Thursday, August 11, 2016

Nintendo Games and Our Family

Nintendo Games and Our Family

Over the past 7 months, Jack has become obsessed with video games. Especially the original Nintendo and Atari games, he calls Mario his original name Jumpman from Donkey Kong games. He has become an expert at old video games, when they were made, the background and how to play. He takes in everything, wanting to learn more.

What I love more is conversations about these games.  He talks, we all know its hard to get our kids talking, especially young ones.  I won't forget him telling me about his "new game" Tetris! He is explaining it to me as if it is magic, these shapes coming down and I turn them to match and then disappear.  I let him continue since he was so enthusiastic about it until I told him how it was my first game except it was in green/grey for me back in 1992.  He then told me I was old.

Original GAME BOYS at the Nintendo Store NYC
In early July, we visited the Museum of Moving Image to check out their Arcade Classic exhibit, open until September 18th. Currently featuring over 30 classic games including q*Bert, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Pong and more.  This again all stemmed from the movie Pixels he watched back in March.  His obsession quickly it grew.

Currently his summer favorites:

Favorite WiiU Game: Yoshi's Wholly World
Favorite 3DS game: Art Academy 
Favorite 2DS game: Mario Kart 7


  • Get protection for everything! The screens, the console, and the games.  I shopped at GameStop and Amazon for supplies. I just do not trust my kids breaking everything. 
  • Organization Bag: I keep everything together in one location.  He has a bag that keeps everything 2DS and 3DS together, he travels with it, so everything is always in same place and can't be lost easily.  

Family time/bonding. Jack and Charlotte are playing games together more and more.  Whether it be on the same team or against each other.   I have been playing with Jack and Tim loves to play with the kids.  Did I mention how the kids kicked me down stairs with my office and TV down there?

Jack has also been saving up his money and earning more by doing chores and extra favors and work around the house.  He wants quarters for video games when we are out and also to buy his own games. Luckily Grandma works next door to Game Stop and he gets to look their, make a plan for what he wants and then work towards his goal.

Now we will just grow with Nintendo, systems and games.   Shhh! Don't tell the kids technically I can set the WiiU up in the car or the Atari system.  Saving that for a long road trip surprise.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I am a First Responder Wife

I started as a Military Wife, when I married a Sailor.  I then became a First Responder Wife, when he became a fireman. I am a first responders wife. 

I came home to finish college while he finished his time in the military and was deployed.  I did not want to be a military mom away from my family, neither did he (military dad). What he wanted to be was a fireman in NYC. So he left the military and became a fireman. This lead to a whole new schedule and routine, and truthfully there are days I feel the military would have been easier. The schedule and routine would have been more manageable.

If you are a first responder wife, I am sure you will understand. Share the same frustrations, complaints and joys.

After being in a long distance marriage for over a year, I was very independent and had my routines. School, work, weekends even with pets, I managed it all.  Had fun with friends and family and traveling to see my love when he was in the states on weekends.   Once in the fire department, I had him back with me and a new routine to get used to.  I was still able to sleep in when I could and I had two to three nights a week alone still.  Those nights, I caught up on my TV shows, worked late, met friends or just relaxed.  During the days I commuted to work, taught, attended meetings and drove home. Holidays were done with respected families, and missing them for work wasn't a big deal.  I even said work so the guys with kids could be home for Christmas, Halloween and others.  We made everything work and our time off together really "off".
While deployed I could squeeze his arm and hear Tim's voice

Change came, KIDS:
Suddenly juggling a baby, work and my husbands schedule that changed daily/weekly/monthly made life difficult.  This Mom runs the house, we have missed several holidays and firsts together, many nights of tears before bed and questions, lots of questions. Sick days are hard, a lot falls on me, bandaids, car rides, birthday parties, school obligations and more.  Kids also brought JOY to our house. Their daddy is their HERO. They look up to him like a superhero. They talk about him like a superhero, and they visit him as if its Marvel headquarters. Always wanting to bring their friends to see him.

Once they saw him in action, for the first time my heart ached "make sure my daddy comes home safe" my 4 year old told the EMT standing nearby.  They understand the unmentional.  This is another possibility, one we don't speak of by always think about.  The kids play us, when its mom only night, they go to bed, sleep, and its early.  If we are both home? We need one more kiss, one more hug, bathroom break and sip of water. They have our fireman wrapped around their tiny fingers.  They are good! Days off don't exist. There may be no work, but the kids are up. they need meals at a normal time.

Empty Nest Dreams/Goals:
Retirement?  Does anyone retire in 20 years? Can we even afford it at 40 years old when kids would be just in their teens and starting high school?  Do more years at work? Wait until college, after college? Then travel, I mean our goals were always to travel, or move to Utah or Montana. Our dreams, after the stress.  I don't know what I would do sleeping next to someone 7 nights a week. How do people do it? Retirement will be a huge adjustment, for now its a dream.

As a first responder wife, I do have fears-  Will he come home, get hurt, and what if something horrible happens?  But if I dwell, I wouldn't be able to leave the house or deal.  So I spend time thinking about the good stuff, I think about the future, and I think about everything being okay.  That's the sacrifice we make for our spouses.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

KidzVuz Back to School

credit: Josh Strauss Photo

I love Back to School, as a teacher and especially now as a parent because the kids are back to school.  KidzVuz 3rd Annual Back to School event brought together top brands with kids in July.  Jack, Charlotte and I headed down to meet with the thirteen sponsors.  These events hold great exposure to brands but also so kid friendly, many times the brands/companies talking directly to the children.

Juicy Juice had new Splashers to try- YUM! and coloring sheets for the children while I did discuss with the representatives more about Juicy Juice and incorporating it in the lunch boxes for the fall.

Classroom Direct is your go to for all classroom and student needs.  I have used them in the past when I was in a classroom teaching, LOVE them and their customer service. Teachers take note!

Domain Me- The new .ME (Dot-me) domain name for websites. Perfect for people wanting to start more personal blogs, I am thinking for the kids to make their own or use it to link to their KPROCKIDS TV page. (Stay tuned!!)

EZPZ Patches- The no iron, no sow patches for kids to customize everything.

Lucky Bar- Mom-made yummy bars for kids with "more protein than 2 eggs" in each bar.  jack and Char each tried on and finished, WINNING, since I have two very picky kids.

To find out more from sponsors you can find them on social media:
Juicy Juice                          @JuicyJuiceUSA
Classroom Direct                @ClassroomDirect
Galxyz                                 @GalxyzLab
Fin Fun                                @FinFunMermaid
Domain.Me                          @DomainME
Philips                                  @PhilipsNA and @PhilipsSonicare
Pips Island                           @PipsIsland
EZ PZ Patches                     @EZPZPatches
Lucky Bar                             @pickyeatersrule
BackYard Foods                   @backyardfoodco
Bway Zone                            @BwayZone
Zandra Beauty                       @ZandraBeauty
Love, Hallie                            @love_Hallie_

And from the gift bag:
@drinktickle - yummy natural sparkling water
@baronfig  - bespoke notebook
@nealbrothers - amazing potato chips
@DTailsULike - Adorable jewelry
@storyarcs - Pop Tropica and Galactic Hotdog Books
@MabelsLabels - indispensable write-away labels
@NYIscream - BackPack Squishems
@sillicandy - Awesome baking molds

Monday, July 25, 2016

Women and Cars.

The NY Auto Show takes place each spring attracting car enthusiasts and families.  I have attended the past three years for Girls Night Out, run by the She Buys Cars outlet.  I have always loved cars, whether it be the look, brand, speed or features.  My needs have changed over the years as I became a mom, then expanded my family.  My newest is the 2016 Honda Pilot I brought home at the end of December, and in seven months I have driven 15,000 miles.  Craziness, I wonder how many of those miles were just going to Starbucks.

This year at the AutoShow GNO, we heard from several representatives from social media and car companies about the shift in car buying and influence women have in this field.  Did you know women have 80% of the car buying power?  If we are driving we have more to say in what we are driving.  Growing up I know my dad went out and bought the family cars, my mom then drove them. He managed the maintenance and upkeep.  When we have gone out car shopping lately, I test drive, look inside and out.  I still have my husband check out under the hood, and he listens to "the fancy stuff" about the car mechanics.  Ultimately it is what I want, what I want to drive daily. 

I love big- SUVs, Trucks, and Cars. I started at 16 with a "boat", a Dodge Intrepid.  Since marriage my personal vehicles have been a Colorado pick up, Ford Explorer and two Honda Pilots. Don't forget all the trucks and cars Tim has had.  I really want a Suburban or Tahoe, my mom goal. I love the comfort level of bigger vehicles, plus I drive around additional family members often so the more room the better.  

We recently traveled to Edaville USA for Thomas Land with my parents and the kids.  Three generations in a car, needed more room we went with the Chevy Tahoe thanks to District Drive lending us the amazing SUV.  Captain seats, leather, AC in the front seats, DVD player, bluetooth headphones, and more.  We road in comfort for the four plus hour trip north.  This SUV skips nothing inside. Trunk space was perfect of the luggage for all five of us.  In December we had driven up and down Vermont snowboarding as a family and tested the GMC Terrain.  This was perfect for a smaller family without the need for lots of seats and room, but needs amble trunk space. 

Are you a Mini-Van, SUV, Cross Over or Sedan mom?  Most important is what works for you and YOUR family.  Everyone can give advice, but that comes from what works for them, not you always. 

My tips:
  • Look, look and look some more. I suggest even going to see the same car at different dealerships and see what other salesman share.  Also different models.  The first Pilot I drove had no pick up, it was the basic model and I hated it.  I needed some power. 
  • Test Drive. Take it our for a spin, local and highways if you can. You want to see how it drives everywhere. 
  • Bring a carseat and try it out. Unfortunately they don't always fit in every car, the way you want, you may have to change position in your new vehicle. 
  • Go in with your must have list when car shopping.  My list was leather seats, 3rd row and DVD player.  Everything else was extra in my mind. 

I am already dreaming of my next vehicle, its just a few years away.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Back to School with Momtrends

This past week I went to MomTrends Annual Back to School Event.  I love learning about new brands and products I either knew nothing about or did not know enough.  Nicole, Sherri and their team hold a great selection of dos and brands to come together with some of the area's mom influencers.
photo: MomTrends

I started with discussing decorating tips with WallPops. Yes they have decor like wall paper and pretty accents pieces but they also are great with wipe off calendars for family schedules and maps to teach the kids about the USA or the world.  I personally have been using their calendar for three years, I swear by it. Each month I relabel and then add as we go on. 

JOULES is from the other side of the ocean, gaining popularity quickly in the US with a store in NYC too. They have great staple pieces, including rain boots, mommy and me sets and clothing for the kids. Classy flowers, basic stripes and more cover their clothing. I can't wait to order something for Charlotte and I to match in. 

Keen: Outdoor shoe gear now for kids.  We are outside with our animals, in the woods, in the water or just around. Keen has shoes for Jack and Char no matter what they are doing.  I am in love with the boots for girls too. You must check them out for BTS wear. 

VAMOUSSE:  We had some cases of lice in school last year.  Immediately I freaked, well this year we have Vamousse for preventative treatment and they have other products that are chemical free so they can still beat super lice.  

photo: MomTrends
Junior Beads by Chew BeadsI LOVE these.  I have two kids who love to chew or suck on things.  I also work with many children who could benefit from safe chew jewelry, certainly the girls will love the choices and the boys too. I cannot wait for Charlotte to wear these necklaces in the fall. She loves dressing up to begin with!
photo: MomTrends

Yoobi: If you shop at Target you have seen it, bright and bold accessories for school or the office.  For every Yoobi piece purchased one is given back to a classroom in need.  

Mabels Labels:  My go to every school year, as I buy new supplies and bags I label everything, this makes the packing for first day especially easy. Clothing labels are most important since my kids go to private school and every kid has the same sweater and sweatshirts, labels helps with telling them apart.  

Nalgene: I am a lunch packer 4 days a week for the kids. Having the best washable and easiest to organize lunchbox is a must for me. These Nalgene Lunch Box Buddy sets are dishwasher and washing machine safe. The top can double as plate, and you can fit all their food, snacks and drinks inside or clip them on. 

photo: momtrends
Ella's & Earth's Best:  Juices, snacks and meals at your finger tips, lunch packing is even easier now.  I love the packages of vanilla cookies with the ABCs on them. Even dinner time with freezer meals or add ons.  Yummy!
photo: MomTrends

I had such a great time and want to thank MomTrends for the invite and all the sponsors too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Airing it out

So I have been PC "politically correct" about life, marriage and family... and well I am done.  I love my family but I have so many great stories that I have kept to myself, not anymore!  A mixture of "shit these kids said", what did grandma/in-laws/husbands do.  I mean who else received a list of approved names when they were pregnant? Oh wait that was me!  Why not ride my ride with me?

This is me airing it out.

Between marrying young, having a husband deployed, living 4 states away from him all while being in college and starting careers at the same time back in 2008.  I have led an interesting, busy, constantly changing life and it sure makes for great stories.

In 2010 we were blessed with our first child Jack, who was born with complex syndactyly aplasia. Instead of just having a newborn and starting motherhood just worrying about feeding, changing, and sleeping we were bombarded with extra doctor appointments and surgeons meeting us in the maternity unit. Jack was the best thing to happen to us, I have said it before, we are given what we can handle. Jack has "handled" us in the near 6 years he has been with us. He adapted, we have amazing surgeons and therapists over the years helping him succeed. Nothing has held him back.

Six months after Jack was born we found another bundle was on their way, this time a girl name Charlotte. (The name I was told I could not use because an unwed, non pregnant, not engaged 17 year old wanted the name to hypothetically use for her then boyfriend's grandpa, yes I am serious, my sister-in-law requested the name and my Mother-in-Law backed her while  I was pregnant with Jack). I really believe she is a fireball thanks to coming into this world as our area was slammed with a hurricane. Instant love between the two, she came at a great time and fit in just fine.  As I am about to register her for kindergarten next month, she is bound to take on the world. Further CEO, no doubt about it, nothing holds her back and she speaks her mind, oh does she speak her mind. Constantly reminding her "to ask, not tell us" things.

I am first to admit no marriage is perfect and while Tim and I have had our disagreements, certainly we now how to push each others buttons and getting on each others' nerves we still love each other.  Much of our issues have always revolved around finances and his family. I still do not understand why simple things like feed them "this formula in a bottle" were too hard to understand, or this diaper gives rashes (and you provided the Pampers the kids use). As a mother, not being heard when it comes to your kids is hard. Specifically you have had these conversations with your in-laws over and over. Instead of being grandparents to my children they took on parent role. Also, openly admitting to favoring Charlotte over Jack. No wonder why Jack would protest going to their house, clinging to car doors and crying. Once inside he would calm down, why did I still have him go there? My husband.

Then there were decisions made instead of being asked, things done I repeatedly said please don't.  Or things done in front of me just to annoy me. I mean who else takes a kid to JCPenney for Easter photos when it is not THEIR kid? Calling to tell me my daughter was going to see the Rockettes, even though I had tickets for her first show.  I was never asked, just told. Oh and Santa.  I gave birth, I am Santa. Yet again people do not listen and have a person come AFTER Christmas to deliver gifts from SANTA!! You better believe it I was PISSED.  Again my feelings were pushed aside. How much can someone take though, honestly before you just lose it?  How many times can you say the same stuff to someone for them to turn around within minutes and do the opposite?

Oh then the time they sit on your couch and tell you they wished their son never married you? Yeah- Breaking Point. GAME OVER!  How did I even last this long? The stuff that was said- Unforgivable.  I am over pretending, these are things no one should have to deal with.  No one should have to feel and be treated that way.  Its the thousand things that add up.  It is everything adding up, many years, many small things creating lots of resentment.

In the end I will swear to never treat my kids this way.  I will not be the mother-in-law I have.    Never to treat my kids and their significant others they way I have been treated. I always say, never say never, but to these I make the pact.  To these I will hold myself accountable. For me I am airing it out. I want to be more honest, I want to be more candid and now I will. I am sitting weekly with someone to learn how to cope, learn how to change myself to be better and not let toxic people affect me anymore. I let them for years. Like I have said, now it is my family of four. Now it is my rules, my way. I am not having these outsiders dictate my life or my kids anymore.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Getting Ready to Sell Our House

Well it's time to sell our house and move.  We need a bigger house, the kids need and want their own rooms, the family as a whole needs more space.  We moved in here April 2010, as a 3 year home with 1 child.  Within 16 months of living here we had two kids and our grew our home.  Now Jack is 6 and Charlotte is turning 5 next month, its time to find a new home.

While here we have done everything to this house we possibly could. New kitchen, trim, deck, patios, roof, expanded yard, doors, paint jobs and drainage.  This lists expands but I won't bore you.   We are looking now for at least 3 bedrooms, preferably a few acres of usable land (woods are great too).  More space inside (rooms), and privacy.  Maybe a farm (joking...kind of).

I would love for this process to be short, we refuse to settle this time.  So if our house sells first, we will rent until finding "it".  The kids are excited as much as they are driving me crazy, as I clean and organize they pull out new stuff and make messes.  This is my first move with kids, tough work!

Wish us luck, house will be officially listed the first week of July!