelihood. It’s pretty, and with a heart.

In case you don’t remember from when we wrote about it back in June, Heart of Haiti was started shortly after the island nation was devastated by a massive earthquake in 2010. It helps the country’s large artisan community of 400,000 which makes up Haiti’s largest sector of employment. 550 artisans work for Heart of Haiti, and in turn, they support 4500 of their families and extended family. Buying their work actually puts food on tables and sends kids to school. This is no small thing, friends. No small thing at all.

The piece that we are featuring is a beautiful papier mache vase made by artisans in the seaside Haitian town of Jacmel, where they have been practicing this technique for hundreds of years. And this isn’t like the papier mache that you did in 6th grade art class that your mom put in her living room just because she wanted to be nice. No, these are really beautiful and sophisticated pieces that add a decorative touch to your home. Look at this video of one artisan talking about her pieces, and about how being about of this initiative helps her and those around her.

I was thrilled to receive one of these vases to put in my home and make a part of our holiday decorating. It comes with a glass insert that you could use to put fresh flowers in, but you could certainly remove that if you wanted to display dry things. You could even just put nothing in it, because it’s that pretty. I myself put a Christmas-y bouquet in mine, and put it on our bookshelf above the TV, where my guests can ooh and ahh over it. Actually, I am looking at it from the couch where as I am sitting and I love it. Wanna see?

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There’s a tight shot so you can see it up close in all of its handcrafted glory.

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Here’s another where you can see how it pairs with not only my Christmas decorations, but also how good it looks with my everyday decor.  This is good, because when the holidays are over, I plan to keep using the vase by itself, like this.

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So, as you complete your holiday shopping, you should really check out Macy’s Heart of Haiti. You can give to your friends while giving back. And that’s a perfect gift. You can find the Heart of Haiti line here online (as well as pieces from Macy’s other Gifts That Give Hope initiatives, including Paths of Peace, that works towards economic sustainability in Rwanda) and also at these select Macy’s stores: Herald Square, Downtown Brooklyn, Downtown DC’s Metro Center, Chicago’s State Street, San Francisco’s Union Park, Downtown Seattle, Dallas Gallaria, Downtown Portland (Ore), Atlanta’s Lenox Square, Dallas Galleria Mall, Miami.

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

 


You Should Play Outside With Your Kid, and a Really Cool Book Series About That

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

I like air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, and TV and my couch all of the time. And I like it sometimes when I can enjoy all of these things and have my kid occupied and happy with the TV, or with his toy keyboard or train track. I even let him ride his tricycle in the house, so he can get activity, and also where I can watch him and stay in the house. With my air conditioning, my TV, and my couch. I am well aware, though, that this isn’t always a good thing, because we aren’t doing things TOGETHER, and some of the best memories that I have had with my son, and shoot, that I have had period, happened outside, be it at the playground, or playing in our backyard in the sand table, or as in my running days, putting feet to pavement and seeing what it do in nature. When my son asks to play outside, which is often, I know that I should be doing more to make that happen for both of us.

So, I have this friend from Facebook, Marni Penning Coleman, who has actually become a friend although we have never met as far as I know. We DO know a bunch of the same people, and have one very good friend in common, and got to know each other in this Facebook group for parents in our area who are part of the local theatre scene. Last summer, Marni asked people if they would be in a test group to read, with their kid, this book that her sister had written, and that Marni illustrated. Add free things and a cool way to do stuff with my kid to the list of things that I like: I said yes. It turns out that the book was the second in a series of interactive books written by, Marni’s sister, Rebecca P. Cohen, called PJ’s Backyard Adventures, about a little boy named PJ who discovers amazing things when he plays outside. The book we read, Play at a Paris Playground, follows PJ as he takes his imagination global. Both books are bunches of crazy crazy fun: You can read the story about the things that PJ finds as he explores, PLUS you can color the pages, PLUS there is a cut-out of PJ that you can play with. Here’s us playing with it (note that our test copy was a printout. The actual book is a paperback. All awesome) …

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Cool, huh? But wait! There’s more! It ALSO turns out that the PJ series is just a part of a whole movement that Rebecca has started called Be Outside and Grow, that encourages folks to get out of their homes and into nature. Again, I need more of this in my life. I got to talk to Rebecca about how getting out is a good thing. And here is some of that conversation…

How did the whole Be Outside and Grow idea start?
Be Outside and Grow is the belief that time outside is good for us. A few years ago, I realized I wasn’t living every day the way I wanted; I was always rushing to spend time inside. Time outside was limited to weekends and rare vacations. As I began to spend more time outside with my children, my family grew closer, we had more fun, and I learned more about myself. Being outside with my kids reduced my stress and allowed me to engage in their sense of curiosity and wonder. I wanted to help more families experience the benefits of fitting in outdoor play into every day. My first book, 15 Minutes Outside is about that journey to get outside with my kids every day and includes low to no-cost ideas for every day of the year. The book is a helpful resource for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers. With my new children’s book series, PJ’s Backyard Adventures, I want to continue to encourage outdoor play in children at a time they are also learning to read. The main character, PJ, is the essence of every child: curious and full of wonder. Children really relate to him, especially in that he loves to wear his pajamas, boots, and fireman’s hat! It’s the type of engaging early reader series I wish I had for my children.
Why can you connect with your kids more outside than you can by staying in the house?
Something magical happens without four walls around you. Each person literally has more space to be themselves. Inside, my two children would bicker constantly. Outside, they were best of friends. Studies have shown that unstructured outdoor playtime reduces aggression and improves cooperation. Everyone has fifteen minutes to step outside – its doable – usually the fun can last an hour or more depending on your schedule or result in child-led creative play where you can sneak off to tackle the next item on your to do list feeling reinvigorated and grateful for having created a precious moment together.
Did the PJ books grow out of the Be Outside and Grow movement, or vice-versa?
PJ’s Backyard Adventures is my version of 15 Minutes Outside for kids, and connects children around the world through outdoor play. Children naturally engage in imaginative outdoor play, but there are many activities competing for their attention. Having needed an early reader series that would engage my family – not just picture books that my children couldn’t read or sight word books that felt like a chore – I created what I thought would have excited my children to read a book. Children can relate to PJ, who uses his imagination in his backyard to travel the world. In each book, PJ travels to a real place outside that kids and parents would love. The latest PJ’s Backyard AdventuresPlay at a Paris Playground, is about the playground in The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. There are eight ways that children can engage with each book, from coloring to finding a hidden Dolch sight word on every page. I’ve read the books to over 500 children ages 2-8 in North America, Europe, and China, and the excitement with PJ is the same. Every type of learner finds something in the book that holds their interest and prompts further curiosity and play, from the seven continents to decorating their own pj’s, hat, and boots and cutting out PJ from the back to take with them on their own outdoor adventures.
Did you know from the beginning that you wanted your sister to do the illustrations?
I had the idea for PJ’s Backyard Adventures for several years before I persisted in finding a publisher and an illustrator. I had a goal to publish the series by the time my nephews were old enough to read it, and time was running out! In my head, I knew exactly what PJ looked like, and I asked my sister Marni Penning Coleman if she would bring PJ to life. A talented actress and graphic designer by trade, Marni drew an entire Winnie the Pooh mural the night before her son’s first birthday. She always liked to draw, but thought her drawings were too “cartoony” – which ended up being perfect for children’s illustrations.
Aren’t sisters the best? (I write with mine so this one is rhetorical. HA!)
With whom else can you have insanely productive one-hour weekly video Skype meetings in your pajamas? And when family life takes over, no one understands better than sisters. I’m enormously impressed with Marni’s ability to illustrate books with a toddler hanging on her most of the time!
What cool stories have you heard from your readers about their adventures?
Most of the coolest stories are about discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary just beyond our doorstep or noticing the nature around us at any moment. Positive reviews and kind personal notes keeps me going. A mom recently wrote to me that she didn’t realize how much time her children really wanted to spend time with her, and they would ask her for fifteen minutes outside together every day. Kids meet PJ and they immediately want to cut him out and take him outside. He is a playmate who understands them in every way. I have wanted every child to find something in PJ’s Backyard Adventures that excites them, and I am in awe of seeing this dream come true.
Lynne again! Rebecca’s books, PJ’s Backyard Adventures :Who Is PJ?, PJ’s Backyard Adventures: Play at a Paris Playground, and Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids are available on Amazon by following those links. And I did receive copies of both PJ books (the Paris one to test and the first one later) but everything that I said about them is absolutely my opinion. They are wonderful books. And encourage us to spend more time outside. And they will do the same for you? Hey, what are your favorite things to do outside with your kids?

 


Things Not to Take Your Toddler’s Word For

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

Ah, toddlers. Every day they learn more, and gain more confidence in their capabilities, so much so, that they will declare to you their fitness to do new things. Sometimes, you need to step back and guardedly let them spread their wings. Other times, no. Below are some of those second kind. Don’t trust your toddler when:

They offer to cut your hair

 

When they want to drive your car. Even when the insist that they DID learn that at preschool.

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When he says that he is in fact Ironman and Ironman doesn’t need naps.

He was Nick Fury once though.

He was Nick Fury once though.

When he says that he can slice his own apple. With a regular knife.

 

When he offers to call someone for you, since he can’t read and my husband’s at work number is not 445 6+= @@@@@@@@@@

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When he says that he can carry a watermelon. He used to be a baby. He is NOT Baby from “Dirty Dancing”.

He wants to get stuff down from you off of a high shelf. I don’t want to even think about what his plan was for that.

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If the internet goes out and he says that he can fix it. No.

When he insists that you will change your mind about him having a second lollipop. Go with the thing in your brain that says, “No, I won’t”.

Never gonna get it never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it, never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it never gonna get it Never gonna get it, You'll never get it

Never gonna get it never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it, never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it never gonna get it
Never gonna get it,
You’ll never get it

 

This is not a comprehensive list. What do you parents/caretakers/aunts/uncles/posse of toddlers have to add to it?

 


Cold Turkey on the Cable. I’m Scurred, Y’all.

by SweetMidlife

Howdy. Lynne here.

At the end of this month, my family and I are joining the ranks of those thrifty folk who are cutting down on expenses by canceling cable and getting their television entertainment from an antennae for live network TV, and streaming services like Hulu and Netflix for everything else. And it’s making me nervous. Then I feel ridiculous about being nervous about it.

Because it’s just television, right?

I will say right now that I realize that this is like a fake problem: there are people who can’t afford a television, let alone cable,  and I know that we are blessed to even have this option. And we are doing this whole thing anyway to strengthen our budget and to not pay for channels that we aren’t watching. Plus, we spend too much time, and by “we” I mean “I”, on flipping stations just to watch just ANYTHING to fight off boredom, when I could be writing, or talking to friends. But I have found some really amazing things I never would have seen if I hadn’t been flipping, like a concert by the band OneRepublic, who I didn’t realize, until that moment, sing all of the songs you have ever heard ever in the world. And I liked it. I felt like it was a discovery. It was like when we first got cable in 1987 and watched “Vision Quest” like 10 times in a row just because we could. Matthew Modine! Madonna singing “Crazy For You”! Lots of curly perms. It was a feast for the senses. Ahh.

And when we got Netflix last month, I actually reminded myself of that, because I spent hours searching for non-threatening movies about pretty people falling in love where hopefully no one died, because I needed some happy, and I so want to tell you about this one movie I watched half of before I realized that the very beautiful character played by a very beautiful male actor that I like a lot was probably going to die because everyone was too happy and he had vengeful family members who never settled their score with him from 20 years earlier, so I went on Wikipedia and spoiled myself, and I got rid of that madness from my life. I won’t tell you what movie it was because you might want to see it but write me in the comment section if you want to know. Because seriously.

Wait, where was I? Hey, that actually shows you that it doesn’t matter from what buffet of televised entertainment you feast: you can still spend too much time gorging on it. I don’t feel bad about the fact that I love TV. I don’t. Nope. Love it. It’s a great release of energy, and a great escape. But if I don’t watch it, and all I do IS watch IT, then I am missing out on a bunch of other stuff, like eating and writing and working on my business and also talking to my child and husband, who are here somewhere.

So, in a few days, I will say goodbye to the 4 hour block of “Diagnosis Murder” reruns that comes on the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies network every weekday afternoon, and I love you Dick Van Dyke and Dr. Jesse Travis, played by Charlie Schlatter, who actually favorited a Tweet I wrote about my love for that show, and I will be missing all of the 65 new Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel that are filmed in Canada in June but are supposed to be in Wisconsin in December but nobody is wearing a coat, and I won’t see what my DVR recorded every night as a suggestion based on what we watch regularly. And it’s usually a lot of Law and Order, Caillou episodes, Japanese cartoons, and shows on HGTV where people fix-up their houses.

And that’s okay!

Because I will get to still watch many of the shows that I watch and love on Hulu and such and be actually proactive about what I watch, and I will still get to make discoveries of new things that I haven’t watched yet. Because it’s still up to me to regulate how much getaway time I have, so that cleaning my house and talking to people isn’t the getaway time from my TV watching. And we will save money.

Okay. I feel better now. Okay, gotta finish up so I can get other stuff done today so I can clean my living room when “Diagnosis Murder” comes on today, so I can clean and watch. It will be okay.

So how about you guys? How many of you have given up cable to go the streaming route for your television? Have any of you done it and gone back to cable?

I will survive. Hey, hey.

I will survive. Hey, hey.


Taking the Yay of Vacation Home With You

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here. It is a cloudy Saturday where I live, and my husband and I are hanging out with my toddler son. We had plans to  go to an event at church, and to go the pumpkin patch up the street to replace the pumpkin we got from the boy’s preschool trip that rotted already, but that all changed when my son went to bed with sniffles and coughing and woke up with the same. So we are here, watching episodes on VeggiieTales and Paw Patrol on repeat, having fights about whether or not he should slurp the snt coming from his nose, and if he really needs, as he calls it “hanitizer” to keep his hands germ-free. Actually, I won that one.

But this seemed like a really good time to tell you all about the anniversary trip that my husband and I took at the beginning of this month. I have been meaning to post about it ever since we got home, but I had bot had a chance to sit down and go through the pictures and such. That’s okay, actually: today seems ideal, and this is why. I know that when I take a vacation, there are times, especially towards the end of it, where I am not enjoying every moment of my time away because I am counting down the days and hours until the whole thing is over and we have to go back. And that is a bad outlook to have: you aren’t maximizing the gift it is to have time away, and plus, you are dreading your “real life”.

Guess what? If you set up your regular existence as awful, then that’s what it will be. And you are already planning your next getaway before this one is over. That’s no way to be! Vacations should fuel you up for your regular life, and let you take the peace you got on your time away back with you. This is why today seemed a nice time to remember the joy of our time away, as I throw away tissues that missed the trash can. Serenity now.

So, here’s the first thing about our vacation trip: it wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be in some ways. We started strong. By the spring, we had already made the reservations for our early-October anniversary, and had paid for it out of the savings pot we had been pouring into just for this trip. We had decided on Cape May, New Jersey, because we wanted the beach, and to go somewhere that we each had never been before. Plus, it was supposed to be sunny and in the 70s, according to early predictions. Which were wrong. Because it turned out that this was the weekend that Hurricane Joaquin was headed for the east coast of the United States. I will say at the beginning of this that even though there was flooding there, and though we had days where we got deluged with rain, we know that we were fortunate to be away at all, and that there were people who died in the flooding that weekend. Therefore, any whining on my end for real would be horrible. So here are some highlights of our soggy but wonderful trip.

Way to Cape May

This was on our way up to Cape May. We stopped at the outlet mall right over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland to get shoes for my husband, something for me to wear for our fancy dinner that night, and also for a raincoat for me, because I didn’t bring one, I think, out of denial. Fun ride up, though, listening to 90’s R&B on Pandora. Lots of Toni Braxton.

Yummy dinner

The yummy snapper dish I had at 410 Bank Street, the yummy Caribbean/New Orleans-style restaurant we went to. It was the most delicious thing I have had in a long while. Oh, and that’s also my husband’s steak. Through chews, he says it was good.

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My husband took this picture. It is one of the nicest ones that anyone has ever taken of me. Shout-out to the Gap Factory Outlet, where I bought that dress. I have been wearing it a lot.

Heading Out

This is us heading out on our first full day, as it was rainy and cold and still really beautiful. The beach has it like that. Note my brand new Columbia rain hoodie and hat. And I realize that this seems like a sponsored post where people paid us to mention them, but it isn’t! Nope, we bought all that stuff but liked it so much,I thought I would name names.

Neat not Neat Pancakes

I posted this picture of our delicious pancake breakfast. I posted mostly so you could see tje differences in my husband and me on neatness and organization. He has much more of those than me. Guess which plate is mine and which is his? Mine looks like it was bitten by wild boars.

TV

This is the TV in our room at The Beach Shack, the really cute place where we stayed. It’s an updated 50’s beach motel, and we got a god deal off of Priceline. TV-watching on vacation is fun, especially when it’s raining out. It’s relaxing and such, And I don’t know why this picture is sideways.

Beach

Our third day in town, the rain stopped, and even though it was cloudy, it was nice to do lots of walking. There’s the beach. Beautiful. Now, this next picture is not beautiful. I took it thinking I looked really cute, when actually I look like I got into a fight with a Sand Monster and his buddy The Wind, and I lost.

Not Cute

See? Not. Cute. But we went to a vineyard later, and that was beautiful, and I didn’t take any pictures because I put my phone away and just had a good time.

Rusty Nail

 

Now this was the day we left. You will see that the sun was shining brightly. But that was okay. At least we got to see Cape May in all kinds of weather. We were actually at our motel’s restaurant having lunch and using the drink coupons the front desk left us to compensate for us being at the beach during a storm. See, it worked out!

 

So, vacation ended, and we went back home to our little one (thanks to my mom for coming up to stay with him), and there is the reason I wanted to post this. We had a wonderful time while we were gone, and I have carried that peace with me as we returned. Vacations should give you something to look forward to, but you should see them as the extra special highlights of a “regular” life that’s good too, instead of seeing your trips as what you are living for. That is more sustainable.

Ooh, one more picture. We brought home a bottle of delicious Port wine from the vineyard, so the next weekend, we drank it. Now, we didn’t have fancy cheese and crackers, but sometimes shredded cheddar and saltines will do. See? Every day can be a vacation.

So Fancy


Rah, Rah! Sis Boom Bah! You Can Do It ‘Cause You Already Are!

by SweetMidlife

Happy Wednesday! Lynne here to offer you a little bit of encouragement.

I am not the most organized of people. Clocks and I have a power struggle with each other. Well, actually, it is me who struggles against the clock since it’s gonna be whatever time it is, whether or not I forgot something inside after we are all strapped into the car or not. Curse you time!! I can also be easily distracted, as evidenced by the fact that I watched several episodes of Fox reruns on Hulu before I finally decided to write this post, even though I knew it needed to get done. But seriously, Rob Lowe and John Stamos are both still FOINE. That is a word. Say it out loud.

Anyhoo, this past Monday my husband was home from work, and I noted how awesome it was that he got up and helped in the morning process of getting my son ready for preschool when my husband could have slept in longer. “Well”, I thought to myself, “it would be even better on my end if I actually HAD a process.” I was thinking about moms or dads whose mornings run like clockwork, and who have checklists and something. I have heard of such.

But then I had a thought. Actually several.

I get up in the morning and do my daily Jesus devotional Bible study thing, and I either fit in a workout or make plans to do it later. My son gets up, goes to the potty, gets dressed, eats breakfast in front of something on television, and we make one last trip to the bathroom before we leave for school. Shoot, I even have an alarm set for that potty break.

Now yes, sometimes we sit around too long before we start the actual cleaning of teeth and such, and often I have caved to letting him it a cookie for breakfast along with grapes, because grapes are redemptive. And there have been times when I am scrambling at the last minute to find the other shoe of the pair he insists on wearing that day, I forgot to pick up something for his assigned snack-bringing day recently while I was actually at the store, and tried to convince myself that a sleeve of saltines would go over great with three year-olds.

But the point is that his teeth DO get brushed. And he DOES eat. And he DOES leave wearing two matching shoes. And I did happen to have bought a bag of oranges, and we sent that to school.

Because I DO have a process. It may have its bumps, and its sudden stops, and it may not look like other people’s processes. But the important thing is that things get done. I am working on smoothing my flow out. But I need to give myself credit that I am doing it. I’mma stop beating myself up, okay? You do it too. Stop judging yourself by other people’s schedules. The fact that you even bought a schedule means you are working this. Even if it isn’t all filled out.

You are a work in progress. Give yourself grace. I’m working on it. Yay for me. Yay for you.

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You got out of the house! Yay for you! Have a saltine.

 

 


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